Quality Relationships and ... Out of the Wilderness: Chapter 5 !
Happy Sunday! Hope you are all well and had some quality time this weekend with your loved ones. And no, proximity doesn't qualify your time as quality time. I would define quality time as time well spent during which something grows, deepens, strengthens... Relationships grow, deepen, strengthen... Something happens that is active in that process, not passive.
And speaking of relationships, this time we live in has showcased to many the value of true relationships. Quality friendships. And no, you cannot be passive about them. You must give and take. It's a reciprocal process during which both parties undergo a growth, depth, and strengthening process.
I am constantly reminded of my own failings in that department.
I often hid in the multitudes of acquaintances rather than true friendships because they require giving... not just of resources, but of your own true self. It is easy to have many shallow friendships, but very hard to maintain true relationships that are worth more than gold.
We prioritize so many achievements above such relationships, wasting precious mind energy and focus on obtaining something that is not fulfilling but only looks good on the update of your status.
If you grew up with your parents having close friends and them constantly being a part of your life, both parties engaging in a healthy ebb and flow, give and take, then it may be easy for you to pattern your life after what you have seen on a daily basis.
For me, I used to be a friend of many but without anyone truly getting to know me. To truly know me meant that I had to share my history, my brokenness, my pain, and I preferred to be stoic, impenetrable to vulnerability.
How many of you are like this?
Nowadays, I am re-evaluating my programming, considering that perhaps true courage means to me that I begin to open up, begin to invite others into my life in a way where it is uncomfortable, taking that chance that I may end up embarking on a friendship that lasts a lifetime.
Right now, lets take away the fluff around our eyes. Great things are worth fighting for. True fulfillment and happiness does not lie in frivolous achievements that are forgotten the next day in search of more such nonsense that looks good on paper, but carries little warmth in the heart.
And now, without further ado, here's the next chapter! I've been away on vacation, so please forgive the delay!
Thank you for your readership and please enjoy!
I dreamt of a beautiful path, both sides surrounded by thick, gorgeous vegetation, almost as if in a jungle. Back at home, I loved watching the nature channel, so fascinated I was by the beauty of creation. I was walking down the path, curious, not afraid at all.
I came to a clearing. Right in front of me was a meadow filled with wildflowers and prancing deer. It was so serene.
In the center of the meadow was a rustic, stone cottage or what used to be a cottage. Some parts of it were in ruin, a bit of the roof was missing.
Dark green ivy with purple and fuchsia flowers clung to the stone, leaves and petals swaying gently in the slight breeze that seemed to surround the structure. The wooden door swung open and I heard a most beautiful and peaceful voice say, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
I cautiously crossed the threshold and was instantly engulfed in a wave of love. They began to come at me, one wave after another, some more passionate that others, others more tranquil. A symphony of emotion overpowered me.
I found myself falling to my knees in surrender and pure wonder, my heart was ready to explode with feeling.
My head was in my hands. I began to sob at the intensity of that moment. I’ve never felt such unconditional love.
Growing up, the love from my parents constantly appeared to be conditional. Each day I wasn’t sure if today was the day they loved me or disliked me, based on what they thought I did, and whether I was worthy at that moment. I performed for them, hoping one day they would approve of me, but thus far, that day never came.
I felt compassionate and warm hands take my own hands and pull me up. I didn’t dare raise my head, I felt so unworthy of the love directed at me. It couldn’t be for me, surely? I’ve done nothing deserving or worthy of such affection, and yet, here I was, with this wonderful being who was giving me such precious attention. My face was raised up to look into the face across from mine, and still, I wasn’t brave enough to lift my eyes.
“Look at me, Hopeless. Look into the eyes of the one that loves you. You were created because of love and for love. You are meant to love and to be loved in return. You were never an accident, but a most precious creation. You were thought about, and your life has meaning and purpose. I have given you life. It is a free gift from me to you. It cost me dearly, but it was so worth it, and you are worth it.”
I looked into his beautiful eyes. In them I saw the universe, my life and my own very self. I saw the expanse of all creation. I could stare into his eyes forever.
“What is your name? Who are you?”
“My name is Jesus, your Lord and Savior. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day” (John 6:44).
I wanted to ask him so many questions, but I was speechless. My body began to vibrate as if a million bees were within me.
“It is time for you to receive a new name. From this moment onwards, you will no longer be known as Hopeless, but your name will now and forever be Hopeful.”
He smiled at me kindly and walked out through the stone wall.
It was only then that I began to look around my surroundings, and finding a wooden chair with a canvas seat, I sat down, stunned at what had just happened. I could see through the window in front of me that it had begun to rain. I decided to stay there, as I laid my head on top of my folded arm that rested on the wooden table beside me.
Waking up with a start, I looked at the clock by the Prophet’s bed. It read 4:44. Too late and too early to do anything beside contemplate the dream.
I felt silly about changing my name. I thought of my family and friends. They would surely mock me, laugh me out of our town. How dare I presume to be called Hopeful? That wasn’t the identity given to me at birth. That wasn’t what my parents chose to call me.
I am not that special to have the luxury of changing my name. Hopeless I came into this world and Hopeless I would die, but something inside me stirred softly with persistence.
I had to get out of the tent, feeling claustrophobic, too big for that tent.
Stepping outside, I began to meander through the village. In my musings, somehow, I made it to the tree shown to me by Helper. I picked up one of the cups, poured myself some liquid from the tap and drank, still contemplating my dream and my experience from the previous day.
As I rinsed and set the cup down to its original position, I became aware of that same pulsating Light, showing me a path, leading to… who knows where. This time I ran down it without hesitation. I wanted to know more. I was so hungry for knowledge.
As I ran, I managed to look down at the ground and saw small sheets of paper everywhere. Pausing briefly to pick up one of the tracts, I read, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” (Hosea 4:6).
I picked it up, put it in my pocket, and continued to run.
When the Light stopped, the path ended. The natural light came up as the sunrise began to announce a new day.
In front of me was the same clearing and that same stone cottage that I saw in the dream. I ran inside the building, eager to experience that mysterious encounter once again but he was nowhere to be found. I sat down to rest and think at that same table and on that same chair. After about ten to fifteen minutes, I rose up, and walked outside.
Exploring the perimeter of the house, I ended up back where I started, by the doorway. This time there were a few buckets, shovels, and other gardening equipment set to the right side of the doorway. I knew what I had to do.
I sprinted back to the village, racing against time as I didn’t want to waste any of it.
Running past the old man who was cooking breakfast, I grabbed the vase with the tulips and ran back to that rustic cottage.
Dropping to my knees, I began to dig into the rich soil by the doorway, planting the tulips on both sides of the walkway. After watering them, cleaning up and stowing away the equipment inside the cottage, I sat back on my heels to admire my work. The purple and fuchsia tulips took on a beautiful glow, and out of the blue, they began to create a most surprising sound, tinkling and chiming.
I could’ve spent my whole day looking at them and delighting in their music, but my stomach began to rumble. On top of that, I knew that the old man was going to be looking for me.
This time I walked back home. I’d done enough running for that day.
The Prophet was waiting for me, an amused smile on his face.
“I know where you were, my child, and what you experienced. The Holy Spirit has led me to know this truth about you, but please feel free to share and ask questions.”
“Who is this Holy Spirit? I need to know more.”
“Did He not lead you to your Secret Place?” the Prophet looked at my face intently. “Did you ask Him to show you where to plant your tulips?”
“Yes, He did apparently, but how do I recognize Him?”
“What showed you the path you needed to go on?”
“Prophet, was it the Light that I saw? I’ve seen it before. It led me out of my darkness and brought me here to the village.”
“To you, He appears as the Light. You will recognize Him more and more as you continue to move along your journey to the land called Heaven. Remember, you are never alone. The Spirit of God is always there with you and ready to instruct and direct you. You must only ask, believe, and receive. Be like a child. Keep it simple.”
“Prophet, what about that breeze that I feel at times? At other moments, it is like a powerful wind, swirling around me.”
“Child, my, you have grown indeed! Yes, that is the Holy Spirit as well! That same Spirit of the Living God that hovered over the waters from the very beginning of creation (Genesis 1:2). Stay in continual contact with the Spirit and you will never be led astray. In fact, you will discover treasures of Wisdom, Vision and Provision you never thought you would possess.”
“So, the Spirit of God comes as the Light and the Wind?”
“Hopeless, the Spirit of God may show up in many other ways. Be willing to open your heart and listen. Pray for eyes to see and ears to hear.”
I paused for a few seconds, my mouth opened, wanting to speak up and tell the Prophet about my experience with Jesus and how I am no longer to be called Hopeless, but I felt so attached to my past and embarrassed about grabbing hold of the future as if, somehow, I were better than my mom and my dad, more privileged than my siblings and friends.
He looked at me, without judgement in his eyes, waiting to see the outcome of my inner battle.
I closed my mouth, took a sip of water, and pretended to be nonchalant, as if inside I wasn’t quaking, and said, “About that, Prophet… Apparently I am no longer to be called Hopeless. Jesus changed my name to Hopeful.”
“Hopeful,” he repeated my new name. “Hopeful. You know, Hopeful, he didn’t just change your name. As of that moment, he also changed your identity. If you believe that you are who he says you are, you will begin to shift and transform into the version of you that he sees. And trust me, his ability to see inside us and around us surpasses all of our abilities put together. I like it. That is a great name, filled with promise and potential. I will pray for you to accept this new identity as soon as possible, as you will surely need to be who he says you are in the area that you will be going next.”
“Tell me more, Prophet… Where am I going? What will happen to the people I’ve left behind? They cannot be left alone. They need a leader.”
“Hopeful, you must go back and be that leader for them.”
“Prophet, have you seen me lately? I am nothing, the least in my family, and my family was perceived as one of the less fortunate in their circle as well. How can I be a leader? I made too many mistakes, looking for love and confirmation in all the wrong places. I am not trained.”
“Whom he calls he also qualifies. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified” (Romans 8:30).
In the heart of our conversation, a middle-aged man ran through the doorway of the tent with a very distressed face.
“Confusion, what is the matter? How can I help?” asked the Prophet with urgency, rising to his feet quickly, like a teenage youth.
I had so many more questions to ask about my training and what happened during my immersion, but, yet again, my questions were thwarted by something outside of my control.
“Hopeful, please come with me. I may need your assistance,” the Prophet instructed me, grabbed his bag, staff, and his favorite book, The Bible.
“Confusion, lead the way.”