Layer by Layer

We get to know a person better over time, because we see their layers. Like an onion before you, they peel back layer by layer. How they act when they’re mad, sad, happy, scared, lonely and what gets them that way….We learn what they prioritize, what they don’t, what they’ve been through, what they’ve learned, and what they struggle with. All layers.

When we are born, we have only the layers applied by our genetic DNA. These layers may predisposition us towards certain behaviors, but circumstances haven’t happened yet. Brand new, clean slate, fully loved, and fully open to our Creator. The One who loved us and knitted us together in our mother’s womb (Psalms 139:13). Then, life starts. Bumps, bruises, brokenness, betrayals. Layers are added one by one. Individual and personal like our unique fingerprints, these layers are added to our cores. Our innocence, openness, and view of the world around us changes.

The way I see it, the world adds layers and the Lord longs to remove and replace them with His blessed layers of grace, love, and peace. The devil wants us weighed down and covered in fear, anger, and hurt over the layers added by ourselves and others. Ask God daily to remove what needs to go and replace what He wants us to have.

I also think that the layers that bring the most tears and are the hardest to pull back, bring the sweetest relief and relationship with our Savior. Only God can turn our most bitter onion layer into our dark chocolate or raspberry layer. A layer we wouldn’t trade because it drew us to Him and keeps pointing us back to Him. Our hardest layers become our sweetest layers. Because we bring it to the Light and let God in, our relationship deepens. He wants us aware that we are just as fully loved with our layers as we were fresh from the wombs. Then, His replacement work starts…

Like the prodigal son’s return, each layer that we ask God to remove brings Him enormous pleasure because we are that much closer to Him. The relief and joy it brings us pales in comparison to His excitement for asking Him in. He already knows each layer, it’s up to us to come before Him, allow Him in, and ask for His help. He wants us at our cores before Him. That was His plan since the Garden of Eden. It wasn’t until sin entered in, that Adam and Eve felt any need to cover themselves with leaves…layers.

When someone gets to know me, may my layers of pain and shame be a testimony to God’s redemptive power. May He get the glory for replacing those layers with His own. And, may God continue to peel away what is keeping me from being as close to Him as I can be. Bosom to bosom, heart to heart.

 

Master Plan

assembly required

Don’t we all have a master plan?? A plan for our career, an age we’d like to be married or remarried by, a plan of when and how to raise kids, a plan for the perfect wedding or perfect vacation? The perfect Christmas card, birthday party, or neighborhood to live in? One thing I’ve clearly noticed is that our master plan may have nothing to do with the Master’s plan for our lives.

Our plans feel very similar to a “some assembly required” list of instructions that can drive us crazy. We start out with great intentions and expectations and then end up inevitably missing a part, can’t make sense of the verbiage, or lack the skills to build it at all, much less easily. I’m in awe of people who can whip out the instructions and build a dollhouse or easy bake oven from scratch, no biggie. They make it look so simple! That’s, not me.

One of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes is: “You can tell a lot about a person by the way they handle three things: a rainy day, lost luggage and tangled Christmas tree lights.”

To untangle or not, that is the question. I’m not typically much of an untangler. I’d rather someone untangle them for me or just buy new ones. But, I’m learning that wisdom is determining whether it’s worth putting the time and effort in to untangle the lights you already have or let them go and start new. I think both are wise depending on the circumstance. I’m also finding that if God is at the center, it makes sense to put the work in.

Untangling may make you appreciate the final product more while buying new feels exciting and easier, but can also be scary. With new, you never know what you’re gonna get. Kind of like a box of chocolates. It may be the sweetest thing you’ve ever tasted, but you have to try to know. It takes endurance and commitment to untangle. It takes tremendous faith to start new. Both necessary at times, and both part of the Master’s plan for our lives.

Sitting down with someone to help me untangle lights sounds a lot more inviting than doing it alone. Find people who help you. Find people who love you for you. Find people who have marriages, relationships, and friendships like you desire and learn from them. Ask them questions. Read their books. They will help you discern if it’s wiser to untangle or start new. So many of our life situations are similar to tangled Christmas lights and sometimes there’s only so much we can do.

Sometimes, we need to put the work in and sometimes we need to let go. Sometimes we are missing a crucial part. Sometimes we need to work on our verbiage and communicate better. Sometimes we need to be patient and sometimes we need to work on our own personal skills. It may never construct easily, and that’s okay. As long as we are building what we desire most to build and to the glory of God, He will step in where we can’t. Follow your peace, His peace.

Our Master’s Plan will lead us in directions we never thought we’d take through situations we never thought we’d face. Knowing He’s walking alongside us, turns it into an adventure of a lifetime.

We make our own plans, but the Lord decides where we will go. Proverbs 16:9 (CEV)

I’m not much of builder, but I’m learning. I’m learning not to be afraid to build. I’m also learning that if it all crashes down, then the Master has a different plan for me. I’m learning that His plan requires a lot of patience because it has a lot of moving parts. I’m learning that His plan touches other people through our own personal journeys. I’m learning that His plan beckons us closer to Him and leads us to an eternity with Him. I’m learning that His plan brings purpose from our pain. I’m learning that His plan provides peace, even in the midst of the unknown. I’m learning that our Master’s plan will simply amaze us.

I’m learning every day that His plan is, hands down, better than my plan ever was or ever will be.