I haven't had many years like this one. Its been pretty fiercely bittersweet in its revelations, intensity of emotion, etc. But I have had many moments, seconds, days that are very long, times where I was walking down the sidewalk and looking at the trees with all their interlocked branches like antlers and lengthy patches where my fleshly self simply craved the approval of others. Daily, I am venturing to throw this part of myself out and rely more heavily on the Lord for any and all of these gut reactions. I read Gwen's book, When People Are Big and God is Small, last year, and that was the first time I soundly grasped how this fear of man had been shaping me and how beautiful it could be if I only feared the Lord instead and let Him shape me. I'm reading Jane Eyre right now and there is this portion where Jane, as a ten-year-old child, is sitting before the fire late at night and consulting her fellow classmate and dear friend, Helen Burns, on the trials of her small life. Helen, a prudent thirteen-year-old, pours forth wisdom: "If all the world hated you, and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved you, and absolved you from guilt," Helen spoke, "you would not be without friends."

"No; I know I should think well of myself; but that is not enough; if others don't love me, I would rather die than live - I cannot bear to be solitary and hated, Helen. Look here; to gain some real affection from you, or Miss Temple, or any other whom I truly love, I would willingly submit to have the bone of my arm broken, or to let a bull toss me, or to stand behind a kicking horse, and let it dash its hoof at my chest -"

"Hush, Jane! you think too much of the love of human beings; you are too impulsive, too vehement: the sovereign Hand that created your frame, and put life into it, has provided you with other resources than your feeble self, or than creatures feeble as you. Besides this earth, and besides the race of men, there is an invisible world and a kingdom of spirits: that world is round us, for it is everywhere...God waits only the separation of spirit from flesh to crown us with a full reward. Why, then, should we ever sink overwhelmed with distress?"

And so, through a child's wisdom (or rather Charlotte Bronte's and more largely, the Lord's), I am attempting. This is a daily declining that I have to do, unmanageable only if I make it that way. Trying to "lay down these crowns" I constantly "clench with fisted hands."

"Who, then, are those who fear the LORD?  He will instruct them in the ways they should choose. They will spend their days in prosperity,  and their descendants will inherit the land. The LORD confides in those who fear him;  he makes his covenant known to them" Psalm 25:12-14