There are few people in life who know our true selves, our dirtiest secrets, have seen us at our worst as we swear and throw things (maybe even at them), yet continue to love us with an unshakable love.
Because this kind of love is so rare, the death that brings its end shatters our hearts and brings more pain than any love based on a partial story. Yes, this love is rare… it is a treasure to truly be known and loved despite all things. And because it is such a treasure, the heart’s agony when it comes to an end has no words.
I saw someone in my dreams last night that I haven’t seen since his death nearly a year ago. His love, although he never knew my whole story, was so powerful that his death brought an incredibly painful void where I felt there’d never be another like it.
My grandpa loved me. And I loved to love him.
Although I am incredibly blessed and loved by many, I know there will never be another like him. He was a man full of wisdom that loved and had given his life to the Lord and shared the love and wisdom of God with his family like a rich inheritance.
Last night, as we walked together in the fogginess of my dreams, we cut a path through the turmoil of the world. I could see and feel it all around me. Pain, suffering, stress, death. I could even feel the stress in my heart.
I’ve often described my anxiety and deep-rooted anger as a churning volcano beneath the surface of my heart… ready at any moment to erupt above the surface, spewing out like hot, angry, and biting words. I felt this in my dream as I have many times in real life, but somehow the peace of his presence surrounded me as we walked.
As I leaned into the peaceful place his presence offered me, I vented to my grandpa about a situation that had just happened, something that had frustrated me. Funny enough, just as what commonly occurs in real life, it wasn’t regarding life or death; it wasn’t an injustice or an assault on life or liberty… just an inconvenience that my internal lava found convenient to latch on to to build strength for the eruption.
A frustration. A complaint. Because my insides were burning lava that fueled the fire and not a peaceful stream that put it out, I let it boil over and come out of my mouth. I complained to him. And then it happened… in my venting, I spewed out “F*CK!” to my dear sweet grandpa.
Much to my surprise, Grandpa didn’t even flinch. He wasn’t fazed.
Furthermore, he didn’t shame me, although I felt incredibly ashamed of the way I’d just acted. What would he think of me now?
As we continued to walk through the fog, my guilt and shame swirling my mind and squeezing my heart until I felt it in my throat, Grandpa spoke gently.
“You know, purity isn’t just about what you do with your body…”
I’m not sure if he finished his statement, or if what he was getting at in that moment was simply understood in the consciousness of my dream.
Your mouth can be impure just as your body.
I needed purity of my mouth. My speech.
I NEED purity of my mouth. Currently. Real life.
My husband is one of the only people in the world who knows my whole story, has endured me throwing a drink in his face, swearing at him, and much more, yet loves and pursues me without fail. He faithfully walks with me as I continue to be sanctified. Recently, he gently asked me if I would say a word I’d just said, or if or I’d be uncomfortable if someone else had, in front of our daughter. My answer was no, I wouldn’t say it in front of her, and yes, I’d be frustrated if someone else did.
His response was, “Well, can she not hear? And is she not here with us now?”
He easily made his point.
I need purity of my mouth. Like Grandpa said.
Like God said.
As Grandpa spoke these simple but profound words in the dream, he continued walking with me.
This was the most beautiful part. He forgave me immediately. His love never changed… Not even the way he looked at me.
Furthermore, his kindness and compassion, not a scolding or shaming, were motivators for me to seek after purity of my mouth. A pure heart.
His kindness led me to repentance.
(Does Grandpa remind you of anyone yet?)
In reality, I never got to share my full story with Grandpa.
I wish I had. I ache to see his love burst through the partial stories and half-truths, to love me right through my sins and the sins committed against me. I can only speculate that his love would have remained unchanged with the opening of his eyes to the full story that is ‘me.’
Drink-throwing, wall-punching, f-bomb dropping me.
God sometime uses my dreams to teach me things. To get my attention.
And He knew that using my grandpa in this role would be cause for reflection as the approaching anniversary of my grandpa’s death fills my mind most days, and my grandpa is a figure in my life whose words will always hold power and truth, even beyond the grave.
What should I reflect on then?
That I need to change, clean up my act before my daughter arrives?
Well… maybe. But not quite the point I don’t think.
What did Grandpa expect me to do?
Just try really hard? Watch what comes out of my mouth?
What about my thoughts? Is there no chance they will affect my words and actions? What do I do about these?
When I awoke, a particular scripture filled my mind.
“No good tree bears bad fruit, not again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit… The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, & the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
(Luke 6:43, 45)
It’s absurd to think we’re just supposed to “try harder” and all will be well.
People are deep and complex beings, and our hearts are difficult to understand, let alone control. But the Bible speaks of our hearts often, and how precious they are.
In fact, our hearts are to be guarded. Protected.
We are to watch with vigilance what we allow into our minds and hearts.
Because what goes in can very well INFECT us. Like a disease. Infected hearts are like a sick fruit tree, unable to bear tasty fruit any longer. Conversations we engage in, television we watch, movies we go to see, music we listen to, the company we keep, even the Facebook feed we scroll through… they all have the potential to infect our hearts, and consequently, control what comes out of our mouths. Our hearts are already sinful and prone to wander anyway. Feeding them with anything impure of this world fuels the sinful condition we’re born with.
“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”
What’s more important, however, than what can infect our hearts, is what can HEAL them. We can feed our hearts with what will soothe, heal, and protect.
When I’m filling my mind and heart with God’s word, when I’m engaged in conversations with other believers, when I’m listening to or reading gospel teaching, when I’m spending time talking with my Father and listening for His voice… simply put, when I’m in the PRESENCE OF JESUS, I’m fighting against that churning lava… I’m calming the storm.
Purity may sound dull.
Like a shallow promise you made in some long-ago church class.
But in reality, purity – a pure heart – is a wellspring of LIFE that’s fed by the Holy Spirit and His limitless perfection. What comes out of the mouth when the heart is filled with Him are reactions filled with hope, truth, compassion, kindness, and love.
I’ve witnessed it.
I’ve felt it.
I’ve been in situations that were so frustrating and seemingly hopeless… but with a heart filled with Jesus’ presence, I had peace. It affected every moment of my day. My every thought. My speech was kind and gentle. My mind was unhurried. My sleep was even peaceful.
I’ve also, however, been in situations much less frustrating – momentary frustrations even, like the one in my dream – and I’ve flown off the handle and spouted unkind and biting words that have caused division, strife, and pain. I’ve gone about my days with stress and anxiety, feeling like I could explode at any moment.
All because of the condition of my heart.
It’s pretty obvious which condition I’d rather live with.
In my dream, God used a person in my life whose words I valued and trusted to capture my attention and show me two things.
1) There is only ONE that knows our full story and truly loves us with a love completely unaffected. Our Father, our Creator, our Savior. He knows it ALL… and yet He’s a good Father, He offers us grace time and time again, gives us new beginnings, and offers to fill us with life so powerful that it’s beyond what the world can understand or explain. He is so good to give us relationships that remind us of this love, like how Grandpa reminded me of Jesus in the dream by his unconditional love and kindness in the face of my sin. These relationships are so good that death to them feels like it rips out our hearts.
The good news though: Our Father’s love never ends. It’s so good, it goes beyond death.
2) LIFE is found in Him and Him alone.
We can’t just become “good people” by striving. The issue of the heart has to be addressed. Otherwise, it’s like trying to nurture a single apple on a tree back to health when the rest of the tree is rotten or infected. We can’t just pick which sins we need to “fix” without addressing the whole tree.
If the heart is infected, all of the apples will be affected.
This is all good news!
He’s given us more than we need simply in His presence!
Recent conversations and last night’s dream have been a wake-up call for me, but I’m not scolded. I’m not put to shame. I’m loved and offered an otherworldly remedy for my heart that will give me LIFE and the ability to face every day with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control…
even in the face of life’s hardest battles.
Sounds a lot better than the bitter taste that lava leaves in my mouth.