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the slow turn

Where we choose to turn our heart slowly makes us what we are…

This was what I wrote on Facebook February 8, 2011. What a precursor to the life that was coming like a freight train. At almost 36, I was six months pregnant with my first LONG awaited child. In the next 8 months, I would birth a child, go through the craziest day of my life when we husband was accidentally drugged on the day we came home from the hospital, crawl through the darkest days of depression and feeling of hopelessness with postpartum, try with a legalistic fervor to feed my child correctly breastfeeding and have to deal with the shame of failure in that, and would prepare our house to go on the market and to move. Those are just the highlights.

Where we choose to turn our heart slowly makes us what we are…

Adulthood has been systematic disarmament of my charms, my armor for coping, and my plans. I have mountains of journals that document the wrestling of my nature to turn my heart toward myself and other comforts of what I can do and control and His nature that tells me, come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. It is not my natural bent to trust Him and to examine my heart for false loves. It is my natural bent to pick the false loves and props, though. I want to be admired. I want things to be easy. I love to numb away reality, and that satisfies for a moment until the emptiness of it crashes down and I see the fruit of what my choices have produced.

I turn only when things stop working for me. That sounds impressive, huh? I bet you identify.

When my job at an urban school (that I loved) ate me alive because I had no boundaries and tried to over perform, I burnt out. I had nothing left. Where did I choose to turn my heart?

When I didn’t know how to communicate and connect in marriage after a few newlywed years when things got real, I floundered. Where did I choose to turn my heart?

When My Daddy was struggling with Parkinson’s and I literally did not recognize the man he was becoming or know how to deal with the needs he had. Where did I choose to turn my heart?

When the last two weeks of my Dad’s life surprised us and he was taken to eternal healing, where did I choose to turn my heart?

When months turned into years of trying to have a baby with no results, I began the deepest journey of turning to Him to His word, His character, His plans, His ways and not mine. This was when the narrative switched in my life from an underlying performance to the hope of the Gospel every day. Slowly over years of time letting His word inform me, seeing the big picture, studying, praying, teaching it, my character was changed. My hope was trained to look beyond circumstantial to eternal. That serves me to this day–in parenting, in business, in changes, in conflict, in tragedy.

I would never have chosen this on my own. That is the sad truth. I am fickle–I love a new adventure–I want a new high. Life really worked for me for a long time. My journey in college began to show that all was not shiny underneath. Jennifer Cox did not have all the answers or the performance or the “goods” to make it in this life with a gold star. I did not know what to do with the weariness or low-grade depression that came. I did not know what to do when I royally messed up relationships and disappointed others and I couldn’t charm my way out of it. It got messy–I got messy. And, frankly, I did not love what came out. I did not recognize the person I was. All my constructs fell.

At the beginning of my Senior year in college, I wrestled with the picture of the depravity in my heart. I remember camping in Romans 1and 3, Ephesians 1. The way I viewed God had always been about me in some way. How could this verse help me? What was God leading ME to do? What guy was for me? It was the first time that I was challenged to look at it being about Him. Where we choose to turn our heart, slowly makes us what we are…

Each of these situations, struggles, needs, informs me of where my heart naturally turns and where to turn it for True Life and Hope. Where we choose to turn our heart, slowly makes us what we are… In a couple of months, I will turn 44, and I can look back at the slow turns in my life–maturity directed by HIM, informed by HIM, found in HIM with a long long long way to go. A long obedience in the same direction…Today I remember the truth that where I choose to turn my heart in the small slowly makes me what I am. What will I choose today? What will you choose?