Got Tenderness?

This is your reminder that we are fasting and praying during what would be Monday lunch for:  1) marriages for those who are made for it, 2) courage for men to walk into marriage, and 3) courage for women to change where we need to change.

 So, it’s Sunday afternoon, and I’m sitting reading , “An Echo in the Darkness” (2nd novel in a trilogy).  I’m burning through pages as I come to the climatic God-encounter of one of the main characters.  Then, I’m bursting out crying.  Need-a-kleenex kind of crying.

Quickly, though, a vague self-consciousness hits me–here I am, alone, on a Sunday afternoon, reading a book whose cover mortifies me (the author, Francine Rivers, is a good writer, but before she became a believer, she wrote romance novels, and this cover appears to be in that same stream)…and, I’m all gushy.   “Oh Connally,” I say to myself, “You’re such a sap.”

But as I end the chapter, I begin to rethink my slightly shameful “you’re such a sap” indictment.  Actually, a change of heart like this character has finally experienced is the kind of heart change I want to see in myself and in those I know and love.  Thinking about it, I realize:  tears are totally appropriate.  My self-indictment flips 180 degrees:  “Lord, help me to fully feel the weight and beauty of deep-encounters with Jesus, be they in my own life or in the lives of others, including those yet to know You.”

In a world where as a single women we are trying to have a good attitudes, stay involved with others, care about original families, nest in a spaces that may or may not be our own, engage with oftentimes difficult work or workplace dynamics, all while staying open to and responsive to the men who may or actually may not be there….it’s easy to want to shut down.  Tenderness can feel like a liability.  Better to be strong.  Be together.  Be on it.  Make it happen.  Don’t be a sap.

Unfortunately, though, this “tenderness as liability” impulse can seep into our relationships (with prospective mates as well as to others).  Instead of offering our tenderness, we smush it down hoping to present a shiny, strong, together, on-it self.  At least I do.  But what if I’ve gotten it wrong?  What if presentation isn’t nearly as important as giving the gift to God and others–regardless of our marital or dating status–of an alive heart?  What if like Nehemiah did, we allow our sadness to show?  Or like David did, our joy?  What if like Paul did, we let our need for and our delight in others really reveal itself?

In a culture that seems to be hot on money, sex, and power, but cooling in terms of love and tenderness, revealing our hearts, in their vulnerability and tenderness might be one of the most radical acts of discipleship we can practice.  (And interestingly, it seemed integral to the influence that Nehemiah, David and Paul had.)  What, then, if the 711 people who subscribe to this site, prayed this week not just for husbands who might be good to our hearts and vice versa, but what if we prayed that God would bring our hearts alive and into the light, even today, for his good purposes?  What might happen?

I’m not 100% sure, but I want us to give it a try.  Because I’m convinced that in spite of not-yet-met marital longings, our tender hearts have much to offer, even today.

With salty cheeks, a smile & a dose of anticipation, many blessings,

Connally


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20 Responses to Got Tenderness?

  1. meinmysmallcorner says:

    Connally, when are you going to write another book?? I love the heart you put in your prose!

  2. aghayes says:

    On a less-serious note, I love that you’ve read that book. I re-read it recently, and that scene brings me to tears and convicts me.

    On topic: Thanks for your words, Connally. Definitely what I needed to read. ❤

    • fast. pray. says:

      Yes, really, the covers are embarrassing, but the books are good reads–they really encourage my soul. Stayed up until 11:30 last night to finish it. One to go in the trilogy!
      Connally

  3. fast. pray. says:

    Love it! Thanks Connally.

  4. Katy –
    “so I have learned to be comfortable to be tender, open, warm, feeling and hopeful no matter whether or not I am married”

    Thank you Katy for writing this today!!

    Sending you an ilovehowtheLordworks Hooray!
    :^)

  5. katy says:

    I love this. A few years ago, in the aftermath of a broken engagement, I remember (after the mourning of losing him) mourning losing parts of me. I felt like loving a man brought out good parts of me — made me more gentle, more tender, more loving and kind to all, more hopeful, more encouraging, essentially more womanly. I had no outlet for that anymore (or so I thought) — and I felt discouraged by the church and others (unfortunetly the church often times emphasizes contentment and trust so much that hope and longing is just encouraged to be done away with…) I can distinctly remember sitting in my bed and crying, feeling as I was shutting of parts of me for awhile, possibly forever.

    Slowly (partly through discovery of this website and prayer), I have started hoping and longing again and am more tender and loving to all, not just men. I am currently dating someone and I see firsthand that men generally bring these qualities out in women, BUT I also had several years of not dating or casually dating and I know that the Lord has other methods and resources for those softer sides of women to be used. Woman bear the Lord’s image in a way that men can’t (and vice versa) — and that’s all women, not married women, not mothers, not those who are dating, all women….so I have learned to be comfortable to be tender, open, warm, feeling and hopeful no matter whether or not I am married.

    • fast. pray. says:

      Yes, I think once our vulnerability has come ‘come out’ so to speak and then gets burned or feels abruptly unprotected, it can make us want to close back up–turtles pulling back into the shell. Anyhow, Anne McCain Brown and I prayed today–and we prayed both for the courage for folks to have alive hearts AND the concurrent sense of protection/covering from the Lord for any of us who feel–be it strongly or just in wee little parts–unguarded. I’m asking him to teach me what it means that his protective presence is with me, in all contexts.

      Anyhow, so glad this has been an encouragement to you, Katy.

      Blessings, Connally

  6. Connally –

    I will be praying not only this morning while fasting, but throughout the week, what you have suggested! I have printed, underlined and prayed it several times already today!

    Thankful our Lord knows where my heart needs to be HOORAY!
    :^)

  7. Rose says:

    Beautiful! This makes my heart sing! Thanks so much Connally.

  8. Kristin says:

    As always, Connally, you are spot on. Thank you. My heart needed this today.

    • fast. pray. says:

      Yay. I am glad. Honestly, it does sometimes feel like pushing through layers of much just to hold onto honest, vulnerable hearts. But it is so the direction into which I want to live. Glad you do too!
      Connally

  9. Olivia says:

    Connally you nailed it! This is something I have always struggled with, wanting so bad to turn all feelings off to prevent future pain. We can turn a gift from God off. Thanks for the confirmation 🙂
    =

  10. Amy says:

    Beautiful! Thank you Connally! 🙂

  11. smvernalis says:

    Wow, girl! Good, good words! Thanks. I need some vulnerability in my professional and personal life…

    • fast. pray. says:

      Yes, and sometimes it seems like DC is one of the toughest towns in which to hold onto this vulnerability. Anne and I prayed for you today!
      Blessings,
      Connally

  12. Annette says:

    Thanks, Connally

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