the kind of movement that makes a difference

On a whim last Saturday, we decided to move the furniture around in our living room. This is a fairly familiar event in our house but the difference this time was John. Normally when I move furniture I wait until he’s gone, mainly because I work well with deadlines and I know I have to be finished before he gets home.

by the fireplace

But having him there meant I could bark orders instead of doing all the work myself. I found out I get really bossy and know-it-all-y when I’m moving furniture.

The thing about moving the TV to a less important wall is you also have to move the sofa.

When you move the sofa, you have to move the rug.


Then the chairs need to go somewhere else and now there’s a big blank wall you need to fill and before you realize what you’ve gotten yourself into, three rooms of your house are completely different. (Cue mouse holding a cookie.)

living room

It feels just about right, now – an appropriate way to usher in a new season of change. I like how it fits.

My sunroom office is a little more full but I like it that way. It’s just the right space to settle in with Brennan Manning’s Souvenirs of Solitude in the mornings. His chapter called Really Human, Really Poor has been my morning reading for several days just because I can’t get over how true it is. He speaks of being poor in spirit but of resisting self-hatred, something I have struggled with understanding.

He tells this story and had me laughing outloud:

Distracted after a disturbing phone call, I left the monastery to give a talk to the inmates of Trenton State Prison and began with the outrageous greeting, “Well, it’s nice to see so many of you here!” And so it goes.

Frequently not in form, on top, or in control. That is part of my poverty as a human being, and self-acceptance without self-concern simply expresses a reality. An impoverished spirit prevents the poor man from being a tyrant to himself.

Souvenirs of Solitude, page 92

His reaction to himself in that awkward moment caught my attention. There was no wringing of hands or heavy anxiety for having mis-spoken. There was only an acceptance of the reality of his own frailty accompanied by his refusal to hate himself for it.

And so I recognize a longing in my soul for this kind of lightheartedness. It helps to listen to Ellie Holcomb and Jillian Edwards sing With You Now. As I do, I take a few deep breaths in. It is in the delicate place of embracing my humanity without despising it – there is union with Christ in this space.

My to-do list is bulging, each task more time-consuming than the one I just finished. I have work to complete and a mounting sense of shame that the reason I’m unable to finish is not because it’s too much work but because I am lacking something vital to continue – organization, creativity, skill, the ability to focus.

All of those may actually be true.

But I’m learning my relief will neither be found in continuing to chase an ideal of my productive self, nor in hating myself for my inability to get everything done.

Rather than resenting my weakness, I believe Jesus is asking me to embrace my weakness. Being poor in spirit doesn’t mean despising self but releasing self from the expectation of being anything but poor. Small. Helpless. Worn.

My soul needs to remember the kind of movement that will make a difference:

Don’t try to handle your anxiety. Bring your anxiety into the presence of Christ.

Don’t try to fix your loneliness. Bring your loneliness into the presence of Christ.

Don’t try to hide your addiction. Bring your addiction into the presence of Christ.

Don’t try to change your attitude. Bring your attitude into the presence of Christ.

Don’t despise your humanity. Bring your humanity into the presence of Christ.

There is still responsibility, there is still action that comes from me. But my action is not to make right, to make whole, or to make better. My action is to usher my abilities, inabilities, failures and successes all into the presence of Christ.

Lord Jesus, remind us of your presence with us as we do the next right thing that makes sense. And may you keep our hearts light along the way.


  1. says

    Oh yes, Emily, I love just sitting with a favorite passage, something that’s hit home for me, and just meditate on it, savor it, let it wash over me with waves of grace or truth or whatever God is trying to gift me with.

    Love that you’ve shared that with us today …

  2. says

    Beautiful things to say and beautifully said. This really helps me this morning. It’s very tiring to hold yourself to a higher standard than Jesus does and then try to fix it yourself.

  3. says

    It’s so important to remember that we need to bring everything into the presence of Christ.
    Your words are lovely today, and I am sure will be a comfort to so many of us who “beat ourselves up” over the desire to always be who we want rather than who we are.
    Many often think that part of the process of change and working towards goals is by loathing who we are in the present place. It isn’t.
    When we accept who we are in Christ, the desire for change naturally occurs, but in a healthy way.
    He has such beautiful mercy on us, we need to learn to accept it and move in grace towards the changes He wants.
    Love this!

  4. says

    This is such important truth Emily, thank you for sharing the hard work of surrender. We are not in the business of fixing but of surrender to Christ in all things, not just the stuff that feels hard.

  5. says

    Oh Emily! This is exactly the message my heart needs to hear this morning. Why do September mornings fill us with hope and expectation of new beginnings but also of anxiety and feelings of never-good-enough? Thanks for the reminder that we aren’t and shouldn’t be and won’t be, but we are who we are and in Christ we are enough. Blessings!

  6. Megan says

    You don’t even know how much I needed this message this morning. Thank you so much for encouraging me to bring my weaknesses to the Lord and remember that I am beautifully and wonderfully made in His image, just the way I am.

  7. Barb Sletmoe says

    Oh, Emily. Loved this. I especially can relate to the part about not trying to handle/fix, etc. but to bring those things into the presence of Christ. I am going to print those and put it where I will see it daily! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  8. Sarah Schulz says

    Emily, thank you. What a lovely reminder. I’m starting a study group tonight, to go through Grace for the Good Girl, and how good it is to remember that I don’t have to be perfect–that God can work in my weakness, if I let him.

  9. Passing Through says

    Can you just put this on a billboard in my front yard……FACING the house? That way I can be reminded more often. Answered prayer from this morning! Thank you!

  10. Sarah says

    This is a wonderful post and definitely hit me where I am today. Remembering to take everything to Christ is the key, and so easily forgotten in the busyness of my day.
    Thank you for sharing this!

  11. says

    I love Brennan Manning. “Abba’s Child” was a life-changer for me 16 years ago…and one I read again and again. Miss him already. Thankful he left so many raw and honest words.

  12. Jackie B says

    Oh Emily, again the Spirit uses you to bring comfort, grace and perspective into my life! Thank you for being the willing voice. Praying for many blessings to be poured into your life!

  13. says

    lovely words and always so needed here but have to say that picture of the bridge? i just stood at ikea today eye balling it, wanting to buy it. knowing if i did i would just sit and stare at it for hours dreaming of where that bridge might lead. made me smile to see it there on your wall tonight.

  14. says

    I am intrigued by your post…thanks for sharing! I am definitely going to have to reread a few times just so I can really fully grasp what you are trying to say. Appreciate your thoughts!

  15. says

    That tension is something that I have struggled greatly with as an open mouth insert foot kinda gal. Your words (and Brennan’s) ring so true in my heart today. They were words that I need to hear to step forward into some things.

  16. A ngela says

    Powerful stuff for me today. Also, I don’t just struggle with shame over my inadequacies (real and imagined). I also struggle because that to-do list IS too long, and hopelessness adds to shame. I think I am in a season where God is teaching me to live with more un-done-ness than I’ve previously had to live with. Bringing that into God’s presence is the only way to focus on the deepest and true-est parts of life in the present moment.

  17. says

    This really struck a nerve with me as it is also something I struggle with. I do really feel lately that God is speaking to me about letting things go. Especially when it comes to my need to be and stay on a schedule. It’s been freeing to know it’s ok to not wash the floors on a specific day! To do it when I want to and not when my phone beeps at me with a reminder! thanks for your post it was well written and insightful.

  18. says

    Thanks for this – your words bring peace and contentment. Actually, what you wrote about is something that my husband and I are learning together; how all of life is a turning over to God of everything – there is nothing He doesn’t want and nothing He cannot handle. Bringing it to Him – as opposed to trying to fix it ourselves – is the only answer.

  19. says

    Oh, Emily. I loved this post and so needed these words spoken to me in this very moment! I wish I would have been in the small group you mentored because this college freshman would love to be filled with your wisdom and guidance. Grateful for your blog that spills His peace into my life constantly. You are a gift and girl, you can write. I love it.

  20. says

    Yes! Okay, I confess that you had me at the Ikea print hanging on your wall (my husband loves that one – it’s so peaceful! We came home with the huge London bus instead but I want this one for my warm-toned gray family room…do I digress in the name of Swedish design much? Ha!).

    Even though I’m yessing the Ikeaness of your home, I’m even more applauding the genuine feeling of knowing that we can’t – and shouldn’t – feel and do it all. We need to give ourselves to Christ, and it’s so easy to hold onto control; so easy to feel that we can achieve things on our own, even just a piece of peace.

    I praise God so much for teaching me that just being in Him is enough. Praise Jesus, He is good!

  21. Melissa Ens says

    “Rather than resenting my weakness, I believe Jesus is asking me to embrace my weakness. Being poor in spirit doesn’t mean despising self but releasing self from the expectation of being anything but poor. Small. Helpless. Worn.”


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