How can I stop?

Last week, Boo Mama posted a link to a post about the American Idol finale. It was written by a blogger I’d never read before, Emily P. Freeman. And because her post really resonated with me (you can read it here – I had a similar response to the winner and the winning, though I couldn’t have articulated it as beautifully), I clicked around on her blog and read some other posts and downloaded the first chapter of her book to read when I had a few minutes.

Well, I had a few minutes on Tuesday morning. And it left me near tears. I don’t even really know how to explain my emotional response to her words, except to say that it seemed as if Emily knew me, knew my struggles, knew precisely what I have been up against, the desperate striving and the need, the need for… something. Something more. Just… knew. And being known is powerful, it is an acknowledgment that we aren’t alone in this, it is an invitation to something deeper, truer, more free and honest and real.

Since we’re being honest and real, my second response was fear. I looked at the questions at the end of the first chapter and thought, “I cannot face one more difficult truth about myself, really, I just don’t have it in me.” But I downloaded the book from Amazon, and then sent Emily an e-mail to thank her for the gift of that first chapter. And in her response, she said, “I do hope you’ll brave the potential storm that may rage as you continue reading. It gets better, I promise you that.” I signed up for her newsletter and checked the box that indicated I was interested in more information about the summer book club based on the book… but I still wasn’t sure.

Today, Emily posted an introduction to the summer book club. It includes a video of several of her friends talking about their own stories. And while all the women were powerful and moving, one of them practically leaped off the screen and into my office with me. It was Melissa, who said, “How can I stop? How can I stop striving or how can I be still without everything falling apart?” And I wanted to reach out to her and say, “Me too, sister, me too!” Beyond even the things I had read in Emily’s excerpt, this summed up for me the challenges I face right now – if I stop striving, if I get still, what happens to everything I have been holding together by an act of will?

My word for 2012 is fearless. So much of what I wrestle with is rooted in fear – fear of what people will think, of specific outcomes, of trying and failing, of being unloved, of what being healed might really mean. And fear is a harsh task master. It is relentless and cruel and deceptive, and I know from personal experience that if it is left unchecked, it will drive us mercilessly until we are left gasping and broken and exhausted. I know what God has for us is the opposite of that – freedom and grace and wholeness in him. While we are busy holding ourselves together and doing everything we can think of to present a perfect face to the world, he longs to come into those places and make us clean and free. “For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean.” (Matt 23:25b-26) So I’m taking the plunge – joining the book club and walking through the process of throwing open some of the dark places in my spirit that desperately need the disinfection of light and air, and inviting God in to do his good work in those places, to clean the cup of my heart.

More than that, I’m going to do it all right here – as much as I dare, and as much as he’ll let me, I’m going to write about and process it all here. Check out Emily’s introduction page and get the book – the introduction page includes a reading schedule so you can follow along. Emily will post on Thursdays; I’ll post on Fridays. Will you join me? More importantly, will you pray for me as I press in to hear from Father? Because I have no doubt this is a battle, and I am putting on the whole armor of God to enter in. I’m choosing to be fearless.



6 replies
  1. emily freeman
    emily freeman says:

    Do you hear my standing ovation for you? Do you know how this post has made me cry? Thank you for saying yes, for joining in, for being brave.

    I’m having lunch with Melissa today. I can’t wait to have her read this post, to tell her again how her willingness to take off her mask has moved others to the same.

    Thank you for your willingness! And I hope your readers join the journey with you.

    • Francesca
      Francesca says:

      Emily, thanks so much for leading the way. I am scared, I will admit, but God has been doing a huge work in my life in the last few months, shaking me loose from some of the unhealthy things I’ve been holding onto, and Melissa’s words were just confirmation for me that this book and this study will be a continuation of that process. I know that however difficult and painful it may be, the fruit that will come out of it will be far richer for the pruning.

      When you see Melissa today, will you please give her the hug I wanted to give her this morning? And thank her – from me – for being brave. xoxo

  2. Donna
    Donna says:

    I am joining the book club. I bought the book in the fall and read half of it – but there was so much in it that I needed to process that I put it aside. Now I see why. This book club is such an opportunity.


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