I am not a seamstress by any stretch of the imagination. However, I do enjoy strolling through a fabric shop, running my hand over smooth satins, handling chunkier wools, and looking at the vast array of material that offers unlimited combinations. In that scenario, my imagination can sew up a storm!
Nor do I cop to being, as Madonna’s 1984 hit Material Girl puts it …just a material girl living in a material world. I still own a lazy oven that doesn’t clean itself, a semi-dumb phone instead of a smart one, and rooms full of quality furniture – some pieces having ‘matured’ with us the whole of our thirty-eight years together, to our adult children’s chagrin! (They might balk at my claim of not being a material girl considering the amount of stuff they don’t want to have to sort through when I’m someday singing with the angels). But that’s another story…
No, the phrase material girl took on a different meaning many years ago when the Lord showed me the texture of my heart. It was a fabric the Bible calls stony.
Despite the dense shell around it, my heart was cut to the quick as I listened to the speaker – standing three feet away from me – read the following scripture:
“I will also give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you.
And I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give to you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26 LITV
Seated in that front-row folding chair, an audible sob escaped me and tears made fast tracks down my cheeks. I learned in that moment how the timely breath-wind of the Holy Spirit supersedes embarrassment. It was a lesson that became progressively easier as I learned to respond to Him regardless of what others might think of me. Though I couldn’t know what all He was up to at the time, it was a defining moment when the first seam in the fiber of my stony heart was pulled loose. Now, the light of His love could reveal the first glimpses of truth and reality.
Well-familiar with living my life from a place of feelings, that was the first, but certainly not the last exposure to learning there were well-developed, unhealthy patterns in my life.
– Some were mindlessly repeated out of habitual response; not necessarily sinful or wrong, but offering no redeeming value either. They could change. I just needed an awakened awareness of them, followed by practicing some new habits.
– I later discovered the strength of another pattern’s grip on my heart; that of expecting continued treatment based on ways I had been treated – or perceived I had been treated – many times in the past. This one went deep and required equally deep treatment designed to teach me to trust again.
– Other patterns were knee jerk reactions, driven unbeknownst to me by a multitude of old wounds that had never been resolved. Someone’s actions or lack thereof, brushing against my subconscious scab in that area, was enough to cause a negative response out of me. And words spoken, or not – when I craved hearing them – would pull on the chain of my feelings and off I’d scamper into shutdown mode. It was here that Holy Spirit really had His work cut out for Him.
How many times had I heard, and even used myself, excuses camouflaged as everyday adages to describe a person like I had become –
“That’s just the way she is.” “He’s got a chip on his shoulder.” “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” “Boy, is she touchy!” “I’d steer clear of him if I were you.” “They can’t help it if they’re moody; you would be too if you were in their situation.” And on and on, ad nauseum…
Unexpectedly that day, the Lord used my wounded sensitivity to get to my wounded heart! He let me know ever so clearly His loving, yet purposeful intention of a heart makeover.
The verse in Ezekiel 36 had been sitting between the covers of the Bible for a very long time, nor was it unfamiliar to me. But that day, I was ripe. The Word resounded within, His Voice shaking me awake as He began the process of taking away my stony heart and replacing it with a heart of flesh.
Twenty-five years later, there have been a lot of rocks and roots and tangled threads exposed and removed from what once was my stony heart. It has been a process, and the processing continues even now. The beauty in the pain and slow toil, however, is that when the Lord says, “I will give; I will put; I will take away; and “I will give to you…,” He will do it, for He has promised to finish what He started (Philippians 1:6).
Throughout these several decades, his Holy Spirit has been persistent in helping to weave grace and truth into the fabric of who I am. Only the Lord fully sees the topside view, which means He must remain the Weaver and I, the woven. Some days there are more ‘loose threads’ to snip than others on the underside. That doesn’t deter Him, though; His weaving continues, His gaze steady and His hand sure.
Where I once looked faintheartedly at all those patterns, wondering how in the world He could make anything new, beautiful and useful from them, He has faithfully been re-tailoring me into His material girl. Once in a while He reveals a glimpse of His handiwork and my heart takes renewed courage.
One of the things I love about the Lord is that He is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). Whatever material you possess in the person of you, with long-practiced muted patterns or still a stony heart, He hears your heart cry – even when the sound no longer reaches your own ears.
He hears your heart. ♥
We at Ishshah’s Story would love to hear your heart too. What defining moment might you share? Your comments and contributions are welcome.