Happy new year! This month, we are talking about New Beginnings. We want to know what it looks like to prepare ourselves for a new beginning, how to consecrate a fresh season, and how Jesus is faithful in each new place we find ourselves. You can check out our previous posts in this series here: Vickie & Comfort.
I wish I were about to share a huge revelation about how I consecrated myself to begin the new year. But nestled into my oh-so-comfortable couch with a cozy blanket, I started the new year with Netflix.
As I reached for the remote and gripped it, I noticed a few bumps on the palm of my hand. I placed the remote on top of the blush decorative pillow next to me and ran my fingers over them and realized a few calluses had formed. Don’t worry, friend. It is not because I was lifting heavy weights at the gym. With all the holiday festivities, my gym rhythm was plodding. So I assumed this came from the constant friction of the time I’d spent purging, lifting, and throwing things out around the house that I was donating to the local thrift store.
Without another conscious thought, I picked up the remote, scrolled for several minutes and selected my movie — Moana. Some movies I usually never watch twice, but I made an exception. I recalled watching the movie a few years back and being drawn in by the story plot, but my new year emotional aloofness did not prepare me for what would be reflected back to me on the tv screen.
Last year started very rough. On January 6th, 2018 I stood over the coffin of my dear friend and her unborn child and was asked by her family to lead a prayer of encouragement during her funeral. At the moment before getting to the microphone, these words escaped my lips “God, I did not sign up for this!”
Then, a few months into the new year, I got news that a person I’d dated was newly engaged. Although we have been apart for several years, it was hard to hear.
I also received a report I am still processing to this very day that makes my knees come to my chest and crushes my spirit. Some days I cry a few tears that give way to wrenching sobs.
And lastly, there is still the carried-over residue of much grief from past events I have had to live. If I had to use a single word to describe the last few years, it would be H.A.R.D!
In case you have never watched Moana, here is a brief overview. Moana was chosen to embark on a mission to restore the heart of Te Fiti, the mother island. She lived with her family on the fictional island of Motunui. Their island was no longer yielding crops or fish in their lagoon, and other islands had already withered away. It would remain that way if the heart of the mother island was not restored. Moana’s granny tells the story of how the heart was stolen by the demigod, Maui, and informs her that the ocean has chosen her to find him and the precious green stone that once brought life to the ocean. Moana sets out on her quest to find Maui and restore Te Fiti’s heart. They encounter some obstacles, and Moana gives up and gives the heart back to the ocean because the mission is H.A.R.D! Maui abandons her but returns when she is about to face Te Ka, the hot lava monster that is blocking the way to the mother island Te Fiti. Moana eventually reaches the place where Te Fiti should be, but the island is gone.
And at that moment, she quickly realized that, without her heart, Te Fiti has become Te Ka, this hardened fiery lava monster. This is the part where the television became an unwelcome mirror, even though I thought watching Netflix would let my mind be comfortably blank.
Nope. Jesus had plans to give this moment meaningful purpose.
Moana sang these words in a soothing tone as she walked towards Te Ka.
“I have crossed the horizon to find you
I know your name
They have stolen the heart from inside you
But this does not define you
This is not who you are
You know who you are”
Te Ka/Te Fiti eventually leans in with a sigh of relief as Moana restores her heart, and she became the life-giving island again.
Wow! She was always there.
Y’all, Jesus showed up and sucked me into this story, revealing that my heart of stone needed reNEWal. At that moment, I sat up. As my legs dangled over the sofa, my hand went over my heart, and I realized the calluses were not only on my hand but covering my heart as well. He broke my hardened heart wide open.
“The fountain of your pleasure is found in the sacrifice of my shattered heart before you. You will not despise my tenderness as I humbly bow down at your feet.” (Psalm 51:17)
My lower lip quivered and through short puffs, I whispered, “How did I get here? At what point did my heart go dark and this hardness form?”
I know. I allowed my heart to be stolen by the constant friction of various traumas and “those calluses”, had stopped the flow of the wellspring of life through the promises of Jesus. But what I love about our God is even in the lack of my preparation for the new, he still knows, and is making renewal through His spirit available and possible.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)
We don’t have to defend our hearts because our brokenness is the door to the Father’s heart. David had a desire for a pure heart. In Psalm 51:10 he says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, renew a right spirit within me.”
Like David, I asked Jesus to cleanse me from within, and reNEW the unhealthy and hardened places of my heart. Jesus had bits of a song for me just like Moana had for Te Ka. To my soul, the lyrics below from Rita Springers’ song Defender were like waves filling the holes in beach sand.
“When I thought I lost me
You knew where I left me
You reintroduced me to Your love
You picked up all my pieces
Put me back together
You are the defender of my heart”
In this new season, Jesus is pouring out His Spirit on me. It’s seeped beneath the hard surface and into the sacred space of my heart where He had mended and restored me to wholeness. Because Jesus always knew: I was still in there. You’re still in there too…
I didn’t plan for God to talk to me about all of this through the movie, but what a way for Jesus to remind us that he is a God that longs to renew and restore us. No matter how hardened our hearts become.