I am dating myself.

Sounds totally weird, huh?

I am dating myself because I have just recently walked straight out of the longest, most grueling wilderness of my life and I am not dead.

I am, surprisingly, alive and thriving.

I am telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so enable me Jesus. I have a keen awareness of just how narrow the narrow road really is. I’m wide awake to the ceaseless work of the enemy who works overtime to steal, kill, and destroy. I’ve learned how to take small mountains and then dance on them while waving a flag. I’ve acquired an affinity for standing alone and holding my ground. I’ve mastered the art of practicing radical hospitality. I’ve learned how important it is to not assimilate into the culture you are tasked with speaking truth into, particularly if that culture is a Christian subculture. I’ve learned what it means to live lonely for a season. And I have learned that Jesus breaks mightily those whom He desires to use greatly.

But, I do not know who I am apart from what I can do.

I do not even know who I am apart from what Thad and I can do together. I do not know who I am apart from being a mother, daughter, sister, wife, church planter, leader, writer, intentional neighbor-er, hostess of people. I do not know who I am when I stand stark naked in front of the mirror in my bathroom. And I do not know who I am when I stand fully clothed in front of the mirror in my closet.

I do not know the one that Jesus sees when He sets His gaze upon me, the one who cannot sit quietly in a chair and stare out into a wild abyss of nothingness and not feel the urge to create something from nothing.

And I do not know the one that God sees when He looks through Jesus to see me.

This is why I am dating myself.

I need to know who I am when the urge to belong to something or someone other than Jesus threatens to overcome me. And I need to know who I am apart from what I do.

Even now, as I tap out these words, I feel the need to retract them. How foolish it feels to have walked with Jesus for 33 years and still not feel deeply rooted in my belovedness as an adopted daughter and co-heir with Christ.

But in these stolen moments of time with just myself, this is the truth that bubbles up to the surface and this is the truth that I force myself to sit with for hours. Simply sitting with the truth is winning half my battle. Making room for my soul to come undone is the other half.

surrender, prideShauna Niequist, in her book Present Over Perfect, says this:

Pride, for years, has told me that I am strong enough to drink from a firehouse, and gluttony tells me it will all be so delicious.

This one sentence has come back to me over and over again for the last year. My pride has convinced me that my ability to take the mountain is reason enough to scale every one I see. My pride has lied to me and told me that my love of gathering the masses around my table is reason enough to keep building a longer table. My pride has taught me that my newfound ability to hold my ground is reason enough to keep gaining more ground. My pride has made me believe that my identity in Christ is bound up in how well I steward my kingdom gifts.

And gluttony has convinced me that the scaling and gathering and ground gaining is the only way to taste and see that Jesus is good.

But when she is still and quiet, my soul knows full well that pride always comes before the fall and gluttony will only temporarily satisfy.

This is why I am dating myself.

I must make room for my soul to be still and quiet.

Last Saturday at three in the afternoon, I sat alone at a table meant for four. I changed up my usual and ordered the mac and cheese. It’s super gooey and super rich and super delicious. And I shamelessly ate every bite. For two hours, I stared out a big window while Aretha Franklin blared from the speakers. I didn’t read or write or scroll social media. I simply sat there, in my own skin, and leaned into feelings that ran the gamut from disorientation to utter freedom, until I simply came undone.

Then I sat there an hour longer.

And not just for the macaroni and cheese.

Poole's Macaroni au Gratin
Serves 4
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  1. Kosher Salt
  2. 6 ounces dry elbow macaroni {about 1 1/4 cups}
  3. 1 tsp vegetable oil
  4. 2 ounces of grana padano, shredded
  5. 2 ounces of Jarlsberg, shredded
  6. 6 ounces of white cheddar, shredded
  7. 2 cups of heavy cream
  8. salt
  1. Cook the pasta in 2 quarts of boiling water and 1 1/2 tablespoons of kosher salt until barely al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta and then transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle the teaspoon of oil onto the pasta, tossing to make sure it is all covered. Let cool.
  2. Set a rack in the oven about 4 inches from the broiler and preheat the broiler to high.
  3. Combine all three cheeses in one bowl; reserve 60% of it for the top.
  4. In a deep saucepan, bring the cream and 1 tsp of salt to a boil. Let simmer for 2 minutes. The cream will foam up and then subside into a simmer. Add the noodles and cook, stirring occasionally, about 90 seconds. The cream will start to thicken just slightly and coat the noodles. Start adding about 40% of the cheese in small handfuls, stirring until melted and incorporated into the sauce before adding more. Transfer the contents of the pan to a 2 1/2 quart skillet or baking dish. Mound the remaining cheese on top and place the entire pan on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, rotating throughout, until the cheese melts and caramelizes into a golden-brown crust.
  1. You can find this recipe in the Poole's cookbook, which I adore. Recipes and stories from a modern, local diner.
Grace Table http://gracetable.org/
Lori Harris / Posts / Blog
Lori Harris is a Southern born, Texas-missing girl, who is rearing her six kids in a neighborhood some would call the ‘hood. She and her bi-vocational husband have planted Fellowship Bible Church Rocky Mount on the wrong side of the railroad tracks where poverty runs deep and racism even deeper. She coordinates a city-wide MOPS group, passes out PBJs to the neighborhood kids, and brews coffee just to make the house smell like Jesus. She writes at loriharris.me.
  • Pam

    “Jesus breaks mightily those whom He desires to use greatly.”

    The breaking is the hardest and sometimes I don’t even know what I’m being broken from nor what mighty thing for which I am being broken.

    Great post Lori and thanks for the recipe.

    October 9th, 2017 10:31
    • Lori Harris

      Oh, the breaking is super hard, Pam! But in God’s economy, the breaking always yields an abundance.
      Enjoy the mac and cheese. It’s even better the second day. =)

      October 9th, 2017 11:20
  • Patricia Alderman

    “I didn’t read or write or scroll social media. I simply sat there, in my own skin.”

    The fact that this makes me increasingly uneasy is proof that I need to spend time in a similar way.

    May God fill you to overflowing with the truth of his love.

    October 9th, 2017 11:20
    • Lori Harris

      Trust me, Patrica, sitting there was excruciatingly painful. But oh so necessary. Praying you take an afternoon to do just that.

      October 9th, 2017 11:21
  • Kitha

    I’m in this season also…This spoke to me in the small crack that brokenness has opened for me to be able to recieve that which leaks out from another broken vessel. Your obedience in confessing your faults to others is healing for you and for us, and oh so much better than sacrifice! Thank you! Your hard but beautiful place that Father has brought you to took 33 yrs, mine has been 47 yrs in the making. Father had perhaps a bit more of a challenge with me in breaking me away from self☺. I know His timing is perfect tho. He has brought me kicking and fighting to places of healing silence. But also, probably because I’m still a little reluctant and afraid to sit side by side with silence for very long, He gentle breaks right in the middle of wherever and whatever. I’ll be going and doing and busy, then the heart pain comes out of nowhere, tears flow, it feels familiar, it feels old, it feels like something I’m being lovingly forced to see, hear, feel, smell, taste, embrace, and finally let go. Of course I don’t think I’m ready, or ever will be, but I know He’s prepared me for such a time as this. He takes my hand a leads me there… I am so grateful…

    October 9th, 2017 16:44
    • Lori Harris

      We’re all so afraid of sitting still! My friend, Reta, left a comment over on FB that really struck a chord with me. Maybe you, too?

      She said this:

      Love this piece…often I do not know who I am but more so how often do I not really want to find out for fear of what I may uncover….i believe the lie that the shedding of light brings destruction rather than freedom…Lord may we brave enough to surrender and uncover it all…and see as you do.

      October 9th, 2017 19:23

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