About Annie Briggs

I've tried to remain quiet for most of my life, afraid to have a voice or to take up any space in this world. I now have the humility to understand that my perspective is limited, but still important. Each one of God's children has a vital part to play, and significant insight to contribute to the conversation. Though I'm much more comfortable staying quiet, I'm going to start sharing here.

What if you had no narrative?

“Whenever we re-tell—or simply remember—significant stories from our past, we reinforce and recreate a selective impression of “I am”. What if it were possible to purge oneself of all those old stories, and live unbound by those well-worn narratives? But if I had no stories to tell, what would I be? Would I still exist?” –JT Bullitt

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(Archival ink on paper, 18″x16″, inked area approx. 12″ diameter)

What if you had no narrative?

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What do you need to do, and what do you need to let God do?

This afternoon a handful of friends and I gathered together at a local church as we do each Sunday afternoon. Who shows up varies week to week, yet the place always feels like home and the group feels like family. Sometimes I don’t want to go, but once I get there, I’m always glad.

Today we discussed those people and issues in our lives that are beyond our control…that threaten to overwhelm us…that we just can’t handle on our own power. We meditated on the simple phrase “I can’t, God can, I think I’ll let him,” exploring what personal issues are currently bringing us to our knees. And then we considered our individual problem areas where we are resistant to take positive action, contemplating the question, “What can I be doing that I should not expect God to do for me?”

imagesAs I thought on that last question, I was tempted to rattle off all the steps I think I “should” be taking, all the tools I’ve been taught over the years that I “should” be using, and all the spiritual principles I “should” be applying to my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. In this faulty, self-defeating mindset, I can come up with an endless agenda of how to be better—better at loving, praying, serving, including, helping, praising, hugging, encouraging, supporting, giving, volunteering, ad infinitum. Whenever this perspective pops up, it tempts me into perfectionism, striving to be the very best me in such a way that I become rigid and exhausted. No need for God’s help. I’m fully capable and I’ve got this whole “self-improvement” project under tight control…

An entirely different way to approach the same question is to focus on surrender as the true solution. “What can I be doing that I should not expect God to do for me?” I, and only I, can pause to lay down my small self-made plans and my compulsive worker-bee drive. Only I can wake up each morning and ask God what he has for me to do for Him that day. Only I can let go of my self-centered will and yield to his Spirit. Only I can admit my weaknesses and rely on His strength. He doesn’t force me to surrender—only I can seek to sacrifice self that I may live in God’s freeing flow and the sunlight of the Spirit.

HeavyLoad1While a part of me wants to do everything I can do to stay steady on God’s path, I sense that today I need to shift my focus to the two short words “let Him.” Though it may be difficult to let someone else lead me, only I can stop trying to pave my own path, drop the burden, ask for help, and follow God’s trustworthy way. Only I can listen to His voice and let Him guide me where He wills. Only I can make the choice to surrender.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

What do you need to do, and what do you need to let God do?

Are you embracing all of your ages?

“When we are like little children, with the openness the child has up until the age for school, then we retain our ability to be creators, our willingness to be open, to believe.

I need not belabor the point that to retain our childlike openness does not mean to be childish. Only the most mature of us are able to be childlike. And to be able to be childlike involves memory; we must never forget any part of ourselves. As of this writing I am sixty-one years old in chronology. But I am not an isolated, chronological numerical statistic. I am sixty-one, and I am also four, and twelve, and fifteen, and twenty-three, and thirty-one, and forty-five, and…and…and…

If we lose any part of ourselves, we are thereby diminished. If I cannot be thirteen and sixty-one simultaneously, part of me has been taken away.” —Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art

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At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. —Matthew 18: 1-3

Are you embracing all of your ages?

Are you having contrasting emotions in the midst of a change?

An available week in my July schedule afforded me the opportunity to travel up to Maine, a most special spot for my family that holds countless memories from our annual summer trips. Year after year, we’d count down the days until our always-too-short coastal vacation that consisted of TV-free days crammed with crab hunting, blueberry picking, fort building, dock jumping, motor boating, lobster roll feasting, island exploring, star gazing, and the like. The hidden gem we visited, a tiny fishing village of no more than 300 local Mainers, was both a haven of flora and fauna and a glorious escape from the blazing temperatures back home in Texas.

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My visit this year, however, has been a bit different. As our family has continued to welcome more babies into our clan, my parents decided to buy another piece of property so we could all enjoy the Maine magic together. For the first time I am not nestled away in the creaky old cottage that I know so intimately, but am instead staying in my folks’ currently under construction house, located about a 5-minute drive away. The addition is undoubtedly an incredible gift. It is also a big change.

For years Maine to me has meant “roughing it”—”enduring” some relatively minor inconveniences like living on the whims of a septic tank and shivering through chilly nights with no heater. In the new house, these former issues just won’t be an issue. On one hand, we’re lucky—who can complain about reliable toilets!? On the other, we’re letting go of some serious charm and cherished experiences. Nothing quite compares to the midnight thrills of bats flying circles around a barely lit bedroom ceiling.

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But isn’t that life as we humans know it: continually letting go of the old to make room for the new, and perhaps learning to embrace this “flow” more and more with each passing opportunity? I find it strange that at times, even when a change is a fabulous, undeserved “upgrade,” the shift can still feel somewhat uncomfortable. I suppose it’s because change inevitably involves loss—sometimes minor, sometimes major—and in this situation I feel it. I have deep gratitude that my family now has extra square footage for us to enjoy together. And, I also have sadness that my image of Maine will never be as rustic as it once was.

Are you having contrasting emotions in the midst of a change?