I met Susie in graduate school 16 years ago. All these years later, I often hear her affirming voice in my ear, reminding me of who I am and what is true about me. She is a lovely woman, extremely intelligent, and just so gifted. I'm honored for her to write here today. Susie wrote Listen, Learn, Love: How to Dramatically Improve Your Relationships in 30 days or Less!
Barren, dry, cracked, parched, infertile, unproductive, withering, unfruitful, all images of emptiness yielding insatiable desire for what cannot be obtained with my own hands, by my own power.
Longing, with heart and soul that seems to be reaping the effects it dreads.
Tears shed in abundance until there are none left to be shed.
Prayers uttered with no apparent response, growing weak and voiceless.
Efforts, touches, words, devoid of passion as the barrenness consumes from the inside outward. Heart, soul, countenance…Dry and brittle, lacking hope.
Unless there is a deeper life, a greening of the soul that comes from outside the keeper.
Hannah, (1Samuel 1: 1-28), in her barreness, refusing to be dry and brittle, poured out her soul to the Face of the One who alone could bring life. She is baffled by her desires, and by her subsequent responses to unmet desires. Elkanah demanded why his love and preference of Hannah was not enough to satisfy her soul's longings. Essentially asking, “Why am I not enough? Must you want more, you have me?” Many women today long for a man to choose them above all others, claiming, “If only I had a husband, my life would be full.”
Hannah has Elkanah’s love, she is his favorite. Peninnah, his 2nd wife has his children, but not his heart and she mercilessly taunts Hannah. Hannah doesn’t hide and pretend to be content, she endures the ridicule and wears her pain. Hannah knows what she wants. Honest about the desires of her heart- in a manner uncharacteristic of the times –she refuses to give up and settle into Elkanah’s love and just be satisfied. She is unwilling to bury or silence her desires.
Am I? Could I live with such honesty, courage and abandon. Will I allow my passions to be spoken, or will I continue to silence them? Hannah pours out her heart to God, offering back to Him the very thing she desires most, a son. In a time when Israel was bathed in sinfulness, Hannah seeks the water for her dry and barren womb from the Hand of God. She gives birth to Samuel, who will stand as the last judge, the first prophet of Israel. He will grow to be the voice of God to both Saul and David as Israel enters the period of Kings. Exhibiting faith in an unseen truth. Living with a passion that brings them both doubt and ridicule from others.
My life is full. I have three children, the love of a husband who provides bountifully for us, and sacrifices for our needs. Yet, in the midst of seemingly fruitful season, while pursuing a long awaited dream, I felt barren. Barren, dry, withering as I long for more in my marriage relationship, a seemingly ‘closed womb’ from which I long to bear fruit in an arena of ministry that is elusive. Filled with desire to know who I am in a world- much like Hannah’s -that defines women by an external measure. Christian, secular, Israelite, 20th century, cultures laden with longing. Women, with an unseen barrenness, unmet longings, which only God can address.
What will I do with my longings? Will I seek the Face of the One who can answer the suffering, the brittleness, with the presence of His face, His covenant love and faithfulness. Herein is the answer. The courage I see in Hannah, to seek the ears of God that she might pour out her heart, her bitterness, her sorrow and discontent to Him who would not despise her honesty. Her raw hunger for a child, no matter what else was “good” in her life, draws me to the sacred space where I can pour out my longings, my heartache, my unmet desires to God…to the One who can bear my honesty, who invites and is pleasured by my pursuit of His Face, regardless of my countenance. I believe this is faith, and I choose to continue with hope in the barren lands of my life.
Susie Miller is The Better Relationship Coach™, a Speaker and the Best Selling Author of Listen, Learn, Love: how to Dramatically Improve Your Relationships in 30 days or Less!.
As a therapist turned coach, Susie is passionate about equipping people create betterrelationships with God, themselves, and each other. For over 20 years, she has helped people reduce stress, improve communication,increase intimacy, and enjoy meaningful relationships.
Susie is a cancer survivor; her story includes numerous life challenges which have shaped her work, but she’s known for her outlook on life as a “possibilitarian”. She and her husband John have been married 32 years, have 3 adult children, and live in the DC area. She loves dark chocolate, great shoes, and lingering conversations. You can connect with her at www.susiemiller.com.