Here I am. 

It’s been a hard season. Hell, it’s been a hard many seasons (however long a season even lasts?). But the last 2 years have hurt…upon hurt…upon hurt. With moments of aching, beautiful, and profound healing. Just to walk into more hurt. I have cried out to God in desperation more times than I can even count. 

Asking where he is? 
Where am I? 
What do I do with so much sadness and chaos in my head and world. 

During the last heightened experience of undiluted, unbearable pain, I was laying in the bathtub, numb, yet completely raw. I had a podcast on and on it they were talking about different Hebrew words. One of which was Hineni. Under the rubble of pain and disappointment, that word blew some ashes to spark. 
Ever so gently. 
Ever so quietly as if to barely, just barely, waken something in me. I decided to get it tattooed onto me, forever branding my life as a life of Hineni. 

Now, let me explain this beautiful, vulnerable, triumphant word and the power and profound depth behind it. 

Hineni means “Here I am.” But it’s not as simple as a that small sentence. It is used in the Bible during times of complete transition, change, and stepping into the unknown, yet making a declaration to live 100% present, even in the fear and pain – to live completely saying “Here I am.” 

Here I am to the pain,
to the beauty, 
to the change and transition. 
Here I am to what may come next, though I do not know or understand. 
Here I am to encountering the divine. 
Here I am to joy and sorrow. 
I will be fully present. 
I will be fully here in this moment, in a stance of full vulnerability and access. 

It is Moses when he is hiding and God asks where he is. Hineni. It is Samuel in the night when God calls out. Hineni. It is Jacob when God calls him to trust and go down into Egypt. Though there is danger, unknown, uncertainty – they cry out Hineni – I will trust you. In every case in the bible (which is only 8) it is only used when God calls a person into a pivotal moment, a turning point in their life and response to the unknown. Their response, Hineni, is a response of total focus and a complete readiness to encounter the divine. “Yes God, I am here.” Obviously God doesn’t literally mean where are you, he knows exactly where we are. It is used as a statement to declare the readiness to encounter our God. (And our own hearts in that place of complete availability.)

Hineni is used as a marker in the Hebrew language. It announces to those who will stop and listen that something important and key is going to happen. But you have to be listening. You must be paying attention. You must be living receptive and with hands open to whatever may come. 

In a world that pulls us away from ourselves, away from the present moment, away from our Creator, I need this reminder to stop and say Hineni. In every moment my God, or my own heart calls out “where are you, Carly?” I long to cry out “Hineni.” 

Here I am. 

Here I am. 

Here I am. 

Whatever it costs me. 
Here I am in this moment. 
A moment that will never be the exact same again. 
Here I am, present to my joy, present to my pain, present to the depth and beauty of the God I love. Here I am to whatever may come, whatever may go, I will not turn my heart or soul off.  I will not hide. I will not numb or shut down or run. Here I am. 

Here I am. 

How often a day, an hour, does the eternal call out gently to us, “Where are you?” and we hide. We make excuses. We use all distractions from answering that question. How many times a day does our heart call to us, “where are you?” and we run from the vulnerability that it is. We run from the call to go deeper into our own souls. We refuse to answer, ‘here I am.’ The call is always there, the voice is always there, but most of the time we choose not to listen. 

I know I will still have many days (hell, many hours and minutes and seconds) when I choose not to listen. Where I turn away when the call of ‘where are you’ is too vulnerable and scary. But my hearts desire is to live, trying daily, to respond to that call more often, learning more and more each day how to be fully here. 

Hineni is always a powerful statement because it is layered. Meaning “Here I am” but ALSO, “Here I stand”; even deeper and more profound. It is not a meek or fearful thought, it is a bottom line. A declaration of unwavering faith that no matter what happens, what joy or pain or terror or change or unknown comes, I will stand. I will not move or be moved from this place of living inside the heartbeat of the Divine. 

And then, the most beautiful part of Hineni to me. When you call or cry out, God will say Hineni, “Here I am.” It is not just us, it is not just me who is present and vulnerable to the moment – it is also the Divine who will show up and stand their ground and declare, “Here I am, my beloved.” Hineni.