Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Go To The Mattresses

Have you ever seen You've Got Mail? Do you remember the part where Tom Hanks is giving Meg Ryan advice about her business? He cracks his fingers, blows and rubs his hands together, and then shoots his finger in the air like a missile as he begins to tell her to "Go to the mattresses."

I feel as if I should do that every time I start writing. It seems appropriate.

I was never a rebellious child, I have always abhorred getting into trouble and for the most part did everything possible to avoid it. But for some reason, this past year, I have reverted into the thirteen year old caveat of my brain and chosen to snub any sort of advice from other people unless I asked for it, and even then, it depended on how much I liked what you said.

My mom had this Mary Englebright shirt when I was growing up which said, "I'm the mother, that's why." She wore it more for the sake of my bull-headed siblings then she did for me, but regardless, I always feel as if that's been the reasoning behind my Christianity. I did it because people said to do it. And I hated getting in trouble.

Thus, this year when everything changed, I began to tell the "I told you so" kind of Christianity to suck it. Part of the reason I started writing on my blog was so I would have a place to air out musings as I have been overhauling how I think about things. My mom says that I'm in a place of life where the concrete is becoming the abstract, which raises lots of legitimate questions.

One of those big ole' questions that's been creeping around in my head for months was about obedience. In this new-found abstract way of thinking I saw absolutely no appeal to the word. It sounded legalistic, forced, boring, and vomitous (as in, made me want to vomit, and yes, it is now a word). Still kinda does.

Last week I had a late morning at work. Meaning I got to sleep in until 7 (whooooop!!) and then start the morning at Starbucks with my Momma. I had a quick minute, and I've been reading through Hebrews, so I picked up there. I've completely enamored with the way the author explains the "why" behind these Jewish-Christians conversions. He completely roots out the history of how the old system and way of life wasn't enough. It didn't work, thus their need for a new system (Jesus) to come and fulfill it.

That morning specifically I was reading Hebrews 5. Almost immediately after beginning reading, I got a swift kick in the pants.

[Jesus] who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. (vs. 7-9)

Basically. The point of obedience is believing in the greater purpose, despite our circumstances. The cogs and sprockets started clicking in my head as it started to make sense.

I'm the type of person where if I don't see the point in doing something, I'm either not going to do it, or I'm going to put in little effort. I'm selfish that way. So that translated into my screwing over a lot of what people said to do, because I didn't know why I should do it, and mostly, didn't care to find out.

It was freeing to find that the whole point wasn't this nasty, rulesy, task that I was to accomplish because God said so. My obedience is based out of my belief in His goodness at the end of the day. It's choosing to see that He has greater purposes behind medial tasks.

***Side note: let me admit a little idiosyncrasy about myself. I have an EXTREMELY hard time spitting out Christian phrases I've heard my entire life, regardless of the matter-of-factness of what they say. So forgive me for being vague. In my frailty I still have a very legalistic and negative connotation on ideas like going to church, reading my bible, and prayer. It's not inherently the actions of these things that bother me, just some mentalities I hold behind them. To most of y'all I know it seems stupid that those phrases hold weight to me, but they do. God's redeeming me slowly.

Anyway....I don't know if that really makes sense to y'all but it shed some serious wattage on something I didn't get. It gave me some purpose and reason that I desperately needed. I revel in the freedom that settles in when God shows me this kind of Truth. When I'm not forcing myself to believe something that doesn't really sound right or full to me, but allowed to rest in knowing something deeply.

I haven't gotten to really wallow in this yet, but I didn't want to forget to share it with y'all either. It was just kinda cool.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Feed the Birds

One of my favorite things in the entire world to show people is my front porch.

This is a sweet haven. With it's worn wooden rockers, light blue painted ceiling, and amber glow from the street lights, it's more than a charming attribute to our house.

Summer has always meant being lulled slowly by the cacophony of frogs and ever-constantly chirping cicadas. It's nostalgic. As a kid, summer bedtime was always my favorite because it meant dad would take us on the front porch and tell us the same stories he'd told a million times, but would always change it up in a way that made us laugh til it hurt. It also reminds me of the gentle words of Mary Poppins "Feed the Birds" being softly sung in my ear while my mom was stroking my hair back and slowly rocking.

Life slows down on our front porch. It's calm, and things never seem as big a deal when I just listen to the soft sounds of summer around me. The same sounds that have surrounded me since I was a child. 

I'm always reminded that life will still continue on, regardless of circumstances. This porch was here the summer my brother left for the Army the first time, it was here when I was about to start every first day of school ever, and it's here now. 

It kinda reminds me of that verse in Matthew that asks why we worry when the birds don't (Matthew 6:25-34). No matter what has come in the past 16 years of life, every summer the cicadas were still here to utter their distinct melodies. There's something about that that calms me. It leaves me to rest in the sameness of God. 

I know that Saturday I wrote some really hard things, and it was honest. But man, this is equally as honest. God is still faithful, and even days like Saturday, when I give up on Him, He still let's me be apart of goodness and mercy. 

I'm seeing my smallness this summer. Man, I am nothing, and I don't do anything right, and even when I end it there, God doesn't. He brings a "new summer" in a sense. A time to remind me that life is going to continue, and it's gonna be ugly, but He is sameness. I love that I serve a God that let's me give Him the spiritual middle finger (if there is such a thing) and still allows me to abide in goodness. That's unreal and I forget a lot. 

I have written this blessing over people a bunch of times, I think it's beautiful, and a good sentiment of what I want for people (including myself) to know in the marrow of our bones. May this benediction settle over your and my souls well.

May the Lord bless us and keep us, may He make His face shine upon us and give us His peace, and may we always love the Lord first, above all else. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I Know and I Can't

So it's been awhile. It's been awhile because I've been traveling 3 out of the last 4 weeks.

And it was awesome.

I just got back from St. Simons Island, Georgia. I met some insanely cool people, like the kind of cool that makes you want to move to the other side of the country to be around them. Needless to say, it was hard to leave that kind of coolness.

The other reason I haven't blogged recently is because I'm super discouraged. I don't know about y'all, but sometimes I just want to throw in the dang towel on this whole Christian walk thing.

It's hard. And I believe in hard things. I think we've learned to assimilate the word "hard" with the word "bad." But regardless of hard just flat out being hard, it also can just lead to losing hope. And that I have.

There have been glimpses, like in North Carolina, that have given me some peace. But as of late, I just have been asking God "what do I do with this?" And to be honest, I'm just really scared. What if this year is as hard as last year? Why did I have to leave something (Georgia) that was so good for me? What is the point of prayer (I'll get into that another day)? And even if I don't find these answers for awhile, am I still going to see God as good?

I don't want my perceptions of God to be circumstantial, in fact, I beg Him to make sure they're not. But it puts me in places like this, where I feel lonely and tired. And that sucks.

Within my belief in hard things, I recognize the need for encouragement and hope. I remember back to this winter when I hit my low point and hearing that my sister was believing Truth for me. It was sheer relief when I felt like I had someone to help me bear the burden I was feeling. And here I am again, longing for that taste of community. The type where I feel understood and loved regardless, where there's no striving, but rest within relationship.

Last night the Lord reminded me that I need to stop pointing out what I don't have and believe in Him to be good enough to provide for me. It was a lightbulb moment. One I haven't fully grasped yet. My mom said when she has moments like this she just prays, "I know, and I can't."

And that's it. I know. But I can't do it Lord. I am frail and small. I am tired and lonely. I'm just asking for goodness and mercy to wash over me. And that's where I find myself right now. Missing those friendships in Georgia, and asking for God to provide here.