Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Sweet conversation.

Sitting upon what my friend has dubbed the "vomit couch" yesterday, I did just that. I churned out my thoughts and fears and frustrations and processed through it. Not all the way, but for the first time in awhile I spewed to someone who wasn't my family. It was like a breath of fresh air.

I just cannot shake the thoughts I've been having about grace moments and curse moments. What do I number as grace and what do I number as curse, and what moments do I just let pass me by? Overlooked. Cheapened. Unvalued. I've said it before. I am trying to number because I'm trying to look. To let my days carry their own weight.

Sometimes I look ahead to the next year and a half of college and I think, "how can I make it through?" Not that college is a miserable thing, at all. But I'm antsy. I long to be somewhere where I fit better, where I feel known more. And it's overwhelming to look ahead and see abyss. So I count. I start trying to look at the value in the today. To find grace in it all because I have to. Because if today isn't able to transfigure, then when will it? I've made it to nine. Because most days I forget to look. And I think the not numbering has been just as weighty as the numbering because it shows me how often I just move on, how I forget with ease.

An encompassing word I would use to describe the past few years of my life is redefinition. In other words transfiguring. God has been taking the "Christianity" I forged in high school, and making me lean into it and find beauty. It's been a long process. Time-consuming. Heart-consuming. Some days utterly exhausting, and some days completely exhilarating. And I know very well I am just in the midst of it all. I know this because I see my selfishness. I see how compelled I am to look at myself, what I need, want, value, hate, and to define "good" by that. Maybe leaning into the ugly of my life looks like leaning into the frustrating places and ask to see the beautiful. It means I have to lean hard into Him. And I worry that won't be enough, that I will still be dissatisfied.

Can you had a single hour to your life by worrying? (Matt. 6:27) Does worry ever add anything? Sitting on the vomit couch I asked that. I looked at what I have been fretting over. And all I saw was the worry had taken from me. It had taken life, experiences, and sight. By letting my fear consume me I have willingly blinded myself from counting, and therefore seeing things accurately. It hasn't added anything to me. Insecurity has done nothing but take from me. But realizing that won't stop tightening of my stomach and the whispers in my head.

I have to ask the questions. To look. To lean hard into the fear. And I don't know quite how to do that. Sitting with Friend yesterday was a step into that. I verbalized it out. All of it. The fear, the excuse, the realization. And I saw. Seeing allowed me to ask. It's convinced me of a place I need lean hard into to find grace. To find accurate vision.

Maybe none of this makes sense to anyone else. I never thought I would be so impacted by just the thought of counting graces. But I am. And that in and of itself is a grace.

#10. Vomit couch

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Paying Attention

One of the reasons I love blogging is that it allows us to put ourselves out there. Jaded, confused, angry, aching, ecstatic, needing, full....all of it can just go somewhere for others to see. And not just see, but somehow be invited into with perimeters. Blogging allows people to see our processes, and lets us unpack our journeys if we so choose to do so. I think there is something divine about that. 

A mother of 6 posted this morning about her mom/daughter relationship. I have never met this woman and although we share a name (ahem, spelling aside) and an understanding of the Gospel, we don't share much else. But somehow in this little blog-o-sphere, I was second-handedly invited into her story. I love that. I love that I get to "meet" women and be fed somehow by their realities and battles. Some days I skim, and some days I read a post three times through, but these friendships are available to me. 

I know face-to-face relationships are vital, but somehow these written ones have become important too. And sometimes a lot more real than that face-to-face ones. It's a pseudo-mentorship. I get to see the walk that people go through, hardness and all. 

I bet y'all think I'm a total creep by now. But here's the thing. I see the gospel from these people. When I stop looking for it, I get online to read and lo and behold they remind me. Not because we had a conversation and they knew my need, but because they are being faithful to sharing without expectation. And isn't that what the gospel is? 

Isn't it coming to know our need more and more the further up and in we go? Isn't it facing our junk because it needs to be faced? Isn't it allowing other people to see the wreckage of ourselves and allowing them to see the hope that develops through the process? 

I am reminded constantly of the moreness that I want, by complete strangers. And not because they are phenom people who got it going on, but because they display to me the honesty and reality of who they are and invite me in to see their process. And isn't that what community is? Inviting each other into the daily-ness of us and choosing to walk together without expectation. Pointing each other forward with freedom in love and the grace to become. 

I understand that there is a chunk missing. The need to be known well by someone is not lost upon me, in fact, it's something I know deeply.

Last post, I quoted One Thousand Gifts a ton. I recently started my list to a thousand things I am grateful for. I didn't start because she did it in the book and it helped her. I didn't start as a hopeful entry point to grow. I started because of what she said, "I pay tribute [to God] by paying attention." I want to pay attention more. I want to be ever-looking. Eyes opened to the gospel in the every day. Because I need to be pointed back to God constantly. I have a wandering heart. I forget. I am a victim of soul amnesia. And numbering makes me look. It causes me to slow down and pay attention. 

I've felt restless this past week and I haven't been able to figure out why. And as I'm sitting here writing, I wonder if it's because I'm breaking down a little deeper. Maybe when I start paying attention, I'm able to need Him more because I'm asking to see Him more. 
Settledness and rest hasn't been a part of things lately. I feel caught in between. But I'd rather be here asking, waiting, and uncomfortable than wandering. I think so at least. It's easy to type that. 

I think that's where reading blogs has mattered to me. When I'm feeling so restless, I am able to take a peek at other people's restlessness, peace, hope, angst. I'm reminded that this is a process. That God is present in the process because regardless of my seeing Him in mine, I can go see Him in others. And it documents my own. This past year and some months of blogging has given me reference points. It's given me documentation that God shows up. And it reminds me to keep being faithful to the process because that's vital to the result. And it's made me pay attention. 

#9. Being invited into a strangers process by blog.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Soul Amnesia

My parched soul is overwhelmed today. I've been reading the Word, and a book. The book I talked about before. The one on Eucharisteo. Amazing how God can rip up your soul while filling it so deeply. Reminding me of the point. Awakening the desire.

A lot of this post is going to be excerpts. I want you to read her words. To soak in them. Because they have been life to my soul. I've written before of my views about beauty. And somewhere along the way, I forgot. This woman, the one who lives on a farm states away, has reminded me of the soul-stirring, love-evoking, search for beautiful things that really leads me to seeing God clearer. More wholly. She has reminded me that the easy fix doesn't exist and so we have to ask the question of how to see grace clearly, accurately, as more than ease or not experiencing the worst of the worst.

And I look down at his ugly-beautiful [referring to her sons maimed hand]. And I see what I am. I'm amputated. I have hacked my life up into grace moments and curse moments. The chopping that has cut myself off from the embracing love of a God who "does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow" (Lamentations 3:33), but labors to birth grief into greater grace. 
God is good and I am always loved.
Because eucharisteo is how Jesus, at the Last Supper, showed us to transfigure all things--take the pain that is given, give thanks for it, and transform it into a joy that fulfills all emptiness. The hard discipline to learn into the ugly and whisper thanks to transfigure it into beauty. The hard discipline to give thanks for all things at all times because He is all good. 
All is grace because all can transfigure. 

All is grace because all. can. transfigure. He is ALL. GOOD. 

I soak that up like a good tan in the summer. Though I'm not in a season where I am disparaging in depravity, I know those who are. I talk to my sister and hear of the hell some of her students are living in. I walk with a friend who is dealing with the pull between her old world and her new. I ache for them, and then I have to remember the grace. Not that if this got worse it wouldn't be grace, but that the ugly is grace too, because it has to be. It has to be able to be transfigured because that's what God promises. To look at the people who absolutely drive me insane and see that as their ugly-beautiful and remember that I am that too. This concept of grace puts us all on the same level, none better, none worse. And it leads us to a place of being compelled to act for others in love. To love justice and mercy and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). To be a place of rest for hurting people because we understand the need and that grace doesn't leave us in a self-protecting place. 

I am beset by chronic soul amnesia. I empty of truth and need the refilling. I need to come again every day--bend, clutch, and remember--for who can gather the manna but once, hoarding, and store away sustenance in the mind for all of the living?

And is that not me? I am the one hoarding. Soaking in Truth a few times a week and calling that full. I forget my need, lose sight of my starvation, and allow life to be swallowed up by mortality (2 Corinthians 5:4). She refers in her book constantly to Manna. The food only available each day. She reminds me that the sweet bread is only available daily. Enough for a time. And my soul forgets. It forgets its hunger for life. I miss sight of fullness, forsaking it for cheap substitutes. 

Isn't beauty what we yearn to burn with before we die? What else so ignites, hot flame? Beauty is all that is glory and God is Beauty embodied, glory manifested. This what I crave: I hunger for Beauty. Is that why I must keep up the hunt? When I cease the beauty hunt, is that why I begin to starve, waste away?
I had told it once to a questioning son that theology is but that born of theos and logy--God and study-- and theology is to study God. I had always thought of the hefty concordances on the high shelf in the study, but isn't this, too, the deep study of the Spirit God? The revelation of God over the farm? [referring to the search for beauty]
I pay tribute to God by paying attention. Beauty requires no justification, no explanation; it simply is and transcends. 

And her words resonate with my soul. Bring tears to my eyes, and the question of how to refute soul amnesia. She's right. She calls me out. How do I constantly miss the beauty in things--the God in things. It's because my eyes aren't looking. They are darting to and fro for cheap entertainment. For ease. How much harder it is to live a life where I am constantly looking for God. It involves mindfulness that I don't possess, thus it involves constant looking up to Him for the mindfulness. I have held onto the thought that studying God in beauty is just as much the pursuit of theology as it is in books for a year now. My heart jumps to see someone speaking of her own journey to that truth. The truth that the fields I mindlessly drive by, the endless blue above me as I look down, the sunrise I daily ignore on my way to class, the cup of coffee I drink, the vastness of the world around me, it all contains some semblance of beauty. I shallowly live amidst it without ever really looking. 

I feel overwhelmed with that reminder today. With the reminder that as I look for God in beauty, as I look for God in the ugly, as I look for God in my starvation, fullness, desire, apathy, and love, I am pursuing life rather than mortality. I am living the full life. I am creating a life that allows Him to work and I am fostering space for bigger things than me. 

Part of my soul amnesia diagnosis is remembering that God is in everything. That pursuing God doesn't  just look like what I learned it should in that warehouse room in Sunday School. It encompasses reality. All reality. And it leads me to a place where I don't shy away from "types" of people. In fact, it erases that word from my vocabulary. It allows me to see us all as ugly-beautiful. It teaches me to care deeply and love fervently. It teaches to me to live a life of rest and allow God to lead me where I'm supposed to be. It reminds me that I don't have to try. 

And how my soul has needed to know that. How it always needs to know that. This is grace because it can transfigure. It can go from being ugly to being beautiful. God treats my soul amnesia with a restful time in a coffee shop with thirst quenching reminders from a mother of six living on a farm.