Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tuesday Thoughts

Give me all the alone time.

Give me Ikea trips in solitude.

Give me single movie dates. 

Give me isolated tables in coffee shops. 

Give me a quiet office. 

These are the scenarios which I prefer. I am an outgoing introvert. I can do social, but I like alone. 

However, as I'm getting older I'm finding how impossible it is to sustain the isolation. I just keep meeting really great people. People who stick with me and listen to me and care about why I like to be alone. There is joy in sharing and understanding. Joy that cannot be experienced in the solitude. Joy surpassed. But the deeper these people seep into my life the less sure of myself I am. Not in my security, but in my sufficiency. 

Affirmation is a funny concept. It says we share with people not just what we like about them, but we share in what ways it attaches us to them. Affirmation is the explanation of lingering. True affirmation burrows and plants relationships with deep roots. 

It makes sense, when friendships dissolve, the most grief is experienced not when remembering experiences, but words. I look back on many friendships in my life and I can't remember where we were or why we were having that given conversation, but I remember exact phrasing of words that fed my soul. I tear up remembering the warmth of verbal affection, often times greater than any hug I could have received. 

Affirmation comes through noticing. It comes through stepping deeply into a moment to hear not just the sentence uttered but the soul-well that it drew from. 

And maybe that's what it is. Maybe sharing genuine words with one another is drawing deeply from each others wells. Satisfying deep parchment for relationship. Sipping the wine of our Father and celebrating complexity of selves. Communion. And in all reality, this communion can turn bitter. It comes at a price. Hence why sufficiency is questioned. If Jesus is not the one filling my own well, I will always be drawing from other people to fill myself and it will leak, diluted and stale. I am only as sufficient as my dependence on the One who knows how to fill me. And He knows because He created me. 

I don't know why this has struck me so deeply 3 pm on a Tuesday, but somehow it has. The sweet memories of Chicago on my mind from this weekend and a friendship that so simply depicts this communion, the growing depth, that can come when I choose to be squirmy and uncomfortable and leave my solitude for bits of time. Don't get me wrong, solitude is good, but maybe, just maybe, I don't need so much as I thought.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


I'll be honest, New Years resolutions stress me out. The only purpose they serve is to cause me to believe that the life I'm currently living now is subpar and that if I am more self-aware, more disciplined, more confident, more anything, I will be happier. They place a timeline and a structure around conviction, stifling it of it's natural bite. 

Right now I find myself thinking about the opposite of resolutions. I am thinking about grace, and not just thinking about it, sniffing around my life for it. I hold tightly to grace. The grace that Jesus offers me, salvation grace. I press into his willingness, his bloody offering to me over and over again, amazed that He wants me though I am constantly biting it. 

It's humbling and thoughtful to sing that in a hymn. Though I'm finding I'm not so capable to see it in my sin. When repentance grabs a tight hold of me, when I am nakedly taking ownership of my callous nature, how does grace apply then? When I am needing to reconcile with people, how do I believe in the absolution grace offers me? What I'm getting at is, where does grace meet angst?

We know what it's like to have wronged someone. We know what it's like to be a moral failure. And there are consequences to that. Consequences that take days, weeks, months, years or sometimes eternity to reconcile. How does Jesus' grace answer my offense in those moments?

And I struggle. I struggle because I'm prone to seeing my failure as the climax and the grace as the falling action of my story. Grace is the answer to my problem and my problem is the pinnacle. In that belief, grace is only a response, which leaves room for other responses....non-grace living. When truly grace is an alternative plot line altogether. Sanctification sees my sin as the rising action and the grace as the climax. It sees Jesus as it's own hero who defines all falling action therein. Grace isn't a causal response to my failure, it's the reason the story was written. 

I'm asking to see this better. I'm pushing into those moments when I fail, believing grace to not just apply to the angst, but to be the same as it...grangst if you will. What Jesus' salvation offered me was the ability to look at contention as redemption. It is what answers sin with humility, not needing to save face when I repent to people, dissolving shame into appropriate pain and remorse. Grace isn't a happy lifestyle. Grace is a hopeful lifestyle. It says we can fully face ourselves and each other and live deeply. Penitently. Honestly. Gutsy. It's audacious and willing to be wrong and corrected. It's also willing to convict and correct others for their good. 

What the grace Jesus offered me and is instilling in me is really authenticity. Jesus gives me the opportunity to not be self-protective, to be wrong, to be free from my fear of scrutiny. In return, it offers me a life full of relationships I trust with my soul, knowing that they don't save me but Jesus has saved us both and will use us to push each other "further up and further in" as C.S. Lewis says. 

Jesus meets us in the actuality of today, with addictions, disease, hashtags, anxiety, coffee dates, anger, family conflict, to do lists, resolutions, anti-resolutions. He speaks to today. He says he's enough for today. What struck me so profoundly this week was the reality that Jesus doesn't even need my penitence. He's not waiting until I'm repentant enough to change me. I don't have to foster that in myself or in others. He saved me even when I didn't know I needed saving. That's the crux of it all. I am not my own hero. I am not the main character of my story. Jesus is. And that's the real comfort. That's the freedom that makes resolutions dull. His kingdom says I don't need to make lists and changes to live a better life, I just need to pursue His presence because He already did all the work. 

It matters not if I'm skinnier, better read, paleo, craftier, wearing better clothes, in a better job, etcetera before this year is over. I am accepted now, and that's enough for Him....shouldn't it be enough or me too?