Monday, July 20, 2015

Scones and Truth

There's the new bakery in KC I'm quite enamored with. I'm a big fat sucker for pastry and iced americano's, so you add Anthropologie wallpaper and I will declare it my home. They will be my people, their recipes my recipes.

The second best thing to their cranberry orange scone is meeting my friend there for breakfast every other Friday. We've tried other places, but they can keep their crepes, I will be eating muffins like they're going out of style. I digress. These little breakfasts are cherished. It's a steady place for me to say the truth of where I'm at, without explanation, without "why", without pretense. In fact, when those are present it's typically met with a hard stare because who actually has themselves figured out?

My boss has taken his family to Colorado for the month for their July Sabbath. This means lighter work days, reading time, holiday, and lots of time to just look and see. My truth last Friday morning about what I'm seeing was that I am a whole lot worse of a person that I thought I was. Most of my wrongness revolves around the fact that I'm terribly selfish and incomprehensibly arrogant.

As I'm slowing down this month and finding myself feeling through things, part of what I've needed to think about is my busyness. Not just HOW busy I am but how I PRESENT my busyness, I don't think I'm the only one either. I tell people I'm busy like they should be impressed. I pack my schedule then tell people I don't have time because somehow I believe being busy makes me important. And the busier I am, the more important I am, and if you don't understand that then it's just because you're not as important as I.

See what I mean by incomprehensibly arrogant?

And I just doubt I'm the only, mainly because my friend was the one who said it first. I can only bet that you feel that too whether or not you think it. We live in a culture that finds elusiveness endearing. Tenacity and longevity are boring. To be interesting you have to be up and coming and different. Wearing a miniature bun on the top of your head and picking out the essence of acorn in your coffee. Or naming your child Symphony and protesting the gluten in your pasta.

Busyness, liking how you look, enjoying food, fostering uniqueness in children and being cognizant of health issues are good things to care about. They are terrible things to determine your importance. I tend to lean towards time management, likability, and introversion as being my qualifying factors. These are areas where I squirm and get tense when people try to engage them not on my terms. And when my friend said that about importance and busyness I just found myself saying, "yeah, I actually think that too".

I'm enamored with Dr. David Benner's works right now. This month I have read Surrender to Love and The Gift of Being Yourself. Both about discovery of God through the means of self-discovery. He asserts that God has created us so intertwined with Him that the better we come to know ourselves, the better we will know who He is. One of his encouragements to how to get to know oneself better is through meditation and reflection at the end of the day. Stick with me, it's not as Mother Earthy as it sounds.

He suggests that we practice sitting quietly for five minutes and just thinking about our day, remembering interactions as they come to us and registering how we felt about them. He reminds that this isn't an exercise in determining why we felt what we did, just in knowing THAT we felt it.

For the ten minute meditation he proffers that we should read the through the Gospels in short spurts, no more than fifteen verses at a time, and think imaginatively about them. Consciously putting yourself into the circumstance and wandering there for a few minutes.

Both of these practices have proven themselves extremely disquieting at first, mainly because there's no measurement. I can't gauge the quality of my time when I do this. I can only be there and participate. I am not responsible for or even sure how anything can come of such practices, but as I'm attempting to just show up I'm finding myself seeing Jesus to be a lot more tangible than before. A lot more capable. A lot more.

Right now, my truth is that I'm really bad. Sometimes I just avoid people because I feel like I'm only capable of ruining things. How surprising for me to find out that the truth about MY truth is that I can see that reality and not feel hopeless. Because as I am not responsible to know why I feel what I feel, I'm not responsible to change how bad I am. I just have to recognize it because in sitting with Him, I find it goes immediately and exclusively hand in hand with a need for Jesus. One that sees my horror and says that He's a safe place for me. He will help me to not be a ruiner. He will help me realize that to be busy is not synonymous with importance. He will help me to be present and slow down and rest and not try so hard. This month has revealed that I am actually not gaining any traction by doing so anyway.

I'm taking a lot of time to digest this. And I'm liking it that way. This is how it's seeping down deep in my bones, altering my DNA and redeeming my humanity. These are the moments where everything is the least controlled and I feel the most safe.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"' and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we." 
GK Chesterton

I have posted that here before, probably multiple times. Every year or so though it circles back through my mind singing its song a little louder than before. I read it to my roommate last night as we talked about laughter and the embarrassing things we enjoy but would never share. I live in a beautiful city, full of creativity, artistry, thought, culture. A city that encourages development and growth and change for the sake of betterment. I get revved up when I have that conversation. 

But I realized it's not a conversation I want to have all the time. Devotion to change and betterment is necessary and helpful, but can also lend itself to dissatisfaction and cynicism. Change doesn't have space for monotony, especially the monotony Chesterton writes of. 

I think "monotony" and my mind free associates directly to boredom. It's a short line between the two. Dullness, weariness, lackluster, meh. But what if that's not the true nature of monotony? What if my cynicism and desires for growth have actually tainted the goodness of monotony, tamed it of its fierceness. Disfigured it into a cumbersome burden rather than Chesterton's version that seems to directly associate monotony with joy and belief. 

When did I lose the innocence I maintained and decided to live a "once is enough" lifestyle. One that says God is only capable of achieving good things every once in a while. That He has to reboot and recalibrate before He's able to do it again. Or that He should just stop messing in my life already, I'm just fine. Where in my fight for independence did I stop seeing the His actions towards me as sufficient and decide that I needed Him PLUS what I do for myself? When did I ask Him to stop making the daisies because there are damn well plenty already?

I long and pray for the day when His joy is in me and my joy has been made full (John 15:11). When His joy is in me, THEN my joy is made full. Only then. Cause, effect. Only then will I see Him achieve miracles in my world and immediately say, "Do it again!" because I know He is capable and pleased to do so. I'm often afraid that I tire God out, when in fact I haven't engaged Him remotely close to His capacity. 

Jesus talks often of childlike faith. Growing up I thought that was only about innocence maintenance. But I think it's the opposite. I think it's the actually the return I make from my adolescent independence. The redemption of those of us who posture and pretense and defend and self-sustain. The realization that maybe He's the only one capable to repeat good things and intense things and impossible things. Maybe it's not actually a fluke. I think childlike faith is the redemption of cynicism, not the absence of it. 

It's fierce and it's free. When I return to the place where I can ask again and again, there's a fervor incomparable to any intensity I alone can achieve. Because I don't need to cover up, I don't need to hide my love and enjoyment in the name of saving face. I don't have to be afraid or embarrassed of being unimpressive or naive. I am free to love what's before me and to look to Him to do extravagant things on repeat. 

This week, a weird and inconclusive relationship in my life met resolution way faster and way more beautifully than I ever dreamed could be true. And rather than hiding it, not believing it can be repeated, I want to revel in it and know that God can do it again and again and again. I think something about wanting it repeated and unchanged offers God the glory and me the rest. It reminds me that His glory and my rest is sufficient. He is enough for me. And He does not grow weary in doing good to me or you. 

I resolutely believe that today. Abounding vitality is awaiting us at the end of our geriatric cynicism and disbelief. His delight in repetition and joy is contagious, having a Benjamin Button effect. But we must sit in the fullness of His immediate presence. We must consider the daisies. We must slow down to see it.