Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Jesus. Now you're just being obnoxious.

God thinks he is soooooooooooo funny, I know it. I know he is snickering somewhere, because this is like a bad practical joke, like when I was ten and I hid these tiny pull-string firecrackers behind all the doors for my grandma to find. [that was mean.]

But for real, I am a victim here. For the past five months he's been dropping this ONE passage back into my life at least once a week. Of all the things I want to hear from God, the thing I'm not interested in hearing is the one he chooses to throw all subtlety aside for. I stand unamused.

So here it is:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
-Matthew 6:25-34

This is not even one of those cool verses you can tell people about, like "me and the Holy Spirit discovered this verse in the middle of Joel last week". But the other normally-ubiquitous verses haven't been around much. Proverbs 3:5-6? Jeremiah 29:11? Off haunting someone else's every footstep, I suppose.

There's just this one, mocking me, kindly and calmly exhorting me to do something which is literally not possible. I'm tired of it, especially when I keep rounding corners and it smacks me in the face like a low-hanging lamp at a trendy restaurant. And besides, I have some great excuses. After you graduate, unemployment isn't cute anymore - it's your job to worry.

I'd like to transition here to a meek and humble self-response, about how God is really a patient and insistently wise father, not a cruel ten-year-old. But if I'm being honest [and I am, it's this new thing I'm trying out] then I can't write that. If I'm being honest, I'm just pissed. I don't care that Jesus' words are true and gentle and lovely but challenging, and it doesn't matter that I involuntarily memorized this passage doing a Greek project on it this semester so that it should be part of me now.

If I'm being honest, I don't know what it means to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, but I haven't tried very hard to find out.

I'm not ready for this passage we all throw around like some kind of harmless fun bouncy ball. Because if I truly let its light shine any deeper into my life, the way it wants to, it's going to worm its way in there and start messing everything up and I ALREADY HAVE THINGS ARRANGED THE WAY I WANT THEM.

[Because that's how I want them, that's why.]

Sunday, May 27, 2012

sorry, wrong blessing

Humility, I'm pretty sure, is the worst thing to pray for. If you've never tried it, pick a day when you're feeling brave and extra Christian; ask sincerely and openly to be more humble; thereafter, wait for the cosmic smackdown with which life will soon pummel you.

That is why I have not prayed for humility recently. Having only a few months ago emerged from a long and terrible depression only very partially documented below, it would have seemed... morose. But it appears God is in the habit of dispensing unrequested blessings [we who hold B.A.'s in theology call this Grace], and so I am currently swallowing large chunks of Humility garnished with Dependence and I think there are supposed to be some Trust sprinkles on the top, but I tend to peel those off and not eat them. This extended food metaphor, because my feelings about this whole life situation are exactly like the time my wonderful beautiful friend made homemade moon cakes for Chinese New Year. She had worked so hard and been so kind to share with us, and I love trying new foods and wanted very badly to like them; however I could barely swallow a bite of moon cake but I just kept doing it anyway. [to recap: God = underappreciated Asian friend, moon cake = current life lessons, me ungratefully wanting to be somewhere else = identical in both situations].

Because everyone is asking me what my plans are now, and my only choice is to tell them I don't know. What I want to say is, "I worked very, very hard to do a lot of things well in college, and I worked very, very hard to apply for jobs that use those things, but it's a real tough Job Market as you may have heard. And I am not in Grad School because I thought I was supposed to do noble things this year instead but it turns out no one wants me to do noble things for them." But mostly all I have the opportunity to say is, "I don't know".

Looking people in the eye and saying "I don't know" is the hardest thing.

And it shouldn't be. Unemployment is happening to a lot of people, especially college grads. And I don't have to be ashamed that I don't understand the point of this calling right now. And the people asking the question care about me; they're not looking for reasons to secretly belittle me. It's just pride, just a lie that says if I was really good enough I'd have a purpose beyond following Christ for today.

But as I wait I am reminded that I think of myself more highly than I ought, that I do not deserve a job or a boyfriend or turn-by-turn life directions. I do not deserve anything, but God loves me and I am being absolutely lavished with his gifts, and the reasons for that have nothing to do with how I earn money for the next year. I am his daughter and he wants me still; he has not abandoned nor forgotten me. But neither does he need my approval before enacting his plans.

That is humility for me, now.

A few months ago my brother convinced me that it was important to jump in freezing cold water at least once in one's life. He said you can't understand until you've done it, but you simply must do it. I remembered his wise 19-year-old words while at the beach in New Hampshire last week, and determined to run into the 51-degree ocean until in over my head. By the time the water came above my knees, I couldn't breathe; everything in my body was revolting against this torture and the only thing I could think was keep running, keep running, this is important somehow. And he was right. I got in over my head, ran back out, toweled off my icy salty skin and felt like a better, newer person. There is something exhilarating about the cold when you have endured it through sheer willpower and the defiance of being alive.

Experience has taught me that this is what the cosmic smackdown is like. Everything in you says you can't and you won't endure. You gasp and thrash about in alternate anger and confusion. But you simply must do it, and when it is over you realize that you are different even if you don't understand how or why.

But dear GOD, am I humble enough yet?

 "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain; he will bring out the top stone amid shouts of 'grace, grace to it!'... He who has despised the day of small things will rejoice." Zechariah 4:6,7,10

Friday, May 25, 2012

What I do when no one is looking

For two weeks I've been adventuring in New England with John and Diff. Here they are looking rugged:

We are back now, but while I was in New England, my parents went to Real England and my brother left for his job at camp. I will have the house to myself for ten days and so, after I said goodbye to my two dear friends, the thought crossed my mind -
i am more alone than i've ever been.
Not even in a sad way, really. Alone and lonely are not the same thing. Just, the fact of the matter is, I've never lived alone for so long without a friend or boyfriend constantly available. I've especially never lived alone with 100% unstructured free time - there are things to be done, but no schedules or deadlines.

So far (as in, for the past 36 hours) being totally unattached, uncommitted, unlooked-for, is as freeing as you'd imagine. I thought about continuing my travels on to North Carolina or Argentina without telling anyone, just because I could. 
(maybe... after I do my laundry).
I settled, mid-return-journey, on just going hiking.

So I did...

And I walked across this log on a dare from myself, and no one had to worry about me...

 And I climbed on rocks and sat in places and thought about things for a very long time before trekking back.

On the drive home I explored a couple of the places I've always wanted to stop at, but never had the time for. This abandoned house was locked:

This church...
 Was not...

...Although it was somewhat protected by a very scary gravel road between that sign and the chapel to which it points. This is quite literally the entire building; I was standing in the doorway, about three feet behind that last pew. 

All these photos and blather to say, so far I've demonstrated that left to my own devices, I go exploring. I also:
- talk to myself
- turn my computer on and off many times a day
- do lots of things at once 
- am fairly responsible (so far)
- introspect like it's a legitimate hobby

Which is what this post was meant to be about - all those great thoughts- but it seems to have turned into a captain's log. Wind NNW at 3 knots, hope to sight whale on the morrow...

Thoughts to come.