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

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