Surrender

After a long and weary road of being Jonah, I have once again (finally) come to the conclusion that surrender is, after all, a beautiful thing. Whether we run away from God because of hurt or pain or apathy or anger or whatever other reason, we only end up hurting ourselves in the process. Surrendering to God always brings intense relief, peace, contentment, and a sense of grounding. The floor is no longer shaking beneath my feet-it’s solid and real.

I don’t know why I keep doing this, but either way, it’s good to be back in His arms. It’s not safe, and it’s not easy, but it’s the best and most peaceful place to be. The most secure.

A while ago, I wrote this poem, and I’ve shared it a few times on this blog. But I keep experiencing layers of it, and today is yet another day when Like a Dance is relevant, so here it is once again. Happy Monday, everyone. xxx

Like a Dance

I am not interested in the mediocre.
Destiny, breathless, alive, fire.
These are a few of my favorite words.
I am not interested in living on the edge;
I am interested in jumping off it.

Let me fade, let Him grow clearer.
Where I am, I am in the way.
Where I walk, I walk in the wrong direction.
He is a breathless symphony;
He is the beat in my heart
and the fire in my chest.

Where I am mediocre,
He is extravagant.
Where words fail me,
His song always prevails.

He is adventure; He is love.
He is raging fire; He is a silent wind.

Being with Him is like a dance;
a dance none of us know,
a dance we once knew
and now must learn.

He leads and we follow;
He goes and we go after,
into places strange, unseen.

God of mountains, God of seas
God of the tempest and the firestorm:
take me there.

Hello, My Name is Anakin

I get up and it’s still dark. I stumble to the kitchen and make coffee, still half asleep, and greet my cat when he comes in from his nightly adventures. I take the coffee back to bed with me and prop up my pillows so I can read my Bible. The day starts well.

And then, the more awake I get and the further away from my Bible reading I get, the more my head starts to cloud up. Other things creep in: fear. Guilt. Anxiety. Chaotic thoughts about academics, deadlines, work, life things, whether or not I’m choosing the right thing to do at every moment. The desire to live well and the fear that I will fail. The feeling, the irrational feeling, that if I misstep just a little I will completely veer off the path I’m supposed to be walking on and end up somewhere I was never meant to be. Fear that I will make a huge mistake. Because as self disciplined as I try to be, I am a human being.

This is our condition. We are human beings. When Paul said that he does what he doesn’t want to do and doesn’t do what he wants to do (Romans 7:15), he was describing our condition. Because no matter what, no matter how hard we try and how many routines and structures and rules and roadblocks we put up around us, we are human, and we will make mistakes. It is inevitable. And it becomes overwhelming and even terrifying, at times, that knowledge that I. Will. Make. Mistakes. Despite my best efforts.

And I struggle. And I doubt. And I worry. And I am uncertain. Because despite what the world would like us to think, it is a fallen world, and there are many things wrong with it. Our struggle is proof that something is wrong. It was not supposed to be this way. And perhaps that is the first step: acknowledging that yes, the world is flawed and the systems are flawed and we are flawed and everything has something wrong with it. Everything is out of sync. It is too easy to do the wrong thing and too difficult to do what is right.

So, yeah, let’s not kid ourselves. It is freaking hard to walk this road. It’s nearly impossible, in fact. We can be real about that, yeah? We are pretty much Anakin Skywalker. It’s just how it is.

But let’s also not forget that we have a God who gets it. His standards are impossibly high, yes. Do you think He doesn’t know that? He is our Creator, literally. He made us. He knows. It’s even in the Bible: we all have sinned and (as it is popularly translated) fall short. We fall short. That’s the point of sending Christ to die for our sins and rise again, defeating them forever.

So instead of making God out to be this horrible, scary, judgmental monster in the sky who is looking for an excuse to punish and kill us, let’s go to Him instead. Because the problem comes when we allow our failures to drive a wedge between us and Him. When we give up. He never gives up, not on anyone. He never gets tired of hearing the same thing over and over. He never stops loving us. He never stops waiting for us. We don’t understand Him and the way He does things, and we never will. We don’t have to. He understands us. He sees us. And despite understanding us and seeing us, He loves us. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. In our brokenness and failure, not after we got all squeaky clean and righteous. In the hole. In the abyss. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. So trust Him.

Attempt Authenticity

I can’t be anything but me. Does that mean I’m no longer simply attempting authenticity? That I have achieved it?

Ah, wouldn’t it be loverly. But we never really arrive, do we? Because things keep changing. We keep adapting and evolving. It is a constant struggle (not in a negative sense) to stay true to who we are, because who we are keeps growing and moving and reshaping. Knowing that, it’s a wonder that any of us live even remotely stable lives.

So I suppose that attempting authenticity is not so much about the details as it is about the bigger picture. All of us have some kind of base, some deep, foundational personality that remains the same despite how often the superficial weather changes. All of us have ways of thinking and living. And all of us know the difference, in ourselves, between authenticity and pretense. We know what it feels like to lie to ourselves, or cover ourselves up, or betray ourselves. And we also know what it feels like to be authentic and real and raw.

I hope this doesn’t come off as being frivolous and skin deep. My intention is not to give out inspirational quote strips as band-aids for real problems. It’s difficult, in a world where articles about how to be pretty and how to be liked and how to be attractive and how to be creative and how to be fashionable and how to be the perfect spouse and the perfect child and the perfect everything are so prevalent, to be…just…you. As though that is somehow not quite enough. Self improvement is one thing, but when it crosses the line into changing to fit into a magazine article box, it’s no longer good or okay.

We are who we are. God made us who we are. If we were all the same, what a boring world this would be. So be you. Dare to be you. Just try it. Attempt authenticity.

Scars

Darlin’ do not fear what you don’t really know ‘Cause it won’t last – the worries will pass All your troubles, they don’t stand a chance And sometimes it takes more than a lifetime to know Darlin’ do not fear what you don’t really know

-Brett Dennen

I have scars all over my knees.

They’re tomboy knees. Definitely not very “ladylike”, but what can I say…Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is, I have scars all over my knees. And I remember how I got some of them…some are from when I face planted on a concrete basketball court, others from when I did much too sharp a turn on my roller blades and skidded across the pavement. There was blood. A lot of blood. And I cried and it hurt and at the time I was angry and frustrated and sad.

I am not afraid of the future. I am not afraid of the unknown. Or rather, when I find myself being afraid, I don’t run away and hide. This did not happen overnight…sometimes you have to collect a few more scars before you realize that you’re strong and that being happy and alive is a choice, not a result of circumstances. Before you realize that fear is something you can overcome. Sometimes you have to see a few times that God is trustworthy, that what He says is the truth, and that He does have plans for you.

Don’t look down on your scars. And if you’re in the middle of getting some more, know this: you will weather the storm, and have the marks of courage to show it.

So take heart. You will overcome.

The Edge

edge of the world

It’s that moment…that moment when suddenly, your feet are no longer on solid ground. You hang in the balance, suspended, and there’s nothing below you. On the edge of a precipice, and nothing to hold onto; that jolting feeling that sends adrenaline through your veins. The moment you realize that just now, in this moment, you don’t belong anywhere. You can’t call anywhere home. You are between places, in the middle, like a floating hot air balloon, and there are not enough anchors or weights to tie you down anywhere. You are free falling. This…this is like cliff diving without knowing there’s a bottom and without knowing whether you’ll be able to get back to the top again. This is heart pounding, hyperventilating, trembling shock. The moment when you realize you don’t know where you are or where you’re going. The moment when you realize you don’t belong anywhere. A chasm below you and a chasm of stars above.

I don’t know if people remember this about their twenties. But just for the record, we have those moments. So if we sometimes seem like oversized teenagers, or if you think we should have it all together and we don’t, or if you’re wondering why we do the things we do and get all emotional and have complete flip outs, and undergo personality changes, this is why. Maybe you were level headed and perfect in your twenties. Maybe you don’t have this happen to you, ever. But no matter how glass-half-full you are, no matter how resilient and strong and fierce and determined and free, this is The Edge. Like the edge of the world. And this whole time there’s been a path, and some stairs, and now suddenly there are no more stairs. There’s just…nothing. It’s hard to be in a place where it’s the beginning and the end and the middle all at once. It’s hard when you’re not a kid and you’re not an adult and you’re kind of nothing, really, except confused and adventurous and sometimes lonely and a little bit scared. (We can admit that, right? That sometimes we’re scared?)

It’s The Edge. And it’s where we are.