Monthly Archives: May 2016

“What is Christianity, then?”

“God in Christ, and Christ in man.”

“How am I to know that there is a God?”

“It were a more pertinent question, sir,” returned Polwarth, -‘If there be a God, how am I to find him?”

“I repeat,” said Polwarth, “that the community whose servant you are was not founded to promulgate or defend the doctrine of the existence of a Deity, but to perpetuate the assertion of a man that he was the son and only revealer of the Father of men, a fact, if it be a fact, which precludes the question of the existence of a God, because it includes the answer to it. Your business, therefore, even as one who finds himself in your unfortunate position as clergyman, is to make yourself acquainted with that man: he will be to you nobody save in revealing, through knowledge of his inmost heart, the Father to you.”

“It is the man Christ Jesus we have to know, and the Bible we have to use to that end – not for theory or dogma.”

-George MacDonald, The Curate of Glaston

Planted, Not Buried

I have been hurting in ways and for reasons I haven’t been able to express, and can’t begin to express even now. That’s okay … our Heavenly Father knows it all. I mean, He KNOWS, you know?

It’s been dark and disorienting, but I was recently reminded: when everything is dark, you’re not being buried, you’re being planted. And we all know that when a seed is planted, it breaks down, or dies, before it grows up into the light, and long before it bears fruit. How long everything takes depends on what is being planted. Spiritually, only God can say what form everything will take, but since I’ve prayed to be a redwood – figuratively-speaking, of course – in the past, I suspect to be grown into something tall, strong, and resilient with an extensive root network/community, and I suspect I will spend the rest of my life growing into that.

I feel like I am good and deep in the soil now, and that a lot has fallen away, and now, life is starting to manifest. It’s still dark, but I feel alive, you know?

Wrestle Well

“Wrestle well.”

It’s a whisper, optimistic, but tinged with regret. Where my faith is going these next few months … where I am going with my faith, he cannot come. Or maybe he doesn’t want to come. Either way, he isn’t coming.

We both know it, of course, but have been slow to acknowledge it.

Part of me doesn’t want to go if I can’t take him with me, just as a part of him doesn’t want me to go anywhere he can’t come.  But this other part – the stronger part – doesn’t just have to go, or need to go, but wants to go.

It’s come down to this before, and I swore up and down I would never decide this way again. Then I get to this place once again, and I realize that I’m not satisfied here – that’s why I decided what I decided before, and that’s why I’m deciding this now.

I cannot stay in the same places. I have to move and grow. And I don’t just mean physically; in fact, physical movement is pretty low on the move and grow list at the moment. I have to move and grow spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally. It’s wanderlust, and it runs deep in me.

And he doesn’t have it. But he understands it in me. That’s why he says, “Wrestle well,” and he knows that I will. And that’s why they’re his parting words.

 

Today is a day

That I’d like to say

There is only one man

Only it’s not quite fair

I know men everywhere

There is more than one man

I Can’t Figure You Out

I can’t figure you out.

I can’t figure out if you want me to back off, or if you want me to come closer.

I can’t figure out why one day we have a really good conversation, the next banter, and the next after that, nothing at all.

I can’t figure out if I did something to hurt you, or if you’re trying to manage expectations I don’t have, or if I scare you, or if this is just how it is because this is who we are.

I can’t figure out if you think about me, let alone what you think about me, or if you think about me at all.

I can’t figure out if you want to be my friend, or if you’re interested in something more, or if you don’t want to be anywhere near me.

I can’t figure out if you’re a man, or just a boy.

And I’m not normally not the type of person who has to have things figured out. I go with what I feel, and what I feel is usually right. But my heart is in pieces right now, and I’m not feeling much of anything, and so I’m left with my mind. My mind that overanalyzes everything and is entirely undependable; my mind that thinks one thing one minute, and a completely different thing the next; my mind that can examine things from just about every angle and still end up off-base.

You’re funny, and smart, and thoughtful, and I like having you around. You make my world marginally better. And I think we’d be great friends, if nothing else.

But I can’t figure out what you’re thinking. Maybe it doesn’t make a difference to you whether I’m around or not. Maybe my presence in your world isn’t as big of a deal as yours in mine. Maybe you have dozens of people like me in your life, and you don’t need another one. Maybe it’s something else. I don’t know.

And it bugs me that I don’t know.

I hope someday I pluck up the playground-like courage to tell you what I think about you – that I want to be friends because I want you in my life.

But if I’m not ever sure where you’re standing, I’m not sure I’ll ever get there.

 

I have never in my life sent food back.

Saturday night I went to Pei Wei. I was craving a Dan Dan Noodle Bowl with shrimp.

After a total emotional meltdown on Friday, I went home and rolled up my sleeves, and sank myself into physical labor, so I wouldn’t spend too much time thinking about all of the things that were breaking my heart. I hauled the almost-forty-year-old, gargantuan, non-functioning microwave my parents gave me when I moved into my apartment to the dumpster by myself – imagine a lot of duct tape and a suitcase and a neighbor who watched the entire time. Then, I went and got a new microwave. I deep-cleaned my bathroom and kitchen. On Saturday, I went to the laundromat and did about two months worth of laundry, because I haven’t had a day off in that long, and I needed clothes for the week. Then I started hanging pictures that I hadn’t gotten around to hanging yet, and there were a lot.

So when I say I was craving an Dan Dan Noodle Bowl with shrimp, I mean it. I didn’t want anything else.

I went to Pei Wei and placed my order. When it came up for packaging, the manager took one look at it and said to the cook, “This is not good enough. It looks overcooked and there’s not enough sauce.” Then she comes over to me and she says, “I’m sorry for the delay, but I couldn’t serve you that. It wouldn’t have been good.”

I started tearing up. Not because there was a delay, but because I would have accepted whatever they had given me, and if it wasn’t done right, it wouldn’t have been satisfying. It would have done what I ultimately needed it to do, I suppose, in feeding my body, but it wouldn’t have filled me. And I would have taken it, and I would have eaten it, and I wouldn’t have complained about it, but someone else stepped in and said, “This is not good enough.”

And as I sat on my couch, eating my Dan Dan Noodle Bowl with shrimp and watching a movie, I was so glad that manager sent my food back to get it right. It was exactly what I hoped it would be after my hard week and day.

And as I ponder this deeply satisfying and relaxing moment with food and my movie, God starts speaking to my heart: “This is what I’m trying to do for you, what I’m trying to teach you to do for yourself. Stop accepting things that are not good enough for you.”

He reminds me of a quote from The Curate of Glaston by George MacDonald that I read and wrestled with earlier this year, “To be content is not to be satisfied. No one ought to be satisfied with the imperfect.”

It feels … entitled. I can hear the sneer in my mind that I’ve heard out loud most of my life, “Who do you think you are? You don’t deserve anything.”

He calls to mind Clara Bewick Colby’s commentary on Sarah and Hagar in The Woman’s Bible (1895): “Western thinkers are so matter-of-fact in their speech and thought that it might not have occurred to them that the true value of this story of Sarah and Hagar, like that of all else, not only in our own Bible but in the scriptures of other faiths, lies in the esoteric meaning, had it not been for Paul, that prince of occult philosophers, who distinctly says, according to the old version, that it is an allegory; according to the revised, that it contains an allegory: ‘for these women are two covenants,’ one bearing children unto bondage, the other unto freedom. It is our privilege, Paul goes on to teach, to be children of the free woman, but although we are this by birthright, yet there has to be a personal appreciation of that fact, and an effort to maintain our liberty. The mystical significance of this allegory has never been elucidated in reference to the position of woman, but it may well be considered as establishing her claim, not only for personal freedom, but for the integrity of the home. Acting according to the customs of the day, Sarah connived at her own degradation. Later, when her womanly dignity was developed by reason of her motherhood, she saw what should be her true position in her home, and she made her rightful demand for unrivalled supremacy in that home and in her husband’s affections. She was blessed of God in taking that attitude, and was held up to the elect descendants of Abraham nearly 1660 years later by the Apostle Peter as an example to be imitated. And these later women are to be Sarah’s daughters, we are told, if like her, they ‘are not afraid with any amazement,’ or as the new version hath it, if they ‘are not put in fear by any terror.'”

Entitled? I am a daughter of the King. Why should I be shy about my position? Why should I surround and fill myself with things that don’t satisfy? Why should I accept shallow interactions?

It’s very simple: I shouldn’t.

I should go higher and wider and deeper until I am satisfied.

The theologians in my circle will be quick to say I won’t be fully satisfied until heaven, and I’ll concede that. However, I am in Christ now; I have the power of the Holy Spirit within me now; I am a daughter of the Heavenly Father now. And so I’m claiming my birthright now.

I invite you to do the same.

 

Last summer, I had a dream that a tornado came and I got caught up into it. Then, I got put back down unharmed.

A few nights ago, I had a dream that a tornado was approaching, but there was sunshine behind me, and it could only come so close – not anywhere near close enough to touch me.

The characters who speak to me are my favorites, you know. They enter the story and their voices are already developed. They just flow.

Delilah was like that in The Field. Clementine, too. And when you got the two of them in the same room together…

People assume it was Lilly, because she’s the most like me, but she was actually really difficult to write. I kept wanting to wrap up her rawness in the benefit of my experience, so I ended up getting stuck pretty often.

But Delilah and Clementine just moved on their own.

Man, I’m sorry to be shelving these characters. All of them. Easy to write or not. Even if I don’t express it often, this is painful, painful, painful.

But new characters are coming – ones who are fully formed and ones for whom I will have to labor.

And I won’t put them in the position of having to be shelved.

I cried yesterday. Several times. The Field is going away at the end of this month, and it’s not coming back. Of course, I will always have it, and the people who have already read it or will pick it up this month will always have it. And of course, even when it’s out of print, people may pass it on their copies to other readers. But, as far as a concerted effort to reach more readers with the story and characters is concerned – well, that is over.

Last night, I was praying with a mentor, and she was talking about our books being like the seeds of John 12:24 that fall to the ground and die before they grow up. And I wonder if – in a roundabout way – this is The Field’s planting, not its burial. I don’t see how, but life principles tell me it could be. What is planted will be reaped.