The Conversation Named Freedom

Today I had a really helpful conversation.  A conversation I desperately needed but didn’t fully realize.

Obviously some part of me knew I needed something, for I was the one who initiated the conversation.  But going into it I was thinking to myself: Why am I even doing this?  What kind of an answer am I looking for?  Am I just wasting his time, my time?  After walking in the front door, but before he knew I was there, I almost turned around and left.  I almost walked right out, thinking about the excuses I could send over text, how I would be able to avoid him for a couple weeks to let any awkwardness fade… See, but that would have been the easy way out; avoidance is almost always easier.  But something that’s been talked about a lot recently is courage.

Courage: the ability to do something that frightens one.

Not fearlessness, but doing despite fear.

So I stayed and poked my head into the room and faced this fear.  The fear of reaching out.  Of asking questions.  Of admitting doubt. Of being vulnerable.  The fear of risking being burdensome or being judged.

And the answer was No, it was not a waste of time.

For during that conversation I was reminded of truth.  The deeply counter-intuitive truth that I am actually free.  No matter how many times I tie my own hands up, lock myself in a box, despise my mixed motives, fail to be all I could be, imprison myself with thoughts of striving, thinking I need to earn my worth… no matter what I do or don’t do, think or don’t think, pray or don’t pray, eat or don’t eat…. no matter if I am the most loving, admirable, courageous person on the planet or a despicable, cowardly worm… I am free.

No height nor depth,¹ excitement nor depression, self-loathing nor prideful arrogance can separate me from my Father and my God.  Because of Christ’s death and resurrection I have this freedom.  Why did he work in me, softening my heart to believe in Him?  I don’t know.  What is the role of decision/free will/choice in this faith?  I’m not entirely sure.  Does this drive me absolutely crazy?  Some day, yes.  Yes it does.  Some days I sit creating scenarios where all of the pieces can fit together in my little finite mind…until I look to the side of my puzzle and realize I left out a few pieces… But nobody except me expects me to have all the answers, to “figure out” the things that scholars and theologians have discussed for centuries.  Does that diminish my desire to understand?  Nope, unfortunately it does not.  However, realizing that I really have been offered freedom, and being reminded that it really is for freedom that he set free² gives me a renewed desire to actually LIVE IN THAT FREEDOM.  Knowing that Christ bought me a seat at His table because he loves me, not because he wanted to guilt me into accepting the invitation (hey, look at what I spent on you to get this seat at the table with the King…do you not realize how much this cost me?  are you really going to waste my death?  those nails were not pain-free ya know.) Knowing that I can say to God, Hey I am struggling right now to actually believe you are good and not manipulative…What do I do with that? Sometimes I am even struggling to believe you exist… Can you help me see what is true? and knowing that this doesn’t disappoint him, this doesn’t cause him to look on my with less love, with frustration.  This is MIRACULOUS. His love for me is unchanging.

Do I want to take that for granted?  (Good Christian answer: No, no of course not.) Honestly, ya, sometimes I do.  Sometimes I want to say, Well grace abounds, right?  Nothing I can do to lose my salvation, right? And so sometimes I spend a couple months not reading the Bible.  Sometimes I skip church.  Sometimes I am pretty rude to God in my prayers, or in my avoidance of him.  But the thing is… the thing that I keep realizing over and over and over again… is that while this separation in our relationship doesn’t diminish his love for me or my salvation it really does affect my well-being.  I lose my sense of meaning and purpose, connection with community, I get more anxious and depressed, I feel lonely and empty…. Should those things be the reasons why I want to be with Jesus?  Is he going to be upset that I am coming to him because I want joy and I know he promises joy?  Is he going to look at me and say “I only want you coming to me for ME, not for what I can give you.”?  NO WAY!  He WANTS me to come to him with those requests!  In doing that I am acknowledging my need for my Father.  I am acknowledging that He provides.

In another conversation with a friend this evening she mentioned a book that talks about this neediness as a form of love.  The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis.  I haven’t read it, but I think I want to.  I want today to be the start of me actually desiring the Lord again.  Will it actually be that?  Who knows.  Do I want that change partly because I miss the joy and meaning I felt those early years of college when Jesus and I were still in our honeymoon phase?  Yes.  And ya, I still feel guilty for that.  But one conversation isn’t going to change years and years of thinking and patterns.  I mean, I have been hearing about this grace and freedom since freshmen year of college but here I am still struggling to believe that is true and still struggling to live it out.  But if I had it perfect, well, I wouldn’t be human.

To be human is to be broken, flawed, finite, needy.
To be a believer, a follower of Christ, a child of God is to be broken, flawed, finite, needy.
Funny enough, none of those things change…

More processing to come…. as always. haha

Thanks for reading! :)

¹ Romans 8:38-39
² Galatians 5:1

The Conversation Named Freedom

Curation.

Hello, whoever you are who is reading this.  You may be new, you may not have noticed, or perhaps you don’t care, but I just realized that I have been so particular recently in what I have been posting in this blog that I feel I am being exactly what I DON’T want to be: curated, edited.  I want to be honest and real and rambly (that’s not a word, but you understand…one of the awesome things about language  – webster doesn’t dictate what I can or cannot communicate).  I want to be profound and dumb and whiny and inspiring and hopeful and downcast…I want to be REAL.  In everything that I do.  But instead I feel like I am actually being true in nothing.  Instagram gets a different part of me than Facebook does, and I still don’t understand Twitter to be quite honest, and here, on my blog where I feel the most real, I still feel this need to have a certain theme or whatever.   So what if someone scrolls through and moves on because I am too unpredictable in my content to follow.  I shouldn’t care, right?  Except that’s not really how it works.

I can preach all day about facades and honesty and give off the air that I am above caring about it all.

But I’m not.  I care desperately.  And I HATE that.  I HATE that I have been checking my number of followers on IG, that I have been wondering why people have unfollowed me, why I can’t reach 250, when some people hit 1,000 without breaking a sweat.  I am intimidated by the vast number of talented creative people all over the web and IG and etsy.  How will I ever stand out among them?  Why would anyone ever choose to buy a piece of art from me when ten thousand people are doing it better?

Comparison kills.

(speaking of which, so does smoking.  there’s research to back it up.)  It sucks any enjoyment out of the things I am doing because I never measure up.

It’s a constant striving, a constant desire for more and better, but ultimately for most and best.

And so I see that ugliness in me and my reaction is to seclude myself.  To run from other people.  Because then instead of facing that ugly jealousy in myself, that voice saying “you’ll never be as [good, smart, pretty, skinny, successful, creative, kind, artsy, motherly, perfect] as they are. just give up now before you fail.” – instead of confronting those things I go into my metaphorical cabin in the woods.  For a while I am content with the birds and the grass and the sunshine and books and art…but that loneliness always comes creeps back in.  And the part of me that has spent a good deal of time in Christian community says, “well, if you were finding your all in Jesus, you wouldn’t be feeling so lonely. that hole you feel is just that God-sized vacuum” or whatever quote I am misquoting….point being, then I feel ashamed at feeling lonely, guilty for wanting to rejoin society.  And then I step my toe in the water, go on a coffee date or whatever, and find myself tripping down social stairs with my tongue tied around my ankles. “How did I ever interact with humans in the past?  I can’t even tell a story without coming across like a lunatic!” And then I end up online again, where I can filter my thoughts before I send them, photoshop my acne, delete my whining, hide my tear-stained cheeks.  UGH.

My best friend and I have been talking about some of these things recently.  (Even being able to say that I have a  best friend (and an awesome one at that!) is such a blessing.)  And I am doing a lot of reading and thinking related to the digital world for my thesis.  Do we need people?  Are we cheapening our stories and our lives by sharing them in bits and pieces on all of these social media sites?  Is the digital inherently harmful for social interactions?  Can it be done in a way that is life-giving?  That actually allows for understanding and connection and authenticity?  Does that mean narrowing down to just a few places to invest?  (the internet never really ends up working like that though it seems…)  But today I read the blog here  titled “Is Blogging Dying?” by Mayi Carles where she definitely convinced me if there is one online place to invest, particularly if I am going to actually try and start a business, it is on a blog.  Which after thinking about it, makes a lot of sense.  If I don’t like the pressure of chronological posting (the feeling of always needing something fresh and new and better than the last thing) I have some degree of control to alter that here.  Maybe in the end that’s a horrible way to go about having a blog, but at least I get to make that decision for myself, and can choose to change it myself.

Anyway, now I’m really off track… I think being married to a man who rarely (never) tells a story without tangents and mid-thought rambles has rubbed off on me more than I think it has. haha  Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing.  Rambly just may end up being the best description after all.  The opposite of curation. Which is also, incidentally, not a word.

 

Curation.