“Faith is different from theology because theology is reasoned, systematic, and orderly, whereas faith is disorderly, intermittent, and full of surprises … Faith is homesickness. Faith is a lump in the throat. Faith is less a position on than a movement toward, less a sure thing than a hunch. Faith is waiting.” — Frederick Buechner
It’s the new year. Which means nothing really except a calendar roll over. It provides an opportunity to reconsider our focus and intentions. The children continue with their job of school. Husband continues with work and musical passions. He started a shoe-gaze type rock band in 2010 and that will continue to be his focus outside of work. We each continue with the opportunities before us. At church we are taught to love where we live; that’s my challenge in 2011, as I seek clarity about …well, me.
What I’m Learning.
I’ve thought hard over the past few years and realized that I am stuck in a way. As God has done this incredible work in my heart, mind and soul and then put me back together into the person of his making, rather than being confident in the transformation, I have grown afraid. Fearing the hell of depression returning I’ve grown cautious and careful, reluctant to take risks of any kind or to believe in the possibilities of my future. I have forgotten how to believe that I have a future and a hope. Sounds strange and odd to me as I write it down but as I sat at coffee this week with a new friend, we talked about our areas of brokenness and healing. I expressed my worry that my “mess” is impacting my children in negative ways. I was expressing the worry I have over my complicity.
I realized in a flash of insight that I have carried an awful load on my back. A load of fear. And in many ways of doubt and lack of faith! Doubt that God has plans to use me … any more. Doubt that I have something unique to give … to the global plan of God or even local Madison. Doubt — nagging at my soul, tearing at my heart, filling my mind, even consuming my hope.
If I could sum up what I feel God has led me to and through in the last few years, it is found in the lyrics of the song Holiness by Sonicflood.
Holiness, holiness is what I long for, Holiness is what I need. Holiness, holiness is what You want from me.
So, take my heart and form it. Take my mind and transform it. Take my will and conform it. To Yours, to Yours, oh, Lord.
Faithfulness, faithfulness is what I long for. Faithfulness is what I need. Faithfulness, faithfulness is what You want from me.
Brokenness, brokenness is what I long for. Brokenness is what I need. Brokenness, brokenness is what You want from me.
© 1999 Gotee Records; HOLINESS LYRICS – SONICFLOOD
What I Know.
This path and my story over the last few years has been about the metamorphosis of my person. A reshaping. A tempering. An internal spiritual revolution if you can forgive the dramatic way of expressing it. But it has been nothing less! Healing implies God is finished, which is untrue. But He allowed me to fall apart and he put me back together again. And I learned a few things from those years of pain.
… I know God has given me the spiritual gift of Mercy. I have never been more sure of anything. Painfully sure, to a point that I question His care because it hurts so. But I am learning what to do with that. There is so much more I need to know about this and what to do with it.
… I know God has given me a Voice through writing and my photography — a way of speaking that people listen to. A way of telling the truth. I am learning to hone it. And learning to listen to Him. I seek more quiet spaces in order to listen well. I find the noise of life to be debilitating and soul sucking! My ability to listen to God and to listen to my heart, mind and soul and believe in my ideas is also progressing.
… I know God has put in me a thirst, a hunger, a hollowed-out cavern of unsatisfied need for the WORD of God which I cannot live without satisfying. I want to know what to do with it? And so I wait.
... I know that God has given me “eyes and ears” for the Ancient Tears of Women through out the history of the Church and perhaps this is a part of the heart of mercy. I do not know why, but I do hear them crying. And I know something must be done, said, understood, written so that future women & girls do not have that same spiritual pain. I live in it, breath it in and out. Their tears and cries echo in my soul becoming my tear, my cry for justice, mercy and hope for women in the Church. As I said, I don’t know why. I don’t know what I am to do with it yet. And so I wait.
… I am impatient to see and understand why I have these gifts and why I hear these voices with an equal measure of apprehension and anticipation.
… I confess that I have not trusted God or believed that I have a good future ahead of me. In my years of being broken down, losing e v e r y t h i n g that I knew to be true and solid, God has taken the shards of what I once was, swept them up and formed me into something else — someone other than who I once was. I just haven’t believed that this someone could be useful to God.
You see in those years, I was driven. And insecure. Hungry for authority and power, for significance. Passionate,zealous and perfectionistic. Continuously pushing myself. Never satisfied with my work. Rarely satisfied with others and overly judgmental, critical and irritated. I became lonely, sad, and most importantly spiritually lacking a true faith. I was bereft and lost as up until a few years ago I did not comprehend that Jesus died for me — yes, if I were the only one here on earth Jesus would have given his life for me — my life, my sin. Me. I could not accept that. I didn’t not understand G R A C E.
And then God began to work. And though painful it is beautiful.
But I still don’t want to live a small life.
“I live a small life. Well, valuable but small. And sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it or because I haven’t been brave?” — Meg Ryan’s character in You’ve Got Mail.
I fear insignificance and I fear my need for the opposite. The search for significance has run deep in me. As long as I can remember I believed that God had “saved” my life for a reason. As a toddler I choked on a peanut and through a series of dangerous events came close to a predicted death (This was in Papua New Guinea and Australia in 1968) but God intervened; At least that is what I have always believed — that He saved me for a reason and I have been searching for that reason my entire life.
I have been Searching.
Do you believe this? I think I do.
“When God created humankind in the divine image, the highest expression of that image is the power to be a decision maker. In this sense, one is never complete, but is always being formed by the decisions we make. If this be true, God casts the responsibility on us to choose that which is best for us. These choices come inevitably from the judgments we make about what reflects our highest selves. Each one of us is a unique person, with gifts, abilities and desires that give us the opportunities for creativity. To discover who we are and what those deep desires of our hearts mean gives us the clue to making decisions about what we do with our lives. If we choose wisely, we will experience the joy of growing a self and offering it as a source of strength to others. This does not mean that God is not with us in the critical moments of decision-making. Through prayer and meditation, we have access into the divine Presence that provides guidance and inspiration. God is never so pleased as when we stand up and make a moral decision that reflects our desire to live at the highest and most useful level attainable.” —The Rev. Dr. Brooks Ramsey
To end where I began, with Beuchner, I am reminded that “faith is disorderly, intermittent, and full of surprises…. Faith is homesickness. Faith is a lump in the throat. Faith is less a position on than a movement toward, less a sure thing than a hunch. Faith is waiting.”
Yes, I am waiting with a lump in my throat. I’ve learned some things. I anticipate the new year with hope and joy.