This now has a part two. It is found here.
I’ve been uneasy and perturbed. I am a Slow Learner. I know that an edgy, even grumpy unsettled spirit inside me usually means that there’s business to attend to and something to be learned. I am drawn down into a Place of Reckoning. I am learning in the place of Love where God begins to change and shape me into Someone Other Than Me.
It usually requires time. And when finally my ego shrinks down to a normal size, I am ready to start. This time I shakily verbalized it to Tom.
Bless him, my Tom has my rhythms down. He knows when I need an ear, when I want (need or don’t need) advice, and the instances that I must simply talk (out loud.) Introverts will know what I mean. We introverts talk all the time, right? It is just in our heads, which is sometimes unproductive, unhelpful or unclear.
Gideon was the most unlikely of people to lead the people of Israel and perhaps ironically, his name means “Destroyer,” “Mighty warrior,” or “Feller (of trees).” His story read in chapters 6 to 8 of the Book of Judges in the Hebrew Bible was not one of a giant faith, in my opinion. Really his faith was immature; he was often testing and always questioning God’s power, before he would act. He had a “do this for me and I will do x for you” attitude.
That’s me. I suppose what most convicted me by thinking about Gideon’s story is the obvious ways that I’ve flailed about, unsure and doubting myself every step of the way over the last few years. I have made some messes and done some stupid shit. Recently (the last two years especially) I’ve been angry and unsatisfied, especially wanting “clarity about my career.” I have asked for it, even demanding it. [As if God cares, really what I do. Okay, he cares some but ultimately, this is only measured against who I am and how I treat others. How do I love? Do I serve the needs of those who are powerless among us? ]
How very ungrateful I have been.
My heart lurches. I know ingratitude when it sneers at me.
Fact is the Strong Independent Me believes deeply that women should have a job. (Everyone should have a “job” men and women, young people, old people … I fundamentally believe in the idea that everyone should contribute to the community, everyone is obligated to this.)
It is especially important to me that women have careers and “represent.” Do you know what I mean? I live with a lot of guilt, even shame that I don’t have a career right now. Or even simply a job. Just a job. Any job.
And this is how it goes in my head. Beyond the value to the community, a job earns “Respect.” Respect would make me feel validated and valuable and valued. A job where I go to a different place (than my home) and do “things.” If I am most honest, things that will build me up and help others recognize my value. Then bring home a paycheck for all the same reasons.
I’m a writer.
I know with certainty that I would write even if I never got paid or published because I have been a writer for as long as I can remember and it is who I am. The same goes for my photography — I live and breathe the pulse of life through a lens. I put word by word, ideas together as an offering.
But as I toil in relative obscurity, Ego Me leaps out saying that this won’t do. Who cares if you are an essayist or poet, who cares if you are writing here on this blog if no one knows and applauds? Bingo! That’s the crux. Validate me world! Say what you think of me please.
A friend got mad at something I said. Mad because I said that art is useless. I know that is not true. And I don’t even believe it, but the voices in my head tell me otherwise.
That’s crazy, and besides, in God’s framing of things it shouldn’t matter. I have to know my value is legit no matter what I do.
And I have (to learn) to believe that creating art is not useless.
And so for now at least, I will write.
And what I felt most convicted about from the sermon this week was my infantile attitude and my lack of gratitude for this life that I have. Shame on me. My anxiety comes out of this place. My fear comes directly from that spigot, gushing, flowing, spilling all over me in ugly incomprehensible ways.
Gideon tested God on more than one occasion. He never complained, but he didn’t believe.
Do you flail about in an infantile way demanding that God meet all your needs as if you deserve to be happy, fulfilled and useful?
Have you learned the slow path to contentment and spiritual maturity that involves a way of relaxing into Him, both by trusting and by stepping out into an unknown future looming ahead?
May it be so.
P.S. As I mentioned, this has a part two. It is found here.