I think this same load of clean unfolded laundry has been on the couch for almost a week now. I just keep adding to it. Laundry day is quickly approaching again and we still have yet to enjoy the folded-ness of the last batches. It's not a difficult thing to do - fold laundry. But there's an emotional energy that it has been taking lately. It taunts me. I have yet to find the "homemaker" that must be buried deep inside somewhere. It is there, right? I feel like I should've found it by now.
I say this like it’s something out of the ordinary – it’s not. This has pretty much been our new normal. I don’t like it, but nevertheless, it’s the truth. There are children’s books and toys scattered all over the floor, despite my attempt to purge our toy room. (This is how they learn, right?) I don’t even remember exactly what my kitchen counter looks like because it’s been so long since I’ve seen it without a mess of dishes, covering nearly the entire surface area. I have unfinished projects laid out everywhere. Boxes of gathered papers and paid bills that need to be filed. I’m pretty sure that if you looked up the definition of “hot mess” in the dictionary, my picture would be there.
It used to bother me more. It still bothers me, but it used to bother me more. I have more important things to think about these days. More important than ensuring the prettiness of my house or my yard. Considering goals for our future has taken over every thought and conversation, sometimes to the point of exhaustion. And I just need to let everything else rest for awhile. Just be undone for awhile, un-messed-with. My brain and my soul are exhausted from our important-yet-exhausting conversations, and I just need to let everything else be.
Confusion. Drastic decisions that later only change into an opposite drastic decision. What is this life of choices and decisions? Full of passion and desire, yet complication and obstacles and exhaustion in getting there. To make you want it more? Divine signs for turning around and going another way? Our human minds can only comprehend so much so we give it to God and let it rest, trusting that He will redirect us, asking Him to redirect us, if such decisions are only meant for destruction. So we thrust forward, wondering if this path we are choosing is the right one for us, or if we will in fact be redirected. But what does redirection look like? Is it hardships and trials that are meant to be endured? Or are the hardships in fact those aforementioned divine signs that are stopping us, pushing us, redirecting us? We ask for signs - are these signs? Or would these hardships be perceived as "normal" outside of a decision that didn't carry so much weight? I open my Bible hoping that it will be etched in the pages, spelled out for my thick-headed humanness. I'm still waiting. I'm open, constantly looking for signs in the everything. Will it appear? Or do we push forward and trust that we will be protected from our human folly and error? Is there a wrong or right in these particular decisions or just a different? There is no moral weight - it is an amoral situation. Am I overspiritualizing this? I don't think I am. I believe that God speaks in the tiniest details of our life. But is a lack of heavenly spokenness mean I'm not listening? Or that it doesn't matter which way I choose because either is fine, it's just a matter of preference? What does the silence mean? Woven within us are threads of desires that are a part of who we were created to be. But then we also have selfish humanly desires that we are to fight against so as not to succumb to them. But how do you know which is which? Some situations are obvious - others are less clear. Are my justifications self-made to rectify my actions in a particular direction? Or am I acting in line with my heavenly design? Will I ever know? Or am I destined for ongoing torment? I long to embrace this life, fully embrace the circumstances, situations, while fully embracing and cherishing the ones in it. How do I get there? Is it a mental giving up? A spiritual giving up? Do I need to care for my soul more? Is it something I can control physically with meditation, supplements and oils? Is it giving up control? Is it a little bit of everything? How can I fully embrace this life while improving upon it and exiting the turmoil I've been living in?
I know a lot of Sunday School answers. I’m really good at Sunday School answers.
It’s obvious that as we grow in life, get a little older, have more experiences and therefore more wisdom (I hope), we are shaped. Things, circumstances and situations that we’re not even aware of yet have already changed the shape of our minds and even our hearts. We may never be able to pinpoint each and every life event that shapes us. But a little reflection and soul time can lead you to a few.
When you’re young, you want to believe everything is good. You are constantly basking in the naivety of your youth and you don’t even know it. What a beautiful thing. As you get older, and as those aforementioned things, circumstances and situations start to shape you, more distaste is uncovered in your once happy youthful world, a common process known as “growing up” or “becoming an adult”. You are permanently changed. You gain depth. You gain pain. You gain experiences that are etched in your memory whether you want them to be or not. You lose the freedom of naivety.
Perhaps the most important aspect of your life is the spiritual aspect. There are few things that rank higher in importance (none in my mind in fact) than the condition of your soul, your relationship with the Creator, and thoughts of an afterlife. Which is perhaps why it is so unnerving to witness the abuse of spiritual power.
My experiences in the spiritual area of life have left me trying to worship God in any other way but what is typical or widely accepted by the Christian culture. Because what is typical is now tainted. The condition of the heart is what is important, yes, but the actions and words used by others with darkened hearts have still scarred me, leaving me uncomfortable to worship in the same ways that were once so sincere and personal to me.
Why is it so much harder to release these hypocrites from their follies when we have all at at least one point in our life been a hypocrite ourselves?
I grew up in a box – a very comfortable box with church on Sundays, Christianity being taught and practiced at home, structured quiet times, heartfelt worship services, group prayers, and the like. I loved that box. I thrived in that box. And now that my four walls have been abrasively torn down, I mourn the box that once stood firm. I’m rebuilding now, rebuilding a different shape, maybe one without walls that served as blinders before.
“This veil is not a beautiful thing and it is not a thing about which we commonly care to talk, but I am addressing the thirsting souls who are determined to follow God, and I know they will not turn back because the way leads temporarily through the blackened hills. The urge of God within them will assure their continuing the pursuit. They will face the facts however unpleasant and endure the cross for the joy set before them. So I am bold to name the threads out of which this inner veil is woven.
I pretend to be gregarious to disguise the fact that I'm easily broken. Someone who smiles and talks and laughs around others isn't easily noticed as the porcelain that she is. It's the most clever of disguises.
As I recount my personal history – every experience I’ve had, every acquaintance I’ve met, every culture I’ve tasted, every heart I’ve broken, every time someone’s broken mine, every time I’ve found myself astray in a fallen world, every salty tear that has run down my cheek, every time that I’ve cried out to the heavens, every time I’ve wondered if they exist, every praise that has left my lips – all of this has molded me into who I am and am still becoming.
I often wonder who I’d be if those experiences were altered in one way or another. How drastically would it have changed who I am today? What percentage does each of those experiences account for in the bigger spectrum of life? If one thing would have changed, would I have met my husband whom I now can’t imagine life without? The thought makes me nervous for my past self.
If I hadn’t made mistakes, would I have learned the lessons that I now know? Would I have the same appreciation for grace, or would I have taken it for granted?
And there’s a point when you must let go. Because life is too short and precious to waste trying to resurrect bloodless relationships that were buried long ago. They’ve already decomposed in the frozen ground.
But if you look outside of where you’re used to, outside of what once was long ago normal, you might just find a rose amongst thorns. A green bud ready to burst amongst a grove of dead shrubbery.
You might just find hope.
To all my green buds out there…you know who you are.
Why do people feel at times as if they need to have a disclaimer for who they really are or how they usually act? I think we exhaust ourselves trying to be something we’re not, or trying to cover up something we are.
Societal pressures subtly and even blatantly encourage us to be anything that we’re not, which is not how our souls were designed. This will only bring constant unrest to the soul, until we can reconcile our identity with ourselves and with our Creator.
In the Christian world, we are taught that Jesus is the answer to all our problems. He is the Savior of the world, no doubt, and I personally strive to follow Him every day. But following Jesus is not going to make your problems in life go away, or even necessarily get better. So why do some think that being a Christian will eliminate our problems? What teaching have we followed that has led us to believe this? Because that sure isn't in the Bible. As Donald Miller so perfectly pointed out in his book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, “It’s hard to imagine how a religion steeped in so much pain and sacrifice turned into a promise for earthly euphoria.”
So often, I think we view God as a genie in a lamp – a being that exists only to give us what we want if we just ask for it. That somehow we’re immune from despair because we have wishes stored up that can be fulfilled.
Christians expect things out of being a Christian, and when those things aren't fulfilled or life doesn't turn out the way they've planned, they become disappointed or feel let down – like God didn’t deliver His end of the bargain. And that leads to becoming cynical, bitter, and angry.
So many have entered the world of Christianity with so many expectations – expectations that the church has given, knowingly or not – that they didn’t even have a fighting chance at a genuine relationship with Christ. No life can live up to the expectations that so many churches place on the Christian life. And how is anyone supposed to fight for something that they don’t really understand?
So why promise something that isn’t reality? To increase the numerical convicts per service? To pat themselves on the back? To validate their own existence? How are they fooling themselves?
How has modern day Christianity managed to turn the Gospel of Jesus Christ into simply do’s and don’ts? And then when you do a don’t – and we all do – the guilt trips are so thick that some end up never forgiving themselves, or even hating themselves, living the rest of their lives in shame. Tell me, how is one supposed to spread the Gospel and the love of Jesus Christ when they feel worthless? Or like they’re just not good enough? How does the church preach against evil, and yet let evil in in the form of shame and blame? How do we miss this?
How do we miss the chance at a real relationship with Christ because we’re so busy with the religion? In the name of “modernizing” and “maintaining relevance” – terms that oh so many churches use today to justify their program-based decisions within the church – we’ve lost it. We’ve lost what it really means to follow Christ. Instead we’ve replaced it with programs, intelligent lights, fancy graphics, and trendiness.
When did we start to commercialize Christianity? And when did we lose our way and think that was right and acceptable? When did the people in the church become so uninformed of the teachings of Scripture that we fail to recognize when something is “off”?
As A.W. Tozer so concisely writes in his book The Pursuit of God,
“To great sections of the Church the art of worship has been lost entirely, and in its place has come that strange and foreign thing called the ‘program.’ This word has been borrowed from the stage and applied with sad wisdom to the type of public service which now passes for worship among us.”
I mean, wow. Does that not represent most of what we see today in the modern church culture? And does that not just make your heart sad?
And just maybe all of this has something to do with this generation’s unbelief, skepticism, cynicism, bitterness, anger, and coldness towards God.
How did we get here?
Have you ever felt like you're living someone else's life? Like you wake up one morning and you have no idea who you are and whose life you've been living. Not amnesia – well, maybe like soul amnesia. You just have no idea how you became who you are today. Or how you got where you are.
And all at once, you hate it.
You’ve come so far from what or who or where you thought you would be, you can’t even identify with yourself anymore. It’s like you forgot all the steps in between the time you had dreams of what your life would be like and now – not even remotely grasping how you have come to this current place in your life.
And it seems like everyone else around you is just carrying on as things are normal, or even worse, great. You all of the sudden feel isolated, like you’re the only one who seems to be carrying this perspective. You think that maybe something’s wrong with you. You try to convince yourself to snap out of it.
And then you’re confused and perplexed, and filled with unbelief that you are the only person who is feeling this way. You know it’s not in your head. You know that there’s something wrong with this life that’s being lived, and there’s something wrong with everything around you.
With some obvious varying differences, all humans are virtually the same. We have the same basic desires. It’s Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Our hearts need to love and be loved. We feel the need to have security. We have a moral sense of wrong and right, regardless of our faith or belief system. We feel the need to achieve something in our lives. We all need food, water, and breath to survive.
And at the surface, most of our lives seem to be similar. We all have people in our lives that we care about, and who care about us. We all have things that we like and dislike. We all believe in something.
And yet it just seems as if there should be more. Like our existence should merit something amazing. Our existence, the human body itself, is an incredibly amazing thing, the way every intricate part works and comes together to create who you are. Doesn’t it make sense that things you do in your every day life should be made up of something amazing as well? Some days it seems like a waste.
So what makes some people fine with living their lives the way they are? Is it ignorance? Complacency? Accepting simplicity? Pure apathy?
This nebulous feeling seems much more prevalent, although not exclusively, among those in their mid-20s and 30s. Generation “Y”. The technology generation. The lost generation. Is it possibly because we as an oversaturated generation have been exposed to so much more that we are now unsatisfied with reality?
I've talked to several people who have at one point felt this way, and read several blogs of the same. Granted, they were all Americans. We as Americans have so much at our finger tips, we are very readily and ironically bored with what we have. It seems as though we have a nation-wide identity crisis on our hands, in need of a perspective shift.
What would it be like if we just purposed to live a better story, as Donald Miller suggests in A Million Miles in a Thousand Years? “And once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can't go back to being normal; you can't go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time.”
What would the world look like if all of its inhabitants lived a better story?
I enjoy writing. It clears my thoughts and it’s somewhat therapeutic. When I can’t say it, I write it. Or sometimes when I can say it, but might get slapped, then I write that as well. Everyone needs an outlet. This is mine. I just feel that my perspective might be worth sharing. And if there’s one person out there that benefits somehow from what I have to say, then I’ve already succeeded.
I write from where I sit, from where I see the world, as most writers do. I analyze and dissect life, in all walks, in all situations. This means that I will sometimes have something happy and sunny to share, and then sometimes it will be a little more cynical, even dark, because let’s face it - our thoughts aren’t always rainbows and puppy dogs.
Now this doesn’t mean that I’m wallowing in depression and on the ledge about to jump. This doesn’t even necessarily mean that I am in desperate need of some verbal encouragement or an uplifting talk. This just means that I’m fearlessly sharing my thoughts - the good, the bad, and the ugly - because I don’t think people do that enough. Afraid of judgment, I suppose. I’m not - afraid of judgment, that is. Judge away, if you’re one of those people that feel the need to judge. But I’m sharing who I am, sharing my heart, for better or for worse.
So I guess I felt like I needed to disclose that as a precursor to future posts. Enjoy the ride.
My intention is to provoke thought, not to necessarily find resolution.