Friday, November 25, 2011

If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans

I'm not a list-maker.  I used to be.  But then I started feeling like my life was a checklist, a new list every day with all the same old tasks on it...homework in every subject, and I stopped finding joy in the actual living of it.  I think, instead, I changed out list-making for something more dangerous to my spiritual life...plan-making.  Part of what made it so dangerous was that I didn't even realize I was doing it.

I was sitting with my roommate a couple weeks ago, and she asked me if I had dinner plans.  Of course I did.  I always did.  Because I hate eating alone.  It's a great time to keep in touch with dear friends, but if I'm being honest, that wasn't my first priority.  Yes I know, so selfish.  Then she said, "Oh right, you plan."  "No I don't!" I answered.  "I don't even keep a planner, except for big events!"  She went on to explain that I don't make lists of things to do, but I always have a plan B.  I had already decided what I was going to do if she becomes an RA and I don't or if we both become RAs, or if by the crazy off-chance that I do and she doesn't.  I had already decided how I would handle a crush depending on how he responded to me.

And then I was sitting in OT coloring my pen over itself in a big blob of ink, and I realized that I don't trust God, not really.  I trust Him as my Savior and as Jesus Christ, but I don't trust Him like I would a heavenly father.  I was betrayed by a friend a couple weeks back, and ironically, how I felt then was how I often feel with the God of my heart.  I feel like He's holding out on me, that He doesn't want me to be happy, or that He will only be glorified through my pain.

But through last semester's pain, He showed me that He does know better.  He has a plan of sanctification for me.  He is GOOD.  How many times we sing this in church and space out about the rest of the day...He is good.  Sometimes my pain is the means by which I get to the good end, to the realization that He is good apart from circumstances.

One of my greatest desires is to be a wife.  Maybe it's a desire derived from culture, but for some reason, it seems to be coming from a deeper place.  Wise Christians would tell me not to count on this desire being fulfilled, for God doesn't always gives us what we want.  I know this.  But I also know my heart.  I know that it's easier for me to believe it won't be fulfilled because then I don't have to have faith that it will, and I can kill a longing deep within.  I don't want to live in the future.  And I don't depend on a guy for my happiness--I am happy, utterly blessed, and deeply loved.

Yet I think I need to choose to have faith, to trust, that God is listening.

So here's the deal...I'm not the first one with this problem.  In fact, I share it with the Israelites.  Over and over they couldn't trust God.  They said they knew a better way and denied His holiness, His providence.  Ended up with the wrong king.  I, like the Israelites, have grown weary of not trusting.  I'm tired of misplacing my trust, of putting it into people, and when they let me down, using plan B of detachment.  What if I gave up plan B?  What if I chose to trust first God, and out of my trust for Him, started really trusting people?  I shouldn't trust people not to hurt me because that's not really trust at all. No, instead, I could trust that they're trying their best to love me and just suck at it.  Same of me to them.  The amazing thing is that when they break my trust, God is there waiting for a cry, He's waiting for me to say that life is hard but that His burden is light, His yoke easy.

I know what it's like to be wildly attracted to a man following after God's heart, but do I have the wild abandon it takes to follow a God I can't comprehend, to trust His heart is good?  Herman Melville once said, "The reason the mass of men fear God and at bottom dislike him is because they rather distrust his heart, and fancy him all brain, like a watch."  Ironically, my God is outside of time.

Hear my whisper in the wind, Lord, and grow it into a audacious voice.
Lead me in the way everlasting. I trust you.  I trust.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What is a person?

Here I am on a Saturday afternoon, my mind going a million miles a minute, and I'm distracted by the onslaught of things vying for my attention.  It's an interesting concept, being distracted by your own mind, but if you have the stamina to read this post to the end, I think you'll get it.  But bonus points for you; I'd be slightly impressed as well.

The question that has been haunting me this semester, or maybe in more positive terms, probing me, is "What is a person?"  I've been asking this question in many different contexts: philosophy, educational psychology, friendships, dating relationships, true love, family, community at Wheaton, and ultimately, relationship with the one true and living God.  And although I should be writing a developmental theories paper at the moment, I'm going to share not an answer but simply further inquiry.

Culture.  Culture dictates that we hide our hearts or follow them into sin.  Extremes.  But what if we can live in extremes without sacrificing that which is life-giving?  I've never been one to hide my heart, but I have succumbed to cultural practices that do so, I think more subconsciously.  For example, attraction.  Girls are told, as my brother just reminded me, to play hard to get.  To not let your emotion show or be too audacious.  What is this if not a covering of our true selves?  Listen, I'm not advising that we abandon all discretion in worldly pursuit of a person of the opposite gender fulfilling all of our needs, but I have also recently found a moral dilemma in letting guys chase, only to find the chase in itself was more exciting than the end.  Because this is a facade; the chase is never more exciting.  To get to know someone, to look deep in their eyes and see a beating soul, this is excitement.  And the chase that guys often settle for is anything but.  At the same time, because our culture is bound up in this concept, girls feel a resistance to be counter-cultural; to make their feelings known would be to....gasp, risk vulnerability, a feminine quality I believe comes naturally to most girls, if they have learned to truly live. It's actually funny that I'm even writing about this, because many people who know me probably think in the back of their heads that I'm obsessed with finding intimacy, with relationships, but this isn't my intent.  See, God has wired each of us for intimacy, and I have a passion for relationships...I used to find my worth in them, but this isn't that.  My question is deeper than that of a young girl searching for love.  I've found Love.  And this isn't about dissing guys who love the chase; we all need a good adventure.  I guess I'm asking why.  What is it that's so enticing about love?

A person.  Is an intrinsically, intensely complex being.  There is so much research in ontology, in neuroscience, yet we can't even seem to understand how we ourselves think, how our neural pathways are formed.  Why then, are we so oriented to sharing our lives with one other person who we understand even less than ourselves, who we are sure to come in conflict with, be hurt by, and even risk rejection for the mystery, or idea, of intimacy with them?  I would say culture (movies, books, magazines), and although I don't think it could indubitably be proven that it isn't culture, I think culture also represents the destruction of love.  I can watch movie after movie about lost love and broken relationships, yet still find myself longing for it afterward.  I would say for the pleasure of it, but I know from experience this can't be all encompassing either.  Last semester I went through a difficult and excruciatingly painful relationship-type experience, and even though this guy caused much distress in my life, the only reason I ended it was because I knew it wasn't honoring to God and it wasn't really what this guy wanted.  I loved him, and I wanted him to be happy despite my own lack.  I would say camaraderie, or companionship; who doesn't like to have a bunch of silly similarities with someone who intimately gets you, inside and out?  But if this was the sole reason, then friendship would be enough.  We would never want anything more.  I would say for certainty in security, but this too falls short.  Marriage doesn't make us secure; it doesn't fulfill us, bring us unending happiness.

So then what?  What is the common thread that ties us to this insatiable desire?  I think for me it's definitely a combination of those things, but more than all of those, it's a desire to be more like Christ.  It's a desire to take care of someone, to be mindful of someone other than myself, and to learn how to be loved in return.  It's an effort to see God in that which is tangible.  Underneath the rush of hormones triggered in a guy when a girl brushes her hand against the back of his neck, or in a girl when a guy gently places his hand on her lower back, bringing her to himself, is an intuition.  It's a recognition that this person cannot fulfill your every longing and cannot empathize with every situation in your past or even understand the depth of your emotion or logic but that they're willing to try anyway.  They're willing to try because they see a shadow of beauty, and they are willing to risk everything to draw closer to the everlasting.  They're willing to try because they feel it too.

Heart. Desire. Passion. Christ.  We love because He first loved us.  And perfect love casts out all fear.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

One of those "can't think of a title" weeks...

Well.  I just finished the 2nd movie of the week...pre-Thanksgiving, anyone?  And the thing is I'm restless. Restless because of possibility.  Why is it that living a habitual, normal life can be so enticing when the chaos of new circumstances throw you into disequilibrium?  I feel like I'm changing, but the world is staying the same.  I don't know who to turn to, who will get me.  Because reality is that I'm far away from home, and I'm tired.  I'm tired of the ridiculousness of guy/girl interactions at Wheaton.  I'm tired of the over-spiritualized atmosphere.  I'm tired of the work and the stress and the friendship strife.  Yet something grounds me here, something tells me this is where God wants me, in the middle of all I can't understand.

Crush...  Catalyst to confusion.  Can I turn off the outside voices?  Can I just get to know you?  Can I cut the complication?  Should I.

If I say I want to walk in the way of the everlasting, does that make it true?  Or does that make me a hypocrite?  I long to be known, but maybe the unknown is beckoning me.  Two roads diverged in a wood, and I stood by, watching, waiting.  Will it ever be my turn to walk?