The process of sanctification is a grueling one. It is not for the weak-hearted. Oftentimes under the facades we find ourselves internally bleeding with no cessation. Where is everyone? Sometimes we don't even know indeed that we are bleeding, and not just bleeding....we are bleeding out. Into a type of unconsciousness that leaves us less than alive. I would say that God stops the bleeding, but this has not been my experience. He is the loving Father, I don't deny, but He believes in His children. He doesn't undermine our tolerance for pain or our ability to wrestle through disequilibrium. He wants us to come to a point where we don't know how to live anymore, where our cognitive capacities aren't sufficient, where our love wears thin. Then He introduces us to Life. And we realize that as we bleed out completely, as we empty ourselves and are emptied, there is still blood. This blood doesn't grow thin or run out.
So when I claim to be His, I don't expect to always feel like the Beloved. I don't expect my circumstances to actualize like the perfection I establish in my mind. Because if my life was like a sitcom, I would wonder what happened to the God I serve. I don't expect to understand His ways, because if I did, then He would just be some idea I contrived to make myself happy--a wish fulfillment god.
These words are easy to write, but they aren't easy words. Especially since in our culture, the people who live by nihilism are seen as the tough ones, the ones who aren't afraid to face reality. What presuppositions led them to believe this philosophy of life is reality? This takes a lot of unfounded faith. But if you're not afraid to face meaninglessness, then you're probably denying your own humanity. That to me is not tough at all. That to me is foolishness.
What does any of this have to do with anything? Well. As I spend this study break writing, finals pleasantly waiting for me, or not waiting for me, based on how sadistic your picture of cumulative memory-grinding, two-hour long exams is and whether you find any humor in personifying them at all, I wonder what the Christian fight against culture has done to our picture of God. I mean I hear talk about the watered down picture of God, the loving One rather than the just One, but what if our picture of Him isn't watered down? What if it's just the wrong picture? God is loving. Always. Whoever decided that love is a cop-out emotion has definitely never experienced it.
The love of a friend speaks hard truths when the timidity of strangers doesn't permit it. The love of a parent disciplines a child when all the parent wants to do is hug and kiss and baby the child. The love of a boyfriend or girlfriend does not accept a false front for the sake of keeping the boat in stable water (If you want to live in calm waters, don't ever be in relationship...you can handle that boat alone). The love of a husband and wife is a refining love, always seeking to understand. At the core of a beautiful marriage, a husband and wife leave all clothing at the door, because this will not do for love's unmasking. Perhaps we can never know the truth of a person just as on this earth we never can experience the oneness of an essence. Yet, although we may not know the entire truth that is a person, what we do get, the partial glimpses, might at times be uninterrupted pieces of their fragile heart. Maybe we don't want to admit to this. We would rather believe we are being disillusioned by falsity, for what we see is not what we want to see, or want to be.
Was I false to you?
Be true to yourself, be true to Him, whatever comes.
Sometimes that means admitting you have no screens left to hide behind. You have nothing but you--a person foreign to yourself even, harboring this malady, this malaise.
Then the touch of another is the most intrusive feeling in the whole world.
Your insides are open, and you're drowning in your own blood, or so you think.
It takes the people around you, and as you're looking at them, sorrow in your eyes, you see their hands covered. In the sticky, sweet aroma of Love.
It is not yours. It is not theirs. But you know the Fount, and as you both look to it, you see something stark, surprising beside you.
A pale face. White, pure,
like Richard Wilbur's laundry sheets:
Some are in bed-sheets, some are in blouses,
Some are in smocks: but truly there they are.
Now they are rising together in calm swells
Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they wear
With the deep joy of their impersonal breathing;
From all that it is about to remember,
From the punctual rape of every blessèd day,
“Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry,
Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam
And clear dances done in the sight of heaven.”
Let there be clean linen for the backs of thieves;
Let lovers go fresh and sweet to be undone,
And the heaviest nuns walk in a pure floating
Of dark habits,
keeping their difficult balance.”
We don't make ourselves beautiful. To be honest, if you have never encountered your true self and been repulsed, struck down by your false perception and your lack of insight, then I would venture the bold statement that you've never encountered your true self.
Nevertheless, when--no if, you ever do have this meeting, if you're courageous enough to seek, you'll find that we don't make ourselves beautiful. But this doesn't mean that we aren't.
This does not mean that it doesn't exist--beauty.
This does not mean that you are not, beautiful.