Skipping Ahead

I can be a terrible reader sometimes. And I was an English Major, which makes my reading habits even more shameful. It’s not so much the frequency of my reading that’s the bad part (although, if I’m entirely honest, I should probably read more and spend less time playing games on my iPhone). No, I have this terrible habit of wanting to skip ahead to the “good” part of whatever I’m reading. And I don’t just have a desire to skip ahead – I do it! I’ll randomly flip ahead a few pages and skim read, trying to determine if the new section is any better than where I’m currently reading. If it’s not, I’ll skip ahead more.

See? Terrible.

Unfortunately, I find I’m the same way in my life. I hate the slow parts. I want to get to the action – to the big moments. Maybe all this comes from watching too many movies – films always capture the big moments beautifully. Everything’s pivotal to the plot. But books generally slowly build, much like life. I hate the expository bits, and much of life feels expository.

But what I keep forgetting is that the writer intended the story to go the way it does for a reason, which means the “slow” spots are necessary to really appreciate and understand the big moments. Life, I suspect, is much the same. If God works everything together for my good, and if He truly is directing my life, then the slow spots aren’t really slow…they’re just building towards the big moments. And maybe there’s beauty in the expository pieces. Maybe that’s where his real work shines, much like a composer who takes great pains to write the 3rd and 4th instrument harmonies to more richly enhance the melody (or counter-melody). Maybe I should appreciate the beauty of the big picture, of the intricate orchestration of my successes, failures, experiences, emotions, and relationships and worry less about getting to the big moments.

Besides, when I try to skip ahead in my life, as when I’m reading a book, it always ends badly. I don’t live in the present when I do that. My thoughts are somewhere else, like I’d rather BE somewhere else, off in the fantasy, in the make-believe land that I’m dreaming about rather than the reality, good or bad, of my current circumstance. God’s in both. He doesn’t leave when it’s “boring.” He doesn’t disappear because it’s not going the way I want it to go. And I can’t peek ahead to know what He has in store years down the road, much less in the next moment.

Every moment is a gift. Every second we’re alive is a chance for redemption and learning and life and love…and even the falling down is beautiful because it reminds us how good it feels to walk and even run. Let me not skip ahead. Let me not miss the sweetness of this moment… and let me be grateful for it all.

Easter

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love. I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.” –I Corinthians 13:1-7
By all means, push people away. Avoid the experiences, news articles, emotions, and risks that require vulnerability. Life’s easier that way. Gather yourself together, hold on tight, and hunker down. You’ll survive that way if you can manage on your own. No one else is going to do things for you – you’ve got to do it yourself. You want that boy? Find a way to get him. Learn how to fake confidence, self-esteem, and “experience” – people will like you more. You worked hard for your money – enjoy it by buying stuff for yourself, spending money on toys and things to make you more attractive.

The past few years I’ve been constructing an elaborate suit of fig leaves leaf by leaf. Every time I face an insecurity or a challenge, I find a way to “deal” with it on my own. Vanity. Leaf. Pride. Leaf. Jealousy. Leaf. I’ve built up so many ways of dealing with my shame and sin that I’ve covered myself in this shoddy, temporary construction, using it to hide from God and His plans for me.

But in running from God, I run from who He is. Which means I get further away from the Holy Spirit and true Love.

For the past year, I’ve been meditating on 1 Corinthians 13. You know, the “love” chapter. The one read at every wedding ever. “Love is patient, love is kind…” That one. When I read that chapter, I realized that I have lost that in my life. All the fruits of the spirit? Yeah, I’m bankrupt. I’m that clanging gong, the “nothing” the chapter speaks of who gives away everything they own but without a spirit of Love. So I set out to try to rectify that. On my own. I mean, sure, I prayed about it. But I part-timed church. I part-timed community. In essence, I part-timed God. That never works.

I think I figured if I started volunteering and reading “Christian” books and the Bible more and stuff like that, I could “find” the love I was missing and magically it’d appear. Because somehow I could make God appear in my life. I could choose Him and be in control of how He came into my life. I’d pray for feeling, pray for discernment, for wisdom, for more love. But… nothing. Just…more clanging, more empty actions, more poverty. Not to say God couldn’t use my actions in the lives of the people I was serving, but I wasn’t going to “get” anything out of it.

And then, this Christmas, I ran into an old friend who seemed to drip love. Not niceness. Not politeness. Just… love. He was open and fearlessly giving. My spirit recognized its old self – the person I’d lost years ago when I started constructing that fig leaf suit. I saw God’s heart in someone else, and it was amazing.

That one interaction sparked a desire for change in me. I didn’t want to be the person who drank because she thought she had to… who wanted to party because it was what I was “supposed” to do… who was super trendy because people would like me more… who cared about the appearance of things more than the heart of things. I wanted to be real, honest, and stripped down. And I wanted that love.

Since then, I took a chance on God. I finally sought the community and the friendships God wanted for me back in college. I took a leap of faith and showed up at church – regularly. I stopped drinking for a while, in faith. I made a conscious choice to seek out other believers, to find this heart that I was missing. To make myself known at church. To open myself up and become vulnerable. And God’s met me at every turn. He’s never let me down.

I’m still seeking that Love, and I’m not there, yet. But I know that I cannot get that love on my own. I can’t just make it appear in my life. I can’t be the great Love that Jesus was on my own. But as I submit parts of my life to Him, as King…as Protector… as Teacher… as Savior and Redeemer… I find hope and peace and kindness. I feel that love surrounding me. And if God is that love, I feel Him all around me, seeping into every aspect of my life. And it feels like coming back to life. It feels like resurrection.

Now, I feel like I’m at the beginning of an awesome journey. I’ve spent so many years sitting on the sidelines, contemplating the next best move, the motives behind my sin, and how to fix it. But Jesus said to follow. Just… walk. So I’m walking. And I pray that this time I don’t stop.

Hola!

So I finally broke down and started a blog. Like, a real one dedicated solely to my meanderings… not a “fake” one on Facebook or MySpace or even the LiveJournal account I’ve had for 10 years. I’d like to thank my church small group, in particular Phil, for coming up with the catchy name for the blog. Obviously a play on words, but it works!

Since this is my first “official” blog, and the first entry on it, I’d like to add a disclaimer – don’t expect much from this. Sometimes my posts will ramble, be over-analytical, and probably won’t make much sense. So, please, if you have any expectations (although, I’m not entirely sure why you would), please lower them. If I touch on anything deeper than my own introspective musings, it’s thanks to God, not me. I’m just a girl muddling through the life He’s given me. He’s definitely in control (thankfully). So if I write something that’s meaningful or impactful, that’s awesome, but totally not because of me and all cause of Christ. (Just wanted to make that clear from the get go).

Alright, I think I’ve sufficiently babbled enough. Now to post some “real” writings!! Happy reading! :)