Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Range of my Thoughts

I don't like carrots. I don't know why, I just don't like them. Sometimes I can tolerate them, but I don't think I've ever eaten a carrot (in any form) and thought, man that was a good carrot! Today I read two blog posts about serving carrots for Thanksgiving and they made me really glad my family doesn't make carrots for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a holiday where you could conceivably serve healthy vegetable dishes. My family? The healthiest thing we serve is canned grean peas (heaven forbid you serve frozen) and I'm almost positive my grandmother use to add slabs of butter to the simmering pot of green peas. Other than that, the green beans are smothered with cream of mushroom soup and fried onions, the cranberries are enveloped in Cool Whip and marshmallows, and the sweet potatoes become one with no small amount of butter, brown sugar, and whole milk (and more marshmallows). I bet that meal alone takes at least one day off our lives every year, but it's worth it.

Recently, during my lunch breaks at work, I've been reading Blue Shoe by Anne Lamott. Today I turned to chapter 8, on page 186, when I noticed that it had been dog-eared at some point in the past. I bought Blue Shoe at Powell's a couple of months ago, so I knew it was used, but it struck me as strange to think about the person who originally dog-eared page 186. I wonder what they were doing, who they are, when they read Blue Shoe, what they thought of it, etc. I loved finding that dog-ear. I'm not one of those people who wants to keep their books in pristine condition. I love it when books look lived-in; dog-ears, spilled coffee, highlighting, writing in the margins, dropping it in a puddle - to me those are the signs of a much loved book. And I believe books should not just be read, but that they should become a part of us, the more tattered and worn the better!

In the last couple of months of 2010 it has become serenly clear to me that God has been teaching me to die to myself. The key word there would definitely be die. Earlier in the year it struck me that the main thing Jesus did on this earth (although He did many things), but His arguably most important act (the Crucifixion) was essentially an act of dying to Himself. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus plainly asks the Father to spare Him the torture of dying on the Cross, and He's really upset about it, "to the point of death", but He ultimately ends His prayer and trumps His other requests by saying "not my will, but yours".

Dying to yourself sounds really nice and sweet and fun when we're talking about Jesus or when we hear it in a church sermon (and we're simultaneously thinking about how good Red Robin will be for lunch). However, in real life, it's not so fun, in fact it's rather painful. 2010 has been a very strange year for me; ever since January God has been somewhat systematically and not so gently taking everything from me that I have normally found comfort, security, and identity in - my best friend, my family, my dog, my city, my state, my dream for how my life "should be", even my independence and self-sufficiency (and pride) have all gradually been taken away. And don't get me wrong, I know I'm not the first person to not get what I want in life. Life is hard and I know LOTS of people wish their lives were different and honestly, I'm grateful for my life just the way it is, I know it is a gift.

I've just been made aware that how we respond to not getting what we want in life is a choice. The temptation is strong to become bitter, envious, resentful, depressed, negative, or angry. To hide our true feelings in overeating, abusing alcohol, taking it out on others, or settling for less than God's best because we're so desperate to have "something" (dating a guy who doens't treat me well is better than being single, right? Wrong).

I have fought God every. step. of the way. But like a horse whisper breaking a wild horse He has been faithful to never let go of me, to keep breaking me until I can't take it anymore and I give into His mercy, grace, love, and freedom. I think, for me, spiritual maturity comes in His not having to "break" me, but me willingly choosing that which I know is best and right. Which is not to say that I'm there, I don't think I'll ever be 100% there, I will continue to mess up in both my thoughts and actions, but like a child who's learning to walk, I think we as followers of Christ can become stronger and better at our call to walk in obedience to His will for our lives.

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