Time for a 'deep thoughts' post. I have to tell myself it's OK if I'm not funny, because being funny and deep at the same time is a challenge for me. And I have to remind myself it's OK if nobody likes my deep thoughts, or thinks I'm funny for that matter. (Sheesh, this blogging thing can really make a person feel vulnerable ;)
I want to talk a little about an experience I had while camping...I would call it an "ah-ha" moment, if Oprah didn't annoy me so much. My sister gave me a book for my birthday called "One Thousand Gifts", and I brought it with me on our trip to read. It's funny that I should mention Oprah getting on my nerves, because when my sister was explaining the book to me she said, "It's about making a list of the things your thankful for...but not like Oprah". And even though I'm not a fan of Oprah's, I was a little put off that my sister would imply that just because Oprah is a non-Christain, her ideas about thankfulness are wrong. But that's because I'm really in a defensive state when it comes to Christians, even though I would still consider myself one. And being defensive is ugly, and I really don't want to be. However, I just don't know how I fit into Christianity anymore. My beliefs have changed, and they are not consistent with what most Christians believe. It makes me feel separated, and well...defensive. Still, I feel convicted when I read things like this:
How can there be oneness and unity when there are countless multitudes of Christian people disagreeing on many points of doctrine and belief, and considering one another’s beliefs and practices as error, superstition, heresy and dangerous perversions of the truth, while at the same time all the different groups claim the authority of Christ and his apostles in support of their own views? If the basis of our unity is purity of doctrine and practice, then it is impossible. But the basis of our unity is a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not our understanding of his teaching and belief in his atoning death which unites us (for our apprehension of truth is so diverse), but our longing to worship and obey him according to the light which we have. He is the ground of our oneness. If only we would accept the fact that we all are wrong in some respects, and that lack of love and oneness lies at the bottom of our varying interpretations of the truth, surely we would be willing to go back to our first love and acknowledge our oneness.
And I believe this, and I want to live this out...then I remember that the woman who wrote it (Hannah Hurnard, author of "Hinds Feet on High Places") was completely ostracized by Christians for having some of the same change of beliefs that I do. (I saw one website where she was called a witch...doesn't really help with my defensive problem) Nevertheless, here I am reading a Christian book...but I'll confess, I had my guard up. Except I found the book beautiful, and it touched me deeply. Here is a quote: (with my editing)
Is this eucharisteo (thanksgiving) the way to that elusive fullest life, the one that lives in the moment? What my sister urges when I get angsty and knotted about tomorrow, when I sorrow for what is gone, her words always tugging me to stay right here--"Wherever you are, be all there." I have lived the runner, panting ahead in worry, pounding back in regrets, terrified to live in the present, because here-time asks me to do the hardest of all: just open wide and receive. "Wherever you are, be all there" is only possible in the posture of eucharisteo. I want to slow down and taste life, give thanks, and see God.
I know 'living in the moment' is such a buzz phrase right now, but I don't care. It's how I want to live, and it has nothing to do with being trendy. (And maybe that's all my sister meant when she dissed Oprah...I know I dissed Oprah too, that's why it's supposed to be funny. I told you I'm bad at being serious and funny at the same time)
So, to explain my "experience" I mentioned at the start: While we were camping, my youngest had one of her overly-stimulated, overly-tired, overly-emotional meltdown moments. And when she gets like that, I really just want to give her a long, hard shake. (Is there such a thing as "shaken 10 year old syndrome"? Not funny either? Sorry, I'll stop.) But I was doing my motherly duty...calming her down, helping her put on her lotion, laying down next to her in the tent and stroking her hair so she could fall asleep. (She has eczema, and rolling around in the sand all day is just the thing for it...oops, there I go again. Does sarcasm count?) And I could hear everyone at the other campsite (where the fire was) just laughing and having a great time...and I resented it. I resented having to do my motherly 'duty', and I couldn't wait until she was asleep so I could get out of there and where the fun was.
It's hard to explain what happened next, but I'm going to try. God seemed to say, "Why?". (In my heart and mind--I know there's no proving it was God. I'm worried it sounds arrogant to say I heard from God, but that's probably just my defensiveness at work) So, God asked me why I wanted so badly to be over there, instead of being right here. And it just clicked, how much I've missed and lost and haven't enjoyed because I wanted something other than what I had. Please understand, even though my whole life I've struggled with shame about being 'ungrateful', I wasn't experiencing shame at this moment. Tremendous regret and sadness, yes; but also mixed with wondrous joy and hope...because it felt like I was changing. My resentment was gone, totally gone, and in it's place was happiness--and it was real, not me gritting my teeth and saying "yes, I understand I'm supposed to be grateful", but a complete appreciation for how awesome it was to sit in that tent and stroke my beautiful, amazing, flaw filled daughter's hair. And also an even bigger appreciation and love for God, who gave me the eyes to see it. One more quote (again, with some editing) from today's reading. (I'm on chapter 9)
Let God blow His wind, His trials, oxygen for joy's fire. Leave the hand open and be. Be at peace. Fullness of joy is discovered only in the emptying of will. And I can empty. I can empty because counting His graces has awakened me to how He cherishes me, holds me, passionately values me. I can empty because I am full of His love. I can trust. I can let go. Dying to self demands that I might gratefully and humbly receive the better, the only things that a good God gives. This eucharisteo is no game of Pollyanna but the hard edge of blade. This is the way the self dies, falls into the arms of Love. This is why the fight for joy is always so hard. I accept the gift of now as it is--accept God--for I can't be receptive to God unless I receive what He gives.
Amen, let it be so, in me and in all.