You are Necessary. And the sooner you believe that, the sooner you'll bond with
God in living a great story.
-Donald Miller "Storyline"
This will probably be one of my most vulnerable posts I will ever write. If you're looking for glib jokes and Sci-Fi references, come back later, I'll have better posts for you. If you are uncomfortable with someone being metaphorically naked for a moment, with someone ripping open their rib cage and examining the contents, then move on. I'm not offended
I've said before that I would see myself as a burden to those that cared for me. But the truth of the matter is it goes way deeper than that.
I was never the cool kid.
Never on the cutting edge of what was trendy.
The last time I was at my parents house I found my old yearbooks and flipping through and seeing myself from twelve years ago staring back at me. I wanted to talk to that kid. That kid with the pain in his eyes. That kid that was so clearly uncomfortable in his own skin. That kid that felt like no matter what, he would never fit in, was never allowed to fit in, was not invited to the party. I wanted to tell him it would be okay.
The sad truth of the matter is that it goes deeper than that.
I've heard it called "the spirit of rejection". I've heard it called "self-hatred". I've heard it called plain and simple depression.
At my darkest moments throughout my years on this earth a familiar scene plays out:
I'm in the bathroom, brushing my teeth or washing my hands or shaving. I catch my eyes in the mirror. Lean against the counter, getting closer to my reflection and whisper three words.
This scene played itself out so many times over so many years it never once occurred to me how unhealthy this is. How wrong this is. How much it grieved God's heart to hear this over and over.
I don't even know what I expected from myself. Was it perfection? Something more? One thing I did know was that I would never treat another person the way I treated myself. "That person is made in the image of God!" I would exclaim "There is so much good, so much truth inside that person."
And then I would see my reflection, look straight in those accusing eyes staring back at me and whisper it again.
Here is the truth: I was seeing a lie. A fiction. A figment of my own imagination. I am not some broken twisted wretch screaming for the mercy of God. I am not "the chief among sinners" to steal a phrase from Paul. I am not God's mistake, an afterthought that He is far too busy for.
I am counted among the redeemed. Fearfully and wonderfully made. A child of king. Put on the earth to experience His creation. I am one of His prized, most valued. The spark, the fire, the passion that was present the day that God created my spirit still burns and it burns bright.
I say that to say this. I don't hate myself anymore. I am at peace with myself. I even like myself. Even in my worst days, even when I screw up and miss it by a mile. When I am irritable and flat out mean. I am still the creation of the King. A miracle by most accounts. Created for a purpose.
If you hate yourself...If you find yourself in a similar recurring theme. Know this: It isn't healthy, it isn't normal. IT ISN'T TRUE. You have taken a false identity. Don't heap the punishment on yourself that Christ paid the price for. "For you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
"God created you and He created you with the power to bring light into darkness and order into chaos."
You might be scared but
Do it anyway!
-Ben Fold's Five "Do It Anyway
Some of you may be having a rough go of it lately.
And maybe some of have a dream that you feel is bigger than you. A dream that can be terrifying and you feel like maybe it would be better if you didn't try at all. Well give this video a viewing. I bet you'll have a difficult time staying in a bad mood after watching. plus...FRAGGLES!
"If patience is worth anything, it must endure to the end of time.
And a living faith will last in the midst of the blackest storm. "
We live in an instant society. A culture where everything is demanded to be supplied immediately. We have fast food, instant coffee, our movies and television shows all stream instantly to all of our devices. We all carry phones around so that we can all be reached instantly.
Everything comes fast. Everything comes easy.
The contradiction in the way we live our lives is that we all know down deep that nothing worth having comes easy. It's universally known that fast food is terrible. Instant coffee is an insult to all things actual coffee. Most of the movies streaming are schlocky B movies (though there are great things on Netflix like Doctor Who). And the best times we having building relationships with one another is when the phones are off, the twitter feed is silenced and we aren't waiting for the PING of our phones letting us know we have another "like" on Facebook.
I dare you right now to think of the best moments of your life. When you changed and you felt the world change around you. Was it when you were comfortable? When everything was coming easy? Or rather was it when everything was hard and you overcame something to get an amazing victory that lasted your entire life? I'm betting it was the latter if you are being honest with yourself.
And yet our culture continues to push instant and comfort and ease on us. Tricking us into believing that this is what we want. That this is what's best. And then we look at mountains, the most breathtaking views and nature and we know that they were not instant, not quick and easy, but the result of thousands of years.
Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Now take this fact that we know patience is better, that fruit we've worked for tastes sweeter than fruit freely given, and let's apply to what we think about God.
We pray and expect instant results. That's things will immediately be different in the morning. The sun rises and things are the same and we get disappointed in God. But here's the thing:
The sun still rises.
God plays the long game. He works in you and through you for the entirety of your life. While you are waiting He is quietly and patiently performing surgery on your heart. Cutting out the things you don't need, don't truly want. He looks months, years, decades into your future, preparing you for eternity. Knowing that you cannot stand before Him face to face until you have a face. When your legs are prepared to stand before Him.
This is His great love for us. His great kindness that we call cruelty. We're children screaming at their parents about how much they hate them because they couldn't have candy for dinner, while the loving parents know the candy will make the child sick.
And so we wait, knowing this time is slowly transforming us into people of substance that can quietly stand like the mountains against the horrors of the world that come and go like the mist on the breeze.
We are being prepared for eternity.
"Our quirks make us who we are...Without them, we're boring.
Hide your quirks and you're a Volvo."
-Josh James Riebock
Rare is the book that I pick up and read on an impulse. Typically I research, read reviews and download sample chapters because there's so many good books on my waiting list, so much of a time commitment.
So, it was out of my character to grab this book off the shelf and my local Barnes & Noble. Sometimes things work out well this way.
Give me grace, because I don't like to write reviews. And I don't like writing reviews for one simple reason: I'm not a critic.
I'd rather create than criticize, build rather than destroy. So I'll just say this: I loved this book.
What drew me to this book is simple. I'm drawn to the contradictions we see in life. Where life lies in tension between two truths. The dazzling truths that lie in the balance. And that's what this book is about.
While it is an spiritual memoir, it's an honest one. One that doesn't shy away from truths that are considered ugly. Looking full on at the Hero that lies inside of a man as well as the Monster. All the while God soaks into the cracks drawing His beloved. A God that isn't controlling or needy. A God that isn't insecure. A patient God that knows the truth, that He will win His love in the end. A God that's not blind to all that is wrong in his creation, but is patient and loving enough to wait for us. A God that is for some reason named Jack.
This is a brilliant move by the author, although others may decry this as irreverent. Renaming God as Jack it makes us think of someone we could actually have a relationship with. Someone that's interested in our lives, not a far off nameless deity.
Also my grandfather who would tell me stories and taught me the love of story telling was named Jack.
Why I love this book can be summed up in this one paragraph from the first chapter:
"Then Jack tells me that this world is actually two worlds combined, one world of everything
I hope for and the other world of nothing I want. This world, Jack says, is the merging of wonder and horror, of twisted and beautiful, comedy and tragedy, a place where both exist and mingle every day. He says that this world is part heaven and part hell, and that every second, inside of me and out, I'm standing at the convergence of the two, at the corner of damned and devine."
"When the credits roll at the end of your life,
How will you have wanted to live?"
-Donald Miller, Storyline
Parker is very excited to pretend to read this book
Today I started Storyline by Donald Miller. I've only gotten through the introduction, I haven't even got to any of modules yet and I'm already wrecked.
Personally, I have the tendency to float. To let one moment move to the other. Reactionary, never planning. Here is the truth of this kind of lifestyle in relation to stories: "If a character doesn't know what they want, the story gets muddled. The same is true in life. " (page 7)
This is a book about finding your story, knowing first that the story isn't about you. This is God's story. Our story is a subplot along the way.
You have to find how your subplot relates to the great love story God is telling the world, all of humanity. Often this is difficult for me. My tendency is feel like a burden on everyone I know. That I drag down everyone I care about. That when I pray I am bothering God, distracting Him from what He really needs to be paying attention to.
Then I read this...
"There are probably days when you feel like the world would be better off if you stayed in bed but it isn't true. God created you and He created you with the power to bring light into darkness and order into chaos. You are necessary. And the sooner you believe that, the sooner you'll bond with God in living a great story." (page 20)
I read and re-read this. My natural inclination went straight to thinking this is applicable for others I know. How great this truth would be for this person or that person. Ignoring how difficult this is to accept this truth for myself. So I read it again even now, letting it sink in to my stubborn heart. That I am important to God. That I am necessary...then I read this next paragraph.
"Before you create your Storyline, understand your story matters. Don't play the victim and say "awe shucks" cause to do so is to insult God. You didn't make yourself in your mother's womb, God did, and to say you aren't important is to say his creation lacks substance."
My false humility is a flat insult to God. Who gave His own Son for reconciliation.
I'm still working on creating a plan, finding what I want and how to partner with God to tell an amazing story with my life...but I swear I will.
"Can you smell it in the air, my brethren?
It's the beautiful stench of reinvention"
-Project 86 "Fall Goliath, Fall"
photo credit: http://www.detroitcreativecorridorcenter.com/
Yes, my friends, it's the joy of starting over. A clean slate. Tabula Rasa. Doesn't everyone love a clean slate?
It's also nerve wracking. Building from the ground up. Taking everything you've done up to this point and throwing it away.
The leap of faith that it requires. Staring at the edge of the cliff. You take a running start at it, your nerve falters, you stumble. You stay seated for awhile, probably too long, staring at the edge. Eventually you get up , brush yourself off and run full tilt at the precipice, launching yourself off into the unknown. The rush, the exhilaration, nothing but the wind in your face...and still falling, still flailing...It's not the fall that scares me...it's the sudden stop...
Anyways, I've got a new blog. I hope you like it.