Monday, January 26, 2009

That's What the Lonely is For (Oh, David Wilcox)

Thoughts: "I don't get it, but I think that it might be a good place to be..."

So, lately, for what feels like a long time now (months...years...maybe just months, I don't know) when I really settle myself in worship, I end up crying.


No, I don't think that I'm crazy, out-of-whack emotional. I just can't quite figure it out. All I know is that I experience a sense of connection...and then the tears come.

Sometimes it's brought about by a sense of fear that God is leading me somewhere that I don't know of. He and my future are so out of my control. Honestly though, that's how it should be. The most secure place that my life could be is in the "Great Unknown" of God's great, patient, wonderful, capable, loving, guiding, hands.

Sometimes it's brought about by pain in my life. I am brought to the foot of the cross where I identify with Job in acknowledging that God is good in spite of the pain. Sometimes there's anger mixed in there. But I know from the promises of Scripture and from seeing His work in my life, that God is good. He draws me out and brings me to a place where I have to deal with emotional baggage and scars, and He oh-so-patiently waits with me as I cry and mourn and work things out. He does not fail though. He is the constant provider of joy.

Sometimes - no, usually - it's brought about by a sense of my own brokenness, I think. (That's been the case as of late, anyhow.) It's realizing how absolutely flawed I am, and then also realizing that perfection became human incarnate and died on the cross for me. It's so absolutely beautiful. That kind of love. It overwhelms me, terrifies me, brings to my attention how I so often take it for granted. When I sing of the sacrifice on the cross, I find shame and redemption. Loss and joy.

This kind of love. It's exactly what I want and need...and it's the hardest thing in the world to accept. My college pastor used an analogy tonight in describing God's love. In The Fisher King, Parry, a homeless man, takes the socially awkward Lydia out on a date:

Parry: No, please stop...I'm in love with you.
(Lydia looks at him like he's completely nuts, not believing him. Parry shakes head, puts a hand toward her mouth softly)
Parry:: And not just from tonight. I've known you for a long time. I know you come out from work at noon every day and you fight your way out that door and then you get pushed back in and three seconds later you come back out again. I walk with you to lunch and I know if it's a good day, if you stop and get that romance novel at that bookstore. I know what you order, and I know that on Wednesdays you go to that Dim Sum parlor and I know that you get a jawbreaker before you go back in to work. And I know you hate your job and you don't have many friends and I know sometimes you feel a little uncoordinated and you don't feel as wonderful as everybody else and feeling as alone and as separate as you feel you are...I love you... ...I love you...and I think you're the greatest thing since spice racks and I would be knocked out several times if I could just have that first kiss. And I won't, I won't be distant. I'll come back in the morning and I'll call ya if you let me... But I still don't drink coffee.
(Long pause, Lydia slowly touches Parry's face)
Lydia: You're real...aren't you?
(Parry smiles, and quietly laughs)

I laughed at first, making sideways "stalker" jokes, but once I let my guard down, the truth and beauty of the scene crept its way into my heart where it resounded. The loneliness is there. It's been wired into my humanity as a constant reminder that this is not my home. I can look for love in people, but they will fail me.
The's like God is saying that to my aching heart. "I know you. I know your faults. I know your flaws. I know that you get discouraged, get tired, feel awkward, and alone. You get frustrated and want to give up. And I love you." And my response is to say, "You're real...aren't you?" And God smiles, laughs, and loves.

That kind of love. It's so frightening. To put my heart on a table and say, "Here I am. Here is all of me. Morning breath, bed head, PMS , short-temper, mean-spirited jokes, cattiness, insecurities, and all. I am far from perfect." And then that waiting...that horrible waiting. I am not perfect - so why would I be accepted? How could anybody love a broken individual like me?

But God does. And He loves me in a way that is completely overwhelming. He died for me. It doesn't get much more romantic than that. And when I force myself to look full in the face of this love being offered - this love that I so deeply desire and yet so greatly fear, it brings on the tears.

And I kinda think that maybe that's a good thing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

January weather, surprise, and expectation

I live in Vanguard's off-campus housing and as a result, I end up riding my bike to and from class at least once a day. It's wonderful. I love it.

This past week, it's been hard to picture anything more wonderful than the deliciously warm air running its fingers through my hair and caressing my face and arms as I pump the peddles. The sun shines so happily in the sky, and life just feels good and alive. It's warm enough that I don't need to wear layers of clothing, but not so hot that I get sweaty from a simple ride to or from class.

Maybe it's the endorphins, maybe it's the ability to peddle out stress, maybe it's the weather, maybe it's the quiet time to just focus on seeing if I can make it to the light before it turns red...but those bike rides have been absolutely beautiful and wonderful

And then I remember - "This is January."
"It's supposed to be cold."

"What's wrong with the freaking weather!?"
I don't know, but all I can say is that I'm enjoying it. I'm a big fan of weather, mind you, and I'm certainly looking forward to the chill returning. But in the meantime, I'm making most of the joyful weather. Somewhere in there, I think that there's a lesson hidden about expectations. When I relax on the expectations that I have in life, I can more enjoy what's in front of me. Just take the experiences as they come.

It's like a little love-note from God. "Hey Sweetheart, there's a lot that you don't have control over. Relax. Trust in me. Find joy."

I wish I could keep that in mind more often. Usually, I cling to something 'til my fingers bleed...only to find later that whatever it was I was trying to control was never something I was supposed to grasp onto in the first place. This desperate reaching - where is the joy or the life in that?

The cold weather will return. I believe that. But it's good to focus on relaxing and enjoying what I have in the meantime. I certainly can't change the weather, anyway.