The shallow cracks within my soul.

There’s a path I sometimes walk
That doesn’t create wonder and gratitude nor beauty or intimacy
But that walks in the “in-between.”

That’s too afraid of change or the possibility of things turning out worse
So I don’t take full steps to make it better.

The part of me that trades in originality and audacity and brightness
For dullness and sameness.
And makes me feel like a let down
To the 18 year old girl inside of me
Who once woke up with an airbag in her face
Car slammed in a telephone pole
Calling 911
Vowing to never ever take the preciousness of life for granted ever again.

Who pushes off booking a Southbound flight
To roll down hills with my cousin
Who feels like a little sister
All because I’m scared of what will happen
If I don’t make the next dollar
And have to live off savings for a while.

There’s a part of me that doesn’t say the words I want to say
Because I’m scared to be different
And so I choke behind the voices that tell me to be quiet
Just to “fit in.”

There’s a part of me that wants to run the opposite direction of anything religious
And get pissed off at God
Or rebel against every Christian teaching
To spite the dogma of heavy nooses I’ve experienced in Evangelicism.

And sometimes,
I’m glad I do this.

Because in the defiance
I find space to stop hearing the words that hurts me.
And get to ask every unadulterated question I’ve ever wanted to ask.

But most of the time, I know I go home
To my room
And my candlelight
And it’s just me
And God
And I get scared of death
Or need hope
Utterly.
Within my soul
Every part of me in tune with my need for God
And I’m ashamed that I would ever turn my back on him/her
When the last thing God would do
Is turn his/her back on me.

So the words of the most subversive person I know
Whispers in my ear,
“Come with me
And I will show you the unforced rhythms of grace…”

There’s a part of my soul that dies a little when I think about how much time I spend
Ruminating on how much I dislike my job
But don’t know how to make my dreams reality
So I become like many Americans
And get a temporary high on Friday nights
That crashes 48 hours later
With the Sunday evening blues.

There’s a part of me that’s too afraid to take a chance on my dreams
Because they aren’t “academic” enough
Or important enough
Or impressive enough.
And that’s when I remember
I’m feeding into the trap
That certain careers are more important than others
When all we really need to do
Is find that makes us come alive
And go do that
And let everyone else
Chase success and notoriety
In a job they hate but think “looks good.”

There’s a part of me
That wishes I were the opposite gender
Because I hate the fact that mine
Makes me less muscular, less tall
And is laiden with propriety
And tells me to change my last name
And have kids
That I don’t really want to have.
At least not biologically.

There’s a part of me
That’s hurt by every ignorant statement
Mouthed by Evangelicals
Or conservative white or black men
Spewing out their desire for pompous power
By telling women how they should live (the “sanctity” of life) and die (don’t you care go into combat, after all, you’d make the military have to change the way it does things to become more gender equitable and that’s really inconvenient).

I realize how much I want to become sarcastic
And yell in anger
And let men see
A women get angry
Instead of passive, taciturn, and “nice.”

And sometimes I’m glad I do this.

But most of the time,
I think about Jesus.
And how hard it is to love the way he talks about loving.
Especially when it comes to loving those crazy (insert the opposite political party with which you affiliate).
And so I make a fool of myself
Missing out on an opportunity to develop my character
By instead choosing anger and resentment
Instead of something more courageous
Like love.

I walk these icy paths of the cracks within my soul
And confess my wasted moments
And ask God to redeem them
To start afresh in the morning
And ask for just a little more time in solitude
Here in the light
In open spaces
Where the sound of stillness
And the beat of my heart
And the wind on my face
All remind me to come alive
And be contraire
And get out of my head, my self, my biases
And get lost in the dreams and stories of each beating heart around me.

And together we’ll solidify the cracks
Until they become steady ground
Connecting hearts
And minds
And dreamers.

We’ll glance up to the endless sky
And find ourselves and lose ourselves
In these cracks and crevices
Of darkness
And of light.
046

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When I’m a Jerk.

Sometimes I’m a jerk.

A self-centered, harried jerk.

Take tonight at the grocery store for example. Trying to multi-task in my “being relational” and “doing more for Jesus,” (yuck… Christianese makes me sick) I secretly want to yell at the lady with screaming, whiny kids in the cart next to me, interrupting my phone conversation, as I forget the fact that I, too, was once that whiny kid; just because I can’t recollect it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

Continuing with the multi-tasking, in an effort to bury my head in memorizing one more GRE vocab word, I almost knock someone over while turning down the next the aisle.

I catch a glimpse of James Dobson’s new book “Bringing up Girls” (which of course came out after “Bringing up Boys”) for sale on a random book rack. I glare, grit my teeth, and think mean things about Focus on the Family, wondering what repressive gender role messages they’re trying to spew this time.

I’ve been saying “shit” a lot.

Oh man, I just dropped my cell phone again.
Shit.

I can’t find my keys again.
Shit.

Why aren’t I more organized?
Shit.

Why am I constantly losing things?
Shit.

I’m late to work, late to my friend’s house, late to church.
Shit, shit, and… er, shoot.

Ouch. I can be such a jerk. I’m embarrassed and ashamed writing this that all of this exists within me, sharing space with the same body that wants to live out the “fruits of the spirit.”
The jerk comes out when I give into the lie that we should incessantly strive to “do more.” Doing more is the antithesis of the “come all who are weary” invitation Jesus offers. Doing more turns me selfish. It’s ok if I speed or for you to let me in your lane on the highway, after all, because I’m trying to “do more” to serve (which inadvertently assumes, more so than you, the person in the lane who I just cut in front of. Wow. Two points for jerkiness.). Life is too short. I have to pack in as much as I can, after all, because you or I could die tomorrow, right? So carpe diem, baby!

…Nonsense.

I am so thankful that there’s a recourse to this type of thinking. This type of thinking ridden in self-centeredness; that tries to be a conduit of God’s love, but ends up offering nothing but shallow banter. You know. One of those “hope you’re doing well!”s versus a sincere, “Hey, how are you doing? All of you? Even the parts inside that you don’t want anyone to see?”

I’m thankful that more often than not, God isn’t calling us to “do more.” He’s calling us to back to the “unforced rhythms of grace.” (Matt. 11:28 MSG). He’s calling us back to our first Love. He’s calling creation back to the Creator. He’s calling us back to the simple “love God, love others, and love others as you love yourself.” Serve your neighbor, serve the poor, and serve yourself an ice-cold water bottle to stay hydrated on your Sabbath walk out in the woods. Love your neighbor, love the poor, love your family, love the screaming kids in the grocery aisle, love the elderly person who is “slowing you down,” and remember to consider yourself lucky if you should life to that ripe old age one day. Then, you, as an Old Grandma, or Old Grandpa—remember to forgive the teenager who is glaring at you, wishing you would move faster,  as you remember when you used to do the same towards the elderly.

Confess cynicism. Own up to your own jerk-iness whenever it rears its ugly head. Ask about someone else’s day when you’re tempted to dwell on your own. Start over. Practice patience. Offer a compliment instead of a complaint. Greet your cashier by name. Get lost laughing in games of “peek-a-boo” in the grocery line with the kids who were just having a temper tantrum. Get lost in the stars, get lost in Jesus’ face in the eyes of those who are poor, get lost in God’s love as you feel an appropriate sense of smallness come over you, as awe and wonder take over, leaving the jerk far, far, behind. Do less when you feel the suction of the “do more” trap. Slow down when you’re moving too fast— long enough to count the number of birds you can see in sky right now. Breathe. Dig deep. Hop in the Conga line. Yes. Carpe that diem.