"The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing —
to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from —
my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing,
all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back."

~C.S. Lewis

Monday, June 20, 2011

Transformed Into Fire: Moving Into a Life of Living

I am drained, tired in an odd way. I feel lost and muddled, like life is work and it’s not supposed to be. Not work as in, work hard—I revel in missions and adventures and challenges. But instead, work as in, life is muddled, I continually live short of something. It’s this something that has me wondering—if I could find the something, I could go home. I don’t feel like I’m home. I feel like a guest somewhere, where you are constantly wondering about expectations and living on edge; you never fully rest, and no matter how nice it is, eventually, you just want to go home where you can just be.

I constantly want something. I am living in such a way that I am waiting for change; I think, “I can get through life like this now, but eventually, I want to change XYZ, and then—how wonderful that will be! I cannot wait for that day.” But living the former way, day after day, becomes life. That is life. If I would not wish my living of today on the rest of my life, why in God’s name—literally, for I do not mean that in disrespect—am I living that way today? The most important part of life is living. And today is life. So today, my task is living.

Yet I think I can stop looking. I think I know the next step. I have just finished reading and highlighting and writing my way through one of the most humbling, transformational books I have ever read: Transformed Into Fire by Judith Hougen. I would like to buy a thousand copies and
give them out to every person I meet. Every page was telling me truth I didn’t know I need to hear.

I didn’t know to look for that truth. All I had were these snippets of longing—to be in God’s presence all day, to be freed from guilt, to just be passionate and glorious and free, to stop striving and trying, to live in rest and for others to see Christ in me in just a word, in a touch, in a smile—to speak the gospel through my very presence, to transform lives not necessarily because of what I said but because of who I was. My life was so fragmented and all I wanted was to be living a unified whole, to stop the separation of the hundred compartments of my life that were cluttering my mind.

I wanted to be passionately in love with Jesus in a glorious, soul-felt abandon and to stop dredging up loving “actions” without a wildly in-love heart. I am a human; I am a woman; I am created to love with unreasonable abandonment, and I knew it… but I could not find it. Maybe wanting that kind of love was silly, foolish, and naïve, a young woman’s romantic, idealistic dream and nothing more.

Yet I so desired to stop trying to see God everywhere but to truly feel Him in all things, for my very life to be a ministry. People—preachers—books—teachers, well meaning ones, certainly, nevertheless would fill me with so much guilt about how much of a failed Christian I was. I wanted to not feel so tired, so burdened, so consumed anymore by commandments I was not keeping and things I was not doing and passions I was not living. I just was never, ever going to be enough. I wanted to go home. I just wanted to go home.

Yet I kept pushing it down. I had some head knowledge to counter those lies and though I longed for transformation, I had learned to live in a state of being half-alive. It was better than dead, I subconsciously supposed. I could sense the possibility of maia in my life but perhaps it was just a foggy dream. Maybe—I hoped and prayed—I would get there someday.

When I tried to find a better way, I did not find much comfort. Pray more. Read the Bible more. Be holier. Just do it. Do do do. Act act act. But all of those ways were just more opportunities for me to fail, for me to confirm to myself that I could never do them well enough to get the transformation they promised. I didn't tell anyone -- it was too heretical, I guess -- but I was tired of praying. I was tired of reading the Bible. I was tired of it. I just couldn't do it.

"They" said there was rational logic and emotional feelings and no one talked about anything else—no mention of my identity, my soul, my state of being. I kept hearing that I had to persevere without love, and feelings of love would come later; I had to dredge up transformation for myself and just pull myself up by my bootstraps.

I consoled myself best I could with those (not very comforting) thoughts, but deep down, I wanted to shout, “I don’t care! I don’t care what you say—maybe I’m wrong and maybe I’m foolish, but my dream is better than your reality; I would rather believe falsely that I can be transformed into such glorious love than live forever in this state of deadness. I know such love of God is possible—I know maia is out there! I want to be free. I want to be in love.”

God heard my prayer, for in a hundred ways, Ms. Hougen’s book showed me that path. God revealed to her truth I didn’t know I needed to hear; He just gave me the longing for it so that I was ready. To be God’s Beloved—to practice His presence—to be as much as I do—to have life unifed into a glorious ministry—to be radically transformed by the abandonment of my falling utterly in love with the Lord—that is what I will be processing through in my writing here, for a long, long time. Actually, it will be forever. Because that—this love, this Belovedness, this living in the moment, this being present, this being—this is where I belong.

Because this is home.