"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, December 31, 2012

The life where messy is beautiful and love hates deeply

Stories without endings are the most beautiful of all. My sister knows (click here), and I want to know as well. I want to know the life where messy is beautiful.

I feel a bit like John writing Revelation, searching desperately for analogies to try to explain what you feel, because the reality you see and feel is so much larger than your vocabulary.

So you keep thinking, talking, writing, hoping, that someday you’ll know what your heart meant—someday you’ll remember, and someday you’ll come home. There are so many things you want to say, to live, to be, and yet they all keep slipping; you see the snowflakes falling down by the trillions—trillions of blessings, passions, adventures, elements of the deeply lived life, joys waiting for you, each individual and yet all so similar, all part of the same wild glory and kingdom of God—and yet when you reach out your hands to catch them, they melt away and you are left with just faith: faith that they were there.

What do I mean? It means I am tired of living with a mask, of inauthenticity, of not being so honest and real that I feel a ripple of embarrassment and a thread of fear that people will reject me if I am as honest as my heart wishes to be. It means I try to say what I mean, even if I make no sense at all to anyone at all, because the act of trying is what changes me.

So it means that I am tired of being ashamed of beauty, letting life get sucked away by giving in to activities that offer no life. I am frustrated by seeing maia in so many places and not quite knowing what I am supposed to do with it all. I am sick of seeing people in bondage and them thinking Jesus is boring or unromantic or doesn’t bring the life you always dreamed you could live but thought was too wonderful to ever exist, and I am furious at the church and at myself and at anyone for ever teaching anything different. I am ashamed with pursuing the deepest maia—adventure and beauty, romance and joy—in acting, horses, relationships, and anything else but the heart of Yahweh and then being so hurt by the wounds doing so has given me. I am tired of reaching for goals instead of seeking the journey, of wanting resolution instead of story, risk, living in the moment, and stories without endings. I am tired of beauty not seen as holy and romance as something for the weak of heart. I am ashamed of not fighting for the weak and giving to the poor and for being so unreasonably concerned with what others think and so sinfully obsessed with pleasing others. I am ashamed I do not hurt people more while always protecting them from harm. I am exhausted by not living the life I always dreamed of and allowing peace, rest, glory, adventure to consume my life in the way I always deep-down knew it should. I hate the way I’ve let the world talk me out of that, show me its driven, spitting, wheeling, dark, confusing ways, but because everyone else—even other Christians I loved—were on that demonic Ferris wheel spinning in a tortured nightmare they can’t wake up from, I chose darkness over light. I am tired of morality and perfection and laws that kill instead of transformation in the King of Creation, and I’m tired of trying to change myself instead of simply staying in the place where my heart is at home—where I always wanted to live—in adventure and peace and faith—no matter how sacrilegious it seemed—and in that place becoming a new person without even realizing it. I’m tired of the perfectionism that shreds my soul and the soul of my friends and is the enemy of all beauty and brilliance. I am devastated for not radiating Christ to a world living in torture while I live in the most free-wheeling glory I never even knew existed. I am tired of keeping everything in the status quo, in the place where the majority of people will accept me, instead of scandalizing the world and the church. I am ashamed for thinking and worrying about so many other things, living always in the future or the past instead of the now, and thereby missing Yahweh’s voice, who speaks to us in the now, not in the tomorrow. I am tired of holding so tight to sin, simply because it is all I have ever known, and the fear of a different way, the fear I will no longer be in control, no longer have my mask, holds me back in chains. I am tired of thinking too much, analyzing too much, obsessing too much, instead of just living and acting in the faith that the Holy Spirit is guiding me and such fear does not have to be my fate. I’m sick of being overly logical and not realizing emotion and spirit have so much to offer. I am tired of hiding my passion for the world and desire to people set free. I am tired of being safe.

And there are things I hate; so much I need to help:

I’m furious with bloggers and pastors and fitness coaches and resolution-writers who tell us to just make ten more goals, and just try a little harder, and be a little more, and then you’ll be happy—when life is not like that, when they do not realize this world is upside down from what they think, and more effort does not equal more life. I hate when men do not protect the girls in my life and hearts are broken and torn apart. I am upset with those who demonize government and opposing political parties and religions and do not see that some of those people are doing what is “right in their own eyes,” which still may be unspeakably evil and wrong but means they are still desperately trying to pursue what is right in a blind and lost and heart-wrenching way, and I love them. I cannot stand when Christians spout that Christianity is a relationship and not a religion, and then proceed to tell everyone else and every other denomination exactly how “their” personal relationship with Yahweh should look—inevitably just like their own. It tears my heart to shreds when my friends feel unable or unworthy or too stupid, weak, or unloved to pursue their deepest callings and joys and instead of living in a world of brilliant color, they crawl on to their graves in a land of only shades of gray. I hate people who call us to tie up our lives in neat little packages of New Years resolutions that only drown me in guilt for failing in yet one more way, and I hate preachers who tell me that some callings are more holy than others. I could scream when Christianity tells men to just be “nice” and women to just be “meek” and the depth of strength and the power of beauty are ignored, too risky, too strange, too counter-cultural, and evil men take control of this world. I hate when productivity is worshiped and perfectionism and accomplishment are idols accepted in the church while wonder and beauty and mystery are forgotten. I am so frustrated by those who see life as only black and white and by those as who see it as only gray. I am furious that there are sex trafficking rings and women who feel prostitution or abortion or stripping is their only choice, and that we do not protect them from it. I hate that there are churches full of Christians and villages full of people who have never heard of Christ and sickened by marriage seen as shackles and pain instead of sacred holiness. When all the gospel is seen as Jesus dying for your sins so you could get to heaven, I want to cry, because all of life and glory and joy is then missed.

And yet there is so, so much I love. There is all that darkness, but for every snowflake of darkness there is an entire mountain range of light. Satan keeps us focusing on the pain in this world, the fight against the darkness, because where we focus is where our spirits try to rest. Soon, our hearts are drowning in darkness and we wonder why we cannot see the face of Christ.

But there is light.

I love the unreasonable beauty of the world—the way the violets in the hidden meadow are never seen but by deer and rabbits and three chirping robins, but they are still there—and that beauty matters. I love how art can inspire more than a hundred lectures and how a single word can change your life. I love that rest and peace can do so much and risk and faith can give the most security imaginable. I love how Tolkien wrote a whole language and history for a fictional world and never once let anyone tell him that was a waste of time. I love that some people love rabbits and others love horses and some others love lightning bugs and some love none of them at all. I love that the gospel is written in horses and in stars and in marriage and in family and in words. I love the longing in this life that drives us to fight wars and bear children and never, ever be content with the kingdom of man because we know God’s Land is out there and we were meant for it. I love how time flies by so fast, how we are so surprised by its passage, that it reminds us how we were never created for time but for eternity. I love how the golden light of sunrise and sunset is there every single day to bless those who stay up to see light come into and then leave the world. I love the change of seasons and the cycle of life that keeps us always changing and seeing the world through clear-washed eyes. I love weddings and pure white dresses and first kisses and flower girls spreading petals down a pink-silk aisle. I love when men go to war and leave all comfort for the deeper glory of protecting the life lived free from threat and evil—the life we had in Eden and will have again someday—they bring us closer to the kingdom of God. I love being a woman and wearing dresses with lace and carrying a gun and weaving flowers in my hair and living in my place as an armor-bearer. I love avalanches and the way the world’s weather wheels and shifts and the mystery of outer space, the Ring of Fire, and caterpillars in cocoons. I love dancing badly and dancing well and dancing in the rain and dancing inside and dancing outside and dancing with partners and by myself and to music that is real and to music in my head. I love seeing people transformed and set free and drop the weight on their lives they were never meant to carry and pursue the joy and glory they always were meant to have. I love horses and galloping bridleless and bareback with fistfuls of mane and realizing this—this is what we had in Eden and will have again someday. I love giving up burdens I never needed to carry and realizing the irrational, unreasonable, sacred freedom that was mine all along. I love reading novels and hearing God’s voice in stories as much as in sermons. I love trying new things and being good at them. I love trying new things and being bad at them. I love not taking life too seriously and laughing so hard I can't breathe and making a thousand embarrassing mistakes and understanding that life might not make sense and not minding. I love loving people. I love acting and living a million stories and modeling and realizing a dozen kinds of beauty and playing music and hearing words in non-human voices. I love growing older and realizing I never have to grow up.

I love living the life I always longed to live, and knowing doing so will never end for all eternity.

© Frank Lukasseck/Corbis
It’s New Years Eve. There is much I hate and much that is wrong, and much I love and much that is good, and this is how it should be: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; [Christ has] come that [we] may have life, and have it to the full. I make no resolutions, no lists of ways I will improve my life, no shackles and weights and death my heart was never meant to bear. I only continue looking at the one resolution, the one that will stay with me for the rest of my life and throughout eternity—the only one that gives no guilt, no shame:

Further up, and further in.

It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling... "I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this. Bree-hee-hee! Come further up, come further in!"
~The Last Battle

This is the only resolution that frees me to live the life I always wanted to live, the life that courses under the surface of this world and that we are always pursuing and dreaming of but never were quite strong enough to actually believe existed.

That is, until Jesus told us it did.

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely…

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more….

And I heard a great voice, coming from the throne:

See, the home of God is with His people.
He will live among them;
They will be His people,
And God Himself will be with them.
The prophecies are fulfilled:
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
Mourning no more, crying no more, pain no more,
For the first things have gone away…
See, I am making all things new.