"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


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

When toothpaste is your only strong point

“Well,” I thought dourly, “at least my toothpaste is still the same.”

Five minutes prior, I had been sitting on the floor, back to my bed, journaling and praying about why I felt so unsettled. Was there sin in my life? Was I trying too hard, or perhaps not enough? What had changed from the times I would feel so rooted in myself and in my Lord?

And as I wrote, sentence after sentence, words uncensored, I realized the answer.

It was uncertainty.

Everything was different now, since I moved to Florida a month ago. Nothing had been left to me the way it was—job, home, state, family, friends, coworkers, doctor, church, schedule, income, weather, spirituality, exercise, pets, hobbies, health—and with my mind unable to settle on even one unchanged element of my life, it floated in some sort of land in the looking glass, unable to find a resting place.

It was like my life was saying, Here, be a new person. All at once. Have fun, goodbye.

I got up from the floor, walked barefoot to the kitchen, and pulled out the bread. Was there anything that was still the same?

Home? No. Job? No. Income? No. Good grief, I thought, even my makeup is different.

I put the bread in the toaster. There had to be something.

I pulled out a plate.

Of course!

My toothpaste. My toothpaste was definitely still the same.

I set the plate down. Toothpaste. That had to be the absolute stupidest thing to be encouraged by in history. Toothpaste. What the heck.

Put the bread on the plate, pour my milk, get a napkin.

Toothpaste cannot seriously be the most unchanged part of my life right now. This is ridiculous.

Let there be grace.

Sometimes when I talk to my friends, and we sit across from each other on a sleepy looking couch with our tea in our hands, I hear stories of frustration or confusion or fear, and a decision needs to be made, I ask them—What would make you feel light?

What would take away the heaviness, the burden? Not that there are not crosses to bear, and that those crosses are so often good, but where is the place for your heart that would allow you to move forward in lightness and hope, that makes you feel not just that you can go on, but that you can go on with beauty?

What would be grace to you?

This is a question I easily ask others but so rarely offer myself. They should have grace—I should not. They should be able to hold themselves lightly—I must live with an iron grip.

But if I cannot extend grace to myself, how can I grant it to others? I have fallen too many times to be offered grace yet again, the lies say. But in this is the ultimate danger, for I either give grace or I do not. I cannot pick and choose the recipients, for grace is less a choice of the mind as it is a way of the soul. So let me first offer grace to myself—to the one who has hurt me the most and is the hardest to forgive—that I might be grace to all others in this world.

I step back into my bedroom, toast and plate and glass. I am glad for my toothpaste, as I am for my life, for much can be borne when you hold yourself with open fingers and let there be light between them.