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Archive for May, 2010

Deliverance.

I shouldn’t feel like I don’t want to be called that. It’s not a lie. I do believe in God. I guess I’m just not used to it being used as a weapon against me.

Just one critical person. I knew from the start that I shouldn’t trust him; I was warned, though I thought: Let bygones be bygones. That, and they weren’t mine to bear.

It’s upsetting to know that for a brief moment I denied His name. Not in words, but in my heart.

At the same time, he was right about one thing. I should have listened to you. I thought: You’re not my babysitter or my dad or my brother. What you believe doesn’t directly translate into what I believe. I was wrong, there, too. You are my brother.

And as hard as it is to pray right now, thinking that my mistakes are too great for His grace, I need to. Because my heart tells me to go one way, my mind another. My body wants to give up, give in, let things come as they always have, but where does that lead?

Lord, don’t give up on this broken heart.

“God, whom I praise,
do not remain silent,
for wicked and deceitful men
have opened their mouths against me;
they have spoken against me with lying tongues.
With words of hatred they surround me;
they attack me without cause.
In return for my friendship they accuse me,
but I am a man of prayer.
They repay me evil for good,
and hatred for my friendship.”
-Psalm 109:1-5

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Grace.

I guess you could say that this past week has been about all of the weaknesses that I have.

In other words, it’s been rough.

And I’m a bit tuckered out, but sitting here at work without enough time to power through another episode of Glee means that I have time to write. I sometimes find solace in that.

I’ve been making excuses for myself to go out there and do things that I basically shouldn’t be doing. Question: is sin an addiction or is addiction a sin? I attempted to reconcile God with addiction — it didn’t work out. I thought I could compartmentalize life with God and life without God, but it doesn’t really work that way. Once I stepped back into life with God, all I could feel was guilt and shame.

Mistakes. They make us human. They make us real.

And the worse part is that the temptation, the availability is connected to something that I’ve discovered an enormous passion for in the past nine months. And God’s like, “Hey, if you can’t get past the bad parts of this, then you have to give up the good parts, too.” I hear You loud and clear. Not that I want to, necessarily.

But even now, after losing my first two matches within thirty seconds, I want nothing more than to keep practicing and become stronger. Maybe it’s because I really, really love it, or maybe it’s because that’s my way of fighting people without hurting them (too badly). Or maybe (and I’m only starting to get this now), it’s part of a greater calling.

Protect those who can’t protect themselves.

And I don’t get it: I don’t get how people or God can forgive me for being stupid or how to forgive other people for ticking me off or how to let people do things for me — that idea of grace. Not yet, anyway. I’m still getting there. Still working on those parts of me that are cold like the back of a meat truck.

Hopefully one day I’ll get it, but that day’s going to be really boring. How I get there is much more interesting and blog-worthy.

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In defeat.

I prayed.

God answered.

And I was taken aback, afraid, confused, still thinking, still in my zone; that was way too quick. But then again, I asked. I received.

Then I was asked. Asked to make a promise that I couldn’t make because it challenged the very doubt that I had sunk into: could I entrust this to my community, my friends?

I listened.

There I was, on my hands and knees, unable to stand, in tears, in defeat. I asked, “Why? Why do I always screw up? Why does it always come down to this? Why am I never good enough?”

A drop of blood fell from the ground, defying gravity, landing between my eyes — then down the bridge of my nose, off the tip, into my hand. “What is this?”

He said: “This is the blood of Christ, my son, who came and died so that you may know that you are forgiven and that you are loved.”

Game on, Jesus.

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Graffiti.

A picture, painted on a wall in a place where people pass by — eyes glancing for just a moment, the next forward again to the next step, the next placement of the foot, the next part of the day. In that glance, a thought:

“How dare these thugs deface
this place,
this brick face,
my space.”

But these eyes are blind. On that wall is a dream, a hope, a prayer scattered to the wind and sprayed onto a wall until a hose comes by and washes it all away. As the water falls, the brick bleeds tye-dye onto the pavement, flowing down the drain, into the sewer we shit in, the ocean we swim in, the fish we eat.

Everyone gets a piece of the dream.

Another monotonous day, another walk to work, school, life as we know it, another glance at the wall, a new thought: “Where did it go?”

In that moment, a realization.

This was more than graffiti.

It was art, it was soul, it was passion, it was music made into colors and shapes, it was love made real, it was a thousand, a million, a billion, an infinity of words that was on that wall — gone as quickly as it had come. It was a dream, a hope, a prayer scattered to the wind and sprayed onto a wall that was there just so someone could catch a whiff of it, see it out of the corner of the eye, taste it for just one second.

That eternal wish.

To be known.

Then God:

“I have searched you,
and I know you.
I know when you sit and when you rise;
I perceive your thoughts from afar.
I discern your going out and your laying down;
I am familiar with all your ways.
Before a word is on your tongue,
I know it completely.”

But I go, “What?
You say You have searched me, You know me, You see me, You feel me, You understand me?
In this world, where none have, ever, and not once thought to look beneath the surface, to dig, to seek,
You?”

And He says, “Yes.”

The story rips at my heart: His one and only Son — my Redeemer, Savior, Friend — sent to die for me and my mistakes, my wickedness, my sin.

But I go, “No, why? Why would you do that? Don’t have sympathy for me, don’t sacrifice for me, don’t serve me, don’t comfort me, don’t intercede for me, don’t love me.

Me, this undeserving, worthless, useless, unlovable worm. I am lower than the dirt; in fact, I eat the dirt, I need the dirt, the dirt is my home.”

He says, “Come with me, and I will make you
a fisher of men,
a beacon of hope,
an invaluable friend,
a beloved daughter.”

“Why?” I ask.

“Love.”

More than a dream, a hope, a prayer scattered to the wind and sprayed onto a wall — it was real.

It was Creation.

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Just enough.

When relevant talks happen, half of me praises God for speaking to me, the other half groans for want of some false peace.

For the first time, I felt like I was getting called out on something that seemed so base to me: Was I only just getting through every day? Is what I have just enough to get me over the next obstacle?

Here I was, aware that there was more, yet blissfully ignorant of it.

More than once (and now that I think about it, it was a common theme) in the week, I’ve told myself, “Just get through this day,” or, “Just get through this lecture,” or, “Just get through this practice.” And for the most part, I bailed out, which is the much easier road than “just getting through.”

So… wait, not only am I just barely getting through each day, I’m choosing into not facing the day? Oops.

Then again, I was doing pretty well before. I was on top of the world, and then I was beneath it, trying to carry its entire weight on my shoulders. But then God says, “Hey, take care of this,” and then, “Hey, this is going to happen,” and eventually, something even heavier than the weight of the world is on me. And I feel like I’m being crushed, strangled, drowned.

I have no desire to share this burden with other people. With my friends, who I know would love on me regardless of what I told them or what I did, but who I’m also reminded have their own lives to deal with.

But God doesn’t buy into my crap, and I keep being pushed into more that I just don’t think I’m ready for. One person was enough, really, and He gave me an easy door to walk into that conversation with.

Then that word “more” pops up again — I really am just living through the day now, waiting for the hour when I can fall asleep, slip away into blissful rest. Yet everytime I step forward, take a risk, listen and actually obey God, that “more” isn’t such a faraway thing anymore. It’s like a swell in the ocean that lifts your feet off of the sand and lifts you up just momentarily without your even thinking about it.

And God keeps finding me in this place, talking to me, telling me, guiding me. Again and again, He comes when I need Him the most. My mind drifts off into somewhere else, and the most solid image I can grasp onto is that beach again, that sanctuary on an island where God first asked me to stand. That rock is still in my hand, that thing made smooth and pristine by years and years of ocean waves beaten on its surface. The words are still etched in permanent marker — on one side, “broken,” and on the other, a bit of magic to change it all, “abracadabra.” As I’m there, He holds that hand, that hand clenching onto a name; I tilt my head towards Him, and He says, “Are you ready?”

There were so many other names that could’ve gone on that rock, but I chose that one and kept it to myself. Still, it’s like I never really threw it into the ocean anyway.

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” I hadn’t thought this classic play line through until this year (yes, my freshmen year high school English class was very effective), but it basically goes like this: Whatever you call a rose, it’s still what it is. You can call a rose a dog, but it’s still a pretty looking flower that smells nice and has some thorns to it.

As I watched our witty speaker crushed a rose in his hand, I felt like my heart was being stabbed as each sound of a broken petal reached the microphone. And then bam, by lack of magic, a new rose, just as beautiful and as fragrant as it was before it had been mutilated. That’s redemption.

Names, names, names. I saw my friends share with the entire fellowship what names they had been called and who they were now: Redeemed. In that moment I wanted nothing more than to understand what that felt like.

Broken.

Flip.

____________.

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Struggle.

Yesterday was a victory, today has just begun.

“… the promise of a new tomorrow.” I sometimes forget about this, that each day is something refreshing, different, individual and yet part of an entirely larger scheme of time.

But now, each day is a struggle, different depending on how strong I feel coming into every moment. The feeling of drowning is still there, the temporary peace like the first gasp of air in a long time.

God affirmed my fears, and I’m sure, at this point, that He desires to defeat them. But how? And when? He called me to arms against something completely intangible, yet how should I fight? Stand my ground, advance with aggression?

“I don’t fight anymore.” A promise made sometime ago between thoughts, often forgotten but never broken. I remember now why it is that not only do I not want to fight, but I can’t fight. It’d make it too easy for the other side to win over, for everything but rage to fall behind a heavy curtain. If I ever became angry enough to raise my fists again, it’d simply be too…

Dangerous.

But this is a different kind of fight. The kind that takes place on the inside, where no one can see the ring, the lights, the blood, and the tears. It’s an empty arena of uproarious applause.

Am I supposed to feel like I am assured victory because God is with me?

It was interesting, yesterday, for me to feel so in tune with Him. It was like being guided by gravity for most of the day, each event inviting me into the warmth of their smiles, reminding me I’m not alone in all of this.

Today is a new day, and right now, that’s all that really counts.

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Drowning.

Is this it? Am I already down for the count?

This feeling of hopelessness, already, settling in its place in my heart.

I’m thinking, I can’t fight this. I’m not strong enough.

And all I want to be is stronger.

Just as I began to be lifted away from the surface of the sand, the anchor at the bottom of my feet leaving me as the tide carried me away…

I’m drowning. And so soon. It’s a miserable feeling. It makes my body ache with pain, tears at me piece by piece.

But even like this, I’ll fight back. I know why it’s like this right now.

I feel like I’m losing because the cracks are beginning to show. But I’ll still fight. I’ll still hope. I’ll still place my bet on grace.

Even if I don’t know if I can win.

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