February 28, 2013

Coveting Contentment

*
*
if the eyes are the window to the soul,
then isn't what we choose to put in front of our eyes
the adornment of our souls?
if our souls were houses,
and our eyes the windows,
then the images and things we fix them on become the interior decorations.
what do you covet?
simple things like
articles of clothing,
the latest ipad,
a new car,
books,
money,
all of the stereotypical things that the pastor lists during his sunday sermon.
"beware covetousness,"
he says
"happiness cannot be found in money,
or cars,
or apple products,
or labels."
but what do you covet
-truly covet-
that's not on that list?
what about true love,
happily-ever-after?
what about that life you dream of?
what about a home on the beach?
i covet daily,
hourly,
moment-by-moment.
my desires are so tainted.
i covet a different personality;
one more alert,
friendly
lovable,
funny,
giving,
talented,
attractive,
witty...
the list is endless.
i covet that perfect body.
the ones pasted in the ads,
and advertised on pinterest
followed by the tips to achieve it.
i covet the perfect hair of the girl down the hall,
how it falls in soft waves,
my roommate's hands,
long elegant fingers.
i covet the smile of a passerby,
and the sunny, sweet disposition of a friend.
i spend all of my time desiring things i don't have.
no.
i spend all of my time unhappy with what god has given me.
no.
i spend all of my time telling god that what he has given me
isn't good enough.
yes.
we are called to labour for perfect things using imperfect vessels.
but these vessels are imperfect for a reason.
do you really think for one moment that god needs us in order for him to complete his work?
no.
he delights to use us
our mistakes,
our shortcomings,
our endless weaknesses and sins,
to show his calm mercy,
indelible love,
and perfect strength.
god made me imperfect for a reason.
he made me covetous so that i could learn how satisfied i am in him.
do you know what i covet most of all?
i covet contentment.
i covet being able to say
"i am here,
i have this,
i face this
and that's okay."
i covet being able to embrace my imperfections so that i might be able to realize,
more deeply,
my dependence on christ.
most days it's hard
-almost undeniably so-
to convince myself that i do not covet that pinterest-perfect body,
and all of the acceptance and joy that i seem to feel comes with it,
so much that i am willing to starve,
beat,
and eventually kill myself to achieve it.
("nothing tastes as good as skinny feels" says kate moss)
but i covet freedom and recovery more.
i covet my flaws
because it's through them that i covet christ's faultlessness.

February 27, 2013

The Intangible Truths of Beauty

*
*
yeah.
right.
sure.
you betcha.
what is beauty, anyway?
that tangible
yet undefinable thing.
we use it as a noun,
an adjective,
a compliment,
an aspiration;
but do any of us truly know what it is?
i know how i treat it.
i treat it like it's something to be obtained,
yet i distinctly remember a time when it was,
instead,
something to be appreciated.
beauty used to be the way sand felt running through my fingers,
the delight of words that rhymed,
the sun sliding into the sea,
drowned again for the night
(but it always resurrects again in the morning).
misty mornings were lovely,
and diving into the cool embrace of a lake was enchantment.
when did it ever become something else?
when did it become the equivalent of acceptance.
when did it become a name,
a number,
a look?
when did i decide to exchange the simple joy of experimental observation
for attempts to claim a false translation of an undefinable lie?
and what is beauty, 
anyway?
beauty is...
hands
worn from long hours of sun-scorched labor,
creased with the marks of repeated use,
callused by rope and primitive tools
-a carpenter's hands-
pierced through with nails
and pinned against wood.
beauty is...
eyes.
eyes that have known compassion,
anger, 
temptation,
exhaustion;
have seen the sick healed,
the dead raised to life,
the bowed head of a woman,
weeping in shame,
as she washes his feet with her hair
(am i at all unlike that woman?)
seeking their forgiveness.
beauty is...
the creator of beauty,
the one who fashioned this world with his hands,
invented colour,
created the stars that hang just out of reach,
tempting in their grand display and cloaks of mystery.
beauty is...
the king of the smallest ant and the largest mountain
and me.
i have been made in the image of beauty,
fearfully and wonderfully made.
i am bound with the marks of love,
freed by the sacrifice of grace,
 and living under the law of mercy.
i am not beautiful because i make myself beautiful
or because i have any ounce of lovely in me.
i am all filthy rags and sin-stained standards.
no.
i am beautiful because i bear the image of god,
and the spirit of christ.
that...
is beauty.
*

February 26, 2013

Blame

i am a blame-shifter.
i try to pretend that i'm not,
to tell myself that i most certainly do take the blame for my mistakes,
or for when things go wrong
or even when they don't go according to plan.
but it's a lie.
i am a blame-shifter.
i like to find a way to shift the weight onto situations or circumstances or people
instead of having to acknowledge that i may have messed up,
or that it's my fault.
i like to blame others and their words.
word have always had a sort of romantic interest for me.
they are lovely
powerful
drenched in meaning
and full of potential.
but words can be cruel
in the mouths of those who do not understand how to use them.
they turned me into a girl who hid under the bathroom sink,
climbed a tree she wasn't supposed to,
burrowed away into books,
confused and hurt,
in an attempt to balance what she thought and what she was being told.
the chief action of blame is to reciprocate the hurt placed on you by others back onto their shoulders.
blame is a silent killer.
blame becomes anger becomes hate.
(i can feel my inner star wars fan that sits not-too-far below the surface smiling as i type those words.)
i turned to my bible in hopes of posting a verse of pertinence, 
but instead i find there are so many verses that i feel indirectly confirm and rebuke all that i'm saying and experiencing, it's impossible to list them all.
james, hebrews, philippians, romans all speak words of truth and love and forgiveness.
how can i claim the forgiveness of christ and yet not offer it to those who i feel may have wronged me?
how can i say 
"i know the truth!"
and yet let myself believe lies.
when jesus hung on the cross,
a perfectly sinless incarnation of god himself,
he bore the countless sins
transgressions past, present, and yet-to-come,
of an entire world.
he didn't say "i didn't do this!"
he said "father forgive them."
*
i've spent a significant amount of time blaming my problems on people and their words.
and i woke up this week realizing that i still do.
not all of this is my fault,
but some of it is.
i am a sinful human being and when i decide,
however involunatry a choice it may seem,
to give in to the persuasions of an eating disorder,
i choose to try to fix and heal things myself,
instead of asking god to fix and heal them for me.
i choose to provide a bad example of what a christian is and does to the world.
these are the times when it's no one's fault but mine.
i will shift blame no longer.

February 25, 2013

A Gesture & a Pose

i carry weights that i cannot bear.
i foster all of the wrong words at all of the wrong times.
i cannot turn the images in my mind that sit like reflections in a puddle into 18000 word-long research papers,
and the biblical testimony speech i've typed, erased, retyped doesn't want to fall into place.
i hate all lower case letters,
how they look like mistakes and laziness.
but there aren't enough capital Is and perfectly place semicolons in the world to save me.
there's no amount of trying to be perfect that will bring me joy and happiness.
i carry weights that i cannot bear.
i harbor a frightened little girl in my heart,
one that stares out,
wistfully catches sight of beauty,
but can't seem to grasp a hold of it.
she's afraid of dark corners
and of being alone.
she makes herself seem feisty
because she cannot be brave
and she knows that very few can actually tell the difference.
i carry weights that i cannot bear.
i hold impossibly high standards for myself.
i believe that if i cannot be perfect then i may as well not try.
mistakes can only be made out of sight of others,
and all practice must be done in private so no one sees,
no one knows,
no one realizes that i have to try.
but it doesn't really matter,
does it?
because i'll still never be good enough anyway,
and all i have to do is look in a mirror to remind myself of the many reasons why.
i carry weights that i cannot bear.
i live in a hall of mirrors.
i can feel a hundred-thousand eyes watching,
scrutinizing,
judging me.
i live in fear of these scathing, ceaseless stares,
how they seem to know my body and my soul,
and all of the flaws they must see.
i carry weights that i cannot bear.
and i will never get rid of them myself.
but i don't have to.
these words that i hold,
like a fistful of rain,
have been gifted to me,
can be poured out in a million different ways.
i will write in lowercase letters to remind myself that i cannot be perfect 
because only god is.
that little girl has a father who has adopted her;
every time she runs away,
he always goes after her and brings her home.
each of my impossible standards
do not have to be reached.
and every time that i fail
i learn to fall off the ladder with a little more grace
and find the arms of mercy that always wait underneath.
that sea of watching eyes belong only to me,
eyes that are reflected in a three-sixty-degree hall of looking glasses,
fun-house concoctions that display me in every way but what i am.
i have spent the past several weeks experiencing new and greater depths of the love of god.
i have been wrapped in protection and a love that grieves for all of the hurt
each one of the burdens,
and all of the expectations i needlessly place on myself.
i am not saved because of my obedience and goodness,
i am saved because of the obedience and goodness of jesus.
*
i am writing these words for a cause.
this week is NEDA (national eating disorder awareness week),
and i plan on living and posting daily with the purpose of displaying transparency
promoting hope,
and pointing to a light far greater than one this world can fabricate.
because what can i gain if i try to hold on to my facades? 
rather, what will i lose if i choose not to?
"i would have lost a gesture and a pose"
(english 102 teaches me that i should cite t.s. eiliot and a page number here).
this year's NEDA week for me is less about posting statistics and the pushing the reality of a disorder:
there aren't enough numbers to represent what this struggle is,
and i live this disorder daily;
whether or not you choose to believe it is up to you. 
this year, i choose to make mistakes,
struggle,
and claim hope. 
-join me.-
*
*


February 15, 2013

A Handful of Dust

*
I wish I could write a Wisconsin Winter Symphony.
We would hear the hum of voices in the dining hall,
The chink of fork-on-plate,
Ice-in-glass.
The percussion of the class bell would wind throughout
With a steady crunch of feet on snow-covered sidewalks,
Amidst the crackle and dim roar of a blazing fire.
Laughter, 
Heard across the blank spaces of the campus, 
The lull of voices singing songs of praise.
And,
Throughout,
The gentle rush of a cold wind.
*
*
"There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go through the intellect."
-G.K. Chesterton- 
Perhaps this is why we can find beauty in even the most derelict of things.
*
Words are merely simple syllables and sounds
Strung together
And perfectly juxtaposed
To create,
Imitate,
And instigate
A world of thoughts and emotions.
The perfect words are the ones that show us God.
Here is some perfection.

"You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, 
Because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
For the Lord God is an everlasting rock."
-Isaiah 26:3-4-

"Those who look to the Lord are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed." 
-Psalm 34:5-

"...we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, 
But one who
In every respect
Has been tempted as we are,
Yet without sin.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace,
That we may receive mercy
And find grace to help in time of need."
-Hebrews 4:15-16-
*
*
Frost flowers on the Arctic Ocean.
I like to imagine that this is what penguins and polar bears give to their loved ones on Valentine's day and anniversaries.
*
"Forgive me my nonsense,
As I also forgive the nonsense of those who think they talk sense."
-Robert Frost-
*

*
A handful of sand as seen through a microscope.
This is,
Perhaps,
How God sees us.
It certainly changes how I see God.
*
"Forever is composed of nows."
-Emily Dickinson-
Happy Friday my friends.

February 10, 2013

Spirit-Filled

*
Background:
I am Lucy in the university's production of "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown."
Our director has requested that we get and stay in shape this semester 
(For the sake of being able to sustain steady breath support for simultaneous singing and choreography).
*
Setting the Scene:
Workout room, Ladies' Dorm, about 8:30 PM.
Ashley, the Dorm Supervisor, enters as I stretch after my workout.
*
Me: Hullo, Ashley! How are you?
Ashley: I'm doing well, how are you?
Me: I'm doing fine! (*Gesturing widely to exercise material*) Our director has us on a diet for the musical.
Ashley, turning to me and quite intently: Be careful about that. Just be certain that it's Spirit-filled.
Exit stage left. 
*
What just happened?
I know that diets 
(Even the suggestion of one) 
And I don't necessarily get along very well;
It's only a matter of days before I've run wild with it, 
Have stopped eating anything at all,
And am sliding down the slippery slope again, 
Back to that dark place of lonely, insecure torture.
But that's not it.
No.
"Just be certain it's spirit-filled "
A diet?
I wasn't entirely sure I knew to what she was referring.
So I sat down with my Bible and my Best Friend and thought about it.
What was momentarily confusing has, quite quickly, become sharply understood.
How often do we consider the Spirit of God as it touches even the most mundane things in our lives?
Things like
Interactions
Relationships
Use of time
Dieting.
Now I know that the latter is more of an emphasized point for me personally,
But the Bible has so many things to be said about the Spirit.
(You know, that thing that indwells us as born-again Christians,
Connecting us to our Heavenly Father?)
The particular verse I'm dwelling on tonight is Galatians 5:16
"Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not gratify the desires of the flesh."
If I am walking in the Spirit,
If what I am doing is Spirit-filled,
Then I, by matter of course, am not giving in to Satan.
Perhaps I'm rambling: let me try and explain this.
If something like a "normal" diet done "normally" sends me into Eating Disorder Mode
-A mindset, habits, and an illness that is merely one of the many ways Satan draws me away from Christ-
Then if it is Spirit-filled,
Spirit-led,
Spirit-focused,
 I cannot fall down that slippery slope.
If I am consulting and following the Lord in what I do, 
I cannot be consulting and following myself.
And it is when I consult myself that I begin to fall
And truly begin to fail.
So my question
(And proposition)
Is this:
Are you making the choice to trust and walk in the Spirit in all of the areas
-Minuscule and otherwise-
That you face in life?
And what will it take for you to start?