Hey yall, I’m talking about Materialism today on Laura Kurk’s blog! Hop on over and say ‘hello.’
For the past couple of months, I’ve been overloaded, too busy and too distracted to spend time with The Potter.
It reflected in everything I did: my eating habits, how I related to the kiddos, how I related to The Man…and in my laundry pile.
After a couple of month’s of frustration with the overall discombobulation of of my life, I decided to get back to basics: my journal, my pen, and my Bible. I started with baby steps, waking up a couple of minutes earlier than usual, and basically ranted to God about everything on my brain. Then I read some verses to hear what He had to say back to me. Many times, my readings didn’t directly relate to how I felt at the moment, but I left those God sessions feeling refreshed and empowered. As a result, I zoomed through my day, attacking my ‘to-do’ list with a vengeance, getting clear ideas on how to meet the goals I’ve set for myself. It was awesome.
So the next day, I did it again. And again. And again.
Funny how all my inner angst could be solved with some sessions with the Potter. He’s the Author and the Finisher of my faith, and so it would behoove me to tune in to His station to see what He wants to say. Yet I often get caught up trying to do things MY way or the way all the experts recommend. In the end, working apart from His plan left me tired, bedraggled and crabby.
Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.
(Isaiah 64:8, NIV)
How about you? Are you spending daily time in prayer and meditation? If not, what could you do to set aside 15 minutes each day for Your Maker?
My husband says I’m insecure about my ability to live a creative life, and that I need a lot of validation. He’s right.
But I wasn’t always so wishy-washy.
When I first came to faith in the Lord as an 11 year old, a whole new world of possibilities opened up to me. I believed 110% that I could do anything and that included living a creative life. And so I dreamed big dreams and had the blessing of seeing those dreams come to fruition.
Yet as I got older, those school teacher voices of doubt and conformity riddled my brain with thoughts like:
“Color in the lines.”
“Forget that acting thing and major in Economics. That’ll get you a secure job in something like investment banking.” (?!)
“You can’t make a real living as an artist.”
I bought into those beliefs and paid for it dearly with years of unfulfilling work which didn’t feed my soul. As a result, I shortchanged myself artistically during my twenties. That young girl who once dreamed big dreams had been squelched by the illusory “real world.”
Now, as I take steps towards a creative life, I have to overcome this inner struggle with myself daily.
Am I really smart? Am I really creative? Can I really do that?
All of my self-inquiries are really questions of: Am I worthy? Am I brilliant? Am I talented? Am I fabulous? Am I beautiful?
As an adult, I am learning daily to accept what I had already known as a child: that I am, in fact, worthy, brilliant, talented, fabulous and beautiful.
I’m learning to get out out of my own way.
How about you? Do you know that you are brilliant, fabulous, talented and beautiful? Or do you have to get out of your own way?
The pool opened early Monday morning for my nine o’clock Beginner’s Swimming class. I spent the weekend biting my nails in angst over what I knew I had to do that Monday—jump into the deep end of the pool in order to pass swimming.
But I was a wimp.
I watched as my classmates ahead of me flew off the diving board, plunged hundreds of feet deep (okay, not hundreds, but it looked like hundreds of feet) and floated up to the surface. They didn’t flinch.
This wasn’t the case for me. I trailed the end of the line and mentally concocted ways to shirk this mandatory (and, in my 21 year old opinion, crazy) graduation requirement. To graduate from the college I had poured years of labor into, I had to not only read the Great Books…but swim?
My fearless best friend passed the swim test our first week in freshman year. As a freshman, I didn’t know how to swim, and I didn’t want to learn. Give me a fifty page paper to write in Spanish and I could do it. Drown me in a sea of books to read, and I could fly through them and give you a point by point analysis of each. But swim? Never.
So I avoided this requirement until the last possible moment: spring semester my senior year.
The line shortened. I bent my knees and pretended to rev up for the big plunge.
Bend, straighten. Bend, straighten.
After a couple of bends, I was shot.
“Edwards. You’re up.” (Edwards is my maiden name.)
My swim teacher, five feet four and super athletic, reminded me of the Catholic school nuns from my high school. He didn’t hesitate to penalize me for my flinches, hesitations and missteps.
But I couldn’t do it. I stepped away from the diving board.
“Edwards. If you don’t jump, I’ll flunk you.”
Flunk. The word dangled in front of me as anathema, pure heresy. Don’t know why. I had flunked many classes during my prodigal daughter years. But when I had flunked in the past, it was due to jadedness. Jaded people were numb people, didn’t care either way.
If I flunked now, it would be due to fear. Fearful people absorbed the full brunt of life’s bee stings and beneath that fatty layer of fear, they cared.
My heart crumbled. I wanted to jump. I really, really did.
“Edwards. You’re not going to drown. If you drown, I’ll catch you.”
You’re not going to drown…If you drown…
Sounded like an oxymoron to me.
Moments later, I stepped onto the board. My heart stuttered but I was more determined this time. I bent my knees and straightened.
With one blind motion, I flung my one hundred and fifteen pound body from the board. As I fell, cold air sliced through me. Then a shock of water swaddled me. I stiffened and inhaled the H2O.
Hold your breath.
I listened to that Voice and my body relaxed. Soon after, the water which I had feared would kill me, carried me.
Carried me back to the surface.
“Nice job, Edwards.”
My Spartan swim teacher paid me a compliment? I smiled.
Weeks later I received my shiny new Bachelor’s degree written in fancy Latin.
Here’s the thing: people jump off of diving boards every day and no one cares.
It wasn’t until someone hesitated, someone like me, that others got involved. Those others may laugh at you, cheer for you, or threaten academic failure.
I am standing on the edge of the diving board again and staring at a blank journal waiting to be filled with…
I won’t know until I take the proverbial plunge.
Oh sure, I can hold on to the highs and lows of past years: 2013, 2012, 2011, 201o, etc. But that would be chicken. And it’s the dawning of a new day.
A time to push through insecurities and face my fears.
Fears about being a good enough mom.
Fears about being a good enough writer.
Fears about being a good enough me.
I hope you push through your insecurity and fully face your fear. Because there’s a still small Voice waiting to guide you, and comforting waters ready to carry you…
If you jump.
One of the books I plan to read is “The Book Thief” by Marcus Zusak. I put the book on hold at my local library, but, lo and behold, 44 other people in my town have also put the book on hold. While waiting for my turn to read it, I decided to watch the movie the other night. (SPOILER ALERT! Don’t read the rest of this blog post, if you don’t want to know details of the story.)
“The Book Thief” takes place during Nazi Germany, and it tells the story of a girl name Liesel who learns to read with the help of her foster father. Her zeal for the written word grows and she starts stealing books to satiate her love of reading. Many of the books which she steals are banned by the Nazi regime. She starts sharing these books with Max, a Jewish man hidden in her basement. When Max becomes deathly ill, Liesel reads Max many of those stolen books–and those words keep him alive.
Later on in the story, Max gives Liesel a present: a blank journal. On the first page of the journal Max inscribed one word in Hebrew:
It means “write.” Max then says:
“In my religion, we’re taught that every living thing, every leaf, every bird is only alive because it contains the secret word for life. That’s the only difference between us and a lump of clay, a word. Words are life, Liesel. All those blank pages are for you to fill.”
Watching this scene reminded me of that lovely passage in Genesis: “The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Gen 2:7). John later wrote: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (John 1:14).
The only difference between us and a lump of clay is a word. His word breathes physical life into every living creature, and He gives humans the unique gift of language. In this way, we are created in His image.
If I think about this too much (which I am by virtue of the fact that I am writing this post), I feel guilty because I don’t always use my words for good. I have torn down my own self and others through my words.
Yet there have been times, awesome times, when I have committed my mouth and my pen to the Word and the opposite occurred.
I have spoken encouragement to myself and, slowly but surely, emerged from the fog of depression.
I have scribbled endless gobbledy-gook in my journal and, surprisingly, something of beauty comes across the page. (This surprise causes me to plunge into another black hole of gobbledy-gook to search for more word-treasure. Such is the life of a writer.)
Language is our great and terrible privelege; life and death are in the power of the tongue. Just as Max gave Liesel a blank book to fill with words, the Word has given us a blank span of years to fill with words, both written and verbal, fully knowing we could use them as tools or as weapons. Humbling.
Our tongues are the pen of a ready writer (Psalm 45:2) and, like Max said to Liesel, all those blank pages are for us to fill.
Each day He calls us to write.
Question for You: Are you happy with the life story which you are writing right now? If so, please share. If not, what could you do to rewrite it?