jump

December 15, 2009

when i was a little kid apparently i jumped off of, well, everything.  my mom later told me that a fateful leap that broke my leg probably saved my life.  until then, i had exhibited no signs of fear.  The sort of shock and pain of a hard-landing helped me to have a little more respect for gravity.

but i’ve only recently learned my mom was wrong.  that was the day my life was put in serious jeopardy.

it was the first cycle of what would later become a pattern – risk, fail, fear, mistrust, withdrawal.  sadly, too many things in my family, my relationships, my hopes reinforced the feeling of being left in pieces.  the only way to survive being human, i thought,  was to no longer feel or care or love.  A psychiatrist would later simply remark in an assessment, “high proclivity toward intellectual risks; almost none for emotional ones.”

no more jumping.  i didn’t want to feel anything.

to be honest, as much as we insulate and isolate ourselves, control is an illusian and life will throw you off a ledge.  I am no exception.  When I got packed up in the back of blue chevy, with a swollen knee and a pair of crutches, (i was post-op on a knee surgery that came after 24 years of mis-alignment caused by that pesky broken leg) I was terrified.  When I arrived at a house on North Point Rd, with a family who I didn’t know well enough to have trusted and tested, I felt like I had just jumped off of a very high ledge.  Every part of me was afraid, but I was so happy to feel something again; to stop pretending i didn’t need anyone – even if i was afraid.

fast forward almost 5 years…standing on the neighbors dock of that same road, I stared at a girl who just lost her mother. She is much too young to know how deeply something can hurt – and I could see the enormity of the loss in her eyes and the numbness: so I did what any clear-thinking adult would do…I handed her my phone and jumped off of her dock in the middle of winter. I told her to make her own memories, which was apparently the echo of her mother’s voice. I wanted her to know it’s ok to jump again, to feel something, even if it hurt and was cold.  My biggest fear is not that she will feel the crushing weight of that loss but that she will choose not to feel it….and conclude life is too exhausting and painful and dangerous to try to fly.

“Blessed are those who mourn”  Jesus said; which negates the “blessed are those who avoid pain and tragedy” gospel we tell.  Mourning, and failure, and loss, and disappointment, and fear are an invitation and a gift from God…”because we will be comforted.”

and in being comforted, we learn that it’s ok to risk in love, to trust people, to consider God might be pursuing us, that we were never meant to be alone.

in mourning and in being comforted, we remember how to jump.

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the one thing

December 9, 2009

it’s been a while since i’ve written…not because I haven’t had any thoughts, but because I’ve had so many.  When that happens, it’s like a chaos in my head.  I knew this was the case when someone told me Sunday that it must be difficult to be so smart – which is really just a nice way of saying “I have no idea what you are talking about!”

Try being me!

Walking along the edge of the Atlantic this week, trying to prioritize/strategize the next few months of a massive pile of school, work, moving, job hunting, friends, family, holidays, and well, just life…I realized God said something to Solomon when he was in a very similar position (1 Kings). Solomon had a lot going on.  He had just become king.  He seemed a little stressed.  He went to pray.

“Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” God said. 

hmmm.

What if God said the same thing to me? (oh, He did….Luke 11, Matt 21, Mark 11, etc etc)

What would I ask for?

What would you ask for?

Wisdom popped into mind first, b/c well, that worked out for Solomon, but too unoriginal…next I thought something along the lines of “that Your will would be done” but, too nebulous…I considered money, influence, love, an assurance of health and heaven.  Nothing really seemed like the thing.  My thing.  My one thing.  I’ve had them: love, money, hope, power, chances.  I’ve lived long enough to see the ebb and flow of life.  the good times. the bad ones.  I’ve knelt at the alter of sex and beauty and charisma and trust me, i’m not saying I don’t want those things…just not sure I’d ask for them.  They are accessories, not an end.  So what then? What’s the one thing that will last…that will sustain me…because I don’t know how any of this stuff is going to go down.

I walked, and I thought.

A pure heart.

Yes.

Exactly.

That is my one thing.  My one prayer.  My last prayer.  My forever prayer.

God, give me a pure heart.  Let the complexities, difficulties, tragedies, setbacks, successes, luck, and celebrations of my life never take their toll on the purity of my heart.  Let me always love well.  Let what flows in from you flow out untained by all of the stuff that can clutter life. 

I’m not typically big on “biblical quarterbacking” – that is, when you pick one verse out of the bible and throw it around on it’s own w/o considering it in context.  But, in this case, I think Proverbs 4:23 can stand alone.

The first part – “guard your heart” is pretty much agreed upon by all the translators.  It’s the 2nd clause, however, is where the question “why the heart?” gets answered.  More importantly, it’s why I feel like the one thing I prayed for, is exactly what I need.

✜ it is the wellspring of life. (NIV)

✜ it’s where life starts. (MSG)

✜ it determines the course of your life. (NLT)

✜ everything you do flows from it. (TNIV)

✜ out of it spring the issues of life. (NKJV)

So let it be God…so let it be.