You know, I thought it would be really easy after the 31 day challenge to shut down the blog and move over to my website and just continue my work-funny thing is, it hasn’t been. I am still plugging along on a project that I know to be good but I keep feeling this tug, this draw to stay true to where my heart lies as well. And, it feels confusing because I know both places feel, well, right.
I have struggled for years with my role in the world and just how I am suppose to fit and move. As a Christian the rules are pretty straight forward-but I have never really been good with rules. I feel this deep urge, a calling if that is a word you are more comfortable word, to move in the world. To find my place and purpose within contemporary culture. Whether that is writing, painting, the music I listen to, the books I read-I am compelled (and not as a form of rebellion) to understand and really listen to what the world is saying. The flip side is that I also feel a longing. Like the longing for a soft blanket on a chill evening, I want to wrap myself in the cocoon of Christian music and books and platitudes because it feels safe. It feels easy. The struggle eases when I disappear into that space but then the rumbling begins and I know that is not what I am called to do.
There are days when I wish the writing would literally be on the wall-don’t we all? Wouldn’t it be awesome to wake up one morning and the wall would greet you with “Good morning Susan, today you will…” and then fill in the dots with whatever it is He is expecting from me on that day? I could hang with that. I know I would get a whole lot more sleep and live in a lot less struggle if it were that clear. Instead I wake up day after day feeling tugs and pulls without the surety that what I do matters and that I am truly hearing what He is saying.
Sunday’s are always a challenge for me. I remember so clearly the mornings of chaos and confusion-in spite of my best efforts-that Sundays brought. I read all the books, followed all the suggestions that all the best Christian experts published and yet the humanness of my family superseded the knowledge and wisdom of all those writers. Somewhere along the way I stopped and listened really hard to the peace that filled my heart when I celebrated moments-not just on Sunday’s but daily-and I found worship. Now, today happens to be a Sunday, and I happen to be sick so I had no desire to cough my way through a worship service but I am not beating myself up because I am not where I ‘should’ be-because I am exactly where I need to be.
I think we have filled our minds with fabricated shoulds and I wish I could take back all the harsh words, the stern admonishments that went with the practice of worship-because that’s all it was. Practice. AND, I know I failed at the true act of worship because I was following rules I thought were real. I also know that my children struggle to find their way because that is the role I modeled for them. Here is where trust plays a key role-I trust that HE will fix the mess I made and HE is revealing more to me every day because I am open to learning and not just doing.
Looking out the window in my makeshift office I am experiencing the magic and wonder of snow. I love all the seasons but Winter has always been the best for me. Snow softens the world and muffles the noise of life and I can feel such peace as I watch it ornament pine branches and drift, float and dance its way through the air. I breathe in God at these moments. No lofty sermons, no extensive memorized passages spoken at me just the remaining leaves waving at the passing parade of flakes. It is at these moments that He leans in close and breathes his promises in my ear, melts my heart and reminds me I am his. And, I am filled with gratitude and warmth.
Yet, somehow this isn’t the way it is ‘suppose’ to be done. I am suppose to experience this in a room filled with people who don’t know who I am, who make haste for the hot coffee and a dry cookie at the end of the sermon, offering a nod and quick smile so we feel as though we have experienced fellowship. My soul longs for community but I am aware that I am, still, where I need to be-that there is work being done. Hello-writing? Hello-wall? I could use a little help here?
So, all this to say that I am trying to figure out why there is this duplicity-this longing for the safe but a deep pull to push into the world. To listen to the words, to unpack the stories, to reach in instead of pull the curtain shut and sing the pretty songs. We do a great job of refitting what the world is doing to fit our needs, to make them safe, ‘acceptable’ and somehow ‘better’ but in doing this we are sending a message as well-that we don’t accept the world. That we judged the world lacking and in that judgement we are righteous-right? I beg to differ.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2 NIV
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Romans 12:2 NLV
When we copy, imitate, ‘clean up’, re-create we justify our pleasure in what the world offers and we do little more than chase after the world when we are called to be leaders. We also get so caught up in the first part of this passage that we dismiss the latter part because that is where the hard work comes in. It is way easier to focus on changing outer things up than it is to ‘renew’ our own thinking.
by the renewing of your mind—not by a mere outward disconformity to the ungodly world, many of whose actions in themselves may be virtuous and praiseworthy; but by such an inward spiritual transformation as makes the whole life new—new in its motives and ends, even where the actions differ in nothing from those of the world
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Through enacting true inner change we can be more effective in affecting the world around us. So, I guess this is where I am. I am finally listening and learning to renew my mind-to listen closer, to lean towards the learning. I feel tremendously challenged to keep my path-knowing that He is leading but also knowing it is a different path from the one I was so sure I ‘should’ be walking.
I would love to hear your thoughts-where does he lead you and why?
AND, remember, just do the work you were created to do (no matter how small or big)-even if the world doesn’t accept it at first. You were created to do the work only you can do and it is simply marvelous!
Enjoy the AND because that is where the journey is happening-
Peace and the pleasure of simple beauty-