I took a break from blogging, originally planning on never blogging again, because the blog had become more about me and how funny or popular or well-written I could be. I’d lost the point. The point, is to show that God can do anything and that He’s strong enough to walk His children through the dangers and temptations of this world, especially if they’re willing, and I, already, have forgotten this.
Today in Writer’s Studio 3, my professor quite explicitly told me and my classmates that he wanted us to unleash and embrace our weirdness. Not the quirky, silly weirdness that exists depending upon personality, but rather the uncomfortable, odd, eerie, perverse weirdness that characterizes most of the literature we read in class. And I sat there, seriously considering perverse literature, how I’d write it, what I’d write about, and how good it would feel just to let vice take over my brain and let my flesh take over my hand.
And it hit me.
“What on earth am I thinking?”
After Studio, I went to the front of the library and sat there, writing. I didn’t know what to think. Lately I’d been battling with how to pursue a successful writing career while also pursuing a passionate faith. Part of me knew that there should be no question of those being together, or of one choice being the obviously correct one, but I just didn’t want to believe it. I’ve heard so many students talking about making money to pay off their loans, getting connections, snatching up internships, and getting their books published before they graduate so as to secure their writing careers. And I’m stuck, wondering how to be a go-getter, how to work my tail off so I can say I made it all the way to the top of the totem pole all by myself, through my own blood, sweat, and tears, through countless internships and many emails and by reading innumerable amounts of books…but while also “maintaining my faith,” as if it’s a building that needs a monthly spit and shine.
Me: “Lord….what am I supposed to do?”
Me: “Lord, everyone is talking about their careers and money and futures and everything…what about me? Can I just take charge and ‘go for my dream’ like everyone else is trying to do?”
The other day I biked through the Brooklyn for the first time ever. At first I wasn’t sure what to do, whether it was like a video game with an appointed starting line or if I just hopped onto the bike path. Once I actually started moving, it became one of the most breathtaking experiences I’ve ever had. Kind of like when I first went skiing, I realized how amazing the activity was, even though I’d been really afraid of it prior to actually doing it. Anyway, as I biked through Brooklyn on my way to Sam and Maria’s (they were hosting a Labor Day BBQ for all of the singles in the church), I got a taste of the newness of this experience, of this adventure that God sent me on a year ago. I was reminded of the hope I had at the beginning of the adventure, and I wondered where it went and how I could get it back.
God’s been, through studying His word and through wonderful conversations with Beth, that my hope was never supposed to be in how well my life is going, or how much I have going for me, whether it be how many people enjoy this blog or how many internships I have or how many times I can bring up the topic of religion in a conversation. My hope, when I’ve had it, has always been rooted in who God is, in who He was, and in who He’ll always be. Beth (I love her so much!) put it this way:
“God, He knows me, He knows me better than I know myself. He understands me better than I understand myself. He knows my every thought, every want, every emotion, every reaction—past, present, future. I want to know Him. I want to know Him like He knows me. I want to know how He feels about things…what He thinks about things…everything He wants, how He’s interacted in the past, what He’s doing and what He’s dealing with in the present, what He’s thinking, what He’s planning, what He’s dreaming. I want to run with Him. I want to live in His victory.”
And as I talked with her I was reminded of how I’d once felt that way too, how I’d once looked at God as a handsome knight in shining armor that I wanted with all my heart to know, to understand, to trust, to believe, to ride with, to be loved by. I understand now, or at least better, how easy it is to be overwhelmed by the “reality” of life and the reality of growing up. I’ve found myself really wondering if my faith was too childish to take with me anymore. But then, as I just talk to Him, as I put the focus less on how He sees me and more on who He actually is, my childlike hope comes back, and things are wonderful again, and it suddenly doesn’t matter if I do become a famous writer, wearing Prada pumps and having her name in the New York Times, because God didn’t create me for that. He created me for great things, no doubt, but He created me for things greater than I could ever imagine, and I keep trying to put Him in a box wrapped in my ideas of what a great life really is. I forget that God created life.
When God said to be set apart, when He said that things would be difficult because the world didn’t know me (because they don’t know me) and because I have an adversary that’s virtually out to destroy me, distract me, hurt me, and keep me from the wonders of God’s love and His plan for my life, I didn’t think the trouble would sneak up so quickly.
The point of the blog is to show Christians that God is strong enough, that even though the world is big and ridiculously nuts, God is bigger and His ideas about what life should be like are far greater than any the world have to offer. I might think that being a best-selling author with tons of money is the greatest thing that could happen to me, but God might want me to write ladies Bible studies alongside Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer while being a stay-at-home mom with x amount of wonderful children. Or it might be something completely different.
It’s never “fun” to be the good little church girl. It’s never easy to be the one who believes in heterosexual marriage, who preaches that abortion practically murder, who doesn’t drink or smoke or swear. It’s not even that easy to pray for meals in the middle of the cafeteria. But it’s even worse to know that you’re living in a way that’s displeasing to God and still living that way. I don’t want that to happen. Quite literally, as I sit here typing, the worst thing that could happen to me is for me to fall away from God and be distracted from pursuing a relationship with Him and basking in His love and letting it infiltrate every area of my life, because living any other way has no point, no purpose. It’s bleak and dark and frightening, because you’re constantly reaching for control of your circumstances, or trying to be laid back about the fact that you know you have none. You’re always tripping and having no one but yourself to catch you. You’re always feeling empty, filling yourself with different things, everything from innocent things like books and morality to not-so-innocent things like sex, drugs, and alcohol. Either way, whatever your vice is, you’re always looking for more. I don’t want to go back there again.
So, I’m back, writing about God and how He’s somehow keeping my head above water in this crazy place, this crazy life. I was hoping I’d be able to live here for four years without the differences between what God wants and what the world wants really effecting how I think and live, but I was wrong to do so. God says quite clearly in His world that this is not a passive ministry, and that the life of the disciple is not for the faint of heart. He says that the world will actively reach for you and that there are forces looking to. Destroy. You. And I forgot.
I also forgot that as often as Satan is eyeing me and trying to break me and distract me, God is more often guiding me and catching me and rescuing me. I forgot that there are two pairs of eyes on me, and One pair belongs to Someone much stronger and faster and fierce and loving than the other. God will not let His children be destroyed. He will not let them be moved, not if they’re depending on Him. So I can be confident in the fact that He will never leave me nor forsake me, that the things He has planned for me are good, giving me hope and a future, that He wants me to cast my cares on Him, that He will not allow me to be moved, that He pursues me like a princess, that He protects me like a treasure, and that He guides me like a child, and that He will provide.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”
—2 Corinthians 4:7-10, ESV