Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I want my life to be a fairytale

I began this post several weeks ago and just returned to it today...I am reminded of this familiar ache as the world news once again screams of heartbreak and tragedy. 
Last week, my mom and I went to see Disney's latest remake of the timeless tale, Cinderella. The theater was packed with little (and not-so-little) girls, oohing and ahhing as the beautiful Ella, who had been used and abused by her wicked stepmother (yet somehow managed to maintain her courage and kindness almost effortlessly), joyfully waltzed off with the charming and handsome prince (having known him only two days) and received the ultimate justice and repayment for all that was broken in her life. Even as a not-so-little girl, I noticed myself getting carried away by the magic and enchantment of a story I have heard a hundred times in a hundred different ways. What is it about these stories that capture us so? 

I am enchanted because I want my life to be a fairytale. I want everything that is wrong or unfair or sad to be made right. But it doesn't work that way, does it? There is death and deceit and selfishness and greed...and often no justice. Life is hard, and there is no prince come to carry me away from the hardness (at least not yet anyway... ;-). I can find myself wooed by fairytales because my life is not one and yet there is a deep, guttural, and very real longing in me for the wrong to be right. 

I wonder if this longing is the truest part of me, the part that whispers of a time long, long ago when everything was right...before brokenness interrupted and altered the course of eternity. Perhaps this longing speaks about a God-man who came into the brokenness as a squalling bloody mess sent to pursue our battered and bleeding hearts. Perhaps this longing serves to remind me of the long road Jesus traveled to pick up every bit of my shame and fear, heaping it upon himself as he willingly faced the brutal force of all evil head on while God's face turned from him. Perhaps this longing reminds me of that moment when he breathed his last and the curtain ripped straight down the center, giving humanity unfettered access to divinity for the first time since all had gone wrong so many years before. Perhaps this longing reminds me of the empty grave, of the Savior who not only died a brutal death so that I did not have to, but also defeated death by proving it incapable of restraining him from Glory. Perhaps, in a time when tragedy can strike in an instant and decimate an entire country without causing the rest of the world to pause for more than a heartbeat...perhaps this longing reminds me that things are not as they were intended, and that God mourns the disparity between what is, what was supposed to be, and what one day will be. 

I love the picture painted in Psalm 56:8--

"You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book." 

Such an intimate, loving portrayal of a God who can often be cast as the distant, uninterested killjoy who fails to maintain order in our depraved world. I have known this God who collects my tears, and I want you to as well. One day, tragedy may knock at your front door, and what I want you to know in that moment is that God is not a distant, all-powerful (but uninterested) being. God sees all that is (no matter how ugly or broken), mourns with us over what was supposed to be (even in the thickest clouds of grief), and plants in our hearts a longing that points to what one day will be (no matter how far off that day might be). Perhaps C.S Lewis said it best: "If you find yourself with a desire that no experience in this world can satisfy, then the most probable explanation is that you were made for another world." Yes, that. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Yesterday, I found the end of me.

It has been a month since I last visited this place, which can only mean one of two things. Either A, life is so incredibly abundant and beautiful that I cannot put my heart into words, or B, I am not healthy. Because writing is sustenance to me. 

I am all kinds of messed up. If I ever wondered where the end of me was, I found it yesterday. I have worked so diligently over the last year, trying to process and uproot old patterns of striving and busyness, learning to care for my heart and body in ways that free my spirit to love and serve more authentically. I was finding new levels of peace and learning how cherished I am by the God of the universe. I was getting healthy...not just in the way of the world, but deeper than that. I was discovering creativity and playfulness and intimacy. Then I forgot. 

I forgot to make self-care a priority. I forgot to frequently say "NO"  to doing and "YES" to being. I started the slow slide into old patterns, finding myself dumping, dumping, dumping myself with no refill. Yesterday, I was empty. Exhausted, spent, broken. My creativity, playfulness, deep capacity to love? Shot. Zippo. Nada. 

Friends, we were not created for the kind of life this world tells us to live. This busy, striving, bigger, better, louder life? I am convinced it is all a ploy of the Enemy to drain us of health, creativity, love, wholeness, and the ability to produce beauty. It is not healthy, for us or for our families. While I convince myself that I am not giving my best when I choose rest, while I tell myself I will let people down if I say "NO," it is all a big fat lie. Because my best self is a deeply rested, playful, creative, healthy self. Not a sick, spent, exhausted but always present self. The temporary no is a planted yes that will blossom and bloom where it will become the most beautiful. 

I will learn. I will slowly grasp the necessity of making rest a priority, and practice the art of gracefully saying "NO" when necessary and sometimes even when inconvenient to myself or others. I will integrate rest, and play, and try new things just for the heck of it, and laugh. Not because I can, but because I need to, and you need me to as well. 

I extend the same challenge to you...practice and learn rest. It is not a luxury, it is a necessity.