Thursday, April 05, 2007

"May God's love be with you / Always..."

I'm not going to be here tomorrow. You'll have to muddle on without me. I trust you'll make it somehow.

I will be away at the doctor, looking for some way to dislodge the little man trying to carve out a mine shaft in the back of my skull with industrial drilling equipment.

Your prayers for proper diagnosis and quick recovery would be appreciated.

I'll try to finish a shuffleblog post I started earlier in the week, and post that later tonight before I go home. Once I log off here shortly, I need to put an honest hour or two of work in first.


Sunday is Easter, the most sacred of Christian holidays. You'd think that a writerly type such as myself would be working on a finely-crafted rumination on the meaning and importance of the day. You'd think that I would be preparing all week for such a powerful and potentially life-changing post.

If so, then you don't know me very well, do ya.

I'm unprepared for Easter. Not just blog-wise, either.

I have not taken the time to reflect much over the last month or two, let alone the past week. I've just been going, going, going. I got slowed down a bit by illness here or there, likely the result of poor diet + little rest + little exercise. I haven't been doing sabbath. I've just being going. Finally, this week, I realized that it's just time to stop. But I've forgotten how.

Last night, I had a moment of clarity, or at least, semi-transparency. I realized that the best descriptor for me right now is faded. My personality has been diluted to its most basic and ugly parts. I've been drained of life, in many ways. There is nothing vivid about me. Nothing striking. I'm washed-out and worn.

I told Amanda last night that I have come to the point where I just don't love people anymore. Sometimes I tolerate them. I'm indifferent toward people, at best. I'm impatient and derogatory, more often. I have no heart for the lost, or even for the "found." I know more about the lives of minor characters on television shows than I do about the people in the Bible study I lead (probably because I spend an hour a week listening to the TV characters, and 30-40 minutes a week talking at the people at church). I just don't care. I'm more satisfied to put my head down and plow through my own life doing my own thing. You leave me alone, and I'll leave you alone.

Of course, then there's Sunday, when I put on the "church" face and spout all the right talking points about being welcoming and loving people and making connections and reaching out. All the buzzwords floating around the Sunday School leadership right now. I'm reading all the books and attending all the meetings. I'm all about "connections" on Sunday. But Monday comes around, and I couldn't care less. I realized it this week, and it's bothered me ever since.

I read the apostle John's first letter last night, and was beaten up one side and down the other by it. I was told over and over that my love for God is demonstrated by my love for others. That the man who claims to love God but hates his brothers is a liar and doesn't even know God. That kind of stuff scares me. I know how fickle and flighty my love for people is. Can my love for God be the same way? (Short answer: yeah.)

The only comfort, the only assurance I have is that God's love for me is just the opposite. While my compassion for the sick and the hungry and the dying is always tempered by my unwillingness to do something, God's compassion for my sick heart and hungry soul and dying flesh is without end. And God showed it by his willingness to do something shocking and sacrificial: while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me.

That's the first half of Easter: God demonstrates His love by redeeming the rebellious sinner.

The other half of Easter is this: As I am buried with Christ, so shall I be raised with him. The old is gone! The new has come! I am alive in Christ, and walk in new life.


Where did that life go? Why is that love not found in me now?

Something somewhere got blocked. I'm a dumb little branch who detached from the True Vine. I keep forgetting and relearning and forgetting: I'm never gonna be a vine. I'll always need His life to feed into mine.

Maybe the word for me isn't "indifferent" or "faded"--maybe it's "withered."

And the story of Easter is that, with the bodily resurrection of the Savior, even the most brittle of dried, dead branches can experience Spring again. And that's what I need. Renewal.

(I said I didn't prepare an Easter post; I didn't say I wouldn't try to wing it.)

...I started to end it there. To tie it up into a pretty little Easter message package, with a big pastel-colored bow. But I'm feeling a little too honest.

The fact is, I think I'm running from that renewal for some reason. Because renewal means that part of me will have to die. Robert Lewis calls this the "paradox principle"--you've gotta die to live. This is nothing new; it's practically the entire message of the New Testament.

I'm scared of dying. Physically, spiritually, emotionally. I'm scared of stepping out in faith. I'm scared that I'll never be brave enough to let another woman into my heart. Scared that I'll never really write a book, or that I'll finish a book and find out that I really don't have that much talent after all. Scared to actually give up the little things that make me happy and kill me slowly, like fast food and a sedentary lifestyle. Scared of giving my best and fullest effort at work and becoming a depressed and hopeless middle manager like my father, a brilliant and funny man for whom my heart breaks.

I'm scared of giving up something, even if I know in my head that I'm putting it in the hands of a Father-God who loves me and gives me good things in return.

Just fear of letting go and trusting. So many parts of my life feel like that silent Saturday for some reason. I keep find myself being pulled to bury the dead, but for some reason I'm unwilling to cling to what's alive.

No clean tie-ups here. No quick fixes. No tidy homilies. Just a hope that something in me gets resurrected. Re-created. Restored.


Three things jumping out of my reading that I'm still chewing on. Phrases that I'm carrying with me today:

"[Love] does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful..."

"Fear has to do with punishment; whoever fears has not been perfected in love."

"Let love be genuine."

I may have more to say on this later. If I do, you'll be the first to know, I suppose.

No comments: