8/27/2004

My Own Place

I am getting my own house in September! It's a tiny studio for $395 a month plus utilities. I will finally move all of my things out of storage and get rid of whatever I won't use. I will finally be able to clean out my car which has acted as a second home for all of my daily totings-around. I will clear out the rest of the gypsy evidence from my life and finally set my feet upon stained carpet and call it 'home'. I will work over 60 hours a week and find time for small accomplishments. The rest of the many dreams I have will go into a small box in the form of written text. I will open the box on cold, lonely nights and pray that they don't lure me into their weak confinement again.

The air is fresh and primed for autumn change. The muscles in my neck and back are slowly resting their panicked grip with the help of a chiropractor named Larry. The posters in cardboard tubes I've stored have images of inspiration such as: holy scriptures, Escher, and Waterhouse. My other companions are Kierkegaard, C.S. Lewis, and various apostles and monks to remind me of the brothers not of this world who have lived before my time. Musical friends like Something Like Silas, Nichole Nordeman, and Mahalia Jackson will remind me of worship and guidance through music. Janina, Alanna, Kelsye, Emily, Danielle, Jessica, Jenn, Teresa and other sisters will remind me of the gentleness and strength of women. Shane, Casey, Vern, Caleb, Billy, John, Adam, Andrew, Joel and brothers I haven't yet leaned on will remind me of the iron stability and wisdom of Christian men. Mom, Cathee, Sharon, Susan, Marian, Darlene, Peggy, Shirly, Floyd, P.J., Mike, Joe, my Dad, Terry, my grammas, and other elders I haven't yet learned from will continue to guide me directly and indirectly. Most importantly, my Savior Jesus Christ will never leave me or forsake me. If all else dies and is turned to dust He is there making desolation into abundance and condemnation into salvation. What shall i fear?

I walk taller, speak more assuredly, and focus more on loving my neighbor and my Father God. Stillness and rest await me now, even amidst two busy workplaces and a complacent town. Fantasies have lost their novelty and their luster has rubbed off and they show their foolish truths. I have thrown them aside to grab hold of God's reality which never fades. Like my Dad said, "I'm happy for you Diana, growing up will make your life a lot less painful." That may be true, but it will be no less exciting to me. Truth is the only attainable adventure and it takes no prisoners.

8/24/2004

I Am Sheep, Hear Me Baa

This small town is my home. I have wrestled with it for too long and now I am finally embracing it. This whole time as I kicked it and punched it, left it and returned to it, loved it and hated it; I was only hurting myself. It's funny how that happens. I feel like Tyler Durden battling, not a repressed rebel within, but a childish gypsy dreamer who had a death grip on my heart. Christ-in-me has soothed and calmed her into submission. All I had been doing of my own resources was encouraging her to make my decisions. Now she has finally run into Jesus' arms and sleeps with her dirty thumb in her mouth. She's done throwing tantrums. I'm done. Time will be my companion and no longer my enemy. But, thankfully, I remain ever so dramatic.

My jobs will challenge my character and my time off will be my sabbath where I will rest in the arms of God. Some will seek me in the usual places: looking at maps, standing in front of the lottery machine, or sitting in a heap of disappointment scraping together shards of broken fantasies. But you won't find me there. Those places are slowly growing smaller in the distance behind me. Ahead is the tranquility of maturity where the landscape is easier to prepare for and the people are less blurry-looking.

I got a chance to say goodbye to the child gypsy dreamer within and even kissed her on the cheek. Now I am alone with my boring self. Oh blessed boredom! Let me not despise thee so! Let me find the peace you provide and lose the pain I have inflicted on myself in fighting you! Boredom was never so exhilarating! It is not really boredom, but quietness and stillness.

Oh such a sheep am I! Sometimes I feel like bleating and other times I feel like grazing until I drown in my own cud. Why are we sheep? I didn't see myself as a sheep until today. I was a sheep dancing around like a crane or prowling like a lioness. How ridiculous I must have looked! All hunched down on my hooves awkwardly scraping my woolly stomach across the grass pretending I was graceful. But, still, I did it with such assurance that the other sheep encouraged me to follow my dreams. Then there was this one sheep. He started laughing at me and I about lost my mind. He saw how he had demolished me and gently whispered to me that I was being ridiculous. Still I wanted this sheep's acceptance. So in an attempt to belong I started twirling and pawing at him like I had mad cow disease. I probably even "mooo"d at him and batted my fat sheep eyelids. He was sort of entertained by my performance but mostly he just felt sorry for me and walked off to tell the others. Since he's been gone I have hid myself behind the trees and near the drinking hole staring at my reflection. I realize that it's time for me to just be a sheep like the rest of them. You mean I can just graze, be herded, poop, and sleep? All I have to do is LIVE? Yes, it's in fact all I must do. Everything else is getting in the Shepherd's way and distracting the other sheep from His commands. So I must diminish. But I look forward to the relaxing sheep-ness I will enjoy from now on. The Shepherd knows I would love to be more than a sheep. He will guide me when He has made me ready. Until then, Jesus, can I get a shear because I kinda itch? "Yes, My love," He replies, "Just hold still!"

8/04/2004

Jesus Remodels My Temple

When I smoke cigarettes it is a metaphor. Though I hate the hold it has on me, I continue to rely on its wicked companionship. It is a dangerous dance with sin. The stench of my clothes is hideous making a trail of judgment behind me. It is a reminder of a bondage that I never should have revisited. It alerts people to my brokenness. My temple is being made unclean by its intoxicating intrusion. I want to be rid of it.

I am a smoking temple with 'under construction' signs and yellow caution tape all over me. Slowly and patiently Jesus clears out the splintered damaged goods and strips the remains of the wallpaper of rebellion. His hands are the only things that can remove sin-stained remnants and throw them in the fire. As the objects litter the front lawn in preparation to burn, I take an upset inventory. That was in ME? It reminds me of a beautiful princess toddler who craps the most surprising load into her diaper. How does something so precious produce such foul waste? Jesus doesn't cringe away in disgust; He simply disposes of it as a mother would. The love erases all memory of the waste and rejoices once again in who the beloved child is.

I didn't see these things as waste before Jesus began throwing them out. The remnants of my sinful habits were made useful for my survival as a sinner. Last year Jesus drug out a vicious and kicking habit of manipulation and destruction. I had held it as valuable once when my loneliness as a sinner required me to take advantage of someone's heart. When I saw the real monster that it was in the light of Truth, my heart failed me. I decided that I couldn't live. So I abandoned all hope of cleaning out my own temple. This moved me out of the way of Jesus' work and has allowed Him to move about the temple without my interference. He has managed to take out nearly every reminder of the monster's once consuming presence. Among the other sinful remnants that Jesus has cleared out have been the jagged arrogance of self-importance, the seeping need for acceptance and validation from others (that left a shiny, sticky trail that still glistens menacingly on the doorstep), the hard-edged and cracked codependent caretaker (that also left chunks of residue to be swept with time), and the seemingly never ending black globs of self-sabotage that keep me from utilizing the freedom that is a blessed gift.

Everything that He destroys in the fire, He replaces with a thing of light. Each day my temple is illuminated more and the once-hidden corners come alive with creatures I had forgotten were there as they'd clung to the walls all these years. He doesn't throw everything out. Some things He transforms and restores. He covers those damaged places in me with a glowing veil that pulses with healing light. Sometimes it burns as it searches out the cancer and dissolves it with tiny flames. But when He removes the covering the place explodes with beams of life, filling me with joy and peace in that part of myself.

It is a marvelous sight to see my Master at work. I know He could purify me in a matter of hours, but I am glad to watch as He works steadily and lovingly over my days and years. When He rejoices at a job well done I rejoice with Him. I praise His love and faithfulness. His glory is in the attention He gives to every detail, completing the task in a way that could only be His. I realize now that I could never do the work that He does in me. Sometimes I sit outside my temple wishing I could help Him, but hearing my thoughts He comes to me. His smile radiates like the sun as He shows me what He is working on. "I am making you a new heart," He says, "and it's so much fun I feel like dancing!" He picks me up and we spin and jump to the sound of heaven's angels who worship and exalt Him. I forget my sin and my shame as He holds me in His arms and speaks words that warm my soul. "See the glory of the Father," He whispers, "This miraculous transformation is my love at work in you."

So I watch Him work. He teaches me His Word and breaks bread with me on His lunch break. We laugh at some of the things He finds in my imagination. I cry with the pain of relief as He destroys another unclean thing that He cut from me. Though I sleep, He never stops working. Though I bring things home that He would never allow past the threshold, He doesn't get angry with me but He teaches me. I pray He will give me wisdom on how to make His work go faster. When He does I will listen, and while He works I sing Him songs of appreciation and praise.