Sometimes life seems like a giant I Don’t Know.
Most of the time I’m at peace with that. I don’t have to know.
There’s a painful beauty in living in the tension between the seen and the unseen, the now and the not yet. I love the sense that there’s so incredibly much to see and know, and yet, something tells me that I am not yet equipped to comprehend it, or even perhaps withstand it.
But then there are the days when that tension feels nearly unbearable, and my faith longs to become sight.
Those days are usually the days when I’m on pain and suffering overload, and there are no answers. Hope seems fragile and slippery, and comfort elusive.
I realize that it’s not “spiritually correct” to admit to those days. But while we’re all wandering around sucking it up with our SC faces on, we set ourselves up for feeling like there’s something wrong with us, like we’re the only ones trembling beneath the weight of the It’s So Hards and the I Don’t Knows.
The truth is we all shake in our shoes, at least at times.
Because sometimes it really is so hard, and we just don’t know. And it’s painful.
It’s on days like these that I am glad that Jesus put on an earth suit and came down to walk among us. Those are the days when I sit empty-handed and aching, and whisper “You know”. And I know that He gets it. He really knows. And He’s willing to keep me company, no matter where I am, no matter what I see or don’t see.
The best part is that I don’t have to sit long before one thing becomes clear…
…His company is actually better than seeing and knowing.
Some nights there are no words.
The memories of the day slip by like a steam of water flowing through my fingers, never stopping to define itself. My hands glisten in the flow, and I bend my head close, hoping to hear its whispered secrets.
But the stream rushes on, rippling across my palms, singing in a language I cannot comprehend, laughing as it swirls away from me on its journey.
I don’t know where it’s going. I don’t know what it’s saying.
Perhaps no definition is necessary, and the laughter is a reminder that sometimes it is joy to simply be.
If there’s one thing to be said about the human race, it’s that we sure do find ourselves fascinating. And for good reason. We really are. Quirky, intelligent, emotional, relational, adaptable, and opinionated. Designed to reflect God.
It seems like there’s no end to our appetite to know about ourselves. What we think about ourselves isn’t enough; we want to know what others think about us, and how we measure up. If we measure up.
Lately my Facebook newsfeed has been packed with just-for-fun quizzes that are supposed to tell me something new about myself. Occasionally I’ll take one, but more often I don’t. It’s fascinating to me, however, just how desperately we want to know who we are and where we fit it. We’ll pursue that knowledge even when we know it’s goofy and useless.
There are loads of quizzes available. Here’s a small sampling you can take if you so desire:
These are for laughs, but they reflect our insatiable hunger to see our uniqueness and define ourselves. It’s not a bad thing to understand who we are. But if we’re not careful who gets opportunity to provide input to our questions, we can find ourselves swimming in a sea of hurt.
It’s easy to forget that the world around us is largely under an enemy influence. That enemy doesn’t want us to see our true potential, and definitely doesn’t want us to fulfill it. That means we’re continually bombarded with the temptation to think wrongly about ourselves. We’re also bombarded with the temptation to think wrongly about God, because it’s only when we discover who He is and how He sees us that we positioned to become the best versions of ourselves. Without His influence in every part of our thinking and believing, we’re prone to pride and false humility, which are different ends of the same spectrum of Bad Idea. We’ll think too highly of ourselves, or far too little.
He really changes everything. Because of Him we have access to God and to the realm of supernatural realities and power. Because of Him we are uniquely gifted and called to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth. We are carriers of His love, grace, and peace. We are counter-culture culture counters. We are light workers. He wired us each differently to reach a different part of His world and transform it. He wants to think His brilliant thoughts in our minds.
We’re not cookie cutter people.
You’re not a cookie cutter person.
There’s never been anyone quite like you on the face of the planet, and once you’re gone, there never will be again. You have an audience and a sphere of influence that is uniquely yours. If you’re waiting on someone more qualified to step up, forget it. God didn’t place “someone more qualified” there. He placed YOU. He gave you those kids, those coworkers, those friends, that family. You have far more impact on them than you realize.
So rise and shine. Get up and dance. Sing your song. Open your arms. Open your heart. Remind those around you that they are God’s Happy Thought.
Because that is what we all really want to know.
My dad has been playing the same April Fool’s joke on me and my siblings for over 40 years.
I was quite young when it began. Early on the morning of April 1st Dad would come into my bedroom and wake me up, peeking through my curtains to the outdoors and exclaiming “Lisa! You need to look outside! There’s snow on the ground! Wow! Look!”
The thing is, in southeastern Ohio where I grew up, it was entirely possible that there might be snow on the ground on April 1st. Not probable, but possible. Snow might mean a day off from school, too. And so as sleepy youngsters, my brother and sister and I fell for it many times. Once we got older and knew the deal, we still “fell” for it. Because that was just part of the game. Even with the phone calls during the years that Mr. Sparky and I lived in South Dakota and it was actually probable that there was snow on the ground on April 1st.
Fast forward to the current time. For years now my younger sister and my dad have been warring to see who can pull this off first, calling each other at ungodly hours to ask the other if they’d looked outside at the snow yet.
But my 79 year-old dad started plotting two months ago to take us by surprise. Boy howdy…did he ever take us by surprise. And he did it by learning to text.
You gotta understand—the guy doesn’t have an email address or internet access or a smart phone. He’s got a basic cell phone, and that’s it. But he’s a really smart guy and an excellent problem-solver, so last night he sat down and figured it out, texting my mom’s cell phone for practice. When she got the text, he knew he had it down.
And so I woke up to this text message at 6:36am this morning:
Lisa look out window at big snow. APRIL FOOL! Love YOU!
When I called him a few hours later, he was downright giddy that he’d pulled it off, giggling like a kid. He knew he had us. And I am sure I speak for all of us when I say we loved being had.
I’ve never received a text from my dad before, and I may never again. But this one is priceless. It is my dad having fun and reminding us all that we may be grown, but we’re not so grown up that we aren’t still his kids. There are still jokes and traditions to share, ones that are unique to our family. Ones we never outgrow.
Oh, and there wasn’t really any snow. I checked just to be sure.
Sixteen pairs of jeans.
SIXTEEN pairs of jeans.
That is how many pairs of jeans I tried on tonight. And yes, I counted them. There were sixteen, by the way.
They were all blue. They were all made of denim. They all had two pockets in the front and two pockets in the back. They all had a riveted metal button and a zipper.
And that is where the similarities ended.
Too short, too long, too tight here, too loose there, too frumpy, too low-cut, too light, and then there was the Steve Urkel pair. Seriously…they came a good 3″ above my navel. What the heck?
I ended up with one pair that will be suitable as ankle jeans for the summer. That was a lot of work for one pair of jeans. Did I mention I tried on sixteen pairs?
And that six of them I tried on at least twice?
Today a friend of mine was recounting her journey as she has searched to know God. I think she’s had a sixteen-jean experience.
I think many of us have had sixteen-jean experiences.
What we want sounds so simple. As simple as a pair of jeans. We want to know God and be known by Him. We want to be secure in our relationship with Him, assured of an abundant life and a hopeful eternity.
But…there are churches and teachers and issues and interpretations and belief systems and they are too short, too long, too tight here, too loose there, too frumpy…
It can be a challenge to find a good fit. I’m not talking about a nice church. I mean it can be a challenge to learn how to navigate a relationship with God in a way that is authentic to how He wired you and who He is making you to be. But that is one reason He keeps encouraging us to seek Him. It’s not a trick. He’s not hiding. He’s just so incredibly vast and unlimited, and we are finite beings designed to be one with the Infinite. It can be a challenge to find out where we fit into His vastness in such a way that the relationship becomes intimate, a perfect fit.
He is worth the search. He is worth the trying on and taking off, the twisting and turning and pinching. He is worth the time and energy and even the heartache that comes with the journey. Your journey is your journey. It probably won’t look like anyone else’s.
And keep in mind…those other fifteen pairs of jeans fit someone out there.
It’s just not me.
A little bell rang as I walked through the door.
The late golden sun slanted through the front window
and lit the shelves on the walls
with its warm brilliance.
Jars and tins,
filled with oddities and curios,
were stacked from floor to ceiling—
or was it ceiling to floor?
I ran my finger
along the edge of a shelf.
Dust fish sprung into the air,
swimming in chaotic circles,
sparkling in the sunlight.
The wooden floor creaked
beneath the steps of my feet
as they traced a well-worn groove.
And there amongst the shelves
a mirror on the wall,
and meaning to check my hair
I turned to my reflection
only to find my left eye at the bottom of my nose
my right ear tilted upwards,
but I could not tell which was actually broken:
the mirror or me.
…you didn’t need to prove that you’re right?
…you believed someone else was wrong but still listened with your whole heart anyway, as if their thoughts mattered?
…you believed what you believe so strongly that you didn’t need anyone else to agree in order to be confident and comfortable in your belief system?
…you valued unity over uniformity?
…you valued diversity within unity?
…you didn’t fear error?
…you decided that love that can’t be felt is inferior?
…you really believed that everyone is made in God’s image—even the people who behave badly, or don’t think He’s real, or don’t believe that He cares about them, or think you’re a giant doofus because you do?
…you were so confident of the goodness of God and the integrity of His work in you that you stopped letting your faults and shortcomings be an excuse for playing small?