October 18, 2011

Spend Yourself {Day 17} :: Getting Honest

For my final year of school, I hid out alone. Back from a summer of new living and new hope and new love, I was finally committed to a side. Put all my wayward ways behind me ... more or less. Only I had an inkling that this new life was just getting started, and I was going to have to surrender more than just my partying ways.

Jesus wanted all of me.

This made me nervous and I sensed some flailing coming on. And let's be honest, no one likes to flail in public. So I went underground.

He calls himself the true vine, calls us the branches. He tells us to hang on and, when we do, we will thrive. He also says He will prune away any part that doesn't bear fruit, isn't productive. He does away with the junk because this is a promise He made. The pruning is lifelong and He does it in love: the way a father grows up a child, the way a gardener pulls off the dead leaves. Sucking life away from fruit with potential.

That fifth year, I was living with these great girls who were boisterous and lovely. I was the oldest in our house by two years and I had been adopted yet again. I was going to be a nurse and the boy I loved dove right into the ministry life in the mid-west. He was eighteen hours away and all-in. My old friends had since graduated and moved on. I was there: raised to walk in a "newness of life" and I felt all alone.

This time, I had a new conflict of interest: a commitment to this Jesus and a secret life He wanted to be a part of.
Because when we say "yes" He likes to sink in deep, settling in between the joints and the marrow. Because He promises to finish what He began, to make us who He intended us to be. He does this by moving in, assessing from the inside out. And then He gets to work.

This can be painful and messy.

I knew this was going to be a battle like no other and He was getting a little too personal. I think He might have backed off, only He was answering a prayer I had prayed way back when.

"Make me who you want me to be..."

And therein lies the rub, really. We don't have to become that person, not fully. But if we'll give him some space to work? Some trust? Some time? If we will be honest with the One who already knows ...

Naturally, when I started to to hold on for dear life, this dysfunction took on a life of its own. I could see it happening, the falling apart. But I was too proud to ask for help, to proud to unravel in view and too proud to let someone bear the burden with me. 

And we are really capable when it comes to looking and acting just fine. When we are anything but fine. Especially when we think people with faith don't do that "self destructing thing." 

Only they do. 

And after a summer of learning to love others well, I loved my secret instead ... cradled it like a love child and waved everyone else off. Pretended and denied and stared blank. I was 22 and this man had proposed and I had said yes. I was wearing his camp shirt to bed and I was missing him, but I wasn't thinking about a wedding.

I was busy upping the ante. This "real faith" was demanding a little too much and I was fighting back. Offering myself to all things murky and me-infused, I ran with the sun coming up and I panicked with the sun going down. It wasn't long before I was no more than a shadow. Wispy and vacant. I had been here before, over the years. This was my default when I wasn't sure what to do: just. go. away.

Only this time, I realized I was running from the only One who might have a better solution, might actually heal me up ... for good. With a whisper from my knees, I handed over this part of me too.

The next day, help came to my classroom. She literally walked through the door. This genteel, compassionate woman looked into my hollow eyes and called me a "caged bird." Said she thought I had a lot of living to do ... if I would start living for real. Start getting honest.  

Becasue this was about more than not drinking too much beer, not using profanity. This was about more than putting on christian appearances, having christian get-togethers. This was about more than changing my ways, all the while still patting my own back for all of my new found will-power. 

This was about a God who is, and has always been, committed. This was about being changed in a profound way, by the One who made me, from the inside out.

Because Jesus doesn't want "fine." And I carried her card around for nearly three months, pulled it out every single day to call her office at 4:58 pm.

I never actually called.

Then in the spring, she walked into my classroom again. This time, she remembered my face and she didn't make me ask. She told me where to be and at what time and for some reason, I showed up.
Had the grace to know He was answering a prayer I was barely brave enough to voice.

And the next day, without telling a soul, I tiptoed through her doors and I signed on the line ...

Come back tomorrow, friends? Becaue this is not about me. But this is about you and us and finding beauty and life in wrecked places behind the "just fine." This is about being terrified and still getting honest. Knowing that living behind "fine" can be more painful than the pruning away ... 

There is so much more living to do.

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