Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I’m noticing that in the tough times, particularly the times when God falls silent or refuses to answer as I’m expecting, it’s easy to turn Him into nothing more than superstition. I suppose I’ve always done this, and I also supposed I’m not alone, but the words for this have finally come.

It’s a bit more sophisticated than eeny-meeny, but not by much. It’s more like flipping a Holy coin and expecting God to guide its landing. You know you’ve been there:

Ok God, you say. Whatever Scripture I open the Bible to…whatever song comes on the radio next….whatever commercial pops up…if the car starts…if it’s not raining…if this certain outfit of my clothing is clean…if the phone rings in the next three minutes…make it four…five….if I win this game of solitaire or this hand of euchre or this board of minesweeper…if traffic is light…if I have exact change…et cetera…ad nauseum…into infinity.

Yet we’re so deluded that we think this is somehow different than blowing on a pair of dice in Vegas or crossing our fingers. I know I’m that deluded sometimes. I catch myself turning God into superstition without conscious effort, without even thinking about it.

And that shames me.

So why do we do this? It’s because we know we’re out of control, but we’re only barely willing to admit it. We want something we can hold on to, something we can trust in, something to ease our minds…so we look for God. And somewhere, somehow, we came to the theology that God is talking to us all the time if we’re only willing to open our eyes and see that He is so.


Over and over, the Bible reveals the stories of men and women used by God, faithful and unfaithful, righteous and unrighteous, Jew and Gentile, redeemed and wandering…God uses people. Over and over, we read about the conversations between these individuals and God. In some cases, we are privy to the individual’s private thoughts and prayers and statements to God. We know that since the beginning of time, people have talked to Him. We have talked to Him. We know that since the beginning of time, God has talked back.

But He’s no chatterbox.

Name one person in the Bible who God constantly spoke to. Who He sent signs for every second of the day. There is not one. Not even for His own Son did He do this. Jesus, too, went through periods of wondering, questioning if God would answer.

He prayed in the garden just before Judas betrayed Him. What was the content of that prayer? We see it! “Father, if it is possible….” That’s it. Not “Show me some sign that you are taking this away…that it will get better…that this isn’t really the plan…that I’ll be fine….etc.” Did He then carry His cross to Skull Hill, looking left and right for a flower amongst weeds, a dew drop, a rainbow, a broken stick with an arrow, a rock, a missing sandal, or any of the other million tiny things we expect God sends to guide us? Did Christ walk to the cross with TWO burdens – that of His mission and Messiahship…AND that of awaiting a sign from God?

By no means!

But we do. We might, MIGHT, be bold enough to walk straight into the darkness, confident that God is speaking to us or will once we get there. But the whole way, we’re watching every which direction for His answer…and we find it where we want. We ascribe meanings to so many things, just for the peace of mind it gives us when we realize we are out of control. We do not run our own lives, not once we have given them up to the Father.

It’s tough, I know. We want so desperately to hear from God. And don’t get me wrong – I have heard from Him plenty of times, and I’m not going to be the one to sit here and tell you that He doesn’t answer. He answers boldly! Gently, quietly, occasionally with a loud boom…but only in His time and in His way. He can (and does) use both the small and the large, the expected and the unexpected, to answer us. That is His loving nature, for which I am ever thankful.

Still I know there are times by sheer coincidence that something beautiful happens, and it is no answer. It is only a gift. A beautiful expression of His majesty, not meant to guide or direct or answer me, but to remind me of His Presence and glory. To remind me to stop, let go, and praise His wonder.

So why, then, in tough times, do I trade Him in for a god of superstition, for that god of coincidence that just so happens to coincide with my desire? I can’t delude myself into thinking it is any more than that because, as games of chance go, I’m always willing to change the rules by which God will talk to me when it doesn’t turn out my way.

If I win this next game of solitaire…ok that one doesn’t count because it was obviously dealt wrong. So the next one. Well, that one seems fishy, too. Ok, this is it. I mean it this time! If I win this next game, then…I meant the NEXT next one. Obviously, You knew that, God, right? WHY AREN’T YOU ANSWERING ME?

Then I end up with exactly what I sought – a god who answered through sheer chance when I changed the rules and my belief enough to make that god agree with me, then waited patiently for the powers of the universe to come together and make it happen.

What I don’t get…is God’s honest answer.

This is only one of the many ways I shape God in my image, creating Him just as I want Him to be so that I am always right, and He is always wise to agree with me. It’s a significant barrier to the loving, open relationship He calls me to, and it is an area that requires sincere effort on my part to notice, halt, repent, and form something new.

THAT excites me. And many times, it is in the realization that He hasn’t truly spoken yet…that He decides to speak. Then, my heart dances and peace buzzes through me gently, and I know…TRULY know…what He says, what He is doing, where my trust and faith lay, and just how much this Beautiful God loves me.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Just Once

Just once, I want to feel like I fit in somewhere, like I belong. It is yet another battle of worth, one I am all too often losing. And no, I’m not under any delusions that I’ll ever be normal, but isn’t there some place that won’t cast me out?

It’s hard to concentrate on the outside, on the bottom, from the back. It’s hard to set my mind on anything but what’s in front of me, the stuff standing between me and my heart’s desire. Oh, how I long to enter the mix and find a place, an Aidan-shaped hole to fill! But I am so unworthy.

It is a condition of my heart, a place where I have not accepted what Christ longs to give me. Others used to force me to a place at the bottom, in the back, but now, it is where I hold myself. Habit? Fear? A little of both? Mostly, it is my sense of unworthiness.

Christ has changed so much in me the more I have encountered Him. I wouldn’t say I’ve been the prodigal, though that is certainly in my history. More, I’ve been the displaced daughter. Dislocated.

A dislocated shoulder hurts right away, then the pain subsides so long as you don’t try to use it. The more you try to use it, to move it, to put strength into it, the more it hurts, reminding you it is dislocated. And I guess that’s where I’m at – stuck in this place that maybe doesn’t hurt so much in and of itself, but trying to move into the world and make a statement, trying to make myself available for Christ to use me, trying to gain strength…I am more aware than ever of my dislocation.

And I’m one good *pop* away from being in place.

That pop comes when I let go of my self-imposed burden and cling to redemption. It’s a tough call.

When I was a kid, I used to practice the piano every chance I got, hoping that one day, I’d be out shopping in the mall or the grocery store, and there would be an impromptu talent show. I obsessed over being ready for that eventuality, knowing that if I sat and played and anyone heard me, maybe they would affirm my worth.

I made time to be around certain people who would always give me a hug, not because I felt love from them, but because – let’s face it – a life with hugs is better than a life without them. I longed for physical contact just to remind me I was alive.

I sat around, vacant, doing nothing but looking for individuals who would say hello to me. Especially if they would keep talking, keep asking questions, keep listening. It didn’t matter if we talked about the weather, my sweat pants, or my buck teeth. If someone would just talk to me, then I would know I was relevant. In some way, shape or form.

Funny thing is – I don’t seek that out any more. I run from it. God shows up fully in my heart and says, “You are worthy. You are worth it. You are alive. You are vibrant. You are relevant and talented and wonderful. And to boot, you’re beautiful.”

I don’t know how to be any of those things. If it is as I suspect, they are just a release away. It’s not so much about actively being any of these; it is about NOT being their opposites. It is about not being unworthy. It is about not being dead. It is about not hindering myself. It is about not putting myself on the outskirts. It is about not being ugly.

That is tougher than it sounds.

This reality, it overwhelms me. There’s not a day that goes by now that I don’t cry, honest tears, over this. I don’t even know why. It just blows my mind to think I could ever be any of these (or more).

How…how does even God…take a girl, broken and humiliated, from a life where she is monitored by surveillance cameras, starved, yelled at, beaten, raped, neglected, abandoned, dirty, berated…wandering around starved and thirsty and bloody and steeled in mock strength…and open the fullness of His glory to her, complete with more food and drink and love than she could ever imagine? How is a girl ever to accept that or live like it’s really happening?

The more healing He grants me, the starker the contrast between my past and my future, all muddled somewhere here in the present. I am blown away by where I’ve come from; I am flabbergasted by God’s invitation.

But I just don’t know what to do. I want God close, but just close enough that I know He’s still there. I’m afraid to be what He’s said I am. I am unworthy of that gift. I absolutely hate, though, being what I was. If that makes any sense.

Who knows anything different, though? Who would expect anything more of me?

There are so many talents hidden in me. I see them. And I disappear into a timeless vortex when I engage in any one. Hours pass, and I don’t even notice, nor mind, because I’m letting this something just flow out of me without thought. I can’t help but giggle when I catch a glimpse of myself passing in the mirror. Whoever thought I could be beautiful? After all these months of His healing, it still catches me off guard. I laugh when I feel my feet moving to music I can’t even hear. Or when my eyes dance in wonder at something I never noticed before.

So it pains me to know that the world never thinks of me. It’s not an ego-thing, not in the sense that I think I’m highly important and that everyone should notice that. It’s more…I wish I had a place to belong, where people share more with me than a casual hello, where I matter and make a difference. A job, sure. But also community. Friends. I want to be the kind of reliable, fun-loving, free-spirited, trustworthy person that draws out the best in the world. That’s how I want the world to think of me.

Inside myself, I’m getting there. I’d be lying if I said I was there already. There is more work to do…work that involves God’s toughest command to me: “stay.”

Stay is hard for someone who has spent her life running scared. It’s hard for a woman who loses her worth to the voices in her head, even though she knows they are lying to her. It’s always been my trick to stay for a moment, then run. Run not to anything, but away from. Away from anyone or anything who might expose my secret. That includes myself. Away from the chance to blow it again, to ruin something good. That’s my problem: when something good happens, I’m programmed to run away from it before I spoil it. It’s that nagging, lying little voice that says, “You stupid whore. You ruin everything. Run, before the world knows any different.”

God says “Stay.” He says, “You are beautiful, innocent, redeemed, and special. You are talented, wise, quiet, and soft. You are worthy, and you have every reason to be right where you are. My goodness does not go away; My promises do not fail. Give yourself a break…and just stay.”

It is in that simple word that fear takes hold. As I stay, He holds me. He wraps me in His warm, strong embrace. I tingle. Chills run up my spine as I know I am melting into His promises. Beauty. Talent. Grace. Mercy. Wisdom. Purpose. Strength (which comes in weakness, which is another story for another day). These are scary. These are not my life, not what I know. They are…my redemption?

What am I if I let go of that little girl whose mistrust of the world keeps her an outsider? What am I if I embrace these gifts? What am I if I no longer have the past to fall back on, to use as an excuse for not fulfilling my potential? What am I if I learn to love…and to accept love…even through tears?

I am God’s.

I might never stop crying. Tears, they just keep coming as God overwhelms my heart. The more steps I take forward, the more trust I put in Him, the more I follow the tingling in my heart and refuse to run away, the more in awe I am at His power. The smaller my past grows in the rearview mirror, the more speechless I am at the difference. How did I get here….from there?

By the grace of God. And that thought just makes the tears come once more.

I think I’m ready to pop this dislocated shoulder back into place, to nestle softly into the niche carved especially for me, and to work in the body of Christ without pain. It’s a tough switch. In my head, it’s the same switch that frees a person of inhibitions enough to sing karaoke in public. Sure, you can get on the stage and make noise, but you can also feel that moment when you let go, when you give up on what everyone else might think of you or what you might think of yourself, and just get into the experience. It is that switch that is coming next in my life. It’s happening now, even as I write this. Maybe…maybe…one day soon, I will find that place where I belong, where I fit in with the world and fill a special hole.