A few weeks ago, I wrote about Balaam's donkey and the things you can learn from an ass. Well, I'm kind of in a similar place right now, although in the reverse. Let me explain:
I don't know what to really write today. It's been a long, crazy day and I've been out making a mess...then a bigger mess trying to get out of the secret mess I was making. I got up early and read my Bible like I always do, but my Bible's been dry, which is why my to-write list is kind of drying up. (I still have a few things on there, but my brain will not cooperate with my notes today. So here we are.)
It's not that the Bible is in itself dry. In fact, I am currently in one of my favorite books - Jeremiah. I love this prophet and the way he phrases certain things. Like when He says, "His Word is shut up in my bones like a burning fire. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot." I smile and nod my head. I know that feeling. I love, of course, the same verse so many of us love - "I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future." I like another verse in chapter 29, which says, "Pray for the peace and prosperity of Babylon, where you are in captivity, for when Babylon has peace, so will you" because it reminds me to pray for the people I don't really like in any given moment, those who are holding my heart captive. Jeremiah has a lot of good things to say, and I love his heart.
But reading his book, I find that we're maybe too much alike. Our hearts are maybe too akin. Because I love Jeremiah, but I don't really learn a whole lot from him. I don't read the passages in his book the same way I read the rest of the Bible. I don't stumble upon verses here and there that I go...oh! That's obviously something! I read it instead and go...yeah. This guy gets me.
There's a place for that in our lives, I think. There's a place for people who are enough like us that we're just sharing the journey. There's a place for people who sort of walk the same paths, who share the same hearts, who understand kind of how we think and how we feel and how we love. I treasure people like that.
I also treasure people completely different from me, whose words and hearts and love I have to appreciate for who they are...not how much they are like me. Because it is from these people - and only these people - that I really learn anything. It is from people with different eyes that I learn to see new things. It is from people with different hearts that I learn to love more. It is from people with different footprints that I come to understand another path. It doesn't mean they change who I am or what I'm doing. They just change how I'm doing it. For the better. They set me free into a new space that isn't just mine (because they are there) and isn't just theirs (because I am there) but is this shared space that creates just this incredible journey.
I think that may be why a prophet isn't appreciated in his hometown. I think that's why Jesus had to get out of Nazareth. Because I think the people who are too much like you can too easily see things the way you see them, and then you're not challenging. You're not teaching. Which is kind of the point of being the Teacher. I think when you're around people who are too much like you, you can too easily see things the way they do and then you start to question all the creative energy that flows through you. You start to wonder if you have a gift, if you're doing anything special. You start to see all the secret treasures you once held dear to your heart as something common...and it sucks something out of it.
It's crucial, then, to keeping the fire alive in your heart to surround yourself with strangers, to be around people who aren't so totally like you. It reminds you that you've got something unique, that you're doing something, that you're gifted and creative and created to be that way. I know that's how I feel when I read any other author in the Bible and I get the giggles over the way my brain (or my heart) twists this or that word into something completely crazy and yet, still absolutely true. I know this is what God created me for.
I don't get that from reading Jeremiah, and so this stint in my study always makes me a little hesitant. A little nervous. A little questioning. It's weird the way that every year, I hit this place, this book of the Bible, and my brain just sort of stops. For as long as I'm here, I don't get anything. I don't get the inspiration that so easily flows even from Isaiah, just a few pages back.
But I get Jeremiah. I get his words and his heart and his understanding. I get beautiful phrasing that I could easily see myself saying if, of course, he hadn't gotten to it first. For awhile, I get to be around a guy who reminds me I'm not the only one. I can just imagine him giggling when he stumbles on a good and beautiful word, laughing over the way his mind wraps around that thought. I appreciate that.
It's easy sometimes to stay with the people who are just like us, but we're not learning anything. We're not growing. And I, for one, still have a lot of growing to do.
So I don't linger here too long, as cool as it is to see this place.