Created to Create

My husband is currently working through a sermon series about God making us in His image.  This week, even as I type,  He is preparing this week’s focus:  God created us to create.  We were designed with talents, giftings, and passions that make us unique and reflect the Divine nature birthed into our physical bodies and unleashed through the installment of the Spirit.  I have been given the privilege of helping Jordan prepare his sermons. I tend think like spaghetti.  My brain goes a thousand different directions, but they do (most of the time) lead to a complete thought.  His brain is like waffles.  He is very structured.   We are discovering that spaghetti sometimes tastes pretty yummy with waffles.  We make a good team as long as we aren’t getting too tangled up in knots or overly compartmentalized!  And sometimes we have to step away and take a few deep breaths. This is, however, a fun new facet of our relationship.

So lets talk about this whole idea of being created to create.  This resonates with me, since I really enjoy writing, and some would classify writing as a form of art. In writing, I find a deeper fellowship with God than I might feel in other situations.  Sometimes I write as a response to a glimpse of God’s face.  Other times,  I write in order to catch a glimpse of His face through the act of writing.  I write to share my God-sightings, and I write to catch some God-sightings.  I write because I feel my soul gravitate toward the pen and paper, or the keyboard.  I feel at home in this crazy, albeit limited world of words.  Writing is one of my creative callings.  I would love to engage it more frequently.  Maybe as I feel better and develop more discipline (or sacred time alone),  I can flex my writing muscles more often.  For now,  this is where I am.

God created us with gifts, passions, talents, and burdens.  Each of us has a unique set, and each of us has dominion in how we choose to use them.  Some of us start from a more mobilized position than others.  Some have to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to pursue their passions.  Some lay down and allow themselves to be beaten and crippled by the lies that they have nothing to offer.  I started to read Freefall to Fly by Rebecca Lyons on the plane ride home from Nashville last week.  I nearly threw the book against the seat back in front of me when I read of Rebecca’s experience of her childhood, her unfettered pursuit of her dreams, her insatiable hunger for books, and her belief that the sky was the limit.  She went on to talk about pursuing her dreams throughout college and beyond, only to find herself crippled in motherhood, questioning if her dreams had to die because of her new role as mother.  She is certainly on to something.  She has a lot of research to back up the reality that this often happens to women.  Her intended audience finds comfort in the resonance that comes from this sentiment,  I am confident.  I will also continue to read the book.  My anger is not at that sweet, Godly woman who is a talented author.  My anger emerged out of a deeply wounded and broken childhood.

While Rebecca traversed down memory lane, I tentatively crept down my own memory lane into a land of monsters, terror, and lies.  I was not told that I was talented.  I was told that I was evil.  I was not told to pursue my dreams.  I was told that I had nothing to offer.  I was not told that I could contribute to society, let alone pursue a God-given passion.  I was told that the world would be better off without me.  I remember in grade school,  I tested into advanced classes. My caregivers held me in regular classes, and I often complained of being bored, asking to be moved to the advanced classes.  They lied to me and told me that I was not smart enough, and it would be too hard for me. We took IQ tests during grade school as well, and my mother kept my scores from me, saying that she didn’t want me to feel bad about my low scores.  I steered clear of IQ tests as much as I could, until as an adult I was challenged to take an IQ test, which yielded results that were clearly above average.  At this point,  I can’t go into the question of why a parent would go out of her way to convince her daughter that she was unintelligent, untalented and worthless.  I can, however, recognize that my childhood was not necessarily typical, or worse yet, maybe it was more typical than we would like to realize.

For a solid two decades, I took it upon myself to do the most noble thing that I could conceive at the time in my brainwashed mind: To make myself smaller, invisible, less of a problem.  Not only did I have nothing to give, but I was a taker.  A relentless taker. Thus, I had to be eliminated.  This mindset is quite the opposite of the content of our Sunday sermon.  So I have wrestled.  I wrestled with the book and with Rebecca.  I wrestled with the scriptures about being God’s workmanship, created to do good works in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:10), about being fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), about having spiritual gifts, about having talents, about being valuable.  Sadly, I wasted quite a bit of time trying to destroy myself while I could have been developing my gifts.

Unlike Rebecca, my experience as a mother has birthed within me the idea that I may have some passions and gifts that could be meaningful to the body of Christ and beneficial to the world in general.  My marriage to a husband who loves me has brought me to a place where I was forced to face that I was actually someone’s SIGNIFICANT other.  Someone wants me.  This was only the beginning.  Until one find’s her identity in her Savior, it is on unstable ground.  God used these situations, however, to provide a platform from which I could emerge from my imploded existence.  I could carefully, tentatively, take a few steps out to see what happened.  I could pen a couple pages and share it with a close friend.  I could sing in our church in front of people and actually look them in the eye after the close of service.  I could consider the possibility that I don’t have to apologize for my existence.  Not only that, but I could, for a second, fathom that I could one day live boldly within my dreams and hopes.

I’m not entirely new to dreaming, but dreaming with the hope that it could be reality is a new concept.  As a child, I lived in my day dream.  It kept me alive.  I felt, deep down, however, that there was no hope that it could ever become reality. My value existed in my day dreams, and those were where Christ met me. Mercifully, through my following decades of self-destruction, He sustained me, continued to breathe life into my spirit and giftings. He strategically placed people along my path to encourage me to pursue my passions and talents.  He provided pockets of self-discovery. He has been faithful all along.  He knows the depths of brokenness and slavery that I have trudged through to make it to the other side.

Slowly, beautifully, I am beginning to see that I am valuable. One of God’s greatest mercies in my life is that He has given me a daughter who is undeniably my mini-me in personality and sass.  And I love her.  I don’t think that I could love her more.  I love every single ounce of her entire package.  One day, as I was wrestling with my identity, God pointed out how similar my three-year-old is to me.  He told me that He loves me even more than I love her, and He loves every part of my unique personality just like I love hers.  I realized that it is really incongruent to love my daughter, my likeness, and to hate myself.  She is dynamite.  She is brilliant. She is hilarious, deeply compassionate, intuitive and thoughtful.  She is made in God’s image.  So maybe I am also made in God’s image.  Made for good works that God has uniquely equipped me to perform.

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Journaling

Over the years, I filled up 30 to 40 journals. Wasted money, I assumed. My husband presses me to throw them out. I can’t seem to part with them. I have never ever read a single word of any of them. I couldn’t bring myself to bear the torture of reading my own words from my various places of existence. I am so quick to judge who I have been. I am often sickened by myself. Reading my journals could be highly therapeutic, or it could be completely dysregulating. I’m not sure.
I guess that anonymous blogging is kind of like my 21st century journal collection now. It certainly takes up less physical space. Whoever knew what to do with several dozen hard-back books filled with pointless ramblings of a highly unstable teenager and young adult? Journaling is a strange thing when you feel ashamed of your own words. What’s the point of keeping them? It feels rather dangerous actually. It was always a process-related exercise for me. It was never about the finished product.
Blogging, even anonymously, becomes more about the outcome than the process. I am constantly ambivalent about the trajectory of my writing. Writing is wonderful as long as you write for the sake of writing. As soon as I make it about the product and its reception, it crumbles into a heap of perfectionistic bull-crap. In some ways, I am thankful that I have so few followers. I allows me more liberty to let go of the rules and just pour out unedited thoughts. Otherwise, I would get too wrapped up in the stats, readers, comments, and evaluations of a bunch of people who may or may not mean something to me.
I guess that the fear of my journals getting into the wrong hands is echoed in my fear of somehow my blog being traced back to me. It is my way of “living on the edge.” I’ve never been a big risk-taker, so maybe journaling or writing anonymously is my form of sky-diving or bungee-jumping. Wild and crazy, I know! Hold onto your seats, I’m a maniac!! I do, however, lose sleep over the agony of wondering if someone could find out that I am “letting the secrets slip.”
I read somewhere this week that artists live out loud. We narrate life. Everyone else just lives it. I don’t know if this is good or bad, or if you can even attribute value to it at all. Is writing akin to an obsession with taking pictures? Am I so busy behind the lens of my own “camera” that I don’t experience life in its purity? I honestly don’t know. I tend to stop writing when I am avoiding emotions, so I would say that writing actually enables me to engage more fully in my life. Writing allows me to connect with parts of myself that I would normally neglect, even parts that I intentionally run from. I guess that it is risky on various levels. My conclusion for now, however, is that it is incredibly worthwhile and meaningful, at least for me as the writer. Maybe someday, it can provide meaning and insight for others as well. Maybe when my children start sleeping through the night. Then I will be able to grasp concepts that take longer than a page to articulate.

Let the Little Children Come

I stopped writing.  I got scared.  I feel like when I write, I open up parts of myself that need to be shut off forever.  The problem with shutting them off, however, is that they don’t really shut down.  They just come out when my guard is down, namely, at night.  And they don’t go away.  When I relegate those poor little parts into their dungeon, they clamor and fight to be heard, and if they can’t be heard in my waking, they will make themselves known in my sleeping.  And I really want to sleep. Like REALLY want to sleep.  So here’s to hoping that letting them out a little bit here and there will better my nights.  

I am skeptical, however. I am not a child.  I am a grown woman. I don’t want to entertain child parts.  I don’t want to consider any part of myself a child.  I have a big, grown-up body, and I have my own children.  I do the picking up and cuddling.  I take care of little ones.  I am not a little one who needs to be taken care of.  Those days are over.  Those needs were not met, and they never will be.  Thus, it is time to move on, not regress.  But evidently, it doesn’t matter how stubborn I am, I still have frustrating unmet needs.  A couple of weeks ago,  I listened to a sermon on imaginative prayer.  I took the bait, opened myself up, and asked Jesus to show Himself to me.  I was skeptical, as I always am, even though I have seen Him do it before.  He did it again, and I guess that I can’t deny it.  I know that it was Him because it made me spitting-angry.  I was a little tiny one, like under a year old, and He picked me up.  I wrapped my arms around his neck, and my legs around his chest, just like my little one does with me.  It was like it was supposed to be.  

Now as far as the Trinity goes,  I understand that Jesus is separate from God the Father, but in this picture, He showed himself to me in a parental role.  I despise the image of God in a parental role.  Well,  I guess that I just despise the thought of “parent” in general.  But this vision was just so “right.”  Like with my little one, who wraps herself around me when I scoop her up,  I wrapped myself around Jesus.  She doesn’t just “fit” around anyone like she fits around her mommy.  This should be a happy picture, right?  Well, I was furious.  I am the parent.  I am the protector.  I don’t need one.  At least, that is how I feel.  Well, evidently I freaking need one.  And I am ticked.  I am a little kid.  I am actually a bunch of little kids, trapped in a dungeon, and Jesus stepped into my prison and scooped me up.  

Why does something that is supposed to be good feel so dissonant?  Why can’t I accept this act of love and nurture and allow Jesus to love me as a little child?  He makes it so clear that He loves the little children.  Over and over.  Probably more than anything else.  He loves us as children.  But I HATE me as a child.  That’s why I kept those prisons that were created so many years ago.  How do I let Him love me?  How can I breathe in this truth from Him? I am so scared to open back up to Him, because I want no awareness of those broken, hurting child parts.  But doesn’t the awareness usher in healing?  Can I see my little children and let Him welcome them?  The kingdom is theirs.  He loves them, so what right do I have despising them?