“To know what would have happened, child?” said Aslan. “No. Nobody is ever told that.”
“Oh dear,” said Lucy.
“But anyone can find out what will happen,” said Aslan. “If you go back to the others now, and wake them up; and tell them you have seen me again; and that you must all get up at once and follow me – what will happen? There is only one way of finding out.”
-from “Prince Caspian,” by C.S. Lewis.
This quote came to mind - that we can never know what would have happened, only what has been - over this past weekend. It has been a favorite of mine since rediscovering the Chronicles of Narnia after high school, while in YWAM. (I have read them many times since.) Often I look back on my relationship with God - Christians so often talk about their “testimony,” usually meaning the story of how they met him, what He rescued them from, painted in dramatic and glorifying befores and afters. I never felt like mine fit that mold. For the most part, my life has been pretty tame; I’ve been extremely well protected, and blessed. I haven’t gotten into trouble, nor have I had many crazy things beyond my control happen to me. As stories go, any narrative I tried to identify seemed to me like a plateau rather than an arc. But I saw things from a different perspective after this past week.
Last week was really hard for me. My external circumstances were not particularly bad - in fact, I’ve been through much more difficult things - real difficulties - in the past couple of years alone. This week, all that happened were a series of small mistakes at work, and a few required tasks left uncompleted. That’s it. But this threw me into a mental downward spiral that spilled over into my emotions, my attitude, my entire perspective on so many other unrelated things - even questioning my identity and value. Really. I learned that I have trouble receiving grace, that I believe I deserve punishment for my mistakes; that I would rather punish myself and move on than examine the mistake, expose it, dissect it, and really learn from it; I began to tell myself that I run from every problem, rather than face it, that when things get hard, I find a shortcut, or put them off, or avoid them altogether. I began to listen to the voice that said “I’m not who others think I am, not as good or admirable, respectable, mature as they think; I am being tripped up on small things - I am a fraud.” Even as I knew that these things were lies, attacks, I allowed them to dominate me. I saw what was false, but could not believe the truth.
Still, in the midst of all of this, I reached out for help. I knew I had to sing on worship team Saturday night, and that I was in no state to help lead others into worship. Something had to be done, and the answer was not to request to step down from worship team for that week (though that was what I felt like doing). During the School of World Missions lunch break, I asked Sharon to pray for me, and she did. It was so good. Immediately following that, Pastor Benjamin gave a teaching in the second session all about our identity coming from our existence, from our being the object of God’s love as his sons and daughters, not from anything that we can do or produce. We were created first and foremost to be, and be loved. Our identity - my identity - is literally, beloved.
God broke through for me in last week’s downward spiral. Through these two things, he redirected my focus, pointed my gaze toward himself, and through that I began to recognize - and more importantly, agree with and believe - what was true, rejecting the lies that had covered and woven around me throughout the week. Psalm 18 comes to mind, in my story: The cords of death had entangled me; I called on the Lord in my distress, and from his temple he heard my cry; he delivered my from my strong enemy, and brought me into a broad place; the Lord rescued me because he delighted in me. And then he gave me even further revelation. As I was saying, often when I look at my testimony, it is lacking in dramatic moments, or seemingly great pits that God has rescued me from. But what I realized this weekend was that I will never know what would have happened had I not met God, because I don’t have to - He rescued me from danger before I had even reached it.
This past week opened my eyes to what a battlefield my mind is. Depression, and Manic-Depression, both run in my family. Multiple family members have faced this struggle. And you know what, I think I would be right there with them if I hadn’t been given a way out. I thought to myself, what if I didn’t know what the truth was? What if I didn’t know I had friends who could believe it for me, repeat it back to me, cover me and stand before God with me when I was at a loss to do it for myself? That spiral was triggered by such small things; what if I hadn’t known how to end it? The glory of God in this story is in the things unseen, in the story untold - the story that, because of his goodness, I don’t have to tell. It’s a weird way of looking at a testimony, but it has really opened my eyes to another perspective of his goodness, his mercy toward me. No one knows what would have happened; and because of what Jesus has done for me, in my life his glory is that I don’t have to know.
Thank you, God, for rescuing me from what I could not foresee, and from what I do not now have to look back on; your goodness seized my narrative and redirected my steps, even while I was unaware.
There are so many freakin’ things I want. In previous years, I would write a list at the beginning of each semester, enumerating the things I hoped and planned to accomplish that semester. Many were given, such as my course load; some were not. In general, I accomplished most of what I set out, but not everything. But now that I have no semesters, it has been a while since I have even attempted such a list. It felt less like goals, and more like laying out the next block of time; more like listing what was likely than what was possible.
This will be different. These will all be things I hope to accomplish; there will be no guarantees, because now the only things I am involved in are my job at Batter, and volunteering with Arketype. So here goes… a seemingly random, definitely scattered list of some things I would like to do one-off, and some things I would like to become practices and habits in my life:
- Oakland half marathon, 2013! (Ok, starting with an easy one.. I have already signed up, and am more or less steadily training, thanks to Lindsey and Erina).
- Take an acting class.
- Bake a dacquoise. (they look like this: http://www.cooksillustrated.com/recipes/article.asp?docid=41285)
- Cook (not bake, cook) more often/regularly.
- Write more (stories, journal, memories, true narratives).
- Learn to play guitar.
- Learn to play piano.
- Complete the Artist’s Way book/course with my sister (another one I have already started - but just barely! And I hope to complete!!).
- Perform at an open mic.
- Start recording songs - even if only covers.
- Find somewhere to volunteer regularly, even if only once/month.
- Start recording music.
Ok, this is a good start. Much more can go into this, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. What I do need to do is clarify that of the above which remains vague, and set out steps to start toward accomplishing them. But at least putting them out there is a start.
God, how do I talk about this in a way where you are glorified, and not myself, or my failures? Not the enemy? Just you, Jesus, and your work of restoration within me.
Help me understand, God. Why do I talk about things, but fail to act on them? How does that change? I think that is so key in learning my desires and making goals this year. I think it’s not so much that I don’t know what I want, but that because I haven’t acted on it thus far in life, what I actually already know that I want just seems - worse than impossible - improbable. And so, I’m left looking for “what I want” in the practical sense; searching for something likely, rather than lofty.
Here’s where you can be glorified, God. I put this out there now, because while it is the current state of affairs in my heart, I trust you - I believe that you can change this. Even as I type it, my flesh struggles against that statement; but it’s the truth. Nothing is impossible for you, God. And through you, the improbable also comes to fruition. This is who you are. You will answer me. You are faithful, even when I am unfaithful. And you will teach me to reciprocate your faithfulness. This is your goodness, that you patiently guide me, and steadfastly love me.