nonsensical text

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

know your ingredients


There is a commercial currently running on the television for a label maker. A group of children sits around a table as a cake is carried in. It is mouth-watering in appearance. A slice is placed before each guest as excited mutterings flow over the scene. Forks are raised to mouths when, suddenly, foul expressions cross the faces of the guests. ‘Spit takes’ abound. Cut to the kitchen and the label maker: labels are applied to two identical containers of white crystalline matter – ‘sugar’ and ‘salt.’

As I bake bread today, I examine the labels on my own ingredients, hopefully working toward recognition of the gratitude within.

The Great Commission, a tenet of many Christian religions, is not one that I have been overwhelmingly good at putting into action. My incredible introversion is certainly a factor in this, but there is more. As one who has been hurt in the past by organized religion, as one who recognizes how the world at large views hypocrisy in the church, as one who respects the beliefs of others (even in disagreement with my own), as one who quite clearly sees the stumbling block of hypocrisy between beliefs and action in her own life, speaking out to others has never come easily to me – even when there is certain knowledge that it would be helpful.

I never seem to be able to get past the fact that I cannot speak out without shining the flashlight on my own weaknesses. Theoretically, I know that we all have weaknesses, but I am always made more acutely aware of how my own personal weaknesses could end up causing harm where I mean to apply balm.

It hurts me, so many times, to see people recoil from the love of God because we, the church, manifest our beliefs in harshness, judgment, and “shalt nots” while the penetrating, aching love of God for His creation goes unfelt by those in the greatest need. I’ve always compared it to Wheel of Fortune. When watching the show, as soon as the puzzle solution occurs to me, I am suddenly unable to see how anyone else could NOT see the answer. It seems so incredibly obvious to me, but, mere moments before, I was just as clueless. Christianity can be like that. When a person suddenly sees, they sometimes forget what it felt like to be blind. That can come across to others as condescension – perhaps because it often is. This is not a true representation of God. He does not look down His nose at us with a smug and superior tone lacing His words. But how do we, how do I - as an imperfect creature – convey the true nature of God’s perfection through this broken vessel?

Paralysis.

I will never be perfect while I am alive.

My heart bleeds for people in pain, but my own weaknesses hold my sympathies in check.

With a grateful heart, in church one Sunday morning, I felt a prompting to start blogging. Through the written word, I am better able to capture my heart-voice without the wall of self-doubt. Less stifled by my inability to speak in confidence of this Great Love through my insecurity, perhaps a clearer picture would come through of that love. Perhaps my tongue could be unloosed.

And my heart has spilled forth through the keyboard. Frail though my words might be, they have flowed more freely here. The introspective mirror can reflect my weaknesses and God’s strengths with greater abandon when I am not bound by the ties of proximity and all of its associated fears.

But, I know how real each person is, even if my only contact with them is through black text on white page. I know the blood that courses through their veins, and the hurts that have piled on their backs to create tender spots which flare when touched by the slightest misfortune in turn of phrase. I know that the power to inflict unintentional hurt on another is not limited to those with whom we have physical contact. And so, after brief stints of posting more regularly and slight increases in readership, I find my insecurities feeding and growing. Fear of failure begets failure as I sabotage myself through silence. The nerves are severed as my fingers are temporarily paralyzed mere centimeters from the keyboard.

Truly, there are many valid excuses for my silences. I never manage to accomplish the things I should do in a day, and allowing myself to spend the time to compose and comment induces great guilt. The guilt joins the mounting pile of recriminating evidence against me, and my confidence wanes even further.

But, but, but, there is a seed of gratitude buried deep. Because, you see, somehow I keep coming back. My words are not gospel. My path is not blameless. My motives are not always selfless. My love is not always pure and unconditional, but I do care. I do love. I do break inside over the suffering of others, and deep down, I am so very grateful for that. I would not want to have a heart of stone.

"Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."

Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"

And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

-Isaiah 6:5-8 TNIV


God, Help me remember my guilt is taken away. Help me be willing. Help me not to cause pain through my flaws. Help me to remember my gratitude. Help me remember that, in order to love others better, I need to grasp hold of the fact that I am lovable in your eyes.

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5 Comments:

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    I'm trying to think what to say in response to this post.

    One, "egads!" on our double posting--AGAIN.

    Two, this makes me want to cry because it is wise and perceptive and open and authentic.

    Three, I am so grateful that you followed that urging to blog. Your presence here in the blog'verse has been a source of great joy, amusement, comfort to me.

    Four, that scripture. Wow. I have read that scripture many times but put in the context of your writing here today, it came alive for me in a new way.

    I love you, T, and I'm so glad you're here!

    By Blogger Mary-LUE, at 2:47 PM  

  • I fall into the 'guilt' camp too. I'm not sure how much of it is being 'female' and how much of it is being a failed Catholic.
    Best wishes

    By Anonymous mcewen, at 3:19 PM  

  • This is such a wonderful, lovely, and amazingly insightful post. Thank you for writing it!

    You put a new face on so many old ideas and concepts here.

    I love the Wheel of Fortune metaphor!

    Julie
    Using My Words

    By Blogger Julie Pippert, at 7:30 PM  

  • Wow. What a beautiful post. I'm speechless.

    By Blogger Terri B., at 7:47 PM  

  • I'm rarely 'speechless'.
    And this probably oughta be one of those times when I am.


    (((((( atypical )))))))))

    By Blogger Mel, at 9:37 AM  

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