Today I’m a mess of tears and self-pity. I miss my dog and my mom. (Note: my dog, Cassie, died. My mom didn’t die, but she did get married and move an hour away.) My foot aches so I’m “resting” it. There are boxes scattered all over the living room–stuff to get rid of, sell, store, or just throw away. These boxes have followed me for years–toys from my childhood for the kids I hoped to one day, a box of shells–all that I have left from my dad’s deceased father’s “estate,” the remnants of a bead business and art projects that didn’t work out, and boxes of things I hold on to for no apparent reason. I just can’t let go.
And I so need to let go.
Of what? What is there possibly left to lose? I feel like I lost a lot this year, and yet I know God is calling me to lose more—to lose my inhibitions for the sake of the Gospel, to boldly follow Him no matter the cross I bear, to throw away my “church” masks for authentic Christian life.
The raw life is hard. I think a “raw life” is to be real in a world full of mask-wearing phonies (said without condemnation). I’m the woman that bravely smiles when I sing before a Holy God and cries my heart out in the Narthex when I’m done–I’m one in the same.
I’m struggling with the desire to be a mask-wearing phony and be a real woman who loves God and feels deeply. It’s easier (and harder) to wear a mask. Well, maybe not easier, just safer. That’s what I learned leading a study using Emily P. Freeman’s book Grace For the Good Girl. A mask is more like a shield, and if I just “fine” my way through life, I won’t have to hear unwelcome advice and Christian catch phrases. Most people mean well. They truly want to help, but their “advice” twists in my gut as if I ate razor blades for breakfast.
Just focus on God. (My inner thought life screams, “Why aren’t you focus on God, you pitiful Christian? If you focused on God, you’d be just fine.”)
Trust God. (“You’re not trusting God. If you did, you wouldn’t feel this way!”)
Pray. (“Pray harder. Pray better. Pray more.”)
If God brings you to it, He’ll bring you through it. (“But what if He doesn’t? What if I just fall apart? Does that mean He didn’t bring me through it?”)
When God closes a door, He opens a window. (“To jump out of?!”)
You get the idea. Well-meaning advice given to a woman whose thoughts run wild. Pray for me, love me, and hug me. When in doubt, just ask what I need to hear, know, or what you can do. I’ll tell you. Just don’t let me wear my iron mask. It’s been a lot of work to pry it off of my face.
So I sit ruminating in my thoughts checking in on Twitter and Facebook for signs of life outside my apartment. In this place, a Tweet from one of my fave photogs, Jeremy Cowart, comes to light. He mentions an inspiring video—the most inspiring video of 2012, he says. Maybe, maybe not. But I check it out anyway.
Here’s the video:
Caine’s Arcade. It has me in tears and not the delicate, pretty kind. It’s a full-on snot fest following by a salty flood of tears. Yet this is the good kind of soul-cleansing crying. I’m touched by Caine’s story and inspired by his creativity, and yes, I’m happy for his happy ending. Hope is reborn in my heart—all because of a boy with some cardboard, tape, and an abundance of hope.
When you’re filled with Caine’s spirit—the faith and hope of a child—you don’t have time to ruminate or worry or bemoan the circumstances you’re in. Perhaps I could use some of my energy to engage in creativity and dream God-given dreams, maybe my bittersweet present is a future blessing in disguise. Time will tell and hope will keep the dream alive.