Monday, June 7, 2010

{give.}

What are two things that make Stargirl who she is? First, the fact that she finds beauty in uncommon places, and secondly, that she is constantly giving to others...giving herself, giving her time, giving her energy, and giving gifts that express deep knowledge of that person.

I've had a lot of time lately to think about life, and what I want mine to look like. A lot of times graduates go through a stage of loss following graduation. With everything they have known as their security pulled out from beneath them and the expectancy to succeed in life while everyone looks on with curiosity...it can be a tightrope to walk. Somehow it feels like life is more real, which sounds silly - but it just seems like...this is it - right now - there isn't any, "who do I want to be one day?" because that day has arrived.

So what makes life meaningful? Starting from the ground up, how do I build a life that 1. Is not wasted on anything but God and 2. That I enjoy every day.

I have been reading Francis Chan's popular book, "Crazy Love" and once again have found my perspective shifted. That's what is constantly occurring in life isn't it? Having our presuppositions shattered and seeing in a new way, God, ourselves, and others.
This time it has been about giving. "God is not someone who can be tacked onto our lives...Do you know that nothing in your life will ever matter, unless it is about loving God and loving the people He has made?...True faith means holding nothing back; it bets everything on eternity." Chan's strength of writing is in his ability to speak the truth in a way that pins you with conviction, and I was successfully pinned. He continues on by quoting Tim Kizziar, "Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that really don't matter." It's a scary thought to think of wasting my life on empty things. It's so easy, and I am so weak. I'm beginning to realize that whatever I have been doing isn't really cutting it - it's going to take some radical choices. if I want to live a different life than what I've seen, I'm not going to get there by thinking about it...and I'm certainly not going to get there by continuing to just do what everyone else is doing. Really, no aspect of it can be half-hearted.

Now we arrive at the vulnerability. In the past few years I have been really horrible at tithing, in fact, to be completely honest, I rarely tithed at all. I had a nice list of excuses - college student, no home church, no steady income...they all sounded good enough to suppress my conscience most of the time. However, I always knew I wasn't living out something Jesus wanted me to...and now having a regular income I have had to face my sin with all "protection" of excuses gone. But, instead of just beginning to tithe, I have been ignoring it all together and avoiding it. A bad habit I have with things I don't want to deal with. Thank goodness I have a God who is relentless in His love. Reading "Crazy Love" has made it pretty difficult to avoid the issue of my heart. Chan quotes a passage we've all heard countless times, Luke 18:22-24, "'Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.' When the rich man heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, 'How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!'" You see, a lot of life is about holding things very loosely in our hands. If I continue to go on holding my paychecks close to me, maybe I even choose the responsible route of building up my savings...what am I heading for? Some new stuff to make me more "this", or more "that"...but really nothing at all? So I save my money for a house one day...a safe, secure little life...will I really be happy once I get there? Those things aren't bad, but it's sort of like painting my face without a soul inside. If what Jesus says is true, that by giving away more I gain more...then who cares about saving for some future dream house? Can I not leave that in His care? Money cannot be my security. It also cannot be a trusted source upon which to build my joy.

Henri Nouwen writes - "It is hard to bear with people who stand still along the way, lose heart, and seek their happiness in little pleasures which they cling to...You feel sad about all that self-indulgence and self-satisfaction, for you know with an indestructible certainty that something greater is coming..."

It's easy to keep doing what I am doing. It's easy to do what I want now, instead of what I know is real. Somehow I got it into my head that I deserve a good life, just because I signed up to be a Christian. I expect good things, and yet I expect to do as little as possible in the way of actually living like a Christian. All the benefits - while offering God my "leftovers" (as Chan so well termed it). The funny thing is, I get a lot of those good things. I am overwhelmed by beautiful things in my life, things I don't deserve at all. Evidence of a very present love. However, there is so much more - holding it's breath for me. Blessings, and yes, good things...but more than that...found intimacy in the deep heart of God...more knowledge of the one I love...and joy that lasts. Joy that supersedes life's daily constraints. These things cannot come unless I let go of their replacements, and one decision at a time make radically life-altering choices. I can talk a lot about things and fall in love with nice ideas...but until I act upon them they remain only that. Today I took the first step. I'm not going to go into detail because that would only be centering this all on myself, but I made the choice to give something dear and costly. It was tough. If I had let myself deliberate longer, I probably could have talked myself out of it quickly. But I had prayed for the opportunity to obey, and I knew without any doubt, it was an expression of God's desire for me to learn. I cannot even tell you the joy that came with it. A full weekend of amazing things given to me, and that turned out to be my favorite part of the whole thing. I'm not sure love can be love without sacrifice. I think loving God and loving others cannot be done in fullness until you have taken yourself out of the way.

I'm excited about this new way of living. The mindset of - "How much can I give?" instead of, "How much do I have to give?" I'm excited about this affecting the entirety of my life.

See, not only have I been struggling with monetary giving, but I've also been wrestling with how much to share of myself. I have been considering deleting my blog because I have realized that with so much vulnerability, I'm really leaving myself out there to potentially get hurt. Also, in sharing my heart, you know lots about me without me getting to know much of you...unless that is changed by choice. I really dislike that part of a blog. However, with the many messages from readers who admit to "stalking" my blog (you all shouldn't be so shy about that, I get more of those messages than you realize!) and find in my writing something that speaks into their life or encourages them, I know it would be more selfish to delete this and clam up, than to continue sharing my life with you. - In all of its honesty and deep set hopes. Really I do find it a privilege to have an audience of readers (what every writer longs for) - and I always find it encouraging to hear of how God works in uncommon ways subtly interweaving our lives together. Thank you for letting me be honest as I grow and learn about life along with you.

3 comments:

sweet {almost} nothings said...

Oh we are so common and I didn't even know it. I may be one of your random readers that you don't know personally, but we share something here. God changes your outlook after you graduate, that I know for sure. Because of francischan's book I find myself reaching out and loving people that are complete strangers. Even you!

Good to know we share a common ground. I to want more out of life than just my job as a nurse. Gods been stirring something up in me, just haven't quite figured it out yet.

sweet {almost} nothings said...

P.s. My favorite part of stargirl was that she kissed the mean girl on the cheek after she slapped her. I will always remember that.

I wanna be that kinda girl.

Stephen said...

This is excellent, and encouraging. I have many of the same thoughts. I'm glad that you're not deleting your blog.