Thursday, April 10, 2008

I begin paragraphs in odd places (and other confessions)

For the record, I do not consider myself athletic, or even in shape, and I'm pretty sure no one else has ever thought to classify me as such either. B u t . . . I've always considered myself strong, kind of unexplainably so. I used to pride myself on being able to do physical acts on my own, i,.e., moving furniture and other heavy things, contorting myself into awkward positions in order to drill at a good angle, sawing random wood scraps into usable sizes, walking abnormal places/distances, etc. . .

I supposed a good part of it was sheer will. Will that grew out of pride, out of wanting to prove myself. And doomed was the person who got in the way. The secret to convincing me to do something was (is?) telling me I can't, or that you won't let me.

Why was/is my independence and strength so important to me? At what point did I start to believe that that's where I found my identity?
Actually, I think I know the answer to that: when I could no longer find my identity in my academic achievements. I like to laugh and tell people I peeked in high school. In a manner of speaking that's true. I became salutatorian without really trying, I was voted "most scholastic" or something, I had great test scores, I was the one my friends called for homework help. . . Then came college and a serious wake-up call rivaled only by an icy Indonesian shower. I was no longer the best, I wasn't even average most of the time. My idea of who I was got totally wrecked, and it took awhile to reform it.

Unfortunately, I didn't rebuild on the Rock. I, like the foolish man, chose the sands of self-sufficiency.

Over the past four or five months I've been wrecked again. These abilities I've wrapped my identity around have mostly been taken away. The specifics as to how and why are not important, but this new journey I'm on is. A few weeks ago I listened to David Miller's message at Status and, oddly enough, he talked about finding our identity in God. "We are who God says and thats it." Simple enough, eh? Not for me. Even as I'm losing who I thought I was, I can see myself grasping for other things, inadequate things, like art. Creating things is huge to me, it's something God put inside me, but it is not who I am. Some days I lose sight of why I paint and my self esteem crashes. I see what I've made and compare it to what I see in the galleries and I start to feel worthless. It'll never match up, but thats not the purpose. Creating is one way I connect with God. If I lose sight of its true purpose and make it my source of worth, I will ruin yet another thing God has placed in me for my good and His glory. (fyi, this is why I think its sometimes bunk when people refuse to do things simply because they aren't good at them. If you enjoy it-do it.)

Honestly, I have no idea who I am. I don't even know why I need to know, but for some reason I do. My hope is that as I learn more about this "God-man" (as they say), I will have a clearer picture of myself and who I am to be, but even more that that I hope to lose interest in anything that is me in favor of all that is God.

This post took an odd turn somewhere. I intended to write more about my recent frustrations with being unable to do things the way I once could. This was most evident last Saturday when we did some post-tornado clean-up. After working a shamefully short amount of time I was spent. I felt lazy and disappointed in myself, which is kinda the norm lately, but this time it was public. On one hand I was embarrassed for not having the endurance or strength to work harder/longer, and on the other I felt like I let people down. Another lesson I'm learning (slowly) is to let God alone define failure. I spend way to much time and energy trying to please other people. We are not called to succeed, we are called to obey. God will handle the results. So, in a way, obedience is success. . .

Oy, so many thoughts.

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