Monday, December 13, 2010

Desire and Want

Desire and Want are two characters that play huge roles in the drama that is my life. I spend countless hours attempting to deconstruct them and pick them apart in order to understand every facet of each one of them. My desires and wants often tug heavily on my heart, sometimes to a point where I fail to understand them for who they really are. Sometimes I know and feel assured that my desires and wants are God-given, that he wove them with passion into my very being, never to be separated from who I am. Sometimes, though, Desire and Want are parasitic selfish pursuits that mask any work God is doing in my life.

Desire haunts me. Want grasps tightly to me. What if my desires and wants are not what God wants for me? I often desire and then wait to let God hand over the object of my desire to me. When he doesn't, I feel wronged. I ask, "Why was this desire placed in me in the first place?!" I grow in anger and frustration when my heart itself deceives me and pulls me farther from the trust that I owe my Father. Yes, he has given me desires and wants; he has knitted my soul together, complete with all character traits, personality quirks, and desires and wants. These things are also subject to sin, though. Even though God himself lives in me, my sinful nature is still residing there, too. (I hate that.)

Years ago, I desired that God come into my life and tear it up a bit. I decided to follow the truth presented through Christ's death for all of man on the cross, and I knew that would take immense sacrifice. Did I remember that "sacrifice" could mean obeying God to such a limit as Abraham did? Did I realize that I could be asked to sacrifice my own kin? Did I realize that only when my arm was raised in obedience would God send me a sheep in place of my own kin? I don't think I could realize that at the time that I decided to surrender my life to follow God. I am realizing it more today, although I know I am slow at learning these types of things and it will probably take me a lifetime to truly understand.

Desire and Want are the two daughters borne from my very heart and affecting every action I make. Unfortunately, I have not yet stepped out of myself to sacrifice my own kin. Desire and Want are entangled in the web of my sin: my selfishness, my pride, my rationality, my independence...I tend to be really overwhelmed by this. I try to change myself, change the people around me, change my environment, learn about myself more, learn about other people more, but I forget about this one Person who has a bigger effect on my life than any of those things.

Today, I found some good news in a little old devotional book I found years ago called Gates of Beauty. December 13th's entry begins with some very wise words: "We have spoken much in recent years about Christians building the kingdom of God, of letting God work through us; as thought God were a victim of our indifference, stalled until we get ready to cooperate with him. There is both truth and falsehood in believing this. In a very real way, God will use us if we give ourselves to him with humble spirits. But even if we do not, that does not take the initiative out of God's hands."

It is such a comfort to me to remember the magnitude of God's power outside of my understanding of my own power. God dwells in me, and he can change me whether I am willing to let him change me or not. Even when I feel that transforming Desire and Want seems nearly impossible, that I cannot sacrifice my own dear daughters, God still intervenes there. If Abraham would have chickened out of sacrificing his own son, what would God have done? He would have taught him some other really hard lessons to learn in some other really hard way. God does not leave us behind if we are failing to get his message to us (which I feel like I probably do a lot of the time).

The devotional entry goes on, " God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son." How little men had to do with this act of God for our salvation! God took the initiative and sent Christ because he loved us, not because men were ready and clamoring for his coming. The whole story of Jesus is one to give us confidence in God's way of dealing with sin, not in men's way. For even when sinful men crucified Christ, God in his way brought victory out of defeat. 'God so loved the world...,' 'while we were yet sinners, Christ dies for us.' From beginning to end, it is God's hand that controls and acts, turning the pages of history to bring to pass his divine purposes,--while we were yet sinners."

My Father is a relentless pursuer. I hoard up what I think are treasures in my heart and on this earth, and no matter if I surrender those or not, he busts through the door of my heart and pillages any sin that I should be willingly sacrificing. Jesus already died for all my sins; that's why I need to let them go. I need to throw my stored up "treasures" out the window and into the river to be swept away and burdening me no more. Whether I do that myself or not, God will not let me continually flounder, fall, and fail. His love is bigger than my love for Desire and Want. As much as it hurts me to tear Desire and Want from my heart, it grieves God even more when I do not.

Surrender is stripping myself down to bare bones and letting God clothe me in righteousness. God doesn't want to put me through the embarrassment of stripping me down himself, but, like a good Father preparing a child for a long soak in the tub, he will do it if I don't, no matter how embarrassed I might be. He would rather embarrass me than let me destroy myself by sitting and rotting in my own filth.

Thank God for his mercy.

Monday, December 6, 2010


There are many things I could write about in this post, as there are a million and one things happening right now-- life changes, heart changes, mind changes-- but instead I'll take to tackling the task of rediscovering my love for art.

One of the most fulfilling things about my life as a human is the ability to express myself. Sometimes I can do it, sometimes others do it for me, but nonetheless, whenever my thoughts are put into music, words, or visual art of some kind, I feel so fulfilled.

I am realizing more and more how inexplicable the affect of art on our souls (or maybe just my soul?) really is. I cannot argue to someone why art is so important in the life of people. I cannot make any logical explanation for why I feel a great sense of peace in those moments when I am accepting my emotions and creating something out of that acceptance. I cannot explain to anyone else why someone else's  lyrics and music can make my heart beat in time and rhythm with what I hear. I cannot explain what relief it is to pound my feet on the floor and swirl my hands all in the air along with the insistent bass of an upbeat song. I cannot explain why when I create something with my own hands I feel as though I was able to pull my thoughts through my fingers and display them in a more understandable way. Try talking to me-- see the pleasure I take in each breath and each sincere proclamation from the floors of my heart chambers, at least when the words are there. When they aren't there, watch to see how my heart is reflected. It is equally raw and real.

Some things I really love about art-- Sillohuettes. Darkness. Tints. Shadows. Unexpected twists and turns. Saturated colors. Texture. Depth. Symbolism. Analogies. Purpose. Meaning. Deliberation. Variety. People within their art.

Art is honest in ways that words alone cannot be. Art conveys its honesty in different levels to different people-- no worries about feeling out that awkward situation and searching for just the right small talk to engage in. Art can break the awkwardness with a bold statement, it can mask the awkwardness subtly, or it can present a distracting focus from the awkwardness altogether without feeling the effects of any of those actions. 

I really love honesty and vulnerability because I think people benefit from stepping outside of their fear and comfort. I am coming to understand, though, that not a lot of people can handle the honest me I often present. I am often times really awkward and/or overwhelming or I come off as aggressive/opinionated/emotionally unstable. Unfortunately, I present myself in nautical knot form. Not many people understand the nautical knots I present in the first place, but when I hold back I tie myself into wrongside-out nautical knots. (Try visualizing that one.) People tend to exhaust me for this reason. I exhaust myself already simply attempting to decipher the code of my thoughts, and when I strive equally to express myself to other people, I'm doubly exhausted.

With art, though, feedback from people isn't necessary. I deeply hope that my art can communicate with people like a lot of art communicates to me, but I may not ever see that communication even if it does occur. I would love to see and hear how people respond to my art, but if I never do, I don't mind because of how fulfilling it is simply to create. The internet provides a similar forum of expression because I can post whatever I want to express and not expect anyone to read it or respond to it. I am not sitting and typing this right to anyone so I don't expect feedback. When I expect feedback I am often disappointed, and with the internet I can express simply for expression's sake. For art's sake. Maybe also to shield from disappointment, but is that such a bad thing?

The next thing to discover: how to make mistakes successfully and make them beautiful, in both art and life.