More changes as I figure out my time constraints and capabilities: For the time being, I’ll no longer be writing Faith posts on this blog, but instead linking you to the “Christian Living” posts I write for Geeks Under Grace. These sorts of writings just take a little more meditation than I can muster twice a month. (Just listen to me whine.)
Please enjoy last month’s work on the site here, and be sure to check out anything else they have that might interest you!
I am least-resistance material. Dodge rather than duel. It’s not so much rooted in cowardice as it is in convenience: a fight takes work, and I’d rather acquiesce. The less energy wasted, the better.
And I thought I was so ahead of the game, spiritually-speaking. A perfectly willing soul, ready to go along with anything. Isn’t a subservient follower of Christ the best follower of Christ? I wouldn’t dare be contrary to what I suppose is God’s plan for my life.
(Emphasis on “suppose”.)
My change of mind happened in a small moment, as brief as it takes to conjure a thought. I’d scanned through my task list at work and settled on what needed immediate attention. Meanwhile, dozens more synapses went wild in the background with other “to-do’s” for the day: Did I need any groceries? Would I go clothes shopping this evening or on the weekend? Get some writing done after work like a good girl? Or…hang responsibility and work my thumbs on the 3DS? (These moral dilemmas…)
In the middle of it all, some future-oriented thought wandered its way through the internal noise. I honestly couldn’t tell you now what it was, but I remember it arrested my attention. In knee-jerk fashion, I gave it a pious: “Yea, verily, do as thou wilt with mine life, Father.” That should’ve been the end of it, I figured – when clear as I can explain it to you I heard the words, “Wrestle with me.”
Now, there are certain Biblical stories I don’t necessarily forget; I just assume they’ll never apply to my life. Take Jacob, for example. That heel-grabber wrestled for his name, for a blessing, and for a future (Genesis 32:22-32); but he seemed a persistent sort anyway. I didn’t relate. That sort of supernatural tussle was meant for the aggressive only.
And yet here God had told me: wrestle. Over this small detail I’d rather brush off than face. It caused me at least to wonder if there was more to the fight than just petulance. Could such a brawl really change the mind of Almighty God?
In Jacob’s case, he gained what he insisted be his. Whether God would have given it with or without a fight I can’t say, but here’s the other thing I notice: the scuffle altered Jacob. He was given a physical keepsake to remember that powerfully relational moment. In grappling with another person, we often come away with a deeper understanding of both their character and ours. We’re left with a lasting impression; sometimes a bond grows stronger.
I’d never assumed a holy fight could be God’s work to shape me nearer to Him. Was it really more obedient, in some instances, to wrestle than it was to comply? As it turns out, I may not be as ahead of the game as I suspected.
So, new goal: Enter the ring more often – a type of exercise I never knew I needed. Let it bring changes in both life and soul.
They’re everywhere, aren’t they? Giant strips of them in public bathrooms; magnifying discs in beauty shops that show every pore; ones on cabinets and walls in our own bathrooms – easily accessible for five, six, twenty-three checks on our appearance per day.
There’s value to knowing your face, and I’m definitely not advocating going ungroomed to interviews, important social events, dates, yada yada. But check too frequently in the mirror, and you train yourself to allow value of appearance to outweigh value of person.
And what happens when appearance fails you?
Last month I completed a healing process for an illness that couldn’t be concealed – right smack on my face. (You can read more about it here.) I was asked if I had skin cancer; I was accosted with “miracle” treatments from the well-meaning; I was told it looked like I’d been in a fight. Make-up couldn’t conceal it and often made it worse.
For half a year I didn’t look in a mirror if I didn’t have to. You can’t preen over inflammation or admire painful cysts. Even now, as the scars heal, I see my reflection and wonder if there are ways my face will never look the same. And is that okay? Could I come to accept these marks as “the new me”?
Maybe a new me isn’t such a bad thing.
In Christ, I’m already a new creation; whatever happens from here is strictly superficial. Sure, the rough patches and residual scars may suck, but my worth won’t be found in nicks and pinched skin. No person’s worth can be so easily wrecked.
See, we never really know what we look like, I think – no matter how many times we scrutinize our reflection. We can’t see our genuine laughter, or the way we hug a friend, or our passion when we talk about what’s important to us. These are where true beauty radiates – in the impromptu moments where you don’t have a chance to fret over appearance.
Even the Man worthiest of admiration wasn’t appealing by human-imposed physical standards. “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” (Isaiah 53:2) Yet by his life and death he demonstrated not only his great worth as a sacrifice, but how overwhelmingly he values us in return.
“Old me” or “new me”, Christ has declared my value is never bankrupt. (What a timely reminder so close to Resurrection Sunday.)
Troubles won’t end just because I’m past this hurdle. I may even have to leap it again down the road. But I notice now, when I check my reflection, my scars disappear when I smile. A testament to joy in the face of pain?