As the snow continues to fall outside my windows and I am treated to another day off work tomorrow, I commit to truly enjoying this unique time- time to read, time to write, time for sporadic and much-needed conversation with my roommates, time right here at my fingertips just ready for me to mold into my very own. What a gift. It's funny how in just allowing our hearts to breathe a little bit, we can come upon some real truth that is so easily forgotten when the rush of routine overwhelms us and we immediately go into robot mode.
I am suddenly reminded of Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story 3 when Lotso, the manipulative leader with his evil southern charm, orders his crew to kidnap Buzz and flip his switch so that he is put in "demo mode".... basically, they un-Buzz him.
What a sad part of the movie. (Don't worry, it gets much better...)
But may I step into your life a little bit and ask, what is your "Lotso"? I know it may be somewhat difficult to take this analogy seriously, but honestly, who or what do you allow in your life to flip your switch and turn you into something that feels so beyond what you know and claim until you become someone so unfamiliar, like an alien in a foreign world? You become like a robot as you mimic the mannerisms that you observe and the patterns that you see in others. And in the process, you barely even know yourself any more. It is as though you walk into a crowded room and cannot seem to stop staring at the stranger with the eyes that remind you of someone until it hits you painfully and unexpectedly like a basketball to the nose. That person is you, the real you. You are living a nightmare in someone else's skin.
...So with all due respect, why the robot? What makes you resort to such lifeless and incredibly monotonous behavior?
Perhaps it is when you feel misunderstood, when you feel trapped inside your own emotions. No matter what, there seems to be no escape, no outlet, no source of common ground where you are free to be you... whatever that means. You feel misunderstood so you stop trying. And you become a robot.
Or could it be when you feel that you are not valued nor appreciated. You feel worthless as you feed into the lies swarming you that say you are not 'enough'... you are not good enough, smart enough, tough enough, wealthy enough. What a painful and soul-cringing word that can be. "You are not enough"... so you stop trying. And you become a robot.
Or could it be when you are running after your own definition of success and you channel all of your emotional, physical, and mental energy into that one prize until you eventually forget what is really important, like relationships. At some point, though, maybe relationships failed you. Maybe they just didn't do it for you.... so you stop trying. And yes, you become a robot.
May I tap into something for a minute? We were not meant to live like this. In fact, we were meant to be everything but a robot. We were meant to taste and feel and experience real freedom.
Now for the Truth.
In Christ, we are understood. In Psalm 139, it says-
"You have searched me, LORD,
and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways."
(verses 1-3... such a sweet passage. keep reading...)
In Christ, we are valued. In fact, we are so valued that He saw us worth giving His own life. (Romans 5:8) If that does not say that we are valued, I don't know what does.
In Christ, we have the ultimate fulfillment. We do not need to run after anything. If only we could see that God is running after us. We are the prodigal son returning home after realizing how broken and messed up we really are, and yet He is our loving, gentle, and forgiving Father who runs toward us with open arms. (Luke 15:11-32)
Today, January 1st 2011 marks a new and fresh beginning. We are entering into a new decade. WOW. That's weird to think about. What will be different about this year, I wonder? What will be the same? What will I fear, cherish, grieve? What mistakes will I make? What small or large victories will I encounter? Who will I meet? Where will I go?
My imagination runs ahead of me. Suddenly, I feel like a kid in a candy store with eyes as big as golf balls and a mouth watering just at the thought of the taste of chocolate... or like a 22-year-old in a candy store. Not much has changed...
I think back to 2010 and I almost literally breathe in lots and lots of of space.... lots of "figuring it all out" seasons of my life, which to be honest, I don't know if that will ever fade entirely. I think we as humans are always trying to figure things out. That's part of life, I guess.
I started the year off in a weird place of being done with school but not starting my first big girl job until a few more months... so I played... and then got bored.... and was soon ready to start moving in a faster pace.
I feel like I have always been comfortable with rest. The Good Lord knows how much I love spending a day in my hammock reading for hours upon hours. But I am reminded in looking back over 2010, that I also really appreciate and sort of thrive off of being busy... and not the overwhelming kind of busy, but the fulfilling, productive kind of busy... the kind where you walk away feeling purposeful and like you made a few friends along the way. That was easy to do in college... just take a ton of hours and get involved in stuff. Easy, right? Will someone please tell me, how the heck does that translate to the real world? All the sudden there is not a handful of clubs you can join without having to cough up some immediate cash. Oh, the joys of being in school....
I remember arriving in Nashville in the late afternoon during the final week of August, taking a deep breath, and then asking myself, "What now?" This time I didn't have classes to fall back on. In this moment, for the first time, I feel like I was in a world beyond myself. I felt like a mere child trying to survive in the Land of Grown-Ups and all I wanted to do was cry... and enjoy doing it.
See, my first big girl job last spring was at Nature's Classroom, a job that was basically like camp and was comfortable and familiar to me... and then I worked at a local restaurant in the summer and lived at home, so I really felt like this was my first real WOW moment... and almost immediately I wanted to return to the comforts of school. College was a cushion for me. It was again, comfortable and familiar... and I kicked myself for graduating a semester early.
I am still learning the rhythm of both being busy and being restful and how each play out in my daily life. I will say, however, that when this rhythm is interrupted and you are forced to engage in a few more restful afternoons than you desire, (or for me, two months of it, thanks to no immediate job), God's voice becomes louder, or really, we just finally allow ourselves to hear it. Our world finally slows down and we become still and there He is reminding us of how much He loves us.
I have to pause here a moment and ask myself a hard question: Why do I enjoy being busy? Is it to drown out the messiness of my life? Maybe if I stay busy, I wonder, I will never really have to deal with the not so great moments in my life... the moments that hurt, the moments that I am not proud of, the moments I wish would just go away. I think that is a huge reason that God gave us rest. We were not meant to push these painful memories under the rug. We were meant to acknowledge them and hand them over to our Creator and let Him redeem our broken hearts, our broken stories, and to make us whole again.
Another reason I might enjoy staying busy and being productive is so that I can prove something, so that I can impress people- my coworkers, my friends, my family, whoever. I secretly want people to look at the work I accomplish and smile and be proud of me. I honestly believe that I and literally everyone craves this attention. We crave love and affection and praise. But may I push a bit further and ask why are we searching so endlessly into the eyes of others? We are children of God. We have gained the ultimate approval. No one else's thoughts matter.
One of the first lessons I learned when I moved to Nashville was that we are not defined by what we do but who we are. We will never do enough. We will never be "good enough" no matter how busy we become. And if that is the only reason why God moved me to Nashy, I will take it. It was a profound lesson that I am reminded of again and again now that the pace of my life has picked up a bit and I have found somewhat of a routine here (and not to mention, a job that I truly love).
So 2011. Here we go. I loosen my grip in attempt to release my expectations for what would make this a "good" year. Who am I to judge?