Thursday, 29 June 2017

Talking to God about my life

(originally journaled May 20, 2017)

So Anne Lamott says (in Bird by Bird) that one's deepest beliefs must drive one's writing.

It occurs to me that I'm not even sure what my deepest beliefs are. And I read today that depression often causes people to "lose their faith." Looking back, I'm pretty sure that the time I went through deep depression a few years back was about the same time I "lost" my dreams, my sense of adventure, my sense of humour, my love of learning, my deep desire to write--and also became rather unsure of what I believed in (though I still believed in God's existence and Jesus as God incarnate ... and God as beyond our tiny imaginations and understanding).

I seem to manage to tutor quite well, and to organise writers' events and workshops and such quite well, and write useful (if boring) blog posts. BUT!

What I really want is to run along a cold, windy, salt-blowing, stormy north-west Pacific island beach, and spread my arms wide, and open my mouth wide and gulp in that cold, wild, salty air. Is that too much to ask?

And I want some time for myself occasionally, without responsibilities to clean and cook and wait on people. Is that too much to ask?

I want to be excited and joyful and have an adventure. [I wrote that in capital letters in my journal!] And I want to get to know You much more deeply, too. And find out what it is You want and who You are.

I would love to dance and twirl and laugh and shout. And have the energy for it, and not be embarrassed and not care what people think.

I want to break through this long, long, long, long, long, long feeling of depression and dullness. And loss.

I feel like I've lost myself.

I'm tired of researching and passing on information (and seeing other people do the things I want to do--things I've taught and encouraged them to do, but can't convince myself to do!)

I want to cry. To really, really cry. I want to be freed to be emotional.

I thought for a while that it was good to be calm and to give up my dreams. I thought it would please You, for me to give up "me" and just live day by day and never have another exciting moment as long as I lived if that's what You want for me. To be submissive to You, You know. (But I'm beginning to doubt that's what You really want, after all).

I'm tired of being nice little peacemaker, encourager, good tutor and decent editor and sometimes writer, kind of smart Norma.

I think maybe I'm longing to live a bit dangerously, take risks once in a while. Have fun! Take a flying leap! Before it's too late (You know--I'm 60-something already...)

And it would also be nice to have some clearer idea of what I believe.

And not care if people disagree with me or are shocked at me.

Are You shocked at me? I kind of doubt it, though, because I'm pretty sure You know way more clearly what's in my heart and mind than I do. And I'm pretty sure You love me anyway. In fact, I suspect that I, too, may well be one of Your "favourite people," like in The Shack :-)

Why did You make me so complicated? And let me get so mixed up? Does it really matter? I mean, as long as You love me?

I'm tired of being busy all the time, but feeling like I really am not accomplishing anything significant, important, worthwhile. And not earning enough to pay off those old bills that piled up last year when my arm was broken and I couldn't work much.

I want to blog and write for fun! I'm tired of being a boring old granny. I'm feeling tired and resentful and tied down...and I want to break free of that feeling.

Dear God?

(Thank you--for listening ... and answering)

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Balance in Christian viewpoints

Journal May 20, 2017

Oh dear. I read, and then shared on Facebook, what I thought was a good explanation of some of the political/Christian issues in American. And then one of my "friends" wrote a long, long response, using words like "diatribe" and "vitriol" to describe the piece I'd shared (but obviously not considering those words might fit his own piece, too). He obviously feels that "holiness" and "righteousness" is far more important than caring for those in need (as if they are not connected, even). But I guess that's his right, too, to express his feelings and understanding. I think he sees himself as a "prophet" like those in the Old Testament--and that's the job of such a prophet: to stand solidly and unapologetically and even fiercely for "righteousness."

He spoke of a balance of God's love in providing salvation, and of righteous, holy living as a result of salvation. He talks a lot about God's justice at the end of time, but he doesn't seem to have much interest in "justice" in the world we live in right now. Though scripture (including as quoted in that post I shared) is clear on that as being very important, too. Well, I remember from my childhood the fears of many evangelicals about "those liberal churches that focus on social justice"--as if social justice is simply a distraction of the enemy from what's really important for Christians, and is, therefore, to be avoided.

Lord, there's so much I don't understand.

(And I guess I do "deserve" that response for chuckling when I posted it, that I'd probably get some strongly worded responses. Little did I realise how strong the responses might be.)

Monday, 19 June 2017

Flying leaps and risk taking and radical living

(originally journaled May 17, 2017)

I was watching an episode of Star Trek in which Captain Picard was given the opportunity by Q to relive a crucial moment from his youth when he had been young and arrogant and had jumped into a fight which led to some life-changing directions. He decided the second time around to be mature and responsible--and then saw his life take a totally different path, in which instead of becoming a starship captain, he was never able to be more than a minor officer because he was always careful, never willing to jump at opportunities or take risks.

And it struck me that the reason I've been avoiding writing--and when I do write it's boring (useful, informative ... but boring)-- it's because I've lost my passion, lost my sense of adventure, lost my "life of the party/humorous" personality traits.

I figure I only have twenty or thirty years left, max, and I want to make the most of them.

Yes, I've sometimes resented the way I was brought up to be humble and obedient and submissive (and uncool!) ... "righteous." Yes, I want to follow Jesus. Yes, I want to be righteous, but the way He was. Daring, radical, living life to the full even as He obeyed His Father in all things.

There have been times when I've taken a "flying leap." But not for a long while. Why have I never really come out of my depression funk of 8 years or so ago? Why have I given up on my dreams--pretty near all of them, it seems? I've said that I'm putting God in charge, and living the "adventure" of "one day at a time" (which does involve some degree of adventure all right, when you don't know what the morrow will bring). But I wonder. Is that just an excuse? Maybe because I feel I have to stay "with contentment" in the situation life presents to me? Or because I'm afraid I might start to wander down a "wrong path?"

Where is my passion? Where is my sense of adventure? Why do I feel like I have to accept a blah life? And blah writing? When I try to write, or tutor, or lead workshops, or whatever, why do I dread it, avoid it, can't wait till it's over? I know I have talents. I can be happy and enthusiastic for other people and encourage them to take a leap. But I can't seem to be happy and enthusiastic and daring for myself.

I'm confused about "what a Christian should be like."

I'm feeling trapped. And scared. And angry and resentful, even. I want to run and jump up and down and scream and let all my boredom and fear pour out, and start taking risks. And laugh and have fun and write some wild and crazy, funny stuff.

Why not?

Am I "allowed" or not?

Oh dear God, please show me. I do want to please and obey You. Thank You. Amen!

(June 19 note: He's been allowing and leading! Keep posted!)

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Blurry Edges

(Journaled May 15, 2017)

Lord, I'm feeling ... I don't know ... less and less "attached" to this world--and maybe even to this body. I feel like my edges are getting a bit "blurry." Maybe it's just part of growing older?

But sometimes I worry in case maybe I'm also getting detached from you. And, oh Lord, I don't care about the other detachments, but I can't bear the thought of being detached from You (which, as You know, is why I have been so terrified about dementia).

Or, for that matter, I also can't bear the thought of my loved ones being detached from You.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Orthodoxy and Liturgy

(Journaled April 23, 2017)

Well, I finished reading the "Orthodox" book the other day...and had a long chat with an Orthodox friend.

Like the Anglican (and maybe even the Catholic) I seem to have a longing for liturgy...especially prayers...and a deeper connection to other believers (the church!) both locally, across the world, and through time. Reading about the Eastern Orthodox perspectives really did help me understand and/or gain deeper insight and appreciation on certain aspects of following Jesus.

Of course, there were a few things I find strange, like their veneration of Mary, and praying to her and the saints. I "get" that this tradition goes back to the "early Fathers" but I just don't see any evidence in scripture--though some of it based on other writings not found in the New Testament, I think.

I feel like (in many aspects of my life) maybe I am at some kind of crossroads, but I don't see clearly where it might be leading (or what I might be finishing up and leaving behind).

Lord--Your will be done.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

God's will

(originally journaled April 14, 2017 Good Friday)

Lord God--Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit--Your will be done in my life! Please!

I don't know where to go from here. I do feel You want me to direct my writing more toward You and Your way.

I read an article today by some guy who is convinced You never existed at all--not even as a person in history. I guess that's what he wants to believe--and I guess it's a comfort to others who don't want to believe in You at all.

The thing is, it seems like I am believing in You more and more. You are becoming more real to me, deep down in my heart, my being. You in me.

Yes, Your will be done in my life. Please.

Monday, 5 June 2017


(Journaled April 5, 2017)

Wow. If you ever doubt the amazing value of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross for sin--or don't realise the incredible extent of our sinfulness--just read Leviticus 4 to 7 (all the sections on sin offerings and the mega-rules in the following chapters). When I read those rules, I wonder how on earth people could possibly live up to all the rules of the law...and how they could afford sin offerings every time they sinned...even unintentionally! It would seem (and would be) impossible! What a load/burden to live under. No wonder so many gave up, or only picked and chose what rules to follow (something many people continue to do today) ... or even turned to other "gods." Which is the point ... only Christ's sacrifice can truly deal with our sin and only He can help us--for we are helpless ourselves!

On the other hand, it is also a stark reminder to us not to take God's sacrifice for granted ... and to press us onward to long to follow and obey and love the Lord more and more and more. And be more and more aware of our own sinfulness and weakness, and our need for utter dependence on Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit--our Lord and God.

By the way, Acts 5 and Hebrews 8 totally match up with this. Not a coincidence that today's readings lined up like this, I'm sure.

Thank You, Lord!

Thursday, 1 June 2017

visions and dreams

(originally journaled April 2, 2017)

I hear about so many Muslims in the Middle East coming to You, Jesus, because You visit them in visions and dreams.

I wish I'd receive a vision or dream sometimes... but I know they must be seeking You so much more than I ever have and must be so much more willing to suffer and die for You once they encounter You. And also, maybe You visit them so directly because the "gospel" Christians have taught, and especially have acted out/demonstrated/lived, has not reflected You, Jesus, at all.

I'm really, truly sorry, Lord. Please forgive us. Please forgive me.

I long for You, to see You and know You, dear Lord.

In Jesus' name, Amen.