Wednesday, August 05, 2020

To the Know-it-All Who Doesn't

It is entirely possible I am a dichotomy of epic proportions. It is also entirely possible I just like the way the word sounds when it is spoken with vigor and conviction and the intriguing, mysterious undercurrent it carries.

My thoughts are fleeting and fragmented, a road map weathered and worn at the creases, always headed in one direction or the next, pausing to recalculate and often changing course. I am likely not the one to lead a weary traveler home, but the journey will be ours together, for I am the constant companion. I am predictable in volatility, erratic in consistency. My words often have the tendency to make others uneasy, as they are raw and shrouded in weakness and doubt, but oddly comforting when an ear is tuned and a soul is poised.

I am an unplanned adventure, accidental, wildly emotional and impulsive. I am danger with intention, an inferno at the water’s edge, a tantrum riddled with grace and fear tangled with determination. I am weary with passion and desperate with hope. I war with peace and triumph in loss. I am a prisoner shackled to the past but beautifully unchained in the present. I am many things that seem to contradict each other, but above all, I am made in HIS image and I am HIS for all eternity.

I wondered as I ran downhill on the cusp of a runner’s high what it was that made the faces in the passing cars hold their gaze for longer than the standard split second. I can say with certainty that it had little to do with outward appearance, as my time in lockdown has not been kind to my once-slender frame. Could they sense the mounting joy within me and were hoping beyond hope that transference would somehow work its magic and ignite a spark of elation in their own discontent existence? Was I radiating outwardly the inward exhilaration I felt? And then it hit me and actually forced a brief LOL. I had forgotten that I was wearing my Led Zeppelin tank top, the one that seems to draw the envy of classic rock fans everywhere. I fancy myself quite lucky to have stumbled across it a year ago. Also, it is the only one that affords even an ounce of forgiveness of the Covid-20 these days. And then I wondered, are these passers-by curious as to what lies beneath this Zeppelin lover and what other familiarities, oddities and convictions make her tick? Are there layers upon layers that deem her fascinating and worthy of a second look? I know, I know, I am not that powerful and they probably could not have cared less about the inner workings of my soul, let alone my favorite pasttime on a typical Saturday afternoon. In fact, it is more likely their gaze was not fixed on me at all, but indulge me further if you would, as these chronicles fall flat without a bit of embellishment. I wondered that if they put all certainty and matter of opinion in the outward appearance and presumed to have figured me out based solely on my choice of music, would it surprise them to know I was actually listening to Nichole Nordeman and modern hymns? Would it shock them to hear that I call myself a Christian, but expound that I’m not a very good one? And what if they discovered that I am fascinated with true crime podcasts and forensic psychology, have Dateline on an endless loop and that interviews with serial killers nurture my incessant need to understand the human psyche? How does that component of my persona coincide with the part of me that longs for joy and not-so-secretly roots for the poor do-gooder who cannot ever seem to catch a break? The part that praises itself for giving in to the princess’s undeserved request for a hamster and now shamelessly adores Vanilla and her late night antics? The part that weeps incessantly when the wind kicks up just so, when the right lyric strikes the right chord at the right time, or when one of the two doves perched on her fence each morning nuzzles its tiny head in the neck of the other? Can the dichotomies in me not live in harmony with each other, my interests not cover a multitude of genres and my thoughts not take their place in different schools? And further, can the multi-faceted parts of my whole not actually be something to celebrate rather than be a source of confusion to those who seek to understand me?

It begs the question, what do we do when someone does not fit into the mold we have cut for them and their ideas and opinions befuddle us to the point of anger and frustration? How do we make sense of the senseless actions (as we deem them) of others? If we have an inherent need to label someone based on their job, beliefs, interests, companions, etc., how then can we comprehend or even simply accept them when they do or say something in stark contrast to who we believe them to be? And furthermore, how can we possibly be expected to gauge how to respond appropriately when faced with an uncomfortable realization about their very being or an idea that does not align with our expectations? Just when we can confidently assert that we have figured each other out, we find our assumptions challenged and our expectations ruined. Should we not be able to count on those we count on and rely on those we rely on? Should they not behave true to fashion at all times so that we might find comfort in the consistency and security in the standard? There seems to be no room for deviation, no allowance for the dichotomies within each of us that I find, frankly, truly fascinating.

Here is the devastating truth. When we attempt to make sense of the inherent contradictions in our ourselves and those around us, we lose something sacred. We lose something vital to our ultimate happiness, the thing for which our very souls thirst and our hearts demand. We lose the wonder, mystery and beauty of the unknown, the pure, innocent, blissful naivety that is all but impossible to reclaim (hear me when I say, “all but impossible” - insert copious amounts of hope here). We lose the childlike exuberance found in simplicity, find it mistakenly in hollow endeavors and pine for it until we breathe our last finite breath. We strive to hold back a roaring, untamed river by professing intellect and maintaining order, but in actuality, should strive to demolish the dam and dance upon the broken timbers with an unapologetic awareness of our limitations. But I am confident in this and cling desperately to this notion, because truth be told, it’s all I’ve got. It is never to late to rediscover what now eludes us and return, pure in spirit and mind, enthusiastically to the lover of our souls and the one true constant...never changing, never ceasing, everlasting alpha and omega. Spoiler alert...He is not a dichotomy. He is that He is. What you see is what you get and That.Is.Enough.

Ready? This might be difficult for some to hear. To recapture the wonder and awe we so desire, we must accept that we simply do not have - AND DO NOT NEED - all the answers. Sometimes clarity veils its face and mocks our arrogance. Some hopes and aspirations never materialize (ugh). We are passed by for the promotion to which we feel rightly entitled. We are ghosted and left to wonder, abandoned and charged with picking up the pieces, afflicted with a disease for which their is no cure. We are wrongfully convicted, unjustly accused, falsely labeled and harshly judged. Or maybe we are simply, misunderstood. And in these moments and many, many more, we might have to acknowledge that there is no blessed assurance to make the pain melt away and the black fade to grey, no answer to complete the equation and no piece that fits tightly into the puzzle, no method to the madness and no immediate shelter from the storm.

Oftentimes I am comforted in a way that surprises me. Sometimes it’s secular in nature (yikes...fear not, my dear Christians, God speaks in many languages). For the record, Jon Bellion is a devout Christian, but he chose a secular label and produces much of his own music, which hit the airwaves primarily on secular stations. This little gem is called Maybe IDK.

I wonder why I get paranoid when I'm high.
I wonder why I say yes to everyone in my life.
I wonder why I feel short when I know my money's tall.
I wonder why I miss everyone and I still don't call.
I wonder why I feel emptiness and I sing these blues.
I wonder why I feel hopelessness when I watch the news.
I wonder why I can't find my voice in my dreams.
I wonder why they say hate your brother and hide your gold.
I wonder why we all fear the things that we might not know.

Although I guess if I knew tomorrow, I guess I wouldn't need faith.
I guess if I never fell, I guess I wouldn't need grace.
I guess if I knew His plans, I guess He wouldn't be God.

So maybe I don't know. But maybe that's okay.

Take a breath. I’ve seen the future and it all works out in the end! If there is a certainty you can rely on and a hope you can cling to, it is this. There is a freedom in not needing all the answers. There is a beauty in the absence of the desire to figure it all out, a release of power and control that frightens many, but I implore you to consider this. Just because we are not in control does not mean life has no order or meaning. It simply means there is another force at work, bigger than the confines of our earthly understanding, higher than the enlightenment we proudly boast to possess, greater than the limitations of our own minds. Their is one who does have all the answers, is privy to a fairytale ending we can only imagine, and lays claim to a road map unweathered and unworn. He knew this day before it arrived. He knew your name before your parents whispered it into being. He knows the poverty of your past and the affluence of your future. And He is unabashedly singing your praises at any given moment. Take heart, all you weary travelers. Hit the next rest stop and take a ten minute power nap. He’s got this! Say it with me people, “I don’t know and it’s okay!”

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 1:6

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