In my first few days off of school and before I resume full time work at Forest Home Christian Conference Centers this summer, I’ve been immersing myself in the land of Narnia. Talk about a great escape…
I just finished reading The Magician’s Nephew - it’s almost silly how many Biblical parallels and allegories I never picked up on when I was reading these as a kid. The beauty behind Lewis’s story telling is starting to hold completely new meaning.
Aslan’s creation of Narnia is a wonder. Call me a sap, and maybe it’s just because I’m a voice major, but the idea that God created the world through singing (however true it may or may not be) is chill-enducing at very least:
“In the darkness something was happening at last. A voice had begun to sing. It was far away and Digory found it hard to decide from what direction it was coming. Sometimes it seemed to come from all directions at once. Sometimes he almost thought it was coming out of the earth beneath them. Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself. There were no words. There was hardly even a tune. But it was, beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard. It was so beautiful he could hardly bear it. The horse seemed to like it too; he gave the sort of whiny a horse would give if, after years of being a cab-horse, it wound itself back in the old field where it had played as a foal, and saw someone whom it remembered and loved coming across the field to bring it a lump of sugar…
Then two wonders happened at the same moment. One was that the voice was suddenly joined by other voices; more voice than you could possibly count. They were in harmony with it, but far higher up the scale: cold, tingling, silvery voices. The second wonder was that the blackness overhead, all at once, was blazing with stars. They didn’t come out gently one by one, as they do on a summer evening. One moment there had been nothing but darkness; next moment a thousand, thousand points of light leapt out - single stars, constellations, and plants, brighter and bigger than any in our world. There were no clouds. The new stars and the new voices began at exactly the same time. If you had seen and heard it, as Digory did, you would have felt quite certain that it was the stars themselves which were singing, and that it was the First Voice, the deep one, which had made them appear and made them sing…
The Voice on the earth was now louder and more triumphant; but the voices in the sky, after singing loudly with it for a time, began to get fainter. And now something else was happening.
Far away, and down near the horizon, the sky began to turn grey. A light wind, very fresh, began to stir. They sky, in that one place, grew slowly and steadily paler. You could see shapes of hills standing up dark against it. All the time the Voice went on singing…
The eastern sky changed from white to pink and from pink to gold. The Voice rose and rose, till all the air was shaking with it. And just as it swelled to the mightiest and most glorious sound it had yet produced, the sun arose…
And as its beams shot across the land the travelers could see for the first time what sort of place they were in. It was a valley though which a broad, swift river wound its way, flowing eastward towards the sun. Southward there were mountains, northward there were lower hills. But it was a valley of mere earth, rock and water; there was not a tree, not a bush, not a blade of grass to be seen. The earth was of many colours: they were fresh, hot and vivid. They made you feel excited; until you saw the Singer himself, and then you forgot everything else.
It was a Lion. Huge, shaggy, and bright, it study facing the risen sun. Its mouth was wide open in song and it was about three hundred yards away.
…the song had now changed.
The Lion was pacing to and fro about that employ land and singing his new song. It was softer and more lilting than the song by which he had called up the tars and the sun; a gentle, rippling music. And as he walked and sang ,the valley grew green with grass. It spread out from the Lion like a pool. It ran up the sides of the little hills like a wave. In a few minutes it was creeping up the lower slopes of the distant mountains, making that young world every moment softer. The light wind could now be heard ruffling the grass. Soon there were other things besides grass. The higher slopes grew dark with heather. Patches of rougher and more bristling green appeared in the valley. Digory did not know what they were until one began coming up quite close to him. It was a little, spiky thing that threw out dozens of arms and covered these arms with green and grew larger at the rate of about an inch every two seconds. There were dozens of these things all around him now. When they were nearly as tall as himself he saw what they were. Trees!
…The tree which Digory had noticed was now a full-grown beech whose branches swayed gently above his head. They stood on cool, green grass, sprinkled with daisies and buttercups. A little way off, along the river bank, willows were growing. On the other side tangles of flowering currant, lilac, wild rose, and rhododendron closed them in. The horse was tearing up delicious mouthfuls of new grass…
Polly was finding the song more and more interesting because she thought she was beginning to see the connection between the music and the things that were happening. When a line of dark firs sprang up on a ridge about a hundred yards away she felt that they were connected with a series of deep, prolonged notes which the Lion had sung a second before. And when he burst into a rapid series of lighter notes she was not surprised to see primroses suddenly appearing in every direction. Thus, with an unspeakable thrill, she felt quite certain that all the things were coming (as she said) “out of the Lion’s head”. When you listened to his song you heard the things he was making up: when you looked around you, you saw them….
The Lion was singing still. But now the song had once more changed. It was more like what we should call a tune, but it was also far wilder. It made you want to rush at other people and hugh them or fight them. It made Digory hot and red in the face. But what the song did to [him] was nothing compared with what it was doing to the country.
Can you imagine a stretch of grassy land bubbling like water in a pot? For that is really the best description of what was happening. In all directions it was swelling into humps. They were of very different sizes, some no bigger than molehills, some as big as wheelbarrows, two the size of cottages. And the humps moved and swelled till they burst, and the crumbled earth poured out of them, and from each hump there came out an animal. The moles came out just as you might see a mole come out in England. The dogs came out, barking the moment their heads were free, and struggling as you’ve seen them do when they are getting through a narrow hole in a hedge. The stags were the queerest to watch, for of course the antlers came up a long time before the rest of them, so at first Digory thought they were trees. The frogs, who all came up near the river, went straight into it with a plot-plot and a loud croaking. The panthers, leopards and things of that sort, sat down at once to wash the loose earth off their hind quarters and then stood up against the trees to sharpen their front claws. Showers of birds came out of trees. Butterflies fluttered. Bees got to work on the flowers as if they hadn’t a second to lose. But the greatest moment of allows when the biggest hump broke like a small earthquake and came the sloping back, the large, wise head, and the four baggy-trousered legs of an elephant. And now you could hardly hear the song of the Lion; there was so much cawing, cooing, crowing, braying, neighing, baying, barking, lowing, bleating, and trumpeting.”
It seems we’re a culture that likes the idea that romantic love can cure our loneliness and insecurities. And so many of us, especially myself, have bought into this lie. The only freedom from loneliness is found in our relationship with Jesus. It’s only His perfect love that has the power to cast out fear - even fears of being alone. Jesus died to save us - proving that He will never give up on us, that He’ll never let us go, and that we don’t ever have to be alone again.
Why does it always turn out that as soon as I decide to write a novel-length blog my server refreshes and my entry gets lost before I can save a draft?
Let’s start this again, but get straight-to-the-point.
Tonight I will be pulling an almost-allnighter. Currently I have who-knows-how-many shots of caffein pulsating through my veins (I probably do this a total of two times a year - one designated night per semester as a final sprint), and so the likelihood of me getting any sleep (by choice or otherwise) tonight is slim. So, I’m taking a break from studying to chronicle the coffee stain that’s been sitting with me for the past semester, and vinegar that got it out.
It makes sense, I promise.
It’s been a while since I’ve written a long, transparent, and vulnerable blog, mostly because I’ve grown to realize the value of keeping certain things private and of handwriting them in a journal as opposed to publishing them on an online forum where potential boyfriends might find them and use my inner thoughts and vulnerability against me.
Ok, so potential boyfriends have never actually used my blogs against me. But still, it could happen.
Nonetheless, here I am ready to embark on said blog of vulnerability, for several reasons:
I need a break from studying, and today has been a long day full of cathartic greatness that should be documented, and I’m fidgety from all of the caffeine and lacking social inhibitions because of my literal exhaustion and artificial energy
I really believe that some of the truths I stumbled across today could be seriously edifying to whoever might stumble across my blog. I hope, anyway
Most of me hopes that some of the people that I care about and who have had to deal with me and my struggles the past couple of months will read this and maybe understand (and maybe even forgive) me.
So here we go.
Coffee and vinegar.
A couple of days ago I got a coffee stain on my favorite dress. I knew that vinegar would get it out, but I still waited several days before finally deciding to work on it - partially because I was a little afraid that the stain wouldn’t come out. But, I finally saturated the stain with vinegar and, sure enough, I woke up the next day to a perfectly spotless dress.
Same thing with my life.
So, albeit a trite analogy, let’s run with it, shall we?
My coffee stain has been my depression, failure, and struggles this past semester. Blame it on a shift of focus due to a new (albeit exciting) relationship, loss of focus, tragedy in the family, insecurity and lack of trust in God’s plan for me, laziness, the list goes on…
I’ve been left crying over the spoiled fruit of my neglected labor this past semester, and neglected God in the process.
Today I finally decided to crack open my dusty Bible (I bet you saw this one coming…that’s the vinegar!) and spend a good chunk of time in the Word and prayer.
Seriously, Marilyn, one good study session can’t have fixed all of your problems.
And it didn’t. Truthfully, there’s going to be a lot of time, hard work, forming of new habits, persistence, and constant reminding of the Truth in order to learn and grow from my mistakes this semester before “all of my problems are fixed” and even then, we all know I’ll just make up new ones to deal with ;)
So maybe my one study session wasn’t my all-miraculous “vinegar.”
But God is.
How beautiful is that?
God cleaned my stain, and always will.
Actually, it’s more like my dress is made of vinegar. God saturated me with this inability to be stained the moment he justified by through faith in his promise, and the stain was more of a hallucination - I’m spotless as soon as I’m reminded of the Truth.
Ok, enough of the coffee stain. I hate it when people drag analogies to the ground, especially trite lame ones that don’t really make much sense anyway ;)
My favorite passage in scripture can be found in Galations:
I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.
Paul goes on to say:
But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law died to the Law that I might live to God.
For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
How many people are concerned about salvation, but want no part of crucifixion to self-life?
I’ll admit to that.
"Let us remember that no man can perform the crucifixion himself, this is the work of God in our lives. All we can do is mutilate; however, to exchange the self-life for the Christ-life is the mystery of the work of God in the inner man. How precious to believe God and experience the newness of life in Christ Jesus…Go forth in active faith believing God for what He has done for you. Do not set aside the grace of Go with the false concept that salvation is obtained by works or by self-made character."
- from the Explorer’s Study Bible
As for me? I can’t believe how fixated on myself I’ve been lately - no wonder I’ve been completely miserable!
"Love does not seek its own"
Forgot about that one for a while. I’ve been so consumed with what I think I need and how people in my life are failing to meet those needs, and wasting time thinking up all of these profound things to say to prove them wrong and that I’ve been wronged.
And then what.
It’s far more important to be in relationship than it is to be right. The main reason I think I’m so ensnared to pull a “Tyra Banks” on the people I love is because there is an element of truth in wanting to have “justice” and bringing certain transgressions to the light under the guise of redemption and growth. But, in reality, what am I really seeking?
Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light, and is the mastermind of mixing truth with a skewed and detrimental perspective - all the way back to the garden, his temptation began with “Didn’t God say…?”
If I’m completely honest with myself, what I would be seeking with a raw confrontation of all the things I wish a loved one would do or wouldn’t do would be validation, affirmation, and submission. As true as some of my claims may be, the result of bringing them up at the wrong time and with the wrong motives would be catastrophic, and hurtful on both ends, and certainly not God’s best.
So, then. In light of the Gospel, what is God’s best for me in this situation?
To seek first His kingdom, His righteousness, His glorification, and His power in my life. Which means:
acting and speaking toward my loved ones with love, understanding, and compassion
fleeing from my manipulative nature and tendencies
finding my validation and worth in God alone
investing my time and resources in growing and cultivating the gifts God has given me
Then, "all these things"/everything else will be "Added until me":
God will make it clear what needs to be brought up, and help me discern at what time and how
things will pan out the way they need to without me manipulating the situation
the “extras” in my life, the cherries on top, the “sprinkles” will come when they need to, no sooner, no later.
The main thing I’m learning is that all of these things and relationships that I’ve been idolizing and fixating all of my attention and worry on are just the “extras.” They’re not essential; they’re not my oxygen. Something added and great and fun, but not something that should be central to my being and who I am and what brings me ultimate joy or makes me “tick.”
All of my stress and depression and anxiety comes from idols - taking the extras and placing them out of their context. Idolizing imperfect creations that can’t help but fail and let me down by nature. It’s not fair to me to have put these relationships in that position, and it’s certainly not fair to them.
No human can be my “all-and-all”, and only God can give me what I’m looking for in them.
voicemail from my sister, “Hey, so I’m sitting in the practice room going over some music and I started reminiscing over graduation last year and then remembered how we got all that money from relatives and how I didn’t end up writing a lot of thank you cards like I was supposed to. Then I…
In many ways, tonight was the spark that reignited a flame that had been growing dull for some time now.
Three steps forward, two steps back.
Then why do I always feel like I’m running myself around in circles?
I triumph over supposed conquests to find that not much about my insecurities, fears, and weaknesses ever really change after all; they merely show up in different colors. My personal thorns in the flesh.
Do we all have them? The same fixations, obsessions; they visit me over and over in more eloquent language and disguised as maturity.
Daily surrender. Painful surrender.
As it turns out, I can never “rise above” like I tell myself I will.
I must be risen as He was risen, and certainly not by my own power.
Socially, there’s no range of reactions more dispiriting than perceiving that you have been mentally/silently reprimanded for your earnest disposition, vivacity, or readiness for life.
Where have all the alive people disappeared to? Oh, that’s right - they’re too busy doing things!
If I appear bodily awkward and disconnected, it’s only because the strings between my soul and body have been plucked - one by one - and reattached to the marionette strings of society, leaving me jerky and disjointed, controlled by an emotionless machine. I’m regaining myself, but my acclamation to myself is akin to squinting at the sun after emerging from a dark room - I’ll get there.
Silence is far more demeaning than mindless consent. Silence is cowardly, insecure, unsure. Since when is confidence in my emotions foolish? True that some things are better left unsaid, but contrary to the popular notion, I’d far rather speak too much if at least some of it rang true, than keep silent, leaving room for doubt. What is so wrong with being verbose? Expressive? Silence is a facade, a weak shield, a wall, a dungeon. I want no part of it.
The intimate connection between the mind and that which is tangible - permanent speech. Power, meaning, intimacy, history, expression. Why let any gem of thought go without being recorded? How can you recognize a gem if you never clean off the dust through the refining and cathartic process of organizing it on paper?
Everything is ironic; anyone who says differently is either extremely arrogant or overwhelmingly sardonic in and of themselves.
Things will never be less complicated, less busy, less involved, or matters less pressing than they are now. What are you waiting for?