Sunday, April 28, 2013

My Last 10% Conversation With God: Richmond Hill Part 5

My Richmond Hill experience ended with more questions than answers, but that's not a bad thing. I've had much to contemplate in the past two weeks.

We were asked to draw (I know - draw??? Even for a creative doodler like me, anxiety loomed large. I don't think I draw well...) our image of God. The crayons and markers sat neatly on the table; each of us were given a piece of heavy, white 11 x 17 paper.

I kept sneaking a look at everybody else's work. 

Do we ever really, truly grow up? 

When I was done, I realized that I'd responded to the prompt in a rather raw, unfiltered fashion. I just started drawing my image of God.

And there He was, in a corner, arms open wide, cloaked in grace and kindness, redemption and restoration. He stood behind a desk, emblazoned with superlatives like "100%!!" "Excellent!" 

And the rest of my drawing was me. Me and my junk.

It was quite artsy; it communicated well. But my heart sank when I saw the truth of what I'd done. 

My image of God..

In response to a request to draw my image of God, I'd filled up the page with me. Me, me, me. Me doing things. My junk filling up all the empty space between me and the Guy behind the desk.

And what's up with that, anyway? God behind a desk? Handing out report cards?


It was good to rip off the heavy covers of busy-ness and see the insidious perfectionist, grace-must-be-earned lies that have snuck back into my heart. Very telling; it exposed the scrape on my heart that stings as I struggle to find my place, tell my story, live my life fully present to the world. To my world. My friends. My family.

My Savior.

It was a last 10% conversation with the One who created me, and it stopped me in my tracks. It stung. It made me sad. I was disappointed in myself. 

But it made perfect sense, and everything clicked into place. I realized the source of some of my more recent struggles. And with that realization, I felt empowered to realign my movements and focus on a right relationship with God, one in which both parties were where they belonged. Without a desk and a bunch of junk floating in the midst of it all.

Two other revelatory moments: I realized, right before the retreat time ended, that I had introduced myself to the other participants with a brief statement revealing The Worst Thing I Ever Did. In my mind, this helps define me - quickly - to others. It tells the depth of this amazing grace; it shouts, "It's not me! It's Christ in me!" 

But the still, small voice that met me there whispered You are not who you used to be and dang it, I know that I know that I know that but could it be that I am clinging to this definition of myself? Could it be that this is unhealthy?

(yes, mom, i know...)

 How do I live in the tension between 
the very reason I know the depth of my need for Christ 
and this new mercy, every morning? 

My thoughts ran up and down the trail of how I see myself, how I choose to identify myself to a handful of strangers, and I wonder. And I know that I did, indeed, need to work on healing my image of God. I know, indeed, that He is calling me around the corner, higher, deeper, wider. Different.

I closed my door for the final time, slung my backback across my shoulders and headed down the hallway. One other retreat participant was still there, packing her things. I stopped to offer a word of encouragement, well aware of the physical and spiritual wrestle she had alluded to during a revelatory moment in our discussion time. I tossed out that perfect Christian phrase, the one that covers any multitude of social awkwardness moments: I'll pray for you.

She said thanks, and then stood up, the fullness of her six-foot frame filling the tiny room. And she said, "Have you forgiven yourself yet?"

And I had no words. I stumbled, bumbled, mumbled...blah, blah, blah. 

She turned back to her bag and said, "Maybe you need to work on that a little more."

Maybe I do.


Lori said...

uh huh......

take your foot off the gas pedal baby and coast a while.
You and I need to sit and talk.


Lori said...

p.s. I forgot to mention a thought I had when you pointed out all those things you placed between you and God.... I was always taught, I use that word loosely that what keeps us from God are the things we place between him and ourselves.

annie said...

Beth, I love your honesty and I love reading about your journey...

Brandee Shafer said...

Just reading about your RH experience. So much of this part resonates with me. I know you know why. I love you so. You are wise and beautiful and kind and just...more gooder than you even know.