Muddled Child

Today I’m posting something I didn’t write specifically for here. It is a self -evaluation of sorts, which leaves much unexplored, but it says enough, I think.

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I hastily scribbled today: “A mess by any other name is Veronicah.” [Actually, I wrote my real name, but anyways…]  So true. It seems that most teens have permission to flounder  and rebel before coming to solid faith, but I have not given myself that permission. So I linger somewhere in no man’s land, loving the tortured characters, possibly more than the Church, and guiltily beating myself up for my many failings.

I live, not in the sure fire intimacy with God of my earlier years, but not in a state of outright rebellion either. People see in me what they want to see. They define me, though I hardly know how to define myself. Francis Chan said I should crucify my flesh, but I am not sure that I’m doing that. Some others said that I need to take away the stones (myself) in the cup so I can add more water (God). I’m not sure if I’m doing that either.

Instead I’m living day to day, reading the Word, and trying to live in the moment. Some nights I feel God more than others. Many nights I pray for the hurting souls. Occasionally I pray for myself. I fail, and I cry, and I am not the model Christian. I struggle to say “Blessed be the name of the the Lord.” in all circumstances, and often I lash out when I feel abandoned. I don’t listen to God or others enough. I don’t know what is in my future.

Often, my sustenance and healing are found in music and story instead of Jesus. I don’t turn there right away. I am “a mess by any other name”, the muddled child of so many different influencers, so I will embrace the art and ask God to keep working in His mysterious way.

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Categories: Journey Prologues., My Life | Tags: , , , , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Muddled Child

  1. A mess is quite okay, my friend! I loved this post, talking about messes:

    http://kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com/2013/12/can-you-imagine-stench-joseph-has.html

    ‘And God says, “I’m here now, and I am ok with the mess because I am here for the messy.”’

    Sometimes we get caught up trying to figure out how to be there for Christ, forgetting that we have it totally backwards and that Christ is there for us, as we have nothing to offer Him and He has everything to offer us.

    • Your words have so much wisdom as always. Same with Katie’s. The way she framed the old story was beautiful and eye opening… perfect for the Christmas season and this season of my journey!

  2. You are right that there is this social idea that it is okay for teens to “flounder” or “be a mess” with the following social expectation that after we finish that teen thing we’ll have that “solid faith” and not flounder anymore. But God doesn’t have those categories of “teen” and then “adult” with different expectations. All Christians are God’s children, and they are not measured by chronological age, nor by how well they “have it together.”

    Just like it is a fiction that being “grown up” means finally having all the answers, so also “being an adult” doesn’t mean no longer floundering. You seem to admit that you may be holding yourself to a standard that others in your age group are not held too–but perhaps you are just simply holding yourself to a standard of your own making, and not God’s standard. If you have problems with accepting yourself as a mess now, but try to comfort yourself with the idea that you are a teenager and so it should be “okay” at the present time, what are you going to do when you are no longer a teenager and discover you are still a mess?

    As someone living on the other side of the number 2-0, I can say things didn’t magically change, and in fact the troubles can become more troublesome.

    You said, “People see in me what they want to see. They define me, though I hardly know how to define myself.” That is true, but don’t forget to put the shoe on the other foot. How much are you seeing in other people what you want to see, and defining them though they hardly know how to define themselves? Who do you hold up as the Christian ideal of “solid faith” who would not see and define themselves that way? Is what you think you see in others as much a mirage as you feel others see in you?

    This is the place where many people would tell you to “cut yourself some slack” or some similar phrase, but from a Christian perspective I think that is an unhelpful phrase. We should not confuse resting in God’s grace with cutting ourselves some slack. In the latter case, we will either eventually run out of slack to give ourselves, or else give ourselves slack all the way to hell. God’s grace isn’t like that.

    So what is God’s grace like?

    Rather than give you some kind of pat answer, I’ll share a story and a song to perhaps spur some thinking.

    It was a few weeks ago when one Sunday someone shared a struggle they had. They were going through a personal health problem, and were (understandably) upset over it, and praying about it. Then God showed this person that she was focused on her problem, and not focused on God and resting and rejoicing in Him. I found this convicting because I saw how I, too, can make my prayer life into a act of problem management instead of an expression of resting in God. It is almost as if I had the implicit sense that if I didn’t get the right amount/number/type of prayers to deal with my screwed up life, and the lives of those around me, then the ball was going to be dropped and everything will just fall to pieces. But that attitude in prayer isn’t resting in God, or rejoicing in God. Right prayer is found in acknowledging that God knows our needs even before we ask, and His faithfulness in providing for our needs is not dependent on us being able to figure all the needs out ourselves and offer up the right prayers to Get God Moving. I found this a much needed reminder that I need to pray to God from a position of truly resting in Him alone.

    Where do we find grace expressed, and solid faith demonstrated? It is not in having all the answers, or having it all figured out, or in offering up just the right prayers. Faith and grace is found resting in God alone.

    And the song is Psalm 62 I was going to include this in my next email, but I’ll give it to you early here 😉

    • You’re so encouraging as always (read sarcasm). Really though, at least your honest that it doesn’t get better in many ways. I appreciate that. Also you challenge me to turn my lens back on myself. I try not to box people in little definitions.

      Ironically I learned something similar to your story in prayer last weekend.

      Finally, the music was beautiful, and encouraging. Thanks for sharing!

      P.S. Thanks for your latest tip for my report. I’m trying to pull out of my laziness from break and get to work on that again. Ha! I said I wanted to work on that over break didn’t I? Well that didn’t work out.

      • That’s me, a little ray of sunshine! 😉 But seriously, I read back over my comment and I probably could have leavened it with a few more words of encouragement. The tone of the comment was provoked in a large part from the fact that I remember when I was 14, 16, etc and I looked at my confused and struggling self and in some way comforted myself with the thought “I may be messed up now, but surely by the time I reach age X I will be awesome, wise, and have it all together.” Okay, so maybe I didn’t think it exactly like that, but such was the sentiment. Now I am in the place where I am starting to hit those age markers of wisdom and maturity which I set for myself and I find myself wrestling with the fact that I’m not the awesomely wise and having-it-all together person I imagined I would be. Thus the inner questions, “Is God not faithful? Have I screwed up? Or was the standards and ideas that my younger self projected on my future self the wrong conception?”

        I see the last question as hitting on the truth. As I have grown older I have grown more into the feeling of being weak, and understanding little. But I don’t think that is wrong. I think godly wisdom and maturity is seeing more clearly how little we understand, and how weak we are, and in that coming to more fully rest in God. Thus the direction my previous comment took. “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10). Perhaps ending on that will turn the train of thought more in the direction of hope.

        As for Ivan Illich (nobody else is going to understand this weird aside) after I sent you that bit I came up with a few more links on him and made a little post of it. You can see that here.

  3. Anonymous

    I love how you said you don’t want to live “floundering” lifestyle. I’m the same way – I want to live above and beyond what the world and even Christians right around me expect me to live. I don’t want to live the average teen life. I want to do more than most do. I don’t know if you’ve ever read “Do Hard Things” or looked at the Rebelution website – probably you have. But if you haven’t, you need to…here’s the link. http://therebelution.com/
    1 Timothy says, “let no man despise thy youth, but be thou an example to the believers…”. I want to make that my motto verse and live it out to the fullest I possibly can!!

    • Yay that I’m not the only one who doesn’t want to flounder, and yay to the book Do Hard Things, which I have read. At the moment it seems like the small hard things are all consuming.

      It is scary to me how like everyone else I can be at times though…I was reading a college psychology textbook the other day and was creeped out at how closely they labeled my last five years.

  4. Peace.
    Do I hear a cry for it?
    Echos of Eternity in your heart
    Wanting something – not sure where to start.
    Do they understand?
    Rebellion.

    Not really but you feel it
    Deep inside all welling up in tears and claws and darkness
    Joy comes in the mourning.
    Joy comes in the morning.

    God is Love.
    God loves people.
    You love people.
    Are you God?
    No.

    So why does it hurt so much when you aren’t exactly like Him?
    When grey becomes reality and your hand reaches out and there’s nothing?
    When the people care but they’re not really there and you’re not their picture of perfection.

    Dripping.
    Slipping.
    It’s supposed to go the other way.

    Peace.
    Joy.
    Knowing the fullness
    Being the fullest

    Did I say it wrong?
    Does it matter?
    The rocks will stay
    night or day
    you can’t take them out.
    you can’t put him in.

    ask.
    don’t try.
    hold on till the blessing comes.
    Psalm 30
    forever.

    • Just wanted to say very good comment, Delightoverme. There were several parts of your poem that I liked, but in particular you wrapped it up very well:

      The rocks will stay
      night or day
      you can’t take them out.
      you can’t put him in.

      ask.
      don’t try.
      hold on till the blessing comes.
      Psalm 30
      forever.

      Pslam 30 forever, amen!

    • You asked me the other day if I read the poem, and I didn’t know what poem you meant at first, and I think that tainted my answer. So, I wanted to reassure you that I do like your poem, and it captures everything perfectly. I’ve been a bit tongue tied writing-wise lately, thus it is lovely that someone else can capture my feelings. I didn’t know you wrote poetry, but now I do, and you’ve wet my appetite for more.

      Also, the link connected to your blog this time, and I have read and caught up. It looks like you’ve been writing more than me lately. 😉 I don’t really know what to say in response except that it’s really interesting how God works in different ways with different people. Very cool.

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