Alright, I admit it-- I've never really been one to push the envelope too far. I can tell a few great stories about bullets whizzing over my head in Compton, or living in a mud hut in a refugee camp, and I totally pierced my nose & got a tattoo before... well, before a few other people did... but when it comes down to it, I'm not really much of a risk taker.
My brother-- my brother, on the other hand, was the kind of kid who blew up sticks of dynamite in his friend's toilets, raced cross country dressed as a Super Mario character, outran cops, fired semi-automatic assault rifles for fun (don't worry, it was at a paper target) .... I guess people are just wired differently.
The highlight of most days happens about a half hour after Nolan goes to bed, and I can sip a mug of hot tea while reading a book on the couch in complete silence. A deep sense of calm and inner feng shui settles over me when the dishes are washed, the house is clean, and I can sit & be still. I absolutely love-- love-- that I can wake up early every morning, eat breakfast, pray, do some Pilates & take a shower before my little guy wakes up.
It's not that I'm a super neat, clean, structured person-- I'm actually pretty disorganized & a bit haphazard-- it's just that I really like having control over my space, being able to dictate my schedule, have time to myself, and basically do the things I want to do.
Now, before you start hating my perfect life, let me just say that my pretty picture of Life-As-It-Should-Be and Reality are usually pretty different. I get sick a lot. I travel a lot. We work late nights several times a week, and I often sleep too late to make my ideal morning routine happen. But in my mind, I'm kind of entitled to my own space, my own time, my own schedule & routine & rest & even just a little bit of pampering. Who knows why I believe I should have all that-- maybe I should blame commercials on TV, telling me that I need that vacation, that perfect moment with my cup of coffee, or that chocolate indulgence.
I do know that when those things I'm entitled to-- my sleep, my "me time", my exercise, my quiet-- are taken away, I don't always respond well. I'm realizing that I hold an iron-tight grip on my comfort; that I form an imaginary barrier around my home, trying to ward off any new variables until I can sort out everything I've got in front of me here. Maybe the real issue is that I don't want anyone to see that I don't have it all together.
Like I said, I don't really like to take many risks. I would much rather try to straighten up my little messes around me, and then retreat to the comfort of my couch.
I was confronted with this inconsistency a few weeks back, after having a conversation with someone who has lived most of his life without the option of any of those comforts that I feel so entitled to. It's not that I didn't know that brokenness like that existed in the world, it was the fact that it was sitting across from me at my kitchen table, sharing about a life without family, Home, belonging & care. It's one thing to read about it, to see it in a movie, or even confront it on the street, but all those elements of pain that put a pit in my stomach were in my own comfortable home, telling their story.
I was a bit shaken.
A dull ache settled into my chest. I am too comfortable. I cling to my comfort much too tightly. I wondered about who lived behind the closed doors I could see outside my kitchen window, what they were going through. I thought about how I close my own doors-- both physically & emotionally-- during my "off hours", carefully planning my time with people that I enjoy, who think like me & (for the most part) look like me. I thought about how I live out the teachings of Jesus to a certain point, until it gets too uncomfortable... then I just read about the rest of it from the safety of my own home.
Thoughts like this are scary. They're scary for two reasons: 1) What if I know these things are true, and never act on them, and 2) What if I actually did the things I'm thinking about right now. I've done just enough with my life to know that living a life of risk, openness, and genuine love & care is so very costly & uncomfortable. It is the kind of thing that makes you give when you're empty & worn out, in the middle of the night, when all you need is sleep and time to yourself. That is a difficult thing to walk into. It's not romantic or thrilling; there's no rosy glow around those moments, and you always wish they would have come at a better time.
But, unfortunately, if I'm going to be honest with myself, I know that is what following Jesus looks like. I don't know how I've been able to convince myself otherwise, but I do know that there is a belief that is pretty deeply engrained that I can give my life to my Creator and still be entitled to comfort at least five days out of the week.
I know-- it sucks to think this way, doesn't it? It's so tempting to ask rhetorical questions about self sacrifice, wait for an answer in the silence, and then move on feeling pretty deep & philosophical. But I didn't want to do that.
So, what I'm working in now is a time of extended fasting & prayer. I'll share more about it later, but I can say for now that 2+ weeks into it, it hasn't been pretty. As it turns out, I am incredibly ungraceful in my attempts at openness, self-sacrifice and stepping outside of my comfort zone. But I'm not being too hard on myself.
"To the stars, on the wings of a pig", right?
I pray that this lumbering soul will begin to learn how to fly...