Tag Archives: despair

Muchness

2 Apr

Lost my muchness, have I?

Yes, I’m about to jump on the Mad Hatter bandwagon, but not because of Johnny Depp, don’t worry. After watching the new Tim Burton version of “Alice in Wonderland” a couple weeks ago, I left the theater with one word in my head.

Muchness.

You used to be much more… muchier. Yes, you were much more Alice the last time we met. You have lost your muchness.

– Mad Hatter

As I listened to the Hatter say this to Alice, I couldn’t help but feel like he was saying it to me as well. Like, directly to me. It was as if he said my name instead of Alice’s. I mean, what was that? What did he say? He thinks I’ve lost my muchness? Me?? Everything in me sat up and started paying attention as I realized that I too had lost my muchness… and I became Alice in that moment. I felt just as small as she was in that scene. All of a sudden I grew incredibly self-conscious and uncomfortable, as if I had really just been called out in front of a huge theater full of strangers and friends alike, certain they could all see right through me — to every insecurity I had hidden inside. Did the Mad Hatter just air my dirty laundry? How embarrassing.

But we all go through this at some point. We all lose our way, take a different turn than we thought we would, get confused, stumble down a rabbit hole. We all go through times where we feel as though we have lost a piece of ourselves, of who we are, or who we once were. We lose sight of our dreams, we misplace our passions and sense of wonderment. Somewhere along the way, we decided (consciously or not) that we would rather drown in the expectations of others than stay true to our own path and who we really are. Add on job/career stress and grown-up responsibilities and before we know it, we barely recognize that face in the mirror. Its older, yes, but its missing something other than youth.

Where is our muchness? That spark? That fire and passion and sense of wonderment? What happened to our heart and focus and even sanity? Don’t we want to be all that we were meant to be? In full? In much muchness?

I do.

But here I am, feeling small and insignificant and lacking much muchness. What can I possibly do? Throw myself a pitty-party, obviously.  Because that helps…  oh wait.

Yeah, the Hatter tells Alice she used to be much muchier, and I think that is where we easily get stuck. Thinking about how we used to be so this or that. Looking back is not enough. If you want to reclaim your muchness, you have to do something about it in the here and now.

So I stumbled across one of the Terminator movies on tv a couple weeks ago, and I got sucked in (I cant help it, I love the Terminator movies!) – and there was one scene where John Connor gets all depressy and “why me” talking about how he is never going to be this John Connor that leads the resistance to victory in the future like everyone has been telling him his whole life, and he tells the Terminator to just leave him behind, etc. The Terminator picks him up by the throat and starts to choke him saying “You’re right, you’re not the one I want. Im wasting my time.” To this, John Connor gets angry and starts yelling and cursing at the Terminator. The Terminator releases him, and says “That’s better. Anger is more useful than despair. Basic psychology is among my sub-routines.” Haha.

Anger is more useful than despair.

Terminator

I’m beginning to think the Terminator is right. I can’t accomplish anything while feeling sorry for myself. I have to want to change it, and in a way, that comes from getting angry – angry about the situation, enough to want to do something about it. Of course, anger isn’t always the best way to deal with things, but fighting for something is better than losing all hope, and that’s really where I’m going with this.

I am tried of feeling lost and without hope. I am tired of living in regret and shame. I don’t want that life. That is not LIFE.

I’ve been obsessed with the band 30 Seconds To Mars lately – their newest CD “This Is War” is awesome, but I think there is a deeper reason to why I like it so much. It’s all about… well, war – fighting for victory.  The band members describe the album in some interviews:

There’s no mistake that the record is called ‘This Is War’ – we came back to Los Angeles, went to make an album and the world fell apart… It’s a large part of fighting for what you believe in… We are big believers in freedom and fighting for the truth… There’s a lot of joy and celebration, it’s a very uplifting, very empowering feeling… Even [in the song] ‘Kings and Queens’ there’s a triumphant feeling of the possibilities that we all have, you know, and in ‘This Is War’ I think you feel a confidence and a celebration and a positivity.

-30STM

Change was an important theme this time around and you can feel it. However, as dark and reflective as some of the moments on this CD can be, there is always a huge sense of optimism and celebration. It was a battle. And in a way, it’s about going to war. Going to war with yourself and winning.

– 30 STM

The CD is full of battle songs. The music is a sort of call to arms, a call to fight for the possibilities of a new and better life, or whatever it is you are fighting for. For me, it’s a reminder that I can choose to change. There is a war inside of me, and I am losing, hardcore, because I have given up. I have forgotten to fight. But that is about to change. I can choose to fight to get out of this mess I feel so trapped by. I can fight to reclaim my muchness. I can fight the good fight, the inner struggle of self and sin versus hope and freedom and Truth. I know that God can make me new again, as He has done many times before, but I have to want it. I can fight this fight because in Christ I have already won.

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? – Romans 8:31

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. – I Timothy 6:11-12

So I have decided to fight.  Much like Alice in the final fight of the movie, deciding to fight, showing everyone that she has just as much muchness as ever. We can either stay stuck, fooling ourselves by trying to drive forward when we can’t take our eyes off the rear view mirror… or we can fight.

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greater things

5 Apr

Greater things have yet to come, greater things are still to be done here. (“God of This City” – Chris Tomlin)

Can God make something beautiful out of something so ugly?

I choose to believe the answer is yes.

 1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
       because the LORD has anointed me
       to preach good news to the poor.
       He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
       to proclaim freedom for the captives
       and release from darkness for the prisoners,

 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
       and the day of vengeance of our God,
       to comfort all who mourn,

 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
       to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
       the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
       and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
       They will be called oaks of righteousness,
       a planting of the LORD
       for the display of his splendor.

 4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
       and restore the places long devastated;
       they will renew the ruined cities
       that have been devastated for generations. (Isaiah 61:1-4)

So many promises.

1. Fix the broken hearts. Bind them up. Bandage them. Give them a bugs bunny bandaid and kiss it all better. He brings TRUE and complete healing.

2. Freedom. No longer a slave, no longer a captive, no longer shall we live in captivity. We have been set free. My chains have been left behind. I never have to wear them again. I may have marks where my chains once were, but remember how He brings true and complete healing? His mercy reigns. Unending love. Amazing grace.

3. Release from darkness. Release from the tight grip that darkness once held on us. That tight grip may have left bruises, but remember that thing about how He brings true and complete healing? (sensing a theme here)

4. Comfort all who mourn. Not just some people who mourn. And not condemnation, but comfort. A big hug. A tight embrace. An ear and a shoulder. This is still a mystery to me, honestly, as are most things with God I guess, but truth is truth. When I am mourning, when I am balling my eyes out so hard that my head is pouding and I feel like I cant even breathe, when I feel like all hope is lost, when Im overwhelmed with the “whys” and the “how could yous” and the “so unfairs” – you know exactly what I mean. When you have been hurt, and your anger has turned to mourning, He wants to comfort you. And He is more than capable (its beyond understanding) if you allow Him to.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:7)

5. A crown of beauty instead of ashes. This is one of my favorite lines in all the Bible. I think its because it hits right to the core. I am just ashes. Apart from God, I am nothing.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

And yet, in such a hopeless state, there IS hope. He wants to replace my ashes for beauty. He wants to trade nothing for something. And if youre trading nothing for something, its more like a gift, and not really a trade. Its giving life where there was only death. What love is this? That the King and Creator of the universe cares so much for me? For you and me. For ordinary people. That He gave his life for ours? Its insane. Its intense. Its all or nothing. I think thats why this is one of my favorite quotes:

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. (Jim Elliot)

6. Gladness instead of mourning. Not only does He comfort, but eventually, He wants to replace our mourning with gladness. Seem impossible? Honestly, yes. But thats another crazy thing about God, He loves doing the impossible. Because its not impossible for Him. And why wouldnt we want a God like that on our team?

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

7. Praise instead of a spirit of despair. Thinking back on times where my spirit was one of despair, and the furthest from praise, the furthest from victory, the furthest from the Truth… I did NOT feel like “praise”. Why would I praise God? I was so mad at Him! Praise was the furthest thing from my lips or heart. But I think that maybe if we truly get to know Him better, we understand the truth about who He really is. Not who we think He is. In times where we have a spirit of despair, when we are being suffocated by darkness and depression and hopelessness, if we cling to the REAL Truth – that even in all of this God is at work, making all things work out for our benefit and for His glory, even when we dont see it or understand it or think that its even possible – then maybe we will experience this promise, and we will be forever changed. We will never be the same. In Him we are overcomers.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)

8. Rebuild, restore, renew the ruins and places long devastated. There are places in my life that look and feel like ruins, they have long been devastated. They were destroyed a long time ago. Is it even worth it to go back and rebuild? Why cant I just leave the ruins where they lie? Why cant I just let ruins be ruins? Let destruction reign victorious over just that one or two places? I dont know. Honestly. I think Im okay with some ruins. But apparently, He wants to restore those places – bring them back to life, back to functioning as they were meant to. True and complete healing? Seems like God is in the business of restoration and renewal. Of rebuilding what has been destroyed. Maybe thats why Jesus was a carpenter…. hmmmm!

So WHY?

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:3b)

Oaks of righteousness – like a tree, a big strong glorious perfect-for-tree-climbing oak tree, with deep roots. Theres so much metaphor you could find in that, but the point is, you are “a planting of the LORD” – you are His, and He has made you into something awesome and mighty and strong…. He wants to make you into that, He wants to take whatever you are now, your ugly ashes, your nothingness, your ruins, your broken heart, your anger, your deep sorrow, and do what only He can do: make something from nothing. And not just something, but something awesome, something beautiful, complete, whole, and full of life. And when you allow that transformation to begin, when you accept His love and power into your dead and hopeless life, He works miracles. Thats just what He does. I dont understand it. But I want it. And I can have it. And so can you. Thats what Jesus offers. Change and transformation and love and compassion… and a billion other things, thats what He’s all about. And when God starts something, He finishes it.

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. (Phil 1:6)

God is continually at work in those who desire and follow Him. A life brought from darkness to light, from death to life, from ashes to beauty, is only done so through God’s transformational power. Therefore, our “new selves” bring glory to God, because He is the reason we have been made new and changed for the better. Freedom is only possible in Him. So we are for the “display of His splendor.” For His glory. Our purpose is to praise God.

When I think about the promises He has made, about who He really is (healer, love, freedom, joy, peace…) it helps put things in perspective. Remember the Truth. Speak it, live it. God is doing greater things than we know.

embrace your tomb

2 Apr

So I haven’t posted in a while because school has been kickin my butt and I didn’t really have anything to say… but now I have too much to say, its ridiculous. I blame all my extra thinking time on the fact that I’ve had what I like to call “pseudo-spring break” this week, (I go to 2 different schools, therefore the spring breaks are not the same, but this week I have no daytime classes) leaving me lots of time to think and (prepare for shock) read! *GASP* I know, I know, its just insane. I hardly ever, ever… ever read. Not that I don’t like to, but I just don’t make time for it and, quite frankly, it usually puts me to sleep. But alas, I have been. And it has been gloriously filling my head with all kinds of thoughts that shall now be shamelessly shared with the blogging world. Woah, check out that alliteration stunt I just pulled and didn’t even know it. Such a nerd.

 

PAUSE:  Today is April Fools Day, and I hope to be pranked at least one good time. I love it. I’ve already told a friend I was meeting for lunch that my car wouldn’t start after she already got there, and I texted my parents saying I got more body piercings while they’ve been gone on their trip, which was great. I was going to go with tattoos, but that will probably actually happen one day, so I decided not to press my luck there. Don’t get me wrong, my parents are generally very cool and supportive of my random and sometimes impulsive “cosmetic changes” but there are some things that still make them squirm. Ah, but I love them for it.

 

UNPAUSE:  So check this out. Growing up around a bunch of “Christians” (or those who claimed to be, hence the quotes), I understand how easy it is to slip into a clichéd type of Christianity. I get it, Ive been there, I realize that after a while it’s almost natural to just start going through the motions of what you think (or have been told) the Christian life should look like (or not look like), and that includes using that “Christianese” language with each other. Here, I found this short video that kinda explains what Im talking about:

 

Haha, its sad but true. So yes, I understand it, but I hate it, because that’s not the way it should be. At all. Christianese is not the full truth. It’s a feel-good language. It’s over-used, superficial, empty phrases lacking in power and genuine, authentic, life-as-it-is truth.  Maybe that sounds harsh, but it doesn’t speak of how life really is – it stays far away from the pain and disappointments and hardships of the realities of life. Just cliché words used to worship our cliché version of God.

Sometimes Christians try so hard to lead such uber-spiritual Christian lives where everything is all good and fine because “God is good all the time” and we shouldn’t ever worry about anything and everything will work out in the end, blah blah blah… and don’t get me wrong, those things ARE true, but it doesn’t mean we should pretend that depression and despair don’t exist in our lives. Are we not supposed to speak of the realities of the spiritual life? It’s not all sunshine and roses, kids. Life is painful and ugly sometimes, a lot of times, and we feel overwhelmed, crushed, betrayed, hurt, trapped, depressed, etc. The author of the book I’m reading refers to those times as “when life feels like a tomb.” But here’s the thing: we need to embrace those times when our life feels like a tomb.

A religion that does not embrace the tomb is only a feel-good religion, not an authentic relationship with God…  If we fail to address the soul-stirring questions that the tombs of our lives ask, if we pretend that tombs don’t exist, and we ignore the difficult parts of life and faith, then we will settle for something far less than authentic transformation. (Smith)

 

Authentic transformation. That’s the goal here.

Paul wasn’t afraid to embrace his tomb as he wrote about his hardships. He knew all about feeling crushed and afflicted – and he shared the truth about the way life was for him:

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (II Cor 1:8-9)

 

Paul told it like it was. He had a black belt in keepin it real (thank you Denise). He didn’t hide behind Christianese feel-good language, instead he freely expressed his tomb-like thoughts.  Because when life feels like a tomb, you come face to face with those soul-stirring questions, and that’s when you start to discover more about who God truly is. God is not our cliché version of Him – the one where we have Him all figured out. Who God is will not disappoint us.

 

The transforming moment in Christian conversion comes when we realize that even God has left us. We then discover it was not God, but our image of God, that abandoned us. This frees us to discover more of the mystery of God than we knew. Only then is change possible. (Craig Barnes)

 

Change. Transformation. It all comes back to that. But we cannot experience that powerful transformation or complete abundant life that Jesus offers if we avoid facing the dark places of life. The dark tombs in our lives become the places where God does what only God can do – transform us. Beauty from ashes. Wholeness from broken pieces. We must embrace our tombs. We must die to have life. The tomb is where resurrection happens – it’s the only place where resurrection happens.

 

The end is never the end. The end is the beginning.