What has the locust eaten in your life?
Kenton and I religiously watch Dancing with the Stars. It's happy. We love the dancing. And there are stories. Last night it had me choking back sobs. A contestant I'd previously stiffed my nose towards had me reeling with empathy after she shared the story of losing her mom to cancer. Kenton looked over with concern, then mused, "Vulnerability just connects people." All the reasons I would have not voted for that contestant no longer mattered. She's real to me now.
Since January this year, I've been walking out of a hole in the ground. I've shared that we lived in a small town for three years, but I've never shared that those 3 years, while laced with sporadic beauty and joy, were overall pretty difficult. Maybe one day I'll get as real as that DWTS contestant, but for now I'll just share that I've been on a journey of recovering my sense of self.
Part of this journey has been discovering how I protect myself from pain. I've learned that 9 times out of 10, it is by controlling my choices, and always making the right one, that I avoid discipline or suffering of any kind. Basically, I always did/do the right thing. Maybe you can relate. You don't want do screw up and suffer the consequences. You'd rather do it right the first time and be in the clear with yourself and others. To a certain degree, this ingrained behavior can have honorable motives. I mainly just didn't want to hurt other people. But I also really didn't want to hurt myself. So as long as I was meeting the expectations of people who knew me, they were good with me and I was good with me. No demerits, no wrinkles in relationships, no problems.
Well there was a problem. At a certain point, the system will break. And then you're left with the reality that the system originally implemented to be a protector, has actually been a thief. There are so many things I didn't do in my life because I was afraid to fail, afraid of what people would think, afraid it would hurt or cause damage I wouldn't know how to manage. A one word way to describe this is fear. Choosing the safe side looks like the best, most logical choice, but in the end, it's dangerous. More damage is done hiding in the dark than free falling in the light. All my safe choices built a little cage around me and I lived within it for many years. I had no idea I relied so heavily on doing the right thing to be okay. So it took God moving me to the wilderness of small town Texas and stripping away everything I knew to really see that.
Fear is a prison guard.
Faith is a patriot.
And patriots do crazy stuff. Peter. Paul. Stephen. Martin Luther. Mother Teresa. ... Jesus.
This morning as I did a mental scan of all the times fear kept me on the sidelines, I remembered a bible verse about bugs:
So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten..
God is about redemption, right? I mean it's like his main deal. He sent Jesus to give us another shot, to redeem us. So that's the first part of the good news: nothing in your life or my life is beyond the redemption of Jesus Christ. God will restore to me the years, the chances, the dreams that fear has eaten.
For we live by believing and not by seeing.
2 Corinthians 5:7
Faith is bug spray. Open up the can of belief and exterminate the locusts. Real life--joy, peace, love, contentment--that's the real stuff attained only through invisible means. I've lived by sight for a lot of my life. Doing the things I knew would be "safe" and protect me from failing and disappointing people. I didn't even know I was doing that. But now that I do, I know that real life is not found through sight--what I see is the 'right' thing to do--but through faith. So I know all that stuff the locusts named Fear and Doubt ate can and will be redeemed, because faith is bug spray, and God is the exterminator. And He's always available and free of charge because Jesus paid the bill.
This blog post is a thought barely formed, so maybe it's not fully making sense to you, but I don't care. I mean, I do sincerely apologize if this has been confusing and a huge waste of your time to read. But I don't care if this post is imperfect. I'll hit "publish" in a minute and let the imperfections in my writing be vulnerability. I'm still learning all of this. I had a lot of pressure on myself to have a lot of things figured out by late 28, but I'm beginning to see that it's actually taken me this long just to discover that I really have a lot of work to do to undo all those years of effort of trying to have it all together. Funny, right? Keeping it all together is actually what tore me down. This time I'll do it differently. I'm going to just do stuff. I'm going to speak from the heart and not from the head. I'm not going to care what people think or if I'm meeting expectations - theirs or mine. I'm going to have dreams. Dye my hair pink and buy lots of succulents. I'm going to pursue dreams. And probably take dance classes. I'm going to do all this, and I'm going to hold a can of bug spray as I do. And I'll start by hitting publish.
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