sabbath free writes
creating is messy. for every piece I love, tenfold more I have tossed to the side. on sabbath, I set aside time to press against this temptation towards perfectionism.
no edits. no planning. no thinking. a free hand. a free mind.
this chaos ought not to be tossed aside,
for there is much beauty and glory to Him
in the mess as in the finished product.
far from eloquent, at times left unfinished and fragmented,
beautifully chaotic thoughts.
8.7.2020 - F E M A L E.
I keep landing on this topic of gender and sex lately.
I keep painting it, doodling it, pondering it, living it, speaking it, questioning it, rejoicing in it — just to question it all over again. Gosh, it’s overwhelming: the differences, similarities, and beautiful complexities between men and women.
Of course biased to myself as a woman in sex & gender, alas I have found a recurring theme: the power, bravery, and beauty of “female.”
This question has captured my mind: what does it mean to be female? One of the most complex identities to hold in this world. Gentle yet brave, powerful yet still ever-so-dependent to the Father’s heart…
To be female is to courageously endure a seemingly never-ending push and pull of constant tensions and contradictions; is it not?
We are taught that our identity is not found in others.
// And yet, the very same Voice that tells us so is also the One who instilled in us a deep desire to serve, nurture, build, protect, and comfort others. How is it that our identity is not to be found in the very place we’ve been innately gifted to serve with all of our being?
We are told that men do not define us.
// And yet, singleness is seen as an unfortunate and contagious life calling. And yet, we are gifted with strong voices, captivating demeanors, and beautiful features that call men & the world to:
& BE INSPIRED BY… the beauty, curvature & power of “female.”
We have a call to encourage, build, & strengthen the hearts of man & woman. How could we possibly live in a world where we are not defined by others? GOD, why would You write this complexity and contradiction into our hearts? To be fully enough in You, but want so much more? Is life not confusing enough?
It is one of the most complex and yet intoxicating dynamics the Lord wrote into existence - that the sexes have such power and responsibility to either build one another up into the man or woman the Lord intended, or to tear one another down and aid in the enemy’s plan toward destruction.
But that is where His Art comes in... to which there is no textbook answer. Praise God for the lack thereof, for life would be much too boring with it.
6.13.2020 - RUSTLING PAPERS
How desperately I want to cheapen the cross with a burning desire to perform. How desperately we cling to perfectionism for Him. In a desire to give Him what we know He deserves, we hide our beautifully complex, chaotically human selves in the process... The exact nature that requires a Savior in the first place.
Memories swarm my head of parallels to my earthly father. Bringing grade reports back to Dad, gosh, I couldn’t wait to get home and show him how hard I had worked. Though I loved school and learning, I think, at least growing up, I loved his praise even more. Ugh, that sucks to write, but I suppose it's true. That one moment a semester would make all the AP’s worth it. Every time, whether I presented it to him or he somehow found the report card before I did, he would start by proclaiming my full name, almost as if he was angry with me with how well I had done. “Jessica Eileen Moe!” I would almost be embarrassed by his praise, as he just stood, beaming at me, speechless. Finally, he'd break that god awful silence and say, “I’m so damn proud of you.” My heart would rise. I had made my father proud. "Thanks Dad," I'd almost grumble, as if it was no big deal and he was totally "overreacting."
While far from a child showing her dad a report card, I hate to admit how much I still crave this reaction. I find myself wanting to energetically run to Jesus, “Dad! Look! Look! Look what I did for You! That was for You! Did You see it? Wait, hold on, watch me, I’ll do it again!” He beams, of course. I imagine Him almost chuckling at my childlikeness. “Yes, that’s very good, Princess,” He says, as I sort of twirl my dress in front of Him. Children or not here on earth, we're all little girls and boys all over again in the fullness of His presence.
It’s beautiful, yes. Eve’s original design begins to peak out, and the lies of our identities in anything other than Him dissipate faster than they once formed.
But here arises the problem. When the inevitable time of failure comes, when there are no grades to report, or perhaps (heaven forbid!!!!!!) bad grades to report, the greatest lie creeps in: “Go. Run and hide. He doesn't want to see that.”
I think to myself, “Jesus, not now. I’m not ready yet. I have a few more things to finish up and then I promise it will be better than anything you’ve ever seen before. I promise, let me just clean this up really quickly.”
Then comes the distraction. The rustling of papers, the spastic movements in trying to get organized, the anxious heartbeat drum in our ears, knowing time is ticking. It’s all so damn loud. And yet somehow, his piercing, condescending voice peaks through. The voice of the enemy attacks every inch of our beings.
To our pride: "How could you mess up this badly? You're better than that."
To our performance: "Just do everything perfectly this week to balance it out."
To our shame: "Do you really think you could be in His presence again after this? Go and hide."
Amid the noise, I somehow make out my full name from what seems to be a far off place. It's familiar, stoic, warm, and calm. It pierces through the chaos, in a different way than the lies did. The Father’s voice calls out for me to stop.
There are few who call me that name, and it halts me in my tracks as my ears perk up to listen. He speaks again, without hesitation in His voice: “Where are you?”
I know He knows precisely where I am; I can feel His eyes looking right at me! Watching me flail at what I’m trying to do for Him. I know He's saying, “Where are you trying to go with all of this? Can't you see it's a dead end?”
I reluctantly put the papers down. Sharp exhale. Slight embarrassment for my silliness in wanting to earn His love once again. It just doesn't make sense??? Hesitant to believe, once again, that He really could love me without the report cards.
He knows I'm still confused.
“Come to Me.”
Deep breath in, though it pains me, I leave the papers there, drown out the noises, and turn to Him.
5.24.2020 - OVERTHINKER'S DELIGHT
Do you ever think about the fact that some things need to not be thought about? Like, we get it. Denial is not healthy, and I think anyone with a well and good conscience would agree. But what about for our overthinkers, our planners, our truth seekers of the world? For those who naturally tend to think about everything, could it be that there are some things that simply “are,” and that is all there is to it?
We need these kinds of thinkers - YES - good grief, we need them. Where would we be without those who challenge the status quo, question everything, come to an overarching, yet vague conclusion, only to challenge it once over? I may go so far as to say, we would not be so technologically, relationally, nor psychologically advanced without our beloved truth seekers, innovators, question-askers. But I have also come to find, it is within these patterns that are so admirable and necessary for human development that we also see a sort of modern day torture begin to evolve. Paralysis by analysis, fear of the unknown, fear of making a next move unless the answers are laid out clear (the way life so rarely tends to do…). Or how about frustration in the inability to fully grasp the vast black hole of information offered in the internet. Oh and did I mention, it’s in our back pockets?
Stick with me here. I believe asking questions and processing things and considering the unknown is good. It moves humanity forward; it helps heal wounds; it paves way for new patterns, new habits, new life. But what happens when you face an aspect of life to which there is no objective answer? To which a Google search cannot bring even the slightest of clarity? What now?
There’s no Oxford Dictionary definition for how to know you’re in love. There’s no Web MD for where to lean on a big decision, nor the wisdom needed to choose between a greater of two evils.
There’s no textbook for marriage, or battling questions of identity.
There aren’t enough conversations with wise counsel in the world that could tell you how to know who you are.
These are the intangibles, the great mysteries of life, the rights of passage one might say. The questions to which, if we knew the answer right away, what a mundane and tragically boring life we would live.
Imagine: there being a sure definition to love. An exact handbook for how to make life altering decisions. A one-size fits all book to know your identity and understand your heart. How absolutely tragic… What mystery of life would be left for us to discover?
We can ask the questions, prod at the unknowns, push our limits yes. And please do! This is part of being human. Question it all! Explore! Conversate! Do all the things, please. Keep humanity moving forward. But my fellow overthinkers, sometimes (in fact, much of the time), there is nothing more to question. There is nothing to think about, ponder, or consider. There are times to just be, to let things unfold, to allow time to pass over you, to sit, and above all, to enjoy. To delight in the unknown. The beautiful mysteries. As a friend of mine would put it, even if it takes putting a pencil in between your teeth for 60 seconds and watching your brain lift out of the crippling desire to “crack the code” of life, do it. And laugh at how ridiculous you look in the process.
4.26.2020 - THE TREASURE
“What a shame it would be that when this is all over, we were the exact same.”
There is a slow sweetness, perhaps better termed as a sweet slowness, to life right now. Last night, two friends and I gathered (from 6 ft. apart), and considered this profound question: How do we protect this treasure we have found here? Now that we’ve tasted life at a pace it ought to be, how in the world will we go back?
Just a few weeks ago, I found myself craving the office. The watercooler conversations. I deemed this craving a form of “desiring normalcy.” Nonetheless, there was a little bit in me that just knew, the time was not yet ripe. Surely, God would not allow this season for only four weeks. That didn’t quite seem like Him. He is much too patient. There is more to come.
And now, just a handful of days later, it seems there has been a sudden shift in my heart. I crave more of this. I want more slow days. I want unhurriedness. I need more room to breathe, to enjoy, to look around and see how bright the colors are that He made. What was once a sour impatience has turned to the sweetest craving. What was once a dreadful halt to normal life, has turned to tasting a version of pure rest and unhurried life - life as it ought to be.
Fear began to move upward from my chest to my face as it all began to dawn on me. How would I go back to constant movement? Days on end in the office, a commitment every night, and weekends planned weeks in advance. Will employers expect us to be the same? Will our friends expect immediate responses? Will family go back to being taken for granted? Will first responders and educators go overlooked once again? Surely, the answer to all of these things must, at the very least, be: “God, help us not let it be so.”
How do we protect this treasure we have found?
1.25.2020 - SUN
The sun has always been a god thing for me. Idk if it’s because of the golden tint or the warmth it brings -- or perhaps it’s the fact that it finds its way to bring light into every crevice and space it touches. That is SO symbolic it kills me. Maybe it’s the absolute grandeur and magnificence in that it’s a burning ball of fire some odd million miles away, and yet I can still feel its physical presence every single day. This is so weird but I legitimately used to put on black clothing and lay out in the sun in the dead middle of summer so that I could feel the sun warm up my entire body. How could something so far away, so grand in its duties and strength, feel so tangibly present, even as I prostrate myself on the ground?
I’ll say again, the sun has always been a God thing for me.
Can you see the connection yet?
Even more, how fascinating is it that our bodies NEED the sun - or more specifically vitamin D - to survive? Without it, our ability to absorb calcium is compromised and our bones can begin to decay. Like what? God literally made our bodies dependent on sunlight. It’s like it’s written in our DNA that we need to learn to be at peace with trusting some external source of power for sustenance and growth.
What I find even more fascinating is the sun’s effect on our mood. Have you ever been outside on a cloudy day when suddenly, the clouds part for just a brief moment and a bright light shines through, warming the top of your head. You can’t help but stop mid sentence, mid thought, mid action - only to look up and smile. These are the moments I literally catch myself slowing down. Sometimes even saying, “Oh hi God!”
He’s everywhere. It’s written in our DNA; it’s written in our Earth.
If you ever need a reminder of how much He cares for you, or how close He is, just look up. Just feel the warmth of the sun.