Saturday, August 18, 2012

Time, My Friend

Already I'm writing again? With the way this month has gone, it's a bit surprising to be at it again so soon. But here I am, stew simmering on the stove, glass of wine, some interesting music...and time.

Ah, time. Time has been my friend these last eight months - time to be with people, time to laugh, time to read, time to breathe. I thrive on time. And having loved and lost (Time, that is), I must surrender this beautiful season I've had and take up the new title of "graduate student."

I'm happy to be where I am, absolutely. I feel blessed and honored. I like what I do. It invigorates me to be around so many people who are so intelligent, good at what they do, and somehow still quite interesting. I feel myself getting serious about this and buckling down, getting organized, mechanistically moving forward as if I can't help not to. But I can't decide if I'm walking into a fight or a passion. I guess I'll know on the other side. Perhaps I just recognize that this is a season of life that asks for my everything - and here I am holding on to the beautiful relationships, the fun things, the spiritual downtime etc that I've been blessed with in this last eight months, thinking, You can't have them.

But what can I do? C'este la vie. And la vie is going to change a lot. Responsibility has come knocking on my door. And I do feel responsible to this, you might say. I feel very strongly that I am in the right place at the right time, and that assuages some of my more gnawing realizations about what lies ahead. It's a simple cost-benefit analysis. This is going to cost me a lot. But it will also benefit me a great deal. Either my time is up or my time has come. Maybe both. But time - back to our dear friend time - time will tell.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Finally, Peppers

Well, a very long time ago, I wrote to introduce you to my little pepper plant. It was young then, and I was sharing all of my dewy hopes that it would grow and thrive. (And it has! I can't believe how small it is in that picture!) Anyway, it was a metaphorical writing about how ready and happy I was to wait on the plant's good timing. I was happy simply to water it and watch it grow and take part in what it was becoming, not only desiring it for what it could give back.

A few months ago I was in the middle of lab, teaching a student how to do something when suddenly something on the plant caught my eye. Behold! A flower was budding!! By this time, nearly a year later, peppers registered somewhere next to sea anemones on my list of things to think about. That is to say, it was a pleasant surprise.

As the season went on, I went about carefully pollinating it whenever there were at least two flowers, watching excitedly when I had successfully gotten one. I've mentioned before that I love to watch the science of life play out on numerous levels, so it's probably safe to say I (really) geeked out with my little plant. And for the record, these are amazing in a big pot of chili.

My little plant post-transfer from the lab to my "yard"

Whether you care about my pepper plant or not, there is at least a kernel to take away. It's really not a complicated or even a deep metaphor: a plant bore fruit when it was ready to. Without sounding sage about much of anything, life has its seasons. And seasons are based on conditions, not on feelings. I was ready for peppers when my plant was a year younger and possibly five times smaller! But everything in its season - everything in the proper condition.

The good news is that some of those conditions are constant. If you believe in the Word of God, then whether or not you feel ready for a season, one condition you can count on is God's presence! Whether you feel able or completely incapable, He is mighty to save. Whether you feel loved or not, He has loved us with an everlasting love. He has paid our price. There is no condemnation for those found in Jesus Christ!*

So count on those conditions today. I used to laugh because in all my plant's several-foot-high glory, it did everything it could to plaster itself against my window, where it might just eek more sunlight. Metaphorically, this plant had the right idea! Look to God, turn your whole self toward Him - in His light you grow and survive. You have been planted in this exact place in this exact season for a purpose. So look to God, know it, grow accordingly. His conditions never change.

*Matthew 28:20
 Zephaniah 3:17
 Jeremiah 31:3
 1 Corinthians 7:23
 Romans 8:1

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Song of the Grateful Heart

Wow, what a season this has been, friends. Allow me now, with fresh determination, to share with you a few things. I have a feeling that a few blog posts are going to pop up over the next several days, but I guess we'll have to wait and see.

I was driving home from a morning work day in the Seeds garden, and suddenly became acutely aware of how grateful I am, free in the love of God, of friends, free to stretch my arms and be my whole person, live out in community, share and receive in generosity...At Second Mile, Chad asked us this week if we are full. My answer? Oh, Jesus, yes. A thousand times yes.

Backtrack. This season has been an incredible time of growth for me. It has been a time where God has deliberately asked me to focus in on Him to discuss together my past. I came head to head with the leaving of my father as a child, with the dysfunction of my childhood family, with the abuses of my deceased stepmom, with the way that my own codependency from these issues had twisted my adult relationships...Let me assure you that this time has been a roller coaster. I have wept, I have mourned, I have had very real moments with Jesus...and I have come out restored. As much as I have struggled, fought, and cried, I have even more laughed, played, and enjoyed genuine authentic community. He must become greater, I must become less. (John 3:30) As the uglies from my past were dragged from my heart into the light, they left room for Christ and for joy. As the old Christy, wounded and jaded, has decreased, Christ and the redeemed image-bearing woman He designed me to be have grown and filled the space.

So I ask you...have you dealt with your past? Have you? And it doesn't matter if you feel like you have "a past" or not - For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and so have you. You have been sinned against, you have sinned yourself. We are all the same fallen creation without Christ, not a one of us more holy than the next. Have you been bold enough and vulnerable enough to let God and others have access to those deepest parts of your heart, places perhaps you weren't even aware were there? It took my kitchen almost catching on fire for God to get my attention and move me to treat this season with the seriousness that He was asking me to (that's a story for another day). And I am so glad. God wants to heal you, and He takes it seriously. He wants to restore you. Focus on Him, and His glory, and let Him have access to those areas and He will.

Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust in Him and He will do this.
-Psalm 37:4-5

Oh it's the trust. Trust that God is good, that He is faithful, that He takes care of you, that He has fought for you and died for your failures before God. He by effect said, "Here, let me take your place." You will be amazed what God does with even a small amount of faith in His promises, His character. And yes, trust means you may not see the horizon just yet.

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
-John 8:32

Thanks to all the incredible friends who have walked with me these last months, asked me challenging questions, gently pushed back against my fallen determination to earn my own salvation, spoken truth that struck me dumb (literally), and have protected, provided for, been compassionate, generous, gentle, and kind to this one woman. Redemption is such a sweet thing.

Love does not delight in evil but always rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
-1 Corinthians 13:6-7