Surprised by Meaning

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I was biking and fell.  I’m scrapped up and bruised.  Beautiful view tho.

I’m reading Surprised By Meaning.  It’s good.  I’m at this point where most of the books I read are recommendations.  Next up would be Brothers Karamazov, but of course, that’s 37 hours on audiobook.  It’ll have to be for another day.

It’s been a while since I wrote on this blog.  I haven’t really thought about it until recently when I showed it to Charlie.  I don’t know.  I feel like whatever I write next must be forced out of me.  I’m also afraid of what it might mean to confront my thoughts head on.  Chief on my mind right now is Meredith.  She recently got back in contact with me, and I found myself thanking God for such an answer to prayer.  There hasn’t been a day that’s gone by that I haven’t whispered her name.

I went to a wedding today.  I thought about the kind of blessing that is, and the blessing I get to experience this community and the closeness of these relationships.  I wish she could share in that joy, instead of feeling sad, as she said she feels.

What do I say to that?  What can I say to that?  How can I help someone not feel sad when they’re 3000 miles away?  A text can only do so much, and even a voice such as mine is limited and cut short.  4 hours can pass without even thinking about it, but it feels like it’s not enough.  I don’t know what to do, and I feel helpless.

But there’s hope.  Recently she opened up about what she believes, about this universe and how it came to be.  There’s option 1, where everything is just random and chance, always here, no causer.  Or option 2, which says it’s not something that’s always been here, through sheer randomness and chance, for if it was, then we would observe a different sort of universe, without a fixed beginning, as Alexander Vilenkin proved it was.  So then the question that allows for options 2 is this: where did the beginning come from?  The whole reason people claimed the universe was eternal was so that they didn’t have to answer the question of who began the universe.  That gets us to option 2, where there’s a source, call it God or whatever you want to call it, and it set the world into motion.  I think that’s where she’s at now.  Not quite at the God of the Bible, but not quite the avoidance of such a God in the cold indifferent eternal universe.  The hope is that through option 2, she can reach option 3, the idea of one God, indwelling Christ as one man through whom all things were created.  The hope is to get to option 3.

But then there’s this guy.  Oh man I hate this guy.  At the same time, I can totally relate to being this guy.  In another life, perhaps we could’ve been friends.  She said he checked out Screwtape Letters after they had their fight.  I wonder if that means he’s on the same track I got onto, explored option 1, option 2, and one day he might come to the same conclusion I came to with option 3.  It’s still a work in progress, but I’m hoping he’s progressing towards my position, which is arguably the more reasonable one.  I don’t know.  I’m supposed to hate this guy, and yet I just feel sorry for him and wish he could see the error of his ways to be saved.

That gave me some hope.  That gave me some encouragement and a way to start the conversation on her grounds.  But days after, she seems cold and far away now, lost in sadness, tragic possibility and a wallowing desire to restore the old narrative.  It’s terrible.  I wish I could tell her what I see.  I wish she’d believe me.

Believe.  That’s an interesting thing.  She asked if I believed her, when she said he was amazing at creating.  Well duh.  Why wouldn’t I?  She would not have bought into the lie of the narrative if he wasn’t compelling for the story.  I’m sure he’s excellent at his craft.  Even the psychologist said so, that he was a genius.  but so what?  What good is genius if it led him to be violent towards those closest to him?  What good is the intellect when pride sours the brain?  I’d rather be dumb.

Alas, such is the problem though.  I’m not dumb.  So there’s always this risk of someone similar being someone I become.  He’s not someone I want to become.  Yet the hope is that he might become as I am, with enough humility to forgo what he thinks he knows, and humbly seek to learn more than what his eyes are limited to.

So that’s where I am, with her.  What’s the solution?  I don’t know.  I think it’s just gotta be risked.  I’ve risked it before, I’ve pushed too far, and gotten too religious, too much.  So the solution is not to go down that route.  It may be to reveal a bit of her own selfishness.  Why does she get to decide when we talk?  Or perhaps more accurately, why do we speak of her burdens and not my own?

Aside from the obvious, it might be a helpful lens that enables her to view her heart.  The complaints of a proud person who seeks to craft a life of her own, to order the universe around her needs as the God and master of her own fate.  I can only hope it’s not cruel to make her attempt known.  I hope she’d forgive me for showing her what I saw all along.  There I go again.  I wish I didn’t see it.  I’d rather be dumb.

But, as I am what I am, I gotta make do with this situation.  I prayed that she’d be well and that she’d find her way to you O Lord, somehow.  I certainly didn’t think you’d want to make that happen by bringing her back towards me and my ilk.  But such is the case.  So now I suppose the solution is to offer a different prayer, that I may find inroads for the gospel, to, as she puts it, weasel the love of God into her heart.  I hope she’ll take it better this time around.

And to address the elephant in the room, of course I like her.  She’s brilliant.  Far too smart not to believe in option 3 eventually.  The thing that’ll stop her will be her emotions, clouding her judgment and swaying her towards the narrative of a fairy tale, the genius savant and the fame-driven life.  How can I get her to where I’m at, to say that all human loves fall short of our deepest desires?  How can I get her to see where, though I like her, she is but dust in the wind as I strain to grasp the real thing besides?  What can I do to keep her from being deceived and devoted to such lies?

Well obviously, it’s not my job to succeed in this endeavor alone.  It’s the job of the Holy Spirit to convict people of their sins, and I leave it up to my sovereign God to be working in the background whether I know it or not.  I entrust her into the prayers I once prayed. and hey, it only took 4 years.  What’s another 4 more?

Alright, time to sleep.  I’ll be teaching Alex and Chris about the historical reliability of the Bible tomorrow.  I should get some rest.  May they be strengthened in their convictions through the material and find adequate reasons to believe.

 

 

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December Memory

15 minute prompt – Write about a December memory.

December.
Shopping for Christmas gift with my old friends.

I remember fondly the escalator. As I stepped on, it seemed as if the world began to open up above me, and I found myself clenching my jaw to seem stern and tough. Why is that? Because next to me was megan, the girl you would fall in love with as a preteen boy, but realize that is the only time you can.

We were going to grab gifts for a gift exchange she planned for a group of our friends. I say our friends but they were more like the people she invited and the people I knew the names of. She had begun to grow up into that age where she leaves some friends behind to make other friends to secure her social standing. I suppose I should be grateful she chose to include me in the midst of such esteemed company.

Anyway, so here I am, on this escalator, and what catches my attention is the sameness of it all. Everywhere I look, there are baubles and gadgets and trinkets to explore and, if one mustered up the courage, to move towards those vendors and risk their soliciting. It all feels the same. It felt like a satin sheet was draped over my eyes and I was feeling what I was supposed to feel. What everyone was supposed to feel.

I noticed it. Through some mis-stitched track of the fabric, I noticed it. The difference and the disdain. I hated being here. I hated standing next to her while feeling what I was feeling. It wasn’t real, and it all felt fake, just like the friendship.

I wish I tore back the veil. Instead, up I went, on that escalator, clenching my jaw, hoping that it would all be over soon. I hate shopping. I hate Christmas. All the materialism, and all the anti-materialists talking about all the materialism. I hate it. So what does that make me?

One day this will all fall apart. I won’t walk next to her, I won’t need to clench my jaw, and I won’t need to stand in this suffocating scene. Maybe I could finally breathe, but it wouldn’t be a sigh of relief; no, it would be a sigh that signifies suffering, of being so alone in my disdain, and a sigh that betrays understanding, as everybody knows, but nobody really knows.

I reach the top of the escalator, and glance at her. She’s swinging the bag in her hand, carrying some product that would elicit reactions. Is that the goal then? To grab gifts that elicit reactions? Is that the time of my youth, and is that what had to be fun?

It saddens me to remember this. Even now it feels forced, the melancholy, the nostalgia, or, as Lewis put it, it feels as if I’m trying to rip open that inconsolable secret. It terrifies me. Because think about it: if I could spend 15 minutes and find at least this much, what else is there that might eat me alive?

John or Peter

Nothing ever works out as I had hoped,
but everything always works out as I expected.

That’s probably why I felt so hurt. Here was hope. Here was me, hoping, that something in my life could work out right. That it wouldn’t have to be the difficult road that it’s always been, that just once, I could have some normalcy, some normal joy.

But sometimes, joy is better when it’s not normal, when it’s a long slog, when it’s unearthed and derived through long suffering. So yes, I suppose I should’ve seen it coming. But seeing it coming doesn’t change much. This life still hurts.

To put it another way, I hoped I was John, and it turns out I was Peter, but maybe it’s better to be Peter, even though he wept bitterly. Peter gets reinstated, and in humbling recognition of himself, he is exalted.

I pray that I may humbly do the same.

25th Hour

– Do what, Mike? What did you do?
– I took the two years.
– No, no, you didn’t.
– Rachel, Rachel, please.
– I don’t accept that.
– Please listen.
– It was the only way that I could–
– No, it wasn’t the only way.
– You told me that you’d wait for the verdict, and I begged you to have faith in yourself, and you told me that you would.
– That was before I begged Diaz to take a deal that would rat out his friend, and he didn’t listen to me– 
– Wait a second. You’re throwing away the next two years of our lives for something that some criminal said? – Just stop.
– Listen to me.
– Hold on. Harvey said he wasn’t gonna let this happen. He went to see the judge, didn’t he?
– It doesn’t matter.  He can’t stop it.
– Why not?
– Because it’s not up to him. It’s up to me, and I’ve made my decision. Rachel, where are you going?
– Anywhere else. Because if you’re gonna rob us of the next two years of our lives, I am not gonna stand here and watch you do it.
– Are you okay?
– No.
– Rachel
– I just don’t understand, Mike. You told me you’d wait for the verdict.
– I know.
– Rachel, listen to me, all right? I didn’t do this to hurt you.
– I did it because it’s who I am.
– I know that.
– Then why are you holding it against me?
– Because I can’t stand the thought of losing you.
– You’re not gonna lose me.
– Yes, I am, Mike, for two years.
– And it could have been seven.
– It could have been zero.
– They took–
– Why couldn’t you just wait for the verdict?
– Because I have to live with myself for the rest of my life.
– I made a decision, and I I can’t go back in time and change it.
– But we are here right now, all right? We have–we have three days left.
– I’m gonna have to take one of those days for myself, Because you promised me that you would have faith in yourself.
And you didn’t.

This is why I make the choices I do.  This is why I harm those who love me.  This is why I can never be anything other than that, the one with the character to self-destruct.

This is why I make my choices.  This is what makes me choose what I do.
This is why I chose her, and her, and her.  It’s who I am.
Even if it hurts me.  Even if it leads me to self-destruct, and to be unhappy.
I gotta do this, I gotta ask the one I like, and I gotta like them for those asinine reasons, and ask the ones who have no chance of accepting.  That’s who I am, the Lord knows it, and he helped me grow through it, which is why he had John ask me, and had me ask them.

I don’t think I would’ve done it differently.  I think I would do it all over again.
It does make wish it went differently though.  It makes me wonder what if I had done it differently. Which makes me realize, I wouldn’t be able to grow, unless it happened the way it did. This is the only way it could’ve turned out, and arguably, I’ll be better for it, in the end.

The Lord is sovereign, and he knows what’s best, he knows what he’s doing.  Humility is to say I am nothing, and to let the Lord be all, in my life.  I can rejoice when others are preferred and I’m disregarded.  I can experience joy when they succeed where I fail.  I can have hope in my Lord, to create in me, blessings beyond my brokenness.

Okay Lord, I’m ready, Do Your Worst.
And, oddly enough, that means Do Your Best.

More words, more uncertainty

I say vulnerable things, but people don’t think I’m really bothered by it, or actually struggling with it, or terribly burdened by it, because I don’t give off that impression as if I can’t handle it, and instead always give off an impression as if I can handle it, or the impression that I’m trying to hide my true self and pain.

 

I think you are vulnerable, but it doesn’t seem like it bothers you.

Most people can’t control their emotions when they’re vulnerable.

“I think your parents killed your emotions”