“Do it again.”

One of my favorite quotes from any book on faith comes from GK Chesterton’s Orthodoxy: 

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

Our Father’s youth is that eternal Hope that raises us up after we fall.  And for those like me, whose addictions and impulses make falling a fairly regular occurrence (read: daily),

when I don’t feel like getting up,

when it is so much easier to wallow in the muck and mire of past mistakes,

when I’ve gone to bed the night before feeling like a failure,

when there is just no way I can deal with this anymore,

when my job becomes tough and I’m not sure what kind of teacher I am to my students,

Jesus reaches out his hand to pull me up.

And says “Walk with me.

I’m here.

Come to me.

Do it again.

I’m always here.”

Despair feels old, doesn’t it?  And after the heck of the week I’ve had, with nice highs and real lows, it’s good to see the sun rise outside my window.  The daily new beginning.

A student told me I was already one of his favorite teachers.  “Even though you work us real hard.”  Smile there.

In the same class, a girl came up to me after the bell, tears in her eyes.

“Please move my seat next week, the boy next to me says bad things to me.”

She’s being bullied, and I didn’t catch it.  No smile there.  Please pray for her.

Highs and lows.

But, says the Lord, walk into the classroom again.  No, you didn’t fail.  Yes, you will have to address the issue.  Yes it will be tough.

No, do not despair.

I’m always here.

Do it again.

 

 

Dwelling in Salvation

I heard an interesting term today.

“Morbid humility.”

I’m an avid follower of beautifulsilliness’s blog– if haven’t heard of her, for crying out loud get off this blog and go over there and recently she posted on her thoughts on a theologian named Tozer.  Never heard of him before, so ever the “I gotta know it” guy, I looked him up and found a series of audio files featuring his sermons from the 1950s and 1960s.  I linked onto one in particular which I felt might speak to my situation and it certainly did.  A.W. Tozer identified “morbid humility” as that characteristic which marks the penitent sinner who dwells in their unworthiness and does not make the effort with God to attend to the commandment given in Philippians 2:12-13:

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

Work it out.

We don’t earn salvation; it is a gift freely given.  But it is a gift meant to be used, to be explored, to be a healing force, a healing action in our lives.

Sometimes it’s not that I’m dwelling in sin, but I’m not dwelling in salvation.

When Jesus meets me at the bottom of my personal barrels

-I’ve substituted, once again,  perhaps, a vacuous, addictive pleasure or impulse for a truer connection to Christ or others-

Am I receiving His loving grace, His unconditional Love, His care and concern and desire to be with me despite my failings…

with Joy?

with recognition?

with relief at His immensity and furious Love for me?

or…

am I anticipating the next time I will screw up?

Am I dwelling in shame?  Remorse?  Guilt?

or doing the Shame+ Power thing, which comes up with the statement that “I’ll never do it again,” trying to use the power of my guilt to build some false sense of security against future attacks?

Been doing that for a while.

I’m so tired.

And I’m starting to realize how many blessings I have that I literally do not have the energy to enjoy or recognize because of that exhaustion.

yet before I start guilt-tripping myself over that

What’s it like to dwell in salvation?

I just took a deep breath.  Maybe it feels something like that.

But it is more.  It is the courage to work with God toward the reordering of my life.  To believe it possible and strive toward it.  Just to even see it.

For crying out loud, Zacchaeus climbed a tree, looking a fool in front of everyone, just to get a glimpse of Jesus.

He climbed a tree, Jesus saw, Jesus wanted to come into Zacchaeus’ house.

To dwell with him.

When Jesus said “I must stay at your house today,” I think Zacchaeus already knew salvation had come.

Zacchaeus acted on that.  He turned his whole life around, right then and there.  For him, it was making amends for financial misdeeds in the past.

What does dwelling in salvation look like for me?  What does the freedom Christ offers look like for me?

Pray I dwell on that a bit longer, and keep trusting in His will.

 

Absolutely More

Well, I’m back in the mix, and what a tiring day!  I’m a teacher by trade- high school English- and our “preplanning” sessions have begun.  A week of preparation before the onslaught of 3200 kids!  Classrooms to get ready, new learning protocols to adopt and adapt to, and of course, readying the spirit and soul for the unexpected!

I think of the number of things that are on my plate, and I get almost dizzy:

1. I’ve been made department chair, so I have added responsibilities of keeping together a growing and changing English Department.

2. I am teaching two preps: AP English Lit and British Literature/History

3. I am taking two grad school classes for my master’s study in literature.

4. I am blessed to be chosen as an LEV (lay eucharistic visitor) at my church, bringing the holy bread and wine to those who cannot join us in church.

5. I am blessed to be leading our children’s program at church once a month.

6.  Chesterton Society meetings

7.  I am continuing counseling to heal my addictions and anxieties

All of these are blessings, but you can perhaps see how they might be a bit overwhelming, especially for this frazzled, disorganized follower of Christ.

However.

Recently a former student posted on Facebook that “Whoever said God never gives you anything you can’t handle is having a joke on me and God!”

Hmmm.

I remembered a quote from a book and went to dig it out for a response.

Ah, here it is.  From Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis.

“I believe that God totally, absolutely, intentionally gives us more than we can handle.  Because this is when we surrender to Him and He takes over, proving Himself by doing the impossible in our lives.”

Well, okay then!

I surrender!  🙂

Peace to you all, especially all you teachers and students!

“I’m just not used to not running…”

when it hurts run to god

“I’m just not used to not running…”

This is what I said to my spiritual director/counselor the last time we met.  Unfortunately, through many tears and the last vestiges of an anxiety attack.

Because I fell.  Hard.  I am dealing with addictions in my life that seem stronger and more potent and immobilizing now that I am actually dealing them and recognizing God’s will to eradicate them from my life.  What irony.

“Totally expected.  I’m not surprised,” my counselor said.

I told my counselor the whole story.  About The memory of pain from earlier in my life.  The thought of it reoccurring.  The fear that pain was once again just around the corner.  The need for escape.  The escape into things that just lead me into numbness and forgetfulness.  Then the memory again…  The thought of it reoccurring…

And here we go again.  The addict’s vicious cycle.

I think I live in perpetual fear of pain inflicted on me out of nowhere.  Sudden and unforeseen.  It has happened before.  The shock and surprise of it all is sometimes the most debilitating.  It has come in many forms: physical, mental, and emotional.  And the fear of that pain and the anxiety that comes with it leads to a perpetual exploration and seeking after pleasure, which in essence is nothing but a quick distraction which brings with a whole bag full of shame and guilt.

But I still run.

As fast as I can.

To more hurt and pain and numbness.

I grow sullen and withdrawn, anxious and uncommunicative.  I don’t write (hence the silence on this blog for a while).

So I’m relating this story to my counselor, and as I relate it, the memory of pain is there, and I stand up, my heart racing, sudden panic constricting my chest.

Full fledged panic attack.

“What’s going through your head right now?”

“I n-n-n-need to g-g-g-go.  Got. To get.  Out.

“Where are you going to go?”

I realized, through the panic, I had nowhere to go.  I couldn’t escape anymore.  And the umpteenth time, I realized I needed to rest in the arms of my Savior.  That is the only place for me, to face the things I need to face.  Not as a pat-on-the-shoulder, everything-gonna-be-alright comfort fix, but as a real placement of anguish at the foot of the cross, where my Savior Jesus cups my face in his nail-scarred hands and rides through the pain with me and brings me once again out of the depths and darkness into newness and light.

Just to stay in His presence, at that moment, was what was needed.

That realization brought a wave of exhaustion, tears, and more realization.  Because I still struggled.  In between gasps of breath and coughs, I admitted this is in the small room, as my counselor tenderly prayed over me…

“I-I-I’m just not used to it.  To not running.”

But I was there, in that chair, at least, facing things.  I am beginning that long process of running only to God, and to recognizing that only He is there with the consistency of unconditional Love.  For even though Peter said “Go away from me Lord; I am sinful man” (Luke 5:8), Jesus still said “Come, follow me.”

At this point of my healing, this means to lie down in green pastures.

Beside quiet waters.

For the restoration of my soul.

A restoration that will stay.  Forever and ever, amen.