I can’t be who everybody wants me to be. I’m skilled not brilliant. I’m passionate not a force. I have energy for now. I am creative but slowly. I’m disorganized. I can’t multitask. I’m not big BIG picture. I’m not fine detailed. I’m Barbara. I draw pretty pictures not daring ones. I love showing people the love of Christ. I want to live every moment. I hate not having enough energy. I hate letting moments slip by. I hate thinking about the hours of television that could’ve been a novel. I hate leaving art projects undone. Why can’t all the projects be finished instantly? I’m disgusted by the idea of leaving something undone when I die. But I find it improbable and most likely inauthentic to who I am to ever finish everything at the same time. I want to meet Jesus now. And I’m frenzied for living another day. I love my bed. I love to climb in. I hate to get out of it. I love being in my mind. I love being creative, letting my mind work. I love it when my thoughts keep me up till four solving problems, unable to rest when beautiful visions are being built. Yet I scroll down my phone clicking back and forth between email, facebook, twitter, and wordpress, just to make my mind be still so I can sleep. I don’t know who I am. I don’t know what God wants me to offer. I find out in the second. This is it. This is what you have to give. I’m tired. I’m crying. I wish others could see life as I do sometimes. It’s a gift this, the view, the creation, never bored in my mind. What would I do without characters talking, images parading. Just images, just stories, nothing grand, nothing that will affect the tides of politics or social justice. They’re not even true. They’re fiction as true as I can make them. I love stories. Some crazy story this, me, here, now.
Well, you can say a little prayer for me this week.
I’m doing well. I mean, I knew this was going to be difficult, new job, joining anew the workforce, making my crazy dreams for children’s ministry at City Church of San Francisco a reality. And it’s not so insanely difficult. Indeed, I am at times overwhelmed to the point of paralysis. But then I just turn around and get drunk on the overconfidence of my amazingly heady ego and get stuff done. It’s dizzying being Barbara. (And imagine how my husband feels?!)
I feel like an apostle sent out on the boat. I am supposed to go to the other side. But the other side is not the destination. It never is. The other side is merely the end measure of the destination, the destination, and the point of all of this, being jumbled up somewhere in the length of this crazy ride over the time it takes to get there.
I am on a boat going to the other side. And I can’t tell which Bible story I’m in. I don’t feel like I’m in a storm, so maybe I’m in the one where the apostles are just not making much headway. Whatever, the wind’s against them or something. And Jesus has in mind to beat them to the other side just by walking across the water. Maybe he thinks they have it under control?
But they’re struggling after all. And so he goes to them, just right across the water and in the face of the damn wind he goes. And there’s me, Peter, the rock, saying, “Command me! Pick me! Let me do this job!” And Jesus says, “Ok, c’mon.” And there I am, Peter, sinking like a, well, a rock. I’m sinking like a rock at my own request.
“Save me!” “Command me!” “Save me!” “Command me!” “Save me!”
That’s me this week. It’s dizzying. And yet, it’s surprisingly secure. I am commanded. I am saved. I am being commanded and being saved.
I commanded. I saved. I am commanding. I am saving. I am. I am.
Two days ago I wrote about how big God was. I wrote a sentence about God being big enough to find joy in giving a tired mother her morning cup of coffee while waking up beside a beloved son dealing with the aftermath of addiction.
I wrote the coffee part thinking about a friend who sends out pictures of her frothy cups regularly. She’s far away now, but the pictures make me remember our mornings together. Yesterday this friend texted us, her coffee girls, that her brother did not wake up to deal with the aftermath of his addiction.
I don’t know what form his addiction took, but it doesn’t seem to me that there is a sin as old as this one, the belief that something good is being withheld from you, that those who love you most don’t understand. The belief that you will take, ingest, and be wise.
How bodily this form of lie, how physically it works. Its consequences are old and the same.
Consequences come last and so I think its easy to confuse that they are given us in response. It can make your loving Father seem judgmental or spiteful. But the consequences were always there first. The consequences are what necessitated the prohibition in the first place.
I’m so sorry, friend.
I remember being a little girl driving home at night with my Dad. Everything was black except for the long stream of Los Angeles highway running bright with headlights in one direction and bright with taillights in the other direction, the only demarcation of the rolling hills being the offset lines of red and white. Into this meditative silence my Dad said, “God knows all these people. He loves every single one of them.”
I had a similar moment this morning as I rode the bus to work. There were so many different people, so many different types of attractiveness, so many different ages. I was thinking about my morning as a parent getting dizzy vacillating between the emotions of only three small humans. But God is a Father to all these people. And I found myself wondering at how it must feel to wake up with the emotions of billions. How do you wake some up with singing and others to the worst day of their lives? How do you take joy in giving a tired mother her morning cup of coffee while dealing with the despair of a beloved son waking up on Van Ness in the aftermath of addiction?
God was suddenly that big again, bigger than the California-one bus line, bigger than San Francisco, bigger even than the infinitesimal system of Los Angeles freeways. He’s that big.
I was there at the start. Jesus was my firstborn son. Before his blood was spilled for me mine spilled for him. Before his body broke for me, mine tore for him. My son. His life changed mine first. I was the first miracle.
And how could I be under the delusion that he was mine? Angels announced his birth to shepherds. A star led kings halfway around the world. He was for Israel, for the world.
But who would believe? Doesn’t every mother think her first-born walks on water? So I treasured these things in my heart, storing away the portents.
I was there when every prophecy came true, born of David, coming out of Egypt, of Nazareth in Galilee. Every truth buried here (heart).
And when we lost him in Jerusalem… For three days we misplaced the son of God. “Didn’t you know I would be in my father’s house”, the words of God from my son’s lips. “He is not yours precious Mary, he is mine. Remember he is mine.”
We waited thirty years for his time. And then it came in a flood. Miracle by miracle adding testimony to the years of evidence, here (heart).
Hadn’t I always believed, me, the first apostle? He was the Messiah.
Never mine, not from the beginning. He was God’s to spend.
But when they nailed him… When my son let them nail him to the cross…
I watched him die, in agony, under a criminal’s shame. If his father above, Creator of the heavens, feels a shadow of my pain why does he not save him? Why?! I cannot bear it! I’ve changed my mind, God, select another. Must I bear witness to this, too? My heart is full, Lord, my heart is full!
I spent three days in a mother’s grief. And then we went to dress my son’s body for the last time.
There’s nothing that gets old about seeing an angel. I’ve seen two in my life. The first told me I would have a son. The second told me I had a savior.
Would anything less than falling at his feet, feeling the warmth of his life, the strength in his hands, his glorious smell, would anything less prove my son’s living to me? My heart is full, Jehovah God, my heart is full!
I had a lifetime, my son’s lifetime, of proof giving testimony. The Messiah had come. Death had been conquered by one sacrifice for sin for all time. Israel’s need had nailed him to that cross. My need had nailed him to that cross.
He was my son, he was my savior. He was never mine. But he was for me.