grace

Letting Herself Go

And by “she,” I mean me.

Or I.

Whatever. That’s the point.

I’m turning less young this week, and I've been learning…slowly..painfully slowly… the art of letting my SELF...go.

Before I ever again look at a woman and think “sad how she’s let herself go,” I’m going to lean in (which, granted, might cause her some alarm) and see what’s behind the eyes.

I’ll look for things like...

The sparkle of joy that comes with freedom from obsessing over fashion trends, from running a politically-correct check on every syllable, from conforming to cultural ideas of cool (which are, by the way, initiated and enforced by our youngest members, who are gloriously creative but who also have way more time on their hands than they ever will again - no offense intended, young friends).

The laughter of a person who has stopped trying to pretend she didn’t just trip (literally or figuratively) and just enjoys the humanity of it all. Chuckles at the past, because what’s done is done. Smiles at the present because imperfect is more interesting, and good & bad both pass quickly. Sideways grins at the future because it’s a mystery, and mystery is fun.

The boldness of an artist who doesn’t have time to waste or words to mince, but has something to say, to share, and is determined to be about it.

The courage to walk a different way, to risk being misunderstood by her peers, criticized by the peanut gallery, laughed at by the young, or condescended to by the old.

The  inward peace of a soul who knows her destination, and

the wisdom of one who recognizes the silliness of our performing.

When I observe these things in a person, I know I’ve met someone who has made some real progress in letting go of SELF-ness and all its derivatives: self-consciousness, self-pity, self-centeredness, self-reliance…

And, ah, it is so inspiring to meet free people!

Here we are in the presence of GREATNESS as we walk across this magnificent stage, but don't we completely miss the show when all we can think about is whether or not our make up is still in place (applies to men, too, figuratively), or whether people are watching or approving or laughing or not?

May we grow free as we grow older.  In doing so, we will actually grow younger, because bondage accelerates aging.

As my friend and worship director said from the pulpit recently:

You are not nearly as big a deal as you think you are. :)

On the other hand, you and I have the potential to leave a serious footprint here for the kingdom of God, if we can just keep ourSELVES out of the way.

"Even if you can't take me..."

She’s nearly 16, but her face is un-made-up, baby soft.  Her way of dressing, her way of carrying herself, not typical of her generation; she is both older and younger than her peers.  At one moment she bashfully tucks herself behind her father – and then she can’t help herself, and her mouth opens and eyes search the tops of walls for words.

“I didn’t see how God could accept me…I’m so prideful, sinful, and I thought He might not take me…”

Hands, fingers move in the air and her eyes grow watery and red as the words tumble out…

“But I just thought: there’s nothing else out there.  There’s nothing else worth living for. So I told Him: Even if you can’t take me, even if I’m not enough…I’m still going to serve you anyway, because You are the only thing worth living for…”

I was still on my feet, but my spirit wanted to sit down.  My eyes were fixed on this beautiful creature standing in front of me, not yet out of the nest, unable to commit heinous crimes or live a life of outward depravity.  But she knows her heart and is certain of her unworthiness before a holy God.

But it wasn’t even that…It was the second part:

“Even if you can’t take me…I’m going to serve you anyway.”

Do I feel this way?

Is this the way we live?

Do I give myself to anything, not only not demanding a return…not only not expecting…but believing I do not deserve?

Do we really, really believe that everything is gifted and not earned, grace? "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…" (Ephesians 2:8)

Will we keep making music, art, without awards or recognition?

Will we prepare food if no one expresses gratitude for our efforts?

Will we wash the feet of people who seemingly have nothing to offer us, or people whose company we do not enjoy?

Will we remain faithfully at our post, during seasons where the fruit of our labor is unseen?

Do I agree with this young girl?

With this...

For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of   my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” (Psalm 84:10)

I want it to be true of me, that I live by this:  Even if... yet I will serve you.

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"Even if you can't take me..."

And her father turned to her and said: "But...you couldn't feel that way if He hadn't already taken you."

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And my heart sang:

Glory to God, Glory to God...my life for the glory of God!