Saturday, January 16, 2010

Running Down Rabbit Trails

I feel distracted as of late; although, from what, I am not entirely sure. Lately, I have been distracting myself with fantasies and dreams that are empty promises and vanity. Maybe "distracted" isn't the right word, as much as I feel as though I have something to confront, yet I'm not confronting it.
It is not as though I am fleeing it like the plague; instead, I'm dancing around it, poking sticks at it each time I muster the courage to look at it head on. The fantasies and the vanity are ways to numb the reminder, probably the ever poking, though ever loving, guiding-into-all-truth, finger of God's Spirit. Then there are the mental rabbit trails I take in order to walk (run) away from the confrontation, yet, in their own furry, little, twiggy piercing, ironic way, they all lead back to this thing I keep being reminded to confront.
Is it sin? Yes, partially so; though I think it does me (and God?) a dishonor to take the reductionist approach. Is it a control issue? Again, partially, as I just found out I'm being laid off and only have one week of work left. Worry? Fear? Misconstrued identity issues? I'm not 100% sure, but I sure am coming up with a long list of dancing partners that I'd rather leave in the bleachers or as observing wall flowers, too timid to approach me. Instead, it's as though they lead in the dance, and I follow.
Someone once wrote, "Search me and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." It's a prayer from the Psalms in the Hebrew scriptures, most often attributed to David. He knew who he was dancing with, who was leading him on the gym-turned-dance floor. And, as do I, he knew that our dance partner had the ability to see right into the depths of who he was.
I believe that the Spirit of God is my dance partner; although, what I am learning is that 99% of the time, he is actually carrying the entire dance, and it's not limited to a high-school gym floor or the four step box move. I know that he's dancing me toward this confrontation, and I know that it is his Spirit that disallows the rabbit trails to go too far, like a divine chaperon who won't let me stray too far away.
Yet, when I have the courage to look at the mosaic that is this as-of-yet unnamed thing, my courage fizzles away like steam when, on the opposite side, whatever direction I am facing, I see the image, not of a loving dance partner but of a vengeful, judgmental god, ready and willing to condemn, at the least, whatever is "sinful" in my life.
I know, in my head and the deepest parts of my heart, that this image is the reflection of a god whose trust and love I used to believe, as a teenager, I had to earn in order to keep my ass out of the fiery flames of his wrath.** Yet, adolescent ghosts aren't so easily exorcised, even when the truth of a God who desires love and life for all he has created has oftentimes flooded one's entire being. I feel like the woman who cleaned her house of demons, made sure to put God back into God's proper place, but when they returned, they still lurked in the shadows of her front and back yard, hiding behind trees and dancing with the plethora of other demons they brought back with them from the abyss. No longer harmful but casting a long shadow in the moon light. Like bogey men who hide in the closets of the minds and imaginations of children.
And so I find that I lack the courage to stand there in front of this thing that could be something that exposes me. However, I'm not so fearful as to think that whatever it is might be all negative, hurtful, sinful, etc. But, until I find the courage, or until I run out of the energy to keep taking rabbit trails or numbing the feelings, I won't know the goodness that I hope for yet cannot see.
So, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the dance everlasting." Amen.

** Much thanks to the ill-informed, though good hearted and well intentioned folks who brought me up in a fairly traditional/legalistic with a twist of fundamental Christianity. Your whispers still haunt my dreams.

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