Monday, July 13, 2009

Memories, Quotes, and an oddly poignant evening...

I had an experience tonight that reminded me just how many things can trigger memories. One moment I was standing at the sink, rinsing lettuce leaves for the taco salad I was preparing, and in the next I'd been transported backwards through time and was re-living a moment I'd nearly forgotten. It's a oddly powerful and poignant sort of thing to have that happen.

George is safely at the mechanic, and I even managed to get a full yoga workout in.

I went hunting tonight for a scrapbook like journal I created in the first few years of university. It's full of quotations and thoughts and comics that I'd collected. Favorite things that spoke in different ways to me, or that simply made me laugh. There were a few forgotten treasures in there.

At that time in my life, I was approximately right in the middle of the seven years I suffered from severe depression, before so very unexpectedly encountering God's healing. I was finding it hard to cling to faith, to believe in God, and strongly identified with any statements that made room for my doubts, my struggles, my questions, and my depression to co-exist with a relationship with God. I came upon a few of those quotes tonight as I flipped through that journal, and smiled as they again acted as salve to a tired soul.

The questions are different these days, but there are still questions. The doubts are different, and rarely reach the depths that depression drove them to, but there are sometimes still doubts and uncertainties. I know now, in a way that I didn't know then, that I will never be able to walk away from Jesus - that in Him has been the only joy and fulfillment I've ever really found. I'm learning daily about trust - and how trust mostly exists in the uncertainty. There's not much need to trust if I can know something for certain. But I still appreciate those philosophers, writers and thinkers who offer space for God and those questions and doubts to co-exist.

Quotes like these:

"When we get our spiritual house in order, we'll be dead. This goes on. You arrive at enough certainty to be able to make your way, but it is making it in darkness. Don't expect faith to clear things up for you. It is trust, not certainty." (Flannery O'Connor)

"It is not as a child that I believe and confess Jesus Christ. My hosanna is born of a furnace of doubt." (Fyodor Dostoevsky)

"Without somehow destroying me in the process, how could God reveal himself in a way that would leave no room for doubt? If there were no room for doubt, there would be no room for me." (Frederick Buechner)

I went hunting for that journal, not because of treasures like these that it contained, but because it contained a typed out set of lyrics to the song I mentioned yesterday. "Because You Are" by Everybody Duck.

The partial lyrics I'd put in the journal read as follows:

I can't feel You like others around me
I don't feel like kneeling or closing my eyes
Is there something wrong with my heart that I can't see?
Or do You feel love still when nobody cries?

'Cause I know in my heart how bad I want to touch You
You must sense this love my soul barely contains
No lack of desire in this desert to worship
I keep singing skyward it just never rains

So I'll praise You if I never feel You
And I'll love You cause I know You're there
And if You should choose I'm sure one day I'll feel it
But feeling good's never the reason I cared.

It's funny to me to remember, years later, the space I was existing in when those lyrics first hit a chord. At the time I was just beginning to encounter God in a more "spirit-filled" way. Actually, it would probably be more accurate to say that I was part of a community that encountered God in that way, and that I was desperately hungry to have those sort of personal encounters and relationship with Jesus that they demonstrated for myself, but was equally convinced that it would perhaps never happen for me. Thus the power of lyrics that began, "I can't feel you like others around me."

Five or six years later, after many crazy encounters with Jesus, I've walked for the last year and a half through some very challenging circumstances. I'm more convinced than ever that Jesus speaks and guides and loves. But I'm also in a place of exhaustion, in need of rest and healing and recovery, and, when I came upon this song again earlier this week, I was struck deeply by the lines I quoted yesterday, "No lack of desire in this desert to worship. I keep singing skyward, it just never rains."

So I worship anyway. Even in those moments when it feels like rote memorization. Like a dead practice, instead of a living joy. Because I've learned, too, that eventually the rains always come. I spent the afternoon looking out my office window at the downpour we were having, remembering the many complaints the last years of drought, and praying that in ways that are internal, that impact my heart, the rains will also come, and bring cleansing, healing, refreshment, restoration, and new growth and life.


shallowfrozenwater said...

thank you again Lisa. blessings on you, you're helping me wade through some "not so fun" emotional stuff right now. i'm still singing skyward myself ... and praying for cleansing rain.

Lisa said...

blessing and prayers for you as well as you wade through the "not so fun" stuff. (and I think the many voices singing skyward and crying out for cleansing rain must be pleasing to God... that somehow together the chorus becomes beautiful, and, to quote that passage of scripture whose reference I've forgotten, the prayers rise like incense, a pleasing aroma before the throne...)

shallowfrozenwater said...

i blogged about some of the stuff this brought out for me. you get a mention and a link out of it.
thanks again.