Sunday, August 31, 2008

a frustrated peace

"What do you want from me?!"

That is what I silently screamed towards heaven as I walked around my neighborhood on this sweltering Sunday afternoon. The sun was beating down on my bare neck--a feeling I'm not used to, and I could feel the heat radiating from the asphalt I was walking on.

I took a walk just to get some exercise. But it ended up being a time with God. I spent a half an hour walking around questioning God, imploring God, pleading with him, bargaining with him, yelling at him, and agreeing with him. In the time I was out there, I somehow managed to go through it all. You know, those full circle conversations where you pretty much end up where you started, but you feel completely different about it? A frustrated peace--that's what I ended up with.

For over a year, I've been wondering, "What on earth am I doing in this world?" And I finally dared to ask God that question. I came to him stomping my foot asking why I'm here, what purpose do I have, and when am I going to start feeling like my life has meaning? I vented to him that I'm someone with so much ambition, but little direction.

The conversation started with God because of a job opportunity that I desperately wanted, but it was short lived, and actually, never there in the first place. I just want to work in a church or a ministry organization. That is what I want, and that is what I've been passionate about. It's why I'm getting this degree and why I've chosen the classes I've taken. You don't take ministry classes to become a bank teller! That's what Finance 101 is for!

There was a position that I thought would be open in my church because the person previously filling it left. It's a job that I would have loved to have--something I care about and in my home church. I was ecstatic, because for over a year I've desired to be on the staff at Clay. But alas, the position was not open, it was being absorbed by existing staff members.

I felt .so. .dejected.

Again came rushing in the feelings of "Why am I here? What purpose to I have? Am I just taking up space and oxygen?" and hence the frustration of a girl-transitioning-to-woman silently screaming under the shade of her neighbor's trees:

"What do you want from me?!"

And then it dawned on me.

One of the streets in my neighborhood was "repaired" a year or so ago. The cracks and potholes were filled in, but not very well. It seriously is one of the funniest things I've ever seen, because it looks like a drunk man went over the road with the asphalt machine. There's tons of swirls and zigzags going in no particular direction. This is what it looks like:

I was walking on this road in the midst of my frustration when I stopped and thought about how much this is a picture of my spiritual life. I have been so desperate to serve God, yet I've completely failed to even maintain a true relationship with him. I have been one of those people that finds the measure of their faith in the amount that they DO. My spirituality has been measured in the songs that I sing for the youth group, or the "Christian classes" and what head knowledge I learn in them, or the ministries that I long to be a part of.

I don't think that any of these things are displeasing to God--when they are manifestations of your love for him. But they become an obstacle when they take the place of a relationship with him. For how can I serve a God that I don't know?

What does God want from me? That. Exactly that. He wanted my half hour of venting, of pleading, of questioning, of requesting, and even my bargaining. He just wanted me to talk to him for once, and to open my heart. Today, God didn't necessarily want my ambition, or my ideas, or my passion for church ministry. Maybe tomorrow he will! But today, I felt that all he really wanted was for me to stop and start getting to know the real reason I am here: to be in communion with God. All other things flow from that foundation.

So walking the little hill back up towards my house, did I have this glow of peace and rest surrounding my heart like all the "spiritual" people say you should have after a conversation with God? Eeehhh... yes and no. It was a frustrated peace. I didn't end up feeling like everything was a-ok, like none of my cares mattered anymore, like all my frustrations had been solved, or that I no longer wondered what I was going to end up doing with my life. But in opening my heart to my Savior, I did feel like I found my purpose for TODAY.

I felt like I was reaching the beginning.

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