Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Run That Race!

Okay, I know I have been a little identity obessed throughout this blog. I was reading over past postings and beginning to wonder if it was relevant. When I look back over my life though, identity has been something that I have grappled with a lot. Psychologist say it is normal for children to assert their own identity, my daughter certainly does. A quick overview of the Bible show a great attack from the enemy on our and God's identity from the very get go. So, bear with me as I share yet another identity reaffirmation.

I was looking at my reflection in a sliding glass door yesterday. As I perused my somewhat gangly legs, I got a flash of a thoroghbred horse I saw once. I was out at Changing Gaits to interview the owner for a journalism class. He was showing me some of the therapy they do for people there. The air was filled with dust from the young man doing rounds on horseback around the workout barn. I followed his trail. And that was when I saw her. She was tall and lanky. Her coat shined warm chestnut, even in the dim barn. I turned back to the man I was interviewing as he showed me some of the horses they use. I looked shyly again at the thoroughbred. Volunteers were brushing her down, but her feet stamped impatiently at the ground. She didn't want to stand still there. She shifted with each stroke.

Looking away quickly, I wondered at my reticence toward her. I reasoned it must stem from the last close encounter I had had with a horse. He had nearly succeeded in bucking me and the guy assisting me to ride completely off. He wasn't a fan of men. I ended the whole affair with a bruised pelvic bone and a fear of being near horses not contained in a stall. When we approached the other horses, I found that I didn't feel ill at ease.

I hazarded another look across the barn at the chestnut. She turned and our eyes met. There is was in her eyes. She was fierce, powerful, and beautiful. Most importantly, she knew it. Her restlessness had not ceased. The man said all of the horses were a little nervous because the high winds that day shook the barn a little. But that wasn't what I saw in her eyes. She wasn't nervous. She wanted to run and breath nature in till it was a part of her.

Back at my makeshift mirror, I found my legs where shifting like hers. I understood how she felt. I was awed by her. I examined the rest of my reflection. I wondered if restlessness and lanky features were where our similarities ended. My sweatshirt, limp hair-do, and bags under my eyes didn't look very fierce. I felt like a nag. You know the one in the horse race that they run to make the others look even better. Any day now she may find herself out pasture or on the way to the glue factory. Deep down something stirred up again. There a desire to run wild and free and breath Jesus and creation in until they are a part of me cries to be let out.

I think we all have something in common with that horse. We are all thoroughbreds. A whole world of money and luxury surrounds the thoroughbred, but they don't take part. They don't seek comfort and painfree living. They have fire. They want to run. Something obscures that picture of us. The enemy I spoke of earlier seeks to use the intentional or careless words of those in our lives to past distorted images over our mirrors. Dancing with glee when we believe it and don't dig underneath the layers to the truth, he is ever vigilant to keep us distracted. He saddles us with a 300 pound jockey named Earl. So we trudge on.

Then, one glorious day we see a thoroughbred. The fire in her eyes matches the fire in our hearts. Perhaps we are not just nags. Perhaps we are fierce, powerful and beautiful. With great effort and pain, we begin to buck Earl. He tries to keep control with a death grip. But we are fierce, powerful, and beautiful. And we know it. Earl ends in a heap on the ground. We run to meet the creator of this desire. We can stand taller, run farther without summo Earl on our back. There are so many others we must tell them. We are thoroughbreds. We are fierce, powerful, and beautiful!

Monday, August 29, 2011

That last step was a dosey!

For anyone who has been paying the slightest bit of attention to this blog, the changes I have made will be apparent. I was recently having a movie night with my daughter. We picked Alice in Wonderland. I won't admit how many times we have watched it. I was really paying more attention to the job search I was doing than the movie until it came near the end. Alice was pacing around the ethereal courtyard. She is fretting about all that is expected of her. She looks and sees Absolum. She brings her question about who she is to him. And he says that she is almost Alice.

In the weeks since that scene caught my attention, I have been doing my own pacing. I am in the process of job hunting. A total career overhaul is a more accurate description. It has been a time of great pressure. I am it. The only one here to pay the bills to keep a roof over my daughter's head. The path I had been proceeding down is no longer viable. I have stepped out the boat. Though some days it feels as though I was pushed. In a lot of ways I have simply rested in God. Doing what I needed to, but not fretting over everything. Like Peter, I called to Jesus and walked on the unsteady, raging water. Then, came one wave too many. I looked over to the storm and began to sink.

In the midst of this time, I had begun reading The Hobbit. There is a part where Bilbo has gotten over the initial excitement of the adventure he didn't want to go on in the first place. "Bother burgling and everything to do with it! I wish I was at home in my nice hole by the fire, with the kettle just beginning to sing!" Then the narrator takes the time to note, "It was not the last time that he wished that!" Ah, what fickle creatures we tend to be. High as a kite at the outset, but wishing to be back in the safe, dry closet with the dust bunnies at the first little rain cloud.

I can identify with Mr. Bilbo Baggins, the would-be burglar. I can identify with Alice. There was something important for me to do. I left my comfort. Then I found myself in a curious place. I went about the things asked of me. But soon I found myself wishing for that comfortable place. I wondered if I could in fact do what was and is being asked of me. In fact, the question I have been wondering for a long time surfaced once again. Am I Fancey? Of course, it is my name. But there is something more. Something to being fully Fancey.

For many years, I have asked the same question that Alice did. Was I the right Fancey? At times, I asked God. Upon reflection, I find that I wasted a lot of time bringing that question to people and things. The thing is that God created me. He is the only one who sees past the exterior. He is the only one who can answer that question. I have gotten an answer. Hence the change in title.

I am almost Fancey. I have regained some of my muchness. Like Bilbo, I have begun to show my worth. I have taken a little walk on the water. I sunk a little but Jesus caught me. My eyes are on him again. There will be temptings to think fondly of the nice things in the place I was. The place I am now is dangerous. As C.S. Lewis describes Aslan, his Jesus figure, "he's not safe. But he's good." He has invited me into an adventure, not a leisurely vacation. However, He is good and ever faithful.


Here is my first attempt at a collage since I was a teenager. I started this as a way to take a break from homework. As I selected the photos, magazine clippings, and passages of scripture, it evolved into something more than just a distraction. I picked a fortune from a Q Mandarin fortune cookie. It reads: The virtue lies in the struggle not in the prize. It became clear that it was a way to process all that had happened in the last few years. I titled it Sojourn. It is not an ending but beginning. It is the a reopening of a door that I allowed to be closed a long time ago. A part of that is to share pieces like this. It is a part of me. Out there for the world to see. My hope is that it does not just reflect me, but what God has done and will continue to do in me.
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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sand or Rock? Are those really the only options?

Many years ago, my great-uncle built a house. While it was still a phantom in his head, he rubbed his beard and thought. Maybe I should have a basement as a foundation. As he gathered the materials, he cocked his head to one side and pondered. Maybe I should just do a concrete foundation. One day, it was decided. He would build the house on posts and perhaps come back to the other options later.

Now, all these years later, he had decided to put more posts at the corners. He was even talking about placing a full foundation under the house. At this juncture, a full foundation would be a task and a half. There would be crawling under the house. Then, in that cramped, ill-lit space, there would be digging out the dirt, laying down a form to guide the concrete, pouring and raking the concrete all over the area. It is a complicated affair, with that house in the way and all.

Of course, it would likely not be my great-uncle under there. The running joke around my family is that my dad is chained to Uncle Johnny's back porch. If there is ever a project out at his house that needs doing, nine times out of ten my dad is the one who they call on. As he was explaining this new project of my great-uncle's, a thought took root in my brain.

I began to think of my marriage and how it was like this house. You see we were young and in love. We talked about almost everything. We had prayed and had confirmation from God. Our beginning was good. There were mistakes made that I won't go into here, but it was a good start. There were other things we could have done, options we had discussed. We talked about my going to live with my dad and finishing my degree. We could have done a full pre-marital counseling program (ours we found out just before the wedding hadn't been that). We could have extended the engagement. We could have spent more time learning (not just telling one another) each other's strengths and weaknesses. We could have learned one another's love languages. The list could go on. The thing is that these would not have necessarily guaranteed a different result. But I will get to more on that later.

The posts that my great-uncle settled upon aren't bad. They have supported the house these many years and will keep doing so for many years to come. So, why change anything? A little while ago I stumbled upon a thought in C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity. He argued that we ought not think of things as only good and bad. Instead, we should look at things in terms of good, better, best and bad, worse, worst. The posts were good, but a foundation would have been best.

The foundation of my marriage was good. But it could have been better. It could have been the best. I don't look at this as an "Oh, would that the hands of time bent to my will" moment. This would not have magically waved away our problems. Wounded people - I've said it before and I'll say it again, no one gets through this life unscathed - living with one another will injure one one another. There is no safety in vulnerability, there is security in Christ. Those closest to us have the greatest capacity to injure us. They can injure us with what they know and what they don't know.

For now, my great-uncle has decided to just put in a few extra posts (with a silent *whew* from my dad, I think). Trying to go back and put in a full concrete foundation at this point would be quite an undertaking. There is a big house ontop the spot now. It is full of stuff, good and bad. As to my situation, the work would be just as difficult. There is a house full of past words and actions, good and bad. It would take a good deal kneeling in prayer and humbleness. It would take a good deal of digging up those misconceptions about marriage, ourselves, and eachother. It would take a good deal of uprooting those lies we believed about marriage, ourselves, and eachother. It would take a good deal of cleaning out those wounds we received before and during marriage. It would take a good deal of restructing the form into what marriage should look like. Finally, it would take a good deal of mixing forgiveness, compassion, and perserverence and pouring that mixture into the form.

Another thing came to mind. That story from Sunday school about the man that built his house upon the sand and the man that built his house upon the rock. The man whose house was on sand lost it all when the storm came. But the man who built it on the rock did not. So, where does good, better, and best fit in here?There doesn't seem to be any middle ground there. You won't find any either. The thing is that we, or at least I, will often do what is good enough. Not necessarily out of any real laziness. Why build the house all the way up there on that rock? This area looks good. It is far enough from the water. Besides, it isn't really practical to drag groceries all the way up that hill everyweek. And it may work for a little while or for an entire life time. There is a way to do things that are good and still not have things work out. So, when they don't I have to look back now and see that maybe I didn't do the bad thing, but I also didn't do the best either. It isn't to beat myself up. But when I want to look at God and ask what on earth He was thinking, I have a reason to look back and check whether my foundation was actually the one He wanted for me or if it was just good.

In all my musings about this, I have come to a conclusion. Whether that relationship is ever rebuilt or not, it is going to be my intention to not settle for good. I want to strive for best. I don't mean the best car or jeans. What God has for me is what is best. I mean going the full measure. Not just to where I feel comfortable. I won't wade in His grace. I mean to lanch myself headlong into it. I can't give any concrete example at this point in time. For now it is a heart attitude, to no longer sip the water he offered the woman at the well or nibble the bread he spoke of to the Jews. The best foundation I can lay out now is to trust God. I know I keep harping on that point. It took me 22 years of walking with Him to really get what it means through my head. So I will likely go on saying it. For I know, I still haven't grasped it to its fullest measure.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Motive, motive, motive

I've been thinking a lot about motives lately. It is one of the most important things in a murder mystery, which happens to be one my favorite genres. But an Agatha Christie mindset is not what has this circling around my cerebelum. No, I afraid that my own motives have far more selfish. Why did so-and-so not talk to me at church? Why hasn't so-and-so called? Why did so-and-so say that to me? This isn't a new thing for me. I dare say it isn't a new thing for many women. It is a very old thing. I used to gauge how well I was doing by how people reacted to me. A symptom of many actors. So much of what is kept and changed in a production is based on how well it was received by the audience. I have gone through most of my life as if my worth depended on the reaction of my audience. What I was too young to realize in the chaos of my early years, came into sharp focus over the last few weeks.

I ran into a friend at a local coffee shop. His usual greeting was reserved. In fact, he seemed downright preoccupied. The little actor inside of me jumped up and began pacing. Why didn't he ask how I am? As I stood and my actor paced, he told me about a trial he's been going through. Ah, ha! I began to realize something but my actor only stomped her foot. One of my college roommates had a favorite, well-worn t-shirt. It read, "Why, yes! The world really does revolve around me!" There it was, the truth. The ego-bruising realization smacked my little actor in the head. She begrudgingly sat down. The t-shirt lied, but we want so to believe it.

I know intellectually that other people have problems. I try to share their burdens. My heart hurts when I see someone else hurting. However, there are times that it is too busy licking its own wounds, real or perceived, to see anything beyond. My head knows. It tries to come up with some sort of help while my heart is otherwise preoccupied. I don't think I am alone in this. The Bible mentions that we should "Love the Lord [our] God with all [our] heart, and with all [our] soul, and with all [our] mind." We have different pieces and unlike the cogs in a Swiss watch, they don't always work together.

Often, I feel I am the last to know of other people's struggles lately. It makes it hard to feel connected. It makes it easier to believe that everyone else really is my audience alone. Theatre is a heady experience for the actor. There is an intimacy with the audience in a theatre production that the actors in a movie do not find. The audience laughs with you, cries with you, and is made merry when truth triumphs. The actor can feel the energy in that space of time. But the sharing is really only from the stage outward. At the close, the audience claps their level of approval and goes on to their lives. The illusion of community is over. The little actor searches for a new audience, more approval.

My deepest longing has been to be taken as I am. It is not there by accident. God put it there. So as to make me turn my eyes heavenward. It really is too bad that I have searched the length and breadth of this world before I looked to him for this fully. Since I was small, I found it easier to do what I knew would be well received. Afterall, those around me were my elders and I was to respect them. Too late did I learn they were wounded too. I also learned to hang in the wings to avoid failure. Not even the wise words of Dr. Townsend on the subject of Boundaries wedged this attitude out. You see even if I am not responsible for the audiences reaction, I still ended up judging myself by it.

I have come to the conclusion that I am responsible for my actions and reactions. Nothing more and nothing less. As long as I endevour to live according to God's word, Jesus' example, and the Holy Spirit within me, I have no reason to hang my head in shame. And where I faulter, I expect a loving reprimand. I do want to clarify that my little actor and my theatre analogy do not mean that reactions and actions are ingenuine or practiced. But I do try to save face more often than I should. Ah, that little actor is hard to settle down sometimes.

Given all of this, I have been pondering my capacity to fall back again. The answer came in the form of a timely book. I began this particular post in a notebook a couple of weeks ago. Something kept me from posting it at first. It has been a year since my husband actually left. I have had a rough time of it. I think that is why my little actor has been making such a fuss. I mean what could possibly be worse than my problems, right. Oh yeah, the eathquake and tsunami in Japan or the tornadoes that just ripped through the south. There are others that demand my compassion beyond these disasters. The world doesn't revolve around me.

Back to the timely book. It was So Long, Insecurity by Beth Moore. I knew I had issues with insecurity and with good reason. But I hadn't been able to get beyond that point. "Hi, I'm Fancey and I'm insecure." Any rehabilitive program begins with recognition of the problem. It doesn't end there. I devoured the book in a couple of days. So I am still digesting a good portion of it. And you'll probably see things cropping up from it in future posts. But the concept that relates here, the one that had escaped me in counseling, stress management class, and the other books I read was that I decided to let go of my security.

Yes, I had very valid issues that had the potential to shake my security. But they didn't takeit, I gave it to them. Everytime I listened to the little actor, I let the audience have it. Even with good boundaries, I got hurt. Here's the trick. Just because I got hurt doesn't mean that person or circumstance gets to have my security too. I think the walls just fell! I don't know about you but that was a revelation of monumentous proportions to me. I thank God that He gave Beth Moore the desire and ability to write that book. Otherwise, I still would be wandering around the ocean of my emotions with a only a latern for light. Now, I see the light house and I am headed for the safe harbor. Whether my little actor likes it or not, she's along for the ride. She's got a lot to learn but she'll get there.

Monday, March 14, 2011

To Know - Dangerous Verb or Life Necessity

I have been doing a lot of contemplating lately. I have heard that is inevitable with any life change, whether a person is desirous of that change or not. Much of that contemplation has centered around an ever increasing fear about what changes I have to make in my life as a single parent and my choice to attend an expensive, private college.

Some of it centers around being a casualty of divorce for a second time around. I did not see it coming when my dad left and I did not see it coming this time either. I had dreams about it that, unfortunately, were spot on. But, I still thought they wouldn't come true, they couldn't. So, as any good casualty, I have wounds. What I have seen breed in the wounds of divorce is a belief that one isn't worth being known and a fear that being known is too dangerous.

Oddly enough, it is easy to transpose those feelings about people who hurt us to God. I find myself wondering in the back of my mind, "If i can't trust those who claim to follow God, then how can I trust God." Ridiculous as it sounds out loud, I know that I do it. I question the motives of those around me. I look heavenward and wonder how could God let this happen. Then, I fall back. What follows is a retreat such as not a war on the planet has seen. I reason that I am not worth being known or people wouldn't treat me that way. I also reason that being known is just too risky. Even if the one to know me would be the creator of the universe.

One night I was reading Forgotten God by Francis Chan when I heard Joy to the World playing in the background of the dvd I was watching. Although Chirstmas time is behind us, with the Easter season fast approaching, Christ's birth has been bouncing around my head along with all of the other thoughts. Immanuel, God with us, is so oft repeated during the Christmas season. It is a celebrated idea that has been such an appealing thought in the last year. As the anniversary of Christ's death and return to His father's right hand draws nearer, His last days and actions have caught my attention. There is something that He said that is often overshadowed by the Immanuel idea.

When I was little, I prayed a prayer with my mother to ask Jesus into my heart. In the last days of his life on Earth, Jesus spoke of someone who would come after him. As Joy to the World ended, Chan was reminding me of that very fact. Jesus went to prepare a place for us, the bride, as any good Jewish bridegroom would do before the wedding feast. But, He has not left us with the mere words, sweet love notes, or trinkets as proof of His immense love and promise to wed us to himself. No, He sent part of himself to be in us. A mere taste of the sweet intanglement of the Trinity.

For we do not have the Law alone as Israel did. We do not have the Bible alone. We have God indwelling us. When Jesus said, "It is Finished!", the veil was rent between Holy of Holies and the world. He opened himself up to us. He has chosen to place a part of Himself in us if we are willing. He offers to be in us in the good and the bad. A somewhat terrifying idea for anyone struggling with the idea of being known. The flip side of God offering to enter us is that He would know us, all of us.

As absolutely astonishing as it is that God's son would choose to take on human flesh and the sins of the world (and I in no way wish to demean that sacrifice), is it not also incredible that God would choose us to be the temple for His Holy Spirit! Some may say, "Well, duh!" But, in all my years of hearing things about our bodies being temples, I have never heard it celebrated as Chan did in his book. It was spoken of as the Law was by the Pharisees. Added onto until it was crushing, just as Eve did in the garden when she said they could not even touch the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

I didn't hear of it in humble adoration for this seemingly wild and crazy Creator, who so loved His creation ( that, let's face it, He could have just scrapped) that he gave of Himself again and again. Its one thing for Him to offer a way to cover my sins and another thing to be allowed to come to Him in all seasons. He takes it to the max and indwells me in my day to day muck! The whole Trinity singing a three part love song over us each and every day.

I won't pretend that I haven't had reservations. Men who lived with Jesus day in and day out had moments of doubt. But, I have decided that the hand that has been on my shoulder my entire life is worth the risk of being fully known. Once that step is achieved the story gets wilder. He wants to do things through us! Even though we might mess it up. I don't know how many times I taken something over from my daughter. "Just let mommy do it," I will say gently. All I really want to do is save a mess or some time. But not God. He is willing to get in there and let us make a mess.

He is teaching us not from the lofty perch before a grand hall full of students, but in the quick with us. All of this not because we are wonderful in and of ourselves, but because He is willing to love us just as we are. Coming from that place of acceptance makes the trials of molding ourselves more into His image endurable, even joyful. For when we fall, the Holy Spirit does not leave us in the muck to find someone more suitable. He whispers and waits patiently for us to stop thrashing about and listen. Then, He spurs us on, comforts us, and heals us.

No one gets through this life unscathed. Those who accept Him have the Holy Spirit making supplication for them when words fail. He allows us to do things beyond our capablilties as human beings, I cite the many accounts of the disciples singing in prison. He builds us up in times of dispair.

Given all of this, I can't help but think that our face should fairly glow as Moses' face did as he came down from the mountain, having been in the presence of the Almighty God. For now, we have Him in us.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Once more to the altar

It has been a while since I posted. A lot has occured in the last couple of months. everything from my divorce being finalized to having surgery on my wrist from a work injury. Christmas came and went, followed closely by New Year's. Then my birthday just this past weekend. All of these occassions brought mixed feelings. I had people with which to share each one. Yet one person was conspicously absent. Nothing about the last few years has gone the way I imagined it would. Often, that was a good thing. Afterall, creation should be proof enough to me that God has a much more impressive imagination than I do. I came to Cambridge with one object in view - to become nurse. A year and half later found me marrying my best friend. Another year found us welcoming a beautiful little girl into this world. The dreams I had back then about my best friend and other half betraying me haunted the edges of my conscience. Still, I was sure I could create a safe bubble if I just did things right. I could hold it all together alone. In the end, my plan failed. I had left God and others out of it.

As Job shows us, tragedy will always breed questions and doubt about why certain events must occur. We may ask who the charletan behind the curtain is and why he refuses to show his face to answer our pointed questions. In the end, though, even understanding why wouldn't fill the hole or arrest the unbearable ache in places of our soul we had no previous knowledge of. I agree whole heartedly with Pastor Greg Boyd, we are in a war zone. What's more, we are in the enemy's territory. "[T]hings seens and unseen" have free wills all their own. So, the universe doesn't revolve around me or my plans. But equally true is the fact that God's character does not change and He is aching for us to turn to Him for help, comfort, and love. This doesn't come in the form of an easy button. Often it requires us to let go of things, people, and places.

When I was nine or tenyears old, I had a tea cup. It was the last of a set that my aunt or mom had. There was a little green turtle with a brown shell painted on it in the style popular during the sixties. I loved that cup. One day I was throwing something away when I discovered my beloved cup discarded among the potato peelings and coffee grounds. I snatched it up. The handle had apparently broken off. I scrounded through the peelings frantically. Soon I had both pieces rinsed and carefully placed on the shelving in my room. It stayed for a couple days patiently waiting to be glued. My step dad wasn't so patient. Ireturned home from school on the third day to find it gone and the garbage empty. I yelled and cried all that evening much to my parents' dismay. Neither of them could understand my oddly deep connection to the tea cup. I am sure I did then either. All I knew was that my world seemed all that more uncertain.

The Bible and various histories of the vast number of cultures on this planet are littered with symbols, ceremonies, and rights of passage. I loved symbols. We moved a lot. My family was broken. However, there were certain things that I could always take with me. That tea cup reminded me of waffles at my aunts house in the days before my dad left. Berry picking adventures before my cousin was too cool for me. And jokes and laughter before cynisim tainted my joy. Here's the thing about that cup, I had assigned that to it. The cup in and of itself was just a cup. I still have those memories.

Since all of this awful season began, I have struggled with this letting go thing. Intitally, I felt disillusioned. I threw a statuette of a mom, dad and a baby. Afterall, now I knew it had all been a lie. I ripped a picture of him and me on our wedding day intro tiny pieces, furious at my nieveity and the trusting smile I wore. Later I moved into a stage where I held onto certain things and him. The rings, the vows, the dress, the pictures all were supposed to mean something. We had been put together by God. Let no man put asunder. Those words rang in my ears in the quiet of the night. All of those things meant nothing in andof themselves. And where they eclipsed God They needed to be pruned. Some where along the line I have been able to let go of some things. His promises and our vows still haunt my sleep.

I may have mentioned it before, but the book 'Is That You, God?' has had a profound effect on this issue in my heart. A certain dream of the founder of YWAM had to be set aside because it had eclipsed Jesus. The author says he had to lay that dream on the altar. I felt stirrings when I read that. It is astruggle, but I keep putting our marriage and him on the altar. They were both God's to begin with. I don't have any idea what is around the bend, but I know whose standing beside me, sometimes even carrying me.