Hello, reader. I feel like I haven’t written in here in a while. Haha.
While catching up with a friend last week, I became aware of something, of the fuzz that had become my life over the past year. I instantly knew because I’d said it without thinking, without hesitating, without really knowing.
Almost exactly a year ago, on the fourteen-hour car ride back from the 2011 Arizona mission, I felt this huge ball of “I don’t care” roll into my life and heart. At the time, I wasn’t sure what it was. But watching the road and sky and clouds pass me by, minute by minute, I heard myself tell myself how I just didn’t… care anymore. Care about what? I didn’t know either. Maybe it had to do with the responsibility of the trip; I served in a leader position in a couple different ways during the mission. Maybe once the trip had finished, I felt this relief that the job was done, the stress and burden released, at least for another year, perhaps onto another blessed follower of Christ. Maybe.
There was something inside me, a quiet, gnawing voice. It didn’t even whisper. It wasn’t apologetic. It was a matter-of-fact projection of a deeper knowledge, awareness. I knew the voice, the feeling, whatever it was, was deeper and more real than I knew or foresaw by the way I resisted, ignored, dismissed it.
Eventually, it faded away. I always remembered it, but it never came to me again the way it had on that car ride.
What did come to me, or rather come back to me, was… me. Hahaha. Confused? So was I. What I mean is, the Grace of old returned. It’s really not that big a deal. To me, it was. I’d spent the past couple years living a very different lifestyle consisting of morning prayer, consistent fasting, hours of reading the good Word and so on. And I did it all with real joy, real peace and real love for my real Jesus. It became so my lifestyle wrapped around who I was, what people perceived me as. I was everything a church-going, Bible-reading, faithfully-serving Christian could want to be. Sounds cocky but I don’t know how else to say it. Life was perfect. Ha.
And then AZ comes and goes. The drive back changes everything. As days rolled into weeks and weeks into months, I began to see the old Grace surface, bubbling up little by little to interrupt the image and person I’d become. It was horrifying at first. I was afraid. Afraid of who I’d become if I didn’t stop this unholy mess. Afraid that the past couple years of peace, goodness and blahblahblah were bogus and the truth was finally seeping through, eventually escalating into a spewing volcano of ugliness and lies. Afraid that I had it all wrong. Afraid God wasn’t as big as I believed him to be, as big as he said he was. Paralyzed.
I couldn’t understand why I was returning to my old selection of music, the good old west coast hip hop, full of cussing, drugs, women, money, among other kinds of secular beats. I couldn’t understand why I was out drinking with friends, coming home late, ignoring my parents. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t be civil toward my brother, why my old attitude and sass had settled in a comfortable niche of my tongue. I couldn’t understand why or how or when I’d once again let cuss words into my vocabulary. This all sounds a lot more horrible than it really is haha. It was a subtle process, this rebirth of old Grace.
All the while, interestingly, relentlessly, ironically, I enjoyed Jesus. I loved him all the more. I knew him better than I knew myself. I became closer to him than my own skin. Everyday was a freaking adventure of love, freedom, truth and AHHHHHHHHHHSOOOOGOOOOOOD. Even with oldGrace threatening to knock down my Christian image, I couldn’t deny the truth of his presence in every moment, every breath of every second. I couldn’t escape – him. Agh. I would seesaw up and down, teetertotter back and forth between what I had once thought was good and perfect and worth following and what really was good, perfect and worth following. So weird, huh? I began to place less value on who I was, how I represented Jesus, the things I said and did. A new freedom took hold of my heart, hurling me higher and further into the ginormosity of his love. I was forced to face the intensity of his grace, falling uncontrollably into an eternity of intimacy.
I had nothing to hold onto, except him. I had nothing to hope for, except him. I had nothing. Just him. I have him. Not even myself, not the product of his work, nothing. Not serving, not even the peace and joy he brings, not what people have to say about me, nothing. Not my reputation, image, not my anything. Everything surrendered is my only possession.
And it doesn’t look perfect. It doesn’t even look appealing. Who wants to keep being “unholy” while walking with Jesus? But it’s okay. This is just how I love him. This is me, Grace, old and new, loving my Jesus, eternal and now. I don’t get anything, I don’t understand much. Along the way, over this past year, I’ve shed a lot of… stuff. The things that really fall away, fell away. And what remains, remained.
Do you see where this leaves me? Do you hear that voice?
“I don’t care.”
I realize now, a year later, I really don’t care, and not in a apathetic or derisive way. Apathy is far from the passion and desire I wake up everyday, no? And derisiveness is far from the hope and joy and enthrallment of being in love, no?
It’s more like… what doesn’t matter, I do not care for.
I know some of the things I described about my life don’t sound too wholesome and whatnot. I live in full hope that God is potter and I am clay.