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"Eyes, Beth."

Sometimes it is really difficult to package thoughts into a blog entry. Tonight's most pertinent thoughts require two prefaces and will potentially be quite lengthy. I am tempted to watch an episode of The Mentalist instead of sorting it all out.

Preface A:
I don't know how to give myself permission to feel what I feel and want what I want even if it is irrational or "less" than another's feelings/pain/suffering/etc. I find it unbearably hard to say, "This is where I'm at: __________." Without following it up with some sort of plan to move forward or "fix" those things I dislike.

(Today, I feel overly possessive of friendships, jealous of girls dating men I do not want, grieved over the death of someone I haven't seen in five years.*)

Preface B:
I have found myself hesitating to blog about my relationship with Jesus this year. Partly because hesitant is exactly the word I would use to describe our relationship right now. And partly because as my readership expands and my non-church readers grow in number (and, frankly, church-readers who don't know me offline), I am afraid of misconstruing my thoughts, misrepresenting who I am (and/or who I believe Jesus to be).

The Main Thing:

(took a break here to watch The Mentalist, write a lighthearted post for tomorrow, chat with the roommate and her boy, and generally do all sorts of other things)

Over the past year, I have seen too much pain and brokenness.

The thin outer shell that I held in place to protect my heart has been worn down by global catastrophes, the heartaches of those I hold dear, loved ones making choices that I see as damaging, and my own inability to do (or be) the good I believe exists.**

It has left me wondering, Is the kingdom of God merely a promise for "someday"? Why are the pockets of beauty and wholeness that do exist so small, so seemingly insignificant, so far from perfect? and I have been asking God, What are you DOING? Why aren't you doing anything - or why are you doing THIS? How is this something that brings GOOD to the world?

Trying to express my distress, I asked a friend, "If people who know Jesus are just as screwed up, if our lives don't have anything noticeably better or different about them, what's the point?" She asked me what I meant. "I mean, what's the point of Jesus, if things aren't any better or different and heaven is just a probable promise for a possible afterlife?" (I may have let a little cynicism sneak through in my voice.)

"I have never thought about that question before. What's the point of Jesus?" She was a bit incredulous. "The point is to be loved."

I thought about that some more. What do I expect of Jesus?What do I expect of people? Where do these expectations come from?

Then on Tuesday, Jesus rebuked me, using his words to Peter at the end of the Gospel of John. After his resurrection, Jesus and Peter have this intimate conversation that reestablishes Peter's place in his plan. As it wraps up, Peter glances over at John and asks Jesus, "But what about him?"

"If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?" Jesus replies.
"You, follow me!"

It hit me that I have been far too much like Peter lately - my focus has been on everyone around me and God's plan for their lives, and as I've asked God, "But what about this? What about them?" I have stopped asking, "What about me?" because:
a. I clearly have my s#@! together (not. at all.)
b. As I've become more perplexed by what he is (or isn't) doing, I've feared the implications for my own life.

Again, like Peter, I've taken my eyes off Jesus and noticed that the waves are SO BIG and the wind is SO STRONG and O GOD, I'M GOING TO DROWN!

When I am working with C, and he is going haywire or having a tantrum or unwilling to listen to me, I say to him, "Eyes." And then I wait. And wait. And wait. Usually holding onto him. Until he is able to look me in the eyes and hold my gaze. The act of doing this calms him down. Refocuses him. Enables me to speak to him and be heard. Then we talk. And then we move forward.

For the past few months, I have been that three year-old, shaking my head and running around and running away and panicking - and Jesus has just taken me by the shoulders and said, "Eyes, Beth." And now he's waiting while I, like C, look everywhere else I possibly can, because for some reason, meeting his eyes is the most painful and difficult thing in the world for me to do.

*When I learned today that Rob Hall had died, tears came to my eyes instinctively and immediately. I haven't seen him or his family in 5 years, but they are a family I have loved and respected for years. I had thought of trying to connect with them when I came back to Ontario... Then I found out they had taken their 3 children on a bicycle pilgrimage through Spain. (!) Then they went to Africa. Now Rob has died and communities literally around the world are grieving the loss of a genuine Jesus-loving man... I feel grieved by his death, by the shock and the loss to his lovely family. As I scoured the FB page created in his memory, I read stories from strangers that added to my sadness. And I discovered that in two days, seventeen thousand dollars has been donated to his wife and children. This is a statement that says that good exists in this world, and this was a man who impacted many lives.

The overwhelming thought in all this (after immense sadness for his family and my friends who've been quite close to them), is this: That's how I want to die. Is that strange? I feel like this is a man who died well, because in his living, he lived well, loved well, laughed well. The man lived.

It reminds me of the final line in Ever After: "While Cinderella and her prince did live happily ever after the point is that they lived." I don't know about the "happily ever after" part. But I know I want to live.

**I don't mean to imply that the past year has sucked. It hasn't. Which reminds me just how GRACIOUS Jesus is and how I can't possibly EARN good things (This just in: The Secret is a lie. Also, it bears startling resemblance to the ideology of The Secret Garden which I just re-read after seeing the musical last weekend. Good musical, weird Christian Science philosophy in the novel.)


Anonymous said…
I have been feeling many of the same things and I'm glad you posted this.

The point of being loved rather than being perfect is interesting. Does Jesus love have any effect on you in the here and now?
MLW said…
"Eyes Beth!" I love this picture of God's interaction with us. I am sure He is often saying the same to me and many others. It is when we look in His eyes that we get His peace and His perspective. Thanks once again for sharing your heart and what you are learning.
Christina said…
I have been going through a similar struggle in the last few months. Oddly enough, it was the words of Aslan in Narnia that reminded me to step back. "Child," said the Voice, "I am telling you your story, not hers."
Odd how I never made the connection to Peter before. Thank-you for posting this and giving me yet another two texts to cling to.
Beth said…
anonymous: thanks for the comment! quick clarifying question - did you ask your question rhetorically, sharing something you have also considered, or are you wanting some concrete thoughts from my life?

mlw: you're very welcome :)

christina: I LOVE ASLAN! that is actually part of my favourite scene from the Narnia series. thanks for the reminder :)
nthecity said…
Oh I love you.

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