So, I’ve been pondering something lately and I want to share it with you all. These thoughts aren’t fully-formed yet, and I’m not sure how clear they’ll be, but I sense that some of you might have a lot to say on some of these topics and I’d love your input.
I feel caught between following my dreams and being a Christian.
It’s not that I want something that’s even vaguely immoral or anything akin to that; more like, I’m afraid to believe in myself and my dreams because I know that sin gets in the way.
I love reading about women (and men, though I mostly hear about women) who believe in themselves, who’ve learned to say, “Fuck ’em!” to their detractors, who find deeply good things at the center of themselves and others. I love the lives these women live, with their art and creativity and ability to invest in themselves and their talents. I love knowing that at least a few people have children who will grow up knowing they’re loved and held, no matter what they choose to do or who they choose to be.
At the same time, I feel like I can’t quite enter in, like God says I have to stand in the doorway that leads to all of this beauty and say, “No, the center of us is bad. There is sin and emptiness in our middles, not goodness and light. I can’t trust what comes from there, because who knows what is influencing it.”
And there’s truth in that. Not everything that burbles up from the middle of me is good. Much of it is dark, confused, wrong, manipulative, tired, sad, angry, hurtful, resentful, frustrated, etc. I don’t want to live the rest of my life investing deeply in something that’s based on any of these things. I don’t want to be so dazzled by a beglittered facade that I miss the terrible shadow forming behind it. I don’t want to invest exclusively in myself and miss God.
In the end, I really think that the Bible says that every good thing comes from God: power, creativity, meaning, glory, beauty, etc. If I was just left as me, well, there wouldn’t be a whole lot of that. But how do I know what I’ve been given? How do I know that these things I want are really from Him and not something I’m trying to take on because I’m deceived into thinking that it’s good?
I’m afraid that pursuing what I want would be self-focused and arrogant, because I would be doing what I wanted to do regardless of the money it brought in or Dave’s and my practical needs. I feel like pursuing these things would be giving in to a life of self-focused falsehoods. The word “debauchery” comes to mind here, like giving up what is safe and what makes sense financially and educationally and on every practical level imaginable would be indulging myself to the point of my soul’s destruction. I feel like I don’t have the right to ask Dave to let me pursue something that very well might not work out, might leave us poor and stretched and stressed. Our lives are tied together now, and ruin for me means ruin for him, too. I feel like I don’t have the right to be wild, heedless, or to take big risks. I need to be steady, focused, patient, practical and solid. I need to hold on to the status quo until it makes sense to follow my dreams. I need to follow the path I’m on, not see what’s beyond the glade.
And I feel like all of this comes from God. The God I know wants me to take care of practical matters first. He puts duty over desire, every single time. Practical responsibility trumps responsibility to myself in almost every circumstance. He is skeptical of my heart’s motives, wanting me to examine them over and over and over again before I do anything, so that I know whether or not they’re pure. The God I know didn’t make me particularly special; sure, I’m unique, but I’m not going to change the world. I’m not special enough to get to do anything out of the ordinary, like for a job or something. My God wants me to always put others first, to do what feels like betraying my own soul, if I have to, so that they can get what’s good for them (is this the “dying to self” that Christ practiced? I don’t know.) He tells me that it’s selfish to ask for resources for training, or to risk resources on something that might pan out. I think he wants me to not need to pursue the things I want to be happy. I should be detached and content, not chomping at the bit to get the hell out of Dodge.
Needless to say, God and I are on some pretty strange (I almost wrote “strained”) terms right now.
In the end, I think that some of what I come to this dilemma believing is true, while some of it is false. I think that some of the messages I’m hearing from the outside are true, while parts of those messages are also false. I want to sift the truth from the falsehood, pick it up and let the rest fly away. Letting go of lies is harder than that, though, whether they’re long-and-closely held or new-and-alluringly-attractive. It’s a fight inside, and at the moment I don’t feel like I can see anything beyond the dust and confusion of the clash
I just read over this and I’m afraid I’ve revealed too much here. And yet…well, maybe not. Thus, the longing to say these things, to make this heart-struggle real, has a better hand than the one that says people shouldn’t know these things about me, and I post.