i have a thing
for hands with long fingers
where the sun plays hide and
seek between the wristbone and knuckles, hands
that look like they were meant to hold the
brush they were painted by, could brush
away the shadows and make
i have a thing
for men with soft voices
who sound like they’re hiding secrets I
may find if I try, words low
and quiet and safe like summer dusk,
when the grey half-light wraps itself around me and
promises it can
i have a thing
for grabbing hold of things,
for idols it seems I can touch, just
for golden calves and pretty earrings, the
stolen good of a city I do
not believe I inherit, as
if when melted they might approximate
the whole I do
not think will be given, as
if enough things can stop up the
loneliness that does not stop
to knock, just
i have ten thousand things all
gathered and arranged on
display in the hall, see -
it’s proof we’re somebody.
i have fleeting glances, imagined chances,
gilt mirrors that tell someone
else’s face, one
long hall to wander when the
nights grow longer.
i have nights spent counting the
things and counting the
things and counting the
things and counting the
things and never finding
Father, my Father, i give them all to you,
i lay them at your feet;
you can have them.
i am sick of counting.
i am yours to keep.
Sometimes I sit before him and the words don’t come so easily anymore, or I guess they don’t seem to satisfy quite like they used to. Sometimes I need to back up, be quiet, catch the words I spill every-which-where - love, glory, mercy, presence, grace - and be reminded to know what they mean. To look more closely, go more slowly, and wait for him to make them sweet.
Father, I belong to you
and you did not say it would be easy
and the narrow gate was never meant to be so. But
God, I know
what will be dissolved
and what will stand -
at the end of the narrow path, and
will welcome me home, and
into the wide, wide place
You always meant for my feet to find.
be carried away, but
according to his promise we are waiting
for a new heavens
and a new earth
in which righteousness
and Lord, I
will be found in you
at the end
of the narrow path.
John Piper (via imtheonewithtwoleftfeet)
In a fit of nostalgia, I picked up my first journal tonight and read what I wrote last year on my birthday.
Let me look forward to this year, God, without fear, but with true and abandoned joy for all the ways I know you will work in me and around me, all the ways, Lord, that I know you will transform me and grow me in you. And I pray that that will be my heart for this year, God - joy, not fear; confidence, not doubt; and just an ever-deepening striving for you. Lord, let all my other concerns fade in light of your promise - trusting that, when in all ways I acknowledge you, you will make my paths straight. Let this year be a time of growth and intimacy with you, my heavenly Father.
I’m at a loss for words. How he answered that prayer! I asked for growth and for intimacy, and how he answered! I flipped back one page, and I found what I wrote when, coming off of the high of meeting God for the first time that fall, I started to struggle to feel God’s presence.
God, I don’t know what this is. It just seems harder to quiet myself before you, like whenever I try to sit at your feet there are a thousand things pulling me away. I don’t know if it’s because I’m tired or busy or because I’m pulling away from your will. If I’m just scared of what you might ask of me. It’s probably all of the above. Lord, I feel off-balance. But you are more than feelings. It doesn’t matter what I feel, God. It matters what you did in sending us your Son. God, let me always remember that. Place that truth on my heart, Lord, and let it anchor all my ways. Let me dig deeper in you as I struggle, and thirst even more after your fullness. Let me not turn away from you and try to bury this gnawing feeling. God, I lay this uncertainty before you, and I know, even if my fickle heart cannot always feel, that your grace is sufficient to cover my weakness and my faithlessness. Let me run after you all the harder, at the same time knowing that it is you who works in my heart and you who saves - that you will bring me to completion. Let me just quiet myself before you, Lord, and trust in the power of your grace.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. I don’t know how many more times in this past year I’ve prayed this prayer, or how many times even in this past week I’ve forgotten about grace in midst of struggle. This year has seen so many ups and downs, but when I look at the way my life has changed there’s no denying the growth and intimacy he’s given me, the way he’s taught me to love his presence even in the absence of it - to hunger for him and to come back to the truth of how much I need him. I am foolish, I am faithless, I am weak, and I have no idea what nineteen will bring, but I’m praying as I did 363 days ago that he will help me to face it with joy, not fear, trusting in my faithful Savior - the one who answered a thousand times over.
I love, I love, I love your presence.
I love, I love, I love you Jesus.
I’ve been thinking about making this post for a while, and I finally decided to make it.
At a certain point in my life as a pro-choicer, I discovered something: In order to be intellectually honest in my pro-choice thinking, I had to be willing to look around at all of the people I knew—my family, my friends—and be willing to say, “It would be okay if you had never been born.” And I had to be willing to say the same about myself, too.
And I actually was willing to say this. While my mother was pregnant with me, my father tried to pressure her into an abortion, and you know what I thought when I found out? I thought, “She should have gone through with it.” I was a burden; I made everyone’s lives difficult; I wasn’t worth loving or sacrificing for; I didn’t matter. I had so completely internalized this message about myself that finding out that I had almost been killed in my mother’s womb was no big deal. I mean, hey, it would have saved us all a lot of suffering. The cost-benefit analysis seemed perfectly clear: I just wasn’t worth it.
I wasn’t quite so obviously callous in my estimation of other people’s worth, but, had they asked me if I believed that they mattered in any real way—mattered in some way which did not include some reference to my thoughts or feelings about them—I would have had to say no. I would have had to say, “I am overjoyed that you were born because you have contributed so much to my life, and you make me so happy, and I think you’re wonderful, and look at all of the people who love you, but, ultimately, if you had not been born, it would have been okay. At the end of the day, there is nothing necessary about your existence. You are replaceable.” Those were the consequences of my worldview—the worldview which says that each and every child conceived in his mother’s womb is theoretically disposable; the worldview which can talk about “what you have to offer” and how “useful” you are, but can say nothing about the worth of the “useless.”
And I think our society has done a pretty decent job at living out that vision: the Vision of Replaceability. We don’t just treat the unborn this way. We treat the born this way, too. We give up on our spouses when our marriages stop being “useful” contributions to our lives. We give up on our families when the going gets too tough. We give up on our romantic partners when “the spark is gone.” We give up on our friends when we’re not getting what we “need” from them. We’re a culture of quitters. We love when it’s convenient for us. And people are often inconvenient; they demand our time and attention and care; they’re not perfectly suited to our desires the way objects are. So, we objectify them. We pay attention when it suits us and then tuck them away on a shelf somewhere where we keep the rest of our “toys.”
Is it any wonder that we don’t think that we matter? We’ve never seen it. Is it any wonder that many of us cannot even conceive of true selflessness? That the notion that someone might actually want good things for you and might actually not expect anything in return and might actually not just be doing it because “it feels good to do good things” seems so foreign and strange? Should we be surprised? It’s all we know.
And this is the root of the culture of death. This is where death starts. It doesn’t start in war zones or brothels or abusive homes or abortion clinics or execution chambers. Those are its manifestations, but that’s not where death starts. Death starts with people as things. It starts with “you are only as necessary as you are useful.” It starts with “you are not precious; you are replaceable.”
So, we leave ourselves with no resources when we are truly confronted with death. We have nothing real to offer to the suicidal, the eating disordered, the self-injuring, the depressed, the lonely, the abused. Nothing but empty words. We may say, “You are irreplaceable,” but do we mean it? Do we know what it would mean to truly mean those words? I don’t think we do. Not as long as we see each other as “choices,” as “options” in a sea of options. Not as long as we cannot honestly look one another in the eye and say, “It would not have been okay if you had never been born. You belong alive, and you matter, not because of what you do, but because you are you.”
And for those of us who call ourselves pro-life, that has to mean something. It has to mean that we see people as people; that we treat them like people; that we love them. Maybe the reason that the pro-choice movement so often accuses us of “only caring about fetuses” isn’t all unwarranted hyperbole; maybe they’re responding to the very real lack of true, genuine, selfless love in our society, and maybe we’re all in that battle together. How on earth are any of us supposed to know that that’s possible—that we could matter in that way—unless someone shows us? That’s where the culture of life starts: the moment when we discover that we’re loved.
Oh God, the glory is yours! The kindom is come; the battle is over.
From Matt Chandler’s A Theology of Struggle