Today a piece of my writing appears on author Jen Pollock Michel’s blog – and hey, that makes me excited! Jen’s new book, Teach Us to Want, was named one of the 25 Best Books from the First Half of 2014 by the Englewood Review of Books, so if you need something to read, consider picking up a copy! Otherwise, read my essay on the theme, “Found Wanting,” and check out the other writers as well.
I’ve wanted it all – and I’ve felt entitled that I deserve it all.
I’ve held an inflated sense of self. Like a caged lion desperately devouring his meal of bones and blood, I’ve greedily eaten affirmations of self-promotion. Fed to me from the earliest elementary years, I’ve taken and applied these words of invincibility to heart: You can do anything you set your mind to! “Can’t” is just a four-letter word! Be all that you can be! On and on the exclamation points continued, pounding into every pore of my being, infesting every part of my soul.
While such inspirational phrases never meant harm, naturally, the shouts of entitlement found their way in to my life of faith – because why wouldn’t My Big Genie Above grant me the desires of my heart? So I’d whisper the psalmist’s words heavenward, making David’s thoughts my own: God, I delight in you – so give me the desires of my heart as you say you will. With an indulgent nod of the head, I’d punch a conclusive “Amen!” onto the end of that day’s expectant request.
Really, my directives seemed to work well for a while – until I left full-time ministry and struggled to understand my identity apart from a vocational definition of self. Until a season of wandering in the wilderness arrived, and walking through a vast, unmarked desert found me helpless to even know what to utter to the One I’d apparently known so well, only months before. Until a month of darkness clouded over me, when unheard cries were met with mute silence did I later begin to understand that Something New was perhaps emerging in me and with me.
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