When you grow up as the older sister of three young siblings, like I am, you spend a lot of childhood learning how to hide.
You learn how to hide from your mom, when she wants to you to babysit,
You learn how to hide your Halloween
You learn how to avoid spring cleaning time, because you’ll be put in charge of at least five projects.
You learn how to find the dark corners of your house, to bury yourself in a closet, to stay in under the covers, with a book and a flashlight, ignoring the sound of your mom’s voice when she calls your name.
That’s a feeling I haven’t quite left behind. I feel the same way when I spend hours on
I don’t feel this way all the time, though. I feel like I’ve peeled away the edges of my comforter often enough to know that there is a beautiful world outside, where everything is lush and lovely and in bright, bold, color. I see laugh lines, and the streak of tears, and conversation between people who really know each other. These pictures intrigue me, brash little whispers of what my life could be, of how I could be with other people…But even as these fleeting flashes of life appear, they usually vanish. I blast them away with thoughts of I can’t…I won’t…I don’t want to…
… like, what if I invite the lonely new girl from home community to Thanksgiving, and it winds up being horrible? What if I’m awkward with her, what if my friends think she’s lame, what if there’s nothing to talk about?...
...or this lady I know has the flu, and I want to bring her something, like go get a chicken and fresh herbs and vegetables and make her some wicked awesome soup, but my car is about to explode if I don’t get the oil changed. And I don’t have cash to do both this week...
…or that guy at the bus stop looks lonely, but what if I talk to him and he gets the wrong idea, and I find myself feeling totally freaked out?…where is the balance between living boldly and taking risks...and being wise?
…or sometimes I think about working with the jr highers, or maybe the refugees, but I don’t know if I have what it takes. I don’t know if I’d belong around Somalians, or junior highers…I don’t know what’s hip in Somalia. Or let’s face it, what’s hip in jr. high.
And then I start to think, maybe I’m crazy for even asking these questions. Seriously. Why would I want to mess with my life, as good and as hard as it already is?
There’s a fear that in letting God find me under my covers, so to speak, or in asking him what I should do, how I should love people, I’ll be asking the question that will ultimately lead to me into places that I flat out do not like.
When I think about the fact that God might have something to say about my life…from the small, “shall I be patient with my co-worker right now?” the everyday “how should I spend my Saturdays?” the large, “what continent will I live on?” or “how do I help bring my family towards Christ?” I get a little anxious. Well, maybe a lot anxious.
I think somewhere deep in me I have this paranoid idea that God has no concept of what is enjoyable to me. That He would think that I love licorice, when really chocolate is my favorite. That somehow, God doesn’t “get” me. That somehow, there’s some role I have to play that is soooo not me, that I might have to change who I am completely.
Or the opposite: that I would never change. That this is it, and that my lesson is to suck it up, to resign myself to a life of ho-humness, of total monotony. That I will always be in exactly this posture, this position, showing up to the same cubicle until retirement, or making copies for the church until I die.
And another thing, what if I just don’t get it? What if I ask God what to do, and I’m in for a lifetime of being puzzled? What if somehow I’m not
I’m afraid that I’ll get lost in contemplation, and never take steps toward action.
I’m afraid that I’ll get lost in action, and be caught in an endless web of doing.
What if he gives me something that I cannot handle? What if he gives me something, and I screw it up? It seems simpler not to try.
But here is the thing.
When I think back on childhood, the babysitting, or the chore that I was avoiding, is never really the point. The uneasy memory is the one of dread, of being alone in my bed, waiting anxiously, self-conscious and self-protective. And I think, what if letting God find me, letting him take my hand and pull me out from my hiding spot, what if that is the place I find life and hope. And what if there is a whole, world, lush and lovely, just on the other side of my covers.