Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I've been distracted lately, and though it isn't all that surprising, it is somewhat annoying.  One of the things that is usually true about me is that I can concentrate.  When I was a little girl, my parents once took me to a hearing specialist at the University of Michigan (where my dad was getting his PhD). They thought I was hard of hearing because I could sit for long periods staring at something, and not answer even when they were a foot or two away, calling my name.  It turns out that my hearing was fine.  I simply wasn't listening.

And my kids will tell you of the times they've tried talking to me and I do no more than grunt back at them.  I can get completely caught up in books, movies, what's outside my window, but mostly my own brain.

So it's not surprising that I might be concentrating at the moment.  Unfortunately, most of that concentration is a negative.  That is, I'm working hard not to think.  At least not to think about the one thing I'm wholly fixated on.  Trying not to pray about it, not to worry about it, not to...well, just not to!  However, the reality is, that this is what my life's about at the moment.  This thing--the ending of this thing--is the most important thing in my life. 

CS Lewis says, in his Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer:" It is no use to ask God with factitious earnestness for A when our whole mind is, in reality, filled with the desire for B.  We must lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us."

This is my exact situation.  What I want to be able to pray is that I can--with grace, peace and ease--stop thinking about, stop desiring my book to have a future.  But what I really want is that future.  No matter how often I tell God, and myself, that I surrender it to Him, it's different actually doing the thing of which I speak.  But it teaches me the truth of Lewis' words.  God doesn't want me to go through the motions of surrender, of giving my life to Him.  He didn't die on that dark/good Friday so that I could pay lipservice to Him.  It cost Him sweat, blood and His very breath to die for me.  And even though it was God's plan from Genesis, that pain still had to be borne. Those flogging cuts on His back were sticky with real blood.  The nails in His hands and feet caused scars that lasted into resurrection. 

And so it is with me--with any of us--when a dream or hope or desire has to be put to death.  Sweat and blood and my very breath.  "What cost God much cannot be cheap to us," Deitrich Bonhoeffer said.  And what, after all, do I really want?  When everything is stripped away, when I'm down to my skin and holding nothing in my hands, what I really want is Him.  Not my silly (I know it's not really silly, it's just in relation to the ultimate desire that all human things are foolish) book, my little dream of holding a book of my own making in my hands.  Yes, I want that.  I really want it.  But I also want Him.  So which is object A?  And which is object B?  If it's either/or, I'll tell you this.  I can live without my book, I cannot live without Him.  Now I know you're wondering why it has to be either/or.  I don't have an answer for that--not one that makes sense in the eyes of the world. I just know that for today, for this season, it is.  And I choose Him. Again.

But the battle is long inside, the desire doesn't go gently into that good night.  Maybe, therefore, I must hold them both in my hands--Please God, resurrect this!; Please God, help me let go of it!--then open my fists and allow Him to be God.


Little Birdie Storybook said...

Thank you so much for sharing your heart this week! I've found myself crying along with your words and wishing very much you were back in my life on a more regular basis. Today's post struck to the heart of a major battle I fight. Because I understand what I should be feeling at a given moment, and what I should want, I can't fully recognize my "B" desires and offer them to God. In truth, I don't think I had considered the whole mess those terms yet. Anyway, I wanted you to know I've been praying for you. I'm terribly grateful to know you.

jeskmom said...

Hey, LBS,
Thanks for note. I'm glad to know that this touched something you're struggling with--hopefully brought some clarity. It doesn't matter what the issue is, it's what happens inside us about the issues of our lives that God is about. Always working to change us, even when He doesn't change the circumstance we want changed. Does this make sense? I'm glad to know you, too, B, have always felt a visceral connection to you that has nothing to do with time together (or distance between us).