Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How well I know you

My favorite color is orange.  Let's be clear about that straight away.  And my favorite flowers are tulips.  These are the backbones of this story.  When I was a teenager and my family was ordering a new Suburban Carry-all, I somehow manipulated  was allowed to choose the color, hence our new carry-all was a very easy-to-spot orange.  I've always noticed other such orange-hued cars and felt a twinge of nostalgia and a pang of envy.

On the other hand--about the flowers: well, from the time I was eighteen, people have been buying me yellow roses.  A college boyfriend, other friends, my mother.  We used them in our wedding (though I wanted tulips, the mothers said they weren't wedding flowers and I was nothing if not compliant in those days), and ever after, as long as she remembered, my mother sent them to me, any time she felt I needed cheering up, comforting or anything else.  Here's a conversation between us (as written in my journal in 2002) after a surgery occasioned a dozen yellow roses.
"Thank you very much for the flowers," I said. "It was very thoughtful."
"Not just flowers. Yellow roses!" She answered. 
"Yes, yellow roses. They've very pretty, as always."
"See how well I know you?" she asked.
"Yes, "I said. "I see exactly how well you know me."
Mom had me bubble-wrapped at 18 or at 22, when AC (who also thought he knew me) bought me yellow roses and I was thrilled about it.  More, I think now, by that he sent them than by what he sent.  Perhaps that was the case in all those early days.  Not anymore.  I grew up. 

But here's the thing.  I think there are a whole lot of people who are kind of like this.  They get an idea in their heads about something, like what a Christian should believe about a certain issue, and they stick to that their whole lives, because they first learned it at 18, after all, and it was good enough then.  I've known a few folks like this.  They seem to be standing still in their faith.  Still talking about the same old things, the same old ways, every single time I see them. And when they discover my views have changed with my age, they shudder in horror.

When I was young I thought like a child, Paul says.  I thought in black and white and good and bad, and he's wrong and I'm right, and never seeing the middle ground. Certainly not giving God room to move and breathe and change people--as is always His goal.  But as I matured I learned about shades of gray, and sometimes the muddled middle, and how God is always working between, and how He works even in situations we can't understand.  Even those we judge as bad or wrong or 'what the heck were they thinking, anyway?'  'And they're wrong!' Yes, even in those situations, God is working.  God has purpose in them.  And our place, our most important participatory place is to be a Light-bearer in every situation.  You know?   To know God and to make Him known.

To know who He really is, I mean.  Not who you thought He was because you learned about Him back when you were a teenager, but who He is today, right now.  To learn and know and keep learning and knowing and then taking that and making Him known here and now--in all your dealings.  How well do you know Him?  What has He taught you lately?

PS. Beve has never bought me yellow roses, but a host of tulips through our marriage.  Sigh.  He's a keeper, that one.

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