quiet

I’m craving quiet. I guess what I should say is that lately I’ve been indulging my craving for quiet. Maybe you noticed.

Compared to my friends I live a boring life. Even so, sometimes it seems too fast, too loud, too overwhelming. I blame the internet. I admit it’s not completely responsible, but it contributes more than its share to the number of thoughts racing through my mind. I’ve been thinking about politics, peace, family issues, long-distance friendships, vocation, self-discipline, and the many quirks of time: life is short; life is long; there’s not a moment to spare; I must take time to be; projects stretch to fill the timeframe I allow for them. And so on. My brain gets noisy.

A couple weeks ago, before I could talk myself out of it, I unfollowed the thirty or so blogs I’ve been following. I was spending a significant amount of time reading things that imparted no lasting value. Sure, I stashed away some helpful tips. Yes, I gained some inspiration. But I wasn’t gaining enough good to justify all the time I spent reading those blogs every day of the week. I needed more soul-deep words. I read Madeleine L’Engle, Corrie ten Boom, Brennan Manning, and Frederick Buechner. I went back to reading the Bible after a summer of mostly ignoring it.

My soul is crying out to know the living God but I can’t get to know him while my mind is frantically occupied with other things. The other things aren’t bad, but for me, right now, they are distracting. So I’m pulling, like a soft little hermit crab, into a protective shell where I’m listening for echoes of an enormous sea. When my heartbeat calms to the rhythm of its tides, maybe I’ll venture out again. For now, expect the silence to last a while longer.

Advertisements

it’s not that bad

I recently experienced a revelation. To some of you this will sound more “No duh!” than “Oh, wow!” but I share with confidence that someone out there can relate. Here’s the revelation: chores I tackle the moment I notice them are easier than chores I avoid for a while before addressing them. Your mind is blown, right?

Although this may seem obvious, it took a while to click for me. I fell prey to a shortsighted logic that told me, “This mess is not that bad; you can deal with it later.” That seems to make sense.

glass canister, bowl, and glasses soaking in stainless steel sink

See? Not that bad. It can wait.

But here’s another way of saying the same thing: “You should deal with this mess only when it grows to a size and severity you can’t ignore.” That’s nonsense.

I was using the fact that any given mess was small and manageable as an excuse to put off dealing with it. What I could have done instead—what I am working on doing on a daily basis now that I realized procrastination has caused me undue stress—is to recognize that small, manageable messes are far less stressful to eliminate than long-ignored, overwhelming messes.

utensils, glasses, and dishes in white dish-drying rack

Five minutes, maybe?

But I still don’t like doing dishes. What’s your dreaded chore? How do you motivate yourself to complete it?

equal footing on yahoo news

It may sound as if I’m picking on Yahoo but I’m only using it to illustrate a trend in news reporting and aggregating. Since I started using Yahoo email (recently) I’ve found the juxtapositions on the home page startling.

screenshot of headlines on Yahoo News August 23, 2013

We live in a world where news of wildly differing degrees of importance is presented on equal footing. Do I want to read about a “wacky hairdo” or the plight of a Syrian refugee? Developing details of the apparent murder of a WWII veteran or the first public appearance of North West? It’s fine with me if people want to read entertainment news and other “fluffy” fare. I’ll come right out and admit I’m obsessed with Kate Middleton, but it bothers me that a beautiful picture of a duchess and her family shows up above a picture of a young man receiving oxygen after a chemical weapon attack.

Maybe this is pandering: news services want to offer what people want to read. And I can definitely see the possibility that if the serious stuff were relegated to a “serious place” there’s a chance fewer people would read it. Mixing it in with things that are fun to read may actually allow it to reach a wider audience.

Something about it still troubles me, though. Would it make sense to divide an aggregate’s home page into sections–each quarter devoted to its own type of news: world headlines, celebrity gossip, nutty trends, U.S. politics…? What do you think?

Are the people who design the presentation of this information finally achieving the journalistic ideal of being fair and balanced, or are they mistakenly encouraging their readers to view all headlines as equally weighty?

God is not a man.

You think you know where I’m going with this, don’t you? If you’re a Christian you might already be angry. But hold on, I’m not talking about Sophia.

I used to think of God as a man. Not fully God and fully man, which is a theological fact that’s impossible to understand. Because I couldn’t understand it I simplified it, and as a result I resented God. All this “for God’s glory” stuff–could he be more conceited? More insatiable? Why should I sing praises to one who doesn’t do what I want him to? That’s like five stars for no performance.

It took me years to recognize the flaw in my thinking. I was angry because mentally I had elevated God only to the top of my Hall of Fame. He was more virtuous than Abe Lincoln, more giving than Ghandi, more righteous than Job. But that wasn’t the right place for him. What he really needed was a hall of his own, a Hall of Holiness. He’s not just the best of all the men who’ve ever lived; he’s the sole occupant of a separate category.

That means I can ask new questions about him. When he says he should be exalted, a word whose roots mean raising something to a higher importance, he’s not saying he wants praise; he’s saying it’s necessary. Necessary for what?

Here’s the answer: “Jesus said…’Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.” (John 12: 30-33)

Those words “lifted up” also mean “exalted.” Traditionally there are parallels drawn between Jesus being lifted up on the cross and Moses lifting up a bronze serpent on a pole when he was leading the Israelites through the wilderness. Looking up at the bronze serpent brought healing from venomous snake bites (Numbers 21:4-9). Looking up at Jesus on the cross can bring the start of healing from much more. When God is exalted, his loved ones are restored. And by “his loved ones” I mean us! Want to hear something amazing?

“…we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-20)

God alone is able to save us; he has done all the work necessary to save us; yet sometimes we resist him because we’re still thinking he’s a dude with an overblown self-concept. Take a day to think about him differently–not as a man, but as the only occupant of a category we can barely comprehend. He is “set apart,” which is what holy means. And yet he reached, and still reaches, across the space between us to reconcile us to himself. What do you think about that?