Hearts

There’s this one movie called Serenity.  It’s a Joss Whedon film, and one of my favorites.  The series and film focuses heavily on a character named River – a teenaged girl who is, admittedly, a little bit crazy.  Damaged.  She is strong and fierce and independent and has been transformed into a deadly weapon by the government.  But she is also kind and brilliant and funny and surprisingly gentle in so many ways – because she is, after all, a young girl.  And all the science-fiction brain experiments in the world can’t destroy the heart of a person.  At least, that’s what I believe.  Apparently, so does Joss Whedon.

Anyway.  In the film, there is one point when River collapses, both falling down and falling apart inside.  And she pleads, whispering, “God, make me a stone.”  Joss Whedon isn’t exactly a believer (exactly, he’s an atheist), and one could argue that River is not a believer either, though she has been exposed to God through a relationship with a member of the clergy, Shepherd Book.  But when River pleads with God to make her a stone, she means it.  She wants to be a stone.  Hard, unmoving, unfeeling, unreachable.  When her world has devolved into chaos and noise and destruction and confusion, and when she can no longer make sense of what is real and what is not, she turns to her last resort, to the God who she has logicked away to the far edges of the universe, and begs Him to take everything away.

A week and a half ago, I asked God to make me a stone.  I asked Him to harden my heart, to make me feel less.  When my own world felt like too much, when everything looked so real and so fake, when I was finally convinced that I was too soft – that’s when I prayed for God to pour the concrete, set me in the sun, and forget me.

If you know me well, you know that my heart lives on my sleeve.  Goodness, if you read this blog at all you’ll realize it.  I give my heart to people easily, but not carelessly.  I’m intentional.  If you know me, it’s because I decided to show my heart to you.  With some people, I remain guarded, pouring myself out gradually.  With a few, I am vulnerable almost, some might say, to a fault.  If that’s possible.  I give, because I want to be known.  I long to be known.  There have been times when the place my heart resides ends up hurting me.  But there have also been many times when I have been blessed because I choose to be vulnerable.  I have been trusted in return, allowed to know and love other people.  It is risky.  Yeah.  But I have never regretted taking the risk.  Even when it hurt.

But when I plead with God to make me a stone, I also cursed my soft, stitched-to-the-sleeve heart.  That heart I valued so much.  The one that had encouraged people I love and had made me different.  I have thanked God for my easily-moved, easily-loving heart.  I have called it a blessing.  A gift.  And now I was condemning it, asking for it to be taken away.  Because feeling anything can be really, really hard.  Caring can be painful.  Seeing the hurting, dying world can be awful.  Maybe I feel too much, I thought.  Maybe I care too much.  Maybe I love too much.  What if the person I thought I was – kind, responsive, loving – wasn’t me at all?  I felt already like a brick fortress, as if there was some barrier in me that separated two Courtneys: a real one and an intruder.  But which was which?  I had become a contradiction in my own head.

Amidst my pleas, though, was His voice.  It is always there.  And this time I couldn’t ignore it.  I felt broken.  I wasn’t sure who I was.  But I was sure of Him.

Calm.  You cannot be a stone.  You are My stitched-to-the-sleeve heart.

So, sitting in what I thought was the rubble of myself, I listened to God tell me who I was.

Sinful – yes.  Broken – yes.  Angry – yes.  Confused – yes.  Afraid – yes.  Impatient – yes.  A little stony – yes.  A little lost – yes.

Passionate – yes.  Gentle – yes.  Kind – yes.  Loving – yes.  Hopeful – yes.  Honest – yes.  Real – yes.

Irreparable?  No.

I am so thankful for a God who does not give me what I want, especially when He has created me for more than what I believe I can be.  This year, as I begin my third year of university, I am asking God to make me soft.  To hold tight to my vulnerable heart and allow me to continue to feel deeply.  I don’t want to reject the blessings He’s created in me.  When it seems like it would be easier to hide behind a wall I’ve built myself, I pray that I would have the boldness and the courage and  the trust to step in front of the battlements.  I want to be used by God.  Molded and shaped to look more like Jesus.  If He has given me this heart, it is because He has plans for it.

 

 

 

God, make me a feather.  Make me a sail, and be my guiding wind.  Make me clay in Your hands, Make me water, and pour me into the lives of my family and my friends and those I love and those I fear.  Give me the heart You desire.  Give me the desire for You.  Soften me.  Break me.  Give me your strength.  With that, I cannot fail.

 

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Convincingly Accurate Portrayals of Sinking and Swimming.

I have only seen beautiful people.
You should sit down for this
because I want you to
understand the gravity of the situation.
We are floating on the surface of an
ocean of possibility.
The probability of dying down there is immense,
and the probability
of finding the pirates’ treasure is not much less.
Still we float,
and we are content to do so.
Do you ever hate that about humanity?
Are you ever ashamed of our irrational fears?
Let us sink like stones to the abandoned sea floor,
once the top of a mountain before the earth turned herself inside out.
If only we could be like the plates,
shifting and breaking,
causing earthquakes and explosions.
I have always lived in the unfulfilled dramas,
praying for a breaking point
but never really expecting one.
Someone once said that the world would fall into anarchy
if we all just said the things we felt
but
I’m not sure if we would really mind that.
We crave that.
Upending the triviality for the reality.
Sometimes I think it’s all in my head,
that I am the only one who sees this.
But they are out there
And they notice things like no one else,
and I think we could change something.
Look!
When you see the ones that mean it,
you believe in your sanity again
and if we just promised one another that there was a point behind the pointlessness
then we could save ourselves a whole lot of wondering.
Let’s fall onto the grass like starfish
left behind after the sea receded into the dirt.
And there,
we will swear to ourselves and the angels that we aren’t going to be hypocrites anymore.
Dance the infinite dance.
It’s not a new line but it’s the truest one I can think of.

God knows what God is doing.

This blog has been receiving epic amounts of love from me lately – a poem or post nearly every night this week. It was a crazy week for me, so the writing helped. But now that the week is coming to a close, I didn’t want to end my writing streak! Tonight, though, I want to share the words of others. Something I’ve noticed lately is that I’ve been resisting what the Lord had to say to me through my friends and chapel speakers. I suppose I’ve just been really good (read: poor) at trying to figure everything out on my own. But life isn’t like that; it isn’t some battle we charge into alone. I am so prideful when it comes to doing things on my own. But I need to listen. I need to believe what the people around me tell me. Which brings me to this short post. Every semester, I collect quotes from chapel and church in the back of my Bible. I’ve filled up about 15 blank pages in the past two years. Since this semester is coming quickly to a close (something I’ll write on soon), and since I need to hear truth these days, I wanted to share what I’ve collected in the past few months. I hope you hear the Lord in these words too.

“None of us need on-the-job training to put us on the throne of our own lives.” -Rob Turner, Apex church, 1-27-13

“We can’t love the world’s system because the world’s system is tragically imploding.” -RT, Apex, 1-27-13

“If your life is not built around adoring Christ, then you are doing something demonic.” -RT, Apex, 1-27-13 (A very tough one for me to swallow and to wrap my head around.)

“The strategy of the devil is not to make himself look so scary and ugly – it is to make himself look beautiful.” -RT, Apex, 1-27-13 (It was a good day, what can I say?)

“These embers must turn into flame.” -RT, 1-27-13

“We have a tendency to complain about things that aren’t, but we fail to recognize how blessed we are.” -Dr. Brown, chapel, 1-28-13

“God is not fooled by our words.” -Pastor Rohm, chapel, 2-4-13 (another hard one for me – because sometimes, I am fooled by my words.)

“You always have a voice in heaven. When you think no one will listen, take it over their heads.” -Pastor Craig Miller, chapel, 2-6-13

“Truth is always best when it is accompanied by wisdom.” -Pastor Craig Miller, 2-6-13

“No matter how confused you are about what God is doing, God knows what God is doing.” -Dr. Kneeland Brown, chapel, 2-19-13

“If you read Scripture, you know that God does not always speak in thunderclaps.” -Dr. Kneeland Brown, 2-19-13

“An afterlife is not the same thing as an everlasting life.” -Russell Moore, chapel, 2-21-13

“The hotel maid who trusts in the power of the Gospel will one day be a Queen of the universe and should be treated as such.” -Russell Moore, 2-21-13

“My life right now is an internship for the life I will have in the Kingdom.” -Russell Moore, 2-21-13

“You have no accidental college roommates, or accidental relationships, or accidental part-time jobs. Everything is for a purpose.” -Russell Moore, 2-21-13

“Stop thinking in terms of the next 60 years and start thinking in terms of the next trillion years.” -RM, 2-21-13

“If you belong to the kingdom of God, you have nothing to prove.” -RM, 2-21-13

“Why is it that these people – the prostitutes, the sinners, the tax collectors – clamored to be with Jesus but don’t want to be near us?” -Dr. Brown, chapel, 2-25-13

“Give God a chance to prove how real He is.” -Pastor Bill Church, my home pastor at Winona UMC, 3-10-13

“The Creator of the universe will give you His full attention for as long as you want it.” -Dr. Brown, chapel, 3-11-13

“The person who has nothing plus Jesus actually has everything.” -Dr. Someone From a Baptist Seminary (which is actually what I have written down… forgive me.), chapel, 3-13-13

“We cannot condemn without offering Jesus.” -Eric Metaxas, chapel, 3-14-13

“The more you love and trust the Lord, the stranger the path He will take you on, because He knows you won’t run away.” -Eric Metaxas, 3-14-13

“When something becomes everything to us, we are then worshiping it.” -Jason Wing, Apex church, 3-17-13

“On your greatest day, Christ still had to die for you.” -Rob Turner, Apex, 4-17-13 (Painfully humbling for me.)

“The humble, mysterious power of the Kingdom protects us from depending on the dramatic.” -RT, Apex, 4-21-13

“He’s just as strong in the whisper as He is in the fire.” -RT, 4-21-13

“We’re so prone to worship the gifts of God rather than the God who gives them.” -RT, 4-21-13

“We are slaves to a perfect master.” -Christian Figueredo, chapel, 4-23-13

Father,
I know I am very bad at trusting You. I know I’m very bad at believing Your good will for my life, even though I know there is nothing You want more for me than goodness and faithfulness. Please help me hear what You say, through whomever You say it. Help me accept Your wisdom and Your blessings.
In the only Name that matters – Amen.

Tunneling.

She thought she would crumble under the weight of it all.
What is real
and what is not.
The mountains towered over her
so she closed her eyes and she tried to imagine
her earth,
shaking and sinking,
exploding and reforming,
giving birth to the treacherously beautiful landscape.
But she couldn’t feel it.
It was so long ago that the ground stretched itself out,
like a blanket spread across the fiery core.
There were no lingering tremors.
She heard a poet once;
he described people like mountains,
these big tall things that could stand in any
metaphorical storm.
She used to like to think like that too.
Sometimes she thought if you compared people to anything,
it could make sense.
If you were creative enough.
People are like window panes!
They’ll block out the storm, but the wind still seeps in the cracks,
whistling softly!

She supposed storms must also be part of the analogy.
Apparently life was a storm of some sort.
So far, it had only felt like a generally gale force wind, with occasional
baseball-sized hail.
The wind was all right sometimes, on the days when it was just a breeze.
And the hail was cool,
if you were inside and all.
But it all got cold and old
after a while.
Maybe that was a storm after all.
In any case,
she now thought the poet was a lunatic.
She thought he should be denied pen and paper.
(Sometimes, she got irrational).
Because people were not like mountains;
not at all.
Mountains are strong.
Mountains never say stupid stuff.
Mountains never throw bombs at other mountains.
Mountains stay out of other people’s business.
They never make friends,
but I suppose that makes existence real easy for them.
When she looked at mountains,
she didn’t see something that would crumble.
When she looked at herself,
she saw pieces chipping away.
It was normal wear and tear, really.
Nothing extreme.
Nothing more than anyone else.
But it was enough to make her not like a mountain.
No,
she was more like a city.
Planned and impressive and imposing to see.
Full of complication behind the gates.
People read books about traveling in cities,
and people read blogs thinking it’ll help them understand a person
without really putting in much effort.
That’s the city’s fault, you know.
The city shouldn’t look so hard.
I bet the city would tell it a different way.

But she knows,
now,
that cities don’t fall all at once.
They’re beaten down,
brick by crumbling
brick.
Torn and bashed.
It is the fate of all great empires.
So unlike the fate of great mountains,
those everlasting pockmarks on an otherwise
abandoned planet.
Things that can’t fall,
in love or otherwise.
Resilient reminders of the inconsistency of things.
Silent watchers of refugees and
the ones who just need a hiding place.
When they finally crumble,
it will be time to do so.
But until then they will not budge.
The cities we build on them,
and the miniature cities inhabiting the larger ones,
will continue to rise and collapse.
Outside-in and inside-out.
(Sometimes it is the city’s choice as to the manner of detriment).
And the mountains,
out of friends and out of love and out of risk,
will stand.