Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Standards to live by

"Words like unrealistic, impossible, and foolish were frequently use to  describe Jesus's teaching... In a dangerous world, obeying the Sermon on the Mount was tantamount to suicide."
-Skye Jethani,  "With- Reimaging the way you relate to God"

In the wee hours of this morning, with the parkway open before me, I had a drastic realization about my personality. Much of who I am or want to be is reflected in the lyrics of the music I listen to. This truth hit me somewhere around The Beatles "Can't buy me love"- Say you don't need no diamond rings, and I'll be satisfied. Tell me you want the kind of things that money just can't buy. It's a childhood favorite for me, and it perfectly embodies the kind of attitude I want to have in life. 

It's not isolated to one song, of course. I want to be Rosemary, if love grows where she goes (Edison Lighthouse*). I want to see the world with both my eyes, not with a camera by my side. (John Mayer**). And sometimes I don't want anybody to see what I look like when I'm down (Counting Crows***). I could go on an on, but in reality, I've always felt a special connection to music, and it's not obscure or even unrealistic to think that it's defined much of who I see myself to be. 

We are given plenty of "role models" in life, though not all of them are people. They often come in subtle forms- television characters we like, books that say something about the human experience we want to grab on to, pictures or stories or even how-to columns in magazines... the whole world seems to be telling us how to live. And our natural instinct is to respond to these things with some sort of biased reaction- We love or hate the content based on our own paradigms.

I don't really spend enough time considering what is standard for how I live. My first answer, if asked, would probably be "Like Jesus wants," but recently I've realized that this is a meaningless sentiment to me. I know some of the basics of how I think Jesus would want me to live, but I don't know that I've recently taken the time to really diving into that construct. 

The quote at the beginning of this entry was in reference to a study of modern christians- they were asked if they thought it was possible to live by the beatitudes starting the sermon on the mount. The overwhelming response? No... these were delightful images of how Jesus was better than the rest, but not realistic in any way shape or form. 

So of course, I went back and read them again. And I have to tell you something- I think I may need a new moral code. 

If you are unfamiliar with this set of social rules, check them out before reading further. This set of instructions focus's on a selfless mentality- the main focus is to put all other's above yourself for the promise of an eternal reward instead of the ones we receive here on earth. They aren't a fun set of things to accomplish- in fact, reading them again and again only forces me to understand just why so many people felt that they were impossible. But in a moment of fresh eyes, I can see justification for wanting to live the life that Jesus suggested. 

I am taking a challenge this summer- it is a personal goal that I believe will help me grow, both into the person I want to become and into the person who best serves this world while she is here. I want to really understand these rules, and be a true example of what they look like. I will update you all on each of them as they begin to mean more to me, and give you my own definitions for who I am becoming.

Maybe one day, I'll even write some songs about it, and add it to the collection of music that defines who I want to be. 

  "Oh but love grows where my Rosemary goes/ and nobody knows like me."
  "Didn't have a camera by my side this time/ hoping I would see the world with both my eyes/ maybe I will tell you all about it when I'm in the mood to lose my way with words.
   "She don't want no one around/ cause she don't want anybody to see/ what she looks like when she's down/ cause that's a really sad place to be."

Friday, May 16, 2014

More Thoughts on Newness

"Celebrate endings - for they precede new beginnings."
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

My shoe closet is calling to me. 

Spring does this to me. Sometimes I picture God above us all, contemplating another snow storm, finally shaking His head and relenting, and sending us flower blooms instead. It makes me feel happier than happy, as if the warm air is stretching out to embrace me, and the gentle wind hugs me softly. 

So I do what I do when I am happy- I throw things away.

See, there is a comfort to things that we hold onto. We call old ratty blankets lucky, ugly sweaters from different decades nostalgia, broken furniture from our grandparents homes vintage. We rummage throw flea markets looking through junk, trying to see what we can clean up, varnish, paint, rebuild, or somehow reuse- we like to make the old things new. It's almost like we believe if we can somehow manage to recycle something from another time, we might bring back the good things and memories that came with it. We have a desire to replicate the best in our objects.

I am very guilty of this when the weather is cold. I refuse to get rid of my summer things no matter how ratty or torn they are. Subconsciously, perhaps, I believe if I let go of them, summer will never return. Or I'll forget all the warmth of before. Which is, in reality, crazy, but that is somehow an assessment I can only bring myself to make after the weather hits 55 degrees.

Which brings me back to my shoe closet. Because now that we are consistently seeing warm weather, I'm suddenly aware of how ratty last year's flats are. And how bad my old sneakers actually smell. And the superglued Toms... You get the idea. All these old shoes that I've kept that I know need to be removed from my life, and still I've waited until now to do it.

I guess maybe the thing about Spring that makes me want to clean is the natural newness. Maybe I see God's creations sparkling with freshness around me and feel the need to mimic His wonder. Maybe the revival of plants reminds me that resurrection is not a human construct, but a piece of a grander design that was imagined by a magnificent artist. I am inspired to remember that we cannot live in what has been, and that there is an excitement in the reality of a new season- of new memories to be made.

I wonder what else I am holding on to that I need to remove the tether from- if material things can so easily grab my allegiance, other things may be holding it too. I want this Spring to be a time of cutting bonds and starting fresh. I want to be reminded that my old life has no hold over me now.

I want to be new. 

And I'm looking forward to this time of seeing exactly what that will look like. So I'll start by throwing out some old shoes. And then I'll be looking into other things that have kept me. Until one day, I am looking at my place in the world with the eyes of a baby: fresh, innocent, and fearless. Like a new flower, bursting through at the beginning of this season, waiting for whatever the world brings next.