Monday, September 10, 2012

On Going Home & Memorizing the Book of James

I walk through the door and everything is clean and white and perfect. It is all breakable and they sit on the couch with the screen blaring and she snores. I turn on the light and dogs lick me and she says make it stop. The light, the noise, the giggles. Make it stop because that's not here, that's not how we live, that's not it.

So I calm and quiet and dim the lights and tell her hello. She laughs at the dogs loving on me, as though they could smell the months I have been away. Neither of them hug me though.

I go upstairs and my bed is double the size and the walls are barren. I set my stuff down and she calls it messy. I tell her it's okay, I'll close the door. She says goodnight and I shut it behind her. I turn to face this life that used to be mine and I pray. I pray because I don't know what to do when the old mixes with the new. I talk to myself aloud, I say it's not true. That there is no need to revisit that place, that pain. To remain faithful to what I know so true, the love like a hurricane.

It is here in these moments I learn to let the waters flood over me and be still.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you face trials of various kinds for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

So I don't go downstairs, even though I am so thirsty for that cold water that never has tasted quite so good any other place. But I don't go because I don't want to know what's in the fridge. I don't want to know how many snacks reside in the pantry, how much I could eat to numb the chaos in my brain, to escape. How good it would feel to do it and know that no one will ever know, that my toilet would remember the years we spent so close and our friendship rekindle.

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin when fully grown brings forth death.

So I go brush my teeth becuase that always gives me an out and the lights are brighter, more brilliant. I look at myself and I see the blemishes illuminated like never before. That's when I thank Him for the dust, for the little boy smudges on the mirror back with my dozen and I think about smudging up this mirror myself, just because this is too much, too perfect for me now. 

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.

The cleanliness and the expectations and the silence and this other lens through which I's all just too much. I try to forget what I look like, to forget my redemption would be easier. To look and forget and walk away. Sometimes I just want to walk away because counting it all joy is so hard.

I wash away the makeup caked on from the long day of work and driving and I wonder how I survived high school. I wonder how I lasted here, here in this house for so many years. I decide it only could have been the Lord, that even before I knew Him He knew me and He met me here, right here in this place where I don't feel Him the same, where the Spirit grows weary inside of me as I step within these walls.

But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

I drive past the church and I remember driving, sitting there in front of that cross and rolling down the window. I remember the tears and the blade and the throwing up. I remember craving it. I remember feeling in control. I remember it not ever being enough, me never being enough, so night after night I found myself there, a slave to my flesh. And today, as I return for a visit I collide with the same roads, the same buildings, the tress a little taller and the flowers a little more and the cross still in the center of it all. 

This time, this time I see the cross and I cling for dear life because the lies and the oppression and the desire to return to my old ways—it's all so magnified here in this place.

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of lights in whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 

I remember the stash of zip-locks in my trunk and the food. I pass by the McDonalds and the Wendys and tears fall. I cry for that girl and her pain and the way out she couldn't see until it was so late. I thank Jesus He taught my eyes to see, that He is still doing that even now, as my eyes gaze at these places in disgust and empathy.

And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you might be perfect and complete lacking in nothing.

Friends and family welcome me home with over-whleming love, and I soak in it because being with them is so sweet. Yet I don't feel home and I remember AGAIN, this is all just a glimpse. Home is waiting and I am longing for it more then ever.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has passed the test, he will inherit the crown of life which God promises to those who love him.

So as I pack up the car bright and early, so desperate for an out I just run because quite honestly, lingering here another hour is too much and I know it so good. I drive past that road with that cross and that parking lot where I used to hide in the shadows. It is now packed with cars and little girl dresses walking inside and I know that He is working, that I am being clothed in newness and it is beautiful.

By God's grace, I am learning to pass the test and count it all joy.

Back to my smudge-covered mirrors and bathroom that wreaks of boys and the noise from the nine littles, an anthem to my ears. Back to more tests and trials and joy. Back to the cross to which I cling as I let the waters flood. Back to waiting for the crown of life, for my inheritance and home.

Maybe your battle looks different then mine. But we all wear this coat of flesh and we all feel stuck, consumed by it sometimes. Whether here nor there, freedom is found in letting these words pierce the depths because they give us a glimpse of life outside of the coat. We all need perspective and we all want to look in the mirror and see because forgetting keeps us bound--and let's face it, who wants to live bound?

These words of James are changing my life, teaching me to battle with memorization of Truth—teaching me that I underestimate it. One chapter down I will press on, because I feel less in the world when I think with scripture instead of my flesh. 

Let's be faithful onto death, looking in the mirror and seeing the blemishes only through the law of liberty as we persevere, remaining unstained from the world. 

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, andto keep oneself unstained from the world.  

{James 1}

A few photos from the weekend with family & friends...

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