Part One of this post shared the gift of reminders I received from a purple pair of pants. It also shared the insight three undone buttons and a zipper gave me into how I try to manage my world.
I catch myself arranging my life to be as independent and efficient as possible. There is a streak of perfectionism and cultural independence in me that has trained me to hate feeling needy. If I am in a position of need, even if it’s emotional or relational need, I feel it’s a shortcoming in me. I think I should be able to outsmart and outthink any needs I have and meet them myself.
Then something like a purple pair of pants with too many buttons reminds me that I need reminders. Which bumps into two things that I instinctually think shouldn’t be necessary … need and reminders, especially when it comes to my spiritual, emotional, and relational life.
I want to not need. It’s bizarre and ridiculous and hard and true. I fight against the very sweetest bit of God’s design: to need, so I will know the richness of relationship instead of the stifling of self-sufficiency. I thrive in sure love and trust when I am in transparent relationship with him, bringing my inadequacies into the light of who he is; yet, I strain and try my hardest to anticipate and address everything myself, to not need. And without reminders, what I have so long labeled the crutch of inefficient thinking and performance, in a trice I find myself away from where I most want to be.
Without heart jolts and wake-ups and breadcrumbs along the way, I stop remembering that it’s really about:
- not relying on human approval to be valued and treasured and accepted
- keeping a close connection with God because he delights in time with me, not because he is disappointed and I need to report in
- not fearing and dreading silence and solitude with him, because he truly meets me there in ways that undo and revive me
- breathing gratitude first, before I splutter my shatters and my brokens and my wants and my pleads, because the gratitude reshapes how the rest follows and it becomes beauty and surrender that rewrite me
- closing my eyes not in exasperation with who I still am, but in peace with who he still is, who has always loved me more than myself and is showing me what the second greatest commandment (“Love your neighbor as yourself.”) can do in my heart after years of my mowing right past it in frustration and misconstrued humility
- remembering that those who love me best speak truth and clarity and perspective into my life out of affection, not disdain for my shortcomings
Something in me responds as though it is failure in my character and faith when I need a reminder to live the way I desire. Like I haven’t been attentive enough, working hard enough, taking things seriously enough to not need reminders. I was somehow falling down on the job project of “Christian Kathie” if any experience or word or music or sight moved my heart back to where I want it to be. I feel silly when a tender moment in a film reminds me of the importance of relationships, or when a note from a friend awakens my heart. If a connection to God is reawakened in my heart, my habit of self-criticism and instinct of self-loathing prods me to believe that I have not been working hard enough to keep my soul alert; if I were really keeping my eyes on God, something in me wouldn’t feel deeply moved because I would know all these truths … and they would sit like a stack of factual books in my soul that I can recite whenever God shows up to give me a quiz. Which gives you another insight into what I think gives me value and how I get lost in thinking my performance must be the most useful, significant thing about me.
This girl needs to start getting giddy about jolts that waken me and prayers that speak to me and friends that email me and truth that grabs me and movies that move me and needs that needle me.
Those are really love letters in disguise.
They remind me what I need. That I was designed to need God and created to need my brothers and sisters in Christ as we journey on this side of heaven. And that my good Dad won’t leave me without a breadcrumb trail to follow him home, because he knows he is exactly what I need.