Wednesday, September 18, 2013
How to Wear Yourself Well, or What I Learned From Molly Lou Mellon
Do you feel it? The tug and pull of opposite forces within: On the one hand there is this radical sense of okay-ness, that my imprint upon the world is necessary, needed. And then there is another feeling altogether: Perhaps it was a mistake to show up on this life stage, for who am I to try my hand among so many others who seem more adept at this adventure than me? How can my presence matter?
The questions are cavernous and empty. But the assertion that one's humble presence matters gives birth to possibility. This belief in oneself, even if tenuous, cracks open experience and gives it the opportunity to expand, to grow bigger than our expectations. What if we lived every moment squarely planted in this radical sense of okay-ness, letting it become the soil of our lives? Not the occasional blip in our status quo, but rather the new way of making our way in the world? I'm not advocating conceit which lifts us up higher by viewing others with contempt. Instead I suggest gracefulness, extending to all, yet encompassing ourselves.
The Holy Nudge I feel is quiet, yet persistent, playing its song underneath the busyness of my life. It's not so much calling me toward a new direction as much as asking me to reorient my attitude toward myself and this already life I lead.
"Have confidence" I hear the Spirit whisper. "Live in confidence."
As I ponder what it means to do just that, I can't help but reflect on one of my new favorite books; every month Jeremiah receives a new one in the mail. A while ago we opened up Stand Tall, Molly Lou Mellon. It is the story of a tiny, buck-toothed girl who is fumble fingered and croaks her songs. Her grandmother speaks wisdom into her life, teaching her to walk with dignity and joy, seeing her difference as gift rather than obstacle. In Molly Lou Mellon I see a person who wears herself well, even in new and difficult situations. I want to be like that.
The word "confident" originates from the present participle form of the Latin word confidere: from con which means "with" and fidere which means "to trust," "to rely upon." It is a verb form which implies continuous action. So to live in confidence means that we are to live continually with trust, with reliance.
--What exactly am I relying on as I go forth into new and potentially difficult or challenging situations?
--What belief undergirds my going forth?
--What exactly is confidence asking of me?
These are not empty questions. They challenge me to dig deep. I could just say "Jesus" as my answer. Jesus is who I rely on as I go forth. My belief in Jesus undergirds me. To be confident means that I must trust Jesus on each step of this journey. And all of these are true answers. But the Spirit asks me to go deeper. Because it is always easy to give the Sunday School answer. And we are at a place in our walk together where the Spirit knows and I know that Jesus permeates all. I sense God is asking more of ME. And I have to decide if I'm willing to give it.
At this point I want to say that how we answer these questions is very personal. It is a God conversation, that only God can guide and give illumination to. Each one of us must enter the Holy Conversation and listen for the Spirit resonating within, knowing that it's expression may differ, person to person.
I'm not sure all my resonating is finished yet. This answer is just the initial rough draft:
--I am confident that I can laugh at myself.
--I am confident that I will learn some valuable things on this journey.
--I am confident that sloppy, creative joy is a better use of my energy than careful, calculated perfection.
--I am confident that good will come from my failures and disappointments.
--I am confident that while there may be limited opportunities to start something new, there are many opportunities to try again. And that is why it is okay to boldly start something new, even if I don't have a clue about what I am doing.
--I am confident that this path is drawing out the best from within me, that my life will be richer for it, and that it will produce a deeper quality of blessing for those around me than if I never ventured forth.
--I am confident that I am being shaped and honed by my experiences for something good.
The truth is that I have no idea where the future is leading, where God is leading me. But I am absolutely convinced that who I will be, who God is calling me to be, is firmly grounded in the good stuff of who I am now. And I can put my confidence in that.