Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Risk, The Sacrifice

I just finished editing my first chapbook of poems and sent it off for peer-edits.. There are just over twenty poems in it, many of which I have performed for crowds that liked or loved them.  I wrote these poems mainly during my college years, when I was searching, wandering, losing and finding myself by the week and month.

There is a quote from Anais Nin that I heard on Alicia Keys' album The Element of Freedom and it really touched me: "The day came when the risk it took to remain tightly closed in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom."
Last year I had a show called "The Risk to Bloom" and that is what I am naming my book as well.

I don't doubt that Anais Nin (and Alicia Keys) mean something different about freedom and about blooming than I do, but the quote is so true and so powerful.


Sometime during college I closed myself off to lots of emotions - many who knew me then would say that I never cried and sometimes seemed to feel nothing but laughter and anger.  I closed myself off to the piercing power of the Holy Spirit.  After a lot of meditating and reading old poems and journals, I think I was tired and afraid of feeling convicted, so I stopped allowing myself to give in to questions about my motives and my misbehaviors.

I couldn't close down everything, though. I let in beautiful words. I allowed words to feel for me so I wouldn't have to.

After college, that didn't work for me anymore.  I actually didn't write for months on end, close to a year.  Being closed off like that was really hurtful to my sweet roommate at the time.  It got me fired from a job I was good at.  It led me to a really dark place where I behaved as if there were no God to heal and protect and provide. I went through a ministry class at church, because I was asked to, and because I was sure that if I didn't do something "radical" I would not make it much farther. 

What I know now is that there is a beauty God puts inside each of us - namely women (inside the men, I am inclined to say He places a strength - not that women have no strength and men have no beauty but I am speaking generally) - and that beauty is precious and vulnerable.  The devil does not want the world to see that beauty.  The devil does not want the world to see your light shining to glorify the God who made you. So there is an attack on our beauty and on our strength. It is a ruthless attack.  The goal is that we would die emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and then perhaps physically as well.  The devil wants our potential dead because it is a reflection and a manifestation of God's potential - His omnipotence (same root word: potent).  I learned that our beauty is inextricably bound to God.  Without God everything begins crumbling.

Knowing that there is an enemy who wants to attack the strongest, most beautiful part of you makes you want to protect it, to hold it back, to maybe lock it away in a high tower where no harm can reach it...and no one can see it or be inspired by it.

I am thankful to be living after "the day" when I realized that hiding is too painful and detrimental.  But in order to fully grasp that, I must let go of what used to be and how I used to cope.  I must release the hiding and the self-protection in order to bloom.  I must release the people who are attached to who I used to be.  I must be willing to sacrifice what I once wanted - angsty poems that make people cry and applaud, that pull their heartstrings - for what I want more - to be whole and holy in God, and to show others how to get there.

I am afraid that my writing won't be as good without all of the angst.  I am afraid that it won't be as poignant, that it will draw a smaller crowd.

"It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us." - Marianne Williamson

I am afraid that many of those who nurtured my writing from the beginning will shun it when I consistently insist on putting God in the middle of it.  

"I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit. And whoever falls on this stone [that the builders rejected] will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder." - Matthew 21:43-44.  Jesus was quoting Psalms 118:22-23.  He was saying that He is who people reject, the "stone" or building block that "builders" reject.  Because we are all building a life, and we are either building it on Christ or on something else.  He is saying that the "nation" producing "proper fruit" is the nation that has "fallen" on Him and allowed themselves to be broken. He is talking about the people who have sacrificed what they wanted for the Kingdom and then used Him to build their lives on.  Those who won't sacrifice, who won't allow themselves to be broken are those whom the "stone" will crush.  I don't believe this directly translates to God reaching out to smite people.  I think it means that if you don't make the sacrifice to build your life around the Kingdom, you take yourself from God's protection and then life's trials and hardships can and will crush you. 

So I trust that whatever I create from here on out will touch who it ought, where it ought, how it ought to.  I do not have to be angsty and sinful in order to be creative or draw a crowd.  I can be whole and holy.

At some point I will have to sacrifice the freedom of having all the time in the world for the discipline of health.  I have to want health more than I want "free time." It's a change in mindset. I have to invest in the process, the patient endurance, the sweating at a low fitness level until I get to a higher one. 

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