Thursday, March 29, 2007

Emperor's New Clothes

"Imagine finding out that the one thing you have desperately attempted to keep veiled in secrecy was not actually veiled at all. The thought bears the unsettling sense of finding yourself unclothed before a crowded room. Would you feel foolish? Would you run and hide? Or would you insist the veil was still there? Andersen ends with a glimpse into the mind of the king: "[The words of the child] made a deep impression upon the emperor, for it seemed to him that they were right. But he thought to himself regardless, 'Now I must bear up to the end.'" Idols are not easy to own up to; how much more so, when what we idolized was never even there.

I believe, however, that there can be another response--besides denial or shame--to the startling realization that we stand unveiled before family, friends, or God Himself. We can find ourselves enveloped in gratitude, clothed by meekness. The masks we were so certain were necessary, the act we put on to appease the crowd, the lies we told to protect ourselves were maybe not quite as necessary as we thought. Could you take off the costume you thought you were wearing if you realized you were only wearing it for yourself?

Perhaps Paul's instruction to "put off falsehood" is sometimes a call to "put off" what is not even there. The call of Christ is no different. He calls us unto himself and requires that we give him everything, but we must come without costume or pretense. We must come as much ready to be honest with ourselves as with him. In the journey through Lent, we walk again with Christ toward the Cross, and like the disciples on the road to Emmaus our eyes are opened. It is as if Jesus himself is a mirror and we are inspecting our new clothes. But he will take from our shoulders our robes of self-importance and false security. He will tear from our grasp our garments of self-pity and shame. Then he will clothe us with garments of salvation and array us in robes of righteousness, and he will remind us that we are his bride."
--Jill Carratini, RZIM

This is an excerpt from an RSS feed published by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. I love the simplicity and the challenge of Hans Christian Anderson's fable of the Emperor's New Clothes. The story has always amazed me-- what pride and arrogance wrapped around foolishness and self-doubt. Yet isn't that the very problem that faces every single one of us at some time or another. Vulnerability is a frightening state; yet it is a requirement if one is to receive the full benefit of Who God is.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

On the way home...

... this car hears my confessions. I think tonight I'll take the long way...

I absolutely love old Dashboard. I also enjoy driving. I like Dashboard because it's such fun and sad at the same time... totally sing-along-able. I wish I had a solo act like Chris Carrabba. and I would purposefully NOT sell out and become a pop icon.

I like driving because it is for me, relaxing. I enjoy finding my way around new places, discovering a cool road, and getting around without a map. There's this road in lincolnton I like-- its near my old church but I can't remember the name. it runs beside an old mill and through an old-growth wood. old growth trees are so grand and the dark leaves of summer are incredibly refreshing.

i think a perfect drive would be down a leafy green road with some chris carrabba breaking my speakers.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Sympathy versus Compassion

I have come to grips recently with the fact that I am not and do not want to be a sympathetic person. That is to say: Sympathy is not one of my attributes and I like it that way. That is NOT to say that I lack compassion: I consider compassion to be of of the most important features of myself in regards to my personality and my profession.

Sympathy is an emotional response to ones surroundings-- good, bad, or positive-- and generally the sympathetic party shares in the emotions of others. Compassion relates specifically to the realization of the needs of others but does not necessarily imply an emotional connection. In reality, these two words come from similar roots and meanings but have taken on the subtle differences in terms of our everyday use.

I take some shame and some pride all at the same time in the fact that I, unlike most females, am extremely brain-oriented, very literal, and most of the time very much less emotionally driven than my female counterparts (90% of them anyway). I have figured out that this lack of sympathy, lack of of "girliness" in fact, has made it difficult to relate to girls in general-- this is bad. However, this same lack of "girliness" allows me to be skeptical and logical about almost all aspects of my life-- this is good.

In a recent conversation with my brother in law, we discussed Counterfeit Revival, an informative exposE on the "revivals" of the late 1990's that sprang up in North America. I have not read the book but am eager to do so; my eagerness stems from the depth to which my own home church fell into the mire that surrounded the so-called 'revival' in a Brownsville church. I never joined into this fully-- dancing and invigorated worship, I could do and actually enjoyed. I have to say that mind in its naive ignorance did not throw up enough red flags at the time--how could I accept some of this "movement" and totally reject others? Either the entire thing lines up with Scripture or it does not--logical, yes? Looking back now, I reel at the mess I could have fallen into and thank God I was protected. I believe there were two mechanisms God used for my spiritual protection: 1) My parents who, from the time I was a small child, instilled Scripture knowledge and logic into my small soul; 2) my lack of girl-like sympathy and my science-oriented brain. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to a chance to read this book, but in the meantime, this is certain: All things should be tested and verified with Scripture-- multiple passages within proper context. Logic is a valuable tool. Sympathy has its place in the hearts and personalities of individuals; however, I am thankful for a more logical alternative: Compassion....

Compassion allows me to watch a terror-stricken kid be told by administrators and parents that "things have got to change," and turn around and lay out a step-by-step plan by which we as teachers can help the kid get things back on track. Compassion allows me to see a need and define a solution; it is ok with me that I do not feel sorry for the individual in distress-- I'd rather not, to be honest. Compassion allows me to leave my work behind every afternoon. Compassion causes me to appreciate deep discussions with Brothers (in law) and discuss a past that is difficult to understand without feeling sorry for myself or wishing I could change things. Compassion helps me see past the euphoria of a Salvation experience to the next logical steps-- discipleship and Scripture reading-- my relationship with Christ is not emotional really at all. I am thankful for compassion. I pray God would help me to use it in a way that glorifies him and for the purposes of His kingdom.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Here we go

We are one month and 8 days from when we will have to tell the apartment landlord that we will not renew our lease on June 18 (we have to give 60-days notice). Roger's been accepted to school... but that's about all we know.

Back up!

Sometime this past September, Roger and I came to the definite realization that he needed to pursue a job other than what he's doing now, and after much discussion and prayer (and prodding from me), we decided that he should go back to school at Liberty U for a masters in theology (or similar). At the time, this venture seemed miles away but nonetheless, we knew it's what we wanted to pursue.

Roger studied his head off for the GRE which he took on January 12 and did extremely well. Immediately, he applied for the school and a month later, found out he was in for sure. He then began working on getting a job with the school since LU employees receive free schooling (to compensate for the less-than-grand paychecks). Roger's application has been approved.

I had an interview at a Job Fair for Lynchburg City Schools back on February 24 and now, 2 full weeks later, no details have emerged. Since I have no clue as to the status of my application-- maybe they didnt like me and I won't get an offer; maybe they DID like me and I'll eventually get an offer... or who knows. I have applied to a couple different school systems and am in the process of having various people at my current school write me recommendation letters. I'm even considering just applying for "a" job at LU-- just to have something in hand.

And this is March.

Did I mention we want to buy a house? We may not get to right away but we would LOVE to be able to move right into a free-standing single-family home. We have to have jobs before we can get a mortgage. We want to get a house but we have to take care of some things first.

And this is March.

So what we are currently doing is sitting on our hands and praying like mad that God will see it within His will to provide us with jobs so we can get a mortgage loan and make an offer and buy a house and move in a house... oh and did I mention we wanted to close on the house in early May because late May through early June are booked solid with weddings and the like?

And this is March.