14 September 2010

How fickle my heart and how woozy my eyes...

How fickle my heart

I cannot begin to describe how fickle my heart is. When it comes to change, to "irresolution, or instability," and to not remaining "constant or loyal in affections," I fear I have become quite adept at having a fickle heart.

I'm not quite sure I know what I want out of life. My affections change daily. One day, I am entirely enraptured by my program of study in getting my master's degree; the next, I am antsy and simply cannot wait to be done. One day, I weep at the knowledge that I am saved by the grace of a living and loving God; the next, I act as though I have no idea of who He is or the fact that He wants to spend time with me.

My heart is capricious in every form:
"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?" [[Jeremiah 17:9]]
And how woozy my eyes /
I struggle to find any truth in your lies

Perhaps the biggest thing I've noticed lately is that I seem "stupidly confused" and "muddled." I don't act intelligently. It appears that I can't even decipher truth and keep myself from falling into pits of despair when lies present themselves before me.

I have forgotten who I am, and especially who God views me as - a beloved daughter, a righteous saint! Instead, I am caught up in who (and what) I'm not - perfect. I see my imperfections at every turn in my lack of desire, my selfish tendencies, and my seeming inability to be faithful.

And now my heart stumbles on things I don't know /
My weakness, I feel, I must finally show

All of this leads me, naturally to the place where I have such little faith in what I don't know. For instance, I have no idea just what God has planned for me when I finish this program - I don't even know if I'll have a job next semester! And, yet, I've stumbled so often in trying to plan around these great unknowns, rather than trusting the One who knows them all.

Therein lies my greatest weakness. I fail to trust God.

It seems as though it would come intrinsically enough for me, someone raised in a Christian home and who has seen God's provision and direction for 25 years... But I've rarely seen my own need as much as I have of late.

And the exposure to my need has revealed that I do not trust God as I ought. It is so much easier to "lean on my own understanding," as Proverbs says. It is too easy to see myself as wise and capable than it is to turn over all that I do not know to someone else.

Lend me your hand and we'll conquer them all /
But lend me your heart and I'll just let you fall

There is a blessed sweetness in fellowship. Inside of it, there seems to be the ability to conquer anything and everything that comes our way. But, even with others by my side, I look to our ability to conquer - not God's. If left to me, I would "just let you fall." I cannot conquer on my own. In all honesty, I'm beginning to believe that I cannot conquer at all.
"If only I had an enemy bigger than my apathy, I could have won."
[[Mumford & Sons, "I Gave You All"]]
The reason is simply that I'm apathetic - and I'd love to know why. Perhaps I am ignoring the raging battle that pits joy against my depressive tendencies. Perhaps I indulge my flesh more than I ought. Perhaps I do not know what true desire looks like.

But it tends to follow me, this apathy. I long to long for Christ, yet I find it difficult to obtain. My apathy is my biggest enemy, and that means I have a lengthy and difficult battle ahead of me. I can't let it keep winning. There is no victory if I let it win, and I have been called to victory:
"... in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." [[Romans 8:37]]
Lend me your eyes - I can change what you see

It is not unusual for me to desire new eyes. I have been legally blind since middle school and have had a desire to see without aid for many of those years.

But in my physical blindness, I have failed to see my spiritual blindness. I need new eyes! The thing is that I can't just pop them in like I do with my contacts - I need the scales to be lifted from my heart. I cannot continue in apathy and expect to see the glorious grace that God has bestowed upon both my life and the world around me.

But your soul you must keep totally free

Anyone who knows me well understands that I see life rather negatively. It is unusual for me to experience lightness and freedom of heart, and it is far more usual for me to feel the burden and weight of what seems to be the whole world on my shoulders. Life is a responsibility to me - and only when the responsibility is covered do I feel I can actually experience freedom.

Sadly, these times are few and far between. I do not understand freedom, or joy, or lightness of heart with enough frequency even to know what they look like.
"Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God." [[Psalm 42:11, 43:5]]
So, if you think about it, please join me in praying that I might learn what freedom and joy look like - that I might abandon my apathy and understand a desire that leads to action and to the feet of Christ. It has been far too long since I sat at His feet and let myself simply be.

Awake, my soul! Awake, my soul!
For you were made to meet your Maker.

[[Headings taken from Mumford & Sons, "Awake My Soul"; Definitions from dictionary.com]]

07 September 2010

Why I'm leaving Facebook after 7 years as a user...

There was once a time that Facebook was simple, and so (to be honest) was my life. I went to classes and came home, seeing all the people I really knew in the dorms, catching up with them at dinner, and enjoying late night chats in the lounges. The few people I didn't see regularly, I began to keep up with on "the Face", which gave me a little bit of insight to their lives when I gave them a phone call and got caught up that way.

Life's now a little more complex, however, and so has become my Facebook habit.

Now, I've never gotten into the games. When I first saw that my father had planted corn (in Farmville, as I later found out), I was really confused because my parents' neighborhood won't let them plant anything edible. And when I tried to get into playing Scrabble with the family, I would forget to check on the game and ended up force-forfeiting almost every one I ever tried to play.

So, obviously, I'm not talking about that.

What has gotten quite absurdly out of control has been my need to know every tidbit about every person that I both do and do not hang out with on a daily basis. It wouldn't be so bad if I actually took the time to seek out each individual to see how he or she was doing, but the fact that it is so readily supplied and I do not need to initiate any type of communication (or relationship), is ridiculous. No wonder I feel cut off from people - almost every relationship is mediated and nothing is genuine.

So, why now?

I've been toying with this idea for a while. It is nothing new in the back recesses of my mind, though perhaps not purely in this light. My original stance was going to be for privacy, but Facebook fixed some things and that's not really a hill I wanted to die on.

This, however is:
Do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. [1 Samuel 12:21]

Those that cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. [Jonah 2:8]

When we put it plainly like this - as a direct choice between God and our stuff - most of us hope we would choose God. But we need to realize that how we spend our time, what our money goes toward, and where we will invest our energy is equivalent to choosing God or rejecting Him. How could we think for even a second that something on this puny little earth compares to the Creator and Sustainer and Savior of it all? [Francis Chan, Crazy Love]
Now, I don't want to say that Facebook is entirely empty or without value - it certainly can be useful when handled with the correct heart. I simply do not currently have that heart.

Facebook can be a great communication tool, but I am not using it as such. It can be a great way to keep in touch with old friends at various distances, but I often find discouragement, heartache, and even bitterness in what appears in my News Feed.

My heart is not centered heavily on Christ right now - and I'm finally seeing that to be the root of the problem. I need Christ, but I do not see my need for Him.

And this must change.

In the next few months, I'm hoping to seek the stripping away of "worthless idols" - those things that are empty, that do not "profit or deliver" me to the foot of the cross. I want to choose my Creator over the created things that He has so graciously given me. I want to know again the desire to sit at His feet and be fully known by Him. I want to boldly come before the throne of grace - and, right now, I do not remember what that looks like.

Therefore, the first thing to go is Facebook. More will certainly follow, though it will certainly be a process that requires honesty with myself where (especially) my media use is concerned. Only as things are stripped away will I see what needs to go next.

My life has become a constant refrain of, "If only I get to keep (fill in the blank)... (fill in the blank)." We were created for so much more - if there is "no greater loss" than to lose myself in the One who was broken and died on a cross so that He could conquer death and my sin in His resurrection, then I need to change how I live, for my life does not currently reflect this.

On September 15th, I will pull the plug on my Facebook account. Until then, I'll be trying to gather as much contact information as I can so that I might possibly cultivate relationships again, rather than seeing my reading of status updates for people I know as "relationships".

Regardless, you can still get ahold of me here, at my e-mail address, akatereynolds[at]yahoo.com, on Twitter [akatereynolds] or by telephone.

Listening to: Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More
Reading: Jan Karon, In This Mountain [among other things]