BELONGING

Comfortably home.

Comfortably home.

By Lisa Huddleston

I just got off the phone with a friend who was chuckling over a young college student’s essay on his firm beliefs in a young earth, a literal Genesis, and the sinfulness of those who don’t agree with his position. Rather than joining my friend’s amusement, I found a sad smile flitting around my mouth. “Bless his heart,” was the best I could come up with at first. Then “He is young. Someday when he is old he will learn how little he can really know.” And today that is one truth I firmly hold. Every day I live, I confess to knowing a little less–but I do feel much better about it, and that is good.

My sweet girl and her husband have been married for one year and four months. They have moved twice and have looked at several wonderfully tiny old houses to buy. Yet, they have not taken the plunge, because as my girl says, “I’m not sure we really belong in Lebanon.” I smile everytime I hear those words, because I’m pretty certain that Chuck and I don’t really belong here either.

Don’t misunderstand. We have a truly lovely home in a truly lovely location with deep roots for his family and the privacy that we both enjoy so well. Yet there are many times when I feel restless with the life we lead. If I want to, I can go for days without seeing anyone but the two people with whom I live–and that’s just fine. But I know that my neighbors, as far away as they are, are watching out for me and sometimes I long for the impersonal crowdedness of the city, the knowledge that no one knows me or will call if an ambulance passes down the street or a strange car is in my driveway. Anonymity is a comfort at times.

Perhaps that is why I feel more at home in the large church I now attend than the smaller one we were a part of for many, many years. Now I can go to services and barely speak to a soul. I do recognize the handful with whom we attend a small group and am glad to receive their smiles of greeting, but little is required of me in the way of conversation and I am glad (for good or for bad). So many times, I’m just not up for it. The exchange of information of what has happened during the week–I was kind of glad when I posted everything on Facebook, because I didn’t have to recount it individually. But maybe it’s even better this way. No one knows that I took a trip or went to the grocery or rode my bike past a beautifully dying old barn. They don’t know so they don’t know to ask and I am spared the trial of making a conversation with people with whom I truly have little relationship.

That is another thing that was so lovely about our time with our old friends last week. When we spoke it was about REAL things, things that matter like politics and religion and money. The forbidden three in the shallow world of acquaintances. It was glorious. And then, as my friend mentioned, it was equally wonderful to sit in silence around the pool and just soak in the beauty of the setting we shared. Even in the silence the belonging was a warm blanket comfortably wrapped around our shoulders and thrown across our chilly laps. What a joy to belong.

A joy and a rarity. When I watch the news and listen to the political chaos that is our country I feel the outsider I have become–not a true liberal nor a true conservative, definitely not a Democrat nor Republican. The same is true with the church–I am no longer at home in the confines of doctrine and denomination. Too much of me hangs over the walls of delineation. I cannot find a comfortable silence in these camps therefore I often find myself bursting forth in loud cries of discomfort–like a muffin-top waist pinched in by a too-tight belt. It just isn’t pretty.

When I was younger I was just like my professor friend’s self-righteous and oh-so-certain student. But now? I just don’t know, and I just don’t belong. And I suppose that’s just okay and as it should be as I get closer to home, baruch HaShem.

WHY I WRITE THIS BLOG

By Lisa Huddleston

When I first began this blog, I was just beginning to re-discover my nearly lost love of writing.  My children were growing up, heading off to college, and I was suddenly (for the first time in 20 years) finding myself with too much time on my hands.  I was also in the throes of a massive identity crisis.

I began with devotionals.  Carefully crafted:  scripture verse at the top in italics, a discussion of what the verse was saying, a short life application, and often a call to action.  It was a safe way to write.  I always did my utmost to support anything I said from scripture, and I rarely heard anything but positive comments.

My writing has changed as I have.  Now I write from my emotional heart–my “being self.”  Yes, I still strive to support my words from a Christian worldview.  Afterall, I am a Christian.  However I have stopped hiding behind the Bible.  Now when I have real struggles and need to explore less-than-popular opinions, I do.  And that has changed the feedback that I have received.

But that is real.  Christians struggle.  Christians even sin.  And I would rather read the words of a struggling believer than those of someone who thinks they have it all together.  (I know–I’ve never even been able to pretend to that!!)

Both when I began and now, writing is cathartic.  Mainly this blog is a way for me to process what is going on in my heart and head–to make sense of the pinballs that are bouncing around in me.  It is not primarily about the reader.  But … I do care about my reader.  I do not want to discourage.  I do not want to promote doubtful or sinful living.  Not at all!  But I believe that being honest allows us both–reader and writer–to deal better with life.  Just as writing helps me to get rid of the junk I feel, reading the writings of others who are struggling helps me to do the same thing.

I’m sure by now you can guess that I have received negative feedback from someone who has been reading this blog.  I respect that and even appreciate the honesty that my reader has extended.  But as with everything, readers have a choice about what they read just as writers have a choice about what they write.  Freedom.  If I have offended (or discouraged or depressed) you, dear reader, please unsubscribe.  I appreciate your freedom to choose.

However this is who I am learning to be.  Me.  A struggling, sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing, follower stumbling forward in the path of Jesus Christ.  I fall, a lot, but I always get back up and keep on walking.  And that’s where (or who) I am.  Hope you get that and can keep walking that path with me.

Peace and grace, and thanks for reading.

TENEBRAE

By Lisa Huddleston

The damned nails
Picked out of a basket
On the way into the dimly lit
Sanctuary of Christ
A silent service
Tenebrae
But iron nails kept falling
On the hardwood floor
Building my anxiety, my judgment, my frustration
Damned, noisy nails
Damned, noisy people
Seven silent words
Spoken once but tonight
Printed words on a screen
Then pounding
Nails into wood
But first through tender flesh
Not for judgment
But for forgiveness
For my sin, my carelessness, my clumsiness
And the damned nails
Held Him there until
It was finished

A QUIET LIFE

By Lisa Huddleston

Shh!  This is a quiet life;

learning to be content,

to carry my own burdens,

to mind after my own business,

to honor Christ with true obedience

in humility, in peace, in self-awareness

and with a focus upon what is good.

Don’t chuck your muck in my dustbin;

 My dustbin’s full.

Look!  Where is Christ at work?

Listen!  What do you hear and heed?

Make it your ambition – a quiet life

Of peace and truth and integrity.

Amen.

REVELATION: I AM NOT GOD

By Lisa Huddleston

Like most of the hip Christians in Nashville, I have gotten myself a chronological Bible to study.  Oddly (or not), I have had it for some time and have not bothered to read it so this week I jumped right into the New Testament.  Ah–good place to start.  Balm for the soul in the Gospels.  But this morning the balm stung just a little.

Today’s reading included Peter’s declaration that Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus’ prediction of his death, and the Transfiguration.  I happily read noting the similarities in the accounts as well as the literary differences.  I underlined and commented in the margins thoroughly enjoying my time in the Word and my familiarity with the stories.

Then I read, “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s … put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:33-34).  Wow!  That was just what my last post was about!  I get it, God.  And there it was again in Matthew 16 and Luke 9.  Okay, okay.  I repent of my selfish ambition.  Of all my self stuff.  I hear you, Lord. And I sort of patted myself on the back for being so in synch with the word.

Then I moved on to the Transfiguration accounts.  God said, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him” (Mark 9:7).  And, “This is my Son, my Chosen One.  Listen to him” (Luke 9:35).  And, “This is my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with him.  Listen to him” (Matt. 17:5).  Oh, yes, Lord.  I hear you loud and clear!  Help me to lay aside my selfishness and let me fully please you.

Listen to him.  He is my Chosen One.  I am fully pleased with him.  Lisa–I am fully pleased with HIM!

Yeah, I so missed the point.  I cannot fully please God and that is why he sent his Son.  Jesus can do what I never could on my own.  Epiphany!  He is God and I am not.  I am just as much a bumbler as poor old Peter was offering to build some shelters for the three shining figures on the mountain top!  And at least, Pete recognized the Messiah when he saw him!

Jesus is the Son of the living God, the Messiah sent from God, the beloved Son, and the Chosen One.  And I am not.

LIVING UNDECEIVED

By Lisa Huddleston

My pastor, Jim Thomas, is famous for his use of quotations.  He tries to use the shorter ones on Sunday and the small chapters on Tuesday evening during Bible study–although I do believe he overlaps this approach at times (and I love it).  This past Sunday, one quote in particular stood out.  I’m an Os Guinness fan having read and reread The Call so I was already tuned in to the author, but the words themselves spoke to my soul:  Repentance is the beginning of becoming undeceived.

I am always flirting around with the idea of reality.  Whose reality?  Mine?  Yours?  God’s?  Of course, God’s is the real reality; but, how do I know when I’ve arrived at it?  What is really real?

Am I really real when I feel paranoid and left out of the party?  Am I really real when I think I look good in leopard print jeans?  Am I really real when I tell myself “I hate you” and wish I could just disappear?  Am I really real when I spontaneously tell a stranger “I love you” as I help her take her diapers and formula to her car?  What is really real, and will the really real me, please, stand up?

Os Guinness suggests repentance is where I should begin.  Okay.  Good thought.  I repent of self-centeredness, of pride, of self-importance.  Great and wonderful places to begin.  Oh God, really open my eyes to reality.  Undeceive me of the deceivers lies.  Help me to repent and keep repenting–not in a narcissistic way, but in spirit and in truth.

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord.  I want to see you.  I want to see you.