Friday, January 11, 2013

God, Concussions, & Chick Flicks

I went skiing with my friends and family to start off the new year.  It was a fun day, and I couldn’t help thinking about a ski trip this time last year.  While trying out snowboarding for the first time (without a helmet, on icy snow) I got a concussion.  Another first for me.
What a crazy experience!  I sort of “woke up” and had no idea where I was, how I got there, what year it was, and I couldn’t remember any details of the day or the days before.  Most of all, I was confused about why I had a snowboard on my feet since I knew I wasn’t a snowboarder.  I was afraid years had passed in which I had become a snowboarder and I couldn’t remember them.  I knew my name, but couldn’t remember much else. 

It got me thinking about those movies with memory loss as a central element.  And since I’ve been on the topic of spiritual forgetfulness…  I'm not usually one to defend the chick flick, but I can’t pass up an opportunity to use a chick flick to illustrate a spiritual truth (I have often thought the value of the chick flick lies in it's ability to point us to our true desires, which is why we're ashamed to admit we like them... but that's another blog). Stories of memory loss seem to be a favorite of the genre, and in particular, of Rachel McAdams.
Her movies The Notebook and The Vow share this themeIn one, Alzheimer’s takes her memory and in the other, a car accident.  But in both, she becomes hostile or indifferent toward the one she loves as a result of her memory loss.  And that is the tragedy of the story—what makes it heart-wrenching—that she could forget how much she loves, how much she is loved, how much they shared, what is true.

And I think that is the tragedy of our love story with God.  We so often live as if we’ve forgotten.  We live as hostile or indifferent toward the lover of our souls.  But what makes it beautiful (just like in the movies) is that He doesn’t give up on us!  He keeps pursuing.  He is patient with our forgetfulness.  His love doesn’t run out.  And that is what inspires our love.  His relentless love draws us back.  What a beautiful love story (even better than a chick flick... See? This is what we desire).

So the good news is that in spite of our forgetfulness, God calls us back to Him, reminds us of Who He is, of who we are, and what is real.

Are you aware of God’s relentless pursuit of you?  How are you responding?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Are You Suffering from Spiritual Stockholm Syndrome?

Another throwback on the topic of forgetfulness, this one from April 2010, just a few months before I really started living at a break-neck speed that put me in survival mode, where I started seeing my Father as the enemy...

If you watch The Amazing Race, you see that no matter how the teams start the race, usually the longer they go at their crazy pace, the more they forget everything but winning. They forget kindness, they forget love, they forget who they are, where they came from, and what they’re about. I wonder if they were allowed to slow down for 30 minutes a day to talk to their family back home if it would help them remember—remember what’s real and what really matters. But far from home, they forget.

My sister came to visit last week, and we had a great time in the city, but I can’t imagine trying to keep that pace of life up for very long. Fun for a day or a week, but continuing at that pace makes you forget. Yet, since she left, I'm realizing I've been in this race for a while now in one way or another.  I've been forgetting.  Again. Forgetting who I am and what I'm about. And I haven’t taken even 30 minutes each day to be reminded. I stopped talking to my Father regularly. Far from home, I forgot.

I read a Ted Dekker book recently that I wasn’t into at first, but I really can’t walk away from one of his novels without thinking about the human condition—my condition. The book was The BoneMan’s Daughters, and it was essentially about a girl who is kidnapped and in order to survive she assimilates to her environment and the ways of the one who holds her captive. Her father pursues to rescue her, but she treats him as the enemy. Far from home, she forgot.

It made me think about how we are all prone to Stockholm syndrome. Far from home, we forget. We lose perspective. We develop distorted alliances and pursue misguided ends. We need to let the Father remind us who we are, where we’re from, what we’re about, and who He is. We need to slow down and remember.

…we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary… Hebrews 6:18-19

Signs of spiritual Stockholm syndrome:
1) Do you see God as the enemy, against you, just trying to make life difficult for you?
2) Are you too busy or distracted to spend 30 minutes a day to be reminded of what real and true?
3) Has survival or success or fun or other pursuits become more important to you than living for Christ?

Now life has slowed down for me, but I am still working on realigning what I know to be true, exchanging the truth for lies. I have to be reminded of what's real, who I am, who God is, and that I'm not just living to win or survive. There's more to life.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Forget Resolutions--New Years Tattoos, Anyone?

I'm starting this "throwback series" of blogs based on blogs I wrote in the past, to remind me of truths I used to know.  ...that I used to knooooww (now the song is stuck in my head).  

I originally wrote this June of 2008, but I've been thinking a lot about it this New Years.  I've been slowly awakening over the past several months after a two year soul sleep.  And as much as I want to live in the freedom and fullness that I once enjoyed with Christ, it's a struggle each morning to remember that's where I want to be when so many other things are calling out to me. I forget.  Each day I forget.  Maybe even every three minutes I forget.

We are a forgetful people. I've been thinking about our tendency to forget. I saw an older movie the first time recently, Memento. In it, the main character has a disorder that affects his memory. He can’t remember anything for longer than three minutes or so. But he’s got a very important purpose—He wants to find the man who killed his wife—the last thing he remembers. Of course, each morning when he wakes up he can’t remember his purpose or the new things he’s learned without leaving himself daily reminders. 

He tattoos messages on his body, he leaves himself notes, and he takes pictures to remind him of the important things so that each day he’ll know what is true, who he can trust, and what he should be about so that he won’t be deceived or distracted from his mission.

In a way, we all have this disorder—we forget our purpose, forget what we’ve learned, forget what we should be about. When we wake each morning, our first thoughts are selfish and we need to be reminded of what we know is true, reminded of what we learned the day before and the day before that. The distractions of life make us forget. We are deceived into thinking other things are more important. Then we waste our time and resources on pursuits that are meaningless. We need reminders.

John Eldredge makes this observation in The Journey of Desire, “I wake most mornings an unbeliever. It seems that during the night I slip into forgetfulness and by the time the new day comes, I am lost. The deep and precious truths that God has brought me to over the years and even just yesterday seem a thousand miles away.” He says he’s got a section in his journal of central truths he must return to each morning. 

What are the things you need to remember? What are you doing each day to help you remember?

“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live.” Deuteronomy 4:9

I started my own list of truths to remember back then.  This New Years I'm making a new list to wake to. Here's just a few...

  • I am loved!
  • God's grace is sufficient for me
  • God is actively working to transform me
  • I was made to know God and make Him known
  • This is not as good as it gets!
  • Hulu is the devil  ;)

What's on your list?  Wanna get matching tattoos?