Monday, August 12, 2013

self-definition and struggling with the Gospel

In the last couple of weeks, Luke has given us Jesus' walk toward Jerusalem and all the difficult teachings therein.  I've always had a love-hate relationship with the "where your treasure is" teachings.  I'm not much of a "stuff" person, really.  I want a car that gets me there, safely, but past that, I don't care much.  I don't get really excited about clothes and I LOATHE shopping.  I do love a good gadget, but I've had the same iPhone for 2 1/2 years and don't really care for an upgrade.  My beloved laptop is seven years old and I refuse to admit that it is ancient by technological standards.  It still works, after all.

But I don't really live simply.  I can be easily convinced that I "need" something and my messy house is a testament to all the things my family and I "need".  It is easy for me to imagine that Jesus didn't need stuff because Jesus didn't have kids.  Kids are ridiculous stuff magnets. First it is carseats, strollers, diapers and multi-part bottles, now it is socks and shoes, Legos, backpacks and art supplies.  Jesus can talk about lilies and ravens because he didn't have to carry a diaper bag.  And my kids are not really "stuff" people either.  They actually don't ask for much.  But we do seem to have scads of stuff lying about.

I can bluff and say that our hearts are not really with all this daily detritus.  But one glance at my four-year-old in the corner howling because she can't find THE-SHOES-I-WANT-NOT-THOSE-THE-OTHER-ONES-WITH-THE-STRAPS and my stomping around the house with WHO MOVED MY PHONE? and you'd call my bluff immediately.

Implicated.  No matter how I look at it, my heart is divided.  It is, admittedly, more divided now that I have kids.  So much of my baggage (literally and figuratively) contains things to keep them safe, occupied, fed and happy.  But as I get older, I am less excited about "making do" with a spoon when what I really "need" is a new stand mixer.  "Making do" is no longer a challenge or adventure, but a drag.  And so: more stuff.

So what to do with this placement of my heart?  What to do with this Gospel?  This time around, I'm thinking about stuff and self-definition.  How do I want to be known?  How do I want to know myself?  Am I "the mom who lives in the green house with the big addition on the back"?  "That priest who drives the Highlander"?  "That lady over there with the great shoes"?  When I die, will they say, "Oh wow, this stand mixer makes me think of Mom.  She sure loved this mixer."?  Ugh.

In an attempt to heal the divide of my heart--slowly and over time, of course-- I'm working on rearranging my list of definers.  I'm working towards moving "beloved child of God" to the top.  "Forgiven, loved and free" should come shortly thereafter.  Then maybe after that, my community connections: mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend... because it is through each other that we get to know God.

Eventually, the list will by necessity contain my hobbies, favorite ice cream, where I live, what I drive.  But my intention in reordering my list is to slowly convince my heart that it needs to be more firmly rooted in those primary definers.  Beloved, forgiven, loved, free.  I need to convince my heart that the stuff-- Highlander, Legos, iPhone-- while convenient and helpful at their best, are not even tertiary on my list of worth.

Hear me now:  I'm not going ascetic.  You probably won't even see the difference in my everyday self.  The difference is in my own head, how I value myself by trying to believe in the value that God puts on me, a value far greater than the stuff I surround and define myself with.            

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