Category Archives: Revelations
Those light-bulb moments
I’ve heard many times that age is all in the mind. As I near the beginning of my sixth decade on this planet, I wonder what idiot made that up. Age is in a lot more than my mind. It’s in my joints, and my muscles, and my attitudes. I find myself saying things like, “when I was young,” and “when I was your age.” I call people younger than me “honey,” and I shop for flats because I can’t wear high heels anymore without my feet staging a coup. When oh when did I get old…ish? And, now that I’m there, how do I feel about it? Do I even care?
What a stupid question! Of course I care! I care that I can’t touch my toes anymore, at least not without getting stuck down there and having to watch TV between my knees. I care that when I get up out of a chair it takes a few seconds for my joints to unlock so I can move a leg forward. I care that my eyelids droop, my nose is getting bigger, and I’ve got spider veins crawling up my legs. Yeah, I care, but there’s not a whole lot I can do about it without looking like I’m doing something about it. I choose to forgo the tummy tucks, facelifts, and botox injections because (a) I don’t like elective pain and (b) time will eventually catch up with me anyway, so what’s the point? The two classes in Economics I had in college taught me just enough to make me realize that I don’t have sufficient resources to waste trying to look like time makes no difference.
I’ve watched other women struggle with it. There are those who seem to be living in a decade long gone, and others who decide to accept the inevitable earlier than they have to; they know it’s coming and choose to meet it half-way if only to get it over with. I don’t want to be like either one of those. For once in my life, I’d like to be average, in the middle; not too warm and not too cold. Just right. So, incurable optimist that I am (and since I’m backed into a corner with no other way out), I’ve decided to decide that aging has its advantages.
For example (and this strikes me as incredibly ironic) the less time one has left, the more time one finds to spend. I used to be too preoccupied with raising a family, holding onto a job, and keeping mold from growing in the toilet bowl to think much about doing anything else. Now, I have options I didn’t have before, like writing a book (yeah, right), or exercising more often (yeah, right again), or maybe even giving myself voluntarily to causes I have no vested interest in. When I was younger, if I gave anything to anyone, it was purely out of the need to prevent one more ball from dropping, because if it did, I’d have a bigger mess to clean up. The point is, now there are choices I can make that carry consequences much less severe than whether or not my kids land in jail.
I can agonize all I want to about how I’m physically falling apart, but aging is really a natural, God-given process that seems to be more character-driven than anything else. I may not lose all the insecurities I’ve taken great care to develop all my life, but they just don’t seem to be as life-threatening as they used to be. I find that as I’m aging, I’m becoming more at peace with myself, with others, and with life in general. I’m easier to get along with…not out of fear of losing a friend or my mother finding out that I hit a kid in school and grounding me for six months, but because I’m more content with who I am (and who I’m not). I’m more self-confident, and less concerned about being right. At least more often than I used to be.
Yeah, aging definitely has its advantages, and I’ll keep telling myself that until the day I die, at which time, incurable optimist that I am, I shall decide to decide that dying isn’t such a bad deal, either.
A few weeks ago, I had a day off from work and decided to wander down to the world-renowned Kimbell Art Museum here in Fort Worth to take in some work on display by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, two famous, albeit confusing, Cubist artists. I had been exposed to Cubist art (aka art-that-makes-no-sense-whatsoever) in an Art Appreciation class several years back, and was now ready, I thought, to boldly face what I would consider art from another planet.
If you perceive a flavor of fear in that last sentence, you would perceive correctly. As I got out of my car and approached the museum entrance, I felt a deeply-entrenched sense of dread. I feared that it would somehow reflect badly on me, my intelligence, and my artistic sensibilities if I failed to understand it, or failed to appreciate it, or worse yet, failed to justify my position other than to say, “because it’s, like, gross!”
So, as I walked slowly, thoughtfully, fearfully through the gallery, I stopped in front of every etching and every painting and read every informational placard to desperately glean some insight as to what mind-bending message the artist meant to convey. And, I must say that I had somewhat limited (i.e., zero) success. For the most part, it all still looked like something one would slap together for lack of anything else better to do. And, if I had been changed in any way as a result of the experience, I would have to say I came out more confused than when I went in, if only because it was apparent that someone appreciates this stuff and I was obviously too dense to figure out why.
I’ve had a chance to reflect on it in the weeks since, though, and here’s what I’ve decided: I’ve decided that all these cubist guys want is to provoke me into seeing that there is more than one world out there that I can only discover through multiple perspectives. I believe they want me to widen, stretch, bend, and twist my field of vision, so that I am able to take in not only what I believe I should be seeing, but take in (and be surprised by) what I don’t expect to see.
In short, their message to me is life has infinite variety, if I will only be brave enough to look for it. Which is all well and good. But I personally believe that I would have gotten the point without the whole boob in the forehead thing.
I’m approaching the end of another year of Bible Study Fellowship – one more week left in the book of Isaiah – and it’s time again to ponder what I’ve learned over the past nine months.
FYI: This isn’t the first time I’ve read Isaiah. I read the entire Bible many years ago, but back then it was more about going cover-to-cover than it was about discovering who God is. I think I just assumed I would gain a bit of divine knowledge via osmosis as I flew low and fast over the pages. I wanted to be able to claim, “I am a spiritual juggernaut. I’ve read every word in the Bible, from one end to the other, from the beginning to the end. I am the Alpha and the Omega of Bible readers.” I’m amazed God didn’t kick me off the edge of the world (it being flat, and all).
Besides Revelation, Isaiah was (and still is) the most intimidating book for me to tackle; hard to understand, yet filled with the most treasure…the “oooo and ahhh” book. But what I learned was worth every “huh?” and “I don’t get it.” I learned about His personality: His likes, His dislikes, His moods, emotions, and thoughts. Only trouble is, I learned more about Him than I think I wanted to know, because, now I know. Now I’m excuse-less. There is much I can still claim ignorance about, but much I can’t. I’m out there, vulnerable, unable to hide behind my lack of knowledge about what He wants and what He expects. There is a part of me that thinks I really screwed up this time. I should never have let Him get this close. Now, I’m accountable. And I HATE that!
So besides the “uh-oh” realization that I’ve been caught red-handed in my sin, what else did I learn (as if that wasn’t enough)? Well, I learned that:
- I’m not as self-reliant and self-sufficient as I think I am.
- I’m accountable to someone much bigger than my mother.
- God is infinitely patient, but does not have infinite patience.
- God has the power to hire and fire.
- Suffering is never in vain.
- Where God is concerned, fear is a good thing.
- Running from the consequences of my sin has been my life-long vocation; I only thought I was an executive secretary.
and, last but not least
- There is always hope.
Which brings me to one of those “duh” moments we all have from time to time.
A couple of weeks ago, on Easter Sunday, as a matter of fact, I was riding behind my husband on a motorcycle, leaving Alpine, Texas, headed for McDonald Observatory near Ft. Davis, with eight other motorcycles (and their riders, of course, since motorcycles are generally not remote-controlled). Recent wildfires had left a lot of land decimated, and I noticed one such very large, burned-out field on my left. And in the middle of all that blackened acreage stood two deer (or antelope, depending on who you ask), their soft, sable-colored forms in stark contrast to their surroundings, heads down, grazing on what I knew not. At the time, I thought “how sad. What can possibly be left to eat?” Since we were, at that moment, traveling about 75 miles an hour, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to reflect on it. I did, however, have the presence of mind to recognize that there was something important about that sight, something I was supposed to see. I just couldn’t grasp it.
So, the other day, as I was contemplating the last few chapters in Isaiah, it hit me: God always leaves a remnant! While it seemed at the time to be a bit odd seeing two deer (antelope?) in the middle of nowhere, I now understand that it was intentional…like He oh-so-perfectly staged the scene in order to illustrate in the simplest of terms the love, compassion, and mercy He gives to all of His creation. Yes, He brought them to a place of utter desolation, but He didn’t leave them there to starve, or make do on their own. While that field and seemingly all the grass in it was burned, destroyed–wiped out–there was still something there to eat…still something there to sustain life.
God always leaves a remnant.
And, there is always hope.