The Second Movement–Song 2, Moments of Living in the Melody

  • Having an editor for my writing (and him being the love of my life and all)
  • My aunt and I running errands together, and them not seeming like such errands when I’m with her.
  • Ben’s mom telling my mom that I was like an angel to his family.  My heart still gooshish.
  • My mom hunting for days and finding my missing retainer so that I didn’t have to spend $200 on a new one that wouldn’t push my teeth back to where they were supposed to be.
  • Opening a letter from Prashanti (from India, Compassion International) and reading, “Dear mom”.
  • Gary Walters out of the blue telling me that the cleft in my chin (that I find so ugly) was cute, and that it reminded him of his wife’s (who he loves and adores).  I kinda wanted to give my chin a second chance after that.
  • The Etsy red horse ornament with frolicking sequins that my aunt bought me.
  • Writing and knowing God loves me as I write.
  • The animatronics at the Creation Museum, because they didn’t scare me very much since I knew they were missionary dinosaurs.  🙂
  • The tour with Buddy Davis through the Creation Museum.
  • Sitting next to Ben on the bus, when we were still hardly just friends, and there was talking go on, and there were magnetic fields starting to build.  🙂
  • Ben praying for my motion sickness on the bus.
  • Ben reading stories I’ve written that only my mom has read
  • My first playground with Ben, and climbing through all the wonderful forts.
  • My grandmother’s coleslaw
  • Staggering towards a trash can in the airport after the worst motion-sickening plane ride of my life, and Ben holding my hair as I retched into the trash can in the giant room by the luggage conveyers.  (Ben holding my hair was the joy part.)
  • Capri Suns, 100% fruit juice kind
  • The evening in the snow when Ben gave me my Christmas necklace, and snow really fell on my hair the way it does in the movies, even if we were still us and socially awkward and all. 😉
  • The $6.99 VIB Breakfast at Village InnBeautiful, Beautiful by Francesco Battistelli
  • The rabbit I got to hold during a staff meeting
  • My soft brown bunny
  • The shooting pain in my neck that reminds me I need to stand up straight
  • Gas fireplaces
  • Watching The Hobbit with Ben in a close-to-empty theater and laying my head in his chest.
  • Touring the Creation Museum
  • Breyer’s All-Natural Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
  • Ben’s laugh real relaxed on the phone and I’m 1,008 miles or so away and I want to hear it again and again, and I picture what his face looks like as he laughs.
  • The day I looked at myself in the airport bathroom mirror and I looked crummy but I felt beautiful
  • Saturn bunny pointing to his owwie.
  • Monopoly, and all the friends and family I’ve won, lost, and drawn against
  • The royal purple afghan my grandmother made me for Christmas hugging my legs with its flappy wings right now.
  • Letters from Kekeli from Togo and the beautiful photograph of her with her motherHeritage Cafeteria with my aunt, and her prayer for me and Ben
  • My first date with Ben, and the exotic little muffins with unusual butter the waiter served us after for free because it was our first date and he understood long-distance relationships.
  • The Naming Room at the Creation Museum.
  • Walking through the Creation Museum backwards to see the curse fade away and Eden begin again, as it will one day for those who live in Christ.
  • Hard wood floors
  • Watching Ben run and slide in his socks and I realize he was a kid like me once, even if I didn’t see him grow up.
  • Ben’s playful voice ribbing me about something
  • My Newton sneakers my mom got me as a special gift, and the replaced shoe
  • My card of two puppies kissing on the nose (so it’s okay) I got in the mail today from Ben.  🙂
  • The needle felted hedgehogs I got my mom for Christmas from Ginger Little’s Etsy shop
  • The picture Ben sent me of Sniffy and the honey stick
  • The one-of-a-kind original of a Gary Walter’s watercolor painting he gave me as a gift in a beautifully inscribed package, and how I felt when I saw it
  • Running down the sidewalk on New Year’s Eve holding Ben’s hand
  • Sharing a three-layer cake with my small group Bible study for Karen’s birthday
  • Nests with robin’s eggs
  • Seeing the gasping, dying bird laying on the mat in front of the bookstore, and the attendant getting a bag and moving it to a small garden where it wouldn’t get crushed.
  • The sun shining through the half-circle window in my bedroom
  • Ben rubbing the back of my neck and head when I have shooting pains and aches.
  • One of my kiddos showing off new glasses to me.  (I wear them too.)Guji, Guji (the book)
  • Ben sitting cross-legged
  • Walking out in the rain in our socks, holding hands.
  • The color of my hair, though it took me a long time to like it
  • Meeting Ben’s parents, and them gracious and me nervous and stepping all over my own words and them somehow liking me anyway.
  • Ben’s mom’s raisin bread
  • Grabbing Ben’s dad’s piece of raisin bread off his plate, and even though I did it very sneaky-like and he didn’t see, him somehow knowing it was not Ben but, indeed, me.
  • Switching seats every time Ben left the room, and his family saying nothing about it, continuing on with their conversations, as Ben had to keep sitting in a new spot.  And me just looking at him across the table, all sneaky-like, like, I’m gonna keep messing with you.  And him just looking back at me across the table, all patient-like, like, My patience is gonna outlast your messing with me.  And how he’s always right about that.
  • Ben trying to solve my riddle, my dumbest-riddle-ever, and studying after it, and working and working at it, and at long last getting the answer.  And then his momma getting the answer in two seconds flash.  And then the look of laughter and disbelief on his brother’s face that I had told the dumbest-riddle-ever.
  • The insides of a watch
  • Helen, who shares my birthday
  • weimaraners
  • Deer
  • The pink, blind, furless babies of mice
  • Looking forward to my thirtieth birthday
  • The first time Ben told me he loved me.
  • The Hiding Place performed at Stained Glass Theater
  • Musical notes, the way they look across a page of staffs
  • The song In Christ Alone
  • The book of Isaiah


Published in: on January 12, 2013 at 8:15 pm  Comments (1)  
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The Second Movement, Song 1: Coming to the Melody

  • The moment in Second Baptist Church–where I didn’t even go, mind you, I was just casually browsing–when I realized suddenly, without any explanation as to how I knew–as if I had been awoken to find myself in a coffin eight feet under with the lid cracked open and a deep sunlight hole dug out from above and a big ole ladder reaching down–realized that God has been pursuing me all along.
  • My “idol dog” dying, and the time of loneliness that parted my delusions about what I thought my life was.
  • The moment I committed my life–broken, shameful to show, and with the same terrible thoughts as always, with even a mental intrusion as I gave my life to Jesus!–thoughts I could not tear out of my head–but I gave the whole big mess of my life to Him anyway.  (I’d never dreamed of doing this without trying to clean up first as I always tried, over and over . . except the occurrence of list item #1 made it okay for me to give Him my mess, even if it took me 3 or 4 months to “get it”.)
  • Writing “Sunbathers” in response to #1 and #2.
  • The story of Cinderella
  • The shakiness and down-on-my-knees prayer of the first Small Group Women’s Bible Study I hosted.
  • Bringing a crazy-popular food item to a party.  The drama team I was on at church had a Christmas party.  I brought Rudolph the Red-Nosed Cheeseball.  It was a smash.  Usually what I bring is more than enough left over.  But this time, I got to bring a winner.  (And I don’t think I told anybody my mom gave me the recipe and helped me make it and told me it would be a winner.)
  • Changing my iTunes selection
  • Making a chocolate chiffon cake Lena thought was as good as hers.  Lena won first-prize for one of her cakes.  Lena believed I could bake.  Lena believed I could.  I tried.  And it didn’t work at first.  But then I baked.
  • Mingkwan
  • The Christmas Eve service at Mark’s church, with the stillness and the warm glow of Christmas and communion . . a reminder of God’s gift of Bread of Life in a manger one night long ago.
  • Trying out for the drama team at my church–nervous as a baby bunny wondering if he walked into a cat pen.
  • Tearing up my credit card.
  • Making pumpkin custard for the first time and having it turn out.
  • Butter tea cookies, hot from the oven, with strawberry jam
  • The cayenne pepper and brown sugar bacon-wrapped bread sticks Denise makes
  • Changing my TV habits
  • Meeting Ruth and Mark in Sunday School and getting to know them at Financial Peace University
  • Stocking up on Answers in Genesis DVD’s
  • Seeing God even from the darkest pit of my sin.
Published in: on January 12, 2013 at 3:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Prelude: Song 3, The Lost Twenty-Something and The Faithful Melody

  • The scene in The Passion of the Christ where the stones fall to the ground and He reaches for the sinner’s hand
  • Knowing James, and how he played a part in my understanding how that a man can be tenderhearted and full of the forgiveness of Christ
  •  The computer mouse my father’s hand was on; Mark giving it to me.
  • Cranberries
  • Having a boy in college write a nasty-and-deflating careless note on my notebook when we switched seats during a cooperative learning game . . because it reminds me to love deep and not throw hate around casually, ’cause you never know how much it might hurt.
  • Petting a baby hedgehog
  • Taking an English tea time (in New York!)
  • Being there when my father died
  • Sobbing as I played Kayley’s song in Quest for Camelot, “On My Father’s Wings”.  It was a joy to me that Kayley, even if she wasn’t really real, knew what it was like to lose a daddy.
  • Having Richard (a friend) tell me that he thought I was just fine at my weight, and I should, too.  (I felt too skinny and couldn’t gain weight.)
  • Watching Dug on the movie Up.
  • 18. Someone turning my bright yellow purse with my credit card that I’d left in the cart at Wal-Mart into the Lost-and-Found and me finding it right away.
  • My grandmother staying with me during a lonely, panic-stricken illness
  • When a friend I didn’t even know very well gave me a necklace she’d had since childhood that her mother, who had died, gave her. It is gold and has little pearls.
  • Mr. Spence (my professor) calling me “a real prayer warrior” in front of the whole class because my father was dying and I was praying.
  • Watching a real live Yankees game 3 times in a row because I was 22 and my mom wanted me to have a good birthday.  And the big, heavy men in the audience befriending this little girl from Missouri who came up to see her favorite team play.
  • Horton Hatches an Egg by Dr. Seuss
  • Crying in Professor Hardy and Professor Huechteman’s arms.
  • Watching “Why Is There Death and Suffering?” (Ken Ham) and seeing how God isn’t responsible for the pains of this world.
  • A birthday meal at Tavern on the Green (I admit, the name sounds bad, but we did not drink).  The waiter brought me marbled balloons.
  • facebook
  • A friend driving me to the doctor, because I was scared to go to another doctor after experiences with being judged for being too skinny.
  • The hope of summer days
  • Mark, my dad’s boss, and how he prayed for my father and fasted one day every week.
  • Walking down the hallway with James, him bumping into me as the disease took its course.  The sweetness of knowing him.
  • White gerber daisies
  • Passing out when I found out my father had only 24 hours or less to live . . and waking up feeling my panic reset to calm so I could go to him.
  • A summer ripe peach
  • My father waving to me and smiling an old smile I recognized the day before he died.
  • Pillows
  • Dixie Stampede, and how they employed James even when he had slurred speech
  • Being unable to rest and feeling edged on and on to keep searching
  • Going out to eat with James and my dad, not realizing both of them would be gone in five years, but feeling like it was a special time even then.
  • My last birthday with my father, and him looking at me, and me twenty-one
  • Creamy vegetable soup at the Dixie Stampede
  • A pointless movie I watched in theaters, because I started realizing I didn’t want to waste my life anymore
  • The plague and dying that began striking all my idols
  • Dixie Stampede, and how they employed James even when he had slurred speech
  • Northpoint Church
  • James graduating college.  In a wheelchair, and graduating college.
Published in: on January 12, 2013 at 3:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Prelude, Song 2: The Teen and the Running Away from the Melody

  • My mom taking me to Hallmark the night we had a farewell party for my best friend.  She bought me a Beanie Baby seal and a duck in a raincoat because I was feeling very bad.
  • The first four-leaf clover I found
  • The tiny lizard I saved from the spiderweb.
  • Having the best and most neatest apron because Mrs. Erante (my home economics teacher) sewed mine except a little bit–because I was pitifulllll at home economics.
  • Ayden, in Quest for Camelot
  • Refusing to dissect a frog in biology (high school and college), on matters of principal.  😉
  • The Hungarian clerks who helped me make comforting phone calls home.
  • Warm rain
  • Boromir
  • Seeing a tropical fish my one and only time snorkeling in the ocean
  • Abby not saying anything to my parents after a bad practical joke left her with a permanently stained shirt that she’d loved and our couch with permanently stained pillows.  Abby, thank you, girl.  😉
  • Mash potatoes with brown gravy
  • Melted candle wax, and watching a seal made
  • Winning a metal with my dad in a water bucket relay race at the Dixie Stampede (and it’s hard to run in thick sand!).
  • Buster the Dolphin, and petting his head
  • Jackie Chan’s martial arts
  • Abby and Katie’s longstanding loyalty to me
  • The herd of dolphins that came out of the water flipping and squealing to greet our boat
  • The smell of pipe smoke
  • The pictures my dad drew for my journal when I was in Hungary
  • Ed Emberley’s Great Thumbprints book
  • Ice skating at the Rockefeller Center (never done it, just watching it, just knowing it’s there)
  • Sniffles the brown bear going into the outhouse somewhere in the Hungarian Countryside with me.  I was a strange-bathroom-o-phobe.  And that didn’t even deal with outhouses.  But I unzipped my purple belly pouch to peek at Sniffles after I had shut the door of the abhorrent outhouse–and he was still smiling.  And I kinda cracked up, and realized it wasn’t so awful as I’d always thought it would be to have to use an outhouse.
  • Learning how to make balloon animals.
  • Tripping on the edge of a tennis court, and having this ecstatic feeling of rocketing–for a couple seconds before I fell.
  • Hawaii
  • Sam, in New Line Cinema’s Lord of the Rings
  • Showing off my new braces that had white, teal, and lime green rubber bands.  I’d been determined, determined to get the orthodonist who did this and not the one who wouldn’t give different colors for your first braces month.
  • Going on the hay swings
  • The older men I knew through senior events (that my grandmom and mom both worked at) who told me they would marry me if they were younger.
  • The night walking out of Nakatos, a Japanese restaurant, after a work party there for my dad–and realizing my depression had suddenly lifted, as if Someone from the Heavens had yanked it off me and thrown it away–and talking about the marvel in that moment with my mom.
Published in: on January 12, 2013 at 3:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Prelude, Song 1: The Little Girl and The Unknown Melody

  • Having my first set of crayons, those with the round bases and pointy ends.
  • Jumping out of swings
  • The first bonfire I remember, the smell of the leaves.  Back when I loved autumn and it didn’t seem sad to me.
  • Hearing the story about how my grandmother’s charm necklace she’d lost years before was found one day hidden in some cranny of the kitchen.  It was the charm bracelet my grandfather had gotten her in Germany.
  • Learning the Knock/knock/banana/orange joke.
  • Valentine’s Day, and especially the year my dad had a gift basket for me of treats and red-and-white-and-pink toys
  • Winning an art contest.  I was maybe 9, and we had to make something out of paper.  I won.  (I didn’t tell anyone it was my mom’s idea for me to make the tissue paper flowers, and that she thought they’d be a success, and I doubted big time.)
  • Climbing trees with Sarah and Gill
  • Honeysuckles and their smell
  • Petting my African frog, Frishy.
  • Painting the dollhouse my grandfather had built for me.  It was sky blue and white.
  • Sitting next to Gordon.  The Gordon.  Gordon from Sesame Street!  And there was a huge statue of Burt and a huge state of Ernie, and they were wonderful and frighteningly gigantic.  And Gordon smiled at me, even though I didn’t smile at him and was petrified.  And I was in a dress, and he put his arm around me and another kid on a park bench, because we both won a coloring contest.  I won because I drew an extra sun and extra flowers on my picture.  I did not want to.  I wanted to color inside the lines.  (But my mom said it would be a good idea.)
  • Hot Sam’s pretzels on sticks, dipped in hot authentic cheddar cheese.
  • Going with my grandmother to work and playing with highlights and even a permanent marker at an age I knew most kids weren’t allowed.
  • Winning bracelets at the carnival, seven I think.
  • My aunt telling me the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as “Red” “Blue” and “Green”, which was much easier for me to say.
  •  Barkley from Sesame Street, even if I forgot what his name was and called him Rover.
  • The way-long glider my grandfather made that was even better than the one in the magazine.
  • Going house shopping with my grandma–house shopping for Cat’s Meow houses.
  • Getting a Lion King candy bar, milk chocolate, before the movie came out.
  • Winnie the Pooh Saturday mornings cartoon, and my dad watching them with me and singing the theme song in his gorgeous, untrained tenor voice.
  • That little girl who sat at a table closer to the teacher than I did who colored inside the lines and had blonde tight curls and had soda pop crayons instead of regular old crayons . . because she taught me that I wouldn’t always be in the spotlight.
  • The My Little Pony dance studio my grandfather bought me.
  • Skee-ball
  • The letter I got from Geoffrey the Giraffe and examined under our glowing Christmas tree when I was too little to actually read.  Geoffrey invited me to visit our new Toys R Us.
  • My dad impersonating characters from Gummi Bears.
  • My baby book that my grandparents drew in.
  • Patiently golden-toasted marshmallows
  • My grandmother spoon feeding me when I was way too old (she was being silly), and me feeling so loved and wanted
  • My Christmas stocking overstuffed
  • Overdoing makeup with Brianna with her mom’s old makeup.
  • The skit on Sesame Street where the little girl gets all messy eating a giant chocolate cookie as Cookie Monster narrates (and tries to talk her into letting him help her eat it).
  • My grandmother’s 24 Advent gifts each year of my childhood.
  • Getting to take George the white rabbit home for the weekend in kindergarten.
  • My first visit to Toys R Us, and meeting Cherry Merry Muffin.
  • Snowball fights
  • Dairy Queen’s chocolate-dipped cones, with my dad
  • The doctor-on-call who sewed up my head when I was six
  • Baking Christmas treats in the kitchen–a downpour of Christmas cookies–with my mom, aunt, and grandma.
  • All the great cartoon voices my dad could do
  • My handmade doll from my mother that I watched her make (but I could only partly see, from my vantage point on the floor)
  • Chex Muddy Buddies.  Making Muddy Buddies, sticky chocolate fingers, cloud dust of powdered sugar (well, a “cloud dust” in my imagination anyway), and deliciousness of snackyness after.
  • Making a Care Bear necklace for my mom out of magazine cut-outs and gold pipecleaner with my grandmother’s help.
  • My parents buying me both the white seal and gray seal in the museum gift shop when I couldn’t make up my mind.
  • Pogo balls, even though I could never balance on them.
  • After getting laughed at for writing “T.T.” at a sign-in for an event rather than “T.J.”, my grandfather taking me off to the side a day or so later and telling me how to fix my name if I ever made that mistake again so I wouldn’t be embarrassed again.
  • Crispy Critters cereal
  • Finding out that getting stung by a wasp was not the nightmare I had feared it would be.
  • Roosevelt (from Sesame Street), and the little character I had of him, and how my aunt found him after searching
  • The sticker book I stuck all my special stickers in as a child (and I got a lot from allergy shot visits).  Note: I didn’t realize the pun in getting stuck with a shot and stickers until proofreading, but I really did get a sticker every time I got allergy shots.  😉
  • Sailing . . garage sailing . . with my grandparents.
  • Baskin ‘n’ Robbins 28 ice cream flavor shop
  • My green Glo-Worm, and how his face lit up at night as I hugged him
  • The bear with the chipped paint on the carousel at Silver Dollar City
  • All the Hallmark ornaments my grandmother bought for my Christmas tree, one each year, but especially the glass Grumpy.
  • Rehearsing storytelling Chicken Little by Steven Kellogg over and over again for a drama project in elementary.
  • My battery-operated Christmas candle I used after a power outage
  • Joy: honey-sweet joy . . parading me to her father to meet him, wild proud to see me, always clinging to my arms, holding hands, extravagantly loyal, always in joy to see me.  (How I wish I knew her now, but I have not seen her these 21 years after she moved!  I love you, Joy, wherever you are, and pray God pours His extravagant joy out on your life always!)
  • Skating in my socks
  • Finding my blue plastic kitty after a long time of losing her, in the grass even!
  • The sock monkey’s tail
  • The day all the ice and snow came, and my dad had to stay home from work, and we sledded for hours.
  • The smell of vanilla
  • Freefalling backwards in an object lesson about faith, and one of the young adults (who to my young ears was an important person) calling out something like, “Now here’s someone with big faith!” as I fell without fear from the platform–and that free-air plunge without any fear, knowing, knowing they would catch me–and they did.
  • The fish my father struggled to get off the hook, and finally did, and threw back in the water.

Not List Items 201-250, but “How the List Changed”

I struggle today with my list.

Yesterday, the writing was uneasy . . today, it became something I recognize from so many activities in my life: miserdriving, that is, roaring myself hard towards something again which causes angst.

Questions, uncomfortable questions, tenuous questions, cloud my mind.

Is it pantheistic to thank God for the ripe peach?  Do I begin to worship this very peach when I do it?  For when I think of that Georgian ripe peach, I feel myself longing for another, consumed with a greed that shoves all goodness of character out of the way to grab another experience for myself like this one.

Is it hedonistic to rub a plush rabbit against my face and enjoy the soft fur?   I feel myself flee to the wastelands, the empty lands, dry sands and harsh winds, the heat of condemnation, the desert where I feel I belong.

Is it careless, insufferable to thank God for a hot chocolate while most of the world looks on, suffering for a crust of bread?  Guilt surfaces and I feel like a soulless body, running with hungry hands for the rotting pleasures of the physical world.

Is it irreverent to write a list in which I may think of the gift of the Passion of the Christ and then the gift of how musical notes look across a page?  Surely something terrible, something dreadfully wrong has happened here.  I want to run screaming from this list before the blasphemy of what I am doing swallows me whole.

I realize I must face two very difficult things.

1.  That I have stopped thanking Christ for these things as gifts, and started looking at them as unholy gratifications for which I long.

2.  That I fear the physical world of joy may in some way, however slight, compete with the spiritual joy so that, compared side by side, that peach might somehow diminish the love I feel for Christ as He tells the crowd to throw down the stones.

I want to run from this.  I feel the weakness of my flesh–how readily I will give up holiness to rush to physical pleasures!  How soon I would betray my God and Savior for something as paltry as a peach–like Judas running after the thirty pieces of silver.  I want to close down the list, place up a sign “Closed for Maintenance”, and leave the sight with tools scattered across the ground, hoping to come back and find it either torn down or open again in a way that makes sense.

And what about sacrifice?  What is this list teaching me of sacrifice?  Who do I think I am, that I should take for myself a pleasure when my Lord and Savior denied them all to save me?

And what about humility?  Who could I possibly think I am, that I should be eating a peach anyway, or bragging about it to anyone?  Am I better than the child in Rwanda who digs through trash cans for scraps of edible garbage?  Oh my soul, but I flush with tears to think of laying claim to such a thing!

What is all this list-making doing to help the world?  What is it doing to help me in my walk with Christ?  Or is it just an excuse to covet things I have experienced in my life, and long for them again?  A chance to lay out past moments like idolatry and obsess on them, worshiping the temporal brokenness of this world rather than the All-Holy and Exalted God?

And when did the list become a longing for more things, rather than a praise for what I already had?  When did it become thirsts for more, rather than fullness for what has already been given?

Am I not supposed to rank these things?  How am I supposed to place, on the same list, things of internal, infinite difference, such as the forgiveness of a woman when stones were in hands and the mouth of Hell was opening under her feet . . and a stupid, stupid peach?

And ah, something is revealed in my miserdriving.

I lived an idolatrous past.  This I already knew.  I still, nearly every day of my life, struggle living this way.  The worship of gifts instead of the Giver.  Of breadsticks with alfredo sauce.  Of Lord of the Rings and the love of Sam.  Of free, unfilled summer time.  Of Ben and our romance.  Things, things, things.  I tighten my fist.  I close down.  And in my horror, I seek to throw them all down to prove they do not control me.

Cross peaches off the list.  I do not want anything that hinders me from God.

When I experienced the love of God, it was like nothing I have ever had, nothing I expect I ever will have again in my life on earth, something that has never gone away from me.  Even if the most wonderful things happen to me, nothing could compare to what it was like to realize God loves me.

And in looking at that love, I want, incrementally, to throw everything else off.  No peaches.  No moment of rest in the branches of an oak tree.  No moment of thrill touching my cheek to Ben’s.  No moment of holding a strawberry gummy snack on my touch and feeling my tongue swell with the rush of sweetness.

Idolatry, idolatry–run, run!

I have had, probably nearly most if not all of my life, a problem with obsession.  Obsession of bad memories.  Obsession of bad things that could happen.  Obsession of sin.  Obsession of fears.  Obsession of gifts.

It is a last and most powerful stronghold in my obsession.

Two weeks ago, I went to the grocery store and stocked my pantry with good food.  I rarely do this.  I usually try to eat a variety of things I don’t care so much about or bring a single meal home.  And I can tell you exactly why.

From the moment the food was in my house, I began to obsess.  What if guests come over?  What if they eat my food?  What if God tells me to bring some of my organic strawberry gummy snacks to share with my Sunday school children?  What if Ben comes, and he eats too many of my special organic frozen pancakes?  What if my mom makes a sandwich out of my organic food?  What if God tells me to ask my mom if she wants such a sandwich?  What will I do?

Is this ridiculous, embarrassing?  How I know it.

I sit in Olive Garden, my favorite restaurant, and I think, What if I have to share something?  What if someone takes some of the alfredo sauce for my bread?  What if I don’t get enough to eat?  What if my friends start sharing food with each other and I’m expected to give away some of my portebello ravioli?

It may sound funny.  It is not.  It may sound outlandish.  And it is.  But how to control it?  What do I do?

I have had this affliction of ingratitude for as long as I remember.  As a young child, I got a notepad of colored papers with hearts, and I thought it was one of the most beautiful things I owned.  I would flip through it and think, What if I use one of the pages, and the notepad will be missing a page, and then the gift will be ruined?

I would hold my favorite teddy bear, Sniffles, as a child and ask, What if someone takes him from me and hurts him?  What if God doesn’t let me take him to Heaven?  What if he is burned up in the fire?

And on and on and on.  Gift after gift after gift.  Obsession after obsession after obsession.  Fear after fear after fear.  Idolatry after idolatry after idolatry.  Fists clenched tight.

Oh, God, dear God, how do I let go?

Since I no longer seek idolatry, my solution has been to cut from my life all stumbling blocks.  No stuff.  No tasty food.  No laughter.  Sometimes what I do allow in my life I analyze for flaws, that I may be comfortable with it.

How on earth does someone such as me expect to write a list of gifts from God?  How do I do it without becoming materialistic?  Without becoming hedonistic?  Without wasting more of my life than I already have pursuing peaches instead of the Kingdom?

And then I realize, OH, OH!  THIS IS A SYMPHONY.  

And I am both despising and coveting the prelude . . running back frantically to try to hear its melody once more, to be comforted by the faint beauty in the notes . . when God is in the Second Movement of my life.

Not to be despised nor coveted–and neither any longer sought after.  This is the Prelude.

I have begun my long kiss goodbye to my prelude.  I no longer need to streak backwards after it.

I see hints of its melody in The Second Movement, to remind me of the first love notes I found of Christ, among my small and meaningless life, before I met the musician Himself.  But the new notes of my old melody are deeper, richer, more beautiful, like silver dripping from a page.

Now it is not the sweet peach itself that makes it to my list any longer.

It is that the peach reminds me, even so faintly, of the sweetness of tasting the love of God.

The music back in my Prelude days was weak, and in the faint hearing of it, I distorted.  The peach back then–it was only the peach. It was only the momentary sweetness on my tongue.  And then it was over, and then I longed for more.  And I thought I needed more peaches.  I thought I needed to find a way to hold the peach longer on my tongue.  But the purpose of that note–the purpose of all notes in the Prelude–was to lead me to the Second Movement.

The plastic carousel giraffe with its combable tail and snap-on bow became the end all, for I did not understand the music at all back then.  No wonder it confuses me now to look back on those first notes!

But it wasn’t the notes in error.  It was me.  God Himself was using even so little a thing as a plastic carousel giraffe with its combable tail and snap-on bow.  Oh my word!  Surely, as Ann Voskamp says, as Jacob said long ago,

“Surely the LORD is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” (Genesis 28:16)

Now I see.  It is not that I am to look back on that plastic carousel giraffe and long for it once more.  It is that I am to look back at the love note that giraffe played in my Prelude . . that deep longing for peace in a six-year-old’s heart, of combing the tail of a gentle giraffe and giving it pretend beauty . . Now I smile at it . . Now I acknowledge it . . Now I await for the same note to appear in a mightier way in The Second Movement–where I live my life right now–and it does.

Even the things I held in idolatry–all the extravagant money I spent on my meals in restaurants–even in my gluttony, my covetousness, God sent a musical note through the slit of my nearly-closed heart: the note of seeking joy.  Though I could never find joy in my sin, I heard the note that I was seeking joy . . and that beautiful dot and line and flag on the staff of my life was yet another love note sent by my Father to woo me to Him, the real and everlasting joy.

Now I understand.

I can be delighted not in the silly things I clung to from a selfish heart in my Prelude, but in the notes of God He sang to me anyway.

I can let go of the prelude when I need to, because God is in the Second Movement of my life. 

And now it makes sense.  And now I can listen to the music.

be filled by the Spirit:

speaking to one another

in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs,

singing and making music

from your heart to the Lord,

giving thanks always for everything

to God the Father

in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

submitting to one another

in the fear of Christ. (Ephesians 5:18b-21, HCSB)

Published in: on January 12, 2013 at 2:14 pm  Leave a Comment