Clearing away the mud

Photo: Wilderdom via Flickr

Photo: Wilderdom via Flickr

Many years ago I wrote an article for a youth leaders’ newsletter. The article was called “Hearing Voices” and it was a confession to my inability to sort through all the different opinions about what it meant to be a Christian coming at me at the time. I was a kind-of-hippie making a yearly pilgrimage to a music festival full of seminars and concerts and discussions and people. I was studying Bible and theology in an academic setting. I was on staff at a denominational church that was pursuing charismatic expressions of the faith. I was exposed to blogs and books and podcasts and conferences and articles and sermons that all seemed to communicate the real thing God was doing in the world. I felt like a spiritual schizophrenic, paralyzed by all the voices pulling me in different directions.

I eventually stumbled into a phase best described as a mix of compassion fatigue and recovering church-aholicism. Settling into the few things I definitely knew to be true, I tried my best to live them out in the world around me. It was a stumbling, bumbling attempt at faithfulness to Christ, but I think it was honest and moderately pure. It led me down some strange paths and around some dark corners, but in all the tripping along I discovered some important things about myself as a person made in the image of God.

Recent history reads well. I’ve been embraced by an amazing, flawed, creative, broken, redemptive mess of a faith community. I’m surrounded by really just crazy awesome people. I’m stimulated intellectually and find my thoughts about the faith changing in such freeing and beautiful ways. I have less stress in my life than ever before, which means space to pursue passions and impulses and releasing my inner geek. Yet somehow over the past weeks (months? years?) I’ve crashed back into that wall of overwhelmed confusion.

I am supped to love people well, with urgency but not with haste. So I need to be sure I am connecting with and caring for the people in my life. But I shouldn’t be cliquey about it, so I need to always be reaching out to new people, too. Also serving people outside of my “comfort zone” is important, which means I should be volunteering somehow. But service without an inner spiritual life is empty, so I need to be sure I am spending time in silence and solitude, study and prayer. As an introvert I should also be sure I’m not overextending myself – except that I should consider others as more important than myself, so if someone needs me I should be available. As a person made in God’s image I am built for creative expression, and every writer on the planet says you need to show up at the page every day. But we also need to take in beauty and creativity, so I should be sure to take time for reading and exposing myself to beautiful things. As a person in a body I need to be sure to exercise each day, preferably a mix of cardio, weights, and yoga. I also need to eat clean, preparing three meals and a few snacks each day (the fresher the better). Oh, and sleep. I should sleep. Relaxation is important because our society is too fast-paced and we are all living with too much stress. My pesky boss also wants eight solid hours each day of the week.

So…I watch five seasons of “Leverage” in four weeks, avoid my phone, and re-aggravate an old kickboxing injury. I admit that the creative well is dry, feeling the pinch of the drought as I watch Walter Mitty’s revelation unfold. I acknowledge that most of my meals have been eaten out of fast food bags lately, which is always a bad sign. I face the reality that my faith mostly looks like a list of issues I have opinions on. And I log back on here to look the weeks of silence in the eye. It all feels…muddy. Like I’m trying to find my way through a thick, dirty pool to something clean and pure and true.

Those of you who have reached out…thank you for paying attention and for caring.

Those who have spoken encouragement and understanding…thank you for letting me know I’m not alone.

Those who have continued to invite me despite my consistent absence…thank you for loving me enough to be patient.

Those who have been frustrated at my silence…I am sorry my brokenness has cut against your tender flesh.

Today I went to the farmer’s market and butcher. I cooked real food with my hands, smelling the earthy lettuce and tasting bittersweet strawberries. I listened to music that makes my heart skip a beat. I watched things that made me laugh. I read things that made me think. I chose to put these words here, in the hope that someone somewhere will feel less alone, less ashamed, or more connected for them.

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6 Comments

  1. Gabrielle said,

    May 25, 2014 at 9:15 am

    May the acts of cooking and the beauty of art revive your soul. Life is a constant wave of ebb and flow so do forgive me if I have been impatient with your ebb. I ought to have patiently and happily awaited the tide coming in with you.

    • MandyK said,

      May 26, 2014 at 9:27 pm

      If you’ve been impatient you’ve hidden it well, friend 🙂 The consistency of your encouragement is actually one of the lighthouses always helping me find the shore again…

  2. Joelle said,

    May 25, 2014 at 10:58 am

    Thanks for the update. This resonated with me, too. Definitely been going through my own seasons of “hearing voices.”

    • MandyK said,

      May 26, 2014 at 9:26 pm

      How are you sorting through them? Any practices particularly helpful right now for you?

      • Joelle said,

        May 26, 2014 at 11:23 pm

        I’m just in the survival mode where you are calling out to God and hoping to hear his voice through all the chaos.

      • MandyK said,

        May 27, 2014 at 10:01 am

        I really do pray that you’ll be tuned to His voice through it all…


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