Thursday, February 01, 2007

Taking up Air

I’m taking advantage of the finally-balmy weather here in Florida to eat the last helping of Rocky-Road from the Breyers tub in the freezer. This is the warmest it’s been in two weeks, though the sky is overcast and the breeze constant. I’ve become re-addicted. Not to warmth or ice-cream, but to coffee. The night we drove in, after the movers had unpacked 2000 square-feet worth of stuff and piled it into 1000 square-feet worth of town-house, Sam and I jumped in the car and made it to Starbucks before it closed. We came home, not with groceries, but with a pound of Ethiopian Sidamo and a pint of half-and-half. I’ve been sustaining myself ever since. The transition in a few days back to Kansas City’s freezing rain and snow won’t be anywhere near as hard as the transition back to Irish breakfast tea, much as I love my morning tea-with-scripture habit (which somehow seems to stretch into early afternoon if I’m anywhere near a teapot). It might be just as difficult, if I’m to be honest, to go from a sweet house I’ve helped unpack and decorate, back to my little room in the basement, in spite of its beautiful antique dressers and space heater all my own. I do enjoy comfortable places, not so much out of love of luxury (I hope that vice is not hidden in my soul) as love of belonging…and it’s easy to feel a sense of belonging when one pads about a carpeted room in socks, jumps out of bed right into an attached shower, and decides independently when to pet the cat rather than dispensing dog-affection according to that pet’s own eager time-table.

Still, its not so much comfort that I will miss via this return as it is being enfolded by several things I want but do not have. I will move from the sense of living to care for others, to working to care for myself. From being provided for, to the place of doing my own providing. The men reading this may not understand, but something in my femininity aches at the physical reality of having no permanent shield between myself and the world. In today’s society, I am responsible for sustaining myself. I love doing things, things that are work and take the time of work…cooking meals, perfecting all the details that make houses into homes, managing and utilizing resources whether they’re great or tiny, nurturing small souls, receiving and exercising heaven’s wisdom within earth’s circumstances, creating beauty…but none of this work comes with society’s great stamp of status: compensation. And without compensation, I can neither eat, nor sleep in warm places—except by the great generosity of family.

At my parents’ house during Christmastime I found myself wanting some ice cream for after dinner. (Oh dear, ice-cream seems to have come into this blog several times too many!) I bought the cheapest brand, much as I hated to do it. When my father found it in the freezer, he was gently indignant. He knows how much I love pure foods, how much better I think they are for our bodies, and he reprimanded me for purchasing the brand full of additives and preservatives and artificial flavors, just to save three dollars. “My daughter” shouldn’t have to eat bad foods for the sake of money. The next day I found my favorite brand in the freezer. It gave me warm fuzzies, but made me feel almost as bad as good. My father does not have extra money, and I am uncomfortable receiving from him what I feel he cannot afford. The only house in which I have recently felt completely comfortable receiving provision is my brother’s. This is more telling of my own strongholds than of anything else. My sisters and their husbands have also provided for me generously over the last year, including me in their families, but there is still something in me that always feels I must prove myself worthy of the food and shelter I’m given. I have bought the world’s lie to such a degree that my contributions to a home—sweet presence, prayer, and servanthood—do not seem like enough to justify my existence there. Guilt attacks me except under the roof of my one male blood-relative whose sufficient income and heart of unstingy generosity I am sure of. The internal peace of being in that place will leave, though, when I am back in Kansas City, unless I can let God finally break the chain of lies I’ve been bound up by.


I love to work, but I hate money. I love to accomplish things, but since the Industrial Revolution the definition of “work” has changed to mean only “paid work.” I can’t blame the Industrial Revolution, however! I can only blame my own soul, which is so independently minded as to actually reject the emotional peace of leaning on my eternal Beloved for its sustenance—He from whom even the young lions seek their food. Working for money is neither good nor bad. But feeling worthy of taking up space and air based on whether I’m working for money is very, very bad. Evil, in fact, and from the father of lies. I so want to give freely and receive freely. Pride is the sin-root of the need to provide for myself, and unbelief is the sin-root of the guilt I feel in receiving. All this is very introspective and heady. I only sat down to pound out a quick “I wish I was married and my only job (official, recognizable, and pseudo-respected by society) was to care for my husband and children.”

If anyone has read this far I’ll be surprised and a little embarrassed (“shocked and slightly embarrassed at the sight of Larry in a towel”, as Larry the Cucumber’s silly-song O Where is My Hairbrush? said so well). The truth of my spiritual nakedness and the smallness of my towel are sad to contemplate, but who would benefit by my ignoring it? God’s grace lets such things become apparent, for then I seek healing and forgiveness. Would I want to bring such strange guilt into marriage? Would I want to always walk this rocky earth with such tender feet? No. Would to God that He strengthens these weak hands, makes firm these feeble knees. Would that I posses the land my enemies took, and rejoice in the verdure of what was once wilderness of soul.

In plain English? My heart longs for what it feels unworthy of—provision. But God is great enough to provide, to break a lie of guilt, and to give me creative, important, and fulfilling work…and to do all three at once!