So, I had this other life.
One where it didn't matter what I did because it was just me.
I cooked for just me and ate whatever I decided sounded good. I lived by myself and like a certain conversation with a sleeping "coma" patient... I had sole possession of the remote control - very important.
I taught second graders every day and laughed a lot.
That other life had lots of rosy glow lately until I actually got there.
I find myself in a strange relationship with Ann.
Her writing and ideas cause me to stop and really think about what I believe and yet... more often than not, I read her thoughts on God or the Cosmic Muffin or the Great She or Harold and it makes me uncomfortable to hear such common names for God. It almost feels like mockery yet I don't believe her heart is for that. I do admire her openness and the guts it takes to put her heart out for people like me to read.
I hear the longing to know more and understand her place in this world she is unsure came to be here by chance or once-perfection.
I hear her humor and know religiosity and those who practice such deserve such mockery. Jesus gave us some real zingers with His "brood of vipers" and "whitewashed tombs" commentary.
I also hear her confusion about God's existence with the reprehensible presence of evil in our world. How can such love and perfection cohabit with such perverse unthinkable acts?
I want to stand up and shout to the hundreds of comments echoing the same, "Oh! But there IS a God! A wonderful amazing powerful LOVING God who did the unthinkable most costly act of all time. He stepped into our wretched time and space limitations and became human so He could give us eternity. He lived in our frail human flesh with all of our issues; raging hormones, disappointments, sadness, and evil. He did it and never once gave in to the sin that drips from every surface in our world. This God, Yahweh, not only did all that. He WANTS us to know Him! He doesn't keep Himself hidden away so we will never find Him. He has given us a Book that puts every other book to shame. This Book has been the same and stood the test of millennia.
This Book? It tells the stories of some very broken people that He not only loved but CHOSE to use to bring us that promise of life, eternity.
Oh, and these broken people I mentioned? Yeah. These people doubted, they did things their own way, they got angry, they slept with their servants in keeping with their culture instead of trusting God's promise, they murdered their siblings, they chose favorites with their children, they lied and cheated to get their way, they sold their siblings into slavery... and this is just scratching the surface of Genesis!
One of them really sticks out in my mind as I hear Ann's questions and longings.
Hagar. You may know her story, but let me refresh it for you.
She was a slave owned by Abram. He has a really cool story about God picking him out of his home and telling him He was going to make him a blessing to all nations and leading him to a gigantic land his descendants would eventually get... but there was a famine.
Abram had done pretty well for himself by now and found that there wasn't going to be enough food for his large household of servants, animals and his nephew Lot so he decided to head down to Egypt and live there temporarily until the famine is over.
He gets to Egypt and is afraid for his life because his wife Sarai is an exceptionally beautiful woman. Typically during this time, if a man has a beautiful wife and another man wanted her, all that man had to do was kill the other guy and all was good. So Abram lies. He tells Sarai to say she is his sister. (In reality, it was only a partial lie. Sarai was his half-sister.)
But instead, the princes of Pharaoh saw her and took her anyway and in the end Abram became more wealthy than when he arrived there. However, God caused great plagues to come to Pharaoh's house so much that he gave her back chastising Abram for not telling him the truth.
So Abram and Sarai left... WITH all their newly acquired wealth which included one slave woman named Hagar.
Years pass. God's promise is stated again and again and Abram knows as sure as the sun comes up in the morning that God will not break His promise. However, sometimes time makes us a bit nervous and we start wondering if we need to help God along. So, in that time, it was acceptable for a woman to give her servant to her husband to be her substitute so she could have a child for her mistress. Twisted, I know.
But Sarai did it never imagining the lasting consequences of her actions.
Hagar got pregnant and also a big head because she was pregnant and not Sarai. That certainly didn't go over well so Sarai "dealt harshly" which I assume means more than yelled at her. Hagar ends up running away and finds herself by a spring of water in the wilderness.
What happens next is pretty cool.
An "angel of the LORD" which is to say pre-incarnate Christ appeared to Hagar! First, He tells her that she needs to go back to her mistress and submit to her. Then He tells her that her offspring will be not be able to be counted there will be so many. Her son's name will be called Ishmael and he will be a wild donkey of a man at odds with everyone and everyone at odds with him. (Case in point: EVERY Middle East conflict)
Then Hagar NAMES God. She puts a name to the God she is experiencing right then and she calls Him El Shaddai - The God Who Sees.
I find it so appealing that YAHWEH wants us to know Him. He comes close to us and our trouble and lets this woman who finds herself in such disarray to NAME Him!
This is what occurs to me as I read the comments following Ann Lamott's dissection of "God or no God?" ... and also the truth that apart from God allowing me to see and know Him and come close to Him, I would be just as blind and questioning and mocking.
I would want nothing to do with religiosity and faith-people. I would see their glaring hypocritical holes and run the other direction. I would embrace the "it doesn't matter what you believe, just believe something and be really good to others and the Divine It will be good to you."
But, it does matter what I believe.
There is not only a Divine Being but He tells me His personal name: Yahweh.
When I decided I can be good enough myself and threw my fist at His love for me, He came close and waited for me. He knows me because He created me.
As He knows and created you.
If you've followed me from my previous blog - Dancing in the Rain - you may be wondering, "What gives? Why the name change?"
Well, there is a story behind that to be sure!
Just after the new year, January 2 to be exact, my iPad jingled and buzzed to let me know I was being FaceTimed. I swiped to answer the call and saw the smiling face of my dear friend of 22 years! This woman and I have quite the history. We've been through long hair and long skirts, shifts in ideology, shifts in parenting methods, massive life-jarring events, and even dark times where all we could do was listen to the other weep and pray grace over her. But God has held us and kept us and our friendship is so much richer because of His amazing grace.
So all this goes through my mind each and every time I get to use this new-fangled tech where you get to see the actual face of the person talking to you. :) I'm pretty sure Alexander Graham Bell had no earthly idea that we would one day have this to replace his telly-phone!
So, enough of the history lesson.
She says she has a question for me. I tell her shoot. She says she needs me to put on my emotional armor. I get nervous and wonder what in the world she could have to say. She tries to calm me but then dives in. She's been thinking that my blog Dancing in the Rain doesn't really match me or my personality. It takes me by surprise, but not completely from left-field. I've felt as much for a long time but held onto the name as what I wanted to remind myself to be.
I want to be known for not waiting for the storm to pass but I'm usually thinking that the second I step out in the rain my umbrella will blow out and I'll get drenched. She reminded me that I have a very snarky pessimistic sense of humor - which she loves.
Her next words proved our 22 years.
She gently encouraged me not to hide who God has made me. "Be sarcastic and use that humor to get your point across and lift their eyes to Who is most important. If you believe God doesn't make any mistakes, then you must believe that He didn't mess up with you! Don't try to shove yourself into the hole you want to be in the hopes that someday you'll take on the shape of that hole - be it round or square. Be who your Father meant you to be and be okay with that."
After reading some of that most sarcastic feline Grumpy Cat for some inspiration (which totally worked - well, at least we laughed!), this amazing friend of two decades urged me to think about a unique and catchy blog title that fit who I am. So I did.
Sometimes, I get so deep in my thinking that my hands and body can't do anything else because my mind is so occupied. (I've become accustomed to this malady and just go along with it now knowing that inspiration usually follows.)
About 10 minutes into this, it hit me.
What does each family member joke about?
My sister, my brothers, my husband, his parents..
each of them lovingly tease that we are a nerd factory.
And they're right!
The kids get super excited when I tell them they were so good that we are going to the library to pick out new books. The Beauty chooses fiction and fantasy stories over most others while the Little Man chooses non-fiction books about history and wars. He even requested them for Christmas and his birthday presents. He specifically asked me before Christmas if I'd remembered he wanted them.
The other night over dinner, they were debating which Star Wars character did what in which episode... It was Count Dooku and Mace Windu... No! It was Viceroy and... (you get the idea...)
The Engineer just laughs and says "yup! a nerd factory." I ask him what he expected when two nerds marry and have kids?! It sounds like a bizarre joke: an engineer and teacher get married...
And that's how I came to start The Nerd Factory. Hope you stick around for the ride!
-- oh and her blog is www.pianofesto.com :)
Music and women's ministry are her world! Check it out!
I'm passionate about words, books and thinking and theology but most importantly, applying it to the reality of life... everything is theological!
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