Sunday, August 14, 2011

Slug Surfing into a Black Hole (Coolest Title Ever)

Emptiness. I hate emptiness.

I'm currently on vacation with my family and they've asked me to share something God has been doing in my life over the past year. I've also been asked to pick an object that represents me. When I'm on vacation I'm pretty lazy and, as we're in the Pacific northwest, and there are lots of massive slugs around, a slug would totally fit. Unfortunately, for "vacation-slug-Philip", it sounds like way too much effort to find one: I can see "vacation-slug-Philip" oozing all over the place for hours and hours, leaving behind a trail of sticky slime ("sticky" because of all the marsh-mallows I've been consuming and "slimy" because of all of the showers I've been skipping - "Honey I don't need to shower, I was just in the pool!"). And then I'll finally find a slug and realize I don't have anything to put him on. All I have is my little slug tentacles. I then can see "vacation-slug-Philip" cursing up a storm in sluggish and watching the the poor little slug extend and retract his eyeballs in shock.

Sounds like too much work doesn't it? It even made me write a long paragraph and "Vacation-slug-Philip" is on vacation.

But honest reflection is very difficult. Mostly because I'm beginning to suspect I'm really not that honest. (Of course, I could be wrong, and I could be totally honest. Way honester than most peoples anyways.) But when I "honestly" look back on the year, I guess I've got a lot to talk about. A lot that could sound ultra-deep and really impress my family. A lot that may even land me on the "impossible shelf of saint-hood" and leave them breathless in wonder at the heights of spirituality that I've scaled. They'd truly be in wonder, wondering who in the world does Philip think he is? Alas, a prophet is never welcome in his home-town.

Plus, I don't think I'd be honest, or even Philip, if I went that direction. Not that I don't have some deep, even profound thoughts to share, but as soon as I'm sharing them I feel like a thief. I am in fact a thief (also my Myers Briggs testing that I have a criminal mind. Cool eh?). If you've been reading this blog, you've probably read a lot that makes you think, "Man Philip really processes a lot." I do. But all the good thoughts are God's and I'm just a real sinner along for the ride.

That's what I love about writing. I get to see thoughts take shape that I didn't even know were in me. And all the while God's filling me. And his filling is characterized by things as simple as clarification, correction and processing and as beautiful as rescue, deep connection and healing. For me writing is an adventure with God. And in the past year it's been one of my biggest gifts from God, other than all the small ones of watching my kids grow and stuff.

Albiet my writing is sometimes characterized by self-absorbtion. There's nothing I like better than reading my blog-posts to other people so they (who are now in awe of course) ask if they can reach out their unworthy, tiny, trembling hands and stroke my massive ego. Sadly, I sometimes think I'm that good. This is when I am a true thief (also a jerk), taking from God what is his alone. So that's the dark side of the adventure.

But in a really desperate attempt to get back on topic, I'm going to share about emptiness. After all it is how I started this post. Totally groovy right? I like how I just threw the topic out there and haven't touched it since. I'm so post-modern.

Actually I have touched on the opposite of emptiness, God's filling, in reflecting on my writing. In a way it represents my life for the past year. So my object for the family is me the slug being sucked into a black hole of emptiness. And for those of you who have read all my blog-posts, and you know who you are, all one or two of you, that slug would be on a surfboard (I can't wait till I have a cult followers saying stuff like: "Yeah, I read that post, that's so awesome how he pulled that into his post today and blah, blah blah...")

My emptiness is God-fashioned. He seems to be emptying me of the old me so I can experience him. What has it looked like? Well, I'm not complaining, but it's looked like God giving me impossible tasks. God wants me to be a Godly husband, father, full-time missionary/support raiser.

Here's what I've turned my tasks into in the past year: Trying to be everything Melissa wants me to be (like in the army), trying to make my children feel loved and cherished by the time I "sacrifice" for them and trying to think of something slightly better than winning the lottery to raise our missionary support.

And when this has failed, when I haven't turned to God or blatant sin, I've turned to mountain-biking. I've done a ton of mountain-biking, a ton of escape. A ton of trying to fill my emptiness with recreation. And when I mean a ton, I mean a lot of time. I'm not proud of it. Well, I am a little proud of my muscles and shiny bikes, but I'm not proud of my heart for escape.

Emptiness, I run from it. But writing and times of stillness are encouraging me to face my emptiness. In my emptiness God begins to "write my story in his song" (borrowed from a line from one of Melissa's favorite songs). When I am satisfied with my emptiness, God speaks. He's teaching me, ever ever ever ever ever (you get the point) so patiently that HE CAN BE TRUSTED.

And for those times when I've been a Godly husband, father and missionary I rejoice. For as imperfect as I am, if you haven't noticed, God's got it going on, and he fits into my emptiness.

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