Graduation | May 2014
thank God for the excellent absurdity which enables us, if it so happen, to play great parts without pride & little ones without dejection, rejecting nothing through that false modesty which is only another form of pride, and never, when we occupy for a moment the centre of the stage, forgetting that the play would have gone off just as well without us. | CS Lewis
Here I sit, all different but still so the same. Crazy how a four-year finish can change you so much during the longest haul but leave you feeling the same old self at the end. Because aside from this savings account and a tassel I’ll soon flip over, I’m still me. Just a better, brighter, less-babyfaced, less-tethered me. A new edition of me, with 22 candles and eyes looking brave at what’s ahead. Like graduating college!!!!! Like the unknowns of upcoming middle school ministry, like this “big girl” role at camp, or trying long-distance friendships on for size, or raising a yearly income from scratch.
But still, I’m me. Still carrying a list of what makes me feel alive that’s just barely longer than the one of what makes me tick. Still sporting kid-sized Keds and the messiest of ponytails, and a messier room, without a trace of domestic in me. Still doodling too much and sleeping too little, still choosing twirly chairs and always sitting Indian-style. Still climbing higher than I should, and love love loving His stars. Still, I prefer football fieldside but think worth watching up high too. Still chasing the sunshine. Really, still unable to figure myself all the way out. Still me: ever-fighting my tendency to keep creating me—instead of sitting still enough to let the One who signed me add, alter, erase. Still me, despite a season of all things chaotic and unpredictable, all things excellent and absurd.
What a tagline for this four-year frenzy: Excellent absurdity.
But if I pause long enough to rewind, and roll back the film of four years, I can’t help but notice: despite changing settings, faces, feelings, dreams, lines, plan B’s and priorities, not once did the Playwright step out of the picture. Steadfast He stood, watching His craft panic and muddy herself and stumble through a line or twenty of them, and crave bigger parts or louder applause and sometimes forget Whose story this whole thing was. Forget that this whole story would have gone off just as well without her. I’ve played almost every kind of part. I’m remembering scenes of lines that just kept coming, and significance and every eye on me up-front. Scenes of solitude and whiny monologues, scenes off-stage and backstage and center stage. Scenes of loud cheers and thrown roses and those of subtle spotlight-shining and curtain pulling. Scenes spent polishing the others for their big parts. Steadfast He stood—through each wave of unpredictability—offering second chances and hundredth ones, perfecting His craft and way proud of her. And every misread, every pause, every hint of anxiety or not-enough made room for His perfection, for His Glory.
So cheers to You, who wrote all reality, who remembers it all even clearer than I, who never stopped watching, polishing, applauding. You, who didn’t need me one bit but thought it would be way more fun to include me. Cheers to You, my Father, Rabbi, Teacher, First Love and Best Friend. What an adventure You crafted! One of big parts and small ones and messed-up lines and that audience quick to critique and still quicker to clap, to commend. I’ll look back and believe I made You proud. I know You look past the opportunities I ignored or ran from, the times I put me first or talked me up or let go of priceless pieces of me. I know You see diamonds deep beneath all this dust. And You were the first to high-five me at the finish.
It’s here I discovered spontaneity. You let out bait and You caught me and I can’t help but stay hooked to it, because life is way richer after tasting this stuff. You scripted adventures I probably said I didn’t have time for, like falling intentionally out of airplanes or rooftop stargazing or roadtrips an hour and a half north because the coffee’s better there. You wrote seasons where I set aside the planner I worshipped and found worth in, and once pat my own back because of. You kept me laboring in fruitless, lonely seasons—and drove me desperate home to knownness, to comfort, to crying shoulders. You shut me up every attempt at being all put-together. You taught me to sacrifice, that quitting may in fact be a calling, that sidelines offer less than surrender. You rewarded obedience with increasing fearlessness and freedom. And sweet Jesus, You and I indulged in that freedom.
You taught me to invest. To relate. That, yes! my mess is relevant to one or two or a hundred somebodies. And You continually rewrote the before and the after on that cardboard. Way down within me, you planted radar to spot my own sin with sensitivity and definite disgust. You sent pent-up pride packing each time it came back expecting to stay. You urged my heart to run from places, people, memories, things prone to stir that sin back into the picture. To run to the forever-friendships, to the home team You handed me—that I might never ever ever have to perform. My mess became real yet somehow You saw and see only righteous, and You love me now and for perpetual tomorrows just because. You gave soul sisters and brother figures I’ve always prayed for, firsthand—ones that see righteous too. You showed me what forever-friendship ought to look like and Who it’s got to really be about. Friendships that promise to love without expectation, friendships that redefine and extend and refuse to erase. Friendships that promise to love the deep-down me, the suppressed me. The kind that carry into the Kingdom.
You taught me to crave scripture. Really crave it, like I crave peanut butter or pink starbursts or wordy affirmation times infinity—and to read read read until my eyes quit on me. To etch Truth into picnic tables and high school souls, and to deal with rejection because the cost is incomparable to the coming Glory. You dared me to run all over, to backwoods Tennessee and Colorado paradise, to rainy North Carolina and over and over again to that secret little gem of New Braunfels, Texas. But really, You dared me to stay. To stay where You put me, to play, to pray. To really pray. For the nameless and the known, for the state of my heart 10 minutes from now and 10 years, too. For relationships needing redirection, for camp sign-ups, for eyes to notice Grace always, for hallelujahs and stuffed 24-hours to just be multiplied like only You can do. And oh how You were faithful! Steadfast You stood & supplied.
You taught me to like me. To really, really like me. To like the me that’s beyond what they all think they know of me, to like the me only You and I really see. You promised that I’m highly thought of by my Handcrafter, that anyone who thinks less must be blind or bored or bitter. That I’m autographed proud and pretty. You woke me up day by day calling me lovely, You took my heart and tweaked it so I’d see You only as my Groom. I fell hard, in love with You. And in that fall, You broke cynical Layne-theory into simplicity and sweet nothings. You told me dating is good, and I didn’t buy it. But Abba, first dates are fun—and twenty-first ones, too! When I let You direct conversation and next steps and shut up the no my heart’s already made certain. You took a stubborn, neatly-packaged heart and gave messy fragments to someone, when I swore it would always stay ours. You didn’t let my depths go unseen.
Four years later, I’m an embracer of solitude and surprises and u-turn changes in direction. We made You-and-I memories I’ll never move past. It was always You who unleashed cooped-up creativity, and let my hair down and my feet run whatever direction the day said to. You came alive to me. Tangible and irresistible. You slayed me, You slowed me down, You turned me around. Still You gave generously, and never stopped snatching my cup up for a refill. You wired me new and alive and we made movements all over everywhere. You gave the prettiest music and bucket-list friendships and I think a whole lot of Your kids’ wonderful dust rubbed off on me. You sustained me and rooted me down deep, and supersized time. You taught and You sure took but You made it all taste sweet, and every attempt at recollection reminds me it was worth it. Because You took mud-rubbed eyes and made them stare straight into glorious Grace. Unveiled, this mystery of Grace I looked past and limited. This Grace I’m all caught up in, this Grace that invaded my heart and evicted every bit of belief that I’m the exception. You remade me, You remake me, and You won’t stop bettering the design You somehow already saw as just right.
You make preciousness from dust,
please don’t stop creating me.
| Rend Collective |
Abba, continue shaking up what’s static and don’t You dare stop creating. Cheers to the past four and the next forty, my J! Keep tweaking my heart until contentment, no matter the role or the reason. I love & long for You.