contrition…or something like it

I’ve been thinking…about a lot of things lately.

Tonight, while on the treadmill, I was barely into the first mile and some things seemed to clarify. I was not yet in too much pain, that usually comes after the second mile has finished and I’m rounding three. So, with some Jesus centered music playing rather loudly, I had time and space to collect myself. The unfinished basement, with her disfigured, pock marked cement walls was cool and inviting. The grey skies had given way to sun on my commute home but darkness had settled by the time I finished cooking and eating some chicken dish I invented. The house was quiet and except for the furnace hiccuping, I felt alone, serene, at peace.

The words started coming out again tonight. I felt a rush of relief. I haven’t had words in a couple months–and believe me–I’ve tried. Nothing fast and concrete. But there were phantom thoughts, dialogues and pieces of narration. The up tight feeling in my chest loosened and I knew that it would be okay.

I thought thought about Brett who recently told me that he tries to put himself in my head and see himself through my eyes which usually leads to a good deal of judgement and then he gets angry with me. I remember that I chuckled, albeit in a dismayed sort of way, and told him that wasn’t fair. Because I don’t judge him–he does it to himself. He really has no grounds to be angry with me for something he’s done because he can’t correctly interpret the thoughts of my mind and the feelings of my heart. He shrugged, he knows this. But he also thinks he knows how I view the world and him, so he thinks that he must have some element of truth in his judgement that he apparently assumes are equivocal to my own. The flips and flops of his logic were hard for even me to follow. But what I find most intriguing in the situation is that ultimately: Brett is the one who judges himself and finds himself immoral, unworthy, ungodly, materialistic, or whatever terms he uses. Brett does this to himself. Couldn’t the most important point be not that he considers this to be my view, but that deep down, it is his own view?

Another friend told me that he has realized he’s in a bad group of people. We are struggling with some similar things and he came to the conclusion that while he loves his friends they are not the sort that are going to encourage and influence him towards good decisions. He said he started thinking about this after talking with me a couple weeks ago. I told him I didn’t like the idea of causing contrition or conviction. It makes me uncomfortable. He just laughed and said it didn’t matter. It was me, it was the conversation… It was the startling conclusion that no one in his life really talks to him about “the right stuff” and that he should find people to do that.

And then today at work, a kid I only met yesterday started talking to me about Jesus. I told Ghena and Caitlin tonight that I was actually kind of mad at God. I didn’t’ take this job to attract another one of these. I took this job because I needed a pay check. I have so many people already. I’m the persistent widow* on behalf of too many others, I don’t need another one of you people! I know I should get excited that I get to evangelize. Woot! After all, it’s only my second day knowing him and I’ve already invited him to church. We talked about Protestantism and Orthodoxy. He meant Eastern Orthodoxy, I was trying to say I’m little-o orthodox, but not big-O. But I do love the Orthodox church and I have been to services. I told him I’d stood in the Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir and felt it to be holy. He nodded, “Russia? That’s cool.” I shook my head and stared at the checks on my desk. Cool? Russia? Maybe, I thought. Pakistan would’ve been better. I never did get to wear the hijab. And why is Russia cool? What’s eight days in Russia? I came home, didn’t I? I’m still here, in Colorado, with bipolar weather and surrounded by suburbia tucked among cows and sky scrapers, I’m here and not there, aren’t I?

I was frustrated with God,  because I don’t do this well. I’m not an evangelist. This isn’t my gift. I don’t have words to say when Jackie cries in my car. I get yelled at by Christians for being legalistic. I get picked on by nonChristians for being too Jesus-y**. I just want to go to seminary, sit in the back of class, mumble the answers like I always did in Dr. Davis’ class, and I just want to be invisible for awhile. I mean, seriously. I may have sung Be Thou My Vision outside Jackie and Dan’s in the rain the other night, with Kevin and Brett and Jax…but just because I sing a hymn doesn’t mean I want to explain it! Come on Jesus! When did we get those wires crossed? What’s gone wrong with this translation between heaven and earth? Hello? Are you up there in the void? Do you find this amusing? I’m not sure if I should laugh or cry about this!

But  no! No, you’ve got C asking me about being a slave to sin, walking away from the church, being a Sunday Christian and Eastern Orthodoxy!

This isn’t it! I have to laugh. I’m not supposed to have  heart for these people! I mean, for Christ’s sake*** they are Americans! When did I start liking Americans?!

Funny how God changes things…isn’t it?

___________________________________
*Kyle and I talked about praying the same thing over and over. He mentioned the persistent widow parable. I’m trying it out. Finally! A use for my endearing ability to be a nag!

**S: He tells me I’m ‘too Jesus-y”
G: Did you inform him that Jesus-y is not a correct modifier? I mean–
S: (laughs) it’s not even a word!
G: (laughing) it’s terrible grammar!

***No pun intended… mostly

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