Dishes and laundry and teaching a nine-year-old and car washes and grocery pick ups and gymnastics classes and homeschool co-ops and field trips and family time and hurt and love and pain and laughter.
And my fingers purposefully jammed in my ears.
I love God. I love what He has to tell me.
And sometimes I love the sound of my own voice better.
He’s gifted me so much.
The way my mother, by all accounts, should have died at least five times by now.
Once when she was younger and skidded under a moving truck on her bike but just dusted herself off and kept on biking (she was the original Ava) and here most recently during her reconstruction surgery after battling (and winning) against breast cancer.
A double mastectomy didn’t get her down.
Crohns doesn’t keep her down.
Having organs plucked from her insides doesn’t keep her down.
And if you ask her what keeps her so alive she’d never say her own will.
She’d say God’s.
So you’d think I’d live ear glued to the golden telephone listening and existing through every word spoken.
I won’t make the mistake of the Israelites. I won’t turn my back on God.
Turning, sometimes, is the only move I know how to make.
Zipporah was Moses’s wife, and she had a really cool name.
You’re learning so much today!
I think about her a lot now, whereas in her place, I’d usually think about things like what my super hero capability would be (learning to speak cat so I could properly meow) or that time my dad told me that maybe what we think of as existence is really just the fleeting thought of a hungry beetle.
I should call him. And ask him to stop talking to people.
In a kind of crazy passage of the Bible (hahahaha….all of them??), there’s a part where Zipporah intervenes on behalf of her husband to keep God from killing him (Exodus 4:24-26).
Moses REALLY dropped the ball by not circumcising his son (which is kind of like saying “Oh, God, we’re good over here, we don’t really need to follow you or anything and also more steak, less mana?”), so Zipporah picked up his slack and did it for him and she was so MAD (I mean, ew, right?). But she did it because she feared God and she loved her husband.
What I’m trying to say is that Zipporah was, well, a smart cookie, observant, and a woman of action.
And she didn’t crumble.
But let’s talk about the crumbling.
I’ve spent a good thirty-three years breaking apart like a delicious cookie.
My usual drug of choice was a depression/anxiety/body dysmorphia cocktail that I used to chug on the regular.
And I tried the whole inner ME thing. The tapping into the space that exists apparently right behind you breastbone, and if you magically turn that key, you’re in control of your destiny, your feelings, your onslaught of sneaky emotions that choke you up and leave you regretting breath the first thing in the morning.
And maybe, just maybe you start believing my dad’s beetle theory.
But Zipporah just didn’t roll like that because really, that truth just doesn’t exist. She trusted God even when everything was on her shoulders, namely the fate of her husband, which in turn, affected her own fate.
She wasn’t a super human on her own accord and actually, wasn’t really a super human at all (her meowing was terrible…look it up), but yet another regular ‘ol person God used to do great things.
That is YOU. YOU are suffocating right now, are you not? YOU wake up and are watching your world burn at the edges, the flames licking your cheeks. And YOU are doing that thing where you’re clawing at your breastbone, looking for the answers.
And ME? I’m going to ask you one simple favor: please stop.
I know what it’s like to keep spinning, uncontrollably, and look in the mirror to find the eyes of somebody who’s unhinged and floating through life like the momentary thought of a beetle.
YOU are amazing. But YOU can’t do it alone.
And Zipporah couldn’t either or Moses or David or Jeremiah or Mary or that guy down the street who keeps parking his car in his yard like he wants me to angrily meow at him.
We’re all just human, friend. And there’s no secret recipe you need to tap into. But there is a God who’s patiently waiting, who can keep you from crumbling like the delicious cookie you are.
I do this weird thing where I’m like really really good at poetry. Better than I am at talking about how good I am at things.
And you have to imagine how frustrating it is to be so good at something nobody likes.
It’s like if I were really really good at giving lobotomies.
It just doesn’t pay, son.
But I’m doing it anyways.
I’m currently writing a compilation of poems after I’ve read, processed, and become slightly terrified from reading portions of the Bible.
Let’s talk about the terror.
It’s not a type of terror that encourages me to fear God as in run away screaming and crying and praying that hiding behind a giant bag of organic quinoa chips in the pantry will somehow throw God off my scent (yes, we are an organic quinoa chip household. Deal with it).
It’s more of a fear of other humans. People who have somehow taken the Bible and mass produced a sticky sweet “Christianity” that involves driving an over-sized SUV and dedicating Starbucks as the weekly Bible study hangout.
And you got to realize how horrible I feel lumping a whole segment of the population into this kind of category. It’s always been “us” versus “them” in this society and until we all accept Christ, it’s always going to be that way, folks.
So I don’t mean to perpetuate that type of behavior, but you have to admit, going to church and being given a nasty stare from a soccer mom/super model who just loves her Jesus oh so much kind of gives you a bad taste in your mouth.
And dude, I’ve so been there.
Here’s the thing: look at Jesus. Look back at the soccer mom/super model. Now look back at Jesus. Now look at my Tom’s. Aren’t they adorable? Okay, now back at the soccer mom/super model.
What’s the problem here? Besides the fact that I don’t own ALL the Toms? It’s the fact that people like soccer mom/super model is representing Christ when really, she’s just representing herself.
And that sucks for us who have really undergone something incredible and want to share it with our friends, family, strangers who are hurting in this world. It so sucks that someone who looks down their nose at you is also telling you that this is what Christianity is all about: perfectly coiffed hair, bright red lipstick, big ‘ol Louis Vuitton that’s liable to smack you in the face if you’re genetically blessed to be 5’4″ and incapable of possessing moderately passable reflexes (*cough* *cough* Ericka).
But it’s not.
It’s exactly what the Bible has been telling us this whole time. It’s about imperfection, human struggle, dirt and feces and all consuming self-hatred and loathing for others and intense love that makes you want to vomit a little bit and a reliance on God because the truth of the matter is that YOU WILL NEVER BE GOOD ENOUGH. And the other truth of the matter? That’s perfectly okay and as it should be.
God has you and loves you. And here’s the thing: God loves soccer mom/super model, too. The old me would have keyed an incredibly life-like rendering of that time I posed with a cardboard cut out of JTT into the side of her Denali. Some would even have considered it an idiot-savant level of artistic expression.
The new me? Well, I’m a lot less “fun” these days. So what I’d do instead is pray for her. Not in that condescending “bless your heart” Southern way that is totally epic but not at all appropriate. But a real prayer. That she will understand and accept Jesus thoroughly and fully and start walking the narrow path.
Otherwise, one day, she’ll stumble and fall down the broad road, shoulder-to-shoulder with everyone whose hearts have turned stone hard, missing her car, her Ericka-sized purse, but very little else.