Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lifesize Sinkholes

I originally wrote this in my private journal and have been debating with myself about whether or not to post it here. But sometimes "being real" with others is necessary... so here's as real as it gets...

Since arriving in Korea, it has become more and more clear what "theme"(or "themes") the Lord is teaching me in this season.

Discipline. Quiet. Even silence. And being hidden in Him.

I'm not sure I can explain the things He has been showing me, as many of them have not been taught through actual words (like our past "lessons"). This time in Korea has left me examining who I really am. When there's no job, no school, no grades, no "best" friends, no family, no errands, no background noise. When all of those things are stripped away, I am forced to look at myself - I mean, really look - and see what is there. Who am I when I am home, in relative quiet, for hours a day? Who am I when I cannot define myself by my job skills or my grades? Who am I when the most interesting thing that happens to me in a day comes in the form of crayons on the wall?

I find myself searching for an identity in this place. For a few weeks now, I have truly been enjoying my "identity" as a wife and mother. I scour the internet for tips and ideas that will make me "the best" at what I do.

And while I don't believe striving for my best is wrong in and of itself, the Lord stopped me in the midst of my "efforts" and quieted me before Him once again.

I am once again looking for an identity - this time in my role as wife and mother.

During this time, the Lord continues to bring to mind all of the "identities" to which I have clung throughout my life: Straight-"A" student, musician, church leader, business woman, not-so-straight-"A" student, children's pastor, and now: wife, mother, Samonim.

The problem is not that I want to do my best in these roles. The problem is that I want these roles to define me. I want these positions and titles to tell the world who I am.

I'm humbled to say that I have taken pride in some of the "positions" and even have found myself prideful of the fact that I am now a full-time SAHM.

But the Lord is revealing to me ever so gently that each of these identities were and are fleeting. They came, and for a season they defined my existence. But they are transient, like bubbles in the wind - giving a distorted perception of reality and then vanishing into vapor - leaving me disillusioned and searching for another "frame" through which I can define myself.

But when I look underneath all those layers - all the strife and pride that comes with defining myself through my positions - I'm not sure how much is left.

And this realization is what has quieted my spirit over the last few weeks.

The Lord has slowly and gently been peeling back the layers of my so-called identity to reveal my heart.

And i can't say I'm thrilled with what I am finding.

To add emphasis to this "lesson" I received a surprise gift in the mail: a book entitled "Ordering Your Private World" by Gordon MacDonald.

In this book, there is a chapter dedicated entirely to the concept of "sinkholes."

Sinkholes in nature occur when an underground stream dries up due to extreme drought. The rocks around that stream - which are the supporting foundation for all that abide above ground - become brittle and frail and, eventually, collapse. As a result, all of the above-ground construction crumbles and falls into the newly created "sinkhole."

The author goes on to describe the "sinkhole" mentality in people. We build fancy buildings, highways, tunnels, and bridges - all above ground, and all supported by the tiniest stream that could potentially dry up at the first sign of drought. And because we pay little attention to who and what we are below the surface, all that we have constructed above the surface is destined to crumble.

This has been a sobering thought for me over the past few days.

I am humbled and quieted as I admit to myself and to the Lord that I am a user and abuser of the sinkhole mentality.

Most of my life has been dedicated to the above-ground, observable me. My jobs, my education, my awards, even my home have consumed most of my time, energy, efforts, and yes, even most of my identity.

But when those things are stripped away, when I am forced to look below the surface at the trickling stream that supports my above-ground construction, it is truly a scary sight.

So far, that little bit of underground water has been enough to prevent a total collapse of my "empire." But who knows how long that can last? If I keep heaping identity upon identity above the surface and completely neglecting that underneath, secret identity that only the Lord and I can see, I am destined to collapse. It's a law of nature.

And so somehow today, on this Easter Sunday, I am humbled and grateful that these weaknesses in my foundation have been exposed. And I feel as if I understand, at least in a very small part, why He has been teaching me about quiet discipline, the importance of silence, and the joys of being hidden in Him.

I have a feeling this "trip" overseas may not turn out how I expected. The things I hoped to learn, and the ways I hoped to grow... they somehow seem insignificant now.

And the Lord is birthing a new desire in me... a desire that can only be found in the silence and stillness of His presence.


Starr said...

Wow, this is so good. I constantly catch myself living so surface and so focused on those things. May the Lord help us both go deeper!

Anonymous said...

Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
I've been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

Thumbs up, and keep it going!


The Quote That Started It All...

I myself have twelve hats, each one representing a different personality. Why be just yourself? - Margaret Atwood