Friday, January 17, 2014

Grandma, Goldilocks, and God

When I was a kid, Sunday nights meant a visit to my grandparents’ house.   Grandma and grandpa lived just a few minutes away from my childhood home, so their’s was a convenient stop for my family on our way home from church.   My sweet grandma kept my older brother, Kevin, and me in good supply of her homemade molasses cookies, and allowed us to watch television while the adults visited.  I recall watching many an episode of Alice, The Jeffersons, and Trapper John, M.D. on Sunday nights in the living room of my grandparents’ house.  Good times.  Grandma also kept a stash of toys and books for us in the closet just off the living room.  She had all sorts of goodies in that closet.  A Rubik’s cube, a View-Master, Yahtzee, and books with nursery rhymes and fairy tales.  I must have read “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” a thousand times at my grandparents’. 

Despite its many adaptations, most of you are probably familiar with the version of this popular fairy tale in which Goldilocks, a little girl aptly named for her golden locks of hair, stumbles upon a home belonging to a family of bears.  The bears – Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear (creative names, no?)- are out for a stroll while their porridge cools.   In the meantime, Goldilocks takes it upon herself to walk right on into their house like she owns the joint.  In her quest to get all comfy and cozy, she gets all up in their business by sampling each of their bowls of porridge, each of their chairs, and each of their beds.  Awkward.  It’s a wonder little Miss Manners didn’t opt to use each of their toothbrushes too!  Any who…in Goldie the home invader’s opinion, Papa Bear’s stuff is too hot, too big, or too hard.  Mama Bear’s is too cold, too small and too soft.  And, Baby Bear, poor thing, his stuff is always, “just right”.  So, she eats all his porridge, breaks his chair and takes a siesta in his bed.  When the bears return, they find Goldilocks asleep in Baby Bear’s bed.  Goldilocks then wakes up and runs out of the house all scared like.  Perhaps next time she won’t be so quick to um, I don’t know… go into a stranger’s house and make herself at home.  Sheesh.  Crazy girl.

Too hot.  Too cold.  Too hard.  Too soft.  Too big.  Too small.  All too often, I find myself thinking those thoughts in regard to God’s word.  Instead of just taking it for what it is, I set off in pursuit of the "just right”.  On the hunt for something more palatable.  Something I can easily digest, settle into, and feel all comfy, cozy about.   But, I gotta tell ya, I have yet to find a copy of the Bible in which the Lord says, “Hey Angela, why don’t you take the liberty of twisting and interpreting my words so they fit your needs and justify your actions”.  

I really didn’t realize how much I do this until recently….You see, about a month ago, I found myself in the middle of a discussion with regard to whether women should be allowed in leadership roles in the church.  Having served in a leadership role in the church in the past, and being in a quasi-leadership role currently, I was very interested in knowing what the Bible says about this particular topic.  Some in the discussion cited scripture references which they felt supported their feeling that women should not be in leadership.  Others felt the scripture was “out of date” so to speak, and “didn’t really apply” to current day.  And, then there were some that felt the case depended upon the woman in question, her spiritual gifts, and her calling from the Lord.  “It really depends on her heart”, they said.    For as many arguments supporting one point of view, I found just as many to support the other.   By the time I absorbed the petitions for each stance, my head was reeling with information…and, I still didn’t know the answer.   I knew where I stood, but I wanted to know the answer.  The just right answer.

I was confused, and to be totally honest, I’m still kind of confused.   It seemed to me everyone engaged in the conversation, including myself, was sampling scripture.  “This one is too hot.  This one is too cold.  This one too hard….”  All of us trying to find what felt or tasted just right and justified our stand on the topic.  The whole stinkin’ discussion took me for a loop.  It challenged me.  I felt I had failed in some way as a Christian….as a woman of God….That somewhere along the way of trying to do what  I felt God had, and has called me to do I failed. 

“Why is this so gray, Lord?  I’ve never questioned my calling before.”
“Have I been irreverent?  Have I disobeyed You?”
“Should I step down, based on the fact that I’m a woman, from the role I feel You called me to?” 
 “Please God, just help me do this right.  Show me the answer.  Cause, I just want to do it…right.”

Now I won’t tell you that I have the answer.  Cause quite frankly friends, I don’t.   Furthermore, there’s a whole lot more answers beyond this one that I don’t know or don’t have.  Sure I can quote scripture and twist it and turn to justify what I want to believe and think, but I don’t consider that to be right either.  While I’ve been wrestling with, and praying for God to tell me what’s right I’ve also started reading the book, Chasing God by Angie Smith.  Here’s what Smith has to say with regard to seeking all the answers…   

I don’t have all the answers.  God does.  But, He gave us some of them.  Those are the ones we need to spend our lives studying.  The rest are for Him to reveal when He chooses, if at all.  But, He has given us what we need to rest, and we should not be nearly as unsettled in the mystery as we are settled in the promises…The gray only hovers in the secondary issues…
what matters is in black and white.” 

Oh the irony.  Thank you, Lord.

Settled in the black and white promises of God.  That, my dear friends is what really matters.  All that other stuff - the stuff that is gray and that which we argue and debate – we may never know the bottom line, or the absolute unmistakable, irrefutable answers to those questions.   When it’s important for us to know, God will reveal them.   For a girl who likes to know the “black and white” about every. stinkin’. thing., this is kind of tough to swallow.  But, I am learning…learning to settle in.  Learning to accept the fact that sometimes I’ll be comfortable in my walk with Christ, and sometimes I won’t.  Sometimes, I’ll be so far outside my comfort zone that I will want to run back to my just right bed, pull the covers over my head and say, “No thanks Lord.  This is too hard…too soft…too cold…too hot.”

But, the end of the day, I don’t want to be too hot or too cold…or too big or small…too hard or too soft….I don’t even want to be just right.  I just want to be… His.  That’s all.  

Just His

*I am not all versed and on the up and up on the proper ways to cite books and television shows and such.  I’ve looked online for the answers, (ahem…) but, it seems there are various ways to cite.  So, please forgive me if I have not done so properly.  That being said, I want to point out that the photo I used in this blog post is from an Etsy vendor, Laura Walls Taylor.  I don’t know her.  I just think the bowls are cute and they lend themselves nicely to my blog topic…so, thank you, Laura.  Your bowls are um, adorable… I should probably also tell you that I don’t know Angie Smith.  I met her once.  I was speechless.  But, I did hug her and try very hard not to act like a crazy stalker lady.  She’s amazing.  And, I absolutely love her books.  If you haven’t read any of them, please do.  I think you’ll love her too.