The Designer

I am plain. There is nothing extraordinary I see when I look at myself in the mirror. Brown, mousy hair, dark brown eyes, bad, pale skin, nothing special. But I am tiny; so much so that it’s almost ridiculous – a grown woman standing just 4’10” inches tall and proportionately small and thin all around. Because of my smallness being my one and only distinctive feature – I am invisible. Living this way, I have come to find that if people to not see “small,” they do not see me. It is only when I am standing and they can notice it that they notice me, without it, I am invisible, as if “small” is who I am…

I recently learned of a quote ascribed to John Piper. It reads,

It is about the greatness of God, not the significance of man. God made man small and the universe big to say something about Himself.- John Piper

I love this quote because it causes my heart to tremble and my brain to bloom and run wild with praise for my Creator – my Designer. Today however, I read this quote with a different focus. What of the appearance of that plain, ordinary woman in the mirror? What if she too, says something about the character of her Creator?

As I think of this and see my reflection and I know that I am designed to be simple, on purpose. That my eyes, hair, skin, all was forged with the utmost care, deep in the darkness before even a day of my life had passed. And that He even set the limit to which my small form would grow, on purpose.

What does this design say about the Designer? Perhaps that He is concerned with, and sees beauty in the ordinary. That He delights too, in the ridiculously small. That even the invisible does not escape His sight. That plainness is also beautiful to Him.

The Glory in Doubt

Everyday I go to work. Everyday, I sit down at a desk among people who don’t think the way I do, or see things the way I do. I sit in the midst of people who are special to someone and have have those who are special to them. People who have traveled different roads and have endured different trials. They all believe one thing or another, of that I am certain…although some, I’m sure, maybe most, believe in nothing at all. But I sit there everyday, as a Christian, albeit silently.

There is a certain uneasiness that comes with this job because of that. It’s undeniable and it breathes down my neck every second I am here. Their words make me think. They post over the group chat things that cause me to wonder and wander away, even just a little, from what I know in my heart. “I need to check this out.”, I think.

I like to learn. I like to know things. I have an aching need to analyze everything around me: “There’s another post. I have new information that I have to run through the machine to verify or nullify. Here it goes.” As weird as it may sound, that’s how I operate. I’m always and forever trying to prove my Christianity wrong.

At the age of 19 I was attending my second year of college before deciding to change career paths. That was the first time I remember thinking for myself. I had met a new friend named Sarah and after talking with her, exchanging theories on the spirit world and people that claim to see the future, I told her that I believed in God. She was indifferent, as most people are, and she told me her thoughts. I couldn’t respond. Suffice it to say she had me in corner. Things had happened in her life that I could not explain…I had no answers and then I started thinking. To this day, I believe that she had a very important purpose in my life: to make me doubt.

I believe that doubt itself is one of the worst feelings one can feel. My co-workers and I were experiencing doubt at the loss of a job and the uncertainty of losing a steady pay check. Doubt can literally make you sick, especially when you doubt something you lean your life on, I should know. I admit to doubting my beliefs on a regular basis, which is agonizing. I roll my thoughts over and over in my mind. I read. I research. I do whatever I can when I have the slightest doubt to make absolutely sure that I’m wrong and prove with out a doubt that He’s not real – and that they’re right. But then something beautiful happens. I can’t.

There are many reasons for my believing what I do. The most compelling of which, surprisingly the things that I can’t research – the things science can’t touch. Never mind the creation vs. evolution debate or the flood, or even the speed at which the universe expanded from a single point. And no, my “warm fuzzy feeling” is not my proof either. My proof lies in the glory that comes when I try to prove my faith wrong and can’t. The fact that there IS doubt about being no God is beautiful in itself, because there’s always the possibility, if nothing else, that there’s something in existence that’s greater than us.

After I complicate my reasoning as much as I can, I find that I always come back to simple things that ground my beliefs and make me sure, once again, that I know them to be true. They are the things that can’t be proven or seen or explained. Things that, if they weren’t written down in the Bible, we may not even have a simple understanding of them.

I took me awhile to figure out that God does an awful lot of talking in the Bible. Growing up, nobody really showed me the Old Testament, they just sort of skimmed it; of course, I knew it was there, but I didn’t know what it contained. When I found out what was written on those pages, I saw another side to a God I thought I knew. In those words, I saw Him tenderly calling out to perpetually wandering nation to love Him, the heartbreak that must have come from having to judge that nation, and the cycle beginning again. The pattern, I realized, was simple: A loving, yet holy God, loving without restraint – pouring love on a people that said they loved Him, but turned from Him again and again. Yes, I saw judgement, which is the thing that on one likes about God, but I also saw love and pursuit for nation, and later a world that wanting nothing to do with Him.

Love. After that evening standing out under the slowly appearing stars on the college campus, I had a thought: Do I believe this for me?

I have to reaffirm the answer to that question over and over. I never stop searching for a light in the darkness – even if, one day, it means that the light is not something I want to see. But I don’t think that will be the case.

I’ve been inexplicably protected from plenty of car accidents, and other incidents that might have been.
I’ve been held back from doing things or going places, only to find out something terrible would have happened.
I’ve been through struggles that I later learned were for my good.
I’ve had very specific prayers answered; I believe that my husband is the result of one such prayer.

Those among many others are just a few reasons that I’ve been unable disprove my beliefs – because I cannot begin to explain any of the above. All I can imagine from that is that someone (or something) is watching me, listens to me, and loves me.

As for me, I know whom I believe. I doubt. I do. And I have bouts of trying to ignore it and live me life my own way. But I don’t think He minds. The same persistent, glorious love I read about throughout the Bible is the same that I am greeted by every time I recover from the darkness of doubt. He welcomes me back with an outstretched hand as if to say, “Are you ready to stop wandering and thinking and just be still and know?” To which I sheepishly reply, “Yes.”

A Letter to my Mother

To be honest, on every Mother’s Day since I’ve been married I’ve made an effort to avoid human interaction for obvious reasons (i.e. people wishing me a happy Mother’s Day and asking me about having children). It’s been awkward since I got married and is even more so now that I’ve been married 5+ years, so I just tend to stay in and forget about it. Of course, like any good daughter I’ll call my mom and my grandmother today, but I’ll still stay inside.

Today though, I’m choosing to “celebrate” it a different way; not with spite or annoyance, not this time. No. I’m blogging about it, which I wouldn’t normally do, but his Mother’s Day is different because today I’m in awe of my mother so I’m writing a short, informal letter to her.

Mop,

You might think this is sappy and weird but I’m writing my thoughts down for you today because I wanted to give you something, if only my thanks. This year I realized something: when you were my age, you were pregnant with me. That fact hit me like a brick…in the face. You are so much braver than I am. I could NEVER do what you did. My life is so different from yours in the late 80s and it’s crazy to think about what it was like to be in your shoes 27 years ago. Today I realize that I’m so, so thankful for you sticking it out and being a mom to me and Christie, taking care of us, raising us, laughing and crying with us…

Thank you changing me, feeding me, bathing me, dressing me, carrying me around, etc.
Thank you for packing my lunches, defending my honor, teaching me, giving me rides, and entertaining everybody else’s kids.
Thank you for tolerating my teenage years and worrying about me.
Thank you for holding me when I felt destroyed.
Thank you for celebrating with me when I got engaged and again when I got married.
Thank you for giving me space when I moved away.
Thank you for trusting me when I say I’m okay, despite how my life may look sometimes.
Thank you for STILL being my mom from a distance.

Remember 2006? That was the worst. I was just thanking the Lord the other day that he didn’t take you home back then, because honestly, I still need you.

Thank you for everything…I MEAN EVERY LITTLE THING, Ma. Everything you taught me is with me everyday. I love you. I’d hug you today if I could…and probably cry.

Your eldest daughter,

Jackie

Threefold

“And though a man might prevail against him who is alone, two will withstand him. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 AMP

I thought I’d share something that I find very beautiful that the Lord has revealed to me just a moment ago.

I love Ecclesiastes, it’s one of my favorite books in the Bible. I’ve heard people say it’s dark, and it is! But I like it because I feel that it’s overflowing with wisdom for how to effectively live life in our fallen world.

This afternoon, however, I was commenting on a post about marriage and singleness and I referenced Ecclesiastes 4:12 explaining that a good marriage is attainable, not without trials and hardships, but it is possible for a marriage to be victorious in the midst of those things. I believe, I stated in my comment, that a good, strong marriage of enjoyment and teamwork [like Tristan and I share] is one that maintains the pattern that God designed: GOD FIRST, then husband, then wife. I have found, that when you keep with this “blueprint”, your troubles make you both stronger, your hardships make you both wiser and when you fall, every time you fall – you see a side to your spouse that you never knew and you fall with them, and in love with them all over again; you both, when in your proper, God-ordained places, always have an eye on the divinity of His strength and realize just how weak you both are – which only lends itself to His power.

(And I have learned this only through trail and error.)

As I was writing this, a revelation struck me: Have you ever wondered why the preceding sentence is:

“And though a man might prevail against him who is alone, two will withstand him.” and then Solomon writes:

“A threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
?

That’s not a typo. I’m not sure what Solomon meant when he wrote that, but somehow I think the Lord was referring [at least in part] to marriage.

The Biblical definition of marriage is two people with God at the center; the husband is to love and care for the wife, being ready to die for her (Ephesians 5:22-31). The wife is his “helper”, meaning that she is his second in command, his comrade, who is to submit to his [higher] authority (i.e. consider his orders for the family, and follow through) and fight along side him; God binds them together – Just as He did Adam and Eve.

I believe the threefold cord is a deeper look into the union of two people, where God is the core and the center of the two whose lives are wrapped around Him.

Two years ago…A Lesson in Love

We are nowhere near Valentine’s Day but I wanted to share this with you. Lately I have been a little discouraged…much the way I was when I wrote this post that originated as a note on my Facebook on Valentine’s Day 2011. I wanted to share it again because I have been thinking about it. Basically, it was written at a time when my life was changing. I had hurt people and had been hurt (probably unintentionally) by people in my life, but I was mostly doing the hurting…and then coming to my senses and pouring my heart out:

2/14/11 – I’m writing this because it helps me get it out…instead of crying. I know that I will be okay tomorrow but I need to let you know how I feel right now…I feel like a jerk. I’m the most oblivious person I know. Valentine’s Day is about love, actually, EVERY day is about love; I know this, but I am too stupid to act on it sometimes. Many of you love me in one way or another and I usually don’t notice or care or bother to thank you guys. I’m an idiot.

I realize now what my lesson is and why I always have to be the one to initiate things when it comes to my relationships. Because they want me to. Because, for whatever reason, I am important to some people some how.

If you are one of them, know this. I’ve been so stupid lately. I SEVERELY underestimate how many people care about me and I really take them for granted or just neglect them and their efforts. In fact, I am very immature and very selfish. I’m not one to pay others any attention and I usually don’t notice or care when people are trying to show their love and concern for me. Also, when people talk I usually don’t listen, when they call I don’t answer and when they try to love me I throw it right back in their face. I don’t break hearts; I don’t even TAKE them, I just let them fall to the floor and shatter into a million little pieces.

When I think about it, this is the reason that I have lost touch with many of my friends and other relationships that could have been, but ended in flames. I even lost my first love due to my stupidity and neglect. Yes, my selfish actions have cost me dearly over the years. If you you have known me for any length of time, you know that I use to be a masochist, in short; I was absolutely addicted to ensuring my self-destruction. And you know that I use to be worse, much worse, than this, but I’m not over it. I don’t mind anyone knowing that because honestly…this is the first time I actually really cared about changing it. I mean, I really, really want to make it go away now. I thought I was better, but I’m not. I feel like I’m still going out of my way to ruin my own life, just as before.

Because of this tendency of mine, I have let someone very important to me down. And, whether I like it or not, what I did (or didn’t do) had a consequence that I can’t forgive myself for…at least, not just yet. It scares me. It now, occurs to me that if I don’t stop this I may end up alone and dying and completely without ANYTHING. No house, no family, no husband, no cats…anything. I have realized that this MUST stop.

I cannot keep blaming it on my past. I’m in control now. What REALLY disgusts me is that I was in control and I let this mess happen. I didn’t want the responsibility. I lost confidence. I was being a child. I suppose that at 23 there’s only so far I can go in the sense of growing up and becoming mature. I did this and I am destroying it. I made my life this way: better, and now I am breaking it down…I didn’t realize that my life was good and I was loved. I never meant to hurt anyone, but by hurting myself, I do.

My Valentine’s Day lesson: Don’t go through life as if you are unloved, because before you know it you will be.

What I have been thinking about is this: as I read over this old post I know that I’m not the same girl who wrote it BUT I still feel the same way every so often. Lately I have been feeling sort of the same. I have a new group of people in my life now, wonderful people, brothers and sisters in Christ that, if I could give them the chance, could be invaluable friends to me. The problem with these people becoming friends, however, is that sometimes I feel that I can push people away simply by being passive. Oh, I’ve been working for 2 years on my attitude so that’s not so much a problem. The thing is that after that, underneath the attitude, lies more layers, layers of isolation that go largely unnoticed by me because I do not have a problem being alone. I’m alone now. I think I like being alone too much and end up unknowingly isolating people as a result. I don’t mean it, it just happens. I feel that I am doing this to my ministry [music]…just leaving it alone. At first, I was deciding to “take a break” but a few weeks into that, to be honest, I started to feel very discouraged and “unmissed” or not “needed”. I know this is crap; quite possibly burn-out but I still feel it. I know I’m not the only one.

Curiously, the message this past Sunday was on idols…not as things but feelings. One of these was “acceptance and influence”; idolizing those feelings and wanting them from sources other than God. Hearing that caused me to break because I knew that the cause of the above post and what I’m feeling now is a result of wanting those feelings from people and things. Now that I know a problem is there, I’m working on it. In fact, I’ll post that message here when it’s online because it was so refreshing.

Anyway, I keep repeating my lesson: “don’t live as if you are unloved..” over and over in my mind, trying to combat this discouragement and desire for approval. This desire…if left to grow will take my focus from others. I can’t let that happen.

I hope that, if this lesson finds you, it will help you.