Oh mercy people, I think my ENT must have accidentally tweaked my anterior cingulate cortex. Yeah, don't go thinking I'm smart here. I had to google what part of the brain controls the executive function that allows the brain to override emotion (at least most likely). Because I've been a seriously emotional nut case recently. I can't get through a morning advent reading from The Jesus Storybook Bible without choking back sobs. Cracking my Bible to Deuteronomy sends me nearly into hives, and two verses in my heart is racing like my Bible's on fire. And Christmas music. Seriously do not get me started on the choking sobs evoked by a really good rendition of O Come O Come Emmanuel. And when you've just had sinus surgery, let me tell you the last thing you need is to open up the floodgates with a good cry.Sometimes I feel guilty for reading fiction. Well, actually at any given time I feel a little guilty about something I'm doing in my life that's actually harmless or even good for me, but lately it's been about reading fiction. Now don't get me started on a defense of good fiction, because I can whip out some G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis, leaving you begging for mercy and a good novel. But no matter how much I defend it, I can still feel guilty about reading even the best fiction because I have a professional grade guilt complex. And it's better than yours.
I just finished The Ashtown Burial SeriesI'm actually going to have to go back and re-read the last book because I read the ending so quick, I can't exactly tell you what happened except that all the right people survived. It's a juvenile fiction novel series written from a redemptive paradigm, like most books I love, and it leaves you all inspired to be brave and awesome and a teensy bit rebellious. Except this time I've been left feeling all terrified.
I'm sitting here recovering from sinus surgery drowning in mucus, with a dead husband, a leaking roof, an overly emotional six year old son, a full time job, and an NPO on the side because I get bored easily, so pardon me if I'm feeling a little like hiding under the covers and never coming out. ever.
But there he is. Everywhere. It's like you can't get away from him. I mean, we'll take prayer out of public schools and then blast The First Noel over the loudspeaker of every department store for a month straight. And just when I want to hide, too. Dang it.
Because he loves me. And I can run from anything. But not love, not love. And believe me, I've tried. There is beauty and there is terror in knowing that the bonds of love are stronger even than sin and death. It's like Jesus lures you in with this beautiful promise of love and redemption just before he delivers the sucker punch that you're supposed to go out love like this too.
But you can't run away because you've known love. And it's just too amazing. But Christ took this love and knelt down to wash his disciples feet. He went to the cross and died when he could have just changed everything with a word. And it terrifies me that this kind of love is beginning to make sense. I can't hide behind doctrines and rules and pet projects and a thousand other walls of self-righteousness that keep from actually dying to self. No wonder I want to throw up every time I open my Bible.
I put Quinn to bed tonight with one of the old nighty night mixes Emmett made for him years ago. The first song on the list was Carbon Ribs. I love that song. Here's why:
A Thousand pairs of firey eyesRight now I feel like a blubbering cripple at the table. Completely useless, unable even to live the life before me with some modicum of faith and courage. But then comes these words:
Burn like a serpent down the hwy 5
As the Long amber tail to Los Angeles unwinds
I've got his resurrection down in side my skin
But for all my revealating
I just cant make sense
Of this gravity we're in
Cause I'm a dead man now
With a ghost who lives
Within the confines of
These carbon ribs
And one day when I'm free
I will sit
The cripple at your table
The cripple by your side
A thousand miles of pain I'm sureBecause every time I pray about dying to self, I find someone else standing in my place. That is grace. That is mercy. That is love. And those things are terrifying. Beautiful and true and necessary and amazing, but mostly terrifying right now.
Led you to the threshold
Of my hearts screen door
To tell me what it is I'm dying for
Like a cold cold Rain
To lead me to the rope again
But someone is standing in my place