Stream of Unconscious

Often I wake in the middle of the night with thoughts and visions that must be written. A lot of it may seem like mere rambling, but I am a born writer; I need to see what happens to my words once they stare back at me from the pages of my computer screen. Since I am ususally more than half-asleep when this happens, I jokingly entitled the original document: "Stream of Unconscious." Now that I am finally starting to publish in a blog (as so many people have suggested I should do!), I thought the title remained appropriate.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Dissection of a Mustard Seed

Risk is by far my least favorite board game. In fact, I became so upset the first time I played, that I have never attempted to play again. No exaggeration. There are still memories of a college Christmas break darkened by the devastation of my entire elf army when one of us received a Lord of the Rings themed Risk game from Santa. I do not believe I am one to hold a grudge under normal circumstances, but in this case I still feel a twinge of leftover frustration at the very thought...

And so goes my life. I hate the rolling of the die, not knowing what you will get when it comes to that inevitable and influential stop. For many, many years, like so many others, I had decided that I would be better off not playing, than to take the risk... and lose.

Although I would consider myself a bit of a social butterfly, I tend to be quite chameleon-like, becoming an awkward observer or a wallflower with little or no notice. For example, I am in my element at any social function, standing in the midst of it all but focusing on one or two people, having a deep discussion about past, present, and future life struggles and hopes. But then someone will decide that we're all going to play some game, or turn some music on and start to dance, and immediately I will find an inconspicuous corner from which to cower, hoping no one will force me to bring out the head or stomach ache excuse in order to avoid actually participating in said activity.

I have often made jokes in these situations that blame my social awkwardness on homeschooling. But I can no longer hide behind the overused stereotype, which is really only half-truth anyway. The real truth is that I am utterly terrified of risk-taking in most forms. I am not afraid of funky fashions, ridiculous socks, putting my foot in my mouth, or speaking even the most embarrassing truths aloud. I am not even afraid of snakes. But I am a coward in every sense of the word when it comes to taking risks with life decisions.

I told my brother recently, in a brief online chatting session, that my baggage cart was full when I first received it (parental dysfunction being the common cold of the family unit these days), so why would I want to risk adding more to the already heaping piles by my own choice? That just doesn't make sense. But the truth is that life without risk is impossible, if you desire to have any kind of life at all. And what is faith, really, but risk on a Supernatural level?

The Bible is actually quite encouraging on this matter. Loosely translated, if your faith is as big as a mustard seed, it says, you will say to this mountain, "move" and the mountain shall tumble. Just think about that for a minute...

I have a close friend who does not believe that God is personal, or interested in our daily struggles, delights, or the mountains we face. Supposedly He created us, set us down here, and has taken a "hands off" approach ever since. Though he is dear to me, I am certain that my friend is terribly wrong. Have you ever actually seen a mustard seed? Any God who knew to use a mustard seed to describe the kind of faith I possess must know me intimately. And despite the intensity of my fears, I have been known to move a mountain or two with my wee little mustard seeds of faith.

I believe this goes hand-in-hand with the short verse hidden in the Psalms that says: "Be still, and know that I am God." It is one of my favorites. I grew up in the kind of church where it was all about performance; what you did or didn't do, and you were always trying, trying, trying to grow as a Christian and be a Christian, and all that mattered was what you did for God... it makes me feel infinitely tired just to write about it.

I am doomed to failure without grace, because there are months (as you know by now if you're a regular reader) where I can barely remember to pay my bills, and get my 40 hour work week in, and leave my apartment somewhat presentable in the morning. Add the pressure of saving souls or being perfectly sinless to that list, and I may as well go on to heaven now before I add any more disastrous failures to it. The truth surely does set you free, for I am blessed by the knowledge that such a list is nonexistent.

I love this, though... another translation of the same verse reads: "Cease striving, and know God." Though simple, it is one of the most difficult truths I have to accept. I have lived enough, and failed enough, and cried enough, and run back to God enough in the last couple of months that I am ready to give up. In a good way. I am ready to give up me getting in the way of what God is doing. I am ready to cease striving... and find God there.

And that is one of the scariest risks I know to take. But I suppose I might have about a mustard seed sized faith left, so I may as well turn and face the mountain...

I am finding, though it has proven to be a frighteningly treacherous path, that each new step of faith, each risk, grows another seed and reveals a higher mountain. What are we to do, but take the next step in the direction of the towering peak, and with our small measure of faith, simply utter the word "move"?


Jess said...

Jo! Oh my word! That was Lewis-like in it's intensity and directness. Yeah!

christa said...

Jo. I am so proud! Love the blogging. thanks for sending me the sight. You might be interested in this sermon. go to and find the archives of sermons. look up :the risk of caution" by Pastor Erik. you're going to love it! When we getting together this week. I've been thinking we should have a standing date every other week :)