Tuesday, October 20, 2009

In My Own Little Corner

"For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."
Philippians 1: 13

Growing up in the first decade of color television and only three networks, it was a big deal when the family gathered to watch the annual showing of a movie. There was no such thing as a VCR nor did we have DVR as an option to tune into the show at a later, more convenient time. If we wanted to watch a show we had to be present at the hour it aired.

My favorite was Rogers & Hammerstein's 1965 version of Cinderella starring Lesley Ann Warren as Cinderella and Stuart Dammon as the Prince. It aired only 8 times from 1965 to 1974 and I believe I watched it every year.

I'm sure when I was younger I was enthralled by the beautiful princess story and the happily ever after ending with her prince. Today, however, I identify more with the scene where she's sitting in her "own little corner", in her "own little chair." That's where I've wanted to crawl since Saturday. It's where I want to be when I'm challenged and uncomfortable with me.

In an effort to hone my writing skills I participated in a local writer's workshop this weekend. The teaching was excellent. The assignments, somewhat challenging. The talents of the other writers, exceptional. When given 15 minutes to write a narrative paragraph about the main protagonist in our new book, the pens were scratching tirelessly around me, filling page after page with carefully, creatively structured description. My pen, however, stalled after the first sentence. I felt as though I were in third grade all over again, falling behind my classmates and questioning my ability and talent for writing. I literally wanted to crawl into my own little corner, in my own little chair and pretend I was an excellent writer of prose, like the rest of them.

I came home and slunk up to my room. Behind the door I sat on my bed with an open journal and pen until the ink of my heart spilled onto the page with rapid speed. All the raw emotion of inadequacy formed words in black and white. I wondered why I couldn't have done that earlier during the workshop? Why was it so easy to write about my emotions but not about my new main character?

Funny thing happens when you spend so much time with yourself, you come to know yourself very well. Writers write from the familiarity and passion of their experiences. I hadn't spent enough time with my new found friend. I could describe her like I would when meeting anyone for the first time, but I didn't know her intimately or how she would react in any situation.

Isn't it like that between us and God sometimes? We can spill out all our raw emotions to him but, when we try to figure out what he's saying to us or if we try to share what he's done in our lives we come up short of words. We may listen to our friends' God stories; hear them describe an active, living God who seems so intimate and exciting but, when it's our turn, we fall silent. Our experiences don't seem to hit the mark. So, we take our inadequacies and crawl into our own little corner, into our own little chair where we can only imagine being so close to God that we can feel his breath.

It's in that corner though, that we can hone our skill of listening to God rather than complaining about what we are not. We may just find he'll tell us what we are. We may find the more time we spend with God, the more familiar he becomes. The more familiar he becomes, the more intimate we become with him. The more intimate we become, the more we start to imitate him. The more we imitate him, the more we will encourage one another to become the best of what God created us to be.

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