I think we all struggle, to some degree, with recklessness. For some people, recklessness looks like drug addiction and alcohol dependence, for others it looks like binge eating or uncontrollable rage. For me, it looks like the careless wasting of time and the willful ignorance of truth and healthy perspective. Recklessness looks like dishonesty with myself, and with Yahweh. Recklessness looks like a vicious cycle of procrastination that bleeds across the well defined lines of my work and personal lives. Recklessness looks like not caring when I should, and throwing in the towel much too soon in the struggle. Recklessness looks like bingeing, over doing, over consuming, over thinking, excess to the point of sickness.
I think the gifts of intelligence and reason bring with them a great deal of responsibility and require more maintenance than we would like. And when our feelings force us to examine more deeply what we have been glancing over the surface of, it is a reminder that the intrinsic depth that human beings possess necessitates deep introspection.
For weeks I have felt the strain on my mind to settle itself. Peace has eluded me, stability left me high and dry at times. Ive fought for contentment and felt discipline and motivation slide through my fingers daily. I’ve wondered why and cried too much. I’ve ignored the messiness of my soul.
And as the mess inside me grew, so did the mess outside. Self awareness has taught me that my recklessness leaks. It begins to permeate my environment, maybe to let the observant people closest to me know that something is wrong, or so that I can be aware of it myself. But a disorganized bedroom and consistently cluttered desk at work were an indication of my souls condition.
I was a mess.
It amazes me that we an know so much about ourselves, yet choose to not apply the knowledge in a way that will actually be beneficial to our growth and development. I know that my mind requires consistent decluttering and my soul requires frequent examination. I know that the relocation of every pair of shoes I own from the closet to every square inch of my tiled bedroom floor means that I need to stop and pray. I know that consistent feelings of anxiety, sadness, a lack of motivation and an inability to focus warrants a Coming to Yahshua. I know, and I often pride myself in knowing, but why is it that I know and still do not do? What is the disconnect that causes me to, while being armed with knowledge about my heart, my soul, my design, and my identity, sit back and watch myself repeatedly slam into emotional impasses brought about by my lack of application of said knowledge?
Well, I’m 32,000 feet in the air right now, finally considering the state of my soul.
I’m wrapping up a week of silence, not wordlessness, but silence.
Last week, just before the beginning of the feast of Tabernacles, I felt an inclination to fast. I believe in fasting, and practicing the discipline of fasting has made me a better believer, but I was called to a much different fast than I’ve ever undertaken. A fast from creative content, from spiritual outpouring, from my distractions, from media and social influence.
I knew immediately what a sacrifice it would be, and I began to sweat at the thought of my honest mind being opened up in that kind of silence. For six days I haven’t listened to one song, watched one video or show on television, watched one movie, or listened to one sermon.
From He and I began walking this way back in February of 2016, Yahweh has required one thing from me: honesty. He’s always asked that I bring him my complete truth, no matter the filth, the embarrassment, the perceived insignificance, the shame, or the weight. He’s always asked that I trust him enough to withhold nothing.
And in the past few weeks, I’ve beheld almost everything. There is no excuse I can come up with for not laying bare my burdens on Yahweh’s throne. I can’t think of one ‘why’ that can serve as a suitable contender for my lack of transparency. I could blame it on an increased work load and subsequent longer hours at my job, I could blame it on my mommy being sick and unforeseen personal financial strain, I could blame it on physical fatigue and sleep deprivation, I could blame it on a lack of creative stimulation and writers block, I could blame it on increased loneliness and the strain that comes with navigating the unknown, but none of that would be enough to justify my aloofness. The reason why I cannot excuse myself is because I know the truth. I have lived loved. I have been told who and whose I am. I have been made free. I am known by Yahweh. Therefore I cannot condone the allowance of darkness to overcome the light that has been made so inexplicably known to me.
I’ve been hiding in preoccupation. I’ve been choosing escape and hobbies over the arduous work of maintaining the order in my soul. I’ve grown accustomed to sound in the place of silence, and frivolous fullness in the place of purposeful emptiness. Yahweh made room for himself and I was so uncomfortable that I filled the spaces with things that no longer brought me joy. He began to answer my prayers for transformation, but when being transformed looked like being alone, being vulnerable, being stripped, being tired, being confused, being overlooked, and being undervalued, I stunted my own growth. I chose to hide instead of confront.
I skidded backward when I was being called to the front lines of battle. I retreated when my Commander was yelling an emphatic “FORWARD!” I chickened out of progress because it was more painful than I’d bargained for.
In real life this looked like sleeping through bible study sessions, watching YouTube videos when I should have been praying, listening to sermons when I should have been seeking Him for myself, turning on the television and turning up the music when my emotions became too loud to bear and too incessant to ignore. I sat in what my mother would call squalor, but what was really all of my clothes piled onto my bed, drowning myself with preoccupation until I was too tired to keep my eyes open, not allowing myself or the Holy Spirit to get a word in edgewise.
So He told me to turn it all off. Shut it down. Close my eyes and open my ears. Replace the busyness with intentionality and the endless entertainment with purposeful seeking.
He asked for my escape. And I grudgingly gave it to Him. And it’s been hurting, bad. I’ve felt almost nauseous on my quiet car rides, and squirmed at night when I was forced to fall asleep to the sounds of my own breathing versus the sound of music floating from my iPad perched on the pillow beside me. I’ve felt physically drained when I had to complete the mundane tasks of cooking and cleaning with no background noise to pass the time. I almost died cleaning my bedroom without my cleaning playlist booming through stereo speakers. But I’ve survived. And gradually, I began to see the benefit in not rushing to scream into the silence. Like today when I sat peacefully reading while in an airport terminal and wrote this diary entry on a two and a half hour flight instead of filling my head with another person’s ideas. Everything I listen to, watch, and consume is, for the most part, good. But even good things can become toxic when they’re consumed in excess and instead of the things our souls are actually in separate need of.
I’ve been productive, I will admit. I’ve gotten more done in the past five days than I have in the past five weeks. I’ve cleaned my tragic bedroom and washed all my clothes. I’ve styled my hair and shaved my legs. I’ve shaped my eyebrows and gotten a pedicure. I’ve read two and half books and went to bed at decent hours. I’ve made to do lists and stuck to them. I’ve cooked and frozen enough vegetable soup for this week and next. I’ve done everything I’ve needed to get done except the thing that matters most.
I haven’t decluttered and ordered my soul. I am currently reading “Let Me Be A Woman” by Elizabeth Elliot, and the last sentence in the chapter titled, ‘Self Discipline and Order’ is this, “A disordered life speaks loudly of disorder in the soul.”
It suddenly struck me in this cold airplane cabin that while I’ve rectified the symptoms of my disordered soul, I.e. cleaned my room, washed my clothes, cooked my meals and cared for my appearance, I haven’t addressed the root of my ailment, the disorder of my soul.
This means that if I carry on as if I am okay, I will inevitably find myself right back in the same messy, unruly, unplanned, unmanicured, hairy position I was in at the beginning of this week. And yet again, I am struck by the realization that amidst all that silence, my soul still found an unsuspecting place to hide: in my productivity. This is why motive is always so important. While from the outside it seems as if I’ve gotten better, on the inside I’m still worse for ware. I’ve amended my actions but not my thoughts, and that means I haven’t made any real change.
So here I am writing the first honest thing I have in weeks. It’s not that I haven’t approached the laptop or put pen to paper, but what has been coming out of me has been flowing from my dysfunction, not my essence. And when words flow from my dysfunction instead of my essence, my identity, the part of me connected to Yahweh, it is noticeably tainted with emotionalism and opinion, marred with unexpressed confusion and mirrors the disorderly state of my soul. In short, it’s not honest, it’s not my truth, it’s a well expressed version of the lie I’m either battling or bowing to.
I’m tempted to say I don’t know how to begin to unravel the jumbled mess I’ve made of my mental state, but my spiritual self knows that not true. I do know. I know how to begin.
It always starts with a prayer. An honest prayer. A transparent conversation between me and Yahweh. No expectations, no fancy words or barriers. Just me and my open hands, me and my broken heart, a little girl before her Father’s feet, telling Him how hard she’s finding it to move forward.
So that’s what I’ll do. I’ll start there. I’ll start with prayer. And then together, Yahweh and I will get down to the business of really sorting out my disordered soul.