Thursday, September 12, 2013

Stop Performing: A series of vignettes

My devotional time this week has been spent with the third chapter of a posthumously compiled collection of essays by Henri Nouwen. In it, Henri writes, “...though the experience of being the Beloved has never been complete absent from my life, I was slow in claiming it as my core truth. I kept running around it while looking for someone or something able to convince me of my Belovedness. It was as if I kept refusing to hear the voice that speaks from the very depth of my being and says: ‘You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests.’” (Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith, 31) 

Amen, Henri. You’re not the only one.


Yesterday was long and difficult. It was the type of day in which all that I had planned lay lifeless and chaotic around me. The assurances of friends and loved ones could not comfort me. I felt the old fear haunting me. Failure.

After the long, difficult day, I woke up this morning and read a new post on one of my favorite blogs. At one point, the author wrote,

“We live in a time that doesn’t look with kindness on quiet, on wonder, on the kind of life that is like a seed planted in the soil of love. We live life increasingly alone as we hurry and text and keep up the race. Fellowship is hard to find. Peace is hard to catch….Modern life stares us down with its vast blank stare, and makes us wonder if we are worth its notice. In the past year, I wasn’t so sure I was. I began to listen to the voices of my time urging me to strive, to run, to reach, always for more: achievements, experience, freedom (from what, I’m not sure). The mandate of this age seems to be to grasp, and when loneliness thickened my throat and ached behind my eyes, I began to think I needed to grasp something beyond the struggle of living my ideals. Hope in their impossible beauty was simply too much to bear. I began to react, instead of contemplate. I lived swiftly; I worked, traveled, moved in order to ignore my growing sense that I would never belong.”


I wore a tie today. I like wearing ties. I wore it because I was helping to teach a class. Really, the class was an excuse to wear a tie. Classes are also my excuse for wearing sweater vests. A professor stopped me in the cafeteria. With mischief in his eyes and a smile on his lips, he said, “Nice tie. Who are you trying to please?” We laughed. I explained my love for ties. But I couldn’t stop thinking, “Who am I trying to please?”


In class this afternoon, one of my professors shared about an insight her friend had received. With brevity and clarity, the woman said that God told her, “stop performing.”


Stop performing. Okay, God. I get it.

Thank you.

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