Culture

November 07 2012
32


“The world of dew
is the world of dew
And yet, and yet –”
~ Issa

I confess that most days, my heart is like a bratty 15-year old: arms crossed, chin raised, daring you to impress me.

I was born at the far edge of the age-group they call Generation Me…narcissistic and entitled and easily bored. I bristle at this language. I am not like that, I think. But it I’m honest, I’ll tell you that I wake up thinking about myself. I choose my acts of love or service or kindness mostly based on how much they will rock the equilibrium of my personal comfort. I am fuzzy on the line between self-care and self-absorbed.

Once I went to Bible college, and I aced my pop quiz on the Gospels and my paper on evangelicalism and my final on Theology. I’ve read the Bible, beginning and then back again. In my 29 years, I have sat through 1500 sermons – give or take – so don’t think you can tell an anecdote I haven’t heard, a statistic I don’t know.

That scripture you’re reading aloud from the podium? I’ve heard it a hundred times. Memorized it in AWANA Sparks. Earned myself a ruby-red jewel for my plastic, pinned-on crown. So I’m gonna need you to spin it new, get into the Greek of it, the etymology, the history. Surprise me with your insight.

I dare you to impress me.

We changes jobs frequently, apparently – people in this generation. That’s what the sociologists say. They say we have too great of expectations, little patience for anything that seems to lack meaning. And I haven’t changed jobs all that much, but I have been nomadic in my spirituality. I have wandered aimlessly from church to church to church, looking for something that I cannot name. Leaving when it’s not there.

I keep waiting for that one big thing that will take my breath away. That will leave me standing rooted to the spot, looking up.

In the box office, I watch movies with 150-million-dollar budgets and critique the special effects. In worship services, the music circles higher and louder, and the fog machine blasts and the lights change color, and I confuse entertainment with awe.

I have believed the lie that wonder is something that is given to me by someone else. That it is fire and flurry, the crashing of might and might, the explosion of flame. Dazzle and daring and the fluorescent spectacular.

But the truth is that none of this is wonder. Not really. There is nothing passive about true wonder. It is not dependent on bigness or limited by smallness; it is not the response to entertainment or to spectacle.

Wonder is a choice. It comes only when I choose to stay.

It’s that thing that happens when doubt and astonishment and mystery converge. It happens when I stand in one place long enough. When I stare out at the broken cattails or the winter-bare branches or a dew drop until it stops being about me. Starts being about the branch. And then about more than the branch. And then about God.

And it doesn’t always feel like epiphany or the climax of a hit movie. Sometimes it comes and goes so quickly that you almost can’t believe that it was there.

But in that moment, something in your heart reaches towards God. And for a small span of space, you believe Him to be all he says he is, and you know it is enough…and this is the true heart of worship.

And all these years, my angsty, self-focused heart has been making the wrong statement.

It’s not I dare you to impress me. Rather, it’s I will dare to be impressed.

There is work to all this wonder. I can choose to be moved, even when it does not feel holy or wild or amazing. I can decide to stay long enough to see the whole thing ignite like a bush burning. Because God is here: in this tiny church, this broken family, this song, this wintering state…this moment.

The ground spreads wide and uneven beneath me, and all of it is holy.

The dew drop is suspended at the edge of the railing. Wonder is the choice to look closer and closer. To stay until the dew becomes a universe, and your heart lurches when you recognize the holy center: the wild love of God.

 

32 comments

  1. This is such a passion of mine, Addie. I’m so glad you wrote about it hear, in the way you do so well, with words that paint a picture and draw us in. This is one of my passions- to help people notice how God is at work in the midst of the ordinary. To pause, to see, to make a conscious decision to notice.

    “It’s not I dare you to impress me. Rather, it’s I will dare to be impressed.” Amen.

    Some friends of mine wrote about a very similar theme today: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/ordinaryadventure/2012/11/i-will-not-run-past-the-god-of-wonder/

    I always love seeing synergy in blogs, but I especially appreciate it when it is about such a great topic!

    Reply
    • Addie

      Thanks so much Stephanie. Haven’t had a chance to read that post yet, but it’s on my list. Lots of people thinking about wonder this week…I love the synergy too.

      Reply
  2. I love the way you speak paradox, Addie.

    Reply
  3. I identify with the whole grumpy arms crossed thing…sometimes I think I’m a curmudgeon at heart. But it’s so important to resist that. Thanks for the reminder.

    Reply
  4. I’m okay with wandering for the sake of wonder. I’m also okay with staying put, when I really and truly want to, and choosing to find wonder in the mundane and messy. It’s an unforced rhythm, this staying and going, and we are free to do both/and. Thanks for addressing it.

    Reply
    • Addie

      Yes, absolutely. Thanks Mandy.

      Reply
  5. Gracious, Addie. I am undone. That was my posture before and you’ve captured my new call so well.

    Reply
  6. I never thought about wonder as a practice until I read these words: Wonder is a choice. It comes only when I choose to stay.

    Wow. A whole new outlook. Thank you for opening up the glory and the possibility of the now.

    Reply
    • Addie

      The practice piece is new to me too. To see it as something I can choose, something I can discipline my heart to do. Thanks for the kind comment, Kelli.

      Reply
  7. Beautiful and so convicting. “I bristle at this language. I am not like that, I think. But if I’m honest…” That is so true of myself. And “I dare you to impress me” is exactly what I’ve been thinking, although I rarely look at my question squarely enough to see that’s what it is. I’m so humbled so often that the things I think of so disdainfully in others are things I find too often in myself.

    So thanks for this post. Much to think about.

    And from one mom of small kids to another, you don’t ever have to explain a missing post or two! I’m astounded that you write as much as you do. And so grateful that you do.

    Reply
    • Addie

      Thanks so much for the kind comment and the grace, Janice. I have come to love and appreciate blogging so much…but some weeks, it just cannot be done!

      Reply
  8. The challenge to stay. Thank you, lady – I needed to hear this.
    Did I mention how much I love your writing?

    Xx

    Reply
  9. I am 2+ decades older than you – but this was so appropriate to my journey. Thank you. “I can choose to be moved, even when it does not feel holy or wild or amazing.” So many pithy quotes you have given in this short post. I stand in wonder at your ability to use words — Really.

    Reply
    • Addie

      This is so kind Marilyn. Thank you. And it doesn’t surprise me that it’s appropriate to your farther-up-the-road part of the journey. It seems like we just go round and round, relearning the same things over and over. I think that’s just how faith is. So grateful for the people I find who are learning and relearning all the same things as me and who speak truth and beauty into my life!

      Reply
  10. “I will dare to be impressed.” I loved that. We have to find beauty and humor in humanity or it will be a dreadful dreary life.

    Reply
  11. Mercy, Addie. This is beautiful, this evolution, or unraveling, or whatever you call it. “Because God is here: in this tiny church, this broken family, this song, this wintering state…this moment.” Love this, so much. Grateful, as always, for your story.

    Reply
    • Addie

      Thanks so much Annie.

      Reply
  12. “He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead.” -Albert Einstein.

    Reply
    • Addie

      A perfect quote here. Thanks for adding it!

      Reply
  13. I completely identify with your upbringing and style of writing! I will be following your blog from now on. =)

    Reply
  14. YES! This is So True. “It comes only when we choose to stay.”

    Reply
  15. Kimberly Walker

    What beautiful insight! I love how you’ve perfectly captured the ‘I dare you to impress me’ mentality and juxtaposed it with the simplicity of wonder.

    This made me laugh at myself:
    ‘That scripture you’re reading aloud from the podium? I’ve heard it a hundred times. Memorized it in AWANA Sparks. Earned myself a ruby-red jewel for my plastic, pinned-on crown. So I’m gonna need you to spin it new, get into the Greek of it, the etymology, the history. Surprise me with your insight.’ How true is that!

    Miss you like crazy every flippin day.

    Reply
    • Addie

      Miss you too friend. Thanks for the kind words. Wish we could discuss the whole thing over chocolate chip bagels and Dr. Pepper like the old days.

      Reply
  16. This is utterly beautiful… and beautifully true. Daring to be impressed, to cultivate wonder, is such a tender and soul-stretching form of loving God.

    Reply
    • Addie

      “a tender and soul-stretching form of loving God.” I love that. Thnaks Bethany.

      Reply
  17. Wonder is a choice. Love this. Sometimes I feel silly because I am moved by really small things, but I am learning to see that quality as a gift.

    Reply
    • Addie

      Absolutely it is.

      Reply
  18. Beautiful, poignant, powerful.

    I once wandered off into the darkness because I was looking for thatone Big Thing to impress me, and it didn’t come. Thankfully Grace is big enough that I found far more than I wa slooking for. But I have watched others wander off and not make it back.

    Love the one you’re with. Love the life you have. Live the moment you’re in.

    Reply

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