“Nobody knows what the future holds
And it’s bad enough just getting old
Live my life in self-defense
You know I love the past, ’cause I hate suspense…”
-Vampire Weekend “Diane Young”
This catchy lyric from Vampire Weekend’s “Diane Young” pretty much epitomizes how I feel after 33 years on this planet. If there’s two things I’ve learned this year through a painful process of unlearning it’s that I don’t know a thing and I have absolutely no control. In the words of Vampire Weekend, I don’t know what the future holds, I am getting older, I live my life in denial of these facts, and I glorify my past because I hate the suspense of the unknown.
“What you must realize, what you must come to praise, is the fact that there is no right way that is going to become apparent to you once and for all. The most blinding illumination that strikes and perhaps radically changes your life will be so attenuated and obscured by doubts and dailiness that you one day come to suspect the truth of that moment at all.”
-Christian Wiman “My Bright Abyss“
“We are creatures who don’t get to decide what we are, whose natures are always partly hidden from our conscious understanding, and always pull several ways at once.”
-Francis Spufford “Unapologetic“
“I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”
-Paul Romans 7:15
The truth of these words above really hit me hard this year. 32 was a tough one full of difficult child rearing, constant noise, boundless exhaustion, radiating anger, anxiety about work, health procedures/diagnoses, lice that forced me to cut my beautiful Eddie Vedder hair, and relentless doubt (surprisingly my mental health has been spot on though! Hooray for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and years of therapy). I’ve discovered brand new emotions, conflicting desires, and new nastiness buried deep within.
At this point you may think I’m either whining, being melodramatic, or you may getting ready to 302 me; but hold off on that for a moment. For many reasons 32 was a good year as well. For the purposes of this post I want to focus on one.
“I have been shown the authentic bad news about myself, in a perspective which is so different from the tight focus of my desperation that it is good news in itself; I have been shown that though I may see myself in the grim optics of sorrow and self-dislike, I am being seen all the while, if I can bring myself to believe it, with a generosity wider than oceans.”
-Francis Spufford “Unapologetic”
“If that [Good] Friday, as we claim to believe, is the best thing that ever happened to the world — if we have been rescued by the world’s champion loser — it’s got to be surpassing strange that we’re afraid of the very failures that our personal sacraments of salvation.”
-Robert Capon “The Foolishness of Preaching“
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
-Jesus to Paul 2 Corinthians 12:9
This year I discovered how wide, deep, and ridiculous God’s love is; not because I’m spiritual; but because I’m unspiritual and helpless.
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”
-Paul Romans 5:6
This year I experienced the on the ground the reality of this passage. God meets me precisely in my moments of greatest weakness. He doesn’t wince at them, but rather loves me right where it hurts. I knew that before this year, but this reality was something I experienced again and again this year.
“The great and merciful surprise is that we come to God not by doing it right but by doing it wrong.”
-Richard Rohr quoted in “Grace in Addiction“
Couldn’t have said it better Richard. Couldn’t have said it better. In the wilderness of my 32nd year where much of the time I didn’t know my right from my left, God met me again and again in the mess. Although it still hurts like hell, it’s nice to know he’s there. 33 here I come!