I just started my final semester here at Messiah and it is bringing me full circle. In my first year I took a seminar class called “Learning to Tell Our Stories” and over the course of the past four years I have gathered many, many, many, stories and began to create and reveal my person, my character I play in this life narrative. Now in this final semester I am taking a class on the “Inklings” the work of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and I am brought back again to this concept of story. Lewis believed that the best metaphor and media to explain the human existence is story, because of the tension between the temporal and the transcendence we all grasp for as children of God. Here is a bit of my story (our first writing assignment):
She sinks down in the chair hugging her sweatshirt tight around her stomach, trying to hold together the hollow weight of emotions that flutter inside like the tumultuous feeling of being hit square in the gut. Her mind rushes with a flood of thoughts that erode the banks of her identity as a daughter of the king. A life built around to-dos and a constant spiral of busyness: “You didn’t accomplish enough,” “you weren’t kind enough,” “you aren’t good enough,” intermingle with fears of hypocrisy: “you are too prideful,” “you want too much attention,” “you are too much.” She has made camp here, besieged from both sides by aggressors of pride and shame, whose arrows both pierce with insecurity. “How do I live as His daughter? How do I make His love the foundation of my footfall?” she thinks.
A healer probes her to give a name to the “shoulds” in her life, the to-dos that she “should” accomplish, the way she “should” feel, and the Christian she “should” be. This one word has such a grip in her life to perpetuate the internal attack on her self-worth and inheritance as a worthy daughter. Upon uttering the words, she finally summons the voices out creating a power in naming that diminishes their strongholds in her life and exposes many as lie.
This is her struggle. A battle of years. A long, unending fight that stalks her long after its seeming defeat. She draws her own sword again trembling under its weight.
The bottom two-thirds of a calculated list of tasks floats to the ground. She makes a shaky attempt to attack pride as she chops at the to-dos by which she measures her success each day. Between her palms, she crumples the writing and tosses it into the garbage can. Eyes lift, empowered.
Days pass and she falls again, easily, prey to this subtle enemy that tip toes into her life masquerading in a cloak of enviable ability and success. Wiping tears from her eyes, fists pound the ground frustrated by her inability to just break free. “I can’t do it!” she cries in defeat ripping off all pretenses lying there exposed and broken. In this instant different whispers whisk by tenderly sending cooling shivers down her hot, wet cheeks. “My grace is sufficient for you,” “My power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).” Dazed she finds herself face to face with another. Slowly, the speaker stands and she lifts with Him in an embrace, arms encircled around His form. Arms that once clutched her hollowed and chaotic insides now clutch Him. She breathes Him in and the fires of turmoil disappear filling with an elixir, cool and refreshing.
From her position of complete exhaustion and inability, she notices Him bend and clasp steady fingers around a handle unsheathing a blade that glints in the light He radiates. He grasps it firm, hard, perfect, strong.
He pierces the words of failure with victory, the chains of pride and shame with glorious freedom.