I have a friend that refers to her years as chapters. In her 16th chapter she learned to drive. In her 18th chapter she went off to college. In her 21st chapter, well, you know.
I think in the most Natasha Bedingfield, pedestrian of ways I’d like to steal that concept. There’s something about putting a literary context to your life that seems to make sense. [Insert something poignant about that metaphor here.]
In keeping with said metaphor, this past Friday marked the beginning of my 24th chapter. And I am hopeful that this will be a good one.
I have another friend that chooses theme words for her life at the start of each calendar year – something concrete to serve as a framework for what and who she hopes to be in the coming year.
I take the fact that my birthday falls in January to mean that I was divinely created to steal both of these ideas.
And as such, I am considering the words for this 24th chapter of my life.
My initial thought is “truthfulness.” Truthfulness as a direct opposition to deceit. I have been so struck by the number of times the Lord has revealed adulterous, offensive deceit, of both a purposeful and subconscious nature, in my heart and my mind over the past few years.
I deceive my mind to shade the color of my sins more lightly. I deceive others to silhouette the shadows of my heart more beautifully. I deceive my soul to receive the grace of God more hesitantly.
But truthfulness brings very active requirements. The fight to stay awake and alert and alive amidst the ever-increasing temptation to very passively do the opposite. Truthfulness sobers the misdirected romance of intoxicated pleasures. Truthfulness binds the ever evasive heart that so feverishly desires to whore itself out to carved images. Truthfulness concludes. It equips. It fortifies.
I also feel drawn to the word “grounded,” for many of the same reasons. It’s not a feeling I’m very familiar with. For most of my Christian life I saw “grounded” as a nice way to describe someone who was Bible-savvy, boring, and wouldn’t kiss on the first date. But in this season, this 24th chapter (or at least the brink of it), I feel remarkably and divinely grounded. I feel established in grace. I feel rooted in eternal perspective. I feel secure in the mercy of both suffering and joy.
But I can’t seem to fight the temptation to settle on “goodness.”
As in, God’s goodness to me makes absolutely no sense and overwhelms me at every possible turn.
I tend to hate words that we’ve made such flagrant prostitutes. “Good” carries about as much weight as “interesting” (the world’s laziest adjective) or “cool” (the world’s douchiest compliment).
But the idea that God is good, that he does not withhold good just as he does not withhold love because he is good and he is love – it wrecks me.
It destroys me and every shadow of my soul that still believes in love that is transactional and salvation that is earned.
And it is my aim that I evidence the delight of that merciful destruction in every word and every deed and every Tuesday and every oil change.
That is what I want this chapter to be marked by – the tenderness and fury of God’s simple and majestic goodness.
God’s goodness reveals truth. God’s goodness grounds. God’s goodness anchors and awakens and attacks.
And if this 24th chapter is anything like the past 23, it will do so in painful and glorious and unprecedented ways.
That is true.
And that is grounding.
And that is good.