Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fruit of the Spirit + Thoughts on Convent

I probably joke more about nunnery than I should be allowed to.  And the response I get from people don't surprise me as much as they sadden me.  They are usually bursts of "NO" and "I WON'T LET YOU" or "YOU'RE CRAZY."  I am not surprised by the degree reaction.  But what saddens me is how our society has deemed THIS as a radical life.  Nunnery: the surrender of your life to holy service from wake til rest and every dream in between.  Nunnery!? Radical?  To think: at one point the appalling, extreme choices of any young generation are now legal and normal.  I need not give examples.

The reality is, I could do it.  In case curiosity piques you, it has nothing to do with singleness, as most people associate the terms.  Honestly, a family would be nice.  But simply put, I would love nothing more than to devote my life to solitude, prayer, worship, mercy, simplicity, and gardening.  But here is why I will not do it: my faith would suffer.  Servitude is radical to those who do not understand; it is not radical under the light of what God would really intend for my life purposes.  There are no easy solutions in life, but this, for me, would be the easiest.  For me, to live the life of a Desert Mother would make my spirit a desert in itself, disillusioned that a life of righteousness is a life of holiness.  The Fruit of the Spirit would have little space to grow.

I cannot learn true love when those around me have learned to love deeply too, when those around me love me back with a God-based love.
I learn to love when I am surrounded by those who have no regard or care for me.  I learn to love when people hate me because I choose to be different in the midst of a changing society.  I learn to love when I come across people who live spiritually lukewarm lives.

I cannot learn true joy when I spend countless hours in devotional happiness and meaningful worship.
I learn joy when I feel the loss of relationships and the losses within relationships.  I learn joy when sorrow and loneliness are promised like the changing seasons, when uncontrollable and unfortunate circumstances befall me.  When I have no control.

I cannot learn true peace when I am in constant quiet and stillness.
I learn peace when the demands of the day, and finances, and work, and health, and human interaction all compete with my sanity.  I learn peace when I attempt multi-tasking and stress taunts me.  I learn peace when I have too many things to think about.

I cannot learn true patience when I have a predictable schedule and no demands, except to pray.
I learn patience when I make concrete plans - even God-given plans - and I do not know my next steps, I do not know where to go.  I learn patience when He makes me wait for His direction, but chronos time breathes down my neck.  I learn patience when I do not yet see His promises fulfilled, and I battle with waiting.

I cannot learn true kindness when giving to the poor and extending mercy to the needy prompts a natural response of compassion.
I learn kindness when my pride wants to rise against the prides of others, when I feel an urge to resist humility, when I feel revenge and retaliation, or when I feel that a person does not deserve my good graces.  I learn kindness after I consider the individual circumstances that others must face, and the weights that they too must bear.

I cannot learn true goodness and righteousness when holiness and the Sermon on the Mount is the utmost rule.
I learn that I must be good regardless if I am tired of upholding the Standard.  I learn to be righteous when the Law seems impractical and outdated, and I want so desperately to compromise and be accepted- but I know I must not give in.  I learn to be holy in a world that is unholy and mundane and profane.  I learn goodness when I must be Light and Salt in a dark and tasteless world.

I cannot learn true gentleness when a passive atmosphere has already been created for me.
I learn gentleness when I deal with an unpredictable family, with unpredictable strangers, with unpredictable circumstances.  I learn gentleness when anger and rage and frustration volunteer to be the launching pad of my words and imaginations.  I learn gentleness when others treat me rudely.

I cannot learn true faithfulness when I have already made a lifetime commitment to stay within a Godly community.
I learn faithfulness when it's easy to slip into the predictability of my loneliness, having no accountability, staying hidden and uninvolved.  I learn faithfulness good intentions turn into false motives and idolatry, when I am more concerned about the methods of worship rather than worship itself.  I learn faithfulness when I am fooled by infidelity.  

I cannot truly learn self-control when I have been depleted of all life's pleasures.
I learn self-control when I am plagued by indulgences that my flesh desires, and the compromise of "just one" or "once in a while" haunts my willpower.  I learn self-control when I need to restrain myself for any reason, and every easy reason has presented itself to me.  I learn self-control when I relinquish control; when I must depend on One who I cannot see, and I want to act upon what I can see.

The droughts of the world are what forces me to stretch my roots deep into the soil to find the Water of Life; they persuade me to stand firm, immoveable.  These hardships and difficulties urge me to increase my faith, and lean upon the hope of His promises.  For these reasons, I cannot live in a convent.  I would have less reason to fight for love, to fight for holiness.  I would have less opportunity to be a minister of the Word.  I would have less chance to spend myself like an offering on the streets of a broken city.  I would have less desire to be a living sacrifice, dying to my flesh so that the Truth of Christ can resurrect through me.

People are right.  I cannot be a nun.  It's not radical enough.
I cannot be cloistered in.  I must live outside.  I must Love aloud.

I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.  Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith..
Philippians 1.23-25


currently listening: Seryn. "Beach Song," This is Where We Are.
currently reading: Richard Foster, Celebration of Disciplines.
currently drinking: Stumptown Ethiopia Nano Challa, pourover

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