alive

“There is more magic and more possibility and more redemption in this world than our little brains can even handle, if we would just start living as though we expect it, as though it matters to us, instead of living like the mall is the holy of holies and the remote control the Ark of the Covenant.

I want more than I ever have, feel more acutely about what my life might be for. I want and will scrap around for a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. I believe more than I ever have that change is possible, that a Holy God can bring grace and bravery to even the smallest and deceitfullest, most selfish people, that our lives are more than junk mail and sale racks and warmed over fajitas at Chili’s. We each follow along in the thousand century-long parade of human beings, and this is our tiny little window. Hundreds of millions who have gone before us have walked these continents, these streets, asked these questions, sang these love songs.

And now is our time, our one shot to build an altar to the God who keeps this world spinning, drags up the sun and lets it fall each day. And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, or to my twenty-fifth birthday and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and make babies and wear high heels and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now and tell my friends I love them in as many languages as I know how. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and drink champagne and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down and I want my everyday to make God belly-laugh, glad that He gave life to someone who knows the difference between life and half-life.

Because I have lived the half-life, afraid and sullen, tears at the back of my throat and anger in my mouth like a shot of vodka. I have lied to everyone I know, telling them that I am fine, that I understand my life, that I have a clear sense that God loves me, and then have gone home and eaten a whole cake with my fingers, trembling and choking on tears and icing, have gone to bed numb and hoping to die in my sleep rather than lie to everyone and reckon with myself for one more day. I was more lonely then than I ever want to be again. And then in the space of a few months, or more accurately, a few moments stretched out over several months, God reached into the dark and dishonest life I had pulled around myself like a blanket and turned on the light. And for a few minutes, that felt like getting my skin pulled off. Because I had to look myself in the face and realize, in no uncertain terms, that there was a selfishness and a fear that ran through my life like a virus, poisoning me, and God came to heal me. And He did and He does, and the thing I will do, because of Him and because of what He does in me is I will live hard and bright and crazy. I will live with bravery and color and hope because He gave me hope, and I want to press through my life with passion and energy…

…Wake up your mind and your heart, and hammer out a life that gleams like one perfect snowflake. God did not form me out of dust so that I could fit into Banana Republic pants. He didn’t send His son to die so that we could live small easy lives of convenience and apathy. He didn’t raise the dead so that we could sit around and wait to die. The drama and rhythm of this world is lost on us, because our minds are packed like piñatas, spinning and gaudy, filled with noise and junk food, and we like it that way. But my greatest prayer is this: that each one of us will experience silence so deep and shattering that we can’t even breathe, so that our lives will slice open, crack wide open, laid wide to the face of God, piñata candy laying on the ground, forgotten. And in that divide, that open wound, the nature and essence of God will pour in like anointing oil.

And all at once, all the shabby, tired, used-up bodies and minds start to wriggle and pop, like they’ve been dropped into a deep-fryer, sizzling and dancing, transformed into motion. And something that has been deadened and distracted by the candy and noise of this world comes to life anew, wakes up and wiggles like a fritter in a frying pan, anointed and taught to dance. Because we were made for motion, for arching up toward God with all the energy and passion of a thunderstorm, lightning slicing through a sleepy world to remind us that we serve a fast dancing God, a God who set this world whirling and crashing through space so that we could live out loud and drum out the pulse of a billion veins carrying life blood to a billion hearts, temples to a God that got His Holy hands dirty making us from dust. Let us get dirty, in His name. Let us sizzle and pop in His name. Let us dance and shimmer and scrawl out our stories across the sky, like He taught us to. Because, once again, there is more magic and more possibility and more redemption in this world than our little brains can even handle, if we would just start living as though we expect it, as though it matters to us, instead of living like the mall is the holy of holies and the remote control the Ark of the Covenant.” -Shauna Niequist

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p.s. photo found here.

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