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Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Merriam Webster defines an existentialist as someone who embraces diverse doctrines but centers on the analysis of of individual existence in an unfathomable universe and the plight of the individual who must assume ultimate responsibility for acts of free will without any certain knowledge of what is right or wrong.

That's a mouthful, but without dissecting the idea too much - I'm pretty sure I was an existentialist in the years before I met Jesus. My mind was obsessed and filled with petty things, even then I was such a worrier... I worried a lot about my looks, my friends, my popularity. I worried about my grades and getting in trouble, I worried about my top teeth being crooked. I obsessed over celebrities and replayed conversations, examining the light I left myself in when interacting with others. But somewhere, beneath the selfish ambitions and thoughts - I worried about deeper things.

I just knew there had to be more. I heard some of the Bible in church and knew a good deal about Christianity and religion, but something in me ached for truth. Cleansing, piercing, freeing truth. I have a super redolent memory of being in my early teen years, sitting in the back of my mom's car - alone. My mom and sister had run into a store on an errand and while on the outside I'm sure I was exuding my normal self-obsessed junk, on the inside - I was grappling with my existentialism. I was so messed up, had such horrible innate failings inside me... and I just wondered in what way I'd pay the piper. Whoever he was. I still remember what I was wearing, sitting in the back of the car, looking out the window - just begging. Would someone fix me? Would someone make this all worth something? It sounds dramatic, I'm sure - because how bad can life be when you're in your early teen years living in the suburbs?
Not that bad. But I just wanted there to be a purpose.

The day Jesus transformed my life was totally different. I wasn't begging, wasn't searching for any answers, wasn't calculating my response. I was in a church, facing a crowd of believers (including my mother and sister) and I saw something on their faces that I could all of a sudden name. Hope. Hope. Hope.

And that's what happened. In an instance and then, slowly over time, I got to know the heart of my Savior and the love of my Lord. The best thing He had to offer me was hope. I was a mess, but there was hope that He'd change me. I had no direction, and He'd give one. And sweetly, all the answers I'd looked for all pointed back to Him. What did I do with my life? Live for Him. What if I messed up? He forgave me. What about when I get discouraged? He lifts my eyes. What does He lift them to? The glory of His own resurrected face.

Who knows why I can't get these thoughts out of my head lately, but I'm so thankful they're there. Most days recently, I find myself saying, "I'm so glad I'm not an existentialist anymore!". You know, in between, making pb&j's and changing the 3rd poopy diaper in four hours. And on those days, I can't help but think about everyone else. About you, about the lady sitting next to me in Starbucks, about the people of Boston who keep my husband awake at night. What do you think about hope and are you worried about right and wrong and excuse me, lady at Starbucks, do you mind if I interrupt your reading so we could talk about this. Are you an existentialist or a communist or a Buddhist or anything and are you tired? Can I tell you about hope? Could we talk about literally the only hope of the world, Jesus Christ?

Because that hope is life changing.
Through Him we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:2-5

Those aren't words to shrug off. I want to build them like blocks around my bed and use them to climb out in the morning. Because whether you're changing diapers all day or fighting fires or serving coffee, it's hard to get out of bed in the morning if you're not really headed anywhere. But suffering and endurance and character-building, those things I will sign up for, as whole-heartedly as I'm humanly capable of, because hope does not put us to shame.

*** no innocent ladies reading at Starbucks were harmed during the writing of this blog ***


Billy & Megan said...

thank you for reminding me of who i was before, of who i am now, of the hope i have. sometimes i forget. be blessed today!

Ashley said...

I love that we have this kind of Hope in Him and how eloquently you write about it. Your writing always encourages this wife and mama of a toddler and a newborn. Thank you!