This post feels somewhat self-indulgent, because for my own sake I have to talk all around an important issue without hitting it directly. Hopefully many of the concerns that surround private feats are universal so that my unwrapping the box here, even without opening it, will be meaningful if you are in the middle of a confidential crusade, too.
I don’t know if this is a confession or a concession, but it’s in that general vicinity: I’ve lately been making neat and tidy plans to relax into a season of heightened comfort and leisure in life, reclining into greater safety and ease. I’ve been doing so because, remarkably, it actually looked feasible for a change.
I’ve done my planning, and so God has been doing His laughing, as they say.
I don’t believe He’s laughing at me, mocking my attempts at a more carefree happiness. I believe He likes to see me smile even more than I like to do it, and He has compassion for my often painful journey. Nor do I think He’s laughing with me right now, because many a day I’m still just not laughing. I do, however, believe He’s been laughing for me–a surrogate and guiding laugh–when I can’t, to assure me that someday I absolutely will.
I was unable to smile or laugh without debilitating pain for essentially three years (or eight depending how you look at it), and God was calm, cool and grinny the whole time. So this laughing thing isn’t just metaphorical for me; it’s been lived. I’m not in the mood to write that story today. I just mention it to say, He’s never left me behind when He laughs ahead of me; He’s always pulled me toward it.
My Surrogate laughs for me when I’m struggling to do the up front, hard work of delayed gratification, because He knows my rewards are coming. He laughs for me when He sees obedience–me giving my imperfect darndest to lay down my life–because He knows it’s the only way to my happiness. And unlike me, who has to live with the blinders of chronological time on, He sees clearly that any unhappy or super challenging thing isn’t the final word. He laughs for me, because He sees the end right along with the beginning.
Although some days everything in me wants to shrink back, preserve, conserve and protect myself from the battles–the stuff in life that requires that extra push of energy and intestinal oomph–He knows when I refuse to retreat, I’ve already won. He laughs when he sees His kids run full force through fear and opposition, because power and freedom are on the other side. He knows I can’t lose, because I’m His. He’s the decided victor on the last page of the story.
And so my smaller self tries to make my smaller plans, and He laughs me forward to bigger ones. The bigger deals feel too big, like clothes that are going to slide right off in the middle of a speech and humiliate me terribly. But He’s always somehow growing me into them, and the ones He picks out end up fitting best, go figure, after they really (really) don’t for a while.
But at least there’s a happy tune accompanying my awkward efforts to put on my big girl outfits; it’s the aforementioned faint-but-buoyant, joyful-but-calm laugh. It rises up from the gut, that most important hidden, core place that solidifies and softens in just the right ways to help us walk boldly on instead of lagging or limping along endlessly. If we never follow that subtle laugh out of the messes, or sometimes into them, we miss so much.
I hear that laughter-music now, and once again it isn’t mine yet, because truth be told I’m riddled with nerves and desperately in need of the Surrogate’s chuckle. For here I am today, mustering the gumption to take another step that feels too big for my legs and a leap that feels too big for my faith (especially after my mind was bent on all my absolutely brilliant plans for ease and idleness). I’m on a precipice deciding whether to jump, because I do have a choice this time.
I’ve decided to grab myself by the collar and shove myself toward doing the thing(s) I think I cannot do (paraphrased, credits to Eleanor Roosevelt). And there really are so many things I’ve always thought I can’t do. But I’m doing it simply because the gut laughter (Laugher) seems to think I can, as indicated by His relaxed smile that rests amidst my torrent of (other) feelings. I’m clumsily taking semi-calculated risks, throwing a portion of my conventional wisdom and common sense to haphazardly float on the wind…all on a hunch…a low, deep chortle from within. (My hunches are always worst enemies turned best friends after a while. We have a love-hate relationship, my hunches and I.)
If you’re going to have a favorite saying of, “Do it afraid” (Joyce Meyer), and I do, then you better have made a quality decision to back it up with action. So I have long ago decided that fear ain’t gonna boss me round, o’ no. (I’ll tremble and start writing grammatically incorrect English through teary-eyed, blurry vision, but I will dig in my heels, find my ground and thumb my nose at it eventually. Can eventually be much, much later please?) I don’t ever want to walk away from an opportunity to try because I listened to my deafeningly loud, knocking knees over the still, small, delighted giggle that wants me to just lighten up and let go a little. I don’t want to stop participating in the important stuff just because it’s (way) harder than the unimportant stuff.
And the only thing I know about doing it afraid is as follows: If I let the tiny, knowing grin inside take the lead, along with its light and lightness, I always laugh big in the end. Always. It doesn’t normally come quickly, but it’s gratifying and abiding when it does.
This wouldn’t be a blog post of mine without a caveat. I’m not talking about an I’ll-sleep-when-I’m-dead philosophy of pushing the limits endlessly out of worry that time is running out and there’s an urgent legacy to be left. I think that’s just (how do I say this gently?) dumb. Delusions regarding human frailty (e.g., thinking that sleep and rest aren’t required in order to stay vertical) just smack of arrogance to me. I’m under no illusions that I can maniacally run in pursuit of big things I conjure up to do just for the sake of doing big things.
What I am talking about is following the laughter–guidance and peace–of Someone who knows what’s possible and reasonable to try, even when it appears less than reasonable, and learning to recognize that soft voice that encourages when screaming ones would try to discourage. I am talking about not resting on the laurels of past accomplishments or service and picking up the next gauntlet when the Calling comes. Maybe I’m proposing an I’ll-be-comfortable-when-I’m-dead philosophy. When I get Home, my heart will rest; as long as I live here and now, it will always be on the line. I might as well make that line count.
By the way, If I should ever manage to laugh the entire journey through while I trip over my over-sized clothes during my growing (groaning) pains, well, give me a trophy or something. I’ve never pulled it off. That would be a standout day for an often hesitant, over-calculating soul like mine (and thank goodness all the onus isn’t on me).
But I aim for the laugh–and not a whooping, obnoxious guffaw that claims to know it’s getting everything right but a chronic, consistent teehee in the background of life that says, I’m alright, whether I get this next adventure exactly right or exactly wrong. And I’m alright precisely because I know there’s a day that death will loose me. The day I stop being confined by this body and time, along with my limits and floundering flaws, is the day death loses. And on that day, I know I’ll want to celebrate having left it all on the playing field, sacrificing what didn’t matter to what did and wearing myself plum out charging straight for it. That day will heal whatever the charge to battle wounded. So, I’ve decided to chart my chase based on insider information coming at me in the form of a laugh from the One who will make it all right in the end.
With Hope and Heart in Hand,
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