“Thus, when you wake up in the morning, called by God to be a self again, if you want to know who you are, watch your feet. Because where your feet take you, that is who you are.” – Frederick Buechner, Alphabet of Grace
This isn’t a fun post to write, which is a bit surprising, since I love Frederick Buechner and have always deeply relished the wisdom in these words.
Recently I’ve been reading a lot about the cost of discipleship – Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a great read if you ever want to feel challenged (and when you start thinking that Facebook arguments qualify as religious persecution). Jesus asked his disciples to leave everything behind to follow him. Everything – jobs, family, possessions. When they gave him their resounding “yes” their lives changed dramatically. Their feet made them followers of Jesus.
Last night at the Bible study my friend Lauren I host for the high school girls at our church, we talked about the dramatic changes that happened after that fateful night on the road to Damascus. Saul of Tarsus wasn’t just a curmudgeonly tax collector (as a kid, I think I imagined him much like Disney’s cartoon version of the Sherriff of Nottingham); he was a zealot who not only “breathed threats of murder;” he hunted, captured, and imprisoned Christians who ultimately would be tried and stoned to death. He, being an avid student of the Jewish law, was a passionate man on a mission to stop the spread of Christianity.
And then he met Jesus on the road to Damascus; he was blinded, he was captured by grace. In response, he said “yes” – to whatever God was calling him to.
Where did his feet take him? They led him to the synagogues where he preached the words of Jesus to the Jewish people. They took him throughout the Roman Empire to spread the gospel to the Gentiles. They took him to prison, to miraculous conversions, to places where he could write epistles of instruction, exhortation, encouragement. Paul’s simple “yes,” his act of putting one foot in front of the other to follow God’s call on his life, meant his life was completely turned 180 degrees. Yes, he was still the passionate, zealous man he’d always been. Yet he had a new found purpose. He was a living testimony to the power and the grace of the resurrected Christ.
Right, so it actually seems a little disingenuous to now turn the spotlight on myself, but for the sake of truth telling, it seems I must go there briefly. So where are my feet taking me during this season of life?
Here’s the honest truth: if my identity is formed by where my feet take me (what I actually DO as opposed to what I say I want to do or believe in), here is who I am:
- Late sleeper
- Couch dweller
- Bath soaker
- Facebook addict
- Netflix junkie
- Laptop slave
What the what. I am such a lazybones. Especially since I am sitting in a house that still needs to be unpacked (we’ve been here for 4 months and our books are still in boxes).
But … I’m feeling a little nudge to also add the following:
- Reader of great books
- Runner of 5ks
- Baker of treats
- Lover of husband
- Leader of Bible study
- Pursuer of friendship
- Student of the Word
One thought that comes to mind is that I tend to be pretty quick to judge myself (and hey – you know what? In the matter of Facebook trolling and Netflix bingeing, it’s probably good to judge myself a little). Another thought is a reminder that I am a woman in transition. We recently packed up all of our belongings and moved clear across the country, now faced with the task of decorating an adult-sized HOUSE as new HOMEOWNERS. After four grueling years of medical school, my husband is now a MEDICAL INTERN. In the ARMY. First world problems? Sure. Still stressful? Definitely.
Even good change is change. And change leads to stress. And a big part of stress management is self care. And you know what I do to manage stress? I sleep. I watch movies. I bake treats. I take baths. On good days, I go for runs. So there you have it – in this season of life, I’m doing exactly what I set out to do when I decided to quit my job and take a sabbatical.
But aren’t we called to more than this? Even if I make a daily habit of writing on this blog and my writing improves (oh please Lord, let it improve! I feel so rusty), what else am I doing with my life? Am I actually living out the life of faith I claim I have?
Here’s what I do know: I wasn’t called to be a missionary overseas (well, at least not yet). I wasn’t called to teach English literature in an inner-city school or teach English as a second language in Japan (had those doors slammed in my face). So far, it seems, I’ve been called to be a writer and a student and a friend – maybe even a counselor. I’ve been called to love a man who owes many years to the Army. I’ve been called to love the Lord with all my heart, mind, and soul, and to love others as I love myself.
Yes, Paul is a tough act to follow. Yes, I need a swift kick in the pants sometimes, especially when I am feeling lazy and unmotivated. Yes, there are still so many things in my life – relationships, possessions, old ways of thinking – that I still cling to, sometimes desperately, that hinder me in my walk with the one whom I call Lord.
I’m going to sit with that tension for the rest of my life, I am certain of it.
And yet. I am comforted by the knowledge that he who began a good work in me will carry it out to completion (Phil 1:6). It won’t be in my timing, and in won’t be due to my effort. But it will be totally, undeniably due to his incomprehensible grace.
In the meantime, I’m just going to keep on walking.