This is the picture I got from my little sister Jennifer two days ago. She’s on a trip for work in Portland, Oregon, snapping photos and writing her blog for the women’s line of Carhartt, craftedincarhartt.tumblr.com. You would love it. Check it out.
But back to my life lesson.
Jenny has always been artsy. I wish I could post a picture of the caricature she drew of Jim Carry at art camp in like 1997 (age 10). It’s awesome. He’s stuffing his face with junk food, and the caption reads, “Somebody stop me!”
Art camp gold.
As the years have gone by, her talent has only grown. In college, though, she started doing strange things to pictures, like superimposing one on another. I didn’t get it. To this classical art lover, it looked like a bunch of crazy.
Not that I don’t like my share of crazy.
When I married my husband, I knew I got a great catch. But I didn’t know that he liked crazy art. He seemed to think everything my sister made was awesome. (I thought it was neat but I didn’t understand it.) They would talk about art they liked and I listened. Sort of.
Maybe it was because I felt left out that I started really listening to their conversations. Maybe I started to look at not just Jennifer’s art differently but also the (strange) creations of others. And maybe I started to get it. Probably not, though.
Okay, I may not have started to ‘get’ it, the superimposed photography and the like, but I did start to like it. I liked the way the colors blended and were juxtaposed. I started to wonder about why she chose these two shots to go together. And slowly, I started to learn from it.
My sister and I have so many differences but we both love to create. Sometimes it has been a challenge to get along because she always calls me out on any insincerity in my life. And I am really thankful for that. She has taught me so much about loyalty, honesty, forgiveness, and sisterhood.
But I finally realized something about our relationship when I was thinking about the picture (above) that she sent me. Two images superimposed–it’s a microcosm of life. Blurred edges and strange complements flirt with mystery. I enjoy searching out her heart in the art a lot like I enjoy searching out the nature and character of God. It’s a messy world but it is so beautiful, even when (especially when) it doesn’t fit into my mold of ‘what should be.’ God doesn’t do things in boxes most of the time.
Love you, sister.
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings to seek it out. Proverbs 25:2
Warning: Men, this is not for the faint of heart. Women, it should be okay with you, unless perhaps you’re on your period and are feeling self-centered and feisty. And now I’ll explain.
God loves rhythms. (So does my daughter Lily. You should see her shake her maracas.) I mean, look at days. The same thig happens every evening with the sunset and then there’s night and sunrise and morning. Pattern. Repetition. Rhythm.
Seasons have rhythm: summer, fall, winter, spring, and repeat.
Oceans have rhythm: low tide, swell, high tide, repeat.
The Gershwin brothers have rhythm (okay, they ‘got’ it…): rhythm, music, my man, repeat.
Our bodies have rhythm. Females bodies in particular. So much so that we call our monthly ‘affliction’ a period.
I grew up in a house of estrogen: me, my sister, and my mom. My poor dad used to joke that he was scared one week a month of saying anything. Girls, you know this–when you live with other girls, your cycles like to cycle together–it’s like the girliest thing you can do, right? Forget merely going to the bathroom together at restaurants…Cycle together.
The other day, my husband asked me as I drove him to work (and we might also have been talking through some issues caused by my monthly moody party), “Why do women’s bodies do that–cycle together?” The only answer I could come up with was this: “The kindness of God.” And we both laughed at the thought of God sparing men’s lives during the periodic havoc that hormones can wreak on domestic life…”This too shall pass.” :o)
But the more I thought about it, the bigger my idea of the kindness of God got. Come on the journey with me.
What if women falling into sync has more redemption than curse to it? We were made to live in community, right? So the periodic harmony of our bodies is inevitable. Could it also be desired? Desired for more than just a monthly prediction of crabbiness and lack of grace and composure, a time for our husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons (and preadolescent daughters and post-menapausal mothers, actually) to cling to the promise “This too shall pass”?
What if God designed us this way, vulnerably and sensitively, to reflect deep truth? That for one week, women could join together in our weakness and fight the temptation to walk (crab) in our flesh. We could grab the hem of His robe together and hang on for His life to flow through us. That one week out of the month in every community, Satan would fear for his very soul as we unite as sisters covered by the blood and walking in a deeper place of revelation. That we could rejoice in the natural rhythm of our bodies that is a testament that God made us to bear fruit and multiply, in the flesh and the spirit.
So I’m holding on to his revelation today. I may or may not be fighting the temptation to crab as I write. I’ll let you take it from here.
Guilty as charged. I have so often recommended a book to someone because I think they need what the book has to offer. I’ll bet you’ve done it too. But I don’t just stop at books; I offer sermon audio files and songs and blogs… And let me say that when a lot of your friends (plus your hubby) work a lot or are in graduate school where their time is mostly spoken for, the last thing they want to do is sit for an hour and listen to a speaker talk about what you think they need to know.
Guilty as charged.
Now, I’m not saying that my friends haven’t benefitted from the ‘wisdom’ I’ve offered. But I think what I need to learn better is that my friends (and husband) don’t need another book telling them how to live or how they could be making the most of their relationships; rather, they need me to be their friend (or, in one special case, his wife). I’m not a book or an hour-long sermon. What my friends and husband need is for me to be Amanda, the Amanda who loves to read books and listen to sermons, the Amanda who distills what God is teaching me through all these things and shares bits and pieces in conversation, not in speeches or sermons. This is what it means to make truth incarnational. To look to Jesus to get my needs met and then to share with others how He has done that, how He has taught me to live more fully, in my own words. Not hit-and-run discipleship, which assumes that people will care about what that pastor you listened to had to say five years ago verbatim and with the poor-quality recording… No, I’m the one they care about and therefore put up with long enough to listen to. It’s a journey together, not a classroom makeover.
Am I saying that I will never offer a book, sermon, or song to you? Sorry, friends, but probably not. Thanks for your patience with me. What it does mean is that when I hear or read something that reminds me of you or encourages me to pray for you and be thankful for you, I’m not gonna throw a book at you. Sorry to those of you who have been victims of my attempts at peer H-a-R discipleship. :) I’m learning. It means that I am committing to praying through what I’ve read or heard and seeing where I need to grow and learn and then perhaps have a chance to share it with you. I’d love to sit and tell you all about it (partly because I am an external processor). But mostly I’m gonna pray for you.