Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Joy and The Whining

There was a good devotional from the Oswald Chambers book yesterday, which shocks me as much as it doesn’t make sense to you, and is one more example of why Amy Needs To Stick With The Things She Doesn’t Like To Do Because They Will Invariably Prove To Be Of Value And Show Her Up As Dumb Dumb Dumb And Isn’t That Fun Fun Fun For Everyone Else To Read?

The devotional yesterday said What is the sign of a friend? That he tells you secret sorrows? No, that he tells you secret joys. Many will confide to you their secret sorrows, but the last mark of intimacy is to confide secret joys. Have we ever let God tell us any of His joys, or are we telling God our secrets so continually that we leave no room for Him to talk to us?

First, I was hard pressed to remember if I tell any of my friends secret joys. Then I came to the conclusion that I don’t have any. Secret JOYS, people! I have plenty of friends.

Do I have any secret joys? I’d like to feel like I’m pretty open with my joys, because they’re few and far between. Once a year, I like to go get KFC and drink a 2 liter bottle of Mountain Dew with it. It’s got enough grease and cholesterol to kill a mama hippo, and it’s so goooooooooood. What else. Um. Um. Um. Hang on, there’s gotta be something. I do a choreographed dance to the opening credits of Amazing Race. We’re looking for joy here, not stupidity. Joy, joy, joy. I got the joy joy joy down in my heart. YEAH, down in my heart, WOO, down in my heart. Huh. Man, you wanna send a Functionally Depressed Person into a tailspin, ask her to name her secret joys. Mrs. Field’s Cinnamon Sugar Cookie Sandwiches? Can we really not think of something that doesn’t have to do with food? Cracking open the first beer knowing you’ve got five more in the fridge?

So I’m not sure Oswald’s onto something with the Telling Your Secret Joys Equals An Intimate Friendship thing. But the next part was interesting to think about. Have we ever let God tell us any of His joys, or are we telling God our secrets so continually that we leave no room for Him to talk to us? Hmmmmm.

The thing about trying to Have A Conversation With God is that He doesn’t talk a lot. Much like some doomed relationships I’ve had with men in the past. So you would think I’d be used to it. But silly me, I want my Savior to TALK to me.

And I want more than just the fortune cookie In my time, not yours things I’ve gotten from Him in the past. And really, it’s His fault. Once He says something, you expect Him to KEEP TALKING. It’s not fair for Him to show up, drop one sentence like The answers will come and then run away. That’s like being on a date, having the dude say “I really like your eyes, they remind me of the one time I touched the hand of God on a beach in Maui” and then he clams up for the rest of the night. My eyes? Hand of God? Maui? Wanna elaborate?

That didn’t happen, by the way. My eyes aren’t that interesting. They’re the color of tap water. BFD.

So Oswald The Mostly Unfriendly Devotional But Today He’s Alright says I should let God, Mr. Remote and Distant, tell me His secret joys. And because He doesn’t talk as much as I want Him to, I have to fill in for His voice a lot of the time. It’s really easy to pretend to talk for God: if it’s fun, lazy, or something I want to do, say NO, DON’T DO IT. If it’s something that seems boring, involves talking to people, or something I don’t wanna do, say YES, YOU MUST DO IT. IT WILL MAKE YOU A BETTER PERSON. Kidding. Not. Yes. No. Yes. No. Maybe?

Here are some pictures I took on my way to the gym. I can walk to my gym and I think it’s awesome. (it’s not a secret joy, though, because the gym by definition is not a joy) It’s amazing to me that all of these flowers are things I see when I’m walking to my gym. When you think of Los Angeles, you don’t think it’s a place where flowers like grow naturally. I’ve got a Bird Of Paradise bush in my backyard, and they sell those things for, like $7 a pop in the flower section of the grocery store back home, and it’s growing wild in my backyard.

So if I were God and wanting to tell me all of My secret joys, I’d most likely use nature, because nature and little kids are used all the time in the Bible as examples of God’s love, and how God loves us, provides for us, have the trust of a child, love like a child, throw yourself down Mt. Abandon like a kid, la la laaaaaaa. I’m stunned that back in the day, God didn’t create a kid made of thistles to be the Perfect Example Of His Love.

So I could easily see God saying something like AMY! Check out this FLOWER! Isn’t it nifty cool KEEN!? Check out the color! Have you ever seen that kind of color before!? It’s the deepest blue/purple imaginable! It’d have even more detail if you could figure out how to use the macro function on your digital camera! But trust me! It’s got AWESOME DETAIL! And I put a yellow flower right next to it! BECAUSE I COULD!

Check out THESE ROSES! Aren’t they the BEST!? They’re HUGE! What kind of color is THAT! It aint in your Crayola box! Admire it! I command you right now to check this stuff OUT! Isn’t it beautiful! Isn’t it perfect!? Isn’t it useless!? But it’s a display of my power! Yay me!

OhmiME, check out this CAT! Isn’t this cat the CUTEST!? He’s just sleeping! He’s not waking up! You took the picture and he never opened his little kitty eyes! He’s taking a catnap! Literally! How funny! He’s got paw curlage! He’s got a little flower petal underneath his widdle iddy biddy kitty NOSE! It don’t come much cuter than that! Whoo hoo for cute! WHOO HOO FOR CUTE!

It’s kinda dumb to imagine speaking for God (though it is amusing to think he talks like a redneck, a Muppet, and a sixteen year old cheerleader all at the same time.) But these are the things you have to do to fill the silence. Because I DID stare at the flowers. I DID stare at the cat. I waited, and waited, and waited for something to come up. Nothing did. Cat never woke up. No, he wasn’t dead, I could see him breathing.

There was a guest speaker in 8:45am church last week and he said something that stuck with me. He referenced John 10, verse 27, “My sheep listen to my voice, I know them, and they follow me.” Guest Speaker said, “Notice how Jesus didn’t say, ‘My sheep listen to my voice, and then wonder if it’s really me calling them, and think about it for awhile, and then decide it’s Me and follow.’” Yes, I know it’s a metaphor, and the sheep are actually people, and Jesus calling is the Bible, and therefore everyone who reads the Bible knows Jesus’s voice, and His commandments and blah blah Mcblabbity blah.

But if you’re supposed to have a personal relationship with God, if you’re encouraged to go to Him in prayer and tell Him your needs, you’re also supposed to listen for his answers. Meaning it’s not just about reading the Bible.

What do you think you’re gonna hear, Amy? A big booming thundering voice? The earth shaking? A burning Bird Of Paradise bush?

No, I read my Bible. I go to church. I hear the talk. I know it’s supposed to be a voice in the stillness of my soul. It’s still supposed to be a VOICE. Somewhere. I suspect there are people out there who hear it all the friggin’ time, and I wanna be one of those people. I see his work displayed. I admired the pretty flowers. I looked at the sleeping cat. I know what Abandon means. Where is He?!

This is why I’m convinced that the feminists that say God is a woman are drop dead wrong. God is a man. A man who doesn’t return my calls, because he’s too busy watching the Amy Show on the couch with a bowl of popcorn, and a beer, and giggling about how I’m getting everything wrong wrong wrong. Nice.


Josephine said...

That's really interesting about the secret joys. Now you've got me to thinkin'.

This is a great topic for a post!!

Richard T said...

I don't think Oswald's logic really tracks here, as much as the sentiment he's going for is really lovely.

Say we stopped bitching to God--which is in essence what he means--and instead told him all our secret joys all the time? Is this better--it would still keep God from talking to us. (Anyone out there ever have someone harp on one thing they LOVE for an hour?) Likewise, to follow his line of thinking: if we shut up entirely then God would have a chance to tell us His (for the sake of the whole gender argument) secret joys. So, therefore, we would be a "real friend" to God. Which then brings up this point: does God *need* us to be the friend who lets Him confide in us? Isn't this a bit like a parent, say, telling us what he or she likes in bed? I mean, that's what confidences are: small secrets that we can't fully keep to ourselves, good or bad. "OK--that's just icky!" I hear you (whomever you are) say. But then, really, what would God say His secret joys are? That he really likes it when we notice Nature and don't fuck it up? When we feed our cats? When we live in peace? Some would say He really digs it when we kill all the infidels (whatever someone's definition of that would be in any given century).

But maybe this is the point of a devotional: to remind us of the things that should be obvious when it comes to how we view our place with the Power(s) That Be.

But then, everyone has a different version of what should be obvious, no?

J said...

Like Josephine, I like the idea of a "secret joys" post. But I'm a lot like you...I wonder if I'll be able to come up with anything worth writing about.

Interestingly, I don't personally hear God talk with so many exclamation marks. Maybe he does and my God Cell Phone has poor reception.

And Richard T's observations are excellent.

Truth be told, I don't know what God wants from me, or you, or us.

("us" not being "Amy and J", but more of a collective "us". Unless, of course, God does want something from Amy and J. In which case, we have bigger issues which involve my unwillingness to kareoke or do the electric slide, let alone release my identity openly.)


I'd like to hear God's voice more. Even with a lot of exclamation marks, though that isn't exactly my style. I know that He's the "still, small voice" and all, but does He have to be so still and so small that I can't hear Him?

Larry said...

Hi ....I'm Larry, an old (unscary) Christian. Funny to hear you going on about God's answers when it's obvious that you have heard/are hearing him:)

Sort of like an answer to "How do I know that I've beem saved?" : If you are concerned about are!!

Keep listening. Keep writing. Keep questioning.

Spunkyselkie said...

Hey -Spunkyselkie here.....

I loved the pics of the flowers and the cats. I loved the secret joys thing. Although it was those pics that made me smile most. Mostly because of my picture-from-this-morning --not so great. This morning I witnessed a bird garrotte itself in a chain-link fence AS I WATCHED. It was flying full-tilt and couldn't stop in time and died a few moments later, hanging in one of the fence holes and bleeding from its beak. I adore birds, they just make me happy (well, most birds, anyway). It was horrendous. My signif. other was there - he recently asked God to send birds in a pre-dawn -maybe-there-is-something-out-there-after-all-moment. Very fleece-on-the-ground. And of course, a bird did appear in the predawn darkness, but it wasn't birds plural....and since then there have been strange bird happenings all over the house. Baby birds hanging out in the yard-coming right up to you, pet bird getting egg-bound (yet still alive thus far! amazing!) and now the flying aeronaut of death -right before our eyes.

I told him the big guy is sending some serious messages.

Then we laughed it off and put out another fleece.