Of all the things I miss (which are few and real, like people), I miss my books the least.
One would think that having hauled around hundreds of books for a decade of my life, I would miss them. But I don't.
Instead I am learning to read.
I have been reading Tony Woodlief's Somewhere More Holy for about six months now. And by read, I mean I have been stealing snatches of it when the house is quiet and my soul is heavy, the former a rarity, the latter an often occurrence.
It's a subtle poison that seeped into her skin, as it does many children. It's acidic, etching into your mind: these good things are no yours to have. If anyone tells you what a fine job you've done, think instead on your failings. When someone gets angry at you, instinctively assume he is right to do so. If someone offers you love, remember that he doesn't really know you. Maybe that's what keeps so many of us running from God--His awful claim to know us, as he peers out from beneath his blood-stained brow, whisper with thirst-swollen tongue that he loves us even now, even as He hangs on his man-fashioned cross. We run away shaking our heads and bitterly chuckling, thinking nobody in his right mind can look into the black hearts we secretly carry in our chests and still love us that way, that we can be lovable only so long as nobody really knows us.
I have to close the book. I have to lay it on the table in front of me.
Because my deepest fears are staring me in the face, in black and white, size 12, Times New Roman.
It is a subtle poison that has seeped into my skin. I call it the fear of being known, but really, the deeper fear is the fear of being unknown, unloved and unlovable.
For years of my life I have heard people talk about the love of God and the love they have for God and I have assumed that this love would not be mine to give or receive. Some of us are just not built that way, I would tell myself. Some of us just have different portions from God, I'd console myself.
But the truth is that it was still my greatest fear: that I would go through life soaked in this acidic poison, the poison of disregard. Unloved. Unlovable. Unable to love.
In the past year, in the unraveling of my faith and the new realization of what the gospel really means, I have felt this love birth in me and be toward me. And yet it still feels foreign. My first response is still to cower, to make excuses, to assume that anger or injustice toward me is right and good, to dwell on my failings. I am having to retrain my head in view of the gospel to respond with the gospel.
And it is hard.
It is hard because deep down within me I know that there is nothing good in me and even the most sincere kindness toward me is undeserved. It is difficult to know that I am nothing and He is everything, but because of my nothingness, He wants to give me everything. He isn't worried about me making a mockery of His gospel and this is what I most fear. Does my pitiful representation of Him mock the gloriousness of Who He Is?
Is my unloveliness disqualifying me from entering into His loveliness?
Is my unworthiness exempting me from partaking in His wholeness?
is my faithlessness removing me from resting in His goodness?
He is answering slowly, patiently, sometimes taking six months, sometimes longer, but answering no. No. Nothing disqualifies me from His love. Nothing.