One of my favorite books, Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool's Guide to Surviving with Grace by Gordon MacKenzie, concludes with a chapter about birth, God, and a canvas.
Pre-worldly appearance, God hands you a rolled up canvas with a simple command to paint something. You emerge, canvas in hand. The doctors look perplexed at this baby add-on, and opt to take the canvas until you are old enough to handle it.
While you develop and mature to their standards, they can't help but put some guidelines on the canvas; Once it is returned to you for painting...there's expectation written all over it...
There is a script you were handed from birth, through childhood. Maybe it included faith, or family, or play, or education, or fear, or joy, or, or, or...any combination of things. The words of this script were recited to you nearly daily. Maybe by the age of 5 you could recite it back, to the praise of your script teachers.
At some point, you may have introduced other lines, phrases, or ripped up the script for a new one. You've rewritten and edited. You've rehearsed. Maybe you've spent time deliberately questioning, debating, and defending each belief. Maybe you accepted them all as true and then faced deep disillusionment when met with other contradictory truths.
You can always tell when a presenter is reading a script. The monotone, often awkward and unnatural pauses, the thinking while reading...
...and you can always tell when a presenter is NOT reading from a script. The flow. The feeling of confidence in their subject matter. The authentic passion for the material. The commitment to memorize and internalize key facts.
In childhood, I was handed a script that I gradually overhauled. I edited and rewrote, sometimes to the point of exhaustion. I ran the script by trusted others. I scrutinized my own belief, defended it, questioned it, played it out in my head over and over.
As a Christian...as someone who cares about social justice...as a woman...as an American...as an artist...as me, Mia, human...
I want to live.
It's easy enough for me to read off the standardized "rightly" worded and carefully crafted script I may have written a long time ago. But I hope to be a person so rehearsed and lived-into these truths, that I no longer need the page-by-page doctrine of how-to-be, in order to be me.
Some quotes from wise people in my life, "I often find that the moment I declare myself to be something, I am immediately never going to live up to that thing I said I was." & "I don't need to be what I think is perfect."
Today I saw a post I wrote in 2011 that said something to the effect of, "I wish I could be perfect, so I wouldn't be in anyone else's way all the time." And wow. What a misunderstanding.
Imperfections. Failures. The need for grace. These things make me more Christian than any kind of holiness or sanctification I could strive to achieve. It's not my striving. It's my need. It's His love, meeting me.
There is something in this that feels unsafe, no?
Yes. "He is not safe, but He is good."
My dad shared how an organization, when faced with the question of, "how do you handle issues of inequity when they arise?" would legally be unable to answer honestly - that they could only read off a company statement, for fear of legal repercussions (for larger organizations, at least).
I've thought about that a lot. Fear of law. Fear of tripping up about these hard conversations. No room for learning or forgiveness. No room for grace. You must stick to the acceptable script that ensures your full cleanliness in the eyes of the law...
...meanwhile treating the question & concern with no human empathy or personal connection. A sterile application of objective truth.
Truth without love.
I want to step into the fray with fiery eyes and too much to say
I want to love with truth burning deep in my guts
ringing so endlessly through the caverns of my soul
that I need no script, no rehearsal, to be ready to be
I am me
fleeting and forever knowing
my time is so short
so I want to be free
to be free
to be childlike
where the breezes blow kindly
and to be
a warrior where the innocent blood
His life manifest in me
is not some makeshift doing
of my own handcrafting
as if holiness could be boxed
into my own understanding
as if sanctification were an imitation
and not an impartation
I AM DROPPING MY SCRIPT
off behind the schools of thought
indoctrinated, taught, told truths
that were held as self-evident
and yet never did truly exist
while my Father calls
I'll sing softly backwards
raging at the unseen enemy
refusing to make monopoly
on my myopic sightseeing
daring to scrape the bottom dregs
of even my own belief
to emerge remade
(oh, and we must pray,
to rest, to stay
to abide, to play
to allow ourselves
the adoption for which
and not always to be
grappling for our dignity
negotiating our way
along narrow paths
but with the ease
of the tightrope
gliding like angels