this is where I learn something

A day is not a long time. 24 hours, minutes ticked by in neat regular fashion, so many of them already dressed in the colors of what we must do – emails that need writing, conferences that need planning, phone calls and food and sleep and sweating to Zumba routines in your brother’s bedroom so you don’t break the 200 year old floorboards of your upstairs hideaway. Not every minute is extraordinary. But sometimes a stretch of unextraordinary ones, sleek and swift, upend you.

I am driving back to Berlin to fly home. I start thinking about my blog. The rows of trees along the autobahn are neater than the ones at home; the fields are bright yellow with an unidentified crop. The cars blur past our windows, a sky still swollen with rain that hasn’t started falling. I’ve been in another country; it feels like going home is to travel somewhere unfamiliar again.

I’m thinking some unpretty thoughts about my blog along the German highway. I’m defensive against this nagging worry about me and writing, and something someone who really matters said to me before I left, “Are you their Holy Spirit?” And he was right – that’s the question to stop me short.

But the defensive thoughts have lingered across the ocean and some days of separation from the online world, my lungs full of self-righteous air, so justified in what I think I do when I write about perfectionism and being “enough” and grace.

And in the way of it, as it always is when you travel, you catch the eye of the land spread out before you and something looks back at you. Maybe it is just the gentleness of the horses in their pasture, but the one who makes eye contact with me has a fierceness about her that makes me momentarily afraid. She isyoung, stamping her foot impatiently at the green earth, and she tosses her mane just as we flyby. We stare at each other a while after.

God tells me often that I ought not to imagine myself so wise and knowing. But I’m 22, and I assume that I can learn it on my own and teach it twice before my time.  I place my words around me like fenceposts and bricks, laying my comfort and security in them, but the true things I say, o dear foolish heart of mine?

God gives them because I need saving.

Maybe the mare who looked at me could see that I confuse the two, the why I write and the who I want to be and the real way of grace.

Maybe she shook her mane at me because of that.

Or maybe God has been speaking to me about this for weeks and it was only her look that stopped me in my brick piling fence laying defensiveness. God has been speaking.

I don’t have wisdom about being a perfectionist. I write about it, here and here and all over my heart, but I don’t have it. What I bring is just this: that God sometimes lets us write out what we do not really know in order for us to learn it. What I bring is me, bricks and fence posts abandoned as I walk curious toward the truth that God saves me, and the most surprising thing is that is forever a one-way street. We set tables, that person with the right questions tells me.

And we bring our words not as bricks but as bread, here for the breaking open and sharing, here because we are all hungry.

Back on the road in Berlin, I am now thinking about the mare in the field. About the sleek and swift moments that upend us. About how traveling, however long and far, brings us home again.

Love,
hilary

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6 thoughts on “this is where I learn something

  1. A dear friend and I were just talking about a similar sort of quandry, our lack of perfection and our perfection in Christ. We were reading Philippians 3.12 where it talks about being made perfect, we already are, and yet we have so much to learn. It is so true that sometimes we have to think we know something, to see how much we really don’t know.
    I agree with Annie. Thank you for sharing your journey of growing and learning.

  2. “Catch the eye of the land… and something looks back at you.” YES. And it knocks you off-balance just a little bit, and your world has one more dimension all of a sudden. It makes me wonder: is the land always looking at us, waiting for someone to look back, and see both the land, and their own self through its eyes?
    It’s true that we ought not to imagine ourselves all wise and knowing – we do need to learn to see ourselves as we are. But we also need to dream, so see ourselves as better than we are now, what we can be, will be, who we are in the eyes of Christ. (And He gives us those words we don’t yet really know in conversation, too.)
    Welcome home.

    1. Thank you, friend. And yes, I think you’re right – the land is waiting for us. It knows us uniquely; maybe we just have to listen closer. It’s good to be home. It’s good to have you here.

  3. It’s a hard thing to be young and wise and also still growing and learning. I think you’re walking that line with a lot of grace, Hilary. Grateful for the insights you share along the way.

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