The year 2010 was old and grey, and it was the first semester of my senior year (around the same time I discovered chai lattes). I was curled up with a thick, dark blue paperback belonging to my Advanced Placement English Language and Composition class. For the first time, I had met my match when it came to academics. Yet this book was something grander than just “schoolwork”. The collection of spiritual writings by Sören Kierkegaard was feeding my soul. So much so, that I scribbled notes down on college-ruled paper that year, that somehow ended up in my plastic pink writing folder that came to New Zealand, to be opened up more than three years later, to speak to a teacher in dire need of wisdom.
Only a person of will can become a Christian; for only a person of will has a will that can be broken. But a person of will whose will is broken by God is a Christian. The stronger the natural will, the deeper the break can be and the better the Christian.
Christianity is not so much related to transforming the intellect– but to transforming the will. [Provocations, p. 216]
At that point in my relationship with God, I was highly preoccupied with “knowing God’s will”. I mean, it was less a distraction and more a precious familial heritage and a YWAM cultural value. I use the word “preoccupied” because then I often used seeking God’s will in a situation to steer away from making a decision of what I really wanted. I subconsciously thought, oh it’s unholy if I don’t want to do God’s will so I best just ask Him every moment of the day what He wants me to do so I don’t have to think about it. Whether it was in front of my closet, choosing which classes to take, or even which boy I wanted to go with to a dance, I ignored what I wanted, because I knew God knew best.
And He does know best! Through laying down those decisions at His feet, the Holy Spirit proved His constant worth and His interest and faithfulness in the smallest things. That’s why I think He didn’t intervene– I had to learn. I had a misapplication of “I can do nothing on my own…” that needed to be sorted out. I didn’t make decisions about I wanted, falsely believing that if I ignored my needs, the decision to follow His will would be easier.
We do that, don’t we? Try to pretend we don’t care or don’t have needs in an attempt to make it easier for another person to serve us. Women are notorious at this at restaurants. “Oh, I’ll have whatever you’re having,” is quite often a doubt, or a test, of the man’s self-sacrifice. Will he ask me what I really want? Does he care about my tastes? Does he love me enough to provide for my needs, even if they’re unspoken? What she doesn’t understand about a man in general is that he needs to, or simply likes to, be told clearly what she wants. Do you want a caramel and ice cream crepe? Have it. Because it’s in her communication that he has the triumph of being proved as the provider, the generous lover, the one who will satisfy her soul.
Now you can guess I’m not just talking about human relationships (told you last post that I wouldn’t talk about them then, guess it was the Holy Spirit giving you a good inkling that it was coming up soon!). God likes communication of our needs, too. For some personality types, this is remarkably easy. Sibling order, life experience, culture and financial situation– it all affects our ability to say what we want. Some of you will need to learn how to ask others what they want. Still others will need be the cooks, managers, waiters and waitresses that help bring what they want about. But that’s the beauty of God– we’re an interlocking community, pieces of the puzzling journey of love. For those of you like me, He rips all those excuses (there’s not enough money, my family did this… etc.) holding us to the wall of indecision and asks us, “What do YOU want? What does your will desire? I have made your heart, and it is not bad. You have been made new. What do you want?”
I did not want to be a teacher.
That Kierkegaard quote always disturbed me a little because I did not see myself as one with a strong will. Yet today I remembered the thing that, as a child, I hated the most, the idea I most dreaded and resisted, even though the only person that ever forced it upon me did nothing like “forcing”. It was a prophet’s suggestion. Looking after kids’ learning is as worse as tending to sheep. This is ridiculous. But for those of you who know highly prophetic people, you know it’s a good idea to follow their “suggestions”.
I was eleven years old when I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to be a teacher (it was my decision), but it always slightly disturbed me that I wasn’t all “passionate” about it, as compared to writing and authoring. Even in the past few weeks, I would get worried because I wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to teach more when it was offered. This is my calling, my occupation, my choice! Shouldn’t I be a little more enthusiastic?!
Then I remembered: “The stronger the natural will, the deeper the break can be and the better the Christian.”
So, might I add, the stronger my natural will is not to teach… the deeper the break can be, and the better the teacher. Crazy, right?
Go back to the restaurant scene for a moment. Ladies, a man (with strength of character) would much rather you say, “I’d like this, but if it’s not such a good idea, I’d like you to choose for me”. Gentleman reading this, I’m a young lady going off intuition rather than direct experience. Is this right? Wouldn’t you like us trusting your leadership, giving you the opportunity to lead us? That is unconditional respect, and that is what you are longing for– and we cannot give it without receiving unconditional love from our Father first.
“Relationship to Christ is the decisive thing,” Kierkegaard continued. And when I open my eyes a little, when I start telling our stories, I realize it is because of His leadership, and my decision to follow Him, that I am here today. The warring in my own soul– the resistance of my human will– on the forefront of education makes my following all the more ridiculous, all the more triumphant. It will not be easier, but it will be worth it.
So it will be with you. In communicating what you want, and submitting it to Him, and trusting Him to lead you, you will be displaying more love to Him than you could ever realize. “Now,” He says, “Let me love you.“
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” -Deuteronomy 31:6
[Photo credits: Larisa Wagner and myself, April 2013]