For the last few weeks, I’ve been reading. When Netflix is gone and local friends are few and weekday commitments are nil AND you’ve run out of data to peruse Facebook and Instagram, you read, and you read a lot. (By the way, life without Netflix is actually quite great. Rarely we’ve wished its return but enjoy the evening push to be creative, to be relational, to sleep even, instead of fulfilling our unnecessary and culture-fueled desire to dull our brains with blue-lighted-addicting entertainment. But that’s a side note.) I recently finished a reread of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Anything by Jennie Allen, and have started reading both One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and Holy Cows & Hog Heaven: The Food Buyer’s Guide to Farm Friendly Food by Joel Salatin. Each author challenges me in many ways, their words and thoughts merging with the heard musings of random radio preachers left on in someone’s car or the online blurbs of average joe or jane sharing their struggles in farming or choosing Jesus. Both Harper Lee and Ann Voskamp are reminding me of the beauty of the written language in our society of acronyms and abbreviations. Have we lost it, our ability to communicate with flourish and insight? Or did we choose to walk away?
Anyway, on a quick trip to Meijer for parmesan, Raena’s favorite food besides potatoes, butter, or anything with sugar, I lazily left the radio on the Moody station. (After years of spewing distaste for anything Moody related, I think God is getting back at me by having someone else leave the radio tuned to said station in my van. The nerve. And of course, each time I surrender to its fuzz-accented sounds, I am challenged and encouraged.) “Anything that dulls the pain meant to push you to God is an idol.” Immediately my mind goes to alcohol at the end of a long day, or the friends I know who’ve chosen stronger substances to help them ignore past wounds or future anxieties, or coworkers who keep typing, emailing, calling-to-meetings to keep from going back to the loneliness of home. Or like Boo, we run into our lonely home and lock the doors, because the pain of the world, the hateful words of people, are just too much. This voice said anything that dulls the pain meant to push us to God. Let’s look beyond substances and physical fleeing. What about the little things I choose daily that push me away from being pushed to God? What’s my anything?
Of course, I was reading a book called Anything at the time as well. Jennie Allen is referring to a different kind of anything, a “God I want to do anything for you!” kind of anything. The “I am fully in, God” kind of anything. I read Jennie’s book, and I tempted to say I’m already doing my anything—I just moved didn’t I? I am living with my parents aren’t I? I’m “working” for my Mom again aren’t I? Isn’t that enough? That’s enough. I’m sure it’s enough. I’m doing it. I’m good. Don’t have to worry about it. I’ve surrendered enough. I mean I think I have, right?
No, Mags, it’s not enough. I want all of you. I want you to quit dreaming about what’s next in your journey here and live this transition.
My first anything is keeping me from my second anything. That first anything, of constantly fixing and never resting and continuously dreaming of what’s next, is keeping me from living in the transition that is my second anything, of living on the farm, one day at a time, being in relationship with God instead of talking about Him like He’s not in the room. I have chosen to walk away from insight and flourish even at its simplest in a flawed attempt at being quick to complete the sentences of my life. To check off the box of the second anything without first digging into the first. To try and chase out Boo unfairly. To want a “fixed” food system without changing the way I buy. To pray for a revived or restored people alone and in silence, without inviting the voices of companions to join in the song.
I am often overwhelmed with no matter how different the sources may be, a Virginian farmer or Colorado preacher-mom, similar themes wind their way into my stream of consciousness from books, radio, the webs, and friends and family. I guess when God has something I need to receive, He makes it clear.
So I will keep reading, inviting the voices of thinkers and believers who traversed country and life I have yet to see into the depths of my heart and soul, causing me to laugh and tear at the idea that I thought I had it down this time. As Jesus commands the woman to “Go and sin no more!” I will go, not letting my faults stop me, but in my going, in my second anything that’s daily revealed and practiced, will be aware of my first anything, inviting God’s grace to reveal the idols that should be no more.