twentybydesign

the life and times of a twenty year old designer

(Sling)shots, Maturity, and Freedom

with 3 comments

Well, by some suggestions, it’s time to rename this blog. One week ago I turned twenty-one, and was granted some legal benefits on the presumption that with age I had acquired some sort of maturity. I count myself among the few who went twenty-one years without consuming an alcoholic beverage, so it really wasn’t the bar-hopping I was excited for, though I’ve since enjoyed the freedom of a couple mild-mannered nights out with friends. It’s interesting that we equate freedom with the ability to abandon responsibility and self-control. This week was about embracing a different and far greater sort of freedom. Freedom to be bold, to be genuine, to reach out with confidence from a firm foundation, and to leave worry and insecurity far behind.

In our culture, we reserve the responsibility to fight the greatest battles and earn the greatest freedoms for our heroes. The ones who have been born and bred for glory, the ones who are noble in the public eye and live an exemplary life full of easily forgivable sins. But the heroes of our faith were never the prepared ones, the ones who thought they were ready. For that matter, they were not the ones from whom anyone else would have expected greatness. The outcast and exile who was called back to lead his people out of slavery. The youngest son and shepherd who slew the giant and became king. The uneducated fishermen, despised tax collectors, and women with impure pasts who were all among the first to see and spread the news of the coming of the savior. The militant persecutor whose writings to early churches were later codified as scripture. And, not to be forgotten, the son of a carpenter who laid down his life so that we might be set free.

Since writing Wedding Season, I’ve had a flurry of interesting and thoughtful conversations. It’s amazing to see such a simple topic strike a chord in so many people, regardless of faith background. I think the strong response was mainly due to the fact that singleness is rarely addressed in a straightforward manner and with dignity in either religious or secular culture. Regardless of the current, and without waiting for someone more well known or well spoken or well trained to come along, I wrote about it because it needed to be written in a way that only I could write it. I am no hero. I am simply a person who followed a call to reach out with the written word and speak the truth that had brought comfort to my heart.

The Bible tells of how David, eschewing the sword and shield and traditional battle gear, instead picked up the simple slingshot he had been using since boyhood to protect his sheep from lions and bears, and with it struck down the opponent who no other Israelite had dared face. We are often so preoccupied with not having or knowing how to use a sword that we forget the strength of our slingshot. The more time I spend with people, and with God’s family in particular, the more I see that we’ve all been given unique and wonderful gifts that would be of no use to anyone else, and which are absolutely necessary to bring all the fullness of beauty into the world.

The freedom that has come out of this week has been the freedom of learning how to identify and use my slingshot. For so long I’ve been carrying burdens of what I’m not. How I fall short in comparison to other people. How I’ll never be as effective in the areas where I see my friends thriving. How there are certain tools I’ve just never been able to get a handle on and figure out. But pouring so much energy into wishing to be like other people is exactly counter to the idea that there’s been a slingshot in my back pocket all along.

Writing is one of my slingshots. I write better than I speak. Writing allows me to process my feelings and thoughts, and to share them with others in ways I simply can’t in conversation or public speaking. I’ve had some incredible conversations that were sparked off of a blog post, though more often than not when someone mentions the blog in person I’ll sheepishly thank them for reading and not know how to further the conversation. Writing is not a gift everyone possesses. It’s not the most common hobby for folks my age. But God has done some beautiful things through the abilities he has gifted me with and encouraged me to develop since youth.

The other slingshot which finally started to make sense in my life this week is the capacity I’ve always had for deep, honest, respectful, sustained, and loving friendships. There are two women in my life who I cherish deeply and with whom I have had the privilege of sharing life since we were eight years old. There is the friend I hold closer than a sister, who held my hand in my tentative first steps back to God four years ago and who has encouraged me every step of the way ever since. There are those few I’ve had the privilege of walking deeply with in college and who I can see standing beside me if God ever calls me to the altar (I also feel there should be some sort of occasion for single gals to bestow the same honor on their friends that brides bestow upon their bridesmaids. Still brainstorming that…).  And there are those I’m still getting to know but somehow feel as though our souls have been companions for ages.

In all of these relationships, as much as I’ve abused them in the past, elevated them past their natural purpose for good, and burdened hearts with overwhelming expectations, God has been at work. No matter how inadequate, lonely, or unloved I’ve been tempted to feel in the last year, the truth is that He cares so deeply about you and I. He has brought us into each other’s lives and each other’s hearts for a reason. This week I’ve had the freedom to share my heart with some of you, and I pray that if I can ever be an aid or resource that you would not hestitate to ask. This week’s greatest blessings have been the opportunities to help with homework, answer late night phone calls, drop everything and pray on a moment’s notice, offer a listening ear to a troubled heart, and, most of all, to share the faith which holds the center of my heart with a friend whose questions outnumbered my capacity for answers in a dialogue where we both left feeling respected and enriched. The joy in all of these situations has been abundant, and the temptation to respond with a boldly declarative “Amen!” was often too much to resist.

My prayer is for these conversations to continue, for these friendships and this blog to continue to be my slingshot, and for God to open the hearts and minds of my friends to chats about this most important of topics. Two years ago on another blog I put out an open invitation for a chat about God to anyone willing to meet, and recieved some really great responses. I want to throw that out there again, because good conversation is the only way we’ll ever really understand each other. So yes. Let’s talk. Because this love and freedom has my heart on fire, and it’d be selfish to hold out  on the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. I am not a hero. I do not have all the tools or hold all the answers. But I’ve got my slingshot

In the most direct phrasing, this is the love I’m coming to know:

Everlasting. All Consuming. Burning Fire. Glorious One.
Risen Saviour. King Forever. Love Unending. Beautiful One.

This is my God. And until you’ve met Him, these words won’t have much meaning to you. I’ve grown up in church singing hymns and boldly declarative CCM anthems, but until you have a name, a face, an experience to put to those stories, they’re just words coming out of your mouth. Some of the greatest joy in my life right now is coming from being able to see , recognize, have a sense memory of the feelings behind these grand words.

Christianity is not a set of arbitrary rules. It is not a one-step safeguard against eternal damnation. It is not a tool to be used in political arguments or to condemn those who are not like us. It is the acknowledgment that there is a completely powerful, completely good, and therefore completely trustworthy God at work in the world, and that through the grace extended to us in the sacrifice of Jesus we might be brought back into union with this God from whom our nature would separate us. It is the most beautiful instrument of love and restoration the Earth has yet seen. It is a journey towards becoming like the father, extending complete love and forgiveness to those around us, and accepting that a father disciplines those he loves.

If only considered as a religion, it falls short as every human construction inevitably does. When considered as a lifestyle centered around pure, free-flowing grace, it becomes the only foundation worth standing on. All the songs we have heard, stories we have read, and natural beauty we have seen finally clicks into place as our hearts are drawn towards  the author of creation. And, washed free of the fear, shame, and guilt which has been holding us back, we are welcomed to join in the joyous dance of the redeemed. That is a story worth sharing. That is a legacy worth fighting for.

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Written by Taylor Webster

February 5, 2012 at 1:13 am

3 Responses

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  1. This was beautiful. You have grown so much in maturity in your 21 years (though I have only witnessed the past few). Today my pastor talked about Saul’s conversion and how essential it is to experience Jesus’ real presence – also how that real presence sustains us. God has reminded me so powerfully of his love in the past 12 hours or so. Because of community. Here and way over there on the other side of the country. Thank you for being part of that love.

    delmurofronterizo

    February 5, 2012 at 9:18 am

  2. Sick sister. I pray for minds, as well as hearts, and ultimately souls will be opened up through your love sister. Your writing is so thick with the Holy Spirit, I love it. My prayers are with you and your ministry.

    Royal Langer

    February 5, 2012 at 2:35 pm

  3. Amen! (I’m no good at writing, but I like reading sometimes)

    Lucam

    February 7, 2012 at 2:05 am


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