Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Swapping Places

New feature I'm trying-- you'll see a bit about what I'm listening to and reading at the top of every post. Hope this just makes each post that much more personal! If it's possible I will include links.

On My iPod: High by The Blue Nile

Reading: The Journal Keeper by Phyllis Theroux

There's a song by Kate Bush from the 80's that I have on my ipod. The chorus is, "If I only could, I'd make a deal with God, and I'd get Him to swap places. I'd be running up that road, be running up that hill with no problems."

Ever felt that way? That if we could be in charge there'd be NO PROBLEMS. Every journey we took would be obstacle free. And I used to wonder if it was wrong of Kate Bush to put those lines in her song. To say it out loud, that thing I know I've thought... but didn't think others did. And certainly not something that someone should sing about. You know, so that other people could hear. Nevertheless, I liked the song, and it earned a permanent place on my ipod.

Then the other day I read this gripping line in Ann Voskamp's 1000 Gifts, a book I've vowed to read every year so that the ideals can slowly but surely seep into my skull. I think in 30 or so years (and 30 or so reads) it should be taking root. In the first chapter, Ann writes:

"If it were up to me..." and then the words pound, desperate and hard, "I'd write this story differently."

As I read this line, my brain recalled the chorus of that song. And a connection was made-- not that Kate felt it or I felt it or Ann felt it... but that we all have felt it. That desire to trade places with God and be the one to make decisions, to be in control. That sense that we would do it better is pervasive and enticing, and scary, as Ann goes on to say:

"I regret the words as soon as they leave me. They seem so un-Christian, so unaccepting-- so No, God! I wish I could take them back, comb out their tangled madness, dress them in their calm Sunday best. But they are, released and naked, raw and real, stripped of any theological cliche, my exposed, serrated howl to the throne room."

But the truth doesn't lie in our wild thoughts, our feelings and unreliable emotions. The truth lies in the humble response from her brother in law, who lost two sons:

"Just that maybe... maybe you don't want to change the story, because you don't know what a different ending holds." And Ann writes, "There's a reason I am not writing the story and God is. He knows how it all works out, where it all leads, what it all means. I don't."

The next time I think about swapping places, about getting to write the story, I will remember that profound truth over all-- that I don't know the end. And because of that, I shouldn't get to dicker with the middle. No matter how many times I'm tempted to sing along, to join in with the other voices.
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Wendy Bello said...

Yes, 1000 Gifts is an amazing book and you are right, it does take a lot of time for all those truths to sink in and take root in our lives.


Anonymous said...

I'm reading this a day late. That seems to be the story of my life lately. But what an important post. I've probably never articulated the thought, but oh, how many times I've imagined how I'd do it differently...and how many times God has shown me the messes I make with those things that are under my control. Got 1000 Gifts for Christmas but haven't had a chance to start reading it. See that first line about being late for everything these days. :)