Thursday, July 15, 2010


I heard a story once about a woman who was seeking guidance from a wise, spiritual guru. She traveled many miles to find this man sitting on a hillside. Exhausted, she flopped down beside him and begin to gush about her frustrations and how she couldn't seem to find any balance or peace in her life. After a few moments, a fly landed on her nose and she started flailing around, hands swatting her face, spewing expletives, but the fly never budged. She finally gave up and wailed, "What can you teach me? Please tell me something, anything, that will help me make sense of my screwed up life!" The wise, old man looked at her calmly and answered, "Be the fly."

I want to be the fly. I want to find that calm, peaceful center in the midst of this chaotic world. I'm not complaining about my life because life is what it is. I have two beautiful, chaotic, angst-ridden teenager daughters, an older son who's coming into his own, finally, a sweet three-year-old grandson who's learning quickly how to master the art of temper-tantrum throwing, a boss who can be somewhat intense and an old house that we're working on, little by little. I also have a kind, warm husband who works hard to provide for us and a supportive, loving family and amazing friends. So what's the big deal? The big deal is that I don't want to be swayed anymore by the chaos of life. I don't want my mood or self-worth to revolve around whether or not my daughters are happy. That in itself is exhausting, for crying out loud, they're teenagers! Their moods, desires and needs are all over the chart. I can't keep up, as well I shouldn't. They're just being who they are supposed to be. So is my temper-tantrum throwing grandson and my intense boss and my old, somewhat charming house.

The problem is simple. It's one I face from time to time as I'm sure everyone else does, and it lies in my stale spiritual life. I'm a Christian, have been for a very long time. My father has been a pastor since I was 6 years old. And sometimes, the Christian world tends to look at God, in my humble opinion, through very narrow eyes. They often tend to box God in to what they're comfortable with, a God who is like them. And while I do believe we are created in his image, the image that we conjure up is often very limited, very tame, very pragmatic. I believe God is beyond our comprehension, magnificent, untamable and beautiful beyond anything that we've ever imagined. I lose sight of that. I falter. I grow bored with the image of him that I've been taught and always struggle to see more of him. That takes discipline, something that I lack. Ask my parents.

So I have to seek Him. And seeking him for me starts with broadneing my vision of him. And the only way that I know how to do that is to read. But not the Bible, anything but the Bible. Blasphemous, I know, but true. I have read the Bible through a few times in my life, and while it is a source of inspiration, it is also the place that all of my childhood fears and questions and strange teachings reside. When I feel like this, they are all I see and I can't penetrate through that veil. So I decided to rattle the cage, to plunge the depths, to use the inquiring mind that God gave me and challenge my vision of who He is. And I'm pretty sure he's okay with that, even encourages that.

I'm starting with Eat Pray Love. So far, it's wonderful. It's stirring things inside of me that need to be stirred. It's challenging the way that I see Him and reminding me of his beauty. And of the beauty that he created, here in this world, for us to enjoy. And it's reminding me that spiritual growth has a structured, methodical, consistent path and not a chaotic, free-for-all, lackadaisical, circle. And it's reminding me of His love.

So, for the umpteenth time in my life, I'm seeking.

I really want to learn how to be that fly.


Diahn said...

Oh, sister - I wish we lived closer so we could share these things face to face. I read that book about a year ago and loved it. I would love to learn to be the fly, too...

Mark said...

Oh, to be the fly, how nice would that be.
I hope that calm your looking for is found, it is a search I've been on also. Somedays I find it, others not so much.
This is such a fascinating subject, it seems everyone has a different answer.Whatever you believe is the correct answer.
I grew up Catholic, and as a young child I heard that if you were not Catholic you couldn't go to heaven. (Heaven and hell, thats a whole other can of worms) That just didnt make sense to me, and the questions started instantly.
I pray every night when my head hits the pillow. It's one sentence. It's not to a Christian God or a non Christian God. In my mind it's just God, for lack of a better word. But this God is watching over the world, no matter what your beliefs. I also think God has a sense of humor, at least mine does.
Good luck in your search to be the fly.
Sorry about this long comment.

sheri said...

girl, i hope your 'touch-a-vision' is on because i want you to be able to feel my hug!!
i'm sitting here amazed and so blessed by your post, melinda...a beautiful offering. i want to comment but even more, i want you to keep talking, to keep sharing about the very real obstacles of Christianity.
to hear you say that you don't read the Bible brought my heart to my knees. i have stuggles with condemnation for too many years to mention because i rarely read it for myself. and to hear someone else admit it was a shock! i had to come to grips with knowing that i receive others expressions of the Word, through teachings, small
groups, or better yet- spending time with trusted friends so we could hash things out...realizing that Christianity isn't a 'one size fits all' as we were once taught.

most of all, i want you to know that i applaud your honesty and that you keep searching for ways to delve deeper into God, deeper into His truth. i can assure you that the moment i publish my comment i'll be going to your 'eat, pray, love' link because i totally understand and relate to everything you've said here, dear one!!

Anonymous said...

The story of the woman and the guru reminds me of a Chinese proverb I once read--"the happiness you seek is often overshadowed by the happiness that finds you". Kind of like you and Robert. I encourage and support you in your spiritual journey and always remember....there are never any stressed out teenagers on my back porch.

Melinda Owens said..., too. Face to face late night talks with you is one of my favorite things ever. I'll see you soon though!

Mark..don't apologize, loved your long comment. I believe God has a sense of humor, too! Whenever I watch Planet Earth and see that strange, strutting bird, doing his mating dance, I KNOW that he does.

Sheri...have you ever read anything by Donald Miller? You might like him, might not. When I first read his book, Blue Like Jazz, I almost cried because he said all the things that I had always felt about Christianity growing up, but no one ever discussed.

Troy...I could use some back porch time soon. We're leaving for vacation on July 31st and I'd love to see you guys before I you soon. And yeah, kind of like me and Robert. Cool. I like that proverb. Kind of like you and Cass, too.

Anonymous said...

the emotions, the depth, the heartfelt seeking you expressed it all so well..for me reading the Bible dispelled a great many fears, strange teachings and answered finally my age 30 I finally read it through and for 3 years following read nothing else just asking God to teach was a life changing moment in my life..some of the greatest moments I've had though have been hearing his voice through others and through simple moments of silence...your words ring true to his nature! I always tell folks it is we who attempt to limit the unlimitable. Thanks for sharing!