Something has stuck with me through this past year or so of walking with Jesus… that as I’m seeking the Lord, I need to seek his FACE not his HAND. I’m not very good at it. Just as- in my quest for identity and purpose, I’ve been seeking what I can do rather than what HE wants to do through me.
I know I have a story to share but it scares me to death to rehash things because, if I’m honest, there’s a lot I’ve been content to forget and even as recent as a couple nights ago as I was laying in bed… details from the past get awakened in my memory. Its this contradiction of the heart when it happens… it sucks, it hurts, most of the time its ugly but because when they pop in, they’re recreated in detail… but at the same time there’s a small victory in feeling they’re an acknowledgment from God that I’m ready to handle more. That maybe I’ve been faithful with this portion of my story and am ready to take on more ground.
Last night, the awakening from my past was macaroni and cheese at a music festival in Washington state. I can’t believe I had forgotten it because, I’m pretty certain I was close to sober when I purchased and consumed it. (Side note: I find more and more that things I’ve forgotten from my past have little to do with whether I was using at the time they took place or not. It’s like my continual fight to stay inebriated erased even the good, sober details of that season of life.)
Some additional details I had forgotten…the majesty of the Columbia river gorge, the mac and cheese claiming it was the best in the state of Washington and that Oprah liked it, or something. The main stage was otherworldly set against the river that had patiently dug its presence into permanence…into what is the Gorge. Or how the Kokanee beer bimbos handing out free Koozies didn’t seem to want to give their free swag to chicks, so I kindly helped myself to four. Or, the ‘Messin with Sasquatch’ beef jerky guys handing out free jerky. I had definitely forgotten the fact that the night before this one- my friend had a bad trip on mushrooms and we missed the opening night- so I was left eating a cheeseburger with some Canadians who also were missing the first night and later, threw up while looking a cow in the face. That is an experience I can’t quite explain- tripping on psychopsilocybin and looking a cow in the eyes as I realized I was eating one of its cousins. And then smiling about it-probably humming the ‘Circle of Life’ or something.
I try not to “glory the story” of things that took place when I was so grossly living in sin but the reality is, I can describe that scene now, finishing throwing up- rinsing my mouth out with PBR or Rainer – hopping back up on top of someone’s ? car while my friend still slept in our tent- and then sitting with an Australian girl and marveling as the clouds moved, morphed and blurred, turning from shades of fire orange, to rose to blue as the sun set, thinking of my sisters, then to purple, contrasting with the green of the rolling cumulus cloud-resembling hills of the gorge… and all of a sudden that memory kind of makes me feel alive, even after all this time. But I was so dead in the moment that the memory isn’t even attached to my heart. It’s like this cloud of details connected to my hand like a balloon on a string- floating off in the wind somewhere that I can’t seem to hold onto. That’s how a lot of my memories operate before I was brought onto my face by my Jesus. Memories and sights and glimpses of beauty that never sunk deeper than my tipsy mind and heart.
I can look back and chastise myself for my inability to appreciate those moments on a soul level as a result of my drinking and using but truly… its all I knew- because its all I wanted to know.
My inspiration and beauty came in the form of small baggies of powder, pills, ziplocs of fungus, cardboard cases, clear bottles and charming guys. The scenery surrounding me in the gorge that weekend was a thin layer of really good icing on a booze soaked and Molly infused sloppy slice of cake.
Over the next few years, my desire for beauty despite the mud and haze of differing levels of intoxication increased. It was sure as sin that if the Columbia river gorge couldn’t instill soul-humbling beauty and admiration without a combination of weed, shrooms, Molly, and cocaine, and a Lanikai sunset couldn’t inspire or even satisfy without its edges being blurred by vodka, beer, and a guy’s attention, then a return to Kansas and a budding career in social work definitely wouldn’t either. But these stale Kansas surroundings didn’t warrant the “special occasion” clause of my using. So I had to be satisfied with a couple beers after work. A couple beers and a shot. A couple beers and a couple shots. 3 beers and a half a pint of rumpleminz. On a Tuesday. Finished by the time Jeopardy was over at 600.
You know what I do on Tuesday nights now? I lead a small group of 5-10 sophomore girls as they seek Jesus amidst homework, track practice, boys, and high school drama.
And my soul feels more alive with them than it did in the Gorge.
Maybe that’s seeking His Face, not His Hand.