2012: A Facebook Odyssey
Pour myself a nice hot cup of French Press coffee, made just the way Santiago taught me how, and settle into the non-reclining office chair. Not that I have much complaint about the chair, though, compared to the many different places I found respite with last tour. I swore to Corie when I returned then that my biggest investment was going to be a nice leather recliner, which never happened, as a means to undo the uncomfortable positioning that naturally comes with deployment.
Flip open the iPad and connect, hop on over to Facebook to see what happened in everyone's non-apocalyptic world (thanks Mayan Calendar) whilst I was sleeping.
I never noticed before, and perhaps it is a new thing, that the "Update Status" bar asks "How are your feeling, Matthew?" I don't know HAL9000, how am I feeling today? Back then interaction with a semi-sentient entity creeped everyone out, now we just pour ourselves out into the world, and hope for response.
And sometimes it never comes.
I find that when I slow down and pay greater attention to things (like the Australian bag-piper warming up outside - no kidding - seriously) that I see a greater strand or thread tying them together. Following a very late wake-up and breakfast (they were cleaning around me), I stumbled over to the chapel to grumble to the Man. No, not the padre, he would probably just tell me to quit my "whinging" (Australian for whining). The Man on the cross at the back of the chapel. It really puts things in perspective to gripe to someone in the midst of a crucifixion. "Excuse me sir, you look busy, but can I bend your ear for a moment?"
I woke up in a selfish funk, and needed to unload how I was feeling. I needed to take my cares and worries and disappointments and all that crap that I know to be untrue to someone who could listen, hold it sacred and understand me. I needed God. That's not to say that I don't need him other times, when I 'feel' better, it's just that I needed the kind of care that only he could bring.
For me, I cannot find a place of greater comfort and understanding than under the gaze of my Lord, for He is benevolent, merciful, understanding and experienced. He has heard my griping for years. He has endured my petulant temper-tantrums and held me in the midst of a hurricane of anger. He alone can calm my heart without saying a word, because he has never disappointed me. Every time that I have gone to Him, I left with more than I needed, could have asked for or imagined. How does he do that without saying a word. there is a definite conversation, and He teaches me, have mercy how he teaches me. The Spirit reminds of all He has taught me before, just as He said it would when He departed his disciples (John 15-ish). He shows me who He wants me to be, and accepts me as I am. He has seen the devilishness of my sinful attitude and behavior, and yet his face is always towards me when I go to Him.
My biggest failure is turning to anyone other than Him to do so. When I flip on Facebook, and it asks me "how I am feeling," I know it won't offer anything in return, because it is full of other people vomiting out their anger, hurt, frustration, fear, anxiety, loves and "likes". When I take my "how am I feeling" to Jesus, I have His full attention, and he speaks to me, through words that I have memorized over the years, words that I dive back into and of which I refresh my memory. And I need the connection that comes with talking with Him, and hearing Him talk back. I guarantee that if the chapel windows were open, passersby would report me to behavioral health. But nowhere else do I feel as healthy. I do not worry about my syntax and grammar, about whether or not I use an offensive word, for He can see through me and see if there is anything offensive within me, why should I hide it or white-wash it? He is the God of rag-men, and sometime my stuffing is falling out, and sometimes my tattered clothes of self-righteousness and indignation are falling off. Why should I hide this bruised skin from Him, as he hangs ripped and torn, impaled on a cross? What have I to fear in being real with God, other than the anxiety of vulnerability? For if He cannot be benevolent and hold my raging heart, then is there any entity on earth or of our creation that could? He is Love, and I ask Him to be so, and He does. So simple and eloquent, and yet profoundly life-altering. He takes my rage and anger, and trades it for understanding and grace. Oh, sweet grace that thou would never leave me, for thou alone know how ungraceful a man that I am, and your forgiveness of my frail humanity has caused me to shed pretense and deal honestly with God according to my shortcomings, my failures and my disappointments. How can I run from thee? Where could I hide? As a man lost in a deep well, he is no more or less trapped if he denies his state; but only through admission can he beg for help.
And so, Facebook, this is how I feel. I feel as though you cannot attend to this within me. Though you provide a platform for connection, that connection cannot promise the healing attentiveness to my soul, which only comes from the benevolent Creator through who I came into being and in whom, alone, can I find restoration. You do, Facebook, however, provide a means to showcase vulnerability in hopes that all might, as only God has given me the courage to do, return to the Creator to find healing and comfort. And in the middle of the tumultuous merry-go-round of holiday activity which detracts from reveling in the Incarnation with recklessness abandoned, the centrality of God's impassioned pursuit of our broken souls need be at the forefront of all we consider. Almighty, I have unwrapped your gift already. May I never forget that each morning, as I rush downstairs, there it is again, ready to be unwrapped and enjoyed anew, never growing old, never losing value.
"You are the only one I need. I bow all of me at your feet. I worship you alone. You have given me more than I could ever have wanted and I want to give you my heart and my soul. You alone are Father, you alone are good, you alone are Savior, and you alone are God."