A Blog by Jennifer Aulthouse


A heart for those who want more of God. A desperate plea for those who don't.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Formulas

I wasn’t going to write about the Newtown shooting. I didn’t want to contribute to the noise sprung forth. I guess sometimes, even if I’m hundreds of miles away from something, the best gift I can give to a situation is to not direct more attention its way.

But I also know that words are my gift and if I’m withholding them when they are pressing to get out, it’s a form of disobedience.

So here I am. I will say nothing about gun control, prayer in school, mental health awareness, school security, or anything of that nature which has already been discussed quite thoroughly, and to which I really have nothing to add anyway. I’ll just share a little bit of what’s been in me since about 2:00 on Friday afternoon.

Several months ago, I became more and more aware of how naturally my mind seeks out formulas to make life work as I desire it to. You do it, too, if I’d venture a guess. Whether it is specific actions to take to attain tangible things (earn money doing this so I can have that), emotional things (as a woman, if I can make myself fit into the world’s definition of “beautiful” then I will be considered valuable and feel wanted), or notions that we’ve willed to believe as truth or promises (“x” won’t happen to us because we live in a safe town), I know that I am programmed to consistently search the universe for formulas that will guarantee me what I most long to have. It’s not wrong to desire them or even necessarily to plan to attain them, but what I realized is that when this continual search for formulas so I can have life the way I want it is my priority – as it often is – I am then living in stark contrast to the claim I make as a Christian that I am God’s and my life is for Him to do with as He pleases. The formula quest is about me first. The Christian walk is about Him first.

Transformation takes a long time. I really thought I’d be better at this being-a-Christian thing by now, but I’ve observed that the more I mature in my walk, the more I see how far it is I’ve fallen and how great the distance is between my natural inclinations towards life in general and the radical selflessness of Christ. Also, though, as I move forward in Christ-likeness one painfully slow and awkward step at a time, I am convinced of how strong His grace is to cover that distance.

So I catch myself plotting a formula. And I put a halt to it. I tell God that I’m sorry, and I really am, because I know my formula quest is largely based on both wanting life my way and not trusting Him to really take care of me. And I know it isn’t held against me. So I move forward into healthy and sacrificial thinking, then at some point slide back into formula-searching, and so then I repeat this process dozens of times in any given day. It’s never held against me.


I have a first-grader. She’s 6. And she’s the most wonderful little girl in the world. She sings and draws and takes care of her stuffed duck, and she’s a peacemaker among her peers. Her kindergarten teacher last year told me that my daughter has an empathy for others that is rare for a child her age. I look at her and see all the potential to be used in amazing ways for good in this world. I see that in my third-grade son, too. And that is my formula I use to convince myself that what happened to the children in Newtown won’t happen to mine. Because how could it be that these children so wonderful and amazing and filled with potential not be present in this world?

But it is neither truth nor promise.

What I’ve been searching the universe for over the past few days is the formula to guarantee me that I’ll never have to live through anything like that. And so, a hundred times over, like every other day, I repeat the formula-halting process. And receive the grace to start over again. It's never held against me.

I would suggest all the debate about the aforementioned issues is about finding this formula, too. We just collectively as a society can’t agree on the elements.


Death is the loss of presence. Grief, the emotion driven by that loss. I don’t think anything about death and grief feels natural. I don’t think it’s ever supposed to, no matter that it's happened billions of times.

There’s only one thing I’ve been able to find in my formula searching that has been affirmed to me as something I can cling to. And it’s the same thing I always end up with anytime the terrors of the world push me to start my formula quests.

Psalm 139:13-16:
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

The Presence of God at the beginning. His Presence now. And His Presence then and when. The only answer to the loss of presence is His Presence.

2 comments:

  1. Great thoughts, Jen, keep writing as often as you can.

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  2. Thank you. Wish writing wasn't such a messy and uphill battle for me. :-)

    Jen

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