Saturday, February 17, 2007

My One Thing

Sometimes it astounds me that I am, and I will say that I am this very loosely, a "Christian writer". I am a Christian, and I'm shaky when I say that. I believe in Christ and try to follow Him. I believe in all points of the Nicene Creed so I can write for Tyndale House. Ha! Was it them that said there writers had to believe in the creed? And you know what? I love that my church, which, come on, is the Orthodox Church, believes in the Creed, and not something we made up in it's place). So, let's just say, I bought in in that respect. I got baptised. I got baptised again. And because somebody said I had to I got baptised again. Thank God that upon converting to Orthodoxy nobody made me do it again, but I did have to get Chrismated, which is a BIG--the Orthodox faithful do EVERYTHING BIG--anointing service. Exocisms happened. Spitting upon Satan. And this was before they even let me in the door! I got a lot of oil slathered on me in blessing. It was wonderful. And I try to love Him. He knows I do, even though I fail Him so much more often. So let's just say for my resume I'm a Christian, me the chief of sinners. And because I write things I'm a Christian writer. And let's take this further and say that because my books generally speaking feature Christian people who are often as big a mess as I am, and some who are not, I write Christian Fiction. All clear? Well, it astounds me, chief of sinners still.

What astounds me more is this online phenomenon ragamuffin diva. Honestly! I show my draws! My dirty, stankin' draws! And there you are telling me how brave and honest I am. It's a little absurd, isn't it?

Once I asked a publishing person what my future could be with their publishing house. She asked me what Ann Lamott's publishing future could be with CBA. I was quiet for a moment as I pondered what she said. Ann Lamott has no publishing future with CBA that ANYONE, including me, can forsee. In fact, I'm pretty convinced my CBA days are numbered and there may even exist the possibility that I may be on the Orthodox Church's hit list if they have such a thing! I should add that I should have seen the writing on the wall as per that conversation with the publishing executive. Turns out I didn't have a future with that company afterall. So you see why this whole thing of being a Christian writer, me, raga-d, has me trippin.

Last night, admitting how lost I am. Angry that I couldn't FIND my favorite Bible--there were others, but I am a brat--I told a friend who loves me and thinks I'm the bomb that I am literally a Christian with NO meaningful spiritual practice right now. The only thing I do, I said, is write. I rarely pick up a Bible. My prayer life is a very heartfelt, "God help me. I'm so sorry." But we all know that is no way to live in Christ. I haven't been to church since before Christmas. And hadn't been so much before then.

I say all of this to say that I realized something very important about myself last. Something deep and profound. Something I need to always remember, treasure, and take with me. You ready???

There ain't a damn thing about me that's worth anything.

It's true. I am the worst wife, mother, friend, Christian, example, leader imaginable. When I say I am the chief of sinners I say it without stuttering or without reservation. I don't even have enough left in me to dredge up any pride.

This is what I did last night when I realized my atrocious habits are going to ruin my family. I might bust hell wide open, but I don't want that to happen to them. I cried out to God with my whole heart to have mercy on me, not for my sake, but theirs. The Orthodox Church has great appeal to me. We know how to ask God for mercy. We know how to say we're sinners. I picked up the Bible I found in the wreckage of my bedroom. I can see why sloth is a deadly sin. I dusted off my altar. Kissed every saint, Jesus Christ of Sinai and the blessed Mother. Lit all the candles I had in prayer, and went to the cross. I did all I could. I did some business with God. I asked Him to save my family. Next I'll stretch out and ask Him to save y'all.

I don't know why you come here except for this. Here is my one thing. And you probably knew this before I did. I thought it was because you liked my writing! Ha! Okay, I know you come for Jesus, but there are so many, so much more worthy that can give Him to you better. Despite my utter inability to do anything right--What I want to do, and God knows I want to, I don't. What I don't want to do, that's what I do. I want to love Him, but I am fat, lazy, cuss too much, am completely undisciplined, completely self-absorbed, I can go on and on. It is Jesus that keeps coming to me. He keeps loving me. And the only thing I do, my one blessed thing in this life, is that I write down that He came. He sees worth in this mess that I am. His creation. His loved but soiled bride. He loves me. He hasn't left me nor forsaken me. He's poured blood over each and every sin. Every sin I've committed since I gave my life to Him.

Yeah. I've got my Bible right here with me. I'm reading it. We'll have new wheels next week and I've already told Father Leo we'll be back home. As many as can fit in my godfather Laike's car will go tomorrow. I'm sick of myself. Of my selfishness. I'm ready to walk the walk and clean up the mouth. Yeah, I said it. I want to sound a little more like Jesus. Well, when He's not cursing fig trees.

God, be merciful to me, a sinner.

"We love Him because He first loved us." I John 4:19

And hey, don't tell me you think I'm great. You want to do me a favor, comment and tell me, "Me, too." Or at the very least, say, "Yeah, you really do suck."


Alison Strobel Morrow said...

I like the disco ball blog background!

Sister, ME TOO. So glad to know I'm not the only Christian Writer who has absolutely zero going on in the discipline department. Well, I pray for my encouragement team every day. That's about it. Otherwise, I suck. But then, my spiritual life has sucked for most of my life. Can't wait 'til I figure out how to do it right...


ragamuffin diva said...

I hear you, Ali! It's not like I can whine, "Oh my daddy died and then I lost direction. I've sucked bad for like... my whole spiritual life. I really want to just walk with God before I DIE! That's why both the Orthdox Church and the classic spiritual disciplines were so attractive to me. Maybe if I take itty witty bitty baby steps...

As for the new look, I wish I knew how to make a banner and new background. I'm so sick of the same old blogger fodder I could scream. But it's a start.

Hope said...

You are refreshingly sucky company to keep. :)

bobbie said...

i love you diva, and yes, i love that jesus loves you and you love him, but that is NOT why i come here.

i come here for YOU. i can spend time with jesus on my own - i come because YOUR story is extraordinary. i suck too - and that is where the community happens. when those of us globally who suck find each other.

this is church. i have found people like me in the blogosphere. either they don't exist in my community or are just too shit scared to admit it. online we have found kindred spirits. those of us willing to say "LIFE IS HARD and i'm not very good at it."

i have recently learned about bernard of clairveaux, and while he was a beast toward women he did have this really cool thing to teach us. he said that there are four stages in our spiritual lives, ways that we come to know and understand god. first we love ourselves for our own sake. then we love god for what he can do for us. thirdly we love god for god's sake and lastly, we love ourselves for god's sake.

i had never heard that before. my early theology ground me into such dust that there was nothing redeemable about me. i have found that being who god created me to be in full force is what really makes god happy.

being me for god's sake, and loving myself enough to be fully me.

oh raga, he longs for you to love claudia mair for his sake - don't let the CBA define who's in and who's out - it is to their own shame that they have drawn these lines in the sand. they will have to answer to god for this mess.

you, fully you is a force of nature - and it will be a glory to god for all to see.

grieve deep and well claudia, it is right and necessary. be gentle with yourself. this is how you're supposed to feel right now. it is a season, and one that will lighten as the days go, there on the fringes it will stay, shadowing the rich colors of your life, but for now please feel what you need to feel. embrace the anger, the sadness, the loss - these are rich deep emotions that god created for us. he grieves right along side of you. the injustice, the humanity, the distortion of how things should have been. he feels them too and is sad. not about you, but for you dear friend.

i love you claudia mair and so look forward to the day that you love yourself for god's sake dear friend.

lisa said...

I suck too.

I'll help you with a banner.

I love youl.

Shanna said...

Glad to see your itty, witty, bitty baby step...your blog! (Gotta start somewhere, huh?)

I love you for you--all of you. You should know that if you don't already. You reaching out to me was a little bit like falling in love: the girl friend crush. And even when you're a pain in the ass, you're cool.

Bobbie stole the rest of my words. So there.

I'll meditate about all this over paper and glue now...

crownring said...

1 Corinthians 1:27-28 (New King James Version)

27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,

Luke 7:44-50 (New King James Version)

44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
48 Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50 Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

Ms. Claudia,

There is no gravity, the world sucks!

Me too. No kidding! I suck so bad at life, it's scary. Ain't it grand that God can use our suckiness for His glory? Otherwise I really don't think my life would be worth living.

Much love to you and yours, Ms Claudia.

crownring/a fellow suckee

P.S. I don't have my own blog yet. I really suck when it comes to figuring out all this computer/ internet stuff.

ragamuffin diva said...

Um, yeah. Upon reading this again I'm seeing why you seem alarmed. I want to thank all of you who made me cry with your love, especially Bobbie, Shanna, and Crowning. Mwah! All of you suck so much!In the best way! And I want to say this "episode" had nothing to do with my wonderful, "I'm not too sexy. For real!" career as a writer. It had more to do with me as a mother, but it struck me that I'm this Christian writer and I'm this absolute mess. That's why the writing career reference. It just turned into a tangent.

Right now, on the writing front things are pretty rosy. And that publishing executive that I mentioned loves my work and didn't think the house we were speaking of was the best audience for me. She meant it as no condemnation.

Very soon I will make a big announcement about my career that will ensure my presence in the big wide world. By His magnificent grace.

God has been tender to me in my weakness. He's walked me through my days after such pain. I think a healthy dose of repentence and searing moral inventory is good for the soul. Truth be told we need more of it.

Lets pray for one another.

always praising said...

I just discovered you because of your contribution to Discipleship Journal. I am so pleased to meet another chief sinner like me. I don't write but I paint and sew and have been in a fog for about a year. many reasons chronic health issues etc. etc. but Jesus has kept meeting me too. My husband is experiencing revival and I am seeing my hope restored. So my dear chief sinner, thank you for a place to come to hear God's grace poured out and remember His mercy. Susan Walter joyfilled praise

Lola said...

I'm looking forward to your announcement . . . I'm really glad you're out there and wrting. A blessed Lent to you . . .

Bek said...

when i read "loved but soiled" i thought of sos (my abbreviation for song of solomon - which really is my sos, by the way) - chapter 1, verse 5, i think, where HE calls HER "dark, but LOVELY." so i think you have it reversed. you are not loved but soiled. you are soiled, but LOVED. and me, too. blessings.

Anonymous said...

Claudia Mair,

Well, ok then. Me too! I am so right there with you on the desperately-love-Jesus-but-spiritually-undisciplined front; self-absorbed; and add pride to the mix! It's hard to see (knowing the "real" us inside) why Jesus would love us anyway. But He does. that's the amazing part.

Hey, thanks for articulating something so deep that so many of us struggle with. 'K so you may not be perfect; who among us is; but we love ya anyway.

~ Marie

Mirtika said...

Hah, must be confession's in the air. I've even posted this week on a couple of my failings.

Look, I'd rather sit with a sister or brother who will at least admit where they screw up, than sit with someone faking perfection.

No perfect believers. None. So when I see someone seeming perfect, I always wonder, "What are they covering up?"

Some days, all that gets me out of bed is saying to myself, God loves me, God loves me, cause some days, dead sounds good. Some days, I'm full of his joy and it's good, good, great.

But I know I'm a messed up person. Even saved. Even with grace, Even with the wisdom a body manages to accrue with years and undergoing suffering and reading the Word, I still mess up. I still say something unloving or I still forget to self-sacrifice when an opportunity arises, or I still want everyone to drop dead and leave me alone (some days, anyway).

I just am happy to throw myself down and say, "Help. It's a bad day. Help."

I think that you are honest, that you SEE, is always better than not being honest and refusing to see.

That's always a step forward.

And you're a heckuva writer, too. :)


Mir<--another misfit caught between CBA and ABA, cause I ain't got no niche

spwriter said...

I come here to read your words because they're about me, the Chief of Sinners. You didn't think you had sole claim to that title, did you?

I also come here to be reminded that Jesus loves me in spite of that much-deserved title.

In other words, "me, too."

J. Kotinek said...

I just got a notice from that they're not going to be able to fulfill my preorder for Death, Deceit, and Some Smooth Jazz...where else can I get a copy? My wife and I have both been anxiously awaiting our next fix of Amanda Bell Brown.

Thank you!!