The last few days of December 2015 are lost on me.
I don’t remember what I did. I don’t remember where I went. I just remember binge-watching “Making a Murderer” and Netflix-cheating on my boyfriend Lane because he just could not keep up with the hustle I am capable of bringing to a marathon.
This show has shaken up the whole nation. It’s basically a 10-hour documentary on the life of Steven Avery-- a man who was incarcerated for 18 years because of a crime he did not commit. Just a few years after being released, he is charged again for a murder that a lot of people wonder if he actually committed or not.
It was suddenly a necessity in my brain to learning everything I could about this character Steven Avery who did not exist in my world the day prior. I was obsessed with him. I was reading every article I could find. I was plotting ways to free him. I was watching every interview. I instantly became enamored with this man I would never meet. I was bringing him up in dinner conversations.
I was walking around (and still am) as if Steven was about to walk through the door of my home and bake me ziti. We are on a first-name basis. I am 5 steps from putting a ring on this thing.
The obsession will eventually fade. I’ll stop talking about him. I’ll find something new to gravitate towards. The cycle will stop and restart itself all on its own.
Let’s face it though: I gain nothing from knowing Steven Avery. Steven Avery doesn’t pay my water bill. He doesn’t help me organize my inbox. Steven Avery does not like my photos on Instagram and he doesn’t contribute any letters to More Love Letters. I gain nothing from my obsession with Steven Avery but I am still willing to give him my time, energy, and dinner conversations.
And then there is God. I’m going to be really honest because Jesus is blasé about my fluff: Steven Avery thrills me a lot more than God does. I would pick episodes of “Making a Murderer” over quiet time. I would rather get to know this convicted maybe-murderer than the person of God.
I think we have to be this forward. We don't help anyone grow deeper in their faith if we pretend we are doing fine when we really aren't. We grow closer to God when we can be honest about the crossroads where we are forcing our own distance.
There’s been no zeal to my faith until this last year. And even now-- with more zeal than a year ago-- I am still picking things more than I am picking God.
I pick Netflix. And sleep. And people. And biscuits. I choose work over God. I choose coffee shops. And, when I do pick God, I choose to access him like he’s a Shake Weight. I approach God and ask him to reduce my problem areas and give me results. I don’t approach him just to know his character, just to let his glory be enough for me.
I’ve been committed to an at least an hour in the word of God daily since the middle of 2015. That’s testimony, really. This time last year you couldn’t force feed the bible to me with a spoon. I didn’t want it. I didn’t see the benefits of it.
The other night I asked God to give me something to chew on, a first that I could pull apart. Something to meditate on. Immediately, I’m flipping to Psalm 118. Verse 4.
“Let those who fear the Lord say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”
Normally I would be the type to dissect the last part of this verse, the thing about “steadfast love.” But that night I stared a little doe-eyed at the first part: Let those who fear the Lord say.
What does it look like to fear the Lord? Am I afraid of the Lord? Do I really, actually fear him?
When I dig deeper I realize that the kind of fear referenced in this passage is a healthy reverence-- it’s an understanding that all things are made by God, all things come through God, so we should fear him because he is good and holy and righteous.
I don’t feel that fear enough. Oftentimes, I think I am bigger than God. I mean, I know I am puny in his sight but there is something about the way I run my days-- the strict control I enforce-- that keeps God in an assigned role as a back-pocket companion. There’s no time to fear him when I pick how and when he can enter my schedule, my relationships, my everyday thoughts.
One commentary writes: you must get to the point of deciding that knowing God is the most important thing.
Above your ambitions. Above your timeline. Above your hopes and dreams and fears and roadblocks. You must get to the point where simply knowing him-- not even the hope of getting something from him-- is more than enough for you.
Hello, challenge of a lifetime. Hello.
I wish God was more like Paris Hilton sometimes. Then he would have no trouble just being brutally honest about me and my faith life. He would report how I claim I can’t find him yet I am the one running. He would claim that I say I want him more than anything but I don’t clear the space. He would say that he beckons for me to come to him twice a day but I would rather text or tweet or do something that will never make me closer to him.
But you know what? That doesn’t make me “less than” in the eyes of God. I am just as human as you. I think we need to stop being so hard on ourselves, deeming ourselves unworthy, and just do more work. I think we need to have our little honesty hour-- get real with where we are at-- and move on.
You either want to change or you don’t. You either want to get to the point of wanting more God or you don’t. The rest is all the baby steps to get closer to that.
I see the work that needs to be done. I see the work I cannot possibly do. My prayers must continue to get more honest:
God, I don’t know you in a way that makes me crazy. There is no obsession like I crave. I know if I pray for cravings, I will have to make the room. You will move and I will have to make the room for you.
I will need to make the room for you to come in and break down walls dare not put back together the things you don’t want fixed or mended.
Give me the capacity to be crazy about you.
God, I act like I like a criminal in Wisconsin more than you. I need you to step in and change that.