Monday, March 2, 2009

shoes and water

A long time ago a woman had a conversation with Jesus. She had been going to the same place, week after week, year after year, for a drink of water. Jesus met her there and offered her something different. His water, he said, would quench her thirst. It would satisfy. She didn’t need anything more.
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I am an over analyzer. That’s why I have this blog. I need time and I need words to process this world and the beliefs to which I hold fast. Most days, the situations I encounter are easily sorted into the constructs of my mind. Like a coin sorter, life enters my minds-eye and directs itself through the appropriate processes. Free will, God’s love, the promise of redemption, and heaven eagerly capture stray thoughts and pair them with Sunday school answers. Make no mistake, I have painstakingly forged these answers over the years. Each strain of my theology has been labored over. Now, though, I let those beliefs earn their keep as they work to make sense of the chaos we call Life.

There are a few questions I have, a few issues that are unresolved. I mean, I know the “answers”—what the theologians and spiritual leaders would say. But those answers have yet to become a conduit, a process for my own thoughts. Those answers haven’t yet settled in my soul.

Every now and then something will happen that exposes those naked parts of my theology. When that happens, when I can’t wrap my mind around something, I have two choices. I can let my mind descend into the land of no-return, or I can think about shoes.

So, I think about shoes. Some count sheep; I have shoe-thoughts. It doesn’t help when Dillard’s has ridiculous sales. It doesn’t help when I have a couple gift cards left over from Christmas. It doesn’t help when my husband doesn’t even balk at the sight of (4) new shoe boxes hiding at the back of our closet.*

Like the woman at the well, I am literally buying a temporary respite from the unresolved issues of my soul. It really does work. I can go to sleep, I can maintain family responsibilities, I can keep the unanswerable at bay. It doesn’t require a purchase—all I have to do is think of shoes.

A recent tragedy has churned the waters of doubt and insecurity again. I came crying to Neal and we talked through our perspectives. He issued the answers I typically defend. I indulged my weakness and pushed back. The talk was cathartic so I shouldn’t have a hard time sleeping tonight. Even without the aid of shoe-thoughts. Neal, however, jokingly suggested I check out the latest sale tomorrow. I do need gold shoes for a wedding in May.

I also know better. I know that the shoe-thoughts won’t last, that the relief will wane just as surely as one drink of water does. I might consider asking Jesus for something more permanent. Something of Himself that won’t leave me wanting more.

*I’m so afraid of you judging me I have to write that those four boxes were all purchased through gift cards! Okay, I feel absolved.

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