I am so honored to have writer Esther Emery guest posting on the blog today! Esther’s writing encourages me to live a full life and speak my truth. I have her quote on my memo board at my writing desk: “There is room for you. Even for your wild, undomesticated self. Choose faith instead of fear.” Her words always challenge, inspire, an encourage me. I know they will speak to you, too.
Doesn’t everybody dream of being called into greatness? God shows up and says, “Hey YOU, with the freckled nose, or YOU with the hooded sweatshirt, or YOU with the platform shoes…I want you to lead my people out of Egypt.”
Don’t try to tell me I’m the only one who dreams of this. I’ll just know you’re lying. But I also have a pretty good idea of WHY you’re lying.
I know what it costs, to say I want a calling from the BIG boss. And I know what it costs to get that kind of calling. And I know what it costs to make this announcement to everybody else.
“I’m sorry mom, I can’t wash the car today. God wants me to lead his people out of Egypt.”
Right here I wrestle: in this place I wound my hip.
This is the match-up between a spiritual call to live a spiritual life…and the danger of hubris, the absurdity of self-importance, and the glorification of the individual at the expense of community.
This is the match-up between a spiritual call to live a spiritual life…and ALL THE GUILT.
Dear society. How do you guilt me? Let me count the ways.
>>I’m raising my children in unsafe conditions. I fail to provide stability. I rest too much and produce too little. I’m lazy. A grown and fully able adult should not spend so many hours playing children’s games! (There is no excuse for this.)
>>I should need more from other people. It isn’t nice that I run around being so [emotionally] self-sufficient. I should wear makeup. I should be concerned about what other women think of my body and my skin. I should try to make my house nicer for company.
>>Oh, but at the same time, I should need less! I should pay for my own damn electricity, and Internet. I shouldn’t share these things with other people, I should have my own. I shouldn’t be so happy to accept hand me downs and other gifts from other people. If I do accept hand me downs, I should assume I am expected to give something in return.
>>I shouldn’t feel any more free to break rules of social conduct than others around me – near and far — because if I can do things they think they can’t do then they will feel bad. And that’s my fault. Certainly I should not follow a philosophy of doing the things I really want to do right when I want to do them. For God’s sake, that simply isn’t How it Works!
These are the voices that wrestle me into submission. And I wrestle for my freedom. Me and Bob Marley: we’re emancipating ourselves from mental slavery. (Please do try to excuse the humor. It’s one of my best moves. It gets me out of a half-Nelson every time.)
I wrestle for my freedom. And for the right to wrestle for my freedom. I wrestle for faith — the faith that this is even possible — to be at rest in a world of unrest, at peace in a world of war, to live awake in a world of numbness and satiety. I wrestle to believe that I am called to leadership in a world that grooms me for silence and conformity.
Here’s my enemy’s best move:
It’s that dream. The dream where I get called into greatness. It’s the dream where God is like a game show host, and He says, “Come on down!!” and everybody claps. It’s this dream, in which you’re like Charlton Heston, or Joe Montana, or maybe just yourself, except on Oprah.
This dream says that being called to greatness is going to look like being handed a special prize. This dream says that being called to greatness is going to happen someday. But probably not today. This dream says the call to freedom is only for the special ones – the chosen ones – not for everyone. This dream says, whatever you do, don’t hit that mat. Don’t wrestle.
I’m always shaking it off: this dream of greatness. I shake it off in dream rings from my sleepy head. I go looking for a wilderness instead, because there’s my freedom. And in the wilderness I take up my own staff, and go looking for my own water from a rock.
But I know what the wilderness costs, too. I know that I get called weird, and I don’t know what I’m doing, and I look ridiculous, and sometimes I have to face all those guilt feelings, and I’m an easy shot for people who want to shoot at me. I wrestle for faith in miracles: the miracle of truth, and beauty, and abundance. This miracle that I could be called, by name, to walk into my freedom.
Esther Emery used to be a freelance theatre director in Southern California. But that was a long time ago. These days she is pretty much a runaway, living off grid in a yurt and tending to three acres of near wilderness in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. She writes about faith and rebellion and trying to live a totally free life at www.estheremery.com. Her free, inspiring ebook, Unleash Your Wild, can be found here. Connect on Twitter @EstherEmery.