Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dirty Feet

I like dirty feet.  I'm not crazy or un-hygeinic or into weird fetishes, I promise!

Dirty feet show that a person has done something other than sit around all day (that, or they haven't showered in a long time...).  Dirty feet are products of going somewhere, doing things, and experiencing the world through the sense of touch by not covering up with socks or shoes.  And it is quite satisfying seeing dirty feet go to clean feet in the shower, seeing the dirt run off into the drain.

I was thinking about dirty feet in the shower this morning (go figure!), and I realized something:  I want dirty feet when I get to heaven.  Not literally, but I want to have a lifetime of experiences and missions for God behind me when my feet touch those streets of gold.  I don't want to arrive in heaven clean and protected from the world and its filth, having done nothing other than protect myself from being around "sinners" and being persecuted for my faith.

The disciples had dirty feet, literally and figuratively.  We're familiar with the literal dirty feet from when Jesus washed his disciples' feet at the Last Supper. But dirty feet is referenced in another passage. Matthew 10:14 says, "If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet."  There were many places where the disciples were not welcome; they were persecuted and put to death for the Gospel.  Did they literally shake the dust from their feet when they left towns where they were opposed?  Probably not.  But they got dirty for the Gospel.  They traveled, they spent time with the outcasts and the sinners to bring them to Christ, and they did not shield themselves from the world.  And they received rewards in heaven for it, and helped spread the Gospel effectively and quickly.

Where have I gotten my feet "dirty"?  I've stood up for Christ at community college and in front of fellow student pilots.  I've gone witnessing at Wal-Mart and door-to-door in my old neighborhood.  But lately, I've only been tipping my toes into the dirt and staying comfortable right at my doorstep, thinking it is sufficient to look out upon the world and spread the Gospel as much as possible without taking a step, which is, in fact, impossible.  My feet have been pretty clean lately, and I intend to remedy that.  I am taking a step into the virtual world, and I will be taking steps into the real world.  I will not remain quiet when I hear co-workers discussing God or the Bible in a way that is disrespectful or wrong.  I will  take every opportunity to mention Christ and His work for me.  I will boldly proclaim the name of Jesus, even to strangers in the Wal-Mart checkout line.  I lost some of my passion for evangelism in college, and I am praying that God will give it back to me.

I want my feet to be dirty when I reach heaven.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Deepening Relationships



I remember very well the weekend trip my mom and I took around Thanksgiving to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, my junior or senior year of high school. Cold air nipped at our noses and coaxed out the Scandinavian blush of bright red to our cheeks as we walked for several hours around a half-frozen lake that was ringed with beautiful mansions.  I was given a purity ring, silver with a tiny pink gem that lay in an entwined heart and cross, and I eventually gave that purity ring as a symbol of my virginity and faithfulness to my husband at our wedding.  The topic of that weekend was purity (and anything I ever wanted to know from Mom).  Ironically, the elderly couple in the hotel room next to us decided to get it on during one of our discussions about sex - and we could hear their passion loud and clear!

Now, just to be clear, this is not a post about sex, purity, abstinence, or anything in that realm.  No, it is about deepening relationships, because one of the greatest things that resulted from my weekend with Mom was not just a stronger desire to remain a virgin until my wedding day but a deepened understanding between Mom and I.  In that weekend, we became more than mother and daughter with a decent relationship; we became very close friends, and though we hit some rough patches when I was  in college, my mom is one of the closest friends I will ever have.  And it all started with a weekend of complete transparency.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fear

I took the brush in my hand, feeling its unfamiliar shape and weight.  Hard white bristles bent under my fingers as I tried to soften them before dipping them into the gray paint.  Then I stroked the canvas, covering up the print of seashells with my own paint, printing instead the dissolvance of my fear.  Other colors - red, orange, lime green, dark aqua - were brushed onto the gray.  Yet it was not enough.  It was too safe.  I still had a bit of fear left.  White paint now tipped the white bristles of the brush, and I tentatively flicked the brush away from me.  A few drops hit the canvas.  I flicked the brush again, less tentative.  The drops became closer to what I was looking for.  I flung the brush back and forth, joy bubbling up inside as all fear was flung away onto the canvas.

I was painting.  I was having fun.  And when I stepped back and looked at the finished product, confidence filled me where fear had been present before.  And I had discovered a new hobby.

I am sometimes afraid to try new things.  Painting was one of them.  I associated acrylic paints with the finger-painted masterpieces of my childhood and watercolor with paint-by-number pages.  I did not believe I could create anything that would remotely look good.  A memory of a 2-day art course I participated in when I was in junior high also haunted me. I had drawn (and painted) what I thought was a good piece of art.  The instructor, someone who created art for a living, gave me a poor "grade" on it and said I needed a lot of improvement.  After that, I did not touch art until my last semester of high school, when I took a drawing class at my local college.  There, I discovered I loved working with charcoal, and I received good grades and lots of compliments from the professor and other students on my charcoal work.  But painting?  Working with black and white is one thing, many colors a whole other realm.  A realm I was afraid to touch because I was afraid to fail.

But fear of failure must be overcome.  One does not improve in life without constantly conquering the fear of failure and rejection.  If I can conquer my fear of rejection and apply to jobs or conquer my fear of failure and participate in competitions, then certainly I can conquer my fear of failure with trying something I have never tried before.  Even with something I have dabbled in before but failed at, I may have a new understanding of that will allow me to succeed.

Even if that success is simply one that is only good enough to hang on my own wall and no one else's, it is still a success - a conquering of fear - and a step in the right direction.