Monday, November 10, 2008

following the instruction manual

i'm learning the hard way that to follow the instruction manual line by line is not to really live. to have to walk through life carrying a dog-eared, highlighted list of dos and don'ts doesn't prepare you or ready you for the real-deal. just like someone who had a heart attack would die if the person trying to save their life spent too much time reading the how-to before using the defibrillator, moments and opportunities for growth and living die when we aren't prepared to walk through them because we've leaned too heavily on the manual.

i feel like i've lived my life by an instruction manual. i've paid close attention to the what-to-dos and what-not-to-dos, but when the moments hit - i'm completely unprepared to say the right word, do the right thing, or be the right person. i learn all about love - but do i actually practice it? i learn all about truth, but can i actually describe it to someone? i learn all about considering others, but do i ever practice selflessness? i learn pin-pointed, taken out of context verses and try to apply them in real-life scenarios when i haven't understood the over arching idea of the scripture, or experienced the meaning it has to offer. i've only read it as an instruction manual - and not immersed myself in its themes, in its context, in its relevance to this life.

so, when friends come to me hurting - i don't know what to say or do. when someone comes to me searching for answers - i leave them with more questions. when someone needs me to bear their backpack of shame, i've got my own aches and pains and can't lift another.

i feel terribly unequipped to do life. i feel like i've counted on everyone else to live it for me. to tell me what to do. to point me in the right direction. and now - now, there's just me and my instruction manual. how do i translate reading about life and awkward situations, and tough challenges, and frustrating people, and loving when it hurts, and forgiving when i don't want to, and dying in order to live, and suffering in order to be comforted - into living it?

Father, equip me.



:::No Longer Mute said...

I've decided to utilize some of my bus travel time to crochet again. It gives me something to do with my hands while I listen to music and occasionally look up an imagine about the lives of those sitting around me. This morning I was thinking about how I want to learn how to knit. I have a pair of knitting needles at home and a small instructional manual of sorts so I know I could resort to teaching myself. But that idea didn't feel right. So I wondered at the possiblity of one of my classmates, an expert knitter, showing me how to do it.

I think that I learn best by first watching others and then by attempting to venture out while they're standing along side of me waiting patiently with the knowledge that I will need to return to them at some point for more assistance. They can show me what they've learned...but the real learning comes when I begin to do it on my own.

I don't think we're meant to figure this life out all on our own. I feel like our culture has embraced this notion of self-sufficiency to our own detriment. The church has not escaped the clutches of this cancer. People are encouraged to read their Bibles alone and to go to God alone. And so the Bible becomes the instruction manual...but this big problem sort of erupts. It's not that easy to translate the living word into step-by-step instructions.

What if we begin to read it together? What if we begin to read life together? Maybe that's what God intended to begin with. When I read the Bible I even have this sense that I'm not alone in my reading...but that I'm sitting with Abraham, Jacob, Ruth, Dinah, Peter, Paul and Timothy. I'm sitting with them still wrestling with how to do this thing we call life. We are all in this together - and that's how it should be.


Lindsey Bernhardt said...

I don't have anything extremely deep or philosophical to respond with - but I did want to tell you both that I truly enjoy reading your blog - it is thought provoking and forces me to think/ponder what was said.