By Susan Stewart
Black smudges of smoky grey clouds rise from the northern horizon like ominous harbingers of darkness, haunting a sky that glows a clear and endless purple-rose in the deepening twilight. I pop in my latest audio book as I turn my car south, heading home at the end of another crazy-busy workday. Rising and falling over hill and dale, my senses are fully aware of the beauty of the evening sky, the perfect backdrop for listening to Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller.
I'm loving that book. Loving it. I'm glad I bought the audio version. The words are read aloud by the author himself and so with certain inflections that might be missed by a different reader. Those words are not only filling my ears, but reaching down to grab my soul - hard - and give it a good shake. I can't wait to read - or should I say, "listen to" - the sequel.
Hearing Donald Miller, as close and as real as if he was sitting there in the passenger seat, reveal his deepest thoughts, opening up hidden places of both peace and angst, makes me want to go back somewhere I think I might have been many years ago. Or maybe I've never been there at all, but somehow it's a place I'm aware of, and long for. A place, a "real" place, a "transparent" place, a place I gradually had to build a wall around not just because I was rejected so many times, but because I had failed others so many times too, just as they had failed me. I think a part of me - some "real" part - must have just given up and laid down somewhere along the way, raising its tired, wounded head here and there a time or two, even going so far as to wag a tail on the rare occasion. But only with a few and very trusted people. For the most part, as it's dawning on me now, I've too often surrounded my true self with a big fluffy cushion of "facade". And all the while priding myself on being "real". Hah.
Fluffy fake facades are so safe. At least that's what we tell ourselves. Are they? Knowing what little I do about God's Upside-down Kingdom, I doubt it. I'll bet the safest and most peaceful place on earth has to be a place of authenticity. That's the place where Jesus stood. Every step he took on earth, even to being stripped naked, beaten, and carrying a heavy cross, he never tried to be anything more - or less - than who he was. He never seemed to "try" at all. He was safe in his own skin. Safe in his personal identity. Father's son. Father's own.
I'm homesick. Homesick enough to be willing to risk getting hurt to get back there. Not just to visit once in a while. I want to move back home. At least I think I am willing. Right now tonight, I am.
"Let your yes be yes, and your no be no," Jesus said.
And let my "me" be the real me. So be it, Lord Jesus. But I'll really need your help.
Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller. It will stir you deeply, not just your emotions, but it will mess with your own personal status quo, flinging it aside to get right down to the real you. No wonder it's a New York Times Bestseller.