Life lessons come from unusual sources. In Christian circles, there’s a great debate on whether or not God uses popular culture to reveal Himself and His truths. Some argue that we get twisted views of Him if we subject ourselves to pop music, movies or magazines. Some say if we read the latest bestseller, we’ll fall into lies and deceit. This is all very possible, of course.
Yet, before Jesus’ ascension, he promised a “counselor.” The Holy Spirit, coupled with the Bible as our foundation, allows for God to enter into all sorts of arenas, all sorts of venues in which we can find Him. Anne Lamott, author of Traveling Mercies, says her first encounter with Jesus was when she was in a drunken stupor. He wouldn’t leave her alone, so she invited him to stay. And she’s been a follower of Him ever since. Unconventional, sure. But to her, life with Jesus is very real.
Depending on your views, it may or may not surprise you then that Jesus revealed a bit of truth through an article in Vogue Magazine.
When I get my hair cut, I usually relish in the time to “check out” and just flip through all the latest fashion magazines. I rarely read the articles. Instead I catch up on the latest celebrity gossip, hair trends and fashion dos and don’ts. But this time, I saw an article that grabbed my attention immediately. I soaked up every last word.
It was the story of a girl who dreams of running away to Italy. She is single, which was the biggest difference between the two of us, but the idealism was the same. She wanted to live a different life. She wanted adventure and beauty and wealth. And she got it. For a while.
When she arrived, she met Marco, an Italian aristocrat. For a while, she led a charmed life filled with glamorous parties and dinners. She entered into the Italian culture and became a regular at Marco’s family dinners, where tradition and class played significant roles. She learned the ins and outs of the social order and expectations. She galavanted through the Tuscan countryside, museums and fashion houses where she admittedly relished in her new life, feeling sorry for the average American tourist who would never experience this sort of richness.
When her mother came to visit, the author has an epiphany or two. Seeing her mother reminds her of her own life. The one she is meant to live. Not the one she has been trying to fit into. She understands what was truly happening, that she was trying to run away. In all of the romance and allure she had found in Italy, it wasn’t her life. It was a life of fantasy. A life she had so desperately wanted to fit in to so she could feel like someone important, instead of the little American girl from an average household.
I wish I had the article with me now because I can’t remember exactly what words were used but the sentence hit me right in the center of my brain: You can’t cut yourself off above the roots and expect to survive. Her mother’s visit had left her with that piece of wisdom.
Wow. That was it. That is what I have been trying to do, and clearly it’s not working. I have issues with denial and this whole notion of running away to Italy to lala land has enticed me for some time. I know, I know… I have a husband and four young children and responsibilities. But sometimes I get caught up in my little girl, wounded self, and I don’t want the responsibilities. I don’t want to grow up. I don’t want to live this life. But when I read that part about the roots, I knew it in my heart to be true. I joke about the running away thing, but I think many women face this sort of crisis in their lives when they want to have an easier life. A more exciting life. A (fill-in-the-blank) life.
I had no plans to run away to Italy. I only went there in my dreams. But I did act as if I was already packing sometimes. My little girl self demanded that life be richer, fuller, easier. Ah yes, easier. Don’t we all want life to be easy?
Yet, my roots are what will keep me from dying and running away means cutting myself off at the stem. My roots help me survive. They feed me and bring me water when I thirst and if I try to cut myself off from them, I will wither and die. The beautiful tulips in my garden are lovely on my table in a vase. But they don’t last long. Soon, they can’t get enough of what they need. There’s nothing to sustain the tulips, no more sunshine to provide the energy they need to live.
So it is with me. I may think my life is hard like the tulip that fights between spring falling and rising temperatures, but I am planted where I need to be. I have all I need. I don’t believe that all the time. Hence, the grave mistake of trying to cut myself off at the stem and think I’ll be better off. But I am learning. And I am staying where I am.
Today, I will not run away, even in my mind, or believe in lies that life elsewhere is better. At the end of the Vogue article, the author returns to New York because that is where she belongs. That is where she is herself. Where she can be nurtured. Where she can make a contribution to life, instead of life trying to contribute to her.
I pray for this sort of wisdom today. I pray that I can remember that while life may not always play out in adventure and glamour and wealth, that I have so much more than all of those things. For one, I have a hope and a future that is so much more satisfying than these things I think will bring happiness. I have a husband who loves me, and whom I love in return, four boys who are filled with their own dreams and adventure and hope, friends and family who teach me what goodness is all about, who show grace and mercy and love even when I am off in my own little lala land, unaware and so blind.
God shows me over and over, even in Vogue magazine, that escape and root removal is no answer. Keep on growing where I am planted, and once again I will bloom and love exactly where I am. And know this is where I belong.