If there was one thing I couldn’t stand growing up, it was when books or cartoons or any other medium that was supposed to appeal to my young brain replaced “ketchup” with any other variation. “Catsup” and “katsup” were the most common perpetrators, and I still have trouble today even getting the word out of my mouth. That disdain is a little hypocritical, though, given that I remember (though no one else seems to, so my credibility may be compromised) a time where I got syrup and ketchup mixed up because I just knew that both were condiments that I liked, ending in “up,” and the fact that I now refer to ketchup as “the ‘tchup” in a way that began as irony but has stealthily metamorphosed into a legitimate affinity for the word, much like my use of “dope.”
So it appears I’m breaking my own rule yet again by making a bad ketchup pun to reflect where I feel I’m at in life. So I seek forgiveness, if not from you, than from myself. And possibly from Heinz.
Here’s where this is going: I wrote a post in the beginning of summer called “Starvin’ Marvin” in which I talked about my wanting to want to draw closer to God. There was this inexplicable distance that I felt, this numbness to the fire in my bones that I’ve felt in my relationship with Jesus before. So all I really wanted was to cut out that first want, and simply to desire Christ to move through me, to make himself known in my life.
Well, I finally got that, though it took longer than I’d hoped.
It’s a difficult thing to describe, I guess. As I’ve mentioned several times by now, I’ve been going pretty much nonstop since my internship, and it’s not really looking like it’ll ease up until Christmas, and that’s if I’m lucky. So as I began RA training, I didn’t really expect God to “show up” in the ways I’d expected and hoped for during the summer. There was more stuff to learn like how to tell if your residents are “smoking the weed” or if there was a “member of the opposite sex in the dorm when they shouldn’t be” or some other sort of tomfoolery that we youngin’s might get into.
I’ve never been hugely moved by worship. That might be a bad or off-putting thing to say, but it is what it is. People experience God differently, and, by and large, worship (in the traditional sense of singing in the assembly, etc.) isn’t the time I feel the closest to Him. There are moments, though, when it does draw me exceptionally near, and it’s taught me something about worship as a discipline, about leaving things at the altar and coming before God in praise.
However, there was a moment when we were worshiping as a whole Res Life staff. It was led into by my boss who dropped a great spoken word piece about the unity of the church and how that’s tied to how we perceive God, and then there was a time for us to have our feet washed and pray together as individual dorm staffs. And throughout all this, the two people leading worship for the night were singing and playing guitar, and when I got back to my spot on the pew and just had some solitary time, I felt it.
I felt the first want drop.
I wish I could pinpoint when or how it happened, or what that even meant, but for the first time in forever, I felt like there wasn’t a barrier keeping me from sincerely longing after Christ. And I won’t get too mushy about speaking of His embrace or the relief of realizing that I’m a hopeless mess, but that I’m His hopeless mess, and that I have been so blessed so that I can bless others so, but in lieu of detailing all that, I only offer reassurance that all those things are rooted in truth; truth that I, for one, so often take for granted from dwelling so totally in grace.
And that was it. The service ended and I felt refreshed, but perhaps not in the way I might have expected. Because it didn’t feel like anything got much easier, I didn’t find myself on like a spiritual high or anything. I just had that moment, but that was more than enough.
So if I had to make up a phrase to be the counterpart of “starvin’ Marvin,” I guess it’d be “fed, Fred.” And I think those are both seasons of life we go through, but in different ways respectively. I didn’t feel bloated, but simply satisfied, at peace with a good meal and a good chef, if that’s an appropriate analogy to draw.
But fed, Fred is enough. It’s more than enough. It keeps me going.
It was interesting to find myself back in the middle of being busy, though, because I did expect that to ease up. But I think I’ve found a connection, and that’s where the ketchup comes in.
I’ve already discussed, to an extent, my adoration for the chicken nugget. It doesn’t matter where it’s from, if it’s a chicken and it’s a nugget, I love it. But, especially growing up, it wasn’t so much about the nugget as it was about what went on it. And that, most usually, was ketchup.
The thing about ketchup, though, is that it’s strong. You put it on burgers and fries and chicken, but if you put it on certain foods, it’s like spitting in the face of it. Like steak. You don’t put ketchup on steak. Why? Because a good steak is like a portal to another world where everything is perfect. There’s no traffic, vinyl records never skip, old men allow children to play on their lawns without reprimand, and literally every single person is Beyonce Knowles.
You don’t put ketchup on it because it masks that.
So I think being busy is sort of like ketchup- or at least the explanation of it is. Because right now in my life, everything is just coated with busyness. Any time I get a moment to breathe, I’m afraid to because I think there’s some other, better way I could be spending my time. And it’s affecting every part of my life. Academics, relationships, hobbies, everything.
But maybe that’s just how I’m treating it. After all, that first “want” dropped right in the midst of busyness. So my theory is this:
We can’t allow the ketchup of busyness to mask the flavor of what we’re actually busy with. When that happens, everything seems like a chore.
I don’t know how much God moves through ketchup. But I know He moves through steak. And by that I mean that I don’t know how much God moves through my worrying about what class I have next or what I might be forgetting to do. But I do know he moves in lectures, and he moves in walking across campus and stopping every 30 seconds to say hi to a friend, and he moves in constantly checking my mailbox to see if my Kanye vinyls have arrived yet.
Busyness is the enemy of relationship with God. That’s what I’ve been taught for a long time. And in essence, yeah, that’s true. But what if we searched for God in it? The challenge is really committing to that, but I think if we do, we might end up seeing a lot more God than we might if we had a whole lot of free time.
So here are some things I’m setting in place for myself moving forward into the semester, not to shut out or conquer my busyness, but to embrace it and walk through it with God:
– I got a little journal from Wal Mart and a nice fountain pen. I keep it in my back pocket and I want to take lulling moments to just write. To write prayers, to write story ideas, write rhymes and poems, write praises. I just wanna fill that book. Break down the dam of the proverbial stream of consciousness.
– I’m going to start my days deliberately and with purpose. I’m going to get up without hitting snooze, do some push ups and sit ups (because I had to do some the other day and it was way harder than it should have been), and then spend time in the Bible and/or in some sort of Christian living/theology book (Donald Miller, Rubel Shelly, etc.) and in prayer. I think if I can start my day with that on the mind, it will help carry me through the rest of it.
– I’m going to set a bedtime. If I’m going to get up consistently, I need to go to bed consistently.
– I’m going to nap less. I started taking daily naps when I was a sophomore in high school and that is a habit that I need to kick or else it will literally kill me.
These four things seem to be fairly simple, but I want to ease into them just the same. Otherwise, they may end up just being more things to do and weighing me down rather than lifting me up.
So I share these things both as an offer to you, readers who know me and would be comfortable, to keep me accountable to. Ask me how they’re going, and I’ll tell you. But also as an invitation to join me if any of these or something like it seems like something you need, too. Even if it’s just kicking a bad habit like incessant napping.
I know I’m fed, Fred. I’m constantly being fed. And so are you. I just want for us not to be content with feeling like we’re constantly playing catch up.