I was deciding whether or not to hang the laundry on the line one windy afternoon in West Texas, when the awareness of how meaningless my life was, landed like a wet sandbag in my arms.
I just stood there, feeling the soggy, miserable weight of it, wondering what I should try next to fix it or where I could run. Coming up empty, I did what rational people everywhere do in this situation. I screamed as loud and hard as I could into the wind:
WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?
When I finished, there was nothing but silence and wind.
No lightning split the sky. The universe whispered no hint. No birds touched down on my head. It was like the wind stole the voice out of my chest and blew it a hundred different ways. Standing on the back porch of my little white farm house, with sand in my mouth, I realized I was 37 years old, married to a sweet-hot cowboy, in possession of everything I said I wanted, and it still wasn’t enough.
FEELING SELFISH AND GUILTY AT ONCE - FUN.
Once upon a time, I’d have taken that problem to God, but he and I hadn’t spoken in four years. Not since the day I met a few of his representatives in the parking lot at Planned Parenthood.
I was there to end a miserably failed pregnancy. One that I held on to for many doomed weeks, crying and praying for healing that never came.
They were there to make a point about my pregnancy. For extra clarity, they carried signs and shouted to me from behind a court-ordered boundary, stomping around in ankle-deep snow.
As I shuffled into the clinic, I considered how easily they could be members of my church. As in, the church I attended with fair regularity, where friends had been praying for weeks for me and my long-shot pregnancy.
One of the Planned Parenthood nurses, touched my hand as I came inside. She’d heard my story the day before and when she saw the protestors that morning, she said she wanted to run them over with her car, so I wouldn’t have to see them.
What an odd kindness, I thought, stumbling through some pretty foggy gray area. Whose team am I even on?
That day’s heartbreak was both deep and predictable. As Sam drove us home, I stared out the window and thought about the protestors. I didn’t know them and they didn’t know me, but at that moment I decided if standing in a parking lot with a sign, berating a stranger in distress, is what it means to follow Jesus, I’m out.
It’s a vow I will never break.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR LIFE MATTER IN 3 BIG STEPS.
I left the laundry basket on the back porch and went inside to lie down. The West Texas wind rattled the 100 year-old window in my bedroom as I gazed at the bookshelf beside it. On it, lay my old bible - untouched and heavy with bad memories.
For the first time ever, it occurred to me that I had formed hundreds of opinions on The Bible, but I’d never actually read it. Four years before, I’d rejected Jesus, someone I’d known, based on the behavior of people I don’t. Perhaps it was possible, that bible and those protestors were not at all the same thing.
What if the Bible says something different than I think it does? What if it can keep me from crying on my bed every day? Plus, I’ve read everyone else from Marianne Williamson to Eckhart Tolle to the Tao Te Ching, what do I have to lose? It’s just me, Sam and the wind out here anyway.
On that April day in 2010, I made three more vows.
To Read It - I already knew there were things I’d object to in the Bible. However, it seemed foolish and a little bit proud to skip reading the world’s oldest, best-selling book because I was already too smart for it. I promised myself I’d spend an entire year reading the whole thing.
To Believe It - I chose, not to ignore those objections, but rather to catalogue them for later review. I promised to simply be open to the possibility that the Bible is somehow, metaphorically, allegorically or categorically, true. However, if at the end of the year, I didn’t believe it was the inspired word of God, I just wouldn’t.
To Do As It Says - What’s the point of studying something new without trying it out? If I was going to give the Bible a fair shot, I’d have to do as it says, or at least attempt to. So I promised to do that too, even though I had no idea what lay in store.
WHAT LAY IN STORE
What happened next is the subject of this blog, this story, this life, this community. Seven years into the project and five cover to cover readings later, I am different in ways I could not have predicted. This path has been interesting and hard, exhilarating and fearsome and at times, terrifying, but it has also satisfied me and it has never once been dull.
I want to tell you all about it. Particularly, if you are screaming into the wind on your own back porch. Subscribe to join our community.