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Just a twentysomething living my life and, as most my age, figuring it out as I go,

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Understanding the Potter

This past fall semester, I was in a ceramics class at school. I learned how to mix clay, different techniques for how to sculpt it, and proper procedure for glazing and firing it in the kiln. Little did I know that I would use what I learned in my ceramics class in post-grad life. 
My first week of my youth internship this summer, I-along with the other intern-was assigned to sculpt 40 cups and plates for a camp we are attending this summer. So for a week and a half, I spent all day in the office preparing clay and crafting it into 40 cups and 40 plates. I worked each lump of clay as best I could to become the piece I envisioned, pushing clay in certain ways, pulling in others; smoothing out the cracks and imperfections as the clay molded into the cup or plate I wanted it to be. If you haven't worked with clay before, that sounds a lot easier than it is. In theory, you take a lump of clay, you push some of it this way, pull some of it that way, smooth some areas and you've got a right perfect piece that everyone will "oooh" and "awww" over. As I'd learned in my ceramics class, and as I relearned my first two weeks of this internship, clay has a mind of its own. Often times, you start trying to craft it into this majestic piece that you see in your mind, and it begins to stray and break, forming an unsatisfying creation that you had no intention of making. And sometimes clay is either too wet or too dry, making it hard to work with. If it's too dry, you end up with lots of little cracks that no amount of smoothing can fix. But if it's too wet, it makes it difficult to keep the right thickness and be able to keep it smooth because it pulls away with your hands. These conditions often make working with clay a very frustrating undertaking.
And I begin to really understand the scriptures throughout the Bible that refer to God as a potter and us as his clay. The Potter sits down and crafts each one of us individually perfect, exactly how he sees fit. But we are stubborn, just as clay is stubborn, and we move when He wants us to be still, and we crack when He wants us to stay smooth. We so often decide that we know what is best, that we ruin the perfect vision He has for us because we don't listen to the Potter's voice.
There is an Ellie Goulding song that I have been, frankly, obsessed with the past few months. If you ever hear me humming something, chances are, it's this song. It's called "The Writer", and it's about her wanting a boy to notice her. But the chorus of the song just really speaks to me (insert coffee-shop snaps here). It says 
"Why don't you be the artist 
and make me out of clay.
Why don't you be the writer
and decide the words I say.
Cause I'd rather pretend I'll 
still be there in the end,
only it's too hard to ask. 
Won't you try to help me?"
I can't say for sure, I'm not really friends with Ellie (though I wish I could be), but I would 
imagine this has no spiritual implication for her. But for me, every time I hear the song, I picture ballroom dancing with God. It may seem like a silly image, but if you heard the song, you'd understand why. I imagine dancing around an elegant ballroom with God, speaking these words to Him as we spin around on the shiny wooden floor, asking him to mold me like an artist, and tell my story like a writer. I picture Him looking at me, as I warn Him that I'm imperfect and may not always be there like I should, but that if He helps me, maybe I can be as perfect as He is trying to create me. And so, like me with 40 clay cups and 40 clay plates, I am starting to understand God's frustration, pride, anguish, joy with His creations. I am beginning to let Him mold me as a potter sculpts his lumps of clay. And just maybe, through that very human parallel, I will become the perfect piece He envisioned when He set out to create me.
"Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand."
Isaiah 64:8

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Dead to Self

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me."
Galatians 2:20

As I enter my post-grad life, I feel more myself than ever. I have begun to take ownership of the God-given qualities I have and ownership of my ability to change certain things about myself that aren't leading me to the person I want to be. I am Bailee. I am no longer who I think everyone else wants me to be-thought I am still working to get rid of the traces of that life. 
But something still unsettles me. As much as I feel that I am becoming more of who God wants me to be, I still feel like I am off track. Cue Galatians 2:20. As I've worked toward being who I think God wants me to be, I have forgotten the choice I made 8 years ago. 
"In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus." Romans 6:11

I decided to die to myself and take on Christ in baptism. And I think we don't put enough emphasis on this choice and the seriousness of it. I'm afraid to say in churches, we seem to be more concerned with getting juice and crackers or how worship sounds or if we are praying correctly to remember that our old selves are dead. Bailee is gone, and replaced with Christ. What would my life look like if I actually lived that way? 
At the camp I've gone to the past 7 years at my, now, Alma Mater, when someone gets baptized in the fountain, we all yell "Bye Y/N!" As they're going in the water. And then follow it with "Oh he/she gone!!" It's a fun, silly camp tradition, but what if we took that truth to heart. It may be a split second, but that time between hitting that water and returning to the surface is our funeral. It's probably the shortest, happiest funeral but still a funeral nonetheless. 
So maybe you can join me in prayer and ask for a reminder that "I am dead to self but alive in Christ. It is Him living within me that sustains me day to day."