A Perfectionist, Unprepared Bride

let your light shine before men

“Let your light shine before men.”

I just woke up from the most convicting dream.

It started with an explosion of a mountainous building where some beasts of some sort had been living. Somehow they wreaked havoc, although they had been living dormant in that space for a while. These alligator-like creatures had names, and I knew them.

But the main part of the dream consisted of getting ready for a wedding — my wedding. First of all, I was decorating the hall. I was going to use my art, and I began to frantically paint more paintings, as the ones I had weren’t good enough. I soon realized that with the wedding only an hour or so away, I wasn’t going to have time to paint all new paintings, so I had to use the ones I had, which I realized were perfectly adequate.

A porter at the hotel the wedding was at warned me that I should go to my room and get ready, as otherwise I would be late.

With less than an hour left before the wedding, I decided that I needed to wash my hair. I then took my time agonizing over which undergarments to wear. I worried about my weight and got out the scale. The porter came to my door and instructed me to leave immediately, as the reservation at the hall where the banquet was to be held was about to run out.

I put on my wedding dress, which looked like something Cinderella would wear in Disney’s “Parade of Lights.” While the dress fit perfectly, it felt uncomfortable and awkward. Nevertheless, I left the hotel room and walked to the banquet hall where the wedding was to be held.

Other hotel guests were already beginning to sit down and eat, as the reservation had pretty much expired. My guests were able to eat, but they had nowhere to sit. There was also not a space to have the ceremony, since the place was now filled with people who were not invited to the wedding.

I walked up some stairs where there was a space on the landing that overlooked the people at the banquet. There was only a thin, low railing protecting me from the empty space behind me, and that made me nervous. I backed away a couple of steps from the abyss.

I don’t remember the bridegroom from my dream, but he was there, and we got married.

After the wedding, a man came up to me and asked if I knew the names of the beasts who had caused destruction in the city earlier that evening. I told him, and he gave me a large amount of money — more than enough to pay off my credit card debt and live life to the fullest.

After I woke up, I thought about it for a while. This dream makes sense to me on so many levels.

I am a perfectionist. I never feel good enough. A classic example of this has to do with my art. I always feel that I should learn another technique, use a different medium, or something, so that it is “good enough.” I have some sweet friends who tell me that my art is already “good enough,” but I have a difficult time believing them.

This way of thinking also carries over to my knowledge of Christ. I tend to believe that I don’t know enough to really do anything. That I might mislead people. That I don’t know enough of the Bible. That I’m not sacrificial or committed enough to count myself as an effective follower of Jesus.

The irony is that it is this very way of thinking that makes me ineffective, both at art and as a Jesus-follower. The dream clearly showed me that I need to show my light now, not after I’ve learned enough theology, for example. To continue to agonize over not knowing enough is to cause people to miss out on the banquet, and in my case, ironically miss being prepared for the bridegroom.

I do know what’s up. I know the names of the beasts of destruction, and that’s good, but isn’t enough. I’ve got to let my light shine no matter how uncomfortable it feels. That dress was made for me. I need to learn how to wear it with grace and confidence. And the only way to do that is to put it on.


The Kingdom of Heaven

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field that a man found and hid. In his joy he went and sold everything he had and bought that field.”

This is true on a level that I never understood until now.

First of all, the Kingdom is hidden. You will likely not find it sitting in church, no matter how good the pastor is.

Second, you have to look for it and find it. Don’t worry, Jesus says, “Seek and you will find.”

Finally, when you do find it, everything else will completely pale in importance. You will want to help other people to open their eyes, to know





We Are All Mentally Ill

we're all delusional
It’s easy to get a diagnosis of mental illness today, especially with the release of the American Psychiatric Association’s new manual, the DSM 5, which pretty much labels all human behavior as maladjusted. The DSM 5 has been subject to massive criticism because of this, but the thing is, maybe this manual gets closer to the truth than those of us who maintain that most people are sane.

The fact is, we are all suffering from a massive delusion. Collectively, we seem to be under the impression that violence is a solution to violence, for example. We have taken this idea to such an extreme that we are willing to risk the annihilation of the entire species (and several others, certainly) because of this belief.

We’re very quick to label mass shooters and someone who drowns her baby as crazy, and rightly so, but what about the rest of us? How are we any different? Going into a school and shooting fewer than 40 people is small change when compared to the carnage that our culture endorses on a regular basis.

We do psychological and theological flips to justify our behavior. After all, we reason, they might get us first if we don’t do something. They might take away our freedom. They might hurt us, somehow. They.

Earlier today I was trying to figure out what, exactly, the message of the Kingdom of God was that Jesus preached. I think I finally figured out just a bit of it. I think this is what Jesus was basically saying:

I’m the Messiah.

I will transform this earth.

You will be born again into the Kingdom.

I will transform your mind.

Do not sin. (Do not commit acts that are unloving, exploitative and dehumanizing.)

I am what God looks like.

The message of the Kingdom has been lost today. Jesus didn’t go around preaching that he had risen from the dead and was a sacrifice for our sins. He showed us how to be born again — transformed into a being that transcends the cycle of violence and retribution.

You hear a lot of stuff in church about accepting Jesus as Lord. What does this mean? I don’t think it is supposed to mean that we should think, “Well, okay, I’ll believe what you say so I can avoid pain later on.”

No way. Jesus as Lord means that we treat him as our Lord. A Lord is someone you respect and obey. You follow his rules.

So if Jesus is my Lord, that means I must obey the Sermon on the Mount, for example.

If Jesus is my Lord, then I will be a peacemaker. I will be light. I will set aside anger and judgement. I will love my neighbor. I will not put my perceived material or sexual needs above treating others with love. I will pray for my enemies.

And this, right here, is the cure for our collective mental illness. We don’t have to be crazy people who bomb those who don’t agree with us, threaten us or have resources we’d like to have. We don’t have to have violence in our personal lives, either. This is a delusion, and Jesus showed us how to overcome it. He showed us how to be. It isn’t easy, but it isn’t hard, either. We just have to decide to do it instead of searching for a magical formula that will somehow grant us eternity or blessings without growth.