Wednesday, February 17, 2010

In the Aftermath of Valentine's Day

It came to my attention a few weeks ago that February 15th, President's Day, was going to be a federal holiday. Incidentally, I think I (we) may have made a bit of a faux pas with President's Day. Did anyone even get him a card or a gift basket? I sure didn't. At any rate, any three day weekend is cause for celebration in my book and I immediately thought, "What a neat opportunity to do something fun with my girlies." Shortly after that I realized that it was also Valentine's Day on Sunday. A very brief inventory made me realize that nearly all of my girlfriend's are married or otherwise romantically attached and my stand-by Valentine's Day date had moved to California. This did not result in any bitterness whatsoever and there were no parties of the pity variety at my house that evening.
Darned if I was going to spend Valentine's Day holed up in my house binging on chocolates that I had to purchase for myself. Neither was I going to be the babysitter for the lucky lovebirds. I had far too much pride for each. Like the strong independent Millennial that I am, I booked myself a hotel and a massage. To be honest, I was very excited about spending the weekend alone. I am valuing my alone time more and more these days.
Saturday night I spend with some of the afore-mentioned marrieds at a hockey game, which was all kinds of fun. Since we were in the "big city" we had to, I thought, get out of the hotel and mingle with the metropolitan crowd. About 5 minutes later, urbane and wordly as we all are, we just had to laugh at how out of place we were. It was saturday night I a downtown nightclub, I was wearing a T-shirt and jeans, my lady friend was wearing chacos. We lasted about 45 minutes but most of that time was spent marveling at how tiny the cocktail dressed were or how much blatent groping was occurring a few feet from our table. That was the beginning of what I have just now christened my "Valentine's Weekend Revelation."
The next morning was, I cannot deny, highly indulgent. While it was nice to spend a few hours pretending that luxuries like spas were familiar to me, the whole experienced was tainted by that nagging voice of prudence saying, "I can't believe I'm spending money on this, I just was rejoicing that the Lord is teaching me to be thrifty. Oh my word, there are babies sleeping on the ground in Haiti. I bet they'd like a massage and a few minutes peace."
I tried to ignore the voice and pretend like I was enjoying myself but the whole day was tainted by the knowledge of my selfishness. Aside from the conviction, I was inexplicably ill at ease and had trouble stirring up excitement for my sing girl's weekend. The restlessness grew in direct proportion with my determination to enjoy myself. I read a bit, took some notes for the forthcoming Anna Karenina book review (that, at least, was very satisfying), and finally fell asleep, strangely exhausted and disappointed in myself, at 10:00pm. I woke up bright-eyed at 7:00am and the first thought that entered my head was, "I want to go home." The perplexing restlessness and dissatisfaction of the previous day crystallized into the "Revelation." God has been growing a beautiful gift of simplicity and authenticity in my life and I had spent the last two days, even longer to say the truth, trying to pollute that pure gift with shallow indulgences and affected sophistication.
In 2 Corinthians 11:3, Paul tells the Corinthians of his fear that they may be deceived, as Eve was by the serpent, and "corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." Since I first heard it, this promised simplicity has been a kind of holy grail for me. Simplicity is not a natural state for me, my nature is to convolute. So to realize that Christ had blessed me with simplicity and I had despised this gift was and still is deeply humbling.
I could make all sorts of accusations against our consumer-driven society or the social pressures of the "Me" Generation, but the truth is that I live in a corrupted house and I am responsible for my decisions. I have to choose to swim out to the deepest parts of that river of Jesus Christ's simple, albeit counter-cultural, and often humiliating grace, or I can wade in the shallows, play some volleyball, and work on my tan.
Yours, in His Grace,

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