Culturally, we love to do things BIG. Even despite the hard time Texans get about "big everything" in their state, I'm pretty sure it applies to our country as a whole. We want and seek:
Even in more progressive states, like Oregon, the desire is the same at the core: more organic, more green, more of everything "better than"...
And we love it when people can do these things--ALONE. The ever-pervasive individualist mindset affects us all, even if it consciously annoys us. We love individual success, don't we? I do. I enjoy seeing it in others and I want it for myself.
As I think about my faith-journey and examine how I've ended up in such a struggle to hold onto my beliefs, I feel like I have to consider how my culture affects me. Often, I'm comforted when I remember the truth that I only need one tiny "mustard seed". But I daily fight the internal sense that one is not enough.
In my thinking about mustard seed faith, I realized my story is tied with this metaphor in the context of our cultural influences--which gave birth to--MUSTARD GIRL! Allow me to introduce you to my cartoon self and share a bit of my story, in this illustrated meditation.
In my youth, I seemed to carry around a bucket-full of mustard seeds, I was so faithful. I loved reading about God, hearing about God, singing to God, talking to God. With Jesus walking by my side, my heart's flame would never go out, and if it did, well, then He would carry me and we'd go for a nice walk on the beach. (ya know the classic "footprints" image) The idea that a challenge in life could only build my faith stronger--well--bring it! I felt I could face anything with my full bucket of mustard seeds.
Not only could I face any challenge to cross my path, I could share these seeds with the whole world!! I could be like Mustard Seed Super-Girl sowing seeds liberally throughout the land and growing vast crops of mustard plants which would only continue to multiply and fill the entire world! And I could do this with just me and Jesus--and my bucket of seeds of course. That every super-hero has their "kryptonite" failed to cross my mind.
I didn't know what it was to really suffer. I didn't know that enduring long periods of waiting for answered prayer would actually leave something that felt like a wound. I didn't know how sad I could feel even knowing I was on the beach in Jesus's arms. I didn't realize that the more I continued to learn about the Bible, the more questions I would have, and the more the questions, and the longer left unanswered, the more the doubt would grow. I didn't know that failing to overcome challenges in marriage and parenting would result in guilt, shame and disappointment in myself that would at times make me feel like giving up. I didn't know if I tried to carry the burdens of our broken world in my heart (starving children, trafficking victims, AIDS orphans, natural disaster victims, and on and on...) it would only lead to fear and brokenness in myself, if carried alone.
With each failure and disappointment and doubt, seeds would be lost or crushed. All the crushed mustard seeds mixed with the vinegar of disillusionment began to create a big mess and I began oozing yellow, acidic, MUSTARD. My faith of the past seemed to be nothing but naive optimism.
To be continued...
STAY TUNED! Who will save Mustard Girl from her squelchy mess of mustard before she begins terrorizing innocent mustard farmers!!??