timshel




Just before whispery feathers of frost started resting on the dried leaves still stubbornly clinging to the branches of summer in November of 2009; I started a blog. I called it "Kids On The Farm!" the url was growinguponafarm.blogspot.com and it was glorious. I generally posted four times a day with random updates half a sentence long that ranged from rough misspellings to rambly paragraphs written in caps lock. As the years passed, a few things changed; I dropped the multiple posts a day, I had a pre-made theme and tried to be decent as I discovered other bloggers doing amazing things. It was an exciting time.

It's both amusing and many levels of embarrassing to go through the past few years of posts, and it's not just the misspellings. Someone once told me that I had changed a lot, that they turned around and realized that they didn't even recognize me anymore, I replied with something like "Oh don't be silly, I'm still the same person on the inside." But, that's not entirely true, I have changed. I've grown into ideas that were passed down to me like the one bottle of water in a hot car car on a long road trip half-across the globe. And I've started carving out ideas of my own into the soft bark of my tree, some of them are borrowed pieces of knowledge from books and sermons and people I've met along the way, with other bits of wisdom glued to the edges. Some I found in my heart just lying there, unused and shining, after I blew off the dust.

These past few months which I now realize is close to a year have held a lot of change for me. I found out I was not healthy and we're working on fixing that, I realized how tightly I was holding to the ghosts of nostalgia for a childhood I felt was lost. Not because it wasn't good, but because it has ended and I can never go back. I realized that people have so many more layers than only one person can see and that it's not so important to know every detail about someone or have them even remember you. I lost my words, I felt, for months at a time and finally I dug them out of my soul where they were cowering with a self satisfied grin as if saying "I knew you'd find me eventually." I remembered my roots but also stretched out my branches toward the sky to let more light shine onto my withered leaves. There were so many times this year where I would sit on my bed going over the same sentence of history or geography and thinking "Where am I in the world? What would I leave behind?" And then I was mad at myself for thinking this because I felt like I was repeating lines in a movie, that next I'd feel I needed to Go Find Myself. But you know what? The world never ended and my life went on and each day I learned a bit more about myself that I never knew before.

I read books, I read East of Eden by John Steinbeck which pierced into my soul and showed me things about myself that I struggled with but never knew how to put it. I finally understood Timshel -- "Thou Mayest" a word I never knew before. You see, I've always been hyper aware of how easy it is to do wrong. Maybe it's the list of rules we Christians insist on imposing upon ourselves that are impossible to follow and also unnecessary since He controls all. Here's my thinking (a bit of borrowed and glued) when we're very young a teacher comes out with a piece of paper designed to look like rocks. It says "The Ten Commandments" and teacher says we're to follow all ten. Some are easy and also incomprehensible to our young minds: "You shall not murder" Okay, "You shall not commit adultery" Teacher, what's that mean? And we memorize them until they're etched into our minds so that we're sure to remember them always. But then one day someone points out that hating someone is just as much murder as stabbing them. You told the kid that knocked you over at the playground "I HATE YOU!" does that mean you murdered him? Mommy won't buy you this really cool toy at the store, but it looks like it'll fit into your pocket... and it's so very small. Now you're a thief. You lie about taking it. Now you're a liar, a thief and a murderer and it all happened in one day.  Even after I understood grace, I was still confused why God would place all of these wrongs in front of us like a obstacle course you couldn't get through. Steinbeck came to the conclusion through his writing and through the words of his characters found this small Hebrew word used in the story of Cain and Abel: Timshel. It means Thou Mayest. It means thou mayest conquer over sin. It means God desires that none should perish and if we put our whole faith in Him and quit chasing after the line of what's good over bad and trust Him, we're going to be okay.

xoxo Johanna Grace