Me and Ariel

[This is a guest post from one of my favorite writers and favorite people: Annie Lent.  I’m praying for her right now: that she would use her voice to speak often.  And that she would believe she has Disney princess hair.]

The Little Mermaid was my favorite movie when I was a kid. I loved her long red hair and curiosity. I loved her cave of pretty things. I loved her crabby best friend. I love that she was bound and determined to see another world.

I would press rewind time and time again to watch Ariel flick her long scalloped tail and push her way up to the surface to take in a giant breath of salty, fresh air. She was entranced by this other world. This world of land, of feet dancing, and of course, the gorgeous man. She knew she belonged there. She had to get there.

In fact, she was so determined to make it to land and meet her man that she sold her precious voice for a pair of feet. Ariel wanted to stand on solid ground so much that she was willing to sacrifice her family, her home, her life, her mermaid-ness and eventually even her soul for a pair of legs.ariel2

It’s got me thinking…have I done the same thing? Have I traded in my voice until I am standing on solid ground? Have I put my voice on the shelf until I have more questions answered than unanswered? Have I silenced myself until I have more things to say that don’t end with a question mark?

I used to be a fearless question-asker. I questioned everything. Big things, little things; things that mattered, things that didn’t matter. I didn’t accept things at face value, I wasn’t satisfied with an empty answer. I believed that asking questions was the only way that I would grow, understand things, change.

I would question, ponder, and process out loud. I drove people nuts…

Why did that man say that? What does it mean when that cat flicks his ears? What happens when you press this button? Why is this in the Bible? What did Jesus mean when he said this? Why is it hard for me to do things that come so naturally to other people? What part of this is reality? What part is non-reality?

I never questioned what other people thought of my questions.

Until I did.

At first it was just a wondering. I wonder what other people would say if I wrote about this? I wonder what people will think of me if I ask something they already have the answer to?

Wondering turned into obsessing. With every step closer to obsession, my fingers slowed down, the posts went unfinished, the processing stopped. I felt like if I didn’t have a definitive stance on something, I couldn’t talk about it. I felt this innate pressure to know what I thought about everything. I needed to know what was right. Immediately.

I couldn’t question life because I felt like I needed to be the one giving the answers, not asking the questions. I couldn’t talk about the hard things in the Bible because I was afraid someone would also begin to question and I would be responsible. I couldn’t write about how belief feels slippery because I couldn’t take the looks of pity. I couldn’t handle people feeling sorry for me for not being as steady as they are.

I so badly want to feel like I am standing on solid ground. I want to dig my feet into the answers, lock my knees and root myself immoveable.

This reminds me so much of the story Jesus told about the man who built his house on sand vs. the man who built his house on the rock. I so badly want to stand on my answers. I want them to make me feel secure so that I can say things out loud and not fear being wrong. I want them to make me feel like I am not an idiot, not a mess, not a little girl with big, scary questions.

I spend so much time trying to pack my sand down tighter and tighter so that I can stand on it. But the reality is, the next storm that comes is going to rip my feet out from under me all over again.

The hope is not that I will have fewer questions or more answers. The hope is that I will crawl up closely to the One who has the answers. The hope is that I will trust him enough that I go to Him with all my questions in tow. The hope is that I will trust Him with the things he chooses to reveal to me, with the things in queue of answering, with the things I will never know the answer to.

The hope is that I will trust that God is not afraid of my questions. The hope is that he has put every question in my heart as a way to persevere me to the very end, as a way to be my teacher, my grace, my rock, my everything.

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