…an experimental (mostly) unedited stream of consciousness that… well… you’ll see.
It’s 7:29pm on a Subday… sorry, SUNDAY. …No it’s Saturday night. I’m typing this on my phone while the wind howls outside, my Wife does a puzzle inside, my new baby makes a bunch of noises and my older kids are downstairs watching Mister Rogers. …which is cool, but to be honest, they’ve watched a little too much TV today. I took a long nap this afternoon because I got up early this morning expecting to go to book group but then the only other member coming had to cancel last minute and I couldn’t get back to sleep so I watched a movie. “Signs” by M. Night Shamylan. … oops. I see I may have mispelled that name. Mr. M Night, if you’re reading this, I apologise. …also, I see I’ve misspelled “mispelled“. Fantastic. The reason for this weird jumble is to explore a part of myself that I’m not comfortable exploring. The unedited self.
You see, I love being a part of “Cultivating”. And I really want you to like me. (Cue Sally Fields at the Oscars). So when I write these things I edit them and then I sometimes use the thesaurus function to see if a better sounding word is available if I think my words lack a little pepper, and I ask my Wife to read it and we make edits together. She’s amazing. (Cue Sally Fields. I really really like her. …my Wife. Not Sally Fields. I mean Sally is Great. Ms. Fields, if you’re reading this, I’m a fan too.). Anyways, my work goes through several drafts and sometimes complete teardowns and buildups. I usually try to write two posts. This was initially a defense mechanism just in case one wasn’t good enough so Lancia would have the option to say a polite “no” to one. But now, I like writing short stories and these ‘spirituality meets life’ posts too so I’ve worked myself into a bind. And feel an obligation to continue doing both. Is that strange? I feel weird revealing that. I now feel compelled to express how truly grateful I am again to be a part of this!
I have written a short story but not an essay and at this point, honestly, I’m so emotionally wirey that I don’t think I could pull it all together to make it worth your time by the submission due date. But then, inspired by my wrestling with unhealthy validation, I set out to try this experiment. I’m pressing on without making edits or fixing spelling errors. …or making as little of them as I can possibly stand! This is my attempt to “rest”, not from love for you who read this, but “rest” from my need for you to love me.
I wrote a poem about a Quesadilla and it made my Wife laugh. She wanted me to post it, but I told her I wasn’t going to go on Facebook for a while and that if she wanted, she could post it on my page herself. She did. …then I started wondering… The next day, I had some half-baked excuse to go on and I checked. Only 4 reactions. One heart, three thumbs, one comment. The heart from my Wife, and a thumb from my Mom. After that I didn’t really want to write poems anymore. I mean I’m not a poet. I was just having fun! And it was cathartic and helpful for some anxious moments I was having. To have that little outlet of joy squashed because I didn’t get a response to my love poem for a Quesadilla is pretty rediculous. *Ridiculous. I can’t continue to find my worth and define my joy by “response”. I need to “rest”. I need to “rest” from validation from others. Hence, this exercise.
I don’t remember where that is. Isn’t it near the Elijah in the cave thing? He has this mountain top experience, litterally, God shows up and he puts the prophets of Baal to shame in an “Nation of Israel Idol” competition, proving God is God, not the dude with the cow face, then doesn’t rain come for the first time in a long time or is that a different story? Anyways, after Elijah sees God do amazing things and he’s a part of the winning team, he gets scared and depressed and runs off and hides in a cave because Jezebel wants to kill him. A little more extreme than not having your post liked… the post about a Quesadilla love poem. But then God feeds him and lets him rest and then shows him a whirlwind, but it says God is not in the Whirlwind. And then a fire I think. But God wasn’t in the fire. And then something else, like an earthquake. All this big flashy stuff. But it says God isn’t in that. Then there’s a still small voice. That’s God to Elijah in that moment. That’s how He wants Elijah to hear Him. Not because of the big ‘validating’ stuff. The ‘signs and miracles’ and approval of Queens or friends on Facebook.
So, it’s not you, dear reader, it’s me. I’m trying to quiet the noise and hear that still small voice.
We read the story of Joshua out of the Jesus Storybook Bible to the kids tonight. One of the final lines was a child version of Joshua’s benediction to the Israelites, the “as for me and my house” one. It said “Only God can make your heart Happy. So don’t follow any other gods.” It was hard to explain idolatry to our kids. They have little context for the Biblical model. But the point hit home with me. Idol worship can be as present today as before. “Relevance” or maybe even “Audience Response”. Maybe a darker angle for those of us who aspire to creative pursuits is there’s a part of us that would be happy to BE the idol. So we buff up our altars and try to make our places of worship places you’ll want to come to and say “Wow! What a good job you’ve done! What a fine artist! You’ve changed my life!” And then carry us around town on your shoulders and give us gold statues and tell us that you like us. You really really like us.
And that’s not why I should edit. Not to make you like me. …or really really like me. But instead out of my love for God and love for you, the you whoever you are that is reading this. To make your path here pleasant, not to give praise to me. To make sure my ideas are tested and worth sharing, not to make sure I sound intelligent or witty. If I am finding my approval no where else but in God, I can lay down, or “rest” from my need to find it in gou. *You. (Seriously, what a great spot for a typo. Reading more into it than I should, “gou” is me making a god out of you.).
“Only God can make my heart Happy”. Only approval from Him can put my heart in a place of love for others that lets me pour out, not for my own gain, but for yours.
If you’ve read this far, thank you. Truly. Thank you. I truly hope that SOMETHING in this has made the weird twists and turns worth taking. Something maybe causing you to reflect on your own idols and what you may need to “rest” from.
I wish you well and I will pray now for those of you that read this, that God may give you His words from this rather than mine.
Be still and know… that God likes you. He really really likes you.
PS – In closing, not because I want you to tell me you like it, but truly because it was an expression of playful joy and I think it might make you smile, here is my poem about the Quesadilla.
Quesadilla mi Amor
by Adam R. Nettesheim
The cast iron pan your cocoon,
a metamorphic cauldron of transformation
taking mere flattened flour now buttered,
a clutch of cheese, shredded and sown
as seeds of the gooey harvest to come.
The sizzle an applause of anticipation.
A reward for the becoming.
The what was, what is and what shall be.
Gathering saliva runs to the gates,
unable to contain the flood of anticipation.
Pulse quickens at this future pulse obstacle.
The flip, the reveal of once hidden alchemy
Magic of heat alivening the elements themselves, becoming you to become
this, the finest of all forms of sustenance.
Cultural uniter, class leveler, gift to mankind from the heavens, unleavened but never passed over. A moment more but not a moment too long and the joyful leap from pan to plate makes the burning of my finger and tongue tips worthy payment, as my teeth portion thee and lips enclose thee and mouth dance with thee and eyes close as if they are trying to see thee from within, and a moan escapes my throat as my stomach begs to be included and my body releases satisfaction from my pores, my mind slows to a single thought, and one alone. Like – no, as a lover cries the name of his reunited one true desire, my brain and heart whisper….
Editor’s note: “Be Still and Know that I am God.” is from Psalm 46.10.
Adam is a vagabond of the arts. He is an animator by training, a media specialist by vocation, a church arts project coordinator by choice and a writer by hobby. Though he “still hasn’t found what he’s looking for”, in his wandering through the arts he has found the firm conviction that God has been writing His story through our stories since the beginning, and He’s not done yet. Adam is also a contributor to the ministry “God Thru the Arts” and is slowly working at his own passion project “The Witness Cloud” – which explores the stories of those listed in Hebrews 11, and seeks to find the “True Myths” that also point to God through the human journey using the arts. Adam and his wife Sarah have 3 children and live in Northern Colorado. His artistic interests range from G.K. Chesterton to Looney Tunes. Follow Adam on Instagram here.