The way that bubblegum works, even after that tango mango or spearmint flavor is gone, is that it sticks to things.
It's in your hair? I am sooo sorry. On your shoe? That sucks.
Bubblegum sticks the way our emotions do - and if we aren't careful enough, then we'll start sticking, getting stuck on, and getting hindered by our own innate want for connection. It's a paradox that Bonhoeffer points out in his (amazing) book, Life Together.
"Many people seek fellowship because they are afraid to be alone...let him who cannot be alone beware of community. He will do harm to himself and to the community. Alone you stood before God when he called you; alone you had to answer that call; alone you had to struggle and pray; and alone you will die and give an account to God. You cannot escape yourself, for God has singled you out." Life Together
The paradox of the kind of deep connection we all seek is this: in order to maintain the health of deep connections, you have to maintain the health of your independence. But this isn't scary, and it doesn't have to feel like a skydive (though sometimes it does). The beauty about healthy connection is that it requires a beautiful balance of the two - communing with God, and communing with others.
IT doesn't mean late-night social binges or a need to feel elevated above another person, but is the unrelenting respect for yourself, and God; it is a respect for the silence that you must, at some point, endure with only God and yourself. This doesn't mean that others cannot help the process or be involved, but it has to be your process. No one can attest for you, no one can convince for you, no one can remedy the ache inside--except the Lord.
So the question we must ask ourselves, are we willing to diligently seek space to commune with God alone? To be affirmed in our unique identity as His child? To find a healthy and sustaining balance between connection with Him and those we love?
And as we diligently seek space with the Lord, (or are put into those situations by the grace of God and the wisdom of others), we must also ask these two questions: Who am I in Christ? and What is He calling me to?
And I can't answer that for you. For myself? This is what has come in the last 24 hours:
Who am I in Christ? Daughter of a Blameless King, Beloved, Confident, Unique, Quirky, Worthy, Adventurer, Bold, Active, Seeking Out Others.
What is He calling me to? The abandoned seeking of His Love. The abandoned call of connection with Him, which equips me to connect with others. Getting my hands dirty; getting out; finding joy in Him.
We can't escape the Lord's call.
What God did in this case made it perfectly plain that his purpose is not a hit-or-miss thing dependent on what we do or don’t do, but a sure thing determined by his decision, flowing steadily from his initiative. Romans 9:12 (MSG)
Good luck with your answers - be open to shifts and surprises. God's will isn't dependent on our decisions, shortcomings, or lack of attention; God is good and God shows up. We just have to let Him; no matter where we are, or how scared we are of what may fail - have faith, respond to the good you see.
Beware of community when you can't be alone; and beware of being alone when you avoid community.
Sometimes the gum is you; your fears; your past. It's hard to shake.
But don't just stick to your habits; work the gum off your shoe, or your hair; in extremes, cut it off. (If that's the case, I know some great hairstylists.)
*If you wondered whether the dog picture at the beginning had anything to do with the post, it doesn't. Happy National Dog Day.*