We read hundreds of picture books in a month. I pay attention the first 20 or 30 times that I read, but then after that, I tend to zone out and think about other things (please tell me I’m not the only one!). When I reach the end of the book, I have the same feeling that I get when I drive home on autopilot, surprised to see that I’m puling into our parking spot.
So, a few days ago Ada and I snuggled up on the couch, and I began to read a book called Marilyn’s Monster. I began reading, knowing nothing about the book and wasn’t really expecting much.
Some of at the kids in Marilyn’s class had monsters. It was the latest thing. Marilyn didn’t have a monster. Not yet. You couldn’t just go out and get one. Your monster had to find you. That’s just the way it worked.
Some of the kids woke up to have their monsters beside them, others on the playground or in the middle of class. One by one, her classmates got their monsters.
Marilyn began to get a bit restless and kinda-sorta began looking for hers, while trying to act as if she absolutely was not looking. Her friends were having so much fun with their monsters, and she wanted to experience that same thing.
Her parents tried to assure her that the monster would come, just to give it time.
Marilyn wondered if the monster got lost. Or saw her from afar and decided he didn’t want to be her monster after all. That was definitely it, she thought, so she began to do and be exactly what she thought a monster would want in a playmate. Neat, proper, kind… perfect.
After waiting and waiting and waiting, one day she got angry and decided she didn’t want to be perfect and she wouldnt wait a second longer! Instead, she would just go look for him, even though that’s not how it was supposed to be. She looked for him at the library, under the bridge in the park, and in the woods, but no sign of her monster. She finally ended up in a big field and screamed at the top of her lungs:
And then, very softly, she heard a voice say,
She followed that small, quiet, but awfully clear, voice and she found her monster, up in a tree.
As I was reading, I was overcome with emotion, because I thought to myself- I can relate to her. Off and on over the past several years, I’ve felt that way about God. I see the happy clappy, I love Jesus, He gives me big wet kisses Christians, and I feel myself waiting. Waiting to feel that way again. Waiting to hear His voice clearly. Waiting to have the warm snuggly easy relationship with him, free of cares and full of presence. Waiting for my monster.
I keep waiting, and waiting, and waiting.
Then I try to make myself better and more “presentable” to Him, thinking if I can do more good things, then maybe I’ll get those fuzzies back. More Bible studies. more worship songs, more giving, more serving.
Then I get angry and say, forget it. You can take me as me or don’t take me at all! I try and go find Him underneath new prayer techniques, refreshed journaling resolve, in the pages of my Bible reading plan, or on a jog through a scenic path. And then, still with that ache in my heart, I go to that huge, empty field, look up at the sky and yell,
WHERE ARE YOU??????
And then, very softly, I sometimes hear a small quiet, and oddly clear voice say,
The journey of the soul is much messier than I ever imagined it would be.