I grew up reading the classics, translating dead languages, and listening to dry lectures. I was taught that architecture mattered, culture "was religion externalized" and we as image bearers were made to strive after the good, the true, and the beautiful. It pulled on my heart strings, knowing that planting flowers and baking crusty loaves of bread had meaning and weight. That good wine had significance and Harry Potter wasn't just a fad. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers and all the dead guys my mom asked me to read outside of class truly did resonate with me. It made me thirsty.
Simultaneously, I was raised in the church. As I approached high school, it became clearer and clearer that there was a disconnect between what I was reading for homework and what I was reading for Bible study. In fact, maybe disconnect isn't strong enough. It seemed as though the two were strongly opposed.
Somewhere in my sophomore/ junior year I began to narrow down what I wanted to study in college. . . it was something between moral phil, sociology, or anthropology. These were the things that pulled on my heart strings. That made me thirsty.
Simultaneously, I was becoming more and more involved in the church. I didn't miss one youth camp, movie night, "leadership meeting" or Sunday morning. I was your quintessential church kid, showing up early and staying after late (to serve, of course). Book after book, I highlighted, underlined and took studious notes. If you needed sermon notes for the message on John 14 from last summer, I got your back. I probably even wrote down the sprinkled in Greek/Hebrew for good measure.
It was at this time that my world began to crack slowly, my heart along right along with it. According to what I was learning at church, all that mattered was heaven. A world distant, future and un-tangible. All that mattered was the "eternal" . . . and guess what? You can't take any of this stuff (spreads arms open) with you. None of this matters. Not your books. Not your art. Not your sports. Not your dreams.
Like a crack in the sidewalk it spread.
If I was serious about Jesus, then I needed to get serious about eternity. Everything else was "going to burn." Recycling didn't matter, animals didn't matter, and (this one was really hard for me) Monet's Water Lilies didn't matter. It was all going to burn. And here's another thing, "Jessica, why would you want to study philosophy? Why study man's wisdom when you could study God's wisdom?" or the classic, "Do you want to be a wife and a mother? Then pursue something practical, pursue something you're actually going to use. Being a homemaker is the highest calling."
So I jumped ship and ditched my dreams. I worked hard. Really hard. I stayed up late to pray. I wrote out memory verses and carried them with me in my purse on index cards. I scheduled coffee dates with older and younger women like discipleship was a sport. I even went to Africa (like every TOMS-wearing-plaid shirt- Jane- Austen- loving-Christian-kid), leaving my entire wardrobe behind and buying as little as I could when I returned home because "I now understood poverty."
I stared boldly into the face of that which was material and ignored my emotions. I withdrew from anything and everything "earthy" and spent my days pursuing everything "heavenly."
I could attain holiness one disconnect at a time. Like unplugging cords from instruments, I began to pull from one worldly matter at a time.
But here's the thing. When you unplug, all you're left with is soundless mechanics.
Like a corpse, it's rather numb.