the dimming of a shining star

have you ever suffered from shining-star syndrome?

shining-star syndrome defined: the aspiration to shine brighter than any other star in the galaxy. the secret wish to be the best equipped of any other star to rescue beings cloaked in darkness or partial shadows by bearing the brightest and shiniest light in the universe. the hope of perpetually existing as the greatest star ever to light the world [the sun] and therefore to be the north star toward which all other stars and every other created being turns for its energy, light, and existence.

in other words, the syndrome of all kinds of messed-up, mixed-up, mashed-up, mushed-up, ultimate fallen-starness around.

have you ever suffered from this? i have. and right now, God's trying to turn that dimmer switch on down. and it really hurts. it's really, truly embarrassing. it totally humbles. it makes me feel like a falling star. like i am plummeting to the ground at warp speed and will soon hit the earth and explode and instantaneously reform into scattered shards of dead rock, never to be heard from or seen in brilliant, shining glory again. it makes me want to lope around to the other hemisphere of the globe in some kind of crazy, misguided attempt to disappear from my own orbit.

i don't know about you, but i picked up this little proclivity in childhood and have carried it with me ever since. i know it's part of my participation in the fallen race that began when one woman and one man decided they wanted nothing more than to be like God, and who were shown the way to that desire by a being who had wanted the exact same thing. but he fell, and they fell, and, well, here i am: fallen, too.

but i know it's also part of what we pick up along in life. at least, that's been my experience. the exposure to great humiliations at a young age informed me that the only way to survive and thrive was to be above reproach, immune to humiliation, and therefore perpetually above the rest of the world. and i somehow made the jump to think that in this perfection, i would invite the praises of men instead of derision, to become essential for all positive outcomes instead of inconsequential to any, and to be the one with divine answers instead of just fumbling, human-sized questions.

when i first learned this was my way, it confounded and disgusted me. i went about slowly unlearning it. it look a long, long time. but God was faithful, and he showed up, and he taught me a new and better way: that humanity, imperfection, mystery, equality, humility, and the great unknowing states of our existence are not only breathtakingly beautiful but exactly as God would have them be. we are human; he is God. we don't have it all together; he does. there's no expectation of perfection on our part; there's every expectation of perfection on his. we can all just let go, sit back, look around, and breathe.

i lived in the jubilant peace of these revelations for a pretty long time and sought to offer them to others in need of refreshing life whenever the need crossed my path. eventually, i learned that this was an essential footprint God planted in me so that he could more fully walk the earth and incarnate grace in these places through my human hands. all this was good. i was happy to be a vessel and overjoyed to have received such grace from him in my story.

except that now, he seems to be wanting more. he seems to be showing me more of my flawed, fallen starness. he seems to be wanting to dim that super-shiny star on down so that he can dispose it toward a different kind of energy than it currently exhibits.

i am sure there will be many, many seasons like this in my life. seasons where i am vividly aware of habits and beliefs and behaviors i thought i had unlearned coming back to be unlearned again, of ugly ways i relate to God, myself, and others that were never God's design at all, of graces i need to learn to accept when i've already learned to accept them to certain degrees already. even though i know that this is the way of our life in him, our continual sanctification that circles and circles and circles around over and over again on themes and lessons familiar that necessarily take a lifetime to unfold . . . even though i know this, it does not make this present dimming any less painful. i feel like i am starting over. and honestly? it makes me really mad.

it took me a few days to realize that mad is what i really feel. but now that i have located it, i am crying out to God and asking why he has to do this. he has already taken and formed so much in me in these past years, and pretty much entirely with my quite willing, though often clueless and in-pain, cooperation. why more? why now? were these past years just not good enough? have they been deemed not good enough to be useful? will there always be another season of waiting to be useful in ministry as he takes me through yet another growth spurt again? will i never be ready to go? will i always be deemed unworthy? because unworthy is what i'm beginning to feel.

please hear my heart . . . i don't mean to say that i am, in fact, unworthy or that God is not, has not, and will not use me. only that it feels that way right now, when i am being shown a very dark terrain of my heart and feel myself entering into a pretty intense time of cleansing by his hands. i also don't mean to say that i am never meant to shine like a star in the sky. only that he never meant me to desire after shinier, more brilliant hues than he made me to offer. only that i've been created to offer light that shines from a source wholly other than myself, whereas i'm coming to see how much i still try to self-perpetuate my light. only that i'm learning just how black my self-perpetuated light-source really is.

and so these days, the dimming. i am being confronted on every side of my fallen humanity. i am being presented quite frequently with my pride. my covetousness. my envy. my self-exaltation. my craving for the praise of men. my manipulations. my doubt. my well-planned exits of escape. my drivenness toward distraction. my sloth. my greed. my criticisms. my poor judgment. my impulsivity. my denial. my anger. my judgments. my wrath. my competitive edge. my evil intents. my mind-numbing planning. my fear. my unforgiveness. my jealousies.

it is not pretty, folks. i am embarrassed to even air these things here. i feel like that initial breaking i shared with you here was just a quick and expedient initial hose-down in preparation for a full-throttle, firehose-sized cleansing that has arrived with every intention of staying to rain down pelting showers on me for a very long time. at least, that is what seems to be happening now. i am not pleased about it. i am already rather exhausted. but i pray for the strength and faithfulness to remain here while he cleanses me in a way that ultimately bursts forth an eternal, brilliant beam of his own self.