Today, I bring you another installment of Conversations with Ourselves, a series of posts in which every Thursday the author addresses the Past Self through the Present or vice versa (or sometimes totally not this, but something equally cool) concerning matters of Faith, specifically.
DL Mayfield will kick your butt. I mean it. Her creativeness and wisdom, let alone her turn of phrase will make you want to chuck writing altogether. Here she's done something, per her usual method, fascinating. A conversation within itself, you'll have to check the footnotes to see exactly what's at work. What's at work, frankly, is the gracious and convicting blade of DL's particular, joyous honesty. She's a delight and I'm so glad and honored to feature her here.
This is the last year you will have long, blonde hair. It used to lie in long tangles down your back, proof of a childhood spent outdoors and in the hard work of playing. Now it is thick, overgrown, constantly being contained. This is the summer you read the Bible and ache when it talks about having a pure heart, of seeing God. You want nothing more than a clean heart, clean hands, a life of no compromise. This is the summer of you stepping into your role as the middle child: the peacemaker, the calming one. Your sisters, who are more wild and stubborn and vocal, the stuff of apostles, stand on either side. You are in-between, finding pleasure in your spiritual words, your calm voice. You think this is the way of peace: of reading and journaling and being dutiful; of saying all the right words and feeling safe in them. You want, so badly, to be good. With all the certainty of a twelve-year-old, you know you can do it. If you work hard enough, if you do all the right things: you shall see God.
 You later chop it off into a bright magenta bob, setting the stage for a life full of hair disasters (and not a few triumphs). Sadly, it never grows back blond, and is currently thick and brown and hiding too many silvers to count.
 In the beatitudes, where Jesus talks to all of us, you only see the words about the pure of heart, how “they shall see God” You repeat this like a mantra to yourself. Later, you will notice the verses about hungering and thirsting for righteousness, clinging to the promise that you will be filled, when you feel so empty. You always pass by the ones about mourning and meekness, for they have no use to you yet. Much later, you will find the greatest promises in the first and last verses: blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. This will come to be the verse you shape your life around, once you understand that persecution does not come when you read your Bible and lead a good life. Persecution starts to come when your entire life becomes oriented to the justice inherent in the kingdom of God, when your life becomes one of loving your neighbor, of valuing the poor and powerless, of finding Jesus with those who are in need of a healer.
 You thought compromise consisted in your head, in how many times your thoughts turned to God. This is true, in a way, but the compromises of life pile up as slippery as you please, education into jobs into houses into things. The girl who wanted to smuggle Bibles into China will feel the lull of distractions, of gluttony, of prestige. These are the compromises you need to watch our for, my dear, the ones that whisper that someone else is looking after the world, and that you are free to live your life for you. Eventually, you will be amazed at how a few physical decisions (where to live, where to go to school, where to work) change everything, how they bring about a dependance on God both beautiful and complicated.
 You used to think being a peacemaker meant making everyone happy; now you understand that sometimes it means speaking hard truths in order that true peace can come.
 Even now, this is a struggle. I tell this to myself now, even as I tell you then: as soon as you start to feel satisfied with all the answers, you stop asking for help from the Spirit.
 Quiet times are now spotty for us and you type your thoughts on the internet instead of journaling. Usually you don't have the right words anymore. But the more you doubt the myths of the world swirling around you, the more you see Jesus come alive in Scriptures. You don't feel safe so much anymore, in the words of the Bible. But you feel alive, both at the sacrifices that must be made in order to live it out and the joy that lies therein.
 I know you do, girl. I know you do. But you aren't, and you are still loved.
 This is a bad year, but some good ones are coming. Then a few more bad, then a few more good. I wish I could be more specific, but you will see what I mean soon enough.
 Once you stop looking to yourself to become perfect, once you stop trying to attain the unattainable, once you start listening to the voice telling you to go and find Jesus in the world around you: you start to see him everywhere. And this is the last thing I want to tell you, my serious, precious past self: you will find Jesus when you are alone, singing songs and in prayer and in the Scriptures. And you will also find Jesus when you are with the broken, in all the crowded margins of your country, doing miraculous work that will bless you more than you can understand right now. And you need to find Jesus in both places, or you only get a glimpse of who he is. Don't settle for half the picture; go and find him, bringing his kingdom in all the forgotten places, and join him. And then you shall see God.
DL Mayfield lives and writes in Portland, OR. DL, along with her cute husband and cute baby, are currently on an experiment of downward mobility, with all of the mess and joy that doing without can bring. Passionate about intentional community and giving a voice to the least of these in our societies, DL is trying to be honest about the struggle between individuality and community, between privacy and accountability, and between sorrow and joy. She loves all the good things the Good Lord made, which includes you.