Jessica Latshaw

musician. writer. dancer.

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a witness.

Posted By on November 28, 2012 in I Lift My Eyes Up, Thoughts and Feelings | 5 comments

“Witness?” a friend of mine asked me recently. “Is that what you call it when you talk about God?”

“Yeah,” I answered, thinking about it. “I guess some people do.”

He gave me a little bit of a blank look, so I kept talking.

“It’s like when you see a car accident that’s in dispute. The police question you–they ask you what you saw, that’s it. They call you a witness. It’s the same thing. Sometimes we talk about what we’ve seen God do. That’s it. It’s kind of reassuring, actually, because we don’t have to make anything up. We can just talk about what we’ve seen.”

And I’ve seen a few things.

Surprising things.

Not just in a bad way, either; in a beautiful way.

Just tonight I saw the moon so large and yellow. It hung low enough that I could probably touch it, with maybe just a little help from the Empire State building. It reminded me of a few things. First, how someone put it there. And second, that whoever put it there also made it beautiful.

When I read about the reign of Chairman Mao in Communist China, what struck me was the destruction of all things beautiful. Flowers were torn out of gardens, having been condemned for serving no real purpose. Music that was not patriotic and in support of China was deemed traitorous. Everything was utilitarian, that’s it. Nobody could take risks in that environment; surely nobody could pursue any sort of enlightenment through art, transcendence through creativity.

But then there’s the One who made the moon. It’s beautiful. Of course, it’s purpose is clear, but it’s also beautiful. I see that, and I feel comforted that there’s a God who cares about beauty. Because I do, too. But, I’ve learned that me alone caring about something isn’t always enough. But maybe if I care about something that the one who hung the moon cares about to–well, there’s a good change that it’s important, then.

And I find that comforting.

So yes.

I’ve seen a lot of beautiful things. I’m happy to talk about them.

I guess that makes me a witness.

5 Comments

  1. Rob the first November 29, 2012

    Serious question: How do you rationalize all of the bad things in the world – extreme poverty and disease and children being abused, etc.? I appreciate that God makes beautiful things, but is He not also responsible for all of the awful things? And if He has a plan for us, does that plan include all of the suffering, especially for children?

    I know that this is awfully heavy, but I’m curious as to what your take is on it. I always appreciate your insight.

    • jessica November 29, 2012

      That’s a great question, Rob; one for the ages.

      I don’t have all the answers, as you know, but I’ll do my best to tell you what I think.

      I don’t believe that God is responsible for everything that takes place, actually. I think that God is all about relationship–I think that’s his key motivation–and because you can’t have a real relationship with someone without both parties having a choice in the matter, I think God gives up omnipotence in order for us to have free will.

      Think about it–what would your friends think if you went on and on about your new girlfriend? How she’s so pretty and kind and always there when you ask her to be, etc. AND THEN THEY FIND OUT YOU’RE PAYING HER. Or controlling her in some manner. Or she’s locked inside the room in which you hang out. Would that be a real relationship? No! Would you get arrested? Probably;) it’s an extreme analogy, but my point remains. If God were to control us, then he’d give up his shot of having real relationship with us.

      The people who have hurt me and caused my suffering have names and none of those names begin with a G and end with a D. God didn’t do these things to me. I don’t believe God authors any of the tragedies we see here. I think they’re a result of both our free will and ability to make choices (which are sometimes really BAD choices, and then we hear about them on the news)–and they’re a result of living in a world that is not perfect. Meaning, there is sickness and death and other things that were never authored by God (if we’re looking at the bible, read about the garden of Eden–there, people live forever and there’s no sickness, etc; in the story, that doesn’t change until humans choose to disobey God. So, if you really wanna be mad at someone–blame US! We make bad choices and they have consequences. No matter how much a parent loves their child, if that child sneaks out of the house and goes beyond their realm of protection into a dangerous part of town and then gets mugged–the parent cannot keep the child from experiencing those consequences. Do you say the parent must not have loved the child? No. Do you say the kid deserves it? No, you have compassion–but you see the connection between disobedience or going out of the realm of their parents care and boundaries and the child then getting hurt. The correlation is undeniable).

      Phew, that was a long parenthetical statement. Sorry about that.

      As for suffering, and if it’s a good thing or not–oh gosh, as much as I HATE it, I have to say that it is, actually, a good thing. No, it doesn’t make you happy, but it makes your heart beautiful. It grows you in ways that comfort and happiness never will. Think about all the best movies–the story is so good and you fall in love with the hero BECAUSE they go through some sort of suffering, right? And then get stronger for it. Better. They become over comers.

      Also, again, if we’re looking at the Bible (which maybe you do, maybe you don’t, but I’m gonna use it in reference), Jesus is the Son of God. He’s Immanuel, Literally translated “God with us.” He is perfect and he suffered immeasurably. It was no reflection of whether or not he was good or bad (he is PERFECT), but he suffered.

      I think suffering is a good thing. But I hope I’ve suffered enough! However, I’m afraid there would not be much compassion if there was not suffering.

      Okay, I just wrote a book. I hope these thoughts help. Great questions, Rob; thanks for asking them.

      • Rob the first November 30, 2012

        I know you write these before bed and you were probably exhausted, so thank you for your thoughtful response! It was a big help. I had not thought of our relationship with God in that way but it makes a lot of sense. Lots for me to think about.

  2. Paige December 4, 2012

    K… I love this post & the q&a below even more… It keeps coming back to relationship & the state of my heart for me too… Beautiful!

    • jessica December 4, 2012

      Hi Paige! Yeah, a lot of life is about relationship, huh? Even nature works that way. The bees work with the flowers…the moon with the waves…none of us are an island. Beautiful stuff. Thanks for your thoughts–I appreciate it so much!!

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