Tuesday, May 31, 2011

closer to honesty.

This last month has been such a whirlwind. I'm shocked that May is over. With work, finals, all the out of town visitors staying at my house, waiting to hear from Chapman, I just don't know where the time has gone. I made some really beautiful memories. I also had some really intense conversations. I'm processing a whole lot and I'm going to try to hit on a lot of these things right now.

Let's start with Chapman. I'm in! And I'm stoked. I was on campus today with my mama to submit my enrollment deposit. It just felt so real all of a sudden. A woman I went on a Rock Harbor trip to New Orleans with works for housing and happened to text me today, so we met up and she introduced me to a woman who helps students find off-campus housing. I'm moving out! It'll be a lot to figure out where and with who I'll be living, but I'm stoked. The school just seems normal. And I think I need normal right now, haha.

Out of town visitors. This one gets broken down.

Sean and Amanda. Sean and Amanda are just two of my absolute best friends. I love them. I can't believe they exist. I just love them too much. We have so much intense history together from our time in nola and I feel bonded to them in a very unique way. We laugh so hard together and understand each other, even when we don't feel the same way. Just adoration for those two. It was awfully hard to say goodbye.

Adam and Casey. These are two guys that I was romantically involved with, both with girlfriends now, both staying in my house. Being with Adam was frustrating and difficult as all of us (Sean, Amanda, Adam's sister, and myself) felt ignored and uncared for in his presence. He was here for such a short time, but his new relationship seems to have some dependent tendencies, and I think we were hoping to be made a priority. Silly, but still, it was hurtful. And then Casey and I ended up having this crazy intense conversation about everything that happened between us. It was partially him apologizing. When I visited New Orleans a couple months ago, he pretty much yelled at me about how reckless I am with love, how I need to be more cautious, how I use art as an excuse to toy with people's hearts, and it's not always a good idea to tell someone how you feel. It's funny that most of you probably haven't seen that side of me. Hmm. Anyway, he apologized, explained that he wishes he were more like that, told me about a lot of things I didn't know when it comes to our relationship.

Avery. I am so blessed to know that girl. Avery doesn't believe in God. So seeing Circles and interacting with the slices was a very different experience for her. She was touched by the joy and warmth she saw in you guys at breakfast on Friday, but confused and frustrated with a lot of things that happened on Saturday. She also was interested in a lot though. We had some really honest conversations on the way to the airport. I feel free with Avery--free to admit that I don't know everything about what I believe in. Free not to be defensive or scared. Free to express my frustrations and joys. She has a beautiful soul.

It's hard to say so many goodbyes to people you care for so deeply. My heart aches. I try not to think about it too much.

Now in stark contrast to the last few weeks, I finally have spare time and time alone. School is over, all the guests have gone, and I have this sweet housesitting job that gets me a ton of space all on my own. When I'm not working, I've spent almost every second by myself here. It's strange, to be alone so much, but I needed it more than anything. I seriously feel like this is a gift from God. As much as I love this time on my own, I'm also sad because when I have invited people over, it hasn't worked out, and I can't help but be reminded of the sense that I don't have that family of friends that I had in high school or back in New Orleans. Honestly, I miss the feeling of belonging I had. Even if it was because we were throwing up and blacking out together. Even if it was because we all tried to force down breakfast together, completely nauseous and hungover. Sometimes I'd rather have that than nothing at all.

And right here, I'm going to try to be pretty honest. I must say, I'm afraid. But I want to reflect a little on my time in Circles, on what it's reminded me of about Christian culture as a whole. I feel like I go back and forth with Circles. There are a few exceptions to this, a few people that I feel have made a commitment to me, that are willing to invest in me, and accept my love and time in return as well. But for the most part, I get really stoked on the idea of it for a while, and then I go to the group to share something and feel ignored or like I'm not taken seriously or like I'm not Christian enough. I think there are a lot of things I say that cross the line as a defense mechanism; it gives me something to blame the feelings of rejection and inadequacy on. Honestly, so much of the Christian phrases and words we use feel false to me--feel like a byproduct of an exclusive social club that takes the name of Jesus as a sort of secret password. I know that we share that name, but...I don't know. I'm having a hard time expressing myself. I understand that this isn't edifying or encouraging, but I don't always know how to be. I think what I said a little earlier in this post is what a lot of it boils down to: I don't feel Christian enough. So much of the time. And I don't know where that leaves me. But this is me, expressing it to a group that I made a commitment to. I must say, I'm thankful for this group. I'm sure it doesn't sound like it right now, but this time has been good. I've learned a lot about myself, about others, about how the spiritual world may or may not interact with the physical world.

That's all for now. I am very unresolved.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

messy mess.

Here's the thing. I am just feeling very burnt out right now.

I've closed three nights in a row at work, I've had classes early and all day, I'm getting sick, I have a paper due on a book I haven't read, and, to top it all off, I came home to my parents' American Idol party at our house tonight. I assure you there is nothing less peaceful than a group of eight middle-aged people watching that show after a few bottles of wine.

I've been getting really upset with people at work the past couple of days. When people try to cut corners, it really gets under my skin. I'm trying to be patient, to remember that it isn't my responsibility, to focus on the fact that it's not really a big deal, but it really really bothers me.

I've been trying to focus on an eternal perspective when I get so frustrated and impatient. I really ask what Christ would do in the situation and the answer is that He would humbly and peacefully go about doing His work. I think. So that's what I'm doing, but at the same time, all of this stress and resentment is welling up in me, and that certainly is not what Christ wants for me.

I'm trying to hold it all together, but instead I'm just sitting here crying.

What I'm mostly realizing is that I'm just TRYING really hard right now, and it's not working for me.

I know these things are not big things. But I am not capable of feeling that. So that's all unresolved and I'm just feeling like a messy mess. I don't know what I want or need right now.

Gosh, there's so much I wanted to write about, but I can't do it right now.

I love you guys. I'm sorry.

Monday, April 25, 2011

not mine.

I'll write soon, but for now, here is this poem by Jessica Goodfellow that I'm currently reading and re-reading about five times a day.

The Invention of Fractions 

God himself made the whole numbers: everything else
is the work of man.

                                                 —Leopold Kronnecker 

God created the whole numbers:
the first born, the seventh seal, 
Ten Commandments etched in stone,
the Twelve Tribes of Israel — 
Ten we've already lost — 
forty days and forty nights,
Saul's ten thousand and David's ten thousand.
'Be of one heart and one mind' — 
the whole numbers, the counting numbers.

It took humankind to need less than this;
to invent fractions, percentages, decimals.
Only humankind could need the concepts
of splintering and dividing,
of things lost or broken,
of settling for the part instead of the whole.

Only humankind could find the whole numbers,
infinite as they are, to be wanting;
though given a limitless supply,
we still had no way
to measure what we keep
in our many-chambered hearts.

Monday, April 11, 2011

the real deal.

I already know that most of this post is going to sound sort of silly...but that is the kind of thing I'm trying to care less about. So here we go.

Some times things just feel so much more real than others. Today I was driving home from class and I felt real. I felt like the spirit of God was around me. Not for any particular reason--I wasn't immersed in prayer or calling on His name, I wasn't thinking of anything particularly profound. There was just a presence. I don't know why, or how I was supposed to respond, and I think my response was just to be. I am real and this is my very short life. What an odd thought. I'm somewhat astounded by the truth of it.

A lot of the time, I am waiting for things. I'm doing that now as I wait to hear back from Chapman to make my college decision, as I wait to move out of this house, as I wait to discover the relationships God has for me. I'm finding out that there is a way to wait that doesn't steal from the present or detract from it. I feel very present right now. I feel present because I have some bruises and my eyes hurt and my skin is soft from shower water and my fingertips are pressing keys. I'm feeling very aware of myself today and of how I interact with others. It's almost like I'm hearing my voice as if I were someone else. I'm not sure I like it. I'm feeling very unresolved, and very authentic. That part makes me feel okay. I think that in all of this strange state, I mostly feel like there are those groanings from the Holy Spirit that are too deep for words going on inside me. I've never sensed that before. It could be happening now.

This post itself is going to be very unresolved, and for that, I do not apologize. Thank you for also being real today. I love you guys.

Monday, March 14, 2011

the present tense.

Our first book! I love that we're gaining all these things in common through our CIRCLES experience. All right, so I'm definitely a fan of Here and Now. It's all so simple, so straightforward. Just like many people have said, the idea of living in the present (although it's one we've all been exposed to) catches me off guard sometimes. 

I feel like there are two ways our culture goes on this. The first is to dwell completely in the past or become burdened by the future. In this way, we reject the present completely and drain it of any significance. The second is to live for present pleasure. Many take living in the present to mean living only for the sake of each moment, becoming entangled with the temporary pleasures of a self-focused lifestyle. This attitude abuses and degrades the present moment.

We're being called to a new attitude: focused on the present, with an eternal Kingdom in mind and in heart. The beauty of it jars me. 

Just wanted to put a few parts that stood out to me here. Most of it had to do with how we treat our relationships, an area I often break and damage because of my sinful heart.

"As we recognize God's presence in our own hearts, we can also recognize that presence in the hearts of others, because the God who has chosen us as a dwelling-place gives us the eyes to see the God who dwells in others. When we see only demons within ourselves, we can see only demons in others, but when we see God within ourselves, we can see God also in others."

My interactions and judgments of others directly reflect my interactions and feelings on God and myself. This helps me understand why I judge others: that it is not because of the person, but because of my own heart.

"We all have these moments if we are attentive to the movements of God's Spirit within us. They are like glimpses of heaven, glimpses of beauty and peace."

He goes on to talk about the importance of claiming these for God's kingdom. To be intentional about the claiming proves essential; otherwise, we'll belittle these moments by blaming them on our own sort of romantic thinking. That is not enough. Heaven is happening now. I just hope God will open my heart to be a part of it.

"The question that truly counts is not whether we imitate Mother Teresa, but whether we are open to the many little sufferings of those we share our life with."

Ah, I love this one. Sometimes I find myself feeling guilty for not just picking up and moving to another country to be a missionary. But I need to have faith and trust that God will put that desire in my heart if that's where He wants me. While I'm here, wherever "here" is, to be like Christ means to be attentive to the people around me, to take notice of the subtleties of suffering in each of my relationships. Our sorrows all look different. The little sufferings are important too. Each of them are opportunities for us to show the love and grace of Christ to one another.

"I cannot take your pain away, I cannot offer you a solution for your problem, but I can promise you that I won't leave you alone and will hold on to you as long and as well as I can."

I think this speaks for itself. And I hope I remember this next time I'm presented with someone else's pain.

"All human relationships, be they between parents and children, husbands and wives, lovers and friends, or between members of a community, are meant to be signs of God's love for humanity as a whole and each person in particular."

This is radical. This is everything.

I love you guys. Thanks for doing all this alongside me.

Monday, March 7, 2011

last night.

Some nights, headlights
are not soft, white pearls
strewn behind you,
nor the wet asphalt
long, black mirrors
stretched before you;

on these nights, you realize
that life is a waste—
and consider calling it off

Sunday, March 6, 2011

long story by stephen dobyns.

We talked a little about Cain and Abel tonight, so I wanted to share this poem with you guys. I love it. So much. It's by Stephen Dobyns and the title of my blog might be a little bit of a rip off of the title of his poem. Oops. Here it goes.

Long Story

There must have been a moment after the expulsion
from the Garden where the animals were considering
what to do next and just who was in charge.
The bear flexed his muscles, the tiger flashed
his claws, and even the porcupine thought himself
fit to rule and showed off the knife points
of his quills. No one noticed the hairless creatures,
with neither sharp teeth, nor talons, they were too puny.
It was then Cain turned and slew his own brother
and Abel's white body lay sprawled in the black dirt
as if it had already lain cast down forever.
What followed was an instant of prophetic thought
as the trees resettled themselves, the grass
dug itself deeper into the ground and all
grew impressed by the hugeness of Cain's desire.
He must really want to be boss, said the cat.
This was the moment when the animals surrendered
the power of speech as they crept home to the bosoms
of their families, the prickly ones, the smelly ones,
the ones they hoped would never do them harm.
Who could envy Cain his hunger? Better to be circumspect
and silent. Better not to want the world too much.
Left alone with the body of his brother, Cain began
to assemble the words about what Abel had done
and what he had been forced to do in return.
It was a long story. It took his entire life
to tell it. And even then it wasn't finished.
How great language had to become to encompass
its deft evasions and sly contradictions,
its preenings and self-satisfied gloatings.
Each generation makes a contribution, hoping
to have got it right at last. The sun rises
and sets. The leaves flutter like a million
frightened hands. Confidently, we step forward
and tack a few meager phrases onto the end.