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.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

brace yourself; this got a little long.

Let me set the scene we’ve got going here: I’m sitting at my desk in my pajamas, running off of three hours of sleep, listening to my “sad, sunny afternoons” playlist (PS I’m a 13-year-old emo girl), typing in a room lit only by candlelight, because I have a migraine and absolutely everything hurts. Normally, in this moment, I would give up and go to sleep. Which seems like an appropriate response.

But I feel like I have so much to say. There’s nothing specific that I’ve outlined or anything, but I can feel it all moving and stirring in my head and if I don’t get something out, it’ll be bad news for me.

I purchased a plane ticket to New Orleans today. That’s responsible spending of my first paycheck in my mind. I am so excited to see the friends I left out there, go back to my old job, spend time in the city I fell in love with so quickly. Part of me loves making these impulsive, semi-irresponsible decisions. I should be saving my money for the rent I’ll have to pay come August. Riding the streetcar, conversations beneath Spanish moss, hearing that strange, wonderful accent again, walking through the quarter—the choice was pretty easy.

That’s a fun, good thing. There are other things going on though. Lately I’ve noticed this apathetic, indifferent attitude I’ve developed toward my own future. I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from, but found myself saying things like, “I don’t care where I end up.” I had stopped having any real opinion on it. During the prayer time at church, I realized this was totally a defense mechanism.

See, my relationship with my dad is pretty emotionally distant. I don’t feel like he cares about me or thinks of me as worthy of his time, attention, or affection. This is something I’ve recognized for years. I see patterns of behavior that I have and I know that I can accredit them to my resistance to healing from our relationship. The messages from my dad are ongoing and right now the hardest thing to discuss with him is my future.

I always felt like I was disappointing him in a big way when I rejected USC’s offer of admission as a high school senior. I followed what I wanted and went to Tulane instead. When I started talking about transferring to Westmont for this spring semester, my dad was unimpressed; he assumed it was for the guy I was interested in/started dating/just broke up with. My dad considered it a poor choice, believing the school was below my academic abilities. Knowing he thinks I’d pick up and change my entire life for some sort of crush really hurts me. I feel like he thinks of me as a dumb little girl, not a young woman who is deeply self-aware and very in touch with what I believe is God-given discontent.

Since Westmont didn’t work out, I’m back in the college decision period once again. My favorite place. Just kidding, guys, I hate it.

When my dad asks about my plans for school, I’m super defensive. All I want is to get the conversation over with because I assume that if I stay in it long enough, I’ll receive a discouraging, doubting, or sarcastic comment from him. He’ll think it’s funny, but I’ll leave feeling deeply wounded. I’m much more sensitive than I let on.

So, as we often do, I have projected my situation with my earthly father onto my heavenly father. Oops. I didn’t realize it, but I’ve been totally withdrawn from God on this issue. I trick myself into thinking I’m being open with Him: drop a quick prayer every night—something along the lines of “And please let Your will be done when it comes to school next year. Amen.” It’s just become something I tack on to the end of more sincere, vulnerable prayers. It’s not something I’ve felt the freedom to be transparent about at all.

This brings us back to Sunday night. For the first time, I became overwhelmed by one jarring, plain fact: God cares about my future.

He’s not waiting with His arms crossed for me to open up so He can shake His head and say, “Nope! You got it wrong again. You messed that up. You’re choosing this for the wrong reasons.” Those are the messages I hear from others, but they’re not true of my loving, affectionate Lord. He wants to support me. He wants to hear my fears, my doubts, my anxieties: how I’m worried that I won’t get into a school near home, or that I’m just making choices based on friendships I have, that I’m not living up to my “potential,” that I’m disguising my own petty feelings as “God’s will.”

I’m frightened. I feel like a little girl, nervous about going down a slide—something that silly and small. Because if I’m realistic about Kingdom living, a decision on where I go to college is silly and small. There is no singular, correct option. I just get to continue making choices and hoping in God’s name that He’ll show me enough mercy to guide me into His will.

I feel like God came down and brushed my hair away from my face, showed me who I was looking at and, in this, set me free from lies I couldn’t even recognize before. He set me free and will continue setting me free.

I have a lot of healing to do. Right now, I feel like I’m coming before God with my hands cupped, cradling all these little plans and options and thoughts and emotions. I feel a little bit bashful about it—a little bit shy. It’s hard to show yourself to a lover sometimes.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

another sentence.

In the garden at the beginning, there was a lush, centered tree—a tree containing a serpent, subtle in its reiteration of God’s words to Eve, she, naked and craving an act that would make her more like this God, who kept His eyes away as her teeth split an apple’s skin, passed next to Adam who bit into it also, letting the juice and Eve’s saliva intermingle on his tongue, which fondled the apple’s flesh, signifying a new awareness of their own flesh and their mortality too, the couple now open-eyed and vulnerable to death. The apple was delicious.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I have faith in Christ not for the early Sunday mornings and hand motions of childhood, the smiles from strangers beside the church building, nor my mother's weary voice, tremulous over the phone, straining to push out, "God will take care of you," but rather because of the cigarettes shared on the beach last night, the sound of a banjo with two broken strings, the sweet hesitance in another's tone upon mouthing "fuck" aloud, the way music moved in stillness over traffic lights, relentless in their changing while we watched from the car, parked--my brow furrowed with the fullness and aching of vision and discord and the resilience of tired hearts.

Monday, February 7, 2011

cool and good.

Just wanted to write a quick note (that became not so quick of a note) on lunch today. I was really encouraged by a conversation I had with Shea and Brandon at our informal lunch after-hours. I kind of sidled into a conversation they were having about prayer. They were sharing how they've been changed through opening up to prayer, prayer training, the Holy Spirit's push and call. That's something I haven't done much and listening to both of them made me realize it's an awesome thing to start thinking about.

Secondly, a shout-out to Brandon for voicing and understanding a lot about the changes he's gone through--how his plans have changed and shifted in order to become part of God's plan. I sort of off-handedly and unenthusiastically said something about how I dramatically change my life plan every six months or so and he bursts out, "What do you think your life is about?" Brandon, that was so awesome. You're so right. He said, "You think you're making those decisions?" Ah, how comforting to know that it isn't me, but someone creative and wonderful and powerful enough to give birth to music, to oceans, to hands, and to humankind with all its fullness and complexity. I can put my faith in that. My life is no problem.

I know change is impending now in my life and I feel more willing to be open to the spirit of God in how exactly those changes will look, take shape, branch in and around my life and future. Living with a spirit of accepted uncertainty- hopeful expectation that does not demand specifics- this is how I'm intended to declare trust in and faithfulness to the Lord.

Another conversation Shea and I recently had also played a part in this. She pointed out a verse I've heard a ton of times, but it's also a verse that hasn't ever materialized for me the way it's doing now:

"Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.'" James 4:13-15

How often my plans revolve around those exact things: moving locations, spending a year at this or that school, in this or that city, with this or that person, all of which have somehow become half-hearted attempts to obtain financial stability, to get a job someday, carry on business and make money. I don't even want that, yet my whole life is oriented toward it.

I think I'm re-orienting. So wherever I end up- Westmont, Chapman, Orange Coast, jobless, dropped of school, going to grad school, getting married, staying single, traveling the world- I'll be oriented toward Christ. The other things will work out as God works me out.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

only the beginning.

I specifically promised myself that I wouldn’t post any of my poems here as soon as I find out we were required to keep a blog for CIRCLES. Never say never, my friends. I write a lot of poetry. I love it so much, but I also deeply fear that it’s hackneyed and silly. We'll get back to that.

Every once in a while (and not often enough) a conversation gets me truly riled up, plucks me out of my apathy into a sort of…holy frustration? I don’t know if that’s the best way to articulate it, but I’m having trouble.

Late night at Del Taco (aka real church) yesterday, I sat with a few people that I would consider part of my new group of friends here at home. I was having trouble figuring out where I was going to land, being back from New Orleans, and these people feel like home to me. We talked about the church, where we find our hopes and frustrations with it, the beauty and ugliness of our hearts and our roles. I almost feel like another something snapped in me. I suddenly felt okay with needing to abandon situations and relationships and plans, in order to pursue Christ. For now, I don’t feel like I need to abandon anything specific, but it’s incredibly liberating to be okay with it.

I honestly don’t know if I’m making any sense right now. I just think there’s a lot going on inside of me, that Christ is remembering me now and weaving in and out of whatever “new thing” He’s doing in my heart.

So anyway, this is a poem that I wrote last night, attempting to articulate the inability to articulate what I’m feeling. Bear with me, circlers. Oh, and it doesn’t have a title for now.

At the entrance to your apartment,
we stand in half-light and talk about God.
Curse a little, and my skin trembles with cold.
I don’t know what to say to you.
It brings my eyebrows in, not to know,
makes my throat ache with wordlessness—
the heavy awareness that there is much to say.
Soundless lips, a weak pen;
I am no worthy vessel.
A brown spider glows behind you,
suspended back-lit in the gate and it exhausts me.
I fall short of language, but words grasp outward,
gnaw at my rib bones in a hunger that harms me.
I crave surrender, do nothing—
drive home crying, singing off-key hymns
of a heaven much too current to bear. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

chariot by page france.

a song to check out if you get a chance. the imagery is killer.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

mac daddy and cheese.

At first, I was having trouble figuring out what I was going to blog this week because I didn’t have any ideas. Now I’m having trouble because I feel like I have so many things to choose from. This week has been a huge contrast to my last…almost year and a half. I think I’ve chosen my subject.

I’ll begin with a little moment from my night last night. I went to see Iron & Wine and Laura Marling at the Wiltern with Meesh (one of my closest friends). Thanks to CIRCLES lunch on Monday, Shea and I discovered we would both be there and we were able to meet up and enjoy the concert together. She was with three friends and we were all introduced to each other. The concert was really beautiful. Afterward, Shea invited Meesh and I to join them at a diner called Fred 62. We met up there, had a great time, and ordered some food. Meesh and I decided to share the “Mac Daddy and Cheese.” Classic.

Our food finally came and as soon as everyone had a plate, I grabbed a forkful of macaroni and, no sooner than it was between my lips, realized that everyone was staring at me, holding hands, totally silent.

We were going to pray.

I was pretty embarrassed and tried to remedy the awkwardness of the situation by removing the bite of macaroni from my mouth and laughing apologetically: “Sorry! I’m not used to hanging out with Christians!” Not so smooth. I tried to explain that indeed I am a Christian and loved that they wanted to pray before eating, but failed, and so we began. Prayer, eating, conversation. It wasn’t a huge deal to anyone else, but for me, to have a group of random people pray before a meal at a restaurant was pretty significant. I pray in restaurants when I know all the people and am generally aware that we all share a Christian belief, but would never expect to without knowing who else was sitting at the table.

In my past year and a half in New Orleans, I cannot think of one single time that I prayed with others before eating.

I know it seems small, but the moment signified a new thing God is doing in my life. In Isaiah 43, the Lord says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” My desert and wasteland in New Orleans was my community of peers; all we did was get wasted together. Most of our conversations were centered on the bars we went to, the party last night, who hooked up with who, how many shots we took. I prayed all the while for God to reveal a Christian community to me, or else to give me the strength to leave it all behind. I left it. God is showing me now that His word is good, that He won’t let me down. The moment at Fred 62 was just one moment, but these images and gatherings of Christian people that I truly enjoy, have fun with, connect with—they’re springing up all around me.

There’s so much more I’d love to share about how different things feel since Saturday, even about the conversations we had over dinner that night, but I’d like to process them more before I post about them. For now, just a simple, semi-embarrassing story and my most sincere happiness about getting to be a part of CIRCLES and getting to engage in this stuff together.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

a fairly brief introduction.

My name is Bayley. I like my name a lot. Who I am has a lot to do with who and what I’m surrounded by. This isn’t particularly something I like about myself, but I find myself constantly trying to reconcile all the differents aspects of my self with my environment.

Right now I’m going to Orange Coast College and living with my parents. I just moved back from about a year and a half of living in New Orleans and going to Tulane University in early December. The transition is brutal; I loved a lot about that city. I left some dear friends behind and a lot of beautiful memories, but, as I said before, I could feel myself becoming what the environment wanted me to be and I got to a point where I felt like I hardly recognized myself. So I ran from it. It made me feel weak—that need to escape instead of just willing myself to be more “morally right.”

Right now is a period of total uncertainty in my life. It’s painful and lonely. Most of my friends are far away and being treated like a child at home is something I really dislike. What I do know is that in all I’m surrounded by right now, I’ve stopped worrying so much. God made these promises to me about being loved and taken care of—promises about redemption and freedom. I know they’re being fulfilled in ways I can’t see or understand now.

I think I joined this CIRCLES thing because I think community and relationship is such a beautiful picture of God’s self and will for the people that love Him. I’ve been starved for a Christian community that I connect with. CIRCLES might be a fulfillment of that, but it might not, and that’s okay too. I am loved and taken care of.

I think my greatest hope for this group is that we would all be as authentic as we can. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in cynicism or just thinking I’m better than other people. I’m hoping that I can be genuine in these relationships and I’m praying for wholeheartedness throughout the process.