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Archive for July, 2010

Taking a step back this past week has helped me to remember that I have a lot of voices constantly speaking to me, just telling me things. And I think that’s good and bad. Good in the sense that I get a lot of other insight from other people (as of now, we are sitting in our apartment having a conversation about voicing our tensions with other people and receiving objective wisdom from them) that goes well above and beyond anything I could’ve ever ventured on my own. In a way, I haven’t had that before because one, I thought that I knew a lot of things; and two, I’m surrounded by people who have had years of life experience over me and are willing to engage with me in the similarities (or differences) between our lives. Yet, having said voices can also be bad in the sense that they can sometimes drown out God’s voice. Well, maybe not drown out. You can’t really drown out God’s voice. But they can make it seem less critical or just throw it into an ocean of voices: the professor, the boss, the coach, the parent, God, etc.

And what’s been really hard, what’s been maddening is how little time I feel like I’ve had to just listen to God. Or even I did take the time to do it, everything else seemed forced into that time. It’s like when someone walks in the middle of a funny conversation and then completely kills it. Said hypothetical awkward person has made my quiet time with Jesus a living nightmare.

But I’ve been blessed this week with really plain-old good down time with God, and I’ve discerned a couple of things about (here come highly general terms) this summer and my spiritual life.

In terms of this summer, I’m coming to realize that I’m disappointed because it’s not what I had wanted. As with all summers, there was a desire to relax, have fun, and just chill. And not even in the “I don’t want to do any work” sense, because I knew I had that coming. More in the “I don’t want to think about how complicated life is/was/will be” and the “God, can we not do this right now?” senses. It was burnout at its finest — what had essentially been six months of pressing times flared out the second that I stepped foot out of that car back from Summer Con. I look back on it and I realize that I was avoiding a lot of realities that God was calling me into, living in my own rainbows-and-unicorns land. Well, not quite. It didn’t take me long to realize that I was having a poor time dealing with everything, I just didn’t know what that everything was or how to handle it. So I let myself bask in ambiance, as I’ve done many times before.

And there’s a few reasons why I went about like that anyway for a few weeks. One is for my own sake of not having to deal with it emotionally. Everything just seems easier that way when you’re in the middle of it. The second is because I didn’t want people to have to deal with it either. In the same way that I need my down time, I think that people deserve theirs, too. Who am I to get in the way of that? Anyway, seeing as to how those are the two biggest, moving on.

A couple of days ago I stumbled upon the realization that what I was doing was exactly what I hate that people do: attempting to feign joy in the midst of hardship. And it’s something that I’ve done time and time again, but through that, I’ve learned that being real with what we feel allows us to confront the difficulties that we face with the help of others. Most times, I’m frustrated with that, because I don’t like to drag people down with my crap. But at the end of the day, won’t they get dragged into it anyway when we crash and burn? And I think that anybody who does that, who puts on that mask of a smile and a laugh, knows that it’s going to happen eventually. I don’t believe that anyone like that can think that they’ll just “make it through” that sort of thing, because there’s nothing to carry them back up to the surface.

So here I am at the end of the first phase (Yes, just the first. There are, in fact, three.) of my summer, crashing, not quite burning, but definitely exhausted. Lesson relearned with the expectation that I might just not have gotten it quite yet.

But here’s the good part (it might not sound that good): knowing all of this has helped me to uncover some of the realities that Jesus has been screaming into my ear, which, until recently, has been unfortunately infested with a plethora of earwax.

Reality One: I am still a broken person. All my la-dee-da and trying to shove things behind me and dive into what’s next isn’t accurate to what’s true for me. The truth is that I am, in a lot of ways, stuck in my past and still trying to reconcile with different hurt that’s happened in my life. Still thinking about why my family is the way it is, still wondering why those last two years of high school were such a nightmare, still wishing I could’ve changed it all, still unable to do so. And all the while, God calls on me to take it one step at a time and stop trying to leap forward without looking back first. (And here comes the kicker, where I realize, Aha, you were absolutely correct!) It’s like running: I keep going forward, faster and faster, pushing harder with each step, but I’m getting tired. If I keep going forward at this rate, I’ll only get more tired; after all, it’s not like I’ll get less tired going at the same pace. But what’s life-giving, what’s inspiring? Stopping, looking back, and thinking Wow, I’ve come this far, huh?

Reality Two: I’ve been given a huge heart for my friends, and I have friends who have been given a huge heart for me. I was told what seems like ages ago that I needed to surround myself with truths, and it’s about high time that I started believing in this one, even if it is the type of phrase that makes me want to gag. A couple of sparks for this — the first was my good friend from high school who told me that she didn’t understand times when I treated her well because she felt like she didn’t do anything to deserve it. Let it be known that I wasn’t exactly known in circles during high school as a nice person, and in reality, I probably only ever treated two of my friends that way in high school. Second, FUI Visit Day. There’s a few people that I’ve missed a lot over the summer, to say the least, both from FUI and who were kind enough to travel for hours to see friends there. And I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen or felt that much love in my whole life. Enough said. In the sense that words can’t express, and I’m still processing this whole day, especially now that it’s 2 o’clock AM. In general, I’ve been receiving a lot of affirmations for my love for people and how people love me, which is always good, and something that I think I’ve needed to hear.

Reality Three: Hope exists. Thinking about what our world looks like today, beginning to learn the truths about how emergency medical care works, seeing Fresno in its present state — the state of things isn’t the best looking. But what I’m seeing now that I didn’t before was a generation of people who are willing to change how things are now. It’s not about who we are, or even what we do — it’s about what we believe in, and what we would give to make those beliefs a reality. Without something to believe in, what do we live for? What would we fight for? What would we stand against an entire nation for? And I know and see people now who are willing to give up so much of their lives — time for school, time for work, time for family, time for rest — to serve others and to begin creating a change for the people who need it the most. That’s hope. That’s real, and that’s what I choose to believe that God is doing in our world. If I could be even a little part in His plan, a cog in His clock, then wouldn’t it all be worth it?

I’m getting the feeling that this next week is going to be a significant one. As episode one of this trilogy closes, I pray that amidst the chaos of academics, work, and the “other stuff,” I would be able to discern what it is that God desires for me to see this summer and actively seek that out. I pray against bad thoughts, like believing that I’m alone in this, and against blindness to God’s will. I pray that this trilogy wouldn’t stop there (like Star Wars!), but that it’d carry me into a new era in my walk with Jesus.

Amen.

Holla. Writer’s block over. Writer out.

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Wanderer.

Some memories to me are like fireflies — they float around in the air waiting for me to catch them, and when I do, it’s like holding a little piece of my life in my hands.

I remembered a time when I was with my dad; I was quite small, and it was one of the few times that I had stayed with him as a kid. I recall that when I did, he’d give me a Flintstones vitamin everyday. You know, the chewy kind that turns to chalk in your mouth that you think is great because the flavor somewhat resembles that of a fruit.

Now I have two of those everyday, but of the gummy variety. I hate getting back memories of my dad.

Why is it that you think about your dad so often, while I only think of mine in fleeting moments? Do you miss him, do you hate him? I can’t decide. Do you remember his face? I don’t. Do you ever think about who’ll walk you down the aisle, who’s going to dance with you at your wedding? I do.

“As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.”

Maybe that’s what I’m afraid of. I’ve been taught that everything passes, with time or with conflict. I’ve been taught how to live alone, because I’ve always been the only person I could count on being there. I’ve been taught how to guard myself, so that when everyone leaves, I’ll be okay.

So it’s hard to believe that everyone, my friends, even God will be there forever.

I guess you could say I’ve been living as as sort of wanderer. Or, at least, I’ve tried, but my heart always gets attached to something or someone. And in some cases, those relationships have stood the test of time; in others, not so much. Even now, that season is meeting a slow, quite painful end. I can’t hang onto the home I once had forever — not when I can’t be there.

But I’ve got to believe in something, right? And I can’t just settle, because settling means I don’t think God’s good enough to fill that void. But God can’t just come down and walk me down the aisle and dance with me. So I punch myself in the forehead because right now, I don’t think that God’s good enough for this. Because I still get angry and sad thinking that not even my own father cared about me.

Dad, do you think about me sometimes? If I walked down the street, would you know who I am?

Loneliness is an art,
Something that you create,
Develop,
Then make your own.
Because you see,
Everyone is alone
In their own way,
You just don’t get to see it.

I’ve learned a rule
In this life,
In this loneliness:
Nothing lasts forever.
But don’t get me wrong,
Rules were made to be broken,
And
There’s an exception to every rule.

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When you look at the world from space, you don’t really see borders being drawn, wars being fought, lives being lived, or deaths happening. You just see Earth, this giant expanse of shades of green, brown, and blue — a sphere that seems unchanging but really changes with every moment.

And we think about God, and sometimes we think that God looks at us from “out there,” somewhere in the even larger expanse that is space.

I sometimes get mad about that. Feeling like God is just watching me, the ship taking on water in the midst of the storm. And in that way, He’s like a lighthouse. I’m screaming, “Where the hell are you?” for what seems like an eternity until the light pierces through the darkness, and I feel safe again.

But I’d hope that God isn’t just the omnipotent, objective being in the sky that we can sometimes make him out to be. We and the other seventy-five percent of the world who wonder why we believe in Him. I’d like to believe that He’s here, in us, around us, everywhere, feeling every bit of emotion that we do. And that is what we’re told, but being told isn’t always enough — sometimes you have to know it and feel it with utmost certainty in your heart.

I don’t have the luxury of such certainty on my hands.

Still, most times, that’s okay. Certainty isn’t exactly one of the things I put on my daily checklist. After all, the clock’s winding down. Life has the potential to go on for eight or more decades, but we can also meet our ends at any moment. That feeling of invincibility that I had not so long ago is gone.

It’s definitely that time of year again. When all I can think about is how unfair life can sometimes be. Almost three years, has it been? One could say this journey started there.

But from space, you can’t see any of that. You can’t see the journey’s beginning, the road itself, or its end.

To see that kind of thing, to be a part of it? You kind of have to be right next to me.

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Okay, so maybe I don’t blog as often either.

But anyway, a small two o’clock A.M. style tidbit for you all.

We try to divide the world in a lot of ways. Males and females, rich and poor, but one that we look at less often because it’s not as tangible? Optimism and pessimism. I’ve never personally laid claim to either side of the spectrum. And I’m not about to analyze which side I would be on from an objective point of view, however interesting that thought would be to entertain.

Actually, I was just thinking about things, and what you could call a “common theme” of the past few weeks is, “If you don’t believe it can happen, how are you ever going to hope that it will, let it happen for you, or put one hundred percent of yourself into making it happen?”

Specifically (because I promised to keep it short), if we don’t believe something can happen, how can we say we place our trust and our hopes in the big G-O-D? Do we actually believe that God can make the impossible possible? Or maybe a harder question, do we actually believe that God equips us to make the impossible possible?

And I’m not just talking about the way out there, defying the laws of physics, eternal mystery type stuff like feeding five thousand people with a few pieces of bread and fish. What about when someone we know is sick? What about when we’re called into something that sets us down a new path in our lives?

I mean, think about it. God knows our hearts, right? He knows every shred of doubt, fear, and unbelief that we have. So thinking that the impossible is indeed impossible or even not believing in ourselves, that’s like saying God’s not awesome enough to conquer that. That thing that’s in our way — our obstacle, the hurdle we all have to jump over at some point. And for every person, it’s different, but the bottom line is: God makes all things possible.

Easier said than done, as most things are.

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