Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Flora and Fondness

Green! It's green outside! And floral! There is not enough flora in the world to satiate my love. If it were possible for me to wander the earth in a bouquet fog, trust me, I would. One of my many things I get teased about by my not-so-fashion-savvy male co-workers is the fact that I wear flowers on my outfit four out of five days a week. However, I digress. 

I am coming on my adult-iversary. I have been graduated for almost an entire year. Which, because of that landmark and because I am myself, I have been looking for stakes of progress. They haven't been difficult to find. Transitions alight this. Choices must be made. Fears are realized and subsequently have to grow or dissipate. Independence flexes itself and pride closely follows, followed by loneliness, followed by a sense of freedom, followed by pride in a big game of Ring Around the Rosey.

And I guess in my illumination of this year, I find myself completely in joy. 

I have been provided with a job I am fondly in love with. Only God knew that I would find contentment and as a Client Care Representative for a third party logistics company. My introverted, non-conflictive nature has flourished, finding it an outlet to love people well and seek justice with compassion for all parties involved. It has challenged me in being busy and managing stress well and emotions that accompany that, fostered in me a sense of duty to work hard and devoid myself of cherry picking easy things. I am surrounded by faithful friends who not only look out for my best good, but have instilled in me a small ounce of confidence that I may possibly be not so bad after all....even though they call me a hippie.

Membership at Redeemer is another thing that has happened this year....or is happening rather. If my job is a grace for fostering happiness and passion, this is a joy for pushing me outside of my comfort zone. I have to be honest. It all scares me. Committing to a 9-week course with 150 strangers. Having to approach someone to sponsor me into membership. Writing my faith story. Sitting in an interview with my sponsor and an elder. Each of these things is jarringly scary to me. And I mean that. I have to coach myself to go to DNA every week. I had to pray for the first seven weeks of class before I could work up the courage to ask my best friends mom to sponsor me (virtually my second momma). It also took so long for me to actually write five hundred words about my life concerning Christ. And don't get me started on the interview, that's another sixty-foot tall hurdle that I'm currently gaping at.

All of that to say, it hasn't been easy, but it has been comforting. It's been comforting to see God be bigger than my fear. To ask him to come into my anxiety and help me push through. He's given me bravery and courage that I don't have. I'm the girl who hides from acquaintances because I am afraid of running out of things to say. I am the girl who only makes it halfway through most projects because I cannot bring myself to push through boredom or contrariwise, hardness. And I am chief of fearing people being critical of my process and feeling misunderstood.

It's been slow for me. I signed up for DNA originally in the fall, drove all the way to the church the first night of class and kept on driving right past. Take two has gone much smoother, it has been helpful for my best friends to do it with me. But they aren't what has healed it. Jesus has. He has decidedly shown me that He is going to be enough, and the only thing that is enough forever. Hyperventilation is not going to save me. Avoidance can only last so long. The closer I get to Him, the quicker I discover that everything natural in me is skewed. It all is bent the wrong way, glorifying things that don't benefit me and undervaluing things that feed my soul. No manner of discipline or self-monitoring can change that, I am always going to head that direction. He is all things good. I am all things broken. 

And in that the Great Redemption happened. When He broke all of the rules, and insisted on Salvation not being an immediate and physical thing only, but insisting on it being about our souls. And would we not rather that? Our bodies, while wonderful and utterly diverse temples, are not the whole thing. C.S. Lewis says, "you don't have a soul, you are a soul. You have a body". What makes Person is our idiosyncrasies and development and perceptions, physical nature is often times just an outlet for it. I would choose to have my soul saved over my physical body. I am willing to lose that to see my Nature perfected. Not that I really have a choice...

So all of that to say, this is where I find myself eleven months from college. I know my former self was wondering and my future self will need something to smile upon fondly. Because I'll be honest, I'm very fond of this stage of life.  


Monday, March 10, 2014

Baby Born Baby Born

I spy with my little eye, hideous paisley, teddy bear art and an ice machine. Where am I you may wonder? The Maternity Ward.

That's right folks, baby Born (not to be mistaken with Baby Born) is en route. This is the perfect time for me to consolidate my knowledge of shipping terms with my loathing of medical terms. Rather than use words like "epidural" and "dialated" I can just say "gassed up" and "ETA for delivery".

My family mocks my abhorrence of hospitals and birthing terms, but I'm hopeless....simply hopeless. I've done more deep breathing than my sister today to avoid vomiting while they discuss my sisters status. They invented waiting rooms for people like me.

It feels a bit like being at a zoo. Looking at all of the pregnant people walking around. I'm sure I would be chased down, beat with breast pumps and choked with size 0 diapers if any one of these women knew I said that. I don't mean they look like animals, but I just can't help staring. It's more comparable to a reptile house "look don't touch" sorta thing than a petting zoo.

Basically, if you're pregnant and reading this, I'm sorry. I'm not making fun of you, I'm making fun of myself. It's my coping mechanism to not lose my **** sitting in a hospital.

I really am stoked though about the little Broseph. He's already so loved, I'm sure once he's in his tiny baby clothes looking all snuggly and warm, I will be changing my tune. But right now I'm singing the songs of the squeamish.

Once Kade is here, I'll share pictures with y'all. But for now I'm going to attempt to take my mind off what's going on behind these antiseptic khaki walls.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Naught

Today, I feel a little spent. Weary and drained, I sit here at Quay with a pile of data to enter for work and I feel a deep sigh on my lips. So instead, I blog.

I have heard the phrase, "Preach the Gospel to yourself every day". And in this melancholy season, that sounds a bit exhausting. Because the truth of it is, I shouldn't have to find the Gospel in everything, the Gospel has found me. Jesus has found me in the midst of long days and frustrating customers and too much to do. And He lets me rest in Him through the lonely evenings and with nothing to do and the dejection at feeling unable to develop good friendships and self-pity. Granted, this season feels more hard than it actually is because I have not made the time to emotionally reconcile, but hard is also simply hard sometimes.

I welcome a bit of reprieve on the weekends. I adore my job, it is purely a gift from the Lord and He provided for me so much better for me in this job than I could have imagined after graduating. But at almost 9 months, I am at the point of reflection. The point where adjustments are smaller and the dust has settled and I'm reviewing. Weighing my expectations versus my realities and considering what to do about the both of them. It's something that I do every year, usually around this time, the time when we are beginning to kick off winter like a blanket that is too hot a night.

While some days I am more off-kilter than others, I am mainly filled with gratitude and contentment. Honestly, I don't particularly have strong feelings about this season of life, just recognition. I am quite aware of differences but don't have a strong preference for or against them.

I find myself struck this morning by that first reality I mentioned, that the Gospel has found me. That my life is not so far from Him because He is in me. I don't have to strive and dig around for the "right" way to think, I just have to ask to see Him here. He just wants me to see the Gospel in everything, and that takes His work, not mine. I often see the world as needing rather than remembering that Jesus created it, so while distorted, it is still a functional reality of His Person. It is it's own manifestation of His Goodness. As are our creations. As is my job. As are relationships. As is solitude. As is contemplation. All parts of this life reflect Him because He is all parts of life. I think more often than not, my lack of ability to see Him comes from my separation of life and Christ. Namely, being untrusting.

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis says, "To trust Him means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you."

And that about sums it up for me. I've been in the camp of pre-emptive living. Looking to Jesus to fulfill things I'm perceiving I am in need of, in fear that He won't provide what I need. I forget that He is already in me, working out my salvation on my behalf and that insinuates constant provision for me. My busy rhythms and tired rhythms are okay because they are not the end. My mother lives so closely by the mantra, "God will give me everything I need to do everything He calls me to do". So I have it all already, I am just greedy.

This middle period is so frustrating sometimes. It's hard to get my bearings when I feel like I'm rolling through a river in a barrel. But really, it does nothing but salve my mind to know why things are happening. Does knowing why something is happening change how I react to it? And should it? Ought not the process always be the same, with the same integrity and desire, regardless of the ending or lack of insight to it? Maybe the point of change isn't so much in the result but in the shaping during the process. And if that is the case, then I hope every time I choose the hard way, the one that softens my hard edges the most.

The reason I blog is for perspective. To leave things rolling around in my mind is like trying to solve a Rubex Cube without ever physically moving the pieces. This allows me to categorize and emphasize and DE-emphasize things. And I can see it all a little clearer. It may be no more resolved than when I started, but it certainly stirs up some tenacity to keep going. Mainly because it takes me back to knowing I'm actually not the one doing anything anyway. I suppose that's really what it is. Writing things down forces me to see that I am completely incapable and Jesus is perfectly capable, I don't have to try so much.

One paragraph prior to the quote above, C.S. Lewis also said, "and what matters is the nature of the change in itself, not how we feel while it is happening. It is the change from being confident about our own efforts to the state in which we despair of doing anything for ourselves and leave it to God."

And that's where I end it. He is all. I am naught.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The "F" Word

I keep it no secret that I am insecure. In fact, I often wave it like a banner.

But here's the thing, it's wearisome, this banner, and it takes a lot of energy to keep waving it. I've been asking God for a long time for help. To not just get a grip on my insecurity, but to eradicate it. I've read books, memorized scripture, asked everyone in the world for advice, but this anxiety over myself has seemingly been gilded into my being. Recently this article made it's way around Facebook. I was struck by the portion that read:
 
But all of that changed when, one night, we were dressed up for a  party and you said to me, "Look at you, so thin, beautiful and lovely. And look at me, fat, ugly and horrible." At first I didn't understand what you meant. "You're not fat," I said earnestly and innocently, and you replied, "Yes I am, darling. I've always been fat; even as a child." In the days that followed I had some painful revelations that have shaped my whole life. I learned that:
 
1. You must be fat because mothers don't lie
2. Fat is ugly and horrible
3. When I grow up I'll look like you and therefore I will be fat, ugly and horrible too.
 
I have found myself considering these things. What are the implications of my words and perceptions of myself to others? What am I communicating under the surface to others? Is it helpful and beneficial?
 
Whomp whomp whomp.....it's not.
 
My insecurity, while genuine, is not beneficial to anyone around me, least of all myself. It creates awkwardness, dis-genuine compliments, exhaustive circular conversations, and most of all, it causes everyone else to reflect on their inferiorities as well. My lack of self control only perpetuates this cycle in others.
 
What gives me the right to do that?
 
Nothing. Despite working through my own residual issues, which only God knows the depth of and can really provide me an out with, I want to proactively work to help people. I wish for my life to be filled with freedom, beauty and rest, for myself and others. I hope for people to feel welcomed into my life not obligated to fix it, to be at home in my presence rather than being overly-cognizant of their phrasing for fear of causing a flair up.
 
***caveat: this is my personal thought and something I find helpful. I am by no means creating a rule or guide on how to work through personal insecurity, just blabbering on what has been helpful for me, thank you and please continue on***
 
For me, I think a step in the right direction is to remove the word "fat" and any synonyms therein from my vocabulary. Completely. As I've thought of this this week, I realize that no comment including that word has ever been with kind intention, to myself or others. In fact, it tends to perpetuate an inferiority and insecurity in myself that is deeply rooted. I'm a person who values words. To cognitively and purposely look to remove this one from my lexicon, even this week, has been helpful. It has caused me to place less value there and forcibly think elseways about myself. I have to generally think more and be proactive in my thoughts. Really, the weeding out of jargon such as that from my phrasing instills in me a need to look to the Father.
 
Knowing that I am not allowing myself to use that word, I subsequently am hyper-aware when it comes to mind, forcing me to consider where that thought is coming from. It's allowing me to look to the Father and ask for Him to prune, snip off the dead leads and round my rough edges. Freedom is here. Freedom from this constant fear of not being good, pretty, funny, interesting, quiet, loud.....enough.
 
I have spent some time in 2 Timothy the past few weeks, what I keep coming across is Paul conveying to Timothy that it matters implicitly matter in Whom we find our hope. That is my freedom. I can face all things because of Whom I have believed. He is the active one, taking a jaunty walk-about in my life, picking up the different aspects, considering them, and then contouring them to be more like Him. It is a painful process, with much grinding down, building up, cutting and pasting, but I find so much surety in it. I am grateful I am not responsible for how I turn-out ultimately, only for Whom I turn to.
 
Funny that it is the beginning of a new year and I find myself resolving to do something, a happy coincidence I suppose.


Friday, December 27, 2013

The Clocksmith

Life is full.

I'm sure we all feel that way come winter. Full in so many ways, gratitude, solitude, multitudes, food....it's all just filling. December always seems to be the time of year I pinpoint landmarks. I often find myself considering where I was 1, 5, 8 years ago, comparing and contrasting, mostly contrasting, my experiences, feelings and traditions against the years of yore. Perhaps more this year as I have faced the Holidays in a very new place of life. A very independent place of life. No longer am I on Christmas Vacation, home from school at my parents house. Nor am I in a season with in-laws and busyness. Christmas this year was quiet. It seemed to tip-toe in and whisk away without much to-do.

I've been pondering my quiet Christmas. Growing up, I didn't ever expect this. Christmas was always loud and jovial. And in college, it was very relaxing and restful and needed. As with everything in my life this year, I once again find myself in a Panera contemplating the newness.

As this first post-graduate year continues, I have continued to find two things to be true.

1) I will botch every single thing I ever do

2) In that reality, I will always find Jesus to be more than my lack. He fills the deficit and then some.

I don't say either of those things lightly. Wreckage of massive proportions follows me along, mistakes at work, insufficiency in relationships, withholding and fear with church. Guttural utterances of frustration come pretty regularly from me as well with some fat ole tears at my continued failure. However, in all of that I have also found the antithesis of myself. I have found Christ confirming that yes, I will screw it all up, but that was the expectation. His sufficiency will always propitiate my lack. That is both of us at our essence. He is not surprised by my failure. And that was why His birth was so staggering. My lack became familiar to Him. He understood the innate frailty of humanity, and not just in our sin, but in our lack of eternal nature, how kind of Him to take that on. We reek of finality and temporality and He welcomed that finite reality.

This temporality leads my hope-finding outside of me. A clock that doesn't work can not be fixed by another broken clock. The Clock-maker has to be the one to tighten the cogs and affix the hands correctly. A Time-keeper that understands both the nature of the clocks purpose as well as the component parts is the only one that can resolve the issue and cause the clock to work correctly. I am ridden in a cloak of finality and imperfection, which cannot mutually exclusively work cohesively to fix the brokenness of myself. But I don't feel concerned about leaving it to the Clocksmith. To create the entity is to really be the only one to fix it. I am to function accordingly. I do not mean to sound trite with this comparison, only to say that as I struggle with imperfections, with disappoint and frailties, as I am asking hard questions and experiencing tensions in my life, my job is only to walk accordingly. To ask and seek and understand that I don't see the full picture. I see the cause and effect of many small things. John Piper says, "God does ten thousand things in every deed. Perhaps we know a dozen. Maybe two. But not enough to judge before He's through". That's where I find my freedom. In knowing that I don't have to see the whole picture. My freedom is in my inability to understand. He is going to complete what He started because He started it. He's good that way.

That's what I think about Christmas this year. I am very incomplete. But He is the abundant Completer. God and sinner reconciled.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Due North

November has shown up like an unexpected house guest. I don't know about y'all but I was shocked when I looked at the calendar and realized that once again the end of the year is upon us. Why that is always so surprising, I don't know.

Since May, every month has been surprising. Donning a different perspective, parading new hats around, some I like, some I don't. Post-graduate life has been a lot of vacillating. Watching the pendulum swing from quietness and contentedness, to anxiety and frustration, laced with beautiful conversations, baking and belly-laughs. It all seems normal. The hard is supposed to be this hard and the rest of it is supposed to be this normal. 

The past few weeks have been more the anxious ones. A myriad of them too. Insecurity over my appearance, disappointment over my singleness, confusion at the general sense of newness in the relationships in my life, etc. These things are by no means debilitating, but just quiet themes I've always wrestled with that are rearing their heads, demanding my attention, amidst the unfamiliarity they are familiar. Unfortunately so. In the middle of Noodles and Company on Wednesday night this week, a new friend I distinctly admire posed a question to me regarding the insecurity I was admitting to. 

"What are you afraid of?" 

Usually I have an answer for everything.  If not an answer, I can process through my thoughts and arrive at some sort of conclusive point to share. However I was dumbfounded. It was a pointed question that made me scrutinize my problem. My anxiety is in gaining a lot of weight. If I do gain a lot of weight, then what? Her question forced me to see to what degree of idolatry I was elevating my appearance. My great fears are symptoms of that which I am idolizing, good or bad. They definitively point to the cancerous cells of my mind that keep me from trusting God to take care of me. 

And one doesn't simply stop thinking that way. C.S. Lewis talks about sin and progressing away from it this way, "We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man."

This season, this fun, independent, adulthood-laden, peculiar time of life, this is where I am attempting to be progressive. And in that progress, the hard questions, the frustrations and anxieties don't leave me feeling in despair as they used to in college, they leave me free. Free to grieve the ambiguity, free to find hope in the questions, free to lean into the hard things and know that the Father is transfiguring the hard into graces as Ann Voskamp talks about and free to laugh in the midst of all of it.  

I haven't written for a couple of months because I feel constantly inconclusive. Three steps left and then catapulting northwest. There's no rhyme or reason to the direction of things, I am a victim of the new patterns set before me. On my toes, processing, stuttering, faltering and all the time beginning to process through the only consistency. The great mercy that all of this points to Jesus. My insufficiency to know what to do in new situations, my inability to fake-it-til-I-make-it, all of it forces me to fall into His rhythm. 

Last Sunday at church, the question was posed "do you want to be made well?" I can see why the perpetually ill man had a hard time with that. While infirmity is uncomfortable, it is its own form of companionship. Misery loves company right? I fight this mentality a lot. Do I want to be made well? Do I want to trust the process? Will I believe that turning around really will lead me back to the right road? This is the crux of repentance for me. Belief. The action is such a minute part of it. I act based on my beliefs, based on the core fundamentals that are established within me. Relearning those, that is repentance. Asking Jesus to maneuver within me, helping me unlearn old habits, and to rinse and repeat with new grace. During the Noodles and Co. conversation, my friend also told me of something the CEO of my company told her back when her husband first started. Change is about quarter turn decisions. If we can just bring ourselves to make a slightly different decision than the last. The ant that ate the elephant. One bite at a time. Rather than sitting under the weight of the whole, decisively seeing how we can switch a little thing to point us a little closer to Due North. 

Whether you commiserate with me, scoff at me, pity me or find some merit in my jumblings, may God grant you all peace as He only is capable of doing. And may His decisive will for your Good be a quiet hope for you today. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

How To Install Wifi

I like to think of myself as being pretty mature. Pretty responsible. Pretty "together".

Then Tuesday happened.

I "cleansed" this week. Fruits, vegetables, chicken, that's it. Day one I was hungry. Like eat an entire display cabinet of doughnuts hungry. But I'm allowed chicken, lucky girl. Post-work-ravenous-cooking ensued the second I walked in the door. I suppose I was a little too aggressive with the chicken, because next thing I know the smoke alarm is ringing. Ringing like round one at a UFC match.

Being all of five foot three I look up at my cavernous ten foot ceiling where there sits the culprit. Mocking me. As I start scrounging around for something to annihilate his existence, his pitchy jeering stops. I think he knew I meant business.

About an hour later, I decide to take on one of my cavernous walls and paint. Roller ready, paint poured, floor covering....covering the floor, I pick up the paint holder to carry from the kitchen to the living room. Wouldn't you know it, when you don't pick up full plastic painting trays by the fullest point, they spill. And not just spill, catastrophically splatter down the dishwasher and abstractly cover the floor. I think it was attempting to look like a Van Gogh painting. Unsuccessfully.

Half a roll of paper towels later, I paint for about fifteen minutes, get bored, and clean up. Next up in my string of successful apartment-dwelling moments, setting up the WIFI (pronounced wih-fee, New Girl style). I've got about 1,324 outlets in my apartment, I know approximately what half of them are for. There's one in particular in my bedroom that has a foot long, snake-like cord coming out of it with a red button on the end. Looking for the phone jack....I wisely think that if I push that red button, one will appear.

It didn't.

It was the panic button. And the fire alarm has nothing on the panic alarm. This was akin to a marching band that only played foghorns

into bull horns

on a Sprint Center sized speaker system.

The control panel was barraged by blue painters tape. Picture me lacerating through the tape in attempt to punch in the four digit passcode about 42 times, only to discover that it doesn't work. Amidst the blaring alarm I run across the hall to my neighbor, who I have never even seen before this fine fine evening. The frightening red button in my room not only set off my alarm, but hers too, so she's in Power Ranger mode ready to face the attack.

She opens the door, not to a six foot five karate master, but to a sniveling blonde midget in painting clothes having an anxiety attack. I calmly and rationally asked for her assistance, and by that I mean partially coherently begged for help. Between the two of us, we could not soothe the savage beast that is the alarm. So we begin running up and down the stairs rapping on doors looking for someone, anyone who knows what they're doing, to no avail.

In the frenzy, we both begin to realize that the tragically-awful-horrible-vicious-noise has stopped. The freedom began to register and I refrained from dancing, for the sake of my new-neighbor-friend. I know, one heckova way to meet my neighbors. I go all in when it comes to meeting people. I think neighborly love is best fostered through crises.

And then I had wifi!