Monday, September 29, 2008

Moments Like These

Work, not going the way I'd like it to go, is starting to weigh on me. I see my friends in full time ministry, or at least full time doing what they love, and I can't help but ask "why can't that be me?" I know that the comparisons need to stop. I know that all of the people I am comparing myself to are also struggling, but my heart is overeager. When I got the promotion at work I said (simultaneously) "OH, YEAH!" (genuinely) and "OH, YEAH!" (sarcastically). But then, I sit here, in the quietness of my apartment simply listening to the keys on my computer and I am reminded of moments. Like, standing with Maggie before a crowd of 75 people introducing a short music video that makes us laugh even though we've watched it half a dozen times. Or, getting dressed up and getting to wear ruby red slippers on a day other than Halloween. Or, seeing the pride in Brenna's and Jennie's faces at how their film turned out and getting to share it with people they love. Or, walking with Chrissie while eating World Wrapps. Or, bringing Chrissie (a dear friend) to meet Brenna for the first time (another dear friend) and have them be perfectly in synch. Or, anticipating having five high school students over to my house tomorrow for pasta and fellowship for a few short moments. Or, laughing with a friend who remembers our jokes, better than I do. Or...or...or...a million times over. I forget about the or...or...or...and in my forgetfulness I feel withdrawn from community, but the or...or...or...is so powerful. The or...or...or... is filled with beauty and I want to begin to live my life FOR the 'ors' and in doing so have an encounter with Christ.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Yellow Eyed Monster

I would like to think that my friends and I can agree I strive to be a caring and compassionate person. I admit that often I give way to surface level compassion that is nothing more than a placating smile, but I want to be a person that truly embarks in the act of co-passioning, sharing the sorrows and sufferings of those I am in community with.

However, every now and then there is a Yellow Eyed Monster that rears its ugly head and I can see myself and hear myself being unkind, rude, and mean to some of the people I care most dearly for. In one moment I am loving Suzanne, and in the next I am basically kicking someone (hard!) and then walking away unconcerned. I've discovered that a weird sense of control and power comes from being able to level and manipulate the emotions of people with your words. When I am feeling weak and underappreciated, it gives me sick amounts of elation to know that I am being mean. People must, or so I think, be devastated in their wake and that makes just a small part of me glad.

In my Theology of the Trinity course in college, Catherine LaCugna stated that it is incorrect to respond to our sin by saying "well, I am only human." Humans, she explains, were created NOT to sin and were created to be in perfect community with our Creator and with one another. The act of sinning, then, is not our living into our identity of humans but actually the slow process of becoming less human. That's what it feels like when the Yellow Eyed Monster comes around. My mind is not taken over by the Yellow Eyed Monster as I can still hear the voice of compassion inside me begging me not to say those words or make those decisions. And then afterwards when the Yellow Eyed Monster leaves to hibernate, which always happens instantaneously, there is remorse. There is the slow realization that my words and actions which should be binding up and healing are actually instruments of harm. There is the realization that I am not perfect and that whoever this compassionate person is that I think I am is only a shadow of the person Christ wants me to be. Praise be to God that the Yellow Eyed Monster then returns to his slumber and that I have these moments of remorse. Praise be to God that I have today to try again and hopefully get it more right.

Praise be to God that I am human and that by the grace of God I will someday be fully human.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Living is Simple, and Breathing is Easy

I counseled at two different high school camps over the past summer. The second camp I counseled at had me working with some girls I have known for 6+ years. It was amazing to get to spend time with Megan, who I began leading at the age of 10 and then see where she is now, this dynamic young woman for Christ that wants to live her life with reckless abandon (in a good way). I see her, and would love for my girls in Seattle to know her. This pretty, young high school student, fashionable, fully functioning, but in love with Jesus. During camp, Megan and I were both fairly convicted about our need to live more simply. We committed to one another that we were not going to buy any clothes (new or secondhand) for a full year. As far as I could tell, we were both pumped. I thought, "look at me doing this good thing, and choosing to live more simply." However, I have discovered that it is not as simple as that.

For the second month in a row, I have sat down to pay my bills and have asked myself, "where did the money go?" Whereas six months ago I could sit down and pay all of my bills at once, I am discovering that my freedom with eating out, enjoying weekend trips, etc., over the past year has finally caught up with me. I can no longer pay all of my bills at the beginning of the month. Now I must wait for my second paycheck to come through to ensure that I will have enough. Simplicity seemed easier when it was my choice. A journey I was choosing to embark on. But now, simplicity is something happening to me, and that is much more humbling than I thought it would be. I have just paid half of my bills (I need to wait until August 13th to pay the rest), I have $110.00 in my bank account left, very few groceries in the house, and am trying to go to Portland this weekend for a small trip with my friends.

How do I live simply in a world where everything costs money? How do I live simply AND engage in relationship with people when the activities they would like to participate in require a huge monetary sacrifice on my part? Not to mention all of the good and pure things (like hosting breakfasts and lunches for people) that I may not be able to do any longer. I guess, at the end of the day, I still have emergency resources. I will not be starving, as I have a credit card which I am sure my mom would let me use. I have belongings I could sell. I can eat pasta. Every day. For a month. I do have options. I just didn't think they would be options. I thought they would be my choices, but now the simple choice has been made for me.

It's humbling. It makes me feel a lot out of control. And I'm not certain I like it all that much.