Monday, September 27, 2010

Smokers, Schedules and Grand Adventures

[Tales from the CART moment of the day]

While I was sitting on the botany sign today, waiting for the CART bus, a large lady in bright pink sat down beside me. She had just come out of the phone booth where she was yelling expletives at a friend of hers and was mumbling to herself. She pulled out a pack of cigarettes.

Turning to look at me, she asked, "Does smoke bother you?"

I was so surprised that someone was showing the courtesy to ask me that in the first place, I mumbled a lame half-yes half-no answer while gesturing incomprehensibly.

She then proceeded to tell me she'd switch places with me if the smoke blew my way. It did. We switched places.

The End.


Isn't it funny how our hearts long for adventure at the same time schedules bring us comfort? It's an interesting balance -- an intricate arrangement of desires in conflict with one another.

I'll use myself for example, as I am the person I'm most familiar with. I like schedules. I get things done when I have a schedule. They are also the things that kill me most easily, that I will submit myself in slavery to the moment I feel like life is slipping out of my hands. Ironically, I do that so I can gain control (though it never works).

However, everything in me also longs for adventure. Every since I was young, I've dreamt of seeing things grand and far away and strange. Curiosity still overwhelms me from time to time and gets me into trouble. Surprises comprise some of my fondest memories, and challenges light the fire in my heart that makes me think and write as passionately as I do. I want to see the world, in whatever context God has for Chris and me.

Lately, God is teaching me a lot about how to embrace both organization and spontaneity. He is instructing me in how to hold my schedule with an open hand, and take up the opportunity for various types of "adventures" when he sends them my way. Already, I see my joy blossoming in the midst of it, and life bursting with color in a new way before my eyes. It's a deep pleasure to get things done well without giving myself an ulcer in the process, and to know at the same time that I have the freedom to put reading and writing aside to take a walk with my husband, burn a napkin on the sidewalk (don't ask) or sketch out a picture of a Wheel of Time character for the sheer fun of it.

It's great, kids. Anyhow, I'm ending this abruptly because the adventure of REM sleep and the schedule of bedtime is calling my name, and when both adventure and the schedule call, I answer.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Contemplations of a Young Wife, Thirteenth Part

Thirteenth part?! Did you know that most elevators (and therefore, buildings), do not have a thirteenth floor due to the superstition that the number is unlucky? Do not worry, dear reader. This post is not unlucky, because "in my experience, there's no such thing as luck" (name that quote and win the prize of perpetual awesomeness!).

Ahem. Sorry about the random introductory paragraph. Streams of consciousness should cease to surprise you by now, though, coming from me.

I love my husband with all of my heart. He takes such good care of me. I have learned, however, that no matter how well Chris does at "husbanding," marriage can't fix the hurts in my heart.

I have always harbored insecurities about my self-worth. Specifically, I have trouble believing I am beautiful, and that love is truly unconditional.

Before I even started dating, I expected that having a man utterly committed to me would take care of my issues. All I needed were those dear compliments and that flattering pursuit to let me know that I was worth fighting for -- then everything would be okay.

Here's the catch: for a short time, it was true. I felt okay. The thrill of being chased provided me with an emotional high that made me forget my self-doubts. After the dating "honeymoon period" ended -- a sixth- month period, some say -- I discovered that I was floundering in my insecurities alone...again!

Friends have asked if marriage alleviated my insecurities -- indeed, they have subtly asked if it eradicated them altogether. Marriage gives me a living picture of Christ's love for me, but it only clarifies an understanding I've had nearly all my life. Marriage isn't the cure. Christ is the only cure -- that is a fact that doesn't change, no matter what relationship stage you're in. Don't trust anything else to "fix" things in your heart, even if you're sure that "if you only had ____, you wouldn't deal with ____."

It isn't easy to trust that what Christ promises about his power, healing and goodness is true. However, believe me when I say don't wait for earthly circumstances to change before bringing heart issues to the Lord. He is completely dependable, and he will not turn you away. In fact, he will rejoice to see his child trusting him with the most fragile parts of life.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Spaghetti Brain

Alas, but there's not much in my head right now.

I am engaged in a brief stint of being slightly annoyed with the world, but that will soon pass, I hope. Mostly, I get annoyed with the world when I'm annoyed with myself and not exactly sure why I am. Usually it has something to do with the idea that I should have accomplished something that I haven't. And that's the best explanation I can give you.

I was once told that men's brains are like waffles and women's are like spaghetti. Men can keep various issues in various compartments, like syrup in those little tiny squares. Women have everything all tangled up, sauce, noodles, mushrooms, meatballs and all.

Okay, I lied. There is something in my head right now: lots and lots of spaghetti.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Intriguing Little Poison

While jamming out to various songs in my head today as I am wont to do, my mental radio tuned to that old song by the Pussycat Dolls, "Don't Cha." Now, it's really bugging me.

"Don't cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?...don't cha wish your girlfriend was fun like me? Don't cha?" the lyrics taunt. The song paints a picture of the singer blatantly flaunting her charms in front of a guy who's "taken," filling him with doubt and discontent about the woman he's with.

The thing that disturbs me is how true to life such an attitude is. Why was the song so popular awhile back? It resonates with people, because most women (and men) have probably had a "don't cha" moment where they wanted to strut their stuff and say, "Look at me! I'm sooo much better!"

There's something fun about sinning -- otherwise, we wouldn't do it. That's true here. The element of competition makes the theme of the song titillating, which makes it all the more perfidious.

Dating people, engaged people, married people, comparison is poison. Once you allow yourself to start looking at others in order to find areas where your significant other falls short, trust me, you will find areas where they do -- endless areas, in fact. The seemingly innocent little "if only he/she..." game will become a perilously slippery slope, creating unrealistic expectations for the person that he/she will not be able to live up to! As they begin to fail you in those expectations, bitterness and discontent will grow, as surely as a seed will sprout when planted and watered under the right conditions.

Do your significant other a favor, and evaluate them by the Word and wise counsel on their own merit. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has annoying attributes. Any ideal you have you've made up in a fantasy world, trust me. Slap someone on a chart of those ideals and they are doomed to fail the test.

When the "don't cha" thoughts arise, stop. Reject the thought, taking it captive in the power and for the sake of Christ. Replace the thought with meditations on what is good and admirable.

Nobody -- that is, nobody I know -- likes poison! It may smell good, but do yourself a favor -- after you waft the scent over to your nose with your hand like your good chemistry teacher taught you to do, take note of what the smell indicates, put down the vial, and walk away.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Ripped in Two

No matter how sanctified I grow to be in this lifetime, my love will not be sufficient for anyone.

No, no. No matter how much I give of my own power, it will never be enough to heal a hurting person. I will never be able to stopper the source of human tears. My words will never have the power to heal the dull ache of a broken heart.

I talk myself into believing that during the times when all's going well, I am more equipped to love like Christ than I am at any other time. I think that if I've memorized enough verses that week or spouted enough spiritual quips, I don't need Christ with quite the desperation I needed him yesterday. I can stand on my own a little more.


Sometimes it's in the most quiet moments that I realize how deep my pride runs. I wait around for God to give me the power to do a certain thing that I want to do, conceivably "for him." When I get the power, as it were, I do that thing, then say, "Okay, God, thanks for the help!" and walk on, subconsciously believing that next time I face a similar situation, he will have already trained me in how to handle it, and I won't need him. I tell myself that I won't bother him as he helps all the other people on earth. I'll only call on him to help me with something "new."

This can't be. I am saved, yes, but the principle behind salvation runs deeper than I realized that morning in fourth grade Sunday school when I declared Christ king of my heart. Christ now lives in me by his Holy Spirit. Any time I try to live apart from the Spirit, whether in good times or in bad, I am ripping my very self away. I am utterly incapable of living an identity-less life, and that's what I attempt to do when I put Christ aside until I "need him."

I don't ever not need him -- that's the bottom line. My efforts will never, ever be godly enough to portray God accurately to those who do not know him (and those who do). Only in letting God himself, in the form of his Spirit, live through me will I be a true picture of his character and love.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Approved Of?

It's been a little while, folks, and for that, I apologize. The first two weeks  of school have been wonderful. My schedule is relatively easy -- for one thing, I have no classes on Friday, and I am actually at the Eden Clinic right now -- and all my classes (two about writing and two about ancient Greece) are enjoyable and intriguing.

I have a weight on my mind right now. As you may know, I struggle with believing that I must do things to be approved by God. For years, I've been a performer and perfectionist, accomplishing as much as possible in hopes of becoming a better Christian, a better daughter, a better friend.

As I read Titus this week, I noticed how many times believers are instructed to do "good works." The author makes it very clear that we are to do these things as a response to the gospel, not as a means to salvation or approval. It is a still a command, though. Do good works.

Chris and I were talking about ministry and marriage yesterday, and how we desire to become more missional in our everyday lives, seeking to engage and share the gospel with nonbelievers. I became quite discouraged. In my mind, a voice began to whisper about what a horrible person I am for not sharing the gospel enough. I found myself growing angry with Chris and God, feeling as if they were demanding something of me that I had to "achieve" in order to be acceptable.

That's where I'm stuck. Of course, I'm completely accepted by God. Yet, I must make an active effort to grow in the Christian life, and that means to grow in evangelism. The thought terrifies me. Does this mean I can't grow at all until I improve in evangelism? Why am I so resistant to the idea that I have a lot of room to improve here? Why do I try to shrink back from the eyes of God when the topic comes up? There is a rock sitting in my heart in this spot, and I don't know why. I love God. I want to share about him. Right now, though, I'm just confused.

What does God want of me?