Wednesday, October 28, 2009

feeling worse before feeling better

        So last week on Grey's Anatomy, the episode was a really cool mystery type thing... there was a fire in a hotel, so there were some burn victims in the hospital. There was one boy who had been looking at a college, and his burns were so bad... he looked like one of those diagrams of the human body in a text book that shows all the muscles and nerves. I mean, his burns were seriously that bad that you couldn't even tell there was skin on his body. It was really gross, and I could hardly look at it. The doctor that was supposed to be helping out was crying about it; she just couldn't handle seeing it, and the other doctor told her to pull it together because that boy needed her. He had every nerve in his body exposed, so he was feeling everything, and things were going to have to feel worse before they would get better for him. Arizona, the doctor, told Lexie that she had to "talk to him about his future and remind him that he has one past all of this pain."
        I really identify with having every nerve exposed on my body. But I really guard against feeling that. I guess that's what everyone tends to do... I don't want to be broken completely. I keep trying to hold onto the pieces so that it doesn't have to hurt so bad. I keep feeling like I can't afford the time and energy to cry it all out. The other night when I was crying, I kept worrying that I had to wake up in the morning, and I was losing precious sleeping hours. There's no time to think about it, pray about it, cry about it. And when I do pray, I feel like I can't spend my time praying about my brokenness because there is so much else to be praying about like my family, my friends, Millersville, LVC.
        But it does always feel worse before feeling better, doesn't it? It just has to. Something has to die before you can be reborn, and death is painful. It always is. I wanted to die peacefully in my sleep, but that just isn't possible. It has to hurt like hell, rip that band-aid off, and then move on. Because God promises that this is not the end. He is always moving, always restoring. But sometimes when God moves, mountains crumble, and that's scary because nothing is the same after God arrives.
        Hurting sucks... change sucks... but God is good. And He promises that this is not the end.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have already overcome the world." -John 16:33

Friday, October 23, 2009

hope is scary sometimes

        Did you know that we use the word "hopefully" incorrectly most of the time? For example, we might say "hopefully, I will win the lottery." But hopefully is an adverb, which means that word must be used to describe an action. To analyze the parts of speech of that sentence, you must ask yourself: how will you win?And the answer to that question is not "hopefully." I know, who cares. Other than me anyway. ;-) We all know that "hope" is a verb, as in "I hope it doesn't rain tonight." But I feel like we never mean it as much of an action. Are you really hoping? Merriam-Webster defines hope as "to expect with confidence." Hope is scary, though. You're expecting something with confidence, which sets you up to come crashing down if something doesn't happen as expected.
        This is something we've had to face recently with IV at Millersville because our dorm talks didn't go as expected. We had high hopes that God was going to move in huge ways. Betsy had been praying for 15 people to come to each dorm talk. And that didn't happen... So what does that mean for us? We didn't even come close to that. I walked onto campus that night thinking that dorm talks were going to change my world. And they didn't. So if I'm being honest, yeah, I was disappointed. At our leadership team meeting last week, Betsy asked, why didn't God do more? Then a student asked, do we think God didn't do enough? So I've been wrestling with this a lot. Why didn't God do what we thought He wanted to do at dorm talks? And the default answer is that God didn't want to do what we thought He did; He had something else in mind. But I don't like cliche, default answers.
       But I think our disappointment just shows that we desire for God to do big things. There is so much healing to be done in this world, and we long for it. We long for God to heal every heart at Millersville, and so yes, we are always hoping that He will do more. So there's a balance between praising God for what He has done and waiting expectantly for Him to do more.
        Hope is scary sometimes. That's what my friend Joy said the other day. I asked if she thinks she will get back together with Joe because they had broken up two days prior, and she said that she does, but hope is scary. Expecting something with confidence? Definitely scary.
        My friend Sarah said something to me and another friend, Dana Beth, about showing the new International Justice Mission film at Millersville, and we all agreed that we want to make the event happen. And I am feeling so excited and hopeful that God is going to bless this event and open people's perspectives to learn about modern-day slavery. In the midst of being excited, I remembered last night about the previous experiences I have had with trying to plan IJM events. Last semester, we had a women's violence awareness week, something like that... and as part of the week, I planned showing the movie Holly, which is a movie about slavery. And no one showed up. I had to remind myself that it wasn't anything personal; people were just disinterested. But it sucked. So I thought last night, oh no! What if no one shows up again?! For a split second, I thought maybe I didn't want to go through with planning this event. It's easy to be skeptical after facing disappointment, but I pray this would not be the case for IV at Millersville. I pray that we would try to have outreach events again, and that we would hope for God to move. And I pray that, above all, we would just always remember what God said to Job when Job questioned his circumstances. "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation..." Check out Rob Bell's Nooma video about Job entitled Whirlwind. He goes through God's whole response, and it's really crazy to hear it all out loud.
        I saw this quote that said, "Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end." That's the truth isn't it, that God will restore everything. It will be okay in the end. Hopefully, I wait on the Lord. And it's not scary when I'm hoping for Him because He will do more. After really long conversation about the dorm talks and our disappointment, one student, Wes, said that he felt God asking him, "If you were doing this for My glory, why are you upset? Because I'm not."

1 Then Job answered the LORD and said:
 2 “I know that You can do everything,
      And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
 3 You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’
      Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
      Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
Job 42:1-3

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


        At Millersville the other night, we had Contact, and we were discussing whether or not we would forgive our spouse if he or she cheated on us. Almost everyone (who spoke up, at least) said that they would forgive someone for cheating on them. They said that we all make mistakes and that we are supposed to forgive because God forgives us. Well, of course that's true; I can't argue there. But I felt like I was the only person who flat out said they wouldn't take someone back after he cheated on me. Though I will say, from the way others spoke, they hadn't had someone cheat on them. So that definitely makes a difference in the way you see it.
        I find cheating to be the most despicable thing ever. I've done it once, I must confess. I was about 14 years old, and I kissed a boy that wasn't my boyfriend. I actually still regret it because it's so not me to do something like that. It wasn't me then, either, so I don't even know how that happened. In any case, that's irrelevent. Just thought I would confess.
        Anyway there I am, listening to everyone say that they would want to work it out with their spouse if he or she cheated and wondering what the heck is wrong with me that I wouldn't even consider it. Should I be more merciful? More forgiving? My friend Tommy brought up that there is a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. There is a way to forgive someone that doesn't mean you have to stay with that person. Of course there's also the difference between an affair and a one time thing, but either way, I don't think I could stay with that person. Even if it's my husband. Even if I'm not one who usually supports divorce as an option.
        It's just that cheating breaks my heart so much. I've seen it, and I just feel like it destroys lives. It's not just about the spouse who is betrayed, but it's about their children. I wonder, what will the daughter think when she finds out her father is having an affair? How will her perception of her father change? Will she feel that security that a daughter should feel in knowing that her father is there to rescue her always? What will a son learn about what it means to be a man? The same is true for the inverse, of course. What will the children, whether young or fully grown, learn about marriage and commitment if the spouse leaves the one who cheated? Will they learn it's okay to just leave when times get rough?
        On the other hand, if a woman forgives a man for cheating on her (well, assuming it was a one time thing), will this teach the children a good lesson; will it show them what it means to truly show grace and mercy in the toughest situations? Will it show them what forgiveness means and how the process of reconciliation works?
        I know that we are unfaithful to God all the time. I know that we choose other lovers over Him. That's what our talk at Contact was about the other night, but I just can't stop thinking about this marriage thing. Is it true that because God always takes me back, I should stay with my husband after he cheats on me? I don't know, and I pray that I will never have to actually wrestle with these questions. But it's definitely something that challenged me the other night because I didn't realize that others would seem to have so much more mercy than me. Of course, it's all hypothetical, so who knows how someone would actually deal with this situation. I think I've been pretty forgiving. I think I've taken someone back after he has hurt me a lot. And I know that is a very different situation, but I don't know, I guess it seemed like my downfall... thinking that reconciliation was possible when really, it just wasn't. Forgiveness, I can do. And maybe that's all I should have been doing. Reconciliation didn't work. But I don't know if I really tried for it, prayed for it, or even knew how much we needed reconciliation to go forward. Sometimes I just pretended it wasn't there. It seemed easier than dealing with it all.
       Well, I don't know any of the answers. But the one thing I do know is that I can't keep blaming myself. C'est inutile.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

free pizza

     So today Mary and I went out to eat for lunch at Mamacitas with her friend from CHOC (Community Homeless Outreach Center). His name is Norbert. Mary really connected with him when she was volunteering at CHOC during our urban project this summer. The guys at CHOC play Spades all day, and Mary loved playing cards with them. So Mary and I ordered a pizza ahead of time, and we planned on paying for it, but Norbert insisted on paying. I was holding my $20 bill, and he put his ahead. I didn't know what to do. This is a man who has only a little bit of money to begin with. But I think it probably made him feel good to be able to treat us for lunch.We had a really good time at lunch just talking. But I felt really bad about him treating us. He wouldn't even take the leftovers, which makes sense because he's homeless... he would have to carry it. So here I am with a free pizza AND the leftovers for a future meal. I've been blessed in excess.
     Mary and I were upset that Mamacitas is only offering their special deal on a large cheese pizza for $6.60 on Mondays and Tuesdays now, so we had to pay $10 for the pizza. We didn't think that WE had the money for it. Then Norbert just up and pays for it. It was really an eye-opening situation. It was a real life situation of the parable of the poor woman who offers up the only money she has and how that means a lot more than a regular person giving a lot more money. It was a lesson in giving for me. Betsy is always talking about radical hospitality, and I think that treating someone to a pizza is radical hospitality.
     I'm getting more and more exposed to hospitality. I never was before because my family doesn't usually have guests or anything. My car actually broke down this morning (in the middle of an intersection), and I called my dad to come save me. So he shows up and says that the problem is that there isn't enough gas in the car. How embarrassing! But it's a good thing it isn't a serious problem, you know? So yeah, I call my friend TJ to ask if he has a gas can, and he doesn't... but he knew someone who did. So TJ goes and gets the can and puts gas in it. He brings it, and sure enough... that was the problem. Well TJ brought like 2 gallons of gas to me, and my dad insists on paying him back for it. TJ said it was fine, and he didn't need the money back. But my dad gave him $6 anyway. My point is... my dad does not accept hospitality. He even wanted to pay my uncle when my uncle invited our family over for crabs. That was just ridiculous because of course my uncle wanted to treat everyone!
     I tell this embarrassing story of my car "breaking down" to say that I'm classically trained not to accept hospitality. I felt really bad about calling TJ to ask for help. I felt like I was really troubling him. But because my family doesn't like to let others help, I'm not really good at showing hospitality myself. I do love to treat people, give gifts, and come to the rescue. But sometimes it isn't my first instinct. My first instinct is to split the bill evenly and make sure it's exactly even. My instinct is to say that I don't have the money for the pizza. But if Norbert is willing to use his limited money to treat us to a pizza, then I need to be willing to do the same.

Luke 21
 1As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.[a] 3"I tell you the truth," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

falling apart or falling together

     Sometimes when I write poetry, I come up with one line that the rest of the poem is really centered around. It's like, the entire poem was meant to culminate in that one line, such as "in my life, you are the poetry." It's like the perfect clincher statement. So naturally I love songs that have thought provoking statements to end with. The song "Closing Time" came on the radio this morning on my way to work, and I was reminded of one of my favorite clincher statements: "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."
     That's how my life is feeling lately. I am at such a new beginning of my life, which is really great, but also really sucks. I have lost certain things that meant so much, such as my relationship with Ryan, my youth group involvement, and my life at LVC. Which just plain sucks. But the beauty of it all is that while I can be falling apart, I'm being remade. New beginnings are exciting... but something has to end in order for that something new to begin. And I hate that because I really like to hold onto things forever.
     Reminds me of one of my poems, written in Aug of 2008... "The moment when I realize that you are where I began and not where I begin, that is when I can truly start again." How liberating it is to be in a place where all the stuff you thought were la creme de la creme really weren't all that perfect to begin with! On one hand, it makes me question myself and my judgment. But it's also just amazing as a reminder that God is so much bigger and better than all these things that I thought were so great. It's humbling to be reminded that God has better things in mind, and I don't have it all figured out, but He does!
     I could fight about it all I want: "But God, I love Ryan! He loves me! Why isn't that enough?!" "But God, LVC is where I belong, and I don't want to be anywhere else!" "But God, I just found this youth group that I love! THAT is where I most feel your presence!" But here I am in a new place. That was then, and this is now. And I don't want to sound too "don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened" because cheesy things like that bother me. And that kind of answer does NOT comfort someone. But I do want to praise God for these chapters in my life, even though they are over. And I praise God that endings mean new beginnings! Praise God that I can give up that fight, let it go, move on.
     I think if I were to write a poem right now, the clincher statement would be something about how falling apart and falling together go hand in hand. Once you fall apart, you realize that you are beginning to fall together in a much more amazing way than you ever were before. Maybe being on the brink of falling apart is exactly where God wants to meet me.