Tuesday, May 18, 2010

i can run really fast

"Am I protecting myself?
Hell yeah, I am.
I can run really fast."

I never knew how terribly fond I am of running away. But I don't like dealing with messes or conflict, so it actually makes perfect sense. I distinctly remember one time during the fall of my junior year when I asked Ryan if he would run with me because we needed to talk, and he said yes. Then a half an hour later he decided to watch a movie with Alyssa instead. I was just left on the street when they walked the other way. I felt so abandoned, but I couldn't even say, "Hey, you said you would run with me!" I mean, at the very least, I could have said that. But I didn't. So that night I ran by myself, fast and hard... it felt so powerful. It was actually a really good God moment for me. But the fact remains, I was running away, and when I got back to my dorm, nothing had been solved.

Nearly two years later, I took my ipod and ran down past the barn to the meadow at my Grandma's house. I used to walk down that path with my Grandpa a lot when I was a kid. There's a path along the corn field that leads to a pond. I started running full speed down the path as I cried, leaving my flip flops behind in the grass because they only slowed me down. I just ran barefoot until I got to the pond, then I stopped because I couldn't run anymore. I stopped for a few minutes, doubled over, panting and asking God, "What now?" and "Why?" These questions only made me feel more angry, so I began to sprint again, up the hill this time. Until finally, the grass ran out, forming a triangle where the path ended... I stopped, glancing between the rocky path that continued up the hill and the corn field beside it, realizing there was no where else to go. Not ready to turn back, I lay down in the grass in an X position, turning Tenth Avenue North's plea into more of a challenge to God, "If you're everything you say you are, won't you come close and hold my heart." But after all that exhaustion, I had to turn back from the path. There was no where else to go. I had to turn back and face everything.

It was only a few hours prior to that when I wrote that I was protecting myself. But you know what, I didn't feel protected when I was driving home in my car, alternating between screaming and holding my hand over my mouth to stop the screaming. It seems like if I had chosen to be real and honest instead of running away from how I felt, maybe it wouldn't have had to hurt so badly. I mean at that point, maybe it wouldn't have made a difference, but running away certainly didn't help. Sure, I can run really fast. But if it doesn't solve anything--if it isn't really protecting me--what's the point of using up my energy on running?

I'd like to be the kind of person who is not afraid to be real and honest and face issues head on and expend all my energy on doing that instead of wasting energy on running away. And at the end of the day, after sticking to the deep determination to talk through things even though I just wanted to go hide under a rock, I would collapse on the floor in that X position that I'm so very fond of and know that it was okay... I didn't have to protect myself because being open and exposed was okay. And because you can't run forever, no matter how hard you try.

"No matter how thick skinned we try to be, there's millions of electrifying nerve endings in there. Open and exposed and feeling way too much. Try as we might to keep from feeling pain, sometimes it's just unavoidable. Sometimes that's the only thing left--just feeling." -Grey's Anatomy

Thursday, May 13, 2010

greatest hits

This one time at the beginning of my senior year, I was at the CCO welcome service for the freshman, and during worship, I thought about how I really wanted to hear the song "Beautiful One." But then I thought about the last time I heard that song, which was during the same worship service the previous year; I was leading worship between Alyssa and Ryan, and I remember thinking, man, I am so blessed to be standing here worshiping next to my boyfriend and my best friend. The memory almost made me change my mind about wanting to hear that song. But wouldn't you know that "Beautiful One" was the next song they played! And I felt God telling me, very clearly, "Now you can remember this moment when you hear this song." God gave me a new memory for that song, and now "Beautiful One" is one of me and God's special songs!

God knows I'm a sentimental person, so He likes to romance me in this way quite often. I can remember a time last summer when we were visiting a church during Sidewalks... God played a few of our special songs that I hadn't heard in a while. First, He brought back a song I had been wanting to find ever since I heard some students sing it at chapter camp called "Til I See You." Then He played a song that I LOVED in high school and used to make Dennis play ALL THE TIME called "Sing for Joy." And as if that wasn't enough, He played "Friend of God," which I don't necessarily like, but it has a great memory attached to it from the beginning of me and Vanessa's friendship. That service was like me and God's mix tape!

As my relationship with God continues, we keep having more and more special songs, and every once in a while, He surprises me by playing one of them. And when that happens, we have this moment like when you just stare into someone's eyes, totally in love and in awe that they remembered something that meant so much to you--something that you had almost forgotten.

This whole idea of me and God having special songs gets me thinking about how when you spend more and more time with someone, it's like you are creating a Greatest Hits album with your special songs and memories. And you know what's so awesome about a Greatest Hits album? It's the nostalgia of ten years worth of the best Madonna songs--songs like "Holiday" and "Lucky Star" that you haven't heard for a while. It's the best feeling ever to remember great memories and songs like that. Maybe that's why we have anniversaries, so that couples can reminisce about their memories and recall themselves back to why they are committed to one another...because sometimes in the here and now, we forget.

But it's definitely the passing of time that makes a Greatest Hits album a hit. That's why I find it weird when people like the Backstreet Boys put out a Greatest Hits album. I mean what's up with that? You put out three CDs in a matter of like four years and think you can put out a Greatest Hits album? Then you're including songs like "Anywhere For You" and "More Than That," which are okay songs, but seriously, they're not hits. Give me time to forget a song before you put out a Greatest Hits album!

It's exciting to think about someday having a 50th anniversary, when my husband and I will have TONS of hit songs to look back on: our wedding, buying a house, our children, our children's weddings, etc. That's why only makes sense that love changes and grows as time goes on because you have more greatest hits to choose from! And when you have lots of memories to look back on, you can love that person even more because you can see the passing of time and how they've been there for you and the things you've experienced together.

Call me too sentimental, but I like having special songs with someone. Sometimes you'll have to sing them the song because they've forgotten, and sometimes they will sing it to you. And sometimes they'll have to read the memories to you every day from a notebook. The beauty of a special song is the ability to hold a memory over time and carry it as a simple reminder that those moments matter, not only when they're happening, but later on, when you need to remember why you're even there in the first place.

(ps - Hi Sherry!)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

at least

Last Wednesday, on my way home from work, I had a collision with another car in the middle of an intersection. I was in such shock that I didn't even realize the damage that had been done to the car. After I stopped shaking so much, I tried to open the door and couldn't figure out why it wouldn't open. So I resolved to crawl out my passenger side, which was very surreal for me, like I was living in a movie or something. When I finally got out and looked at the car, I realized why I couldn't open the door; the driver side of my car was completely smashed up! Later I saw that it was quite noticeable from the inside, too, so I don't know how I didn't see that before. The woman in the other car was so nice to me, and she didn't want the cop to give me a ticket, which was such a great blessing for me.

So I watched the annoyingly cheerful man from AAA tow my car away and went home. I got to my doorstep and couldn't find my house key amidst all the crap from my car that I had stuffed into my purse. I started throwing things on the porch and then finally decided to just ring the doorbell. Mary and Amber were met with my uncontrollable sobs, and when I told them the story, they tried to comfort me with some variations of "at least you are okay" and "at least you didn't get a ticket." But after three car accidents, these types of responses just don't satisfy anymore.

It makes me wonder how God would want us to react in such circumstances. Is it acceptable for me to sob uncontrollably, throw things on the porch, and say that things aren't okay? Would God want me to play the "at least" game and recount all the things that could have happened that didn't? Is THAT what should give me consolation? The way I see it, we could play the at least game forever. "Oh, you've been making out with random guys? Well, at least you're not doing drugs." "At least it wasn't worse." etc etc. And I'm all for keeping perspective about a situation and counting your blessings, but I think playing the at least game is dangerous. And it just doesn't work for me.

That's why I think the only safe response to my circumstances is to lean on grace. The fact is, I messed up. Maybe I'm a terrible driver. Maybe I'm a stupid, flaky girl with a crappy attention span. Maybe I just have really bad luck with driving. If any or all of those things are true, I will definitely not get any consolation from knowing that at least I didn't get a ticket. It might be that any or all of those things are true, but because of God's grace, it's okay. Because of God's grace, I didn't get a ticket. And I think if I play the at least game, I'm not going to see it that way. If I play the at least game, I'll just be comparing circumstances--Mine with another person's, or mine with "what could have been." And it might sometimes help to make me feel better as a quick fix, but the only real thing that will satisfy me is clinging to God's unending grace.

Looking back, I can feel God's love covering me, as I remember my mom running to me and then calling AAA to take care of the car. I can see God's grace offering me a hand so I can stand back up as He brings a compassionate woman and a lenient police officer so that I don't have to feel so ashamed and so I don't have to get another ticket. Because I'm a screw up, crappy things like car accidents are going to happen. But God always finds a way to remind me that He's taking care of me in the midst of the situation I find myself in. And that's the only thing that is going to comfort me after a car accident.

It sucks not to have a car, but what would suck even more is to miss seeing the ways God takes care of me by reducing His acts of love to mere statements of "at least it's not as bad as what could have happened." I crashed my car, but then, I got to see God's love made complete in the kindness of strangers, the grace of my mom, and the support from my friends. So yeah, at least I had that.

If there’s an upside to free falling, it’s the chance you give your friends to catch you. –Grey’s Anatomy