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I Wonder

I know that possessions do not grant happiness. I know that “growing up” (aka figuring out how to fill out forms for insurance, taxes, employment, car purchasing…) is supposed to be hard. I know that keeping busy does not equal having peace. I wonder where this summer will lead. I have a car now, or, as my manager calls it “a dependent”. I like it, but it takes gobs of my savings money. I get in, turn the key, open the sun roof, accelerate…and I still don’t really feel that it is mine.

There was a nostalgia in hearing that once familiar echo of my footsteps heading up the stairs to the second floor of the high school. It hit me how much I have grown since the last time I hurried up those steps. Walking the halls I am the recipient of enthusiastic greetings and hugs from the gals I love here, or, from the guys, at least acknowledgement. A wave, a question “What are you doing here?”, two of them staring (in what was supposed to be a creepy way) at me through the office window. I’m subbing for the high school secretary today. I like it here. It feels good; it feels like home, but it is also a bit odd to hop back in time.

I wonder…Will I ever be a high school teacher, the career I think that I desire? If I am, will I like it? Will it be here? The time to apply to colleges again is coming up all too soon. It is odd to think of no longer being here, of packing up and leaving this fall, heading for college in my new (to me) car, of submitting my two weeks notice to work, of studying again and reentering that realm of tests and homework. It may or may not happen. If I am accepted to a college I will have to make a decision and deal with these apprehensions, these currently “What if?” thoughts in full. For now they only linger on the fringes of my mind. I’ve learned, more or less, how to function in the real world, it is mostly normal to me now, But I may yet have to learn how to live well in that transient world of college before jumping into a different version of this “real world” again.

I do not know what the future may hold, and I suppose there is not use predicting. Usually I don’t have the time for that sort of thing anyhow. But today in the downtime between the first hour of school and the time I will leave to go to my regular job I have time to think, and ponder, and rest my busy mind. Times like this are valuable, and I don’t get them often. Usually I keep myself too busy, I suppose, busy to the point of hurried prayers, scattered writings in the attempt to figure out my thoughts, sometimes reading a chapter of the Bible.I have kept that promise to myself, at least in part. I’ve been revisiting my favorite chapter of the Bible, only now reading it in The Message version. I think it would be fitting to end this post with that Psalm. It fits…it always fits, but this wording especially fits my life right now.

Psalm 42

A white-tailed deer drinks
    from the creek;
I want to drink God,
    deep draughts of God.
I’m thirsty for God-alive.
I wonder, “Will I ever make it—
    arrive and drink in God’s presence?”
I’m on a diet of tears—
    tears for breakfast, tears for supper.
All day long
    people knock at my door,
Pestering,
    “Where is this God of yours?”

These are the things I go over and over,
    emptying out the pockets of my life.
I was always at the head of the worshiping crowd,
    right out in front,
Leading them all,
    eager to arrive and worship,
Shouting praises, singing thanksgiving—
    celebrating, all of us, God’s feast!

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
    Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
    soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
    He’s my God.

When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse
    everything I know of you,
From Jordan depths to Hermon heights,
    including Mount Mizar.
Chaos calls to chaos,
    to the tune of whitewater rapids.
Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers
    crash and crush me.
Then God promises to love me all day,
    sing songs all through the night!
    My life is God’s prayer.

 Sometimes I ask God, my rock-solid God,
    “Why did you let me down?
Why am I walking around in tears,
    harassed by enemies?”
They’re out for the kill, these
    tormentors with their obscenities,
Taunting day after day,
    “Where is this God of yours?”
 Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
    Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
    soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
    He’s my God.
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The Word, My Wounds, etc.

Yesterday I watched a Ted Talk about traveling the world for practically nothing; today I did the same old things I’ve done for years, the rhythm of life (or farm life, at least) things. Chase and catch sheep, trim goat hooves, call the chickens over to be fed. There is something to be said for sameness and slow life. The hustle of a grocery store isn’t for me forever. Maybe the bustle of the school is…the squeak of shoes, the voices and laughter, the smell of pencil shavings and “teen spirit.” I got fingerprinted today, so I finally have everything done to be a substitute student teacher, inconveniently at the end of the school year. Maybe I won’t even be here next year. Oh well…

~~~

I wrestle with myself over things often. My mind churns things over and over and over. Do all problems have solutions? I need to get back to reading The Word as they stress in every Sunday School class ever. I used to be the one who raised her hand when they asked who read daily, but lately that wouldn’t be true. Reading those same old words over again: the stories, the advice, the temple building instructions and genealogies, Israelite wanderings and Psalms, prophecies and warnings. Someone told my mother their family didn’t think The Word was relevant in today’s world anymore, but having lived in today’s world I tend to disagree. It may not always seem so at face value, but it is. There is nothing new under the sun, and no one understands what happens here under the sun better than God, so I would think that His book would be worth reading, especially for those perusing truth or meaning or wisdom. But I suppose that makes me a hypocrite as I’ve failed to read it lately. That needs to change.

~~~

A note on grief and healing and the like…I found a quote that I pinned on my loverly pinterest which read “Time heals nothing [.] It just replaces memories [.]” There is some truth in that, I think. But so many memories cannot be replaced. Such a big chunk of my life is gone, a person missing, and although the hole closes over in ways with time in many ways it doesn’t. I can keep living and I can ignore the thoughts and memories, both good and bad, that used to haunt me every hour, caught up in present occurrences without the person I devoted hours of my life to, but I cannot just ignore them forever. They come to the surface sometimes, now and again when I least expect them, and (to quote another pin), “It is in these moments of tender and ridiculous nostalgia that I know something inside of me is still broken.”

I’m still broken. I’m not healed even though it’s been months and months since October, and I don’t know how to deal with that. I’ve thought and rethought memories that are too late to change. I’ve faced the truth that my friend is probably in Hell–I’ve not always pushed thoughts of this self murder of the person I knew and loved so deeply to the side. I’ve wrestled with God. I’ve thought a lot, maybe too much, and that thinking is not done, it still occurs. I guess, like Jacob, I’ve wrestled with God, and I think maybe, like him, I will always have a limp. That I will never heal fully. Things might never be ok again, at least in reference to this. That’s a hard pill for me to swallow. The only thing that eases my swallowing it, the “spoonful of sugar” that “makes the medicine go down is this final pinterest quote I would like to share, with the disclaimer that I recognize that no one can be truly healed apart from Christ, that is this: “Only the wounded healer can truly heal.” God works in mysterious ways, and I’m not really excited or happy about the way he chose to work here, but I will acknowledge that he has used my experience with suicide to help others. Take that as you will. That’s all for now. Fare well.

 

 

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Smog

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Sometimes I don’t think that I have any original thoughts left. I spend all day every day saturated in everyone’s ideas and
opinions and struggles and art. I drive home in the middle of January with the window down singing to others’ lyrics to sooth my soul, and I pin a pin on Pinterest that says one original thought is worth a thousand mindless quotings. Ironic, right?

Sometimes I think I’m too comfortable in my life. I go to work, come home, sleep, go to work again. I’m in yet another rut–seems like I leave one just to get stuck in another. That’s not all that uncommon in this winter weather, I suppose. But that’s the problem, I used to be uncommon, but I don’t feel like I’m uncommon anymore. Navigating life is thousands of times harder than navigating winter roads, (which I’ve been mostly ok at doing so far) and I don’t even know where to begin.

Big words and ideas like independence and future and career haunt me. You know I’m supposed to have all of that figured out by now. I’m still here, I’m still home keeping tabs on my people, but I don’t know how much help I am. I wonder about all the other people in the world. I’d like to go sailing for four weeks and meet some new ones maybe, or move to Arizona or North Carolina to room with acquaintances. But I’ve got things like responsibilty and a job and a phone bill. I lack things like a car and that crazy, gung ho, adventurous spirit that I’ve always admired. Someone told me I had “whimsy” once. I think I’ve lost that…that, or I only ever had whimsy in the little, safe ways.

Maybe I’ve already ruined enough relationships here. Maybe I should leave the world alone. Or perhaps it’s only that I’ve stayed here too long and worn out my welcome. Even people who claim to want beyond the surface friendships often hold respite for those who push for them in reality. Seeing all of the motivations and assumptions of another person, realizing the weak things that person allows to bind them, coming to know the cruddy, messed up heart of a fellow human…it’s tough. Genuiness isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Me, I think it’s still worth it. But I’m crazy and stupid, running after ideals, just like the rest of humanity. Could be I’m wrong.

“Live a life worthy of the calling you have received. ” Yeah, I’ve flubbed up that one. “Be Holy as I am Holy.” Another red scrawled “FAIL”. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Honestly? I think I “lean on my own understanding” more often than not. I’ve heard it’s never too late to restart. Don’t we all hear that constantly proclaimed from those with good intent, and motivational posters, and advertisements now and again? But reality usually proves otherwise. Mostly around me I see people trying to change in false starts and relapses. Of course not starting a restart on the basis that I’ll probably fail is a huge cop out. Call me a pessimist, prove me wrong, change your ways, improve yourself. I like all the encouragement I can get nowadays, though often the fuzzy feelings don’t last long here in my rain cloud.

Don’t worry about me. I’m not always this downtrodden. I’ve been responding to people who ask me “How are you?” with “Good.” lately and actually meaning it. I guess my cynical, long winded side comes out when I’m writing. But as for today this is all I have to say. You are excused. Go find something happy to dissipate the smog I’ve put into your system. Adieu.

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When Helping Hurts

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen doing the right thing makes my soul hurt and the people I love to hate me. When God fulfills a prayer I wasn’t ready to face the answer to (“If it takes him hitting a brick wall mentally to find you, Jesus, then do it.”) When life is a sad, sad thing despite the gorgeous colors of fall, and “cast your cares upon Him” feels next to impossible because I hold my “cares” so close now. And they hold me, but I am not ready to give them up. When people ask “How are you?” and I say “Allright.” and feel like I am lying. When helping hurts so deeply that I don’t want to smile or face another day. Even then, even now, God is still good. He is still working all things together for good even when my eyes (seeing dimly, as if in a mirror) can’t see it.

It is ironic because his roadblock to believing in God is why God allows the seemingly meaningless suffering. That if He could stop it but doesn’t He must not be good. And there I was, praying that if it took suffering to bring him to God for God to do it. And here I am suffering the consequences. “There’s nothing that I’d take back, but it’s hard to say there’s nothing I regret.” Breaking trust for the greater good hurts. I hate hurting people. It makes me hate myself. Plus, trust is not an easy thing to regain; being shunned hurts too. People say it will be ok in the end. And I tell them just to let me wallow in my sadness.  Maybe some other day I will try being an optimist, but probably not.

I hate hurting people. But I am human, and despite all of my good intentions, when I try to know people for real and help them I often eventually hurt them as a side effect. Sometimes that pain was necessary and sometimes not. But  because I feel their hurt I end up hurting myself just as badly. And then I ask God why this was necessary in the bigger picture. Did I do something He didn’t want? Or is he using this, pushing us deeper into the hurt so that he can more fully heal us? His ways are not my ways. His  wisdom is beyond me. In my studying on suffering to answer my friend’s questions I re-read the first chapter of Lee Stroble’s book The Case for Faith and re-encountered this poem that captures everything in vague but beautiful way. So I think I will end with it…

“Day by day, hour by hour

Pain drips upon the heart.

As against our will, and even in our own despite

Comes wisdom from the awful grace of God.”

~Aeschylus

 

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Live Life LOUD

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I don’t like mediocrity. I like people who are real, and honest, and vulnerable. I don’t like people who settle for normal, and fit in. I like  the idea of living life loud and un-scumbled, but it’s so easy to fade in- losing one bit of individuality at a time until mediocrity has overcome and I am living for them instead of for my Creator. My life tends to go in cycles. I pledge to myself that I’ll not let normalcy overcome me and live valiantly for a while, but then comes the slow fade. Eventually I revive, and the cycle starts again. I don’t like being trapped in cycles; it frustrates me.

Now, I’m reviving again, and this time the cold splash in the face has been two songs from a genre I don’t usually listen to. Of course there are other things too. Other songs (like “Never Going Back to OK” by The Afters),  stories, events… I finally read the first book of The Hunger Games (way behind the times, I know.) It was good.  Submitting a very vulnerable piece to read at writers day… I did that weeks ago because even though I had other plans initially I knew I was supposed to.

I do wish I could break this cycle, but there is also the appeal of normalcy. It’s been an interesting week. Reading that piece in front of twenty or so of my peers. People respect you when you’re real. Be vulnerable and they’ll call you strong. Sometimes. And then there was the punch, which would have been more effective as an uppercut. He deserved it anyways. Like I said, it’s been an interesting week.

And I have come to the conclusion ( tell me if you think I’m wrong) that you can’t live loud like Jesus without also being like Peter. Because I’m not perfect, and if I’m going to live life with intensity then both my successes and my failures will be immensely huge.  Which, I think, is why we live halfheartedly- because It’s  safe. And some of us don’t care as much about safety as we do about honesty so we live in cycles as if that really is so much better.

And so I shall see what this next week brings. Living loud is dangerous. The emotions in response to success and failure are not always what I think they should be. But I would venture to say that it’s worth it.  I’m still living this adventure, still stuck in this frustrating cycle, but I’ll make the most of being on the top of the Ferris Wheel. Maybe eventually I’ll figure out how to unstrap these restraints, and live life louder. I’ll keep you guys posted on my crazy life; I have no more clue what’s ahead then you all. ‘Till then let me urge you to live life LOUD and let me know how it goes. The only way we can make it through this is together.

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Gift to the Pages

As requested, here are a couple more poems. These ones were written last year.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
GIFT
Writing:the gift of the ages.
Words: the gift to the pages.
 ¶
Giving to the well of tears.
Drawing from the well of fears.
 ¶
No time will never tell
How many have giv’n to that well.
 ¶
How many stopped to ponder?
How many started to wonder?
 ¶
Oh ancient gift of rhyme.
The chosen gift of time.
 ¶
Upon many a page the word!
Yes on many a page unheard.
 ¶
There lies the ancient gift: the word.
There flies the ancient gift: a bird
 ¶
It brings me sweet release.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
RAGE
Rage is a red bull’s rider
With her eyes on fire.
Adrenaline rushes through her veins.
 ¶
Rage I blind in fury
She faces the jury
Anger betrayed within her tone.
 ¶
Rage is a no good liar
Yet she seems ne’r to tire
No guilt yet found upon her heart.
 ¶
Rage punches the man
Harder than she can.
Hair whips voicing his betrayal.
 ¶
Then rage vandalizes
Oh the many prizes
Footsteps she feels closing this case.
 ¶
Rage shoots BB holes
Scares the baby foals
their screams echo back her soul.
 ¶
Rage collapses, love her,
Now that rage is over
She is again the weakling of the pack.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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