Sunday, January 29, 2006

litany

yesterday, i did some very helpful packing; i collected things and wrapped them into boxes so that they can stop taking up my breathing room. and i'd like to tell you that i did it with a heart of kindness and generosity, but that, my friends, would be simply untrue. the truth--however unpleasant it is--is that i did this because i was the only one who would in this scenario. and, i admit, that is how it all too often goes in my life: i am left behind to pick up the pieces from someone else's bad decisions, cowardice, or general ennui--whether my heart is broken or not (and, who are we kidding, it always is)--and i've gotten frighteningly good at it.

oh, it's true....i could tell my sad, sad tales and someone out there might even bend his or her heart in some type of sympathetic gesture, but it wouldn't really change anything. it surely wouldn't change me, or my mind, or my heart, or the fact that there are boxes of someone else's things in my spare bedroom that--in all honesty--i never expected to have to pack up alone.

i may not know much from my 30+ years of existence, but i do know one thing: i am not interested in one more person walking out my door and telling me that whatever we had just wasn't 'enough,' or that things weren't 'right' or 'ready' or whatever the new lingo is on that particular day. please, men of the world, DO NOT tell me what you want from a future with me if you aren't willing to make good on it. and if i look you in the eye and say that i don't want to hear i love you from another man who cannot or will not hold up his end of the bargain, DO NOT SPEAK THOSE WORDS unless you intend to be the man who won't leave me with his stuff to pack into boxes.

God, there are so many reasons why i ask that you not bring me back to this place again. you know them all, but the only one i can think of is please, just don't.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

just breathe

last night, salimah and i stopped off at the whole foods in mt. washington to pick up a few items for dinner (a light one, since we're both still dealing with vestiges of the stomach flu). when we left, the sun had truly begun to set, and the rain clouds that had been grousing in the sky had begun to part in such a stark way that the sky was half fading blue, half charcoal-gray cloud, with a pink-lavender sheen that was so magnificent, it transfixed me. and as we made our way back to the car, the breeze was so cool and fresh that i couldn't help but breathe deeply, over and over. in the sky, a plane was cutting a path straight for that cloud formation. it was art, i tell you. sheer brilliance.

so brilliant, in fact, that some photographer was standing in the parking lot trying to capture the wonder of it all. and in his rapture, he, too, was photograph-worthy.

what affected me most about that moment, though, was the fact that i realized something: in that 30-second interval, i felt more alive than i had in months. i can't say that it was any one of those things that did it; maybe it was simply the combination of the parts. i don't know why, really. but i knew that i was grateful to feel that wind and see those colors and be there, just as i was, not needing anything more in that moment than the air in my lungs and the heart beating furiously in my chest.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

i find errors for a living

yeah, so in my work as an editor, i've begun to realize something about myself: i notice wayyyy too much. sure, sure, it's super handy that i can point out if you make a grammatical misstep, but i mean things beneath the surface. like nuance-y things. things that make you go, 'hmmm....'

i'm starting to wonder if there is happiness to be found in being oblivious...if ignorance is, in fact, bliss. i mean, a lot of people i know who have accomplished their professional goals, gotten married, and are vacationing once a year in someplace sunny are actually rather NOT tuned in to the world around them.

i'm sure i'm talking crazy here, but has it ever occurred to anyone else that if you could just stop coming to realizations, stop figuring out 'the truth' about a situation, stop finding the errors in a manuscript, a movie, a relationship that you would just be happier and perhaps even more well-adjusted? it's starting to occur to me.

now i just have to figure out how to overlook the flaws. or maybe look at them differently. see them as beautiful? appreciate them for what they are? sure, okay. i could do that. as long as they don't involve improper use of a colon, errant comma splices, and dangling participles.

maybe this is about me coming to terms with my own flawed self. the mistakes i've made (and they are legion). the ways in which i've failed to grow up. i'm 30 years old. i feel like i don't know what i'm even doing with myself. or what i'm supposed to do. who it is that i'm supposed to become. how to feel. how to look. how to be.

i know what's wrong with me--what's wrong with my life. what i need to know is what is right. i'm sick of scavenging for pitfalls. i want to build mountains, change my surroundings, kick things up several notches. could someone just please tell me what to do?

no such luck, i suppose. it's yet another thing i've got to figure out on my own and for myself. i suppose i should be thankful, though. at least i know what not to do....

Thursday, January 12, 2006

if i could put on this screen all that has transpired in my head over the last few days (and even this very night), there would be a long commitment on your part, dear reader, to get through it all. suffice it to say that i have realized one thing for sure: i am supposed to be alone in this season of my life. God has NEVER had my undivided attention in which i wasn't concocting some other plan for myself, and He is clearly over it.

and so it comes to this. the rug (which i have done my very best to straighten and place 'just so') has been pulled out from under me again (read: over and over for the last four months), and i am faced with lots of questions and very few answers. except this i know: i have been parading myself through carnival-esque funhouses (which weren't so fun after all) and looking in trick mirrors to try and rightly see the truth about myself. suffice it to say it didn't work so well.

i get it now. i see what You've been doing here. i'm ready to listen, Lord.

so speak.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Your Blogging Type Is Thoughtful and Considerate
You're a well liked, though underrated, blogger.You have a heart of gold, and are likely to blog for a cause.You're a peaceful blogger - no drama for you!A good listener and friend, you tend to leave thoughtful comments for others.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

last night, while i was preparing for a dear friend to come over, i was listening to eva cassidy's songbird. this woman (who died at the young age of 33 in 1996) has a voice that pulls at the deeper places inside of me. there is a mournful quality which, i find, is what draws me in when someone is singing. it's the reason i love karen carpenter so much. it's the reason that, as a child, i felt like she and i got each other.

and then there's rich mullins. he wasn't a great singer, but the man sure knew how to write, and i often felt the pain that lingered behind the joy as he sang about the intricacies of trying to navigate a faith-driven life on this earth. he was raw and real and not trying to pretend that life was covered in this crispy, sugary shell (often labeled 'joy') that so many christians try and project.

i have struggled against that shell for the entirety of the 12+ years since i came to Christ. in fact, a few years ago, a small group of which i was a part took a kind of 'faith survey' to see where we stood in mirroring the aspects of God in our lives. and whoever wrote this test fashioned it in such a way that almost none of us in the group had what was supposedly considered much in the way of joy. (for the record, i'm not sure i agree with that, but i was a willing participant in all this, so i wasn't trying to be argumentative.) so, as a way to 'help' us, we decided to read some book on joy by chuck swindoll (i believe). now, not to knock the man, but i found the book to be shallow and in no way representative of most people's honest experiences.

it seems to me that it's quite simple for many believers to feel that they are joyful when what is really going on is that they haven't been experiencing anything that difficult in their lives recently (or when they do, they push the feelings away because they feel they're wrong or 'sinful') and so it becomes fairly easy to live the crisp and sugary life. and those poor souls who are deep in the midst of their grief, hurt, anger, depression, etc. in an authentic way are basically told, in subtle and unsubtle ways, that they are 'missing the mark,' need to be reading their bible more, aren't really projecting that 'joy of the Lord.' and of course it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how quickly this leads to discouragement and feelings of inadequacy and condemnation (which, of course, are 'sinful' in themselves).

the truth is that there is real joy to be found in the depths of pain and suffering. there is singing inside of prison walls. there is hope in blindness and confusion. there is life in the midst of death. and it doesn't matter what kind of songs you sing, books you read, phrases you utter, movies you watch, friends you hang out with, places you go: if you aren't living in the REALness of the human experience, there is no way to experience true joy. God is glorified in the midst of suffering. God makes beauty out of ashes and he turns angry, hate-filled people into kings and great leaders. God isn't shocked by your 'bad attitude' or your lack of trust in Him. because if you have turned your life over to Him, even if it takes years, there is always an end to the trials. but it takes work to walk through them to the end. and often it seems easier to talk yourself out of the experiences rather than to run the race. but God knows what's really going on inside that heart of yours, so you might as well get to work on really living your way through your life so that you might have a fighting chance of being transformed into the image of Him at the end of it.

so what does this have to do with eva cassidy and karen carpenter? maybe not a lot. except that i'm tired of the bullcrap of sugar-coated life. i can't tolerate it, and i will not sign my name on the dotted line of any organization that lives it. so many of us on this earth are existing inside of shells because we know we 'should' be better. well, we're NOT better. deal with it. only God can fix what's wrong, and the longer we pretend, the longer we fail to experience real joy.

the day that i spoke aloud the truth of what i was holding inside is the day that i started on the road to freedom in Christ, to living the life that i was meant to lead. and i don't care who i offend as i walk along that road, because i'd rather find myself a real person at the end of it - someone whose face shines with God's beauty and not the world's.

in the meantime, i'll sing my sad songs and i'll cry my tears, and i'll scream out my frustrations into the darkness. and God will love me through it. He's big enough.