I will never understand

I will never understand why relationships are unjust.

I will never understand why girls who are superficial and fake have men swooning over them when girls who are beautiful on the inside are alone.

I will never understand the way men objectify women, and the way women support it by dressing like sluts and listening to filthy rap music.

I will never understand why, if beauty is in the eye of the beholder that guys seem to always go for the same type of girls: pretty, skinny, and touchy-feely.

But then, I will also never understand why I’m at the university when millions of people around the world can’t even read.

I will never understand why my belly protrudes when millions are literally starving to death. STARVING.

Why do I have a warm bed to sleep on, when people everywhere sleep in the dirt? DIRT.

Why do I live in America when other Christians are being murdered for their faith? MURDERED.

Why do people insist on being superficial when there are serious questions to ask and valid answers to give? Why?

I will never understand why people act like they’re better than others when they’re just as dirty and flawed as the next guy (or girl). DIRTY AND FLAWED.

I will never understand why my peers are staring at computer screens when people are DYING all around the world. DYING!

Why are we not moving?

Why are we so IGNORANT?

Why are people not being heard?

Why is there corruption in our government, among our friends, even in ourselves?

I will never understand why we continue to ignore each other.

Why do we look at the ground as we walk?

Who are we hiding from, and what are we hiding?

I will never understand why we grumble about petty things.

I will never understand why my Bible gets dusty and still smells new.

Why do we make the simple things complex and the complex things so simple?

Why aren’t we authentic and real?

Why do we put on these masks?

 

I will never understand.

 

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English class and trees that smell like puke

This morning I went to English class, as I do every Monday morning at 10 a.m. It’s a decent time to have a class because by that time, the sun has brought a little bit of warmth to the day, and this almost almost makes it easy to ignore the terrible smell of puke coming from the paintball-like seeds of a tree outside of Elder Hall. I have no idea what those seeds are or why they smell like puke (or why they look like paint balls), but I will never forget the morning when I walked by that same tree and noticed that some incredibly clever person had put those little car air fresheners (that also happened to be shaped like trees) on the tree! So clever. Whoever was responsible for this was probably a boy, and he is probably my future husband. But we won’t jump to irrational conclusions like that. The only other choice is that a squirrel did this great deed. But that’s probably irrational too.

All smelly trees aside, I just want to talk about class today. I’m pretty sure I’m all hormonal right now because if I’m not, I have no way of explaining my sensitivity in class this morning. I’m always an active participant in our discussions because I’m nerdy and want my professor to like me (thank goodness, I’m pretty sure she likes me even despite my…me-ness). But at the end of class, we started talking about a play we read called My Name is Rachel Corrie. Rachel Corrie, a real person, was killed in Palestine at the early age of 24 (I think!) because a bulldozer ran over her while she was protesting outside of a home that she believed was going to be demolished. The whole play was constructed from her journal entries and emails throughout her life and time in Palestine. For some reason, I found myself all revved up about it. I mean, how in the world are we supposed to get an accurate picture of who she was and why she died in such a vulgar manner when the directors took her journal entries and put them together in a particular way. Even as I’m typing this, I am angry. I think the reason I’m mad is because people are going to read or watch this play and walk out of the theater judging her because “she was a traitor” to serve in Palestine instead of Israel and that “she was crazy and irrational” for dying under a bulldozer when she could have stopped protesting. Why the judgment!? Because she had the nerve to write about her hatred for the injustices in the world? Because she had the nerve to die for a cause? 

Maybe I’m not being clear. I’m too frustrated to be clear (and I’m not sure why). Think about it. Imagine that you kept a journal or blog and in it you wrote about your passions, your convictions, the things that make you cry and break you heart. Imagine that you allowed yourself to just be a real human being through your writings. You never intended for any of that to be read. Then imagine that after your death, people dig into your personal materials and try to craft something that they think portrays the real you. I believe with everything inside of me that there was more to Rachel Corrie than her journals, emails, or even her death. She was a human being. Yes, she was imperfect. Yes, her death was very controversial. But I just think it’s pretty sad that people are making assumptions about her based on her journal entries.I know I’m being silly and defensive for no reason.

And I know. I know. I’m being one-sided here. I know that journals can be very insightful. It really depends on the person, but it is highly possible that these journal entries do, to a large degree, mirror the real Rachel Corrie. And maybe I’m just being too sensitive and quick to defend a woman who may have been acting very foolish at the time of her death. I really don’t have much room to speak. I just know that today in English class, something inside of me would not let me keep quiet. I spoke up and defended the person, Rachel Corrie, whether she deserved it or not.

And then I was sitting there the whole time thinking about how I’m an English Ed major now. I couldn’t help wondering if my reaction was fitting for that major. Surely it’s good to become passionate about something you’ve read. All I know is that I wasn’t going to sit there passively when the words on those pages were supposed to be representing a human being who died a rather unfortunate death in a rather unfortunate circumstance. 

The biggest thing I took out of Rachel Corrie was her irrefutable desire to take action against the injustices of the world. Since we’re judging her by her journal entries and emails, I will point to the email she sent to her mother just a week or two before her death. In it, she told explained how sad she was, how broken in spirit she felt because of what was happening to the people in Palestine. All political ideas aside, the reality is that people were suffering and their homes were being destroyed …and Rachel refused to go back to her little world in America where she had no worries and no danger. She chose to take action. I think that if we’re going to read something like that, we need to focus less on what kind of person she was and more on what kind of things she did with her life. She refused to sit still, and I find myself wondering why in the world I’m sitting here right now.

So thank you, Rachel Corrie. Thank you for taking action and confronting injustice both in word and deed. I hope, in some way, to do the same (without the involvement of bulldozers). 

Heavy

Today, I just have one thing worth passing on to anyone reading this. Some days are deceivingly easy. People do what we want, how we want, and it doesn’t seem like there are any “hiccups” along the way. Oh, and of course, these days are really sunny and warm. But not every day is like that. In fact, most days aren’t. 

. A thought keeps coming to mind: It’s hard to love.

I have a family member who loves me. This person loves me A LOT, but is, like all of us, imperfect. And God calls me to love this individual through the good and the bad. And it is not easy.

When asked what the greatest commandment is, Jesus says that we are to love God and love others. God is perfect. People are not. But, we are called to love both the perfect and imperfect.

It’s hard to love. 

This a heavy truth, but it’s one worth pondering and sharing with others. If you’re having trouble loving right now (like I am), just say a prayer and ask for God’s grace. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you, whether it’s a heavy task or not. 

  

Grace and Dishes (and Squirrels)

  1. This is a squirrel.ImageImage
  2. Apparently, this is too.
  3. And this is Grace. (and me…but we won’t get into that)Image

You may be wondering what in the world this has to do with anything. I’m wondering the same thing. Sometimes I make things up as I’m writing. Does this constitute “creative writing?”

 

But today was just splendid  Of course, I did all the Thanksgiving “stuff” like getting up at a normal time (before noon….it was a miracle), watching the parade, and eating more than I should have at least two times in a four hour time frame. I even did something very new…homework. Yes, I’ve actually been doing homework for over an hour. On Thanksgiving. Welcome to college, right?

But I ended up being recruited to put all of our dishes in the dishwasher and clean up the kitchen this evening, which I would normally have hated. I guess I just saw it as an opportunity to thank my mom for all her hard work, and as an escape from the homework I had been doing. While I was in there, I listened to the catchy tunes from White Christmas playing in the living room, where, against all odds, my family was sitting together. It seems like such a simple thing, but we’ve had our fare share of struggles this year. While I was busy cleaning the kitchen, God was revealing how well He has been “cleaning” my family. This isn’t to say that things are perfect because they are not! It was a miracle nonetheless. 

As I whistled along to that song about sisters and misters (from White Christmas) our dog, Grace, had joined me in the kitchen to wait for any crumbs that might fall in her general direction. For some reason, it just made me happy. I thought she didn’t like me. I guess maybe she missed me while I was away this semester! 🙂

Anyway, there was so much simplicity today, and maybe that’s what inspired me to keep this blog on the simple side. Whatever the case, I’m pretty satisfied. I had coffee, sugar creme pie, TURKEY, green beans that tasted like green beans, and I sipped wine (just kidding, it was sprite!) from a fancy glass.

And then I did the dishes….happily.

And then I did homework….relatively happily.

These are small, simple perks of Western civilization, but these are things I’m happiest for.

A Pairing of “Selves”

Here I sit. My hair, drying awkwardly with all those stubborn waves I’ve had all my life, is unkempt. My terrible posture at the moment fits well with my terrible choice of clothing. My glasses keep sliding down my nose as I type. My lips are dry. My body is tired and hungry. BUT….I can feel all of this. Experience it all. I’m so alive. You know what I mean? Sometimes it can be so easy to fall into that zombie routine, and before long, we’re not so sure what makes us different from the squirrels squirrying about, or the birds hopping along.  I’ve always found that sleep really brings me back to life. And let me tell you, I certainly slept! And I woke up feeling everything today. Each time I come home, I feel like I’m being thrown against myself. Not me, but who I used to be. Sometimes this is more of a maturity thing. For example, I remember sitting here on my bed only a few months ago crying like a baby and thinking the world as I knew it was coming to an end because I didn’t have any friends. Sitting here now, after all I’ve been through with my family and with school, I can admit that such a moment look so silly. The wooden stand where pages upon pages of violin music once rested is now barren and empty. I remember what it was like to look down on those notes and feel so captivated, so consumed, so invested. Having withdrawn myself from classical training, I can see now that life went on despite some pitchy notes.

Other times, this juxtaposition of my selves” is just in the obvious physical way. When I crawled in bed last night, I could scarcely stretch all of myself out because the bed is too small for my “longness”. The door knobs in my house feel a bit dainty within my palms maybe because I’m used to the big doors (both literal and metaphorical) of the university. The toilet, the dining room, the shower, even the Blankie (with whom I still) all point to the miniature me. What were my dreams then? How much different am I? Oh, how much God has filled me! Could I sing then? Could I write? How much did I feel? What did my heart beat for? Indeed, my “selves” are different from one another. After almost completing my first semester of college, I can now see that so many parts of who I used to be have passed away, only to be replaced by a more beautiful, wise, complete, and alive me.

Oh, how thankful I am to have begun growing up. My eyes see so many things differently. I communicate differently…I can use words. Sitting down with a book is no longer as dreadful and frustrating as I once saw it. I know myself, the good and bad. I have dreams and fears that are so much grander and more mature than they were in my childhood. Relationships, whether with family, friends, mentors, or professors, mean more to me than the younger me with imaginary friends could ever have understood. 

Oh, how thankful I am to be a different person that I once was. Oh, how thankful I am that we don’t stay the same, that growth is real, and that we can reflect on this for the entirety of our lives. Oh, how beautiful. 

Bug

One truly does not realize how miserable it is to be sick and have to try to take care of yourself all alone. Honestly, this is probably the first time I’ve thrown up in nearly 6 years, and this time I had to deal with getting out of my top bunk and finding the light in the dark before throwing up everywhere. And then I had to sit on that nasty floor to puke my guts out. It was awful. I’m still feeling a bit puky today, and I’m pretty sure I scared my suitmate to death this morning when I just passed out right in front of her.My initial thought was the food I had last night. Perhaps it is responsible for the bug. But considering the fact that I have chills, I’m pale, and utterly exhausted, that it is probably the flu. Oh, I forgot to mention that I have two important paper due tomorrow that have not been finished. This illness could not have come at a worse time. I just wanted to share that. To anyone else who is sick right now, I feel your pain. 😦

Mirrors

Oh how it grieves me when people aren’t real. But, in their defense, I can understand why. Authenticity is often met with extreme resistance. People don’t like to face the truth, or worse yet, themselves. Sometimes it is frightening to look in the mirror, but we must. Otherwise, we’ll go our whole lives without a proper introduction to ourselves. It sure seems like some people are under the impression that looking outward will give them all the answers. If they eat enough meals with their friends, participate in enough movie nights, or date enough people, they will suddenly know themselves. Then, there are those lovely folks who withdraw from everyone entirely, even themselves. These are the ones we often find hiding in their locked dorm rooms, behind piles of books and endless facebook status updates. My question to these folks who look every direction but inward is this: Have you ever been introduced to yourself?

I know from experience that trying to walk in step with yourself when you don’t even know who you are often results in clumsy tripping and twisting of ankles. It cannot be done. A person can run from herself so long before the elastic gives way, and she’s forced to smack right into herself. It’s best just to get it over with. 

We start by looking for mirrors. These aren’t the ones hanging on the walls. Mirrors are anything you can go to in order to see a reflection of yourself. Again, I’m still not talking about literal mirrors. Maybe you need to go to your parents. Take out the earplugs and listen to what they are trying to tell you about your behavior. This is a mirror. Take a look. Maybe a friend has been trying to hold you accountable and you just won’t have it. Let them hold up the mirror. Look deeply into it. Let it soak in. Maybe you should go for a walk and get away from everyone for awhile. Sometimes mirrors pop up next to trees and squirrels, or even within the cool breeze of a fall day. Did you see that leaf fall? That was a mirror.

And, contrary to popular belief, you don’t put on make-up and straighten the hair before you turn on the vanity light and step up to the glass. Instead, you wash your face. Scrub off the mask that has been glued to your face for so long. It takes discipline, it hurts, it burns, it stings. You hate it. You want to step away. You let down your hair without combing it. You acknowledge that is isn’t pretty. You whisper your distaste under your breath. You accept it. It tastes bitter at first, but that’s all about to change.

But soon, with perseverance and time, you glance up into the mirror, only to realize that you don’t recognize the person standing before you. Who are you? This is a beautiful moment because you might find, with a little courage and much prayer, that the person staring back at you is pretty cool. You might even like spending time with this person. You might even want to be more and more like her.

In my experience, I have found that the person in the mirror (me) is really funny. She tells the coolest jokes, although they might be a bit silly at times. She’s thoughtful and loves to think deeply about things. She struggles with work ethic, but knows how to seek out accountability for this problem. Sometimes she struggles with insecurities, but she is wise enough to distinguish lies from truth. She hates being single, but knows how to respect herself and God’s timing. She is loved by the King, and as one of her professors told her, is “brilliant in her own way”. 

I am She. That cool person in the mirror is me! Why had I never gotten to know her? Until recently, I loved looking anywhere but to the mirrors spread all throughout my life. But I learned how much I needed to look inwardly at who I am. I’ve made a practice of taking off the mask and washing my face. I’ve made it my habit to be vulnerable in the face of opposition. 

And I turn to this blog, which has become one of my very favorite mirrors. When I get lost and begin to forget what the young woman in the mirror looks like, I turn here. Then I remember. 

There’s one last thing that I need to tell you (whoever might be reading this). There’s another figure in the mirror standing next to the young woman. He is beautiful, and I can see Him breathing life into her. His arms are around her, so very firmly, and He’s whispering “I am so in love with you” each and every time I look into the mirror. Yes, when we look to the mirror, we find that we not only come to know ourselves, but also our Savior. He stands in the mirror white-knuckling our identities from being swept away. Praise God.