Tag Archives: masks

A Weird Fall

This has been a weird fall, if I’m being honest. It has been a weird fall in so many ways, for so many people, that to even begin to try to explain the intricacies of the pain and joy interwoven in this tapestry called “life” would take pages and hours. My heart, the hearts of my friends and family, ripped and torn and bruised and beaten and healed and helped and dropped and kicked and restored – sometimes switching from ripped, beaten, bruised; to healed, helped, restored; and back again; within the span of a day or two. Faith, relationships, friendships, boys, girls, dogs, Alzheimers, school, pride, homesickness, in-laws, abuse, inadequacy – it seems everyone close to me is dealing with one of those in some big way, whether positively or negatively.

It’s been a fall of learning. Learning to love, learning to let go of love. Learning to embrace doubt without a ceiling, knowing that God is bigger than any doubt. Learning to step out and initiate new friendships, to invite the new girl to dinner or coffee, to stop being judgmental. Learning how to put up the necessary walls to get through a day of work or class. Learning when and with whom to take down those walls.

It’s been a fall of 8 page text messages, fingers tapping the screens of cell phones rapidly, urgently, as if typing fast enough can make the pain go away. It’s been a fall of honesty and confrontation, of putting the cell phone down and meeting in the plaza or at the beach or at Union Station to discuss in person. It’s been a fall of learning to admit feelings, to admit wrong, to admit to being hurt. Learning to stop sweeping everything under the rug. Learning to stop BEING the rug, letting everyone walk all over me.

It’s been a fall of ups and downs, rapidly, sometimes three or four in a day. Rejoicing with one friend then sobbing with another, in the same hour. Calling in to work because I just can’t get out of bed this morning, I’ll be in this afternoonThe kind of hysterical laughter that only comes when it’s been way too long since happiness from deep in the gut. Like a roller coaster, climbing and climbing then plummeting with no warning whatsoever.

Up, up, up, cornfields and new church and family reunions and journaling and long walks in the city lights and making up and new friends and late night nachos and perspective and surprise visits from Jocie. Down, down, down, endless headaches and misguided conversations and trying to make my own plans and crying in the car again and maybe not going back to Peru and things changing and Lady dying and nursing home conversation and doubt. Up, down, up, up, up, down, down, down, down, down, up, up, up, up, up.

{Have there been more ups than downs? Of course. Is God still faithful and in control? He is, has been, and forever will be.}

It’s been a fall of long-sleeve-covered hands wrapped around mugs of Peruvian mate de coca. It’s been a fall of new coffee shops, popcorn every night, How I Met Your Mother, apples, considering tattoos, and appreciating my roommate more than ever before. It’s been a fall of trips back to the Mitten almost every weekend, of avoiding journaling because I just can’t right now, of new musical tastes, boots and scarves, of solving other people’s problems alongside my own.

It’s been a fall of realizing how stinking blessed I am. A fall filled with moments where all I can do is whisper, “thank You,” because I don’t come anywhere near deserving the abundance of blessings God has heaped on my head. It’s been a fall of being selfish, forgetting how blessed I am just moments after my awe-filled “thank You,” demanding, “more, Daddy, more,” like a child. It’s been a fall of grace, of Him giving me more and more and more even though I ask for it selfishly. A fall of Him prying open my tightly closed fists, then wrapping His hands firmly around my now empty palms, showing me I’m not alone.

It’s been a weird and difficult fall, yes. But when I look back on my life, the seasons that were the “weirdest,” or “hardest,” are the seasons where God has taught me the most. The seasons where I’ve cried the most have been the seasons where I’ve also grown the most. It’s been a fall of leaves changing colors, falling to the ground, and being trampled on. The trees will freeze soon, but that won’t be the end. Soon enough it will be spring.

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Home to Pucallpa

At this time tomorrow, Lord willing, I’ll be in Pucallpa. In fact, by this time, I’ll probably be in Mama Rosy and Papa Jacinto’s house, having eaten my first Peruvian meal of 2012. The air around me will smell like dust, smoke, and chicken, and – if I have my way – I’ll be laying in the hammock.

As I got ready to fall asleep in Aunt Lora’s squishy pink bed (the same place I’ve slept the night before every Peru trip) last night, I commented to Mom that this year’s trip felt different. Of course there are the few major differences – going alone, length of trip, purpose of the trip, etc – but there has just been a different feeling hovering over the whole idea of the trip itself.

Between the flight from Detroit to Ft. Lauderdale and the 8-hour layover in Ft. Boringdale that Spirit Air has blessed me with, I’ve had a lot of time to think about that feeling. I think I’ve figured it out.

You see, up until this year, Pucallpa was the only place where I had ever gone maskless. Something about the combination of serving, pure love despite the language barrier, and the sweltering heat, caused my mask to fall off when I first stepped out of the plane in 2008.  It was one of the things I loved most about Peru – how free I was always able to be when I was there. How I was able to laugh and cry from the deepest place inside of me, to sing and dance without feeling embarrassed, and to love from the deepest place in my soul.

Towards the beginning of my time at Moody, however, something changed. I was assigned to read the book “True Faced,” and it convicted me in the deepest way. God gently reached down, tipped my chin upward, pulled off my mask, and threw it on the ground. It shattered into a million tiny pieces, never able to be worn again.

As a result, I lived out this past year with the vulnerable confidence that I had previously only felt in Pucallpa. I learned to laugh, cry, dance (this is a relative term. I still can’t dance.), and be a friend. I learned the true, radical, life-altering meanings of church words like “grace,” “trust,” and “faith.” And I was content on a much deeper level.

That’s why this year feels different. Rather than longing to go to a place where I can truly be myself, I’m returning to the place that first taught me who “myself” was. I’m going home, but I’ve really been home all year long.

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Stretched Thin, Spread Out, Worn Down

Sometimes, feelings bottle up inside and the only way to sort them out is to write them. This blog post is a result of those feelings. It may not make complete sense, and I promise that I’m not looking for your pity. Sometimes, I just need to share. Thanks for “listening.”

I should begin by saying I realize that my life is great. I am entirely aware of how blessed I am.  I’m a student at one of the top Bible colleges in the world. I have a solid group of friends who prop me up when I’m too weak to stand on my own. I have finally found a home church, and joined a Gospel Community there. I’m in classes for my major now, I have a job that I love, and my basic needs are met: food, water, shelter, etc.  If you look at my life on the surface, it’s “pretty great, actually.” In fact…

“I’m fine.”
“I’m doing great.”
“Life is good.”

These are all things I’ve told people over the last few weeks.  But they aren’t entirely accurate.

I’m balancing 17 credit hours, 15 hours a week of work, homework, Puente, 5North Min Team, PCM, some semblance of a social life, and sleep.  Actually, “balancing” is the wrong word.  It would be more accurate to say that I’m “precariously juggling” all of those things. And then there’s the fact that, as a human being,I’m required to experience a certain amount of feelings.  I lost one of my closest friends over Christmas break and I’m trying to find time to just be sad for a minute.  I sat in the hallway for over an hour, crying with another friend over her deep hurt. I’ve started counseling to deal with the hurt from our church split last spring. I’m actually homesick this semester, especially for my little brother. There is increasing tension in my group of friends that needs to be dealt with. Between my lack of sleep and the knowledge that each day will bring a lot more stress, it has become increasingly difficult to stop hitting the snooze button.

I’m stretched thin, spread out, worn down. If I could wave a magic wand to get anything I wanted, it would be a long weekend on a beach with a pillow, my Bible, my journal, and some music.  I long for sunshine and warmth, for the laughter and freedom that summer brings.  I want to spend a few days at the farm on Cole Rd, cooking for Nana and Papa, watering the steer, and rocking in the corner of the living room reading old issues of Farm and Ranch. I want to go to East Lansing with Maggie and Jocie and eat at Chipotle and go to Bubble Island and talk for hours.

None of those things are options right now. Instead, I snag a few free minutes to journal each day. I take time to breathe and relax before I fall asleep. Coffee is my new best friend, and I’ve started eating breakfast in an effort to have more energy throughout the day.  Sometimes I pause to stare at a wall for a few moments. Gospel Community is a welcome time to break out of the “Moody bubble” and share life with people outside of my daily circles. I make myself find joy in the little things. I remind myself that I am a wretched, awful sinner, but Jesus loves me in spite of myself. My roommate listens to me complain. I look at pictures of sunshine and beaches and summer. I hug people a lot. Gramma Kelci gives me frequent back massages. Sometimes, like last night, I drop everything and do something spontaneous with my friends. When none of those things work, I hide under my covers and talk to Jesus until I fall asleep.

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