Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sketches of Reason: Disjointed Thoughts

The Longer I Run (Peter Bradley Adams):

God's refinement is perfect. His discipline is the best thing we can ask for.

In observing many people and talking to many others, I am more sure today that in this culture, there is hardly a woman without a story involving a guy who hurt her. I'm not getting at the guy side of this, but the female side. In a broad sweeping statement, women in our culture are waiting for that man who will care about her past, kiss away the tears, be good and honorable...Jesus has to be that man before anyone else can. (Though don't hear me say that Jesus is a romantic figure to any individual, but a groom to the worldwide church.)

Never feel entitled. Feeling entitled will drive a dividing fork between you and the people you work alongside, but being humble will unite enemies.

When you think of the term 'best friend', think not of being the best of someone's friends, but being the best you can be at being their friend. Friendship, too, is something to excel at.

Not romance, but companionship. Not infatuation, but real life.

Vulnerability. The freedom to be myself, to laugh, to carry myself with dignity, to let myself be beautiful, to shine, to hurt and let others know about it, to rejoice and invite others into it, to encounter safety in another's eyes...vulnerability.

Trying so hard to come through for myself will only delay the way that God can come through for me. Wait for the Lord, and trust Him. This can only bring good things.

"I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mortal men, the sons of men who are but grass, that you forget the Lord your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, that you live in constant terror every day because of the wrath of the oppressor, who is bent on destruction? For where is the wrath of the oppressor? The cowering prisoners will soon be set free, they will not die in their dungeon, nor will they lack bread."
-Isaiah 51:12-14

"He always gives back with His right hand what He has taken away with His left."
-C.S. Lewis

Life is so beautiful.

Maybe I'll expand more on some of these. But then again, maybe I won't. If you wanna know, ask me. :)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Note on Pirouettes

I'm on such an indie music kick! Today's song (and give the beginning a little grace, it gets good) is called Messages (Xavier Rudd).

Ok, but on a completely different note, I actually did end up going to the rec to dance yesterday. I haven't consistently been in ballet this summer, so it felt good to take it out on my muscles a little bit, to focus my mind, and to relax into the tension. My quads were tight from having built them up a little from soccer, it was good to stretch everything out. It brought my mind from its quandary of thought into purposeful strength. I love that tired victorious feeling after working out, that feeling that you could kick some serious butt. You know, if you had to. :)

But the main thing was pirouettes. They're harder than they look if you don't know how to do them. I'm still really getting a feel for where my body needs to be to stay consistent to do multiple turns. Ironically, I had a dream the other night in which I discovered the "secret" to doing pirouettes and could essentially turn forever. (These are the kinds of things I wake up to and wonder if they actually happened.) But in the rec last night, I began forcing myself to spot my eyes in the mirror each turn. (If you're unfamiliar with "spotting", it's the idea that you fix your eyes on a point in space as you turn. Without this, you can't turn properly and you will also get very very dizzy.)

I usually spot general locations: a brick, the flag in the corner of the room, the fire escape pull lever, whatever sticks out to me. Admittedly I often start turns without a true focus. But as I forced myself to meet my own eyes and hold my own gaze for each turn, I found something interesting: my body corrected itself and my turn stayed true. Even if I started to get off balance, meeting my eyes in the mirror, focusing on a very direct location, would cause my body to correct in ways that I couldn't have consciously willed it to. It was interesting because the sustaining feeling from having a true spot reflected the feeling I'd had in the dream nights earlier. It was like I was being held up.

This made me think about my focus on God. I can have a very general inconsistent focus and lose my balance. I think sometimes we tell ourselves that we are focusing when we are only gazing in the general direction. But meeting His eyes, keeping a true spot, that's what will hold me up, even if I have begun to lose my balance in other ways. And admittedly, you need a good start to be able to turn. Your body can't be all over the place and expect a tight balanced spin. This is true in faith too - we need a strong foundation in the Word, we need to think about our actions and not just blindly start "turning". But in the middle of the spin, we have to keep our focus as sharply as we can on Him, or we will lose our balance. Because in ballet, and in life, our bodies are likely to follow our gaze.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Man vs. Self enacted

My new song via Pandora for today: Perpetuum Mobile (Penguin Cafe Orchestra). You can listen while you read:

Interestingly enough, both today's song and the one from a couple days ago were from a Mumford and Sons radio station. And I guess they're actually kind of similar. Love the mix of vocal and instrumental.

There's always this danger in writing: that I will sound like I know what I'm talking about. Worse still, I could begin to believe that I have these things figured out, and fancy myself to be much more wise than I am. Because the truth is, I'm figuring it out just like any of us, and writing is my way of exploring that.

But today is one of those days, and maybe you have them too, where I'm just kind of tired of being human. I say that with a little bit of a laugh, but I'm not wholly joking. At Second Mile this week, we were discussing conflict, and in community we dissected more deeply what it looks like to engage in those various conflicts vs. self, other people, society, or other entities. I feel quite a bit like Paul in Romans 7:19 as I do the thing I do not want to do. So redeemed and yet so human. Human. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love life. I find such joy in every day. But there are some moments when I just can't wait till this dusty sinful body is replaced by a renewed and redeemed one no longer bound by the flesh. (1 Corinthians 13:12 comes to mind.)

I don't want to dig too deeply into what has me thinking today. That's the business of some good and productive conversations with beloved members of my community. And honestly, maybe I just need to go work it out on the dance floor, or even take to an evening run. But the main question that haunts me today is this: If I will only gain my life by losing it for Christ's sake, why am I trying so hard to save it? Why not rather fall that ghastly beautiful death fall backwards into the true grasp of Jesus and let him be King over my whole life? ...Stop trying to gain for myself the things that I have imagined are entitled to me?

I read an interesting article today about depression. Did you know that Americans have the second highest rate of depression? The article mentioned that it may have something to do with expectations. Americans seem to have limitless expectations going into life about the kind of lifestyle they will lead, the kind of struggles they won't face, the kind of man or woman they'll marry, etc. It only seems "fair." But I drew a little comfort from that article today, ironically. Not like I'm going through anything, because really I have a lot to be thankful for in life right now. But in general, I have nothing I can demand from God. My rights as an American and my rights as a Christian are vastly different. I can expect his goodness, his sovereignty, his love, his grace, but as far as the actual contents of my life, I can't point anywhere and say, "But I thought I was getting this." And the thing is, his goodness does not always mean my immediate happiness. Moreover, God truly wastes nothing in our lives, and lets no experience fall useless. I draw comfort that even on days like today when I'm tired of fighting the good fight against myself, God is strengthening, disciplining, shaping, and growing me. Let me close my eyes and fall backwards into his grace.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Just Passing Through

This song infiltrated my Pandora today, and I found myself really liking it. Enjoy. Maybe one day I'll write again soon. :)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

What is Justice?

Do you ever find yourself in one of those situations where you are burning to say something, but have absolutely no idea what to say? I'm talking about the kind of situation where maybe it's absolutely not your place to say anything, but that you're somehow a stranger thrust into someone else's life by proximity, overhearing their struggles, their brokenness, their pain. It's like, you wish you could reach a hand into their life and do something, even smack some sense in, but they are only a passing blink. It's like an opportunity that glimmers and is quickly lost, all the while leaving you asking, what is justice?

Tonight was a semi-late night hanging out with some friends. My gas gauge read emptier than empty, so I knew I needed to stop for gas on the way home. I pulled into a QT, glad that a better-lit gas station was on the way. While I was gassing up and washing my windows, I caught notice of a couple not too far away. I strained to hear what they were saying because I got the distinct impression from their body language that it was not a pleasant interaction. Moreover, it didn't look like a disagreement, but a very tragic status quo. They were not much older than me, if older at all, but they carried the weight of a heavy life that made them seem to have many more years. The woman was clearly frustrated, annoyed...and resigned. The man seemed (although I couldn't hear) verbally abusive, manipulative. The more I saw, the angrier I became. I'm not sure Jesus would have stared so hard at the man, as I did. I could tell I was making him uneasy, and I quite honestly had every intention of doing so. He wasn't so comfortable talking to her like that when I was intently watching him.

I contemplated walking up to the woman and gently but directly saying, "Why don't you find a man who respects you?" or else more pointedly directing my question to the man, "Why don't you respect your woman?" I'm almost certain such an interaction would not be well-received, but I also guessed that as a young woman, I could (slightly) more safely and more acutely say something like that and deliver it well (whereas a man saying the same thing would be taken as a bigger threat). While I thought about it, and became troubled by the situation in general, I bought time by walking in to buy a bag of Ghardetto's I didn't want. In the end, after deliberating, I hesitantly drove away, saying nothing in the end. I honestly don't know what the right thing to do is in that situation. I can't believe that the right thing is always to walk away. It might be their problem, but it became my problem when I overheard it....didn't it?

What would you have done? What is right in these moments? While of course prayer is on the agenda, I'm not so sure running away first and praying later is always the best answer. Faith is accompanied by action, right? The more I think about it, the more I could envision myself starting up a more positive conversation with the two of them having nothing to do with their altercation, but shedding light and love in the simple. While part of me is glad I could make that man uneasy by staring him down from the other end of a window squeegee, I know that's most likely not the right answer. Love is more creative, I think. While my heart generally wants to say very direct things, I usually don't actually end up saying them, and I think that's probably a good thing. People I guess don't always need to be told their wrong, but shown how they can be right.

But I leave the question open: what is right in that kind of situation? What might you have done? Or do you think it's even your place to do anything at all?

Ultimately, what is justice?