Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Training for What?

The tears were hot behind my eyes, even though outwardly I was calm. Blinking them away, I knew that even in my silence I was drawing the half-alarmed half-curious stare of more than one passerby. Children especially were looking at me like a finicky toilet that might explode at any moment. It would almost make me laugh if I weren't so preoccupied. Shopping malls are evidently not the place for deep reflection.

The truth is, I was waiting for my friends. Or more precisely, I was waiting to decide whether I would join my friends or simply disappear into the evening. My friends had nothing to do with my state. They were simply on their way for an evening of fun that I was deciding whether or not to join. The tears were tears of frustration: frustration because I was sitting in a shopping mall, the epitome of materialism and domestication when I wanted to be somewhere desperately more dangerous. Anguish because I felt trapped in the great indoors, the city, the culture...trapped. My soul was starving for a breath of fresh air, for gulps of it - for a lifestyle of it. To live and breathe within arms' reach of nature, to explore the mountains again, even to stop and observe the simple. A moth on a blade of grass: magnificent. Nothing God does is boring.

And there I was in a shopping mall (those are boring by the way), frustrated to tears for lack of meaningful purpose.

It comforted me to know my friends were on their way, even if seeing a movie seemed like the ultimate betrayal of my frustration. The thing is, I am split into two about my life right now. On the one hand, the better hand, there is community. Watching and taking part in a group of young twenty and thirty-somethings as we discover how to love our neighbor and each other has been one of the most free, most beautiful, most abundant times of my life. With my own eyes I've watched as stolen macbooks were replaced, cars were loaned for weeks even months at a time, guy friends rescued one or another of us from car trouble, medical bills were reduced, prayers were earnestly prayed, ears were open, hugs were always at hand, and always, always, laughter. We sat around grills and talked over burgers, we visited our friends when they weren't feeling well, we helped one another move and settle, we offered our cars, our advice, our time, our very lives. Sometimes I am astounded, utterly blown away, that I get to be part of this little piece of the body of Christ. Never have I seen love so true, so steady, so wonderful as in this group of friends. On the one hand, how could I dream of leaving my own beating heart?

And yet, on the other hand, there is a squeaky wheel in my life that has been getting louder lately. With every sharp note, it brings thoughts of adventure, of danger, of something so much more...meaningful than...than this, whatever this is. I feel so tame, so domesticated sometimes. I just feel overwhelmed at times with a need to do something new, something that challenges me to my bones. I have a thirst for something that I cannot quite describe. I want to be...doing disaster relief in Oklahoma, or working with orphans in Honduras, or translating in China, engaging with the gospel in cultures domestic and foreign, or off on a mountain somewhere learning who I am through the elements that challenge my very being. I feel older each day, as if I am fading before my time because I feel I have not really lived. Sometimes, at merely 24 I feel as if the shadows are long, that the rose is wilting before it ever fully opened, simply because it did not see enough of the sun.

If twenties are training, what I am I training for?

I am more contented than I have ever been, and I am simultaneously, paradoxically, vastly discontent. There is a theological element too: am I simply not content in Christ? Or am I simply waking up to what I am created for? None of this can I say, and no resolution can I leave you with. I feel that I have a very particular purpose for being here, in the exact place that I am in. I don't feel permitted to leave just yet. Time will tell exactly what I'm training for in this life, but I hope, I pray that I can dig in and engage with it. God doesn't have me in timeout, and He is always so very good and kind. He knows the plans He has for me, and they are not for my harm. It strikes me that God wouldn't create a hunger for something that didn't wholly exist. So patience and creativity are my next ventures - patience to wait on God and creativity to make the most of it.

Go in peace.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Music Break: Lord Huron

It's summa time! Which means....packing! After four years nestled next to the University, it's time to move on. I'll miss the constant influx of culture and the carefree undergraduate flare, but I'm no less excited to move in with and near some really great friends. Here's to a new chapter!

New music pick for you! I found these guys through iTunes recommendations (which aren't half bad, you know). The more I listen, the more I love them!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Heights, Depths, and Joy

"He had been wont to despise emotions: girls were emotional, girls were weak, emotions - tears - were weakness. But this morning he was thinking that being a great brain in a tower, nothing but a brain, wouldn't be much fun. No excitement, no dog to love, no joy in the blue sky - no feelings at all. But feelings - feelings are emotions! He was suddenly overwhelmed by the revelation that what makes life worth living is, precisely, the emotions. But, then - this was awful! - maybe girls with their tears and laughter were getting more out of life. Shattering! He checked himself: showing one's emotions was not the thing: having them was. Still, he was dizzy with the revelation. What is beauty but something that is responded to with emotion? Courage, at least partly, is emotional. All the splendor of life. But if the best of life is, in fact, emotional, then one wanted the highest, purest emotions: and that meant joy. Joy was the highest. 

"How did one find joy? In books it seemed to be found in love - a great love - though maybe for the saints there was joy in the love of God. He didn't aspire to that, though; he didn't even believe in God. Certainly not! So, if he wanted the heights of joy, he must have, if he could find it, a great love. But in the books again, great joy through love seemed always to go hand in hand with frightful pain. Still, he thought, looking out across the meadow, still, the joy would be worth the pain - if, indeed, they went together. If there were a choice - and he suspected there was - a choice between, on the one hand, the heights and depths and, on the other hand, some sort of safe, cautious middle way, he, for one, here and now chose the heights and the depths."

-Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy