Some things I got from my dad:
My dad is awesome. We disagree all the time on ALL THE THINGS, but he is still my number one man—the best and worst of me, always.
I am very lucky to have a dad who knows how to love on his kid. He is always sitting me down and telling me very seriously, “The best girl. You are the best girl. You are my best girl.” I have probably heard these three sentences more than I’ve heard any other string of words in my life. When my dad says this to me, he looks me straight in the eye and speaks Very Slowly and Very Clearly, like he’s telling me the secret of the world. (Over the phone, it’s a little less effective but I always imagine my dad spearing the wall in my stead with his stare of conviction, haha.)
I love my dad. And I love Father’s Day! We always celebrate Father’s Day a day early because my dad works Sundays. Today, we made a feast of all my dad’s favorite foods and he was very happy. So I was happy, too.
The best thing about good books is that they stay good forever. You don’t just grow out of a good book.
I wish people were the same way, sometimes… how simple life would be if I could treat everyone I met the same way I treat my books! Alas, 1) good people do not stay good forever and 2) I grow out of people all the time. Is this what they call the human condition?
Some of the best feelings:
Many people outside the church see her as this divided, rickety thing that is quick to judge but slow to love—and I can see where they are coming from. I thought that too for many, many years. (Actually, if I’m being completely honest, I sometimes still think that.)
The big problem is that we have allowed the church’s heart to be split a hundred different ways and forgotten what has knit us together from the start. The fringe issues have been so magnified that they now look like the face of our faith! Everywhere I turn, I see people who are ready to take up arms for their stance on the hot seat topics. Tell me this, though: who is left to fight for mercy? Who among us is left to fight for love?
Jesus gave us just two commands to follow (count ‘em—one, two) and we have managed to fall short of keeping even those. The result of all this fighting is that everyone knows exactly what we’re against, but no one knows who we’re for.
I thought I was above all this, but that was just arrogance and wishful thinking. Really, I am at the bottom of the heap. I am still tripping over the little things, and hard. (The little things don’t look so little when you’re on your knees, by the way. Something I learned the hard way.)
A few months ago, I decided I wanted to know more about Catholicism. So I talked to some people on the teaching team at Reunion and checked out a few books, and started learning about the Catholic Church. There were many things I thought were good and right. There were some things I didn’t understand. There were still fewer things that I thought were flat-out wrong. I thought I was in control of it, so I let myself go a little deeper. I read more books, and talked to more people. I went to Mass for almost a month and thought I was being rent in two by a great, unnameable ache of mingled happiness and loneliness.
Spoiler alert: I wasn’t ready for it. (But that is a whole different monster of a tale for another day.) Long story short—I got very, very lost along the way on my search for truth. Instead of asking God to show me His will, I started asking Him to tell me which sect of Christianity was the best one. Instead of asking for a bigger heart, I sought shrewdness and cunning.
When I saw how my prayers had changed, I put some space between me and the Church. And while I do not doubt that this was the right move to make, I want to make it very clear that I still love and respect the Catholic Church, very much! I am not done with the Church, by any means. I just want to do a little growing up before I draw near again. Maybe this will take a few weeks. Maybe a few years! I don’t know, and to be honest it’s probably a good thing that I don’t know.
Thinking about denominational lines makes me so sad, and so frustrated. I don’t want to be a Protestant or a Catholic. I’m not a Presbyterian, or an Anglican, or a Baptist. I’m just Christian. That’s it. That is enough for me, right now. I hope that that is enough for me forever.
So. Here we are, in the late night. God finds me curled on my bed, boneless and emptied. I am spent. I am angry, too. In my frustration I rage at God, demanding to know why He has let this happen to His church. As I’m asking God why He is doing this to me, I feel like I’m about five years old. My cry is this: We were supposed to be good. We were made to be good. What has happened to us?
But God is patient and waits until I’m done, smarting with tears. I can feel my jaw jutting with mutiny, but I am silent and when He finally speaks, I hear it like the roar of the ocean: Lift your eyes. You have forgotten Me, and what I have asked you to do for Me. Leave your books, and your anger. Turn back to Me. Come back and be with Me, again.
This gentle invitation hurts more than everything I have felt in the last month combined. I feel like I’ve been slapped soundly across the face. I am dumbfounded by grace. Again.
I am lying here now, thinking: I have run out of excuses. I am done perpetuating this cycle, and I am done being complacent. This is my message to the church: keep your airtight dogma. I don’t want it. I don’t need it. The time for fighting has passed—it’s time to love, now.
Come, church, let’s move some mountains.
Tonight, my dad came home early from work so my mom grilled up a bunch of Korean barbecue and now we are all in bed, happy and sleepy and a little uncomfortably full. At dinner, my parents shared half a bottle of wine and my sister and I had tall, cold glasses of barley tea. I thought: in half a year, I will be back home for winter break and having my first drink with my parents. Will we be using the same wine glasses? How will I have changed, in six months? I imagined my fingers resting on the same spots that my dad’s fingers touched today and smiled a little.
Mmmm, I love summer nights like this—easy and unhurried and sweet. There was a lot of laughter around the dinner table today. All is well, tonight.
Ooooooh I am happy, happy, happy. Work got out early today, so I came home and played with my family for a little while before taking a nap. It was hot when I woke, so I piled my hair into a topknot and ate a popsicle while watching the last half of The Little Mermaid. (I think I must really be getting old, though… I keep sympathizing with Triton and rolling my eyes at Ariel.)
I have been rolling around in my bed and reading a really beautiful book since then. Mmmmmm, summer is the best… I wish every day could be like this. Today my thoughts are coming slow and sweet, like the bubbling of a creek. The fan’s whirring is in the tune of B flat. I want another popsicle.
One of the older students who works with me at the lab said something very sweet the other day that made me smile.
He said: I am teaching you how to do this now so that next time, you can try it on your own. Remember—do your work slowly, and don’t be afraid to mess up. You can mess up as many times as you want. You can mess up a hundred times, if that’s what it takes!
I kind of just nodded along when he was telling me this, but later I was thinking that it actually feels really nice to be given permission to mess up. (And it looks there will be plenty of chances for mistakes in the lab this summer -___- today, I finally learned how to do column chromatography on my own and I thought: HOW do chemists even come up with this stuff? Also, silica is carcinogenic? WHAT?)
People need to be told that they’re allowed to make mistakes, and often! It’s too easy to get caught up with trying to be perfect. This summer, I want to learn to be a little more okay with making messes. :o)
Anyway, people at my lab say awesome things all the time and I don’t even think they know they’re dropping little gems. The funniest thing I’ve heard so far: There are old chemists and there are bold chemists, but there are no old and bold chemists.
Hooooooly moly, it is June already! This means that 25% of this summer break is already over. Time is FLYING. Working at the pharmacy has meant being busy busy busy every day, and I am sleepy all the time. Still, it feels good to be stretched little by little. :o) This summer I am learning many, many things about being an adult, being a child and being a Christian.
Some happy things:
Summer 2013 so far in a nutshell:
I want to talk about honeymoons today.
(I saw this Buzzfeed article and it made me very happy. Then, I finished reading Blue Like Jazz and that made me very happy too. When I was done, though, I wrung my hands and cried and cried without knowing why. So I sat down to write this.)
I wondered: am I just in the honeymoon phase of my relationship with God? And if so, does that mean that the next step is a gradual withdrawal of God from my life?
Oh, but this is a chilling and unnerving prospect. The thought of God distancing Himself from me in any measure is terrifying. I’ve heard many Christians speak of things like spiritual wilderness and deserts, but I cannot say honestly that I know what it feels like to be abandoned by God.
I don’t understand the spiritual desert because I have enjoyed the unparalleled and uninterrupted closeness of God for the last two years. I say this cautiously because I don’t mean it in a bigheaded way at all—I am trying to explain where I am coming from, and why I am afraid of the wilderness. I think that when people hear that God has drawn near to someone, they mistakenly assume that it means everything is always peachy—but this is certainly not the case. God shows me His displeasure all the time, and sometimes His great and terrible disappointment is enough to bring me to my knees. I am still learning, and figuring out how to fit the pieces together. There have been many mistakes along the way.
So. What do I mean by closeness? I mean that I am happiest when I am sitting alone with God, drinking in the Word like fine wine. I mean that it is impossible to see myself as separate from God, now. Sometimes, I imagine the Spirit resting coiled around my shoulders like a big, corporeal animal. Kind of like a ferret (but at the same time, not like a ferret AT ALL). Haha, it sounds a little ludicrous when I say it aloud but this is what I see in my mind’s eye. When I am shaken, I feel the weight of God wrapping around me like an impenetrable cloak and when I am happy, I feel a second rumble of joy that could only belong to God leaping from my veins. I feel these things as keenly as I feel the sun, or the earth.
I think that often, I take this constant and marvelous closeness of God in my life for granted. And I think that because of it, I have become more and more like a child, leaning on the crutch of God instead of standing on my own two feet. Because I know that God is there, He is the first one I scurry to when things go south, crying Help me, help me. And let me tell you, God has provided. I have seen miracles—small miracles, big miracles—bloom from my (generally graceless) pleas of desperation and hunger. The flip side to this is true, too: when something good happens, the first thing I think is God, did you see that? Did you see? Did you? (I imagine God laughing, shaking his head at this. Yes, yes, I saw that. I did that. He says, and I sheepishly have to agree. Oh yeah.)
I am wondering now if I have been blithely spending time in this proximity of God without realizing that this time has been a gift of unfathomable proportions. I am wondering now what life would look like if God were to step back for a little while. How would I act, without the immediacy of the Spirit at hand? Would I be so faithful, still? I think it is possible that God has not walked me through the desert yet because I am not ready for it. This begs the question: do I even want to be ready?
Is it so wrong to hold fast to this time—this bewildering but wonderful interim—with the Bridegroom? Because I have grown so, so used to honeymooning with Jesus, and I don’t know if I’m ready to stop just yet.
I am trying to get into the habit of journalling every single day. I usually only journal when something great (or something terrible) happens, but I do not think that that is a good way to keep a diary. I want to remember the little things, too! Things like the rabbits we always see on the trails or the new book I’ve started or the running shoes my dad picked out for me. Things like the color of the sky when I get out of work.
These things are maybe the most important of all.
Some (kind of embarrassing) things that I get way too happy about:
Many of my thoughts lately have begun with the words “who am I.”
Questions like this make me feel very small and unsure. Today, though, I was sitting with God in a rare stretch of stillness and I asked Him: Who am I?
The answer was simple and gentle, like God always is: Rejoice! For you are mine.
Ah! So there it is. I realized: in the ongoing struggle to humble myself before the Lord, I have forgotten that being humble and being prideful are not necessarily opposite things. I am allowed to be proud of who I am in God. It is okay to speak my mind!
I mean, how many times does Jesus remind us of our infinite worth?! John 15:9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. John 15:15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:19 You do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.
I LOVE John 15. John 15 is like a big, heavy blanket I can swathe myself in when the going gets rough. Reading John 15 reminds me always of that sweet, round bruise of longing that only one kind of love can ease away.
I was given this mind and this heart and these hands! And I was given these words. I am reminded that there is great hope in faith, as long as I keep looking for it. Psalm 139:14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.