Wednesday, September 9, 2009

"'I'm too blessed to be stressed' and other lies."

The past couple of days have given me fantastic laughs, an abundance of things to think about, and little sleep. The best part is that I spent most of Tuesday in one place.

I met up with a handful of Emmaus girls at Anna Banana's in St. John's yesterday morning, and it was a great reminder to me of how much I love being a girl. And I love hanging out with other women and being silly and funny and giggly, and just getting to share life that way. It also gave me a chance to tell a couple of the girls what I have been telling everyone for months: that they need to see Twilight.

In the interest of being honest, let me make it clear that you should not see Twilight because it is particularly scary, particularly romantic or even particularly good. You need to see Twilight because it is easily the funniest movie made in the last few years. It's unrelentingly serious and overdramatic, and any movie about a vampire who a) refuses to eat people or suck their blood and b) does not die in the sunlight, but rather sparkles, as though his skin were covered in thousands of tiny diamonds (that are most likely not conflict-free) is a movie you should see.

The vampire also tells the girl-in-question that she's his "own personal brand of heroin", and he sneaks in her room and watches her sleep. And if that doesn't make you feel all romantic and fuzzy, then apparently nothing will. So, in closing, go see Twilight. Have a beer first.

When the party broke up, I stayed behind with my laptop, "determined" to get work done. And in the interest of my own determination, I immediately texted my friend Matt, who lived nearby, and invited him to come have a coffee, which he did. Every time I hang out with Matt, somewhere around ten minutes in, I regret being in whatever public setting we may find ourselves. This isn't because Matt is embarrassing to hang around or ugly or overly political; it's because he makes me laugh so much and so loudly that I feel I should apologize to everyone else that they cannot possibly be having as much fun as I am.

So we did this, the talking about whatever crossed our mind or our path (for example, upon seeing this blog, Matt informed me that Brian Williams has a crooked face, which he then proved by Googling "Brian Williams has a crooked face". Other people think so, so it must be true.) for a very, very long time. And then, without much warning, the conversation took a distinctly serious turn.

I won't divulge the details of the conversation, but suffice to say that the conversation hinged mostly on the ideas of identity and personal value, and how we find those things in this day-to-day life. It was a conversation that made me thankful that I was able to be in that coffeeshop on a Tuesday afternoon.

The rhythm and cadence of speech and conversation has always fascinated me, and I tend to be extremely sensitive to shifts in mood or tone. And while we were still having fun, and making a joke here or there, everything changed. The volume of both our voices dropped (his more than mine, I'm sure), there was a lot less eye contact, and a lot of sudden detached interest in the art on the walls, the positioning of my hands, whatever else.

But here's the amazing thing: Matt and I have disagreed strongly on some huge issues in the past, points where we've had to realize that there was going to be no meeting closer than partway to the middle. And so, as I got to talk about my life, I felt sure that there were going to be points where Matt told me that I was full of shit, delusional, confused, naive, or any number of other things. But I decided to just be honest, and to not try to fit my story into any mold I knew. I told him that while I was not particularly happy with life at the moment, but that in the face of the most uncertainty I have ever known, I had joy. I told him that I knew what my identity was, even as it changed and shifted continually, and I knew that my work status or position had no bearing on my value. I told him that in the face of that, I still wanted a good job, and I was running on hope more consistently than faith. And it was all true.

It's possible that Matt may have really wanted to tell me that I was full of shit, delusional, confused, naive, or any number of other things. But he didn't do it. What he did was help me see that our stories, disparate as they may have seemed, bore a lot of similarities. I don't know about anybody else, but I find the idea that everyone else is, to some degree, confused and constantly trying to know who they are incredibly encouraging. In the face of that, I have been given joy that I can freely share. And I have hope for the future, a hope that maintains even when my faith is weak.

I was at home this evening and one of my roommates had a photo album out on the table in the main room. She wasn't home, so I suppose I was snooping, but when I opened the photo album I found something incredibly beautiful inside. Every page had pictures of people who were important in her life before she moved to Portland, and on every page she had written a part of her story of the last ten years, and how God continually showed Himself faithful in her life in that time. I don't tend to have much of a weak spot for stories of miracles, but all throughout her book, she explained how God repeatedly asked her to trust (sometimes with things that seemed devastating), and when she did, He repeatedly was faithful to supply what she needed.

It made me wonder how much of that I am doing in my own life right now. I know that I have trusted God many times, and I know that He has always been faithful, but the conscious decision to trust has been a long time in coming. I don't know how to do this well; I want to rush to extremes. And yet, I know no one can live there. I cannot announce that I am trusting God for all my needs, lay down, and sleep until He makes my life ideal. Likewise, I cannot push myself and work myself to the end, exerting all my effort and never prayerfully considering rest, and claim that I am trusting God when really I am only trusting me. And trusting me is foolish, to say the least. I have seen who I can be on my own, and it was not a pretty picture.

I guess all of this is to say that I don't feel like I know how to trust in the way I need to (I hardly know where to start), but I am willing to try. Most of all, it's because I know that my identity will become clearer when I see more of who God is, and who He tells me that I am.

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