You Are Qualified.

Hey there, friends. How’ve you been, lately? I’ll lay it out on the table: I’ve been stressed (a hallmark of a college kid—ha!), feeling small, and feeling very worried. Do you ever feel like things aren’t moving fast enough? Or that they’re speeding by? Right now I’m stuck in both, for various reasons, and that, combined with everything else, is making me question how I’m going to do everything, and whether anyone cares.

One of my love languages is words of affirmation, so it makes sense that I care a lot (even though I shouldn’t) about how people perceive me. It’s a problem, therefore, when I feel like no one sees me. I recently heard that to be loved but not known is superficial, and to be known but not loved is our greatest fear. Honestly, #truth. I’ve been feeling a bit of both, and I’m floundering. I love continuity, but a lot of things are changing. I’m graduating, moving, and all these things that I have little control over are creeping up, and I don’t know how I’m going to do this. It’s safe to say I’m feeling darn unqualified to handle…well, life. And very unqualified to take the leap I believe God is asking me to take.

Last weekend I went to my first (and last) fall retreat with the Navigators and my notebooks says “we confuse visibility with significance. We want temporary affection so badly we forget that God loves us eternally.”

Can I say that again? (Yes, actually, because it’s my blog, ha!)

We confuse visibility with significance. We want temporary affection so badly we forget that God loves us eternally.

Human affection is temporary. It doesn’t matter how many people “love” you now or when you’re gone. Temporary means one day there will be no one left to love us nor remember us. Yet, here we are, simpering for human affection. I don’t write that demeaningly. I, too, have simpered. Society trains us to glorify those with high visibility. Celebrities, “influencers,” anyone who is widely known is also deemed “widely important.”

You don’t have to agree, but I’m going to slap down $15 worth of opinions nobody asked for. To hell with whether or not five, 50, 5,000, or five billion people know who you are. The world might prioritize people whom are widely “loved” and “successful,” but God does not care how many people love you. He loves you enough to account for any human affection many times over.

What does it mean to be known and loved by God? That means you matter and you have a place. It may not be on top of this world, but that matters little because earth is a temporary pit stop. Just because you feel no one sees you (or no one sees you, period) does not make you less worthy nor less loved. You have significance because I believe God is a God who sees and he sees you and me, at our most joyous and our most painful sorrows.

I get it, though, especially because I love words of affirmation. Temporary affection is, I suppose, my jam. It’s easy to get wrapped up in that because I can’t see God, per se. But I can feel him next to me…especially when I’m panicking, of all things. And that is strangely comforting.

So I know (but maybe don’t quite believe) that I matter and that I am qualified. The same goes for you, too. You matter. And no matter how unqualified you feel, you are qualified. Say it again, friend. YOU ARE QUALIFIED. You know what makes you qualified? Willingness. God qualifies us on willingness (which is not always comfortable, and I talked a lot about here), so are you willing? I think I am. I want to be. And it’s ok if you’re not. You are still very much loved. I’m rooting for you.

 

The Museum of Ice Cream: Dare to Dream

August 05, 2018MOIC173

A couple weeks ago, Haley and I made good on a plan three years in the making: a day trip to San Francisco! The day was anchored by a visit to the very Instagramable Museum of Ice Cream, which was basically all my ice cream dreams come to life. And, I was that extra person who bought an ice cream skirt just for the occasion. The compliments I received made it worth it, ha!

We rode swings surrounded by neon-pastel (yes, that’s a thing) pink cans of whipped cream and under pink-hued bananas and swam in the sprinkle pool, rushing for photos along the way. Surprisingly, for being such and “Instagramable” attraction, the lighting was awful. Mostly artificial and when there was window light, it mingled with whatever bulbs were on. So, not the best conditions, but definitely pints and pints of fun.

At various exhibits there were activities, and a a few required us to get dreaming. Everyone, even “grown-ups,” was asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?,” and “what is a place that makes you happy?,” and “what is your dream?”

This is where things got interesting.

The sprinkle pool was a rainbow of delight; the diner threw us back to the ’50s; and childhood came bounding in the shape of a giant (ride-able) circus cookie. But, it was the answers of my fellow patrons that made the experience incredibly interesting. In particular, I found the responses to “what do you want to be when you grow up?” intriguing. The answers?

“Medicated.” (That one drew laughs.)

“Retired.”

“A trillionaire.”

“What, what?” (From a high-school or early-college aged gal, by the looks of her.)

August 05, 2018MOIC203

While I chuckled, I thought it was, well, sad—at least, wanting to be medicated is sad. I think as we get older we lose our ability to dream. And, maybe it’s not dreaming. But our hopeful expectancy of life sort of fizzles out. We’re looking for respite from the grind of work and looking forward to being in a place when we don’t have to work.

As you probably know from my small dissertations, I believe that all work is important, necessary, and contributes something lovely to the world. We’ve turned it into something to run away from, but I think that work is a key piece to who we are and helps us shape the world to what it’s supposed to be.

The Museum of Ice Cream was wild in more ways than one. A psychedelic, Instagram-able, very millennial experience indeed; on the other hand, a stark juxtaposition of those whose dreams have died coming, unprepared to have them rekindled. If the MOIC wanted to bring out the inner child, then it succeed. Not only did it make a “grown up” feel like a kid, but it asks us to again perceive the world with wonder and amazement, excited and eager to see what’s next—even if here, it’s just more sprinkles.

August 05, 2018MOIC123

(me…at the sprinkle pool!)

 

The Hard Places Aren’t Wasted.

This last post has a lil’ to do with Reality SF’s Deliverance series and lil’ bit to do with what I learned spring semester.

First let’s go with the podcast. Hard places. Like Horeb, the desert-mountain place where Moses meets God. Are you in a season of dryness? Perhaps, with your sheep? I’ve been there. Sometimes it feels like I am there. And get this. I never new that Moses was probably around 80 years old when God tells him to go back to Egypt. He was 40~ when he left so…that’s 40 years of desert. Can you image 40 years of (figurative) desert? I would not survive. I’m flattering myself to think that I would.

But, I am super super thankful that our story isn’t wasted in the hard places. It’s not like the author is scribbling over our finite number of blank pages for 40 of them. Nope. God’s building our character so that when he asks us to leap, we can say yes.

This is the final post in my longest (5? parts) series. So I’m going to wrap it up with this.

When I arrived at BU (Boston University, if you’re wondering), I didn’t realize (I suppose, how could anyone) that I was going to enter a season of desert. And, yep, I did cry a lot. But now that I’m looking back (hindsight is 20/20, after all), I think I was being gently chiseled so that starting in January of this year, I could start saying yes to God. It was stressful. I prayed a lot. Barely anything went according to plan. Sometimes, I don’t know how I kept myself from screaming at God and everyone around me. At the end, though, I learned an open hand is essential to approaching God, because we need to be ready to receive what he gives.

Starting in January, God really began asking me to trust him. I didn’t feel ready. I definitely felt unqualified. I was even afraid. But I was willing. And I am so glad I was.

So, my friend, I hope that wherever you are right now, you are encouraged that each page of your story matters; that you see the pressure’s off; that you understand that God is sufficient where we are deficient; and that all we have to do is say yes.

Disrupting Comfortable.

So, remember the post about the danger of comfortable? Welp, on that same vein, my friend also talked about how God disrupts comfortable. Specifically, we talked about Reality SF’s podcast “The Call,” part of the Deliverance series. If you listen to it first, this will at the very least have more context, and at best, make more sense.

Anyways, so we know that we love being comfortable. I’ll shout it, even. I LOVE BEING COMFORTABLE!! I AM A CONTROL FREAK!! But here’s the thing. In “The Call,” we’re talking about how Moses has reached perhaps the epitome of comfortability. He’s hanging out with his sheep; nothing too big is expected of him; life is chill, fine, and dandy.

Santa Rosa Lavender Festival 2018

I guess the first thing is, what’s your sheep? Like, what’s your comfortable place? I’ll list a few of mine. But, don’t worry, you don’t have to put yourself on the chopping block if you don’t want to.

  • I love being at home alone ignoring the world. Probably reading a book.
  • I love routines so I know what to expect.
  • I squeeze myself onto paths I don’t want to be on, because they look safer than what I really want and am too scared to reach for.
  • My biggest comfortable place? Getting myself into environments I believe I can control well, so that I am not dependent on God but rather can relegate him a conciliatory role while I take care of everything.

The next thing we talked about was the burning bush. That’s Moses’ call away from his old, comfortable life; it’s thrusting him into the unknowns, pushing him into a role he feels he is ill-prepared to accept. And you know what he does? Tries to talk God out of giving him the gig. How many times have you done that? I do it pretty much every day. I’m not ready. I don’t know enough. I’m not prepared. That other person has so many more resources. I’ll never make it. Why me? 

But tell me, friend, what do you feel you’ve been called to do? Have you thought of it? And I’m not talking about the thing you want to be called to do. I’m talking about the thing that maybe makes your stomach drop because you want it or know you need to be there but you just can’t bring yourself to step into that place.

As the podcast notes, this is Moses. He questions God. So. Much. Says someone else should go instead of him. I think every excuse and insecure thought that could be given and had, Moses gave and had. And honestly, that’s me, too.

Santa Rosa Lavender Festival 2018

But you know what the good, good, encouraging news is? God is not looking for the most over-qualified, capable, prepared, smartest person. Here’s the thing that knocked my socks off. God just wants you to be willing. Yep. All you gotta do is volunteer. Because if you think about it, was Israel freed by by Moses’ might, brains, and ingenuity? NOPE. Literally, one of the things that saved them was a plague of frogs. #godsplan

What does this mean for us? We don’t even need to be prepared. Leave the safety goggles at home. As long as you’re willing, God’s going to use you. But here’s the catch. It’s hard to leave behind what we’ve known. Why do you think it’s so hard to start a new project? We’re too comfy on cruise control. The big question is, are we going to trust God is going to be sufficient in our deficiencies? Because like it or not, sometimes he’s just going to blow through like a tornado and disrupt! The only way to be ready? Holding on to him.

I (Don’t) Have a Dream.

To follow up with the last Agápē post, here we are with dreams. And, yes, this post is following the same conversation referenced in the last one, because this conversation was long. The car ride was two hours.

Santa Rosa Lavender Festival 2018

Anyways, on to dreams. Do you have one? I do. Actually, I have many, and if you know me, you probably know one of my big dreams—living in France! Forever. My friend, on the other hand, says she’s not a dreamer. And you know what? I think that is ok, too. To dream or not to dream; you have a choice.

There are merits to dreaming. You always want to see what’s next. But there are downsides, too. It’s hard to let dreams die. Same goes for not being a dreamer. I think one of the upsides is that you are more moldable. Dreamers can have tunnel vision and/or an iron grip on what they want. But being moldable gives God the ability to shape you into who he wants you to be. On the downside, it’s easier to be complacent, or maybe resistant to change from “going with the flow.”

Whether you’ve got a dream or not, I think both camps fall into the trap of not expecting God’s best. The dreamers are so white-knuckled on the steering wheel, they forget they shouldn’t be driving; the non-dreamers may have fallen asleep in the back seat. Either you remove God from the equation, or aren’t alert for the next thing he’s up to! I admit, I’m usually white-knuckled on the steering wheel (I also hate driving in real life), but I’ve fallen asleep in the backseat, too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Why should we expect God’s best? Because he wants it for us. Although, keep in mind that best doesn’t mean “OMG I’m going to love everything God does and it’s going to be a picnic!” Sometimes, what’s best is really hard. But the good news? God’s going to pull you out of that valley.

That segues into the next post: God will disrupt comfortable.

In the mean time, my goal with these posts is to foster a kind, healthy discussion about what you think about these topics. As long as you are polite and constructive, I would love for you to drop a comment. Do you agree? Disagree? Think I’m missing something? Let me know!

Getting Uncomfortable.

This is an extension of an Instagram post. I’m not a super fan of dissertations in the caption box…but I am a fan of dissertations here. Ha.

A couple days ago, I was sitting in the car with a friend. The drive was long, but not tedious. California, as populated as it is, still possess stunning, unparalleled views. Especially in the Bay.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

No matter how nice the view, though, long rides can be at best, awkward, depending on the rapport between passengers. But chatter flowed freely. It was just two friends catching up about life.

We hopped from topic to topic, but mostly we talked about what we had been learning about ourselves. Long morning commutes offer time for deep introspection, if you’re willing to go there. Out of that conversation sprung several points that I mentioned on Instagram, and which I’ll be expanding upon.

The first is that we concluded that we love being comfortable. This has nothing to do, however, with our fashion choices nor our abodes, nor anything else in a material sense. We’re talking about mental comfortability. The stability and safety net a routine offers. Comfortable offers us white-knuckled control over our lives. But you know what? Comfortable is dangerous, too. It never challenges us nor asks us to expect more. We’re on cruise control.

And let me just be upfront here and say I LOVE BEING COMFORTABLE. My grip is like iron and I hate being in any situation I can’t control. But since January of this year, God has been gently showing me how amazing things can be when I loosen my grip to accept what he has to offer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

That’s not to say being content is a bad thing. In fact, I would rather be content than happy any day. There’s a difference between contentment (which I believe is confidence and joy in where you are at) with being placid. And, this can be detrimental to our walk with God, because we stop expecting him to do great things. What’s worse, we see ourselves as the drivers of good things. Comfortability squashes (healthy) vulnerability and makes God a spectator, as opposed to the director, of our lives. And when we become comfortable, anything that challenges that is immediately threatening—even if it’s good for us.

My friend told me about a podcast she’s been listening to about Exodus and the story of Moses. It’s presented by Reality SF and this series is revelatory. It’s called “Deliverance,” and it’s not just looking at the miracles. It’s a character study of Moses and the greatness and imperfections that came with him. You know what’s nuts? We could all probably see ourselves in him.

My friend recommends “The Call” and “Evil Never Goes Down Easily.” “The Call” specifically talks about comfortability…and why we need to let it go.

Wow, ok. This has been long. I’ll be following this post up with my next point: Dreams.

In the mean time, my goal with these posts is to foster a kind, healthy discussion about what you think about these topics. As long as you are polite and constructive, I would love for you to drop a comment. Do you agree? Disagree? Think I’m missing something? Let me know!

A Year On

The incense sticks are nibbled down by orange embers, and the smoke is thick in my throat. Smoke dissipates up toward the mantle, where the ashes are, between two candlesticks. The left one is burning more quickly. Tears are on the verge of cascading down my face, but I hate crying in front of people.

A year on. I can pretend nothing’s changed during the week, but the silence on Skype every weekend is overwhelming. A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon the last messages he sent. Nothing super special, but they were his words. The messages are old though, and the damn Internet has probably deleted them.

Now I understand why people still call just to listen to their loved one’s voicemail. Why they scroll through their social media feeds, why they keep the emails. Even the clothes.

We cleaned out the closet, Nye Nye and me, and hauled a trunkful of clothes to Salvation Army. Driving away, I felt like I was leaving a small piece of him behind in the blazers and shirts I had placed in the bin, left to warm in the blazing, muggy heat of summer.

The candles are extinguished, but the haziness of the incense remains, lingering, a memory. We embark on year two without you, but that doesn’t get easier. The world still turns like nothing has changed, but I think of you every day.