Satan can’t live in a thankful heart.

Unfiltered thoughts fill my head and threaten to overtake my false sense of calm, a calm that has slowly morphed into, dare I say it, passivity, frustration, unmovement.  There is a feeling that has haunted me the last few weeks, a feeling that I hope will not last for long.  I measure its influence by the tightness in my cheeks.  I know its bad when massaging them doesn’t work, when sleep only brings me an anxious waking.  And my head hurts from trying to understand. 

Regret seeps in and I fear the worst.  I fear that I have made yet another bad decision, that the longer I go, the more regret I am going to feel.  And yet I am stuck.  I have no control.  And I am tired, more tired than I remember ever being.  I want to communicate.  Communication is my friend, my outlet, and my way of connection.  And I don’t mean aimless talk, the sort in which I find myself engaged here daily.  I mean real, deep, life-giving connection. 

And then a conversation happens that releases a flood of tears.  Momentarily, I am thinking only of the present, albeit of pain and sadness and, if I’m being honest, only of myself, but at least I’m present.  My friend reminded me to be mindful, prayerful yes but in a place of sadness and confusion sometimes mindfulness is all that we can muster.  Sometimes when I pray, I get wrapped up in wanting it to be the answer to all that presently wounds.  And prayer is life giving, don’t misunderstand me.  But when you are a weary and worn down perfectionist, mindfulness is simply prayer without the self-induced pressure. 

This morning, Jesus woke me.  My heart is heavy and there are tears brimming at the edge of my eyelids.  I am worn down and weary, caught in the throws of this life.  But something deep, deep within me is calling me to be thankful for this day, thankful for that conversation, thankful for life, even though it tends to kick us in the butt a lot of the time.  Melissa always says that Satan can’t live in a thankful heart.  May that be the lens through which I understand today and the shield I use against the thoughts that cloud my mind.  Thank goodness for a Savior who never abandons. 

Psalm 28:7

Crafting Deception

I am neither like them nor different from them…I simply am.  Figuring out what that means and where that leaves me is the hard part.  Because there is comfort in knowing that the ones who surround you have been there through the ages of your years.  I lack a certain sureness that reality is not false. 

So I turn to things that I believe will bring me hope and comfort but never do.  Each time my master plans fail, I regroup.  Like a weary sinner, I begin anew, vowing that this time I will be different, that I will succeed in finding happiness within myself, apart from the support of those around me.  Convincing myself that the rawness is nonexistent, I begin to craft out of a vision for what my life should look like but does not.  I have become so skilled at dishonesty that even I believe the lies I tell myself. 

Since it is impossible to craft reality, I usually don’t get very far.  As talented as I am at playing pretend, the charade can only continue for so long.  After a while, exhaustion seeps in and I give up the act. 

forget an apt…let’s just move here.

(via acees)

The Good Life

Up until this year, I had lived in the same house my entire life.  I changed schools just three times in eighteen years and learned to drive in the same parking lot that I learned to ride my bike.  Nashville seems like it would be pretty big but as I’m sure you know, its really not, especially if you live in Green Hills.  My comfortable childhood of familiarity was wonderful but left me completely oblivious to how often life changes, how quickly we are forced to adapt, how many people make up this world.  Obviously I knew all of these things but I’d never experienced them as reality…in other words, it turns out I didn’t really know them at all. 

Going to college served as my personal culture shock. 

It was terrifying but wonderful, necessary but shocking, and ultimately joyful. Having now emerged on the other side, I can’t even begin to express how weird it is to be back in this city, away from the place with which I was finally beginning to fall in love.

They say that when God closes a door, its because He’s opening up another. But in my case, it feels like He’s yanked me away from the doors I was just beginning to discover. Why did I have to leave Richmond right when He was showing me why I went there in the first place, right when He was not closing, but opening so many new doors, introducing me to some pretty incredible people? 

I’ve been back almost a week now and I’ve had a lot of time to ponder that question. I’ve walked through Hillsboro village, still amazed at how many people are willing to line up in front of Pancake Pantry and still enthralled by the Fido culture. I’ve run on the Boulevard at an absolutely absurd hour of the morning.  I’ve had coffee with friends whose stories of their college experiences are vastly different than my own and eaten froyo with sweet Adelaide. In writing and even in reality to some extent, it all seems the same.

I don’t think I realized how much I would grow this year because I thought I already knew myself pretty well. I had a firm grasp on what a good life looks like and how I would attain that life in Virginia.  I thought my growth was pretty much done. 

A camp friend gave me a quote by Carl Rogers at the end of last summer, a quote about growth that has taken on a whole new meaning for me:

"This process of the good life is not, I am convinced, a life for the fainthearted. It involves the stretching and growing of becoming more and more of one’s potentialities. It involves the courage to be. It means launching oneself fully into the stream of life. Yet the deeply exciting thing about human beings is that when the individual is inwardly free, he chooses as the good life this process of becoming."  

Looking back, I’m so thankful that I had no concept of what it means to become and of how much stretching this process really involves. Having been launched into the stream of real life, I’m already amazed at how much work it takes to make the decision to be who you want to be. I spent a lot of time first semester writing vigorously and praying, wondering why the heck I was in Richmond, Virginia. I had no idea, looking back, how influential these times were in preparing my heart for the wonderful second semester that awaited me. For the wonderful people- Meredith, Abby and all the rest I’ve talked about- that would touch my life. It was a transition, for sure, but a necessary one.

And now I’m in yet another period of change. Lots of people tell you about the transition that college is but no one warns you about moving home. Nashville might appear the same, but my experiences this year have given me a new view of my hometown. I hope that this summer, I can come to better appreciate the place in which I grew up.  Maybe that’s the new door and maybe that’s why I’m here. Hopefully our Fido dates will help make it clearer. ;) Love you dearly.

Easter

I don’t know that I’ve ever really stopped to think about what Easter really means.  Even now, having taken the time to let the truth of this day sink into my heart, I probably am still not as blown away as I should be by what Jesus did for me 2000 years ago.  This morning in church, the pastor talked about surprises and asked us whether or not we like to be caught off guard.  Personally, I love a good surprise.  Events and revelations seem so much more exciting and unbelievable when I am not expecting them.  But the Gospel ruins the surprise that Easter Sunday was so many years ago.  We cannot fully comprehend the sadness that permeated Good Friday and Holy Saturday because we live through them knowing the joy that Sunday brings.  I wish that I could experience the kind of wonder that Mary Magdalene must have experienced upon discovering an empty tomb.  I wish that I didn’t settle into accepting Christ’s resurrection as normal and expected.  Because it was so far from normal and so far from expected- it was an incredible event that means everything to me today.  I’m so thankful for the beauty of Easter and the opportunity to sit and reflect on its wonder…because my failure to understand the meaning of this day doesn’t change what happened. 

“It is not easy to convey a sense of wonder, let alone resurrection wonder, to another. It’s the very nature of wonder to catch us off guard, to circumvent expectations and assumptions. Wonder can’t be packaged, and it can’t be worked up. It requires some sense of being there and some sense of engagement.” Eugene Peterson

A powerful movement.