Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Step Back

There is something incredibly powerful about being in community.  Its encouraging, enlightening, and empowering.  If you are slightly introverted like myself, it is also exhausting.  Which is why I have learned the value of taking a step back.

Taking a step back from a stressful situation can reintroduce the big picture into your stream of consciousness.

Taking a step back from your inner turmoil can help you reprioritize.

Taking a step back from the constantly streaming to-do list, post-it notes, deadlines, and responsibilities can help you be human.

Tonight, taking a step back meant sitting in the chapel garden and gazing at underlit leaves that seemed to shine against the pitch black night.  Instead of standing shoulder to shoulder in a hot, packed, chapel, I sat alone on a bench and closed my eyes and felt the cool of stillness.  In no way am I insinuating that I felt ostracized from worship or this beneficial gathering.

Sometimes, there is greater beauty in the observance than the participation.  To be still for a few minutes and hear at least a hundred of my classmates sing that "naught be all else to me save what thou art"  was moving to say the least.  There is nothing wrong with group worship and it is an amazing thing.  Yet sometimes, it makes it too easy for me to focus on me.  My worship, my experience, my catharsis.  Taking a step back allows me to realign.

 I want to walk around seeing the value in everything: every person, experience, and situation instead of walking around only focusing on what will validate me.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dusty Old Cabinets

setting:  on my friend's laptop in her room with the remnants of our post-homecoming dance snack (pretzels and peanut butter, goldfish, and the chips I snagged from the Gedunk)

My friend is asleep on the rug but I am most certainly awake.  More accurately, I am very full of life.  Full of the fullness of a life that is brimming with new people and ideas and memories.  I suppose every memory is a new one for a second before it gets filed in a dusty old cabinet in between my 10th birthday party and the conversation I had last week.  That's the odd thing about my memory.  It doesn't prioritize at all.  I can remember the large events with the same clarity as the obscure details. I can quote someone I was talking with a month ago word-for-word and recall the moment I learned to ride my bike as if both were synonymous in importance and both happened five minutes ago.

Yet I forget a lot.  Or I confuse a lot.  I mix up what one person has told me with someone else's story.  Faces can blur together sometimes.  I might get the main framework of something right but completely blank out on the details.  I'll remember that you had three tests and a quiz and a potentially awkward confrontation and I'll even remember to ask you about it afterwards but have no idea what the subjects were in or who the conversation was with. 

I did not intend to write upon memory tonight but since I seem to be making memories a mile a minute here, I suppose it was quite appropriate.  I will probably remember tonight, for instance.  My first homecoming at Grove City College which was quite fun and memorable.  I'm hoping I'll remember a lot of these first four weeks here which is why I need to keep blogging so I can keep an external mental hard drive of sorts.  More reflection on college later to come.

Until next time,
Chloe of life

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Church "Shopping"

I hate the term church shopping.  I absolutely hate it but that's exactly what I've done for the past three Sundays.  First off, it assumes that I am going to church to get something for myself, like you would go to Meijers to buy food or Target to buy, well, everything.  I'm not.  I'm going to church to worship God and serve him. 

Yet it's so hard to know what church would be best (see, even the word best assumes some qualifications a church must meet to "suit" me and again, that is not what I want to be doing).  So my subconscious starts to create a list of specifications and desires.  You don't want it to be all college students or all grandparents.  You don't want it to be all hymns or all Chris Tomlin.  The sermon should be scripture-based not just a self-help guide read out loud.  The list goes on and on and it makes me feel like a horrible person for even having it.

Second problem:  there is some unspoken rule that you only have about 5 or 6 Sundays to "shop" churches and then you are being too particular or not receptive to the Holy Spirit or whatnot.  I would absolutely love for the first church I walk into to be my home church and have a family there and feel like that this is where I need to serve God but it really doesn't work that way.  Considering there are 25+ churches in the area, this puts a lot of pressure on the preliminary church selections and really, there is only so much you can find out about a church from its website.  You can't get to know the people and see how authentic the worship is or if they will glare at you for not going to Sunday School (my experience this morning). 

Perhaps the largest problem is that I don't know where I should be.  I've grown up in the same church all my life and I'm just now realizing what a blessing and a curse that was.  I love that I know almost everyone and have a history there and that the worship is authentic and the preaching is sound but that's all I've ever known.  Do I limit myself and possibly God by choosing a church that is as North Oaksish as possible?  I don't think that is smart but I feel like I keep measuring up churches to my home church in the back of my mind.  I'm in a new place of life and what was right for me last year might not be the same this year.  Or it might be.  I honestly have no idea.  So I'm back to the drawing board, or more accurately, the praying board. 

This concludes my rant on churches and the "shopping experience".  Thank you for reading.

P.S.  Signs are really, really helpful and the lack of them is really, really frustrating.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Just a few disconnected thoughts

Nowadays, I have two motivations for blogging.  1)  I have studied in excess and am about to disconnect from this world, its lovely people, and sanity.  2)  I am waiting for my laundry to be done.  Tonight falls into the latter category.  I keep finding new ways to make the laundry process more efficient.  This is wonderful as it allows me to spend less money on laundry aka more money on coffee.  I don't have a great point to make or structure to follow tonight.  Just a few disconnected thoughts.

It's funny how you can be with people almost 24/7 and be social and all those good things yet still be completely alone.  Perhaps that sounds sad and lonely, but to me, its absolutely wonderful.  It's impossible to engage all the time; learning how to be in your own world while still functioning in the real one is a very valuable skill. 

Two things happened to me this week with counteracting effects.  First, my headphones completely died.  Later that day, my phone decided that it would no longer let me hear whoever I was talking to.  Once I realized this, I completely abused my advantage and delivered lovely long-winded monologues to the unfortunate person on the other "end of the line".    I'm sad to say, but my headphones dying was much more inconvenient than my phone.  I didn't realize how often I used them to block out the world. The music I didn't miss all that much and it wasn't that I couldn't find quiet places to study, its just that now I had no legitimate excuse to ignore people.  I don't like this about myself, that I have this intense need to only listen to my thoughts at times.  Its really quite selfish. 

I am content with a silent world where I can only see the lips moving and the trees swaying and never stop to hear what the people and the wind have to say.  Not all the time, mind you, this is only a temporary desire that passes once I find the opportunity to be an introvert.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that, by the end of the week, I genuinely missed hearing someone's voice on the other end of the phone.  It may have taken me a week, but at least I got there. 

And now, I believe/hope that my laundry is done so I can go to bed. 

Until next time,
Chloe of many worlds

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Essence of Me

I have a funny habit of running experiments on myself.  Before you jump to any conclusions,  I do not have little bubbling jars of neon liquids in my room (you're welcome roommates)  Its just that I like to gaze into the abyss that is the future, place myself there, observe how I think I'll react to a new situation, and then see if my hypothesis is correct in post-future retrospect.  That last sentence made absolutely no sense and I will now try to redeem it.  Here is a practical example:

When arriving at college, the expectations and reputation that I had gathered as the Chloe of Clarkston disappeared.  I knew this would be the case and so I was eagerly anticipating my actions, thoughts, friend choices, etc... to see who I would be.  Turns out, I'm quite like the Chloe of Clarkston. 

Instead of being disappointed that I didn't create some whole new personality, I'm quite relieved.  I am still spontaneously introverted, mysteriously happy in the morning no matter how much sleep I get, in love with my calender and post-its and color-coding, dedicated to studying to death, addicted to quality conversations, in awe of my amazing God, and loving the people around me.

Not much has changed, yet everything has changed.  Everything external is different, new, and changing at a mile a minute. The essence of me; however, has been delightfully consistent.  Of course, this means that I still am struggling through the same weaknesses but I have a new courage and drive to defeat them.  I am completely open to change (see last post) but do not see myself surrendering my color-coding pens anytime soon.  Speaking of, my calender is telling me that its time to continue my Genesis overload.

Until next time,
the Chloe of anywhere

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Life is wonderful.

I feel like I have lived a month in the past week and could probably write a good deal on first college experiences but I am currently enjoying just living life instead of dissecting it.  So for now, I am putting away the scapel.  This does not mean that I have nothing to say.  My mind is whirling faster than it did before, just more about the width of the Fertile Cresent, how to balance equities, liabilities, and assets, and business plans then my normal introspective thoughts. 

The one rather self-reflective thought that has been making its rounds however; is about the way I percieve myself and my surroundings now in contrast to what my viewpoint will be in two years, one month, five days.  I certainly know that I am an incredibly different person than when I was in 9th grade, or even the beginning of 12th grade.  It only makes sense then, that I will change within the next four years.  I will see myself and everything else in this wonderful world very differently.  I will probably look back at my state of mind right now and give myself one of those condescending little half-grins.  I will probably read this in a year and laugh out loud. 

I completely realize how ignorant I am about self-realization, even when I think that I have myself figured out.  I used to reassure myself that I least understood myself.  Now, I reassure myself that at least I know that I don't understand myself.  At least I am aware that I am unaware.

I am far too happy to end this post on that negative note.  I am good, life is wonderful, and God is great.