Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
I don't want to be in this world to simply consume my way through 80 years of existence. I am made to make things.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
This might be an extreme example, but if there is anything we are good at, it is playing roles. Even when we know that the role is completely false, it is only a matter of time before it becomes our identity.
Your role in life is shaped by the people you grew up with, the stories you were read as a child, the dreams that inspire you, your peers who surround you, the mentors that guide you, those that try to derail you, the culture that shapes us, and hopefully, the God that created you.
I've spent a great deal of time and energy trying to fight this reality. In my mind, there must be some way to rise above this scenario where everyone typecasts me into a character and expects a performance that follows their script. I hope you have the complete awareness of self and external influences with the strength to view life from the clouds with your feet on the ground. I certainly don't.
If I could be anywhere else or do anything else with my life than attend college in Western PA and run this race, I don't think I would. I believe that we experience life in the way we perceive it be. Our location and surroundings are secondary to internal perspective. I can live life fully here, in Michigan, or across the ocean.
Even though life can easily become a game of make-believe, I am willing to live within that structure. I could waste my time trying to be completely independent from my situations and circumstances. I'd rather be aware of what is shaping the roles that I chase and make sure those sources line up with who God instructs me to be.
I'd rather know who I am becoming than fight an impossible battle.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
It was being questioned about my faith and the novel concept of reading a book for edification and the Friendly Freshman and a homework assignment about vocation, and walking in physical and verbal circles with a friend, and remembering that I do actually love people and want to spend time with them as a result.
It was the devotions at SGA and calling sin what it is and a new insight into the relating of our time here and finally getting tired of hiding in my sleep.
It was a decision to grow and a few too many times of getting taken away by a mysterious train and finally getting the control of the plane off of auto-pilot. It was a screeching door alarm and exams getting moved and inconsistencies and someone always waking me up and realizing that none of that mattered at all. It was the decision to be happy when I truly was and the relief of not having to pretend to be happy to cover up the stress I wasn't experiencing.
It was the realization that not only can I change, that I should be changing and mere survival has never been my preferred mode of life. It was recognizing that I have failed the people that I love the most but they are still here with me regardless. That I have so many improvements to make to be the person I could and should be by God's directive and standards.
It was running until I thought I was going to die and listening to the same three songs over and over again and finding a healthy apathy about the things that don't matter and an equally nutritional passion for the things that actually do.
It was changing the overwhelming need to be anywhere else to the desire to be here. It was a failure of cognitive dissonance and no longer having the patience to wait for my thoughts to catch up with my behavior.
It is mind over matter and living again.
Thursday, October 4, 2012
Laughter is a very common response nowadays to our ideas. I definitely believe that some ideas should be released before they drag you down in impossible pursuits. Yet if my friend and I had stopped when people laughed at us, we would have missed out on a lot of wonderful experiences. Perhaps we would have a bit more sanity than we do now, but we would be having a lot less fun and a lot less laughter. I usually laugh along with those who doubt us, but I refuse to let laughter get in my way. Giving someone a good time at my expense is fine, but letting them deprive me of being absurd is not.
I think a lot can be solved through laughter. When you have a reached a point where you can laugh at yourself, you are never more than one act of mindless goofery away from a good time. When you can zoom out enough that the overwhelming pixels merge together and become a coherent picture, you can laugh at the lack of perspective you once had and enjoy the birds' eye view. Of course, there are issues that must be dealt with and can't be laughed away.
Still, I have determined to never let the laughter stop me, and instead never stop laughing at this marvelously quirky world we live in.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
"The way we are going to do this will be a lot more fun, but its a lot less structured."
I couldn't wrap my mind around it at first. Less structure means more chaos and variables, not more fun. Fun comes only when there is organization to channel it and make sure it meets all the specifications for enjoyment. As soon as I thought that, I knew I had lost sight of something very important in life.
There is not pattern to follow. Life is not defined by chores being accomplished. It can't be quantified, thus comparison to others is pointless. The parts of life that I enjoy most aren't the things that I completely understand, but rather, the ones that I have to work to figure out.
Friday, August 3, 2012
As comforting (or scary) as that mental image might be, I think it might be oversimplifying things a bit. Life isn't just one tightrope, it is an intricate web of fine lines.
There is a fine line between contentment and apathy.
Between confidence and arrogance.
Insecurity and pride.
Self-awareness and self-obsession.
Optimism and misplaced hope.
Kindness and manipulation.
Patience and cowardice.
Self-protection and selfishness.
Trust and naivety.
Discernment and judgment.
There are so many fine lines weaving in and out of each other. In a way, they make it easier to stay balanced, when you have a web of ropes to walk on instead of just one. Yet it feels impossible to maintain a healthy balance in one area of life without crossing a line in another.
I have no resolution to this post, because I don't know how to walk on one tightrope, let along a couple dozen. You see, there is also a fine line between thinking to understand life and thinking to avoid life. I may not be able to get far without falling, but I'd rather fall than get tangled in the web.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
Something more than the 265 steps deters me though. There is no way to reach the mesmerizing glimmers. By the time I get there, the sun will have set and the dancing lights will have disappeared. In the meantime, I will have missed the sunset.
It's hard not to remember all the sunsets I've missed in my life, chasing after an elusive golden patch of light.
There are goals that I was never meant to reach, a person I was never supposed to be. So many mirages that I bet my life on being true only to find them not only unreachable, but non-existent. I've exhausted myself over and over again in this impossible pursuit.
So, for at least today, I will rest and watch the sunsets in life. It is impossible to capture it's magnificence in words so here I will end and allow you to find your sunsets as well.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
My backpack got progressively heavier and heavier throughout the school year. I'm sure it had nothing to do with my tendency to accumulate unseemly amounts of flashcards. Every night/early morning when I'd get back to my dorm I had the opportunity to experience one of the best feelings of relief: taking off the 40 pound weight that I had trudged along with me up and down the stairs to my classes, meals, and dorm. No matter how many ribbons I put on it, that backpack was the bane of my college existence.
Yet I couldn't go anywhere without it. Without my backpack, I lost my immediate access to study materials and homework. Without this access, I could potentially be in a situation where I was not being productive. Without productivity, I felt purposeless. Tasks and to-do lists gave me the feeling of meaning that, while ultimately hollow, kept me motivated to keep moving and learning and making more to-do lists.
The problem of the heavy backpack lies in me grasping tightly onto an identity that was built on empty definitions of accomplishment. I don't carry around a backpack during the summer, yet I still have multiple cross-referencing task lists to perpetuate this unfounded identity.
The paradox of the heavy backpack is that the thing that I couldn't let go of was the very thing that was dragging me down. A never-satisfied need to be productive is what could make and destroy me simultaneously.
Sometimes other people's backpacks aren't as easily seen as mine. Maybe they aren't tangible at all. I think it would be safe to suppose that almost everyone carries their own burdens that they both need and despise.
Let's try lightening the load a bit.
Sunday, May 27, 2012
It's far easier to put the responsibility on something we have no control over than ourselves. We can't change things around us, but we can change ourselves and that takes courage.
Friday, May 11, 2012
I have a tendancy to look at life like this:
Life is a constant exchange, a continous change of location and people but with one common theme of stress. There will always be a crisis to fixed and struggles to overcome. I will always be failing in some or every area of life and I will always be trying to pick myself up and come up with a new strategy on how to fail a little less next time. This semester has been wonderful in many ways but rather stressful in almost every way. The train of thought I was on would take me to the next stop of summer and see it as just a switch into more stressful circumstances. Just different relationships to balance and new situations where I'd be over my head and incapable of doing what was expected of me. All of a sudden, its next semester where I'm no longer a freshmen and I'm responsible for other people and need to grow up in 15 weeks and learn how to micro-manage my time and I wake up one morning to realize that I'm stuck in the adult world forever.
Today, I choose to look at life like this:
Life is a constant exchange, a continous change of footing and placement but I'm not being asked to jump to the top of the mountain. I'm asked to get through this weekend of finals. I'm asked to take a few more steps in becoming a better friend and student. This summer will make me a little less woefully unprepared for the next semester and each day, week, and month will prepare me a little more for the next one. All of a sudden, eachlittle new stress is really a new opporutnity to grow and be a little more ready for the next challenge.
I could find something wrong with life if I wanted to, but I'd rather say that there is nothing wrong with being irrationally happy.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
That person I passed on the sidewalk had no obligation to smile when they saw me. I wasn't making awkward eye contact, I didn't initiate the smile, and they didn't feel a need to greet me because I'm their lab partner's sister's roommate's neighbor. We were strangers until the smile.
I am consistently delighted by Sundays. Some of my friends have dedicated themselves to doing no work on Sundays in honor of the Lord's day, and I respect them very much for it. For me, Sunday is a wonderful day to not have the pressure of five meetings in the afternoon and two exams and one quiz during the day. It is a wonderful day to start with church and allow myself to be by myself or with others or spend a few minutes doing nothing or getting work done so I can thrive and not just survive during the next week. Rest is highly underrated. I always insist on wearing a sweater on Sundays.
Sweaters mean comfort and peace and contentment. Sundays are a good reminder of what every day should contain.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Thermostat and thermometer.
It's not that I don't know that there is a difference between a thermostat and a thermometer, I just can't remember which one is which at a moment's notice. The difference is huge though. One sets the temperature to what you want it to be, the other just records things "as is". The same goes for joy and happiness.
Joy is not conditional on the test you just received, if someone looked at you funny, or if the weather is nice outside. Happiness can be a conditional emotion. It's too variable and easily affected to be depended on for any type of self-evaluation.
Joy is a conscious decision. It goes hand in hand in contentment but steps up the game a bit.
Joy is rejoicing in the things that don't change (i.e. God's love for us, salvation, undeserved grace,etc...)
Joy is built on a peace that is derived from God, not simply an absence of troubles or drama.
Joy is a gift and a goal. It is not earned. You don't have to buy 32 boxes of cereal and mail in box tops to receive it. It also isn't going to be parachuted from a magical Joy Jet and land in your lap. It must be pursued and sought after and protected, because joy is easily stolen.
It can be a daily struggle to be consistent in joy. It's far easier to keep checking the thermometer because there is nothing you can do about the weather. Choosing joy takes intentionality and effort.
For me, consistency is more of a curse than a struggle. There is always a large part of me that stays the same no matter what is going on around me. This works greatly for me in my favor as it tends to neutralize the possibility for anger or disappointment or frustration or stress. Yet being consistently apathetic is like setting your thermostat to 60 degrees and never changing it. There is no value in that, unless you like wearing three sweaters at the same time all the time.
Today could have been a lukewarm day. There was no reason for it to be a bad day, however. Mediocre didn't seem like a favorable option either. Sticking with a good day felt like settling since I am alive today and have a God that loves me and am surrounded by so much beauty. Today, I have decided to set my thermostat to 80 degrees and leave it there.
If I can be consistently unconcerned, than I may as well be consistently joyful.
Saturday, March 31, 2012
That's one of the things I love most about being home. Familiarity creates comfort which instills security. Life doesn't pause or stop while I'm home but being surrounded by things that are known, constant, and unchanging certainly helps.
I like that when I'm running, I don't have to look down to avoid tripping on the uneven sidewalk. My feet already know where to land instinctively. I like that the sidewalk is one that I've traveled down hundreds of times. It's led me to the park, to parades, to farmer's markets, to the grocery store for last minute ingredients, to the bakery with friends, to art shows and fishing trips and the library and friend's houses.
I like that I can make scones on a whim or do nothing at all for the afternoon and not feel like I've disturbed the delicate balance of a life that has no room for relaxation.
Breaks are only satisfying if they actually break you away from something vastly different. Which is why I also love my fast-paced, always-changing, bruise-inducing, absurdly productive life at college.
Saturday, March 10, 2012
I feel like jumping around and up and down and tackling and tickling people.
I don't want to be responsible and serious and calm and composed. I want to be crazy and silly and slap happy and experience true hilarity.
I feel like being 5 and doing cartwheels everywhere that I want to go and I don't know if its the nice weather or if I've finally snapped or my inner child is tired of being forced to be a young adult.
I'm also very tired and sleepy and maybe that's why I don't make any sense.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
What if, just for a day, we completely ignored time? We didn't use clocks or shadows to determine our next actions but rather reacted with each other to figure out what we were going to do. Or maybe we'd just do nothing. Mostly likely, there would be chaos and confusion and no one would know when the day without time ended since checking would be cheating and everyone would end up confused and sad.
I wonder if we ask the questions of others that we want to asnwer ourselves.
Is it okay to be discontent? Is there a difference between being discontent with your circumstances (not okay) and being discontent with your state of self (possible motivation for improvement?) If you aren't discontent with yourself on some level, isn't that just personal apathy? Don't you just become stagnant? To want to be better, you must recognize that you aren't the best and there are greater things.
Shouldn't a cinderblock wall be soundproof?
Is it possible to love others without a hint of selfishness? Even the purest of love is out of a heartful desire to care for someone else because they mean something to you. Although even an attempt at selfless love is millions of times better than satisfaction with self-centeredness.
Does laughter help you think better? I'm pretty sure it does.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Which is why I don't mind posting things like this, thoughts that aren't just interesting analogies or insightful lists. Letting the realization that my life is be defined by inadequacy stop me from trying to be better is fatal to the person I want to become. Yet lying to myself in thinking that everything is always perfect is equally dangerous.
It's okay to not understand life sometimes or yourself or why you feel like you want to cry but never can.
What's not okay is letting that stop you from moving on, looking beyond the meladrama in your mind, and making life better.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Here is a phenomenon about myself that I have never been able to understand. Every once in a while, I start typing too quickly or too lazily and my hands get one key off. Instead of making nice coherent sentences, everything comes out like s nunvh og hinnrtidh ( translation: a bunch of gibberish). What I don't understand is that I always follow this illogical pattern:
1) Notice that all the letters I typed on the screen aren't actually forming words.
3) Erase the half page of gibberish.
4) Start typing again without fixing my hands.
5) Frown at my incompetence when I make the same mistake again. and again. and again.
It's like running the vaccum over the same piece of string 50 times in a row because you are convinced that the 51st time will be the charm.
The sad thing is, I do this with my life too. I wake up one day and realize that everything is a mess and run around like crazy trying to fix everything and once I do, continue living in the same way with out realigning my life with God. Sometimes, its because I'm just going too fast to notice that something is wrong or I'm too stubborn to admit that the problem is me. Either way, I don't particularly like my life story being a bunch of gibberish.
Which is why I'm thankful for nights like this, when my schedule becomes so busy that I refuse to pick between four different plans and instead stay in my room and think and pray and realign.
It's time to start making sense.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
1) It took me about 10 years to figure out that the tune of the "Alphabet Song" was the same as our favorite celestrial nusrey rhyme.
2) For the longest time, I thought "LMNOP" was a letter all in itself.
Obviously, once I started reading I figured out that there were in fact 5 distinct letters. Yet I think we still have a tendency to sing-song our way through conversations. When I see someone I know, we always sing this little diddy.
Maybe its not to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, but it may as well be. To give myself some credit (since I'm writing this and I can) I genuinely do care about how someone is doing and if I ever got an answer that wasn't "Greathowareyou?" I would be more than willing to continue the conversation in that direction. Yet I can count maybe three times that I have given a non-positive answer to that question myself and feel like that is the case for most people.
My friend and I were talking about a different question you could ask. Her thought was to instead ask "How's your heart?"
I hope that isn't the case. More likely, I'm too afraid to inquire after the condition of someone's heart because I don't want to have the questioned turned on me.
Friday, January 27, 2012
Life at this speed is insane, impossible, exhausting, but also beautiful and precious. We have such a short and undetermined time to be here. This isn't a race to run you raggard but one to run with dilligence while resting in God's peace and ultimate sovereignty. For as much as I'd like to think I can do, I am completely useless without Him.
My time is up for now, but I'll be back.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
A mere sticky note could not contain this masterpiece.
I listed people to visit with and projects to master, new skills to learn, habits to begin, books to read.
While I thoroughly enjoyed seeing my friends and repainting my bathroom and running every day, I was still resting. For me, true rest is not in social interaction or sleeping or laying on the couch reading. I enjoy all of those things but true rest is in God.
I began feeling frustrated that my intellectual and spiritual growth were slowing down just because I was slowing down. However, with some good conversation with friends and God I realized this didn't have to be the case. I've learned different things here at home, but I am still learning and still in awe of all that I don't know and get to discover.
Now, this computer is the only thing I haven't packed yet. My to-do list is completed and instead of feeling relieved, it makes me a bit sad. Sad because I don't have things to accomplish and sad also because having things to accomplish has become so important to my sense of stability. Still a work in progress with that one.
I feel empty and I don't know if it is just the angst of transition or sadness about leaving such a lovely home or trepidation for what the future holds and confused because all of these feelings are rather foreign to me. I have so much to learn.
Sunday, January 8, 2012
Some people dream of living on a lake or ocean. I'd rather not. I enjoy the waves and water despite having failed at least 5 different sessions of swimming lessons. I'm more of a stream kind of person. I think that's why I picked Grove City. It had a river and a clock tower. Those were my two main requirements.
So, I was watching the river the other day. I started wondering if my presence mattered at all. I could see that if I jumped into the river and started splashing around, it would change the river. Suddenly, it would become a river with a person in it. However, if I just sat there watching the currents, I could change it in a different way.
It no longer was just a river. It was a river being observed by a person. Somehow, it was changed by no merit of its own. Just by observing something, I could change how it was defined. At the time, this discovery of definition by proxy seemed very profound. I wasn't even intoxicated with wallpaper dissolvant then.
It wasn't until I got home that I realized maybe this idea could be applied to something other than running water. The idea that I changed based on where I was and who I was with deeply disturbed me. It made me feel false and inconsistent even though nothing (significant) changed about me. So, using my incredibly sharp powers of deduction, I scanned my circumstances to see what changed.
Turns out, almost everything. I was around different people, in a different room, a different state ( of America and of mind), a different routine, and trying to fulfill different expectations. Let's just focus on the first one though. Just as I turned a simple river into a bubbling brook being studied by a girl sitting on its banks, the people around me define me on some level just by being there and interacting with me.
I will never simply be Chloe. Instead, I am a daughter, a student, a church member, a child of God, a granddaughter, a cousin, and a friend. Even if we are only focusing on the friend aspect of me, that looks so incredibly different for each person. Chloe as the friend of Sally might be very distinct from Chloe as the friend of Diane*. It doesn't mean that I changed. The river never changed because I observed it. It just means that if I am defined in some way by my relationships with others, it only makes sense that this is a relative reality based on location.
This comforted me in part, but what truly helped dissolve my fear that I hadn't a shred of consistent character was that one relationship never changed: the one with my Creator and Savior. Considering this is the only one that really matters in the long run, I could rest at ease and return to over-analayzing landscapes and scraping wallpaper.
*I don't actually know any Diane's or Sally's. Except for the one from the Peanuts but that doesn't count because she isn't real.
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Anyways, that pretty much shaped my view of Christianity. Not that it was run by egotistical overly-defensive editors rather, that it was a Christian life which was filled with normal life stuff like applying eyeshadow and doing "Define the Relationship" talks (so maybe thats not so normal) with a bit of Christianity interwoven. Not the mainstay of your life by any means, but the 15 minutes in the morning for Bible reading, an hour or two for youth group, and tithing at the Sunday morning worship service.
Because I was a good little homeschooled grew-up-in-the-church girl, I followed the expectations and read my Bible in the mornings. Its a dangerous thing to give a literalist 12 year old who devoured books a Bible. I was told to believe it and thats exactly what I did. Except it didn't paint the same picture my Christian magazines were painting. It wasn't telling me which Christian fiction book series about the Amish to read. It wasn't telling me how many inches my shorts were supposed to be above the knee. It was telling me to love always and to pray continually and live every day, no, every second, for the glory of the God. Something wasn't meshing for me.
Throughout highschool, I was content with the Christian life. I really enjoyed it even. I was content to believe that what I was doing was enough, because after all, one can't always be praying can they?
I started reading the Bible again.
After a while, I couldn't keep lying to myself. I had to accept the Bible for what it said or not at all. I started reading these books like Do Hard Things and Crazy Love and I finally found someone else that saw a disconnect between Christian living (it sounds like a Marthat Stewart brand) and what the Bible was saying.
Now, its easier than ever to completely live for God. I'm surrounded by church, discipleship groups, classes on the Bible, prayer groups, worship nights, prayer partners. It's also harder than ever to be authentially living and radical in a bubble where the basics are already being met. I'm only at college for a season. God didn't call me to live completely for Him for four years, He called me for life.
I'm reading another radical Christianity book right now. I watched the Passion 2012 stream last night. Yet I was talking to my friend and we both agreed that if we actually tried some of the radical love and trust in God that these people talk about, most Christian adults we know would discourage us.
What do they know that we don't? I hear these ideas of living fully for God dismissed as a phase young Christians go through. Do we turn 30 and suddenly get to ignore those radical parts of the Bible? Does God stop convicting us to live completely for Him? I see this generation ready to be different but I think we need some adults too. Its too easy to be caught up in the hype and we need those are wiser to ground us.