Friday, January 27, 2012

Grove City Standard Time

I have exactly four minutes to write this.  Welcome to Grove City Standard Time.  Activities that used to take you an hour have about 10 minutes of scheduled time to get done.  You will manage your time or you will lose it, along with your sanity.  Yet even though the time has compressed and the clock's hands seem to be racing to see who can get there fastest, there is no other time zone I'd rather be in. It's amazing what you can get done in a minute when a minute is all the time you have.

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

Final Check

Once Upon A Time I came home from college for Christmas break.  And by "A Time" I mean 4 weeks ago.  The sudden halt of activity and interactions jarred my sense of stability but there was Christmas to be celebrated, God to be worshipped, presents to be exchanged, and food (and food and food) to be eaten.  Just before the "Christmas Thud" overtook me, I was rescued by my to-do list.

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

Relating Relationships and Realities to a River

You're going to need more than a grain of salt to season this one properly.  Try a handful.  Or a whole shaker-full for that matter.

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. 

The End.

*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

Christian Living

I used to read those Christian girl magazines when I was younger.  Pages of tips on boys and make-up and modest dress interwoven with articles on how much you should tithe or Christian musicians and the occassional Bible reading plan.  Eventually, the editor canceled my subscription because I had an issue with some of their content and we got into an e-mail argument over it.

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. 

I'm tired of Christian living and not living for Christ.