November 28, 2006

Sorry it’s been a few weeks. The holidays are busy and all that. Now there are all sorts of things on my mind. What to start with? Hmm.

 I guess I’ll begin with what is on my mind right now. Relationships. I just received an email from a good friend who is struggling in a romantic relationship. I received an email last week from a friend who is nervous about a social situation coming up because the pressure is on for them to get all bonded. So this got me thinking about how difficult this all is. Romance, friendship, family, and more. We all want to be in relationship, we even need to been in relationship with people, yet I find that there is some kind of reflex that stiff-arms anyone who gets too close, even, at times, my husband. Why is this?

Well, the easy answer is sin. Being a sinner relating to sinful people is quite a mess. My sin hurts you, your sin hurts me, even if we forgive that wound is still there. We’re like those puppies you see at the pound who have been beaten by other owners and shrink back every time you get close because they are scared except we’re both the wounded puppies so you think that we would huddle together in the cage from warmth but we still shrink back. Maybe the problem is that we think we’re the only puppy.

Ok, enough dog analogies.

I think the sin we are most afraid of being the victims of is rejection. I’ve gotten to where I think rejection is sin because it’s based on some kind of judgement and we certainly have no right to judge. (This is bad because there is this person that drives me absolutely crazy so I’ve rejected him and now I feel all convicted. Dang it!) So anyway, I think this fear of rejection runs so deep it makes every kind of relationship incredibly difficult. I reason internally that if I push you away before you can reject me then I’ve saved myself some struggle. The problem is, what if you weren’t going to reject me at all? Now I’ve just missed out on a relationship that could have been great.

Ok, so there aren’t any solutions here. Perhaps we just need to realize that relationships are worth the risk. If we are fearful, I think that God will walk with us and give us wisdom. I know that there are times that I’ve taken the risk and I’ve been hurt yet I also know that God has led me into some risks that have been more than worth it. We have to choose to forget how much we could get hurt and remember how much we stand to gain.


Two Empty Chairs

November 13, 2006

the two of us #1Imagine yourself in a room with two empty chairs.  It doesn’t have to be a creepy room, just a room with two chairs. It could even be outside. Wherever you imagine your chairs, there is no one else around. You take a seat. Then, through a door or a clearing or a path on the beach, God walks up. He doesn’t say anything, just smiles and takes the other seat because, hey, it’s the only chair around. He sits facing you, silent. You’re a bit curious because His expression is a bit difficult to read. How would you feel in this moment? Safe? Comfortable? Afraid? Anxious? Would you try to guess what He was thinking? What would you think?

two red chairsRecently, I was in a room with seven other people. We were discussing God and how we feel in relationship to Him. As the conversation went on I became aware that two of the people in the room felt quite comfortable with God. They spoke of Him as someone whom they knew and loved. They talked about being aware of His presence and including them in their every moments. Listening to them, I realized that if they were in this room with God they would feel quite comfortable. They would feel at ease. I voiced that I felt quite differently. When I imagine myself in this room I am desperately insecure. I would be so concerned at what my God was thinking of me. I would doubt my every move and with each moment I would lose confidence in His desire to be with me. I might even rationalize that He is only there because He has to be. I would figure that I was upsetting Him and rack my brain for things that I think please Him. Perhaps I should read my bible. Maybe He has come to tell me that I don’t do it enough. Maybe He wants to tell me that He is disappointed in me. I would get all of this from Him simply sitting down and not saying anything. As I shared this my kind professor, who was one of the ones comfortable with God, spoke truth into my life. The kind of truth that cannot be ignored. Being the kind of person that he is, he spoke it in a question. He asked, “What would it be like if you were completely convinced that God was in love with you?” Actually, I’m not sure if that’s the exact wording but you get the gist. I knew immediately that things would be unbelievably different. If I was in a room with a God who I knew was madly in love with me and enjoyed being with me I would feel so safe. I would feel so secure. I would no longer be so uncomfortable.

Room for twoNow I wonder why I still cannot get this basic truth. In my mind I am convinced that God is certainly much happier with others who seem more spiritual. You know who I mean, the kind of people who get up in the wee hours of the morning to pray and read the bible. The kind of people who never miss one of their apointments with God. Through this conversation and others I’ve had recently I’m beginning to wonder where I get these ideas. I’m beginning to think that God is much more patient with us than I make Him out to be. So, here I am. I’m trying to get more comfortable in my own skin. I’m trying to figure out what my relationship with God could look like, not what I think it should look like. I’m trying to allow God to meet me where I am, not where I think I should be. We’ll see if I too could sit across from my God in complete comfort and ease.

Toothaches and Miracles

November 9, 2006

Two days ago I was at Starbucks studying. Starbucks, or sometimes Panera, are really the only places I can study. If I study at home I think of something else I could be doing, mostly watching TV. Starbucks provides just enough people watching and distraction to keep my stimulus hungry brain satiated. I can usually be found in a large plushy purple velvet chair, which is how all armchairs should be really. velvet purple chair

This particular study time lasted five hours as I studied for and took a Theology midterm. I was testing a few psychological theories. One is that you should study for an exam the same place you study for it. Another is that you should drink the same drink when you study and when you test. Another is that you should be in the same psychological state. I think the last one is impossible but that’s just my opinion. The others were worth testing. I don’t know if it worked but I liked taking a test at Starbucks. Maybe when I get my test back I’ll know.

As I began my study time I was munching on a delicious slice of pumpkin loaf as I sipped my grande nonfat no water chai. The loaf was a little cold, because Starbucks is usually pretty cold, but otherwise this was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. And then there was a problem. The usually smooth and creamy texture of my pumpkin loaf now had little hard bits in it. Even more unusually, these bits were only on the left side of my mouth. A queasy feeling developed in my stomach. I found a bit and took a good look at it and I know, this is a piece of my tooth. I resolve to ignore it. I don’t even feel around my mouth to try to discover where it has come from. I can’t. Whatever it is must be ignored. We cannot afford anything to go wrong in my mouth.

Earlier this year I went to the dentist for a toothache. It turned out to be a root canal. By the way, these are really not that bad but easy to mik for sympathy. Anyway, this root canal and one cavity completely drained my share of the dental insurance. At the time we had to pay for one cavity out of pocket because it couldn’t wait until January. Not too bad, but certainly not in the budget.

So, here I am again. I’ve got a tooth problem. I’ve got no more budget for tooth problems. So, we’re back to my resolve to ignore it. This lasted one day. I finally checked out the spot and felt a large, pointy hole between two teeth. Not good. I’ve lost a filling in this same place before but this hole is in a new tooth. As much as I’d like to ignore it, I know that my dentist will take a peek at no charge. On the way home from my painfully boring biology class I drop by my dentist. The news is not good.

The dental assistant takes a peek and says that that spot needs a filling soon or else it too will be a root canal. Then she takes her little picky hook thing and starts poking at other teeth. I did not ask for this service. She tells me that I’ve got two other cavities that need to be filled. Then she just starts in telling me that they can all be done at once and when she can get me in and on and on. I interrupt and tell her that I don’t have the money for that. She didn’t like that one bit. Not one bit. We discussed and she convinced me to consider just getting my x-rays done and then we can really decide what needs to be done and when. After talking with James, I think this will be the best decision. It makes sense to do it.

Now, you have to understand something. When I say that we don’t have the money I don’t mean it literally. We have plenty in savings. I just don’t want to use it. This isn’t my first medical expense and any other sickly wife out there can relate with me. After a few unexpected medical bills the guilt starts to pile on. James doesn’t do the piling, I do. I just feel badly that I’m like this black hole for money. I also want a new sofa.

This morning I woke up around five am and couldn’t get back to sleep because I was worried about this tooth that was actually starting to hurt me now that somebody had decided to poke their miniature sickle into the hole. I’m tossing and turning and trying to get the thing off my mind. I tell myself that we’ll be able to pay for it and it’s okay. It is okay. Then something occurs to me. Maybe I could pray that God would heal it. I silently pray a couple of truly earnest requests but am aware that these prayers aren’t exactly packed with faith.

I believe that God still performs miracles today. I don’t think he ever stopped even if church history tries to tell me otherwise. My lack of faith that God would heal my tooth isn’t about God’s ability but His willingness. I doubt that God would do this thing for me. This got me thinking about miracles in general. I wonder if Jesus would have healed the blind man if he had the money to go to a doctor and get it fixed. Is God a need based miracle worker? However I may answer this, my actions say that I think He is. Then I wonder if it’s okay to pray for a miracle, even if you have the means. I tend to think it is. I think you’ve got to be willing to do what it takes but you also have to leave God room to take care of it too.

This reminds me of a friend of James’ who would take him out to breakfast and say something like, “I just know the Lord will provide for this meal”. This friend had the means to pay for it, but he had faith. Miraculously, every meal God would provide, through James’ pocket. Miracle or stinginess? Hmmm.

This also makes me think about my theology on blessings. Are blessings need based or simply the pleasure of the king. I know it’s the latter but I act like it’s the former.

This semester I’ve learned so much about the fact that we all have a theology whether we acknowledge it or not. These thoughts are me trying to wrestle with what I think and what I do and trying to get them to match. While I question if any of us will really figure any of it out I think it blesses God when we seek to understand Him more and love him better. I at least have one theological point down.

I wonder if you have any thoughts on the matter.

Well, I’ve done it. I said I wouldn’t write long blogs but here it is. If you don’t have one, you should get a blog. It’s cathartic.

So, here it is. I really have begun. I’m writing a blog. But, let’s not call it a blog, that’s a gross word. It’s not as gross as what this really is, a place for my verbal diarrhea. Let’s not call it that. I prefer to say that this is just where I write what I’m thinking about. I write stuff and maybe you read it. Maybe you don’t. I haven’t really decided if I really want anyone to read it but whatever, you are so that’s all there is too it. OK, I’m going to stop writing now. You see, I’ve had this blog for about a week now but haven’t written anything yet because I was all pressuring myself to write some awesome first entry thing. My solution is to write an utterly pointless one, like this, so that we can only get better from here. We’ll see if my theory works. So, thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy whatever it is that I end up having to say here. I hope I enjoy it too.

(Ya know what’s really funny, when I run spell-check it says that blog isn’t a word. It probably says that because it thinks it’s a gross word too.)