Category Archives: Becoming

The greatest of these…

(Updates below!)

I had planned for my next post to be about our vacation, but as I’m learning every day now, God changes our plans…sometimes drastically.

For all the years that I’ve known Dave, he’s wondered what he wants to do with his life. It’s not that he doesn’t know what he likes, but that he likes so many different things that there’s not much out there that will really help him feel more whole.

Last fall, he stumbled on an idea. I cried at first, because it scared me, and then I began to incorporate it into my daily existence and found it yummy on so many sides. It had just the right combination of fun and family and scary and money and challenge that we decided to try it out, to see if it could actually become real.

This summer, after our vacation, Dave exchanged some emails with the people who would have to agree to hire him for this to happen. They wanted all sorts of information–height, weight, date of discharge from the military–and we found it and gave it to them. Then we waited.

It only took a couple of days for us to get an answer, but it felt like forever. We talked, dreamed, schemed together. And then it came. He told me and I cried.

The truth is, this door isn’t shut, but they’ve determined that Dave is currently unqualified. It has nothing to do with his mind or his heart or his desire to minister. It has everything to do with some health concerns they have for him based on some current information and some history.

Are these things we can change? Maybe, with a lot of work and even more grace. But we’re a little bewildered, left wondering what God is trying to say to us and how hard we push this before we change our minds and hearts and plans and walk another direction. We had narrowed so much of our lives down to focus on this goal–I work so he can get a discount and go to school to get the degree that would make this job possible, he works so we have enough to live on while he’s going to school to get the degree that would make this job possible, we work out so that he can be in good shape to pass the prerequisite physical, we don’t know how much we should commit to a church because we might be gone in a couple of years–and it hurts to wonder if it was all for nothing.

No.

Nothing is for nothing with our God. None of this last year, none of last sememster which was harder than any one when I was in school, none of it. But we thought we knew what it was about and now we find that maybe we don’t and that’s hard.

I think that’s the summation of this post–it’s hard right now. Not “I’m going out of my mind because it hurts so bad” hard, but “Life doesn’t look quite as bright and tears are often near and I pray that God’s making something beautiful out of all of this because I can’t” hard. If vacation was a mountaintop, this is a valley. And so we walk, hand in hand, through our valley, praying that we have the faith to take each step, the hope to see resolution where we don’t expect it, and the love to draw nearer to each other as we answer these questions.

Update: Dave decided to go for it. That makes it sound more unilateral than it was, but the truth is that it was his decision to make since it’s his body. So pray for us as we investigate some options and try to figure out what will work best for us. There are a lot of changes we need to make if this is all going to work out, so pray for courage and stamina and whatever else God leads to to ask for. Thanks!!

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Choosing Light, Part II

I’ve been mulling on the things I said and the things some of you said in response to my post that asked, “How do we choose light?” You guys offered me so much there that I think it’s still settling into my soul. That’s how I think about these things…it’s like the new ideas need a chance to bonk around in my soul to see if they find a place, or disrupt things that are already there, or add clarity, or something totally different. For those who’ve watched The Price is Right enough times, it’s like Soul Plinko.

One of the conclusions I’ve come to (at least for now) is the idea that God’s calling is probably something different than I’ve ever thought before. I don’t just mean that his calling on my life is different, but that calling itself is a different sort of thing.

I’ve always waited for the herald, or the voice from the sky, or the flippity-flup of my heart that would indicate that I’ve found IT, the thing that God is sitting up there waiting for me to figure out that I’m supposed to do (or, more realistically, one of the things). I’ve wanted something outside myself to let me know that I’m in the right place, whether that’s another person, God himself, or my own body that makes the confirmation (note: the relationship this indicates I’ve had/I have with my body could be a whole ‘nother post).

So here’s the idea I’ve been looking at in wonderment and awe: What if God built his calling for me into…well…ME? What if it’s…not quite hard-wired, but something like that…into the structure of my personality and my heart and even my body?

I think this is what some of you were getting at before, but I’ve had to find words and ideas for it that I could understand and that assuage my fears of “going off the deep end.”

I like this idea for several reasons:

1) It preserves God’s role. If any of what I do is ever only about me, I think I’m lost. If it’s about being me for the sake of being me, I see myself wandering forever in the oblivion of my soul. It’s not a pretty picture.

2) It preserves God’s image in me. The imago dei is there, it comes out in particular ways through me, and it doesn’t come out in those ways in everyone.

3) It allows for the influences of sin. I know that God’s image in me is battered and twisted and oozing in places. I know that it doesn’t get reflected the way he intended because I’ve sinned and been sinned against. I know that the pain is as real as the joy. If God built his calling for me in to me, as parts of his image that I’m to show the world, then some of those parts are injured and influenced by sin. It doesn’t mean I shouldn’t go forward in them, but that I should look for healing along the way.

4) It deals well with my experience. I’ve experienced the desire to write like a calling from within, like there’s a voice ahead of me, just over the next mountain, down in the green valley by the river, calling to me to write and I keep chasing after it but I don’t ever catch up.

5) It allows for multiple callings. It makes sense that God would call me (and each of us) to be or do to more than one thing, to be about more than one thing. I’ve always felt like there are so many directions that I feel called to, and the push to choose one has been painful.

6) It allows for both human choice and the influence of circumstance. There are SO MANY things I’d love to learn to do, to pursue and follow after. I can’t do all of them, but I think they would all reveal more about God. So I choose to do the ones that come before in particular ways and that are achievalbe given my lifestyle, free time, and financial means. In another life, I might have been a cellist or a sailboat-racer, but I haven’t made the choice or had the opportunity to learn those things and so I don’t reflect God in those ways.

7) It shows God as a lavish, loving Father. We each have so many things we could pursue. We’re more drawn to some than to others, but there’s still more to pursue than we possibly could. And from these things that we know we could love, God lets us choose. I think there are particular things he puts on particular hearts where it would be wrong to choose something else, but this doesn’t seem to happen very often. There are so many good gifts that we have to choose among them for the ones we love the most.

8) It accounts for people who never get a chance to pursue anything. Getting to pursue our hearts and our gifts is something that, at least in part, comes out of luxury. I don’t have to work 12-hour days to put food on the table, so I have time to write and paint and hear peoples’ God-stories. If I did have to work 12-hour days, I would come in at night, grab a bite to eat, kiss Dave, and go to bed. That wouldn’t mean that the things I love weren’t in my heart, but that sin kept them from flourishing. I still would have the image of God in me, with all those callings, but I wouldn’t get to pursue them the same way I can now. I would pursue them in smaller ways. That’s a hard life, but it comforts me to think that the inside is still the same even though it looks different on the outside.

9) It allows me to pursue myself and makes that into a way to pursue God. As long as I pursue me and the things in my own heart with God and his glory in mind, self-pursuit is a good thing. As I pursue me, I pursue God. As I get to know myself, I get to know him.

Functionally, I’m not sure how much this idea really helps me. I still have to choose what I want to do and when and how and where I want to do it. But I feel a lot more free emotionally and spiritually to shake out the box of my soul and see what’s inside that I don’t even know about yet.

Note: You know, I read this back through and it sounds so…academic, or theological. And I don’t write it that way. Truly, these things are on my heart and in my soul.

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My little gallery

I don’t share my artwork very often. I’m not entirely sure why. Mostly, it’s because I do it for me, because I like making the world a more beautiful place and because I feel like my most peaceful and happy self when I make art. It’s a lot like writing that way, except that making the art feels extraneous, somehow, but in a good way.

Maybe it’s like Heather’s piece on being a creator vs. being an artist. Writing is at least part of what I’m called to do, and as such it’s great fun but it’s also deadly serious. The art I make seems above and beyond, like it both comes from and creates so much extra joy and I get afraid that I’ll break the joy if I share it.

Also, it feels particularly self-indulgent…as if blogging weren’t bad enough 😉

Nonetheless, I finally got my new camera a couple of weeks ago, and it’s wonderful. I don’t think I wrote here about the trials and tribulations it took to get it (at one point, I owned a new memory card and card reader, a camera case, and an extra battery, but NO CAMERA!!!), but it was so worth it. So this is my new baby:

It’s super-duper, with a great macro feature, 10x optical zoom, and 9.1 megapixels. Once of the things I’ve discovered that it does really, really well is take pictures of my artwork. Whoo-hoo! And there’s something so exuberent about the piece I worked on this morning that won’t let me get away with not sharing it. So here goes…

I’m not such a good GimpShop user, so the crop isn’t great and I’m not sure how true the colors are (those are both things I’ve heard you’re supposet to change in editing when you take pics of art), but it makes me happy share it. I’m not sure it’s finished–it needs something, maybe. It will sit in our extra room/office/studio for a while and I’ll look at it every time I see it and eventually whatever it needs will come to me. That’s how it usually happens, anyway. I painted those purple flowers on it this morning and thought I’d ruined it, but then I outlined them and they were perfect.

It’s crazy to me that there’s part of me that works like that, that knows, intuitively, that I should paint purple-and-red flowers on the sparse tree that’s on the happiest background I’ve ever made, even though it doesn’t make sense to me. It’s always like that, and then it turns out in the end and I wonder why I bother THINKING about it when my intuition knows what it’s doing. It’s like the shelf in my kitchen that holds saucers, cups, mugs and Voltron. Don’t ask me how I thought of it, but it works and makes Dave and I both happy.

And now, because I’m in a particularly, um…vociferous, maybe…mood, here are some more. The first two are closeups of the flowers from above.

I love how the purple changes based on whether it’s on top of green, turquoise, blue, or yellow.

Next is the very first Gocco print I ever made (and if you don’t know what Gocco is, it’s a Japanese printing press…google it for more info ’cause I can’t really explain it).

I love how the imperfect texturing makes it look antiqued. I would love to do a series of these with different words and hang them in my child’s room someday.

And here’s another Gocco’d print:

This one’s more serious, somehow. I did it last fall, when the forest fires were burning down people’s homes and there wasn’t anything anyone (even the firefighters, for a time) could do. (The wild pattern behind it is one of the many international pieces of cloth I’ve collected…if the pic was straight or I knew how to straighten it, I’d cut it out…I think it’s distracting.)

Here’s the tree alone, which I also like, though it needs something…

That one looks a little more like winter, with a path that something or someone left through the snow. More than the others, it makes me ask, “What’s it all about?”

If I share many more of these, I’ll have to buy more storage space from WordPress 😉 Actually, those are all I have pics of, at least on this computer. I hope you enjoyed this little gallery tour.

(And if you didn’t, well, it was either this or a rant to the producers of Battlestar Galactica, who have postponed the second half of season four (the last season!) until FEBRUARY 2009 (!!!). I’m not usually this attached to a TV show, but Galactica is one of the best I’ve ever seen. Anyway, this post seemed more positive, somehow, than that one would have been, so thank your lucky stars I thought of the idea 😉 )

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Speak boldly

I think I’m beginning a new part of my journey.

In some ways, I suppose this is never true. All of our lives are one journey, culminating when we die and stand before Jesus. We may not understand all the different bits, how they fit together and interlock, but they’re all leaves on the same tree and that tree is our life.

On the other hand, a tree has many branches and part of the journey is to explore each one.

I’m a little lost on this new branch right now. I’m finding new parts of myself, parts that I haven’t known for a long time, parts that don’t speak but instead look at me with tear-filled puppy dog eyes that beg me to just, please, help. I reach out and they shrink away, and I’m not sure they want to know me at all. I’m not sure how to make friends. Sometimes, I’m not sure I want to.

They sense, of course, that I’m at least as unsure about them as they are about me, and shrink away. I’m not trustworthy. I’m not dependable for much more than keeping out the rain. I threw them aside once; who’s to say I won’t do it again.

I wish I had hours each day to spend with these new parts, so I can watch and understand them, but also so I can befriend them. They haven’t spoken to anyone in so long that I see them with dry throats, like people stuck in a desert. I want to give them a voice or, better yet, be with them until they start to speak again.

The more I watch and wait, the more I hope a day comes where they can speak boldly knowing I, at least, will listen.

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The colors of my heart

This has not been the world’s best week. Actually, it’s been very up and down. I feel a little like an emotional rag doll. These are some of the emotional colors of me week:

Red

I got to meet Christianne and Kirk face-to-face which was very special. They’re both so cool. Maybe I’ll write more about that later, but it was good. I wished it could have been more, because I was tired and just beginning to process having lost the turtle that night (and I didn’t know yet how much it hurt), so I felt like my heart was all over the place. There’s nothing to apologize for there, but it doesn’t mean I don’t wish I’d been well-rested and centered.

Orange

I’m stuck on the novel and I’m not sure why. I’ve written all the parts where I know what happened and the rest aren’t coming. Maybe I need to take a break, but maybe I need to jump in and put words on the paper until the right ones come. That’s something that has made writing hard–I want to be gentle with myself, to give myself what I need, but I’m not always sure what that is. I don’t know my writing rhythms yet, because I haven’t done this before. So I’m trial-and-erroring my way through.

I think I’m scared to finish it. Because then I have to revise, which is a process that I fight with and I’m not sure why. And then I have to decide if this is something I want to try to sell or if it’s not ready, if I’m not ready. I’ve learned that the writing I can do…but I don’t know about the rest. So there are some psychological barriers there. But I’m also tired. For the amount of writing time I have, I’ve been going through this more hell-bent-for-leather than anything else. So maybe I just need a rest.

Yellow

I think that I am where I am in life because God wants me to learn to just be me, not defined by anything that I do, but just me, whole, wherever I am. I long for that life. But I don’t see myself getting there for quite a while. Does that mean I have to stay here until I do? Blah. All the same, it might be worth it to wake up one morning with wings.

Green

The turtle got lost.

The turtle got found.

Blue

Work is hard. I have my biggest event yet coming up next weekend and I don’t want to do it. I’m praying through it and trying to just be with myself but I still don’t want it. I’m afraid it will suck, that something will fall apart, but I also know that being a hostess is not me. I mean, I love talking to people, but I hate being the one who has to put together food for people and make small talk. I wish I could just get to know each person one-on-one–much more my thing.

On the other hand, work is under control. I feel like I have a handle on things, like I’m making changes that make sense in how we do things, like I’m slowly cleaning the place up and getting it into an order I can deal with. And that’s a good feeling.

Indigo

I’m tired. The allergies are still keeping me awake at night, and now the heat is, too.

Dave and I have had one of those weeks where we go from really enjoying each other to really annoying each other really fast (and no, I could not have used ‘really’ any more times in that sentence!). We’re not always like that, and it’s hard when we are. I think it has something to do with the general tiredness level in our house.

Violet

I read The Kite Runner and I don’t know what I think. Sad, transformative, redemptive, all in the same pages. And with an ending that was true to life in its unsureness, it’s hope in the darkness, it’s already-and-not-yet.

The heart is a many-splendor’d thing.

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10 lessons I’ve learned from both running and writing

In honor of the 50,000th word of my novel (which I wrote this week) and because I realized the other night that I started running (well, walking, which progressed to running) and writing within a few weeks of each other last fall, here’s a tribute to two of the most meaningful activities in my life right now.

10. It’s ok to take it slow.

Dave and I started out walking around the ‘big block.’ Then, we found a 3.5 mile loop, and got up to walking it three times every week. Finally, we started running in a couple of chunks. Then we started going 2 miles, and now I can do 3 some of the time. Sure, I could have done 3 once or twice at the beginning, but I wouldn’t still be doing it now, because it would have been too painful. How do I know that? Because I’ve tried it before.

Writing is similar. I started out trying to write an hour every day, but it was too much for me. The time intimidated me, and so I stopped trying entirely. It wasn’t until I went down to 30 minutes daily that I could write consistently. Now, my minimum goal is still 30 minutes but I usually write longer than that (though not usually an hour). Something is better than nothing, and a little something often becomes a bigger something later on.

9. Pain isn’t always bad.

No one told me how much running hurts. Now, part of that has to do with the exercise-induced asthma (more on that later) and the old cracked vertebrae. But those don’t account for all (or even most!) of the pain. My legs hurt. My neck hurts. My shoulders hurt. And it all ties back to running. As long as I’m upping my distance, I don’t see this changing. But I’m getting stronger and my body is healthy, so the pain is part of the process, as opposed to being a reason to stop the process.

With writing, the pain is more inside of me. I wonder if what I have is good enough, if anyone will ever want to publish it, if it will ever make sense to anyone other than me. I wonder if it’s worth my time and my energy. I also hurt because I write about things that hurt. Some of these are in me, my own hurts, and some of them are things I stumble upon in my characters or their lives, and I feel their pain.

8. If it’s not worth doing for internal reasons, it’s probably not worth doing.

There are a million possible external reasons to run. Some want to look better in others’ eyes. Some want to be stronger. Some want to run a race and get a decent time. But the sore muscles, the time spent not only pounding the pavement but also dressing, warming up, cooling down, showering, etc., and enduring the incredibly slow progress my body makes in improving cardiovascularly (due to the asthma thing) wouldn’t be worth it for me if my motivation didn’t come from inside. But I want to take care of my body. I want to avoid the heart disease that runs in my family. I want to know if, despite the asthma, I can be a runner. And so I endure it all.

There are at least as many possible external reasons to write. Getting published, impressing someone, seeing your name on a cover or in a by-line are all in this category. But the time, the effort overcoming doubts and wonderings, and the emotions I experience as my characters experience them wouldn’t be worth it if I wasn’t really writing for myself.

7. Doing something I love, and that is definitely right for me, can still be hard.

Getting out the door to run sometimes takes an act of God. Pulling out this computer to write often does, too. These are two of the things that give me a lot of fulfillment right now, but neither is easy for me. They’re natural, but hard. Somehow, I think we often expect that, if God wants us to do it and we want to as well, it’s going to be easy. But it’s not necessarily, and that’s ok. Sure, there are the glorious days when I feel myself with the energy to speed up as I head into my third mile, and there’s the fabulous feeling of having so much to say that I’m lost in a scene for 45 minutes, but those don’t happen every day. Often, God calls me to the toil, the work, the long slog through ankle-deep mud, with the glory entirely out of sight. This tests my faithfulness, my trust, my ability to live for the long-term, not the short. And, I’d like to think, helps make me into a person who might eventually be good at these things.

6. It’s ok to get some help.

When I run, I have to use an inhaler. I feel like I’m cheating, but if I don’t I feel like I’m pulling every breath through cheesecloth pulled tight over my windpipe–I can get air, but it’s harder than it should be. And my novel? Started from a random writing prompt I found somewhere online. That also feels like cheating, except that I know the idea was in me before the prompt helped birth it. But the help is ok. Just because these are things I want to pursue right now (and things I think it’s good for me to pursue right now) doesn’t mean that they are things I have to do all by myself.

5. I don’t have to be the best to be legitimate.

I have a couple of friends who run a mile in 6:30, and that’s after they’ve run several. I am not like them. I’m lucky if I can run a couple of 8s in a row, I can usually put up 10s, and on a hard day I’ll run 12s. It’s easy to think, “Oh, I’m not a real runner because I can’t do it as fast as those people,” but that’s not true. Runners just run.

I also know people who’ve been published more than I have, who have writing credits that far outweigh mine.  It would be easy for me to say, “I’m not a writer until I’ve been published at such-and-such a level or so-and-so many times,” but that’s not true, either. Writers write.

4. It helps to have goals.

This is a tricky one for me. If I set a goal for myself regarding an activity that I love, I can focus more on reaching the goal and less on enjoying myself while I get there, which makes the fun activity a lot less fun. But in both running and writing, goals have helped me name my internal motivation and see things through. I want to run 10 miles a week consistently, and I want to write a novel this year. Neither of those are huge goals, and I might get beyond them quicker than I think, but they help me keep going. They help me focus my energy and steady myself on a course. I’m someone who can be easily distracted, and the goals keep me from doing that.

3. It’s ok to have a bad day.

Sometimes, my allergies are so bad that it’s hard to breathe even with my inhaler. Other days, an old back injury springs up and I just don’t think I should keep going. It scares me to stop, to not run as far as I’d like to, because I’m afraid I’ll never achieve my goals. But one bad day doesn’t negate the work I’ve done previously or indicate that all of the future days are going to go the same way. In fact, when I take the breaks my body needs, it seems better over the long-haul.

Some days, every word I write feels painful. Other days, all of the words just feel cludgy (this is one of those days, by the way). And on a few days, I forget to sit down and write entirely. But working through these difficulties, or changing projects for a day and writing something else, doesn’t hamper my overall progress. In fact, getting through that has shown me that taking a break can be good, that I won’t lose my place in my story or the emotions of a scene just because I need a rest from it.

2. It’s important for me to listen to myself.

This is tied to the previous thought. When I run, I need to listen to my body. If my knee hurts, I can determine if it’s just because the muscles are sore around it or because I’ve tweaked it, but only if I’m paying attention to it and have paid attention enough in the past to know the difference. If I’m tired, I can decide if I need to stop or push through it, but only if I know how the different kinds of tired feel in my body.

When I’m writing, I need to hear my heart from my heart. I’m not sure that makes sense, but it’s the best I can say it today. When I don’t listen that way, the words get wooden. The dialog doesn’t work. I write scenes that I end up deleting because they don’t jive with the rest of the book or the character. But when I listen to myself, when I stop writing for the world out there and write just for me, there’s flow. Sure, I need an audience, but they’ll know that what I write isn’t genuine if I don’t listen to myself in the process.

1. It’s ok to make mistakes.

I’m still learning how to run so my knee doesn’t hurt. It sounds crazy, but the position of my foot and how I hold my legs makes a world of difference. Sometimes, I do it wrong and end up in pain. But my body heals and gives me another chance. And, since I’m listening to it, I’m not going to intentionally or misguidedly do it wrong again. I might forget. I might be unable to find the stride that’s right, but it’ll be ok.

One of the characters in my novel is completely different now than she was at the beginning. Some of that is change in her, but some of it is the fact that I didn’t quite know who she was when I started. And just the other day, I looked at two of my characters, at how they interact, and thought, “You’re his mother, aren’t you.” I didn’t know that before. Sure, I’ll have to go back and change all of these things, weave my story together in a slightly different way, but I never would have found these things out if I hadn’t written through them, kept going, and found what was right later.

There are so many more lessons and thoughts and ideas that these two activities have brought me, but there’s my 10 for today. Have a Happy Easter, everyone! (Saying that reminds me of the radio announcer I heard on Friday…the Christian radio announcer, nonetheless…who wished everyone a “Happy Good Friday,” which seemed a little…um…misplaced, to me.)

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Sort of a declaration of independence

I haven’t written in a while, because I’ve been scared and intimidated about what I have to say. I’ve written this post in my head for days and I’m still not quite sure where it’s going. But I’ll try to jump in and see where it takes me.

I feel like I’ve been false. It started out with me feeling false about how I’ve been in this new blogging community, and through some thoughts and conversations has come to mean so much more than that. I guess I’ll start with the big picture.

I’ve always known what I should do. ‘Shoulds’ were important to me, even as a child. I learned who I should be at church, who I should be at home, who I should be when my grandparents were around. Eventually, I learned who I should be at school, who I should be around kids my own age so that I could have friends and not be the kid everyone laughs at. I learned what my duties were in each place. I learned that doing my duty, performing these shoulds, came before the things I wanted to do. So I did my homework before I played outside. I learned about popular music so I could join in conversations at school. I was the fastest in my year at looking up Bible verses because it made the Sunday School teachers like me.

I even learned to pick up on the shoulds that weren’t spoken, the ones the people sometimes don’t even know they carry. I learned to read between the lines, to see what was there and conform with it even though no one asked me to. I learned to look at people’s actions, at what they valued and praised and what they didn’t, at how they acted towards different people and behaviors. I learned who and what I needed to be to succeed in different situations and, above everything else, to make them like me.

I didn’t always conform to the shoulds. My mom could tell you–I didn’t always do what I should have done. I didn’t always pick up on the things that she was wishing I would do but didn’t ask. In fact, sometimes I did the opposite. Sometimes I knew she thought I shouldn’t cry in the middle of the grocery store and I did it anyway. Sometimes I wanted to play and then do my homework. Sometimes I cried over the math problems even though I knew that I should just be patient and try them yet again.

But I almost always knew what shoulds were present, and felt terribly guilty when I didn’t or couldn’t live up to them. I learned to look at what people wanted, at what they expected, and gauge how I was doing and where I was going from that. If I did what I should, I was good. If I didn’t, then I was bad and there was no excuse for me. If I couldn’t, then there was something wrong and I should be able to.

I think that at least part of this all comes from me receiving some very divergent feedback about who I was at a pretty early age. My parents approved, but my friends didn’t. I thought I was ok, but my parents thought otherwise. I was good. I was bad. I was good. I was good. I was bad. It didn’t make sense to me, and so I learned not to trust myself to evaluate correctly, and I looked outside of myself for standards by which to judge where I was at and how I was doing. And I learned to be really, really good at it.

As an adult, this all makes sense. No one is going to find approval all the time. But as a little kid, it was confusing, even bewildering, and I had to find a way out.

All of this means that I almost never bring my whole self to the table. I just don’t. I judge which parts of me are wanted, put on the person I’m supposed to be today, and become that. I don’t lie–all of the different parts that I bring are really there, whether through nature or nurture. But I don’t usually present all of them at once.

This whole blogging thing is a good example of that. I saw a blogging community that I wanted to be a part of and I determined who I should be to fit in there. I apologize for not bringing more of me here–I’m not sure that I’ve wronged you, but I’ve definitely wronged myself. When I came to this community, I included things like being deep, being encouraging, being excited, being mature. It’s not that I’m not these things, but I’m certainly not like that all the time.

I do think and feel deeply, but I can be as shallow as anybody. I like God and spiritual formation and growing my heart, but I also like Arrested Development, the Beastie Boys, and following the whole Britney saga.

I can be encouraging, but it’s so hard for me to do it through words. I’m so much more the girl who wants to look into your eyes, maybe touch you and let you know that I’m there, and not say anything at all. I want to journey with you, wherever you are, but I might not have much to say along the way.

I love to be excited as much as the next person, but the truth is that I’m at a pretty slow, pretty blah point in my life. I’d love to travel, to be growing fast, but I’m not. And sometimes I’m jealous of the people who are, or I wonder if something’s wrong with me.

I can be very mature, but I’m also pretty silly, and sometimes child-like. I still want to pick up all the rolly-pollies that I see, and I love kites and kittens.

I feel like I’m not saying this very well at all. I don’t expect all of me to come out on my blog. But I’ve been cultivating an image that isn’t whole. I’ve been afraid to post about my favorite songs, or to write about how the wrestling match between the man dressed in a giant mole costume and the guy in the jetpack that’s in the last season of Arrested Development is simply some of the best TV, ever. I’ve been afraid that all y’all would leave, that you’d wonder how this crazy girl who totally doesn’t fit got in in the first place. I’ve been afraid of not fitting, once again.

I’ve not fit in a lot of places. There’s so much of me that I wonder how I ever could. Sometimes, I wonder that about anybody–with all that we are, is there ever a place for us.

It’s not that I’ve never fit, mind you, but that the instances are few enough and far enough between that my stance toward the world is that I won’t, not that I will.

There are so many things I like: photography, growing, writing, painting, reading, spiritual formation, science fiction, doing spiritual direction, praying, singing, listening to a wide variety of music, learning languages, doing academic research, listening, coffee, tea, chocolate, integrating and helping people integrate, lavender, Gocco, travel, Greece, Scotland, new paper, new pens, fountain pens, growing things, babies, turtles, some dogs, cats I’m not allergic to (or who aren’t determined to torture me with the fact that I’m allergic), DaVinci, Alias, Battlestar Galactica, flowers, trees, memory foam, sewing, crocheting, the ocean, the mountains, silence, feather boas, musicals, loud concerts, and that’s just the beginning (and in no particular order). It all fits in me, but I’ve learned that it doesn’t all fit in many other corners of the world.

I guess what I’m saying to those of you I blog with is just what you know already: what you see here isn’t all of me. But I want to stop pretending that it is. If I read your words and don’t have something to say, I’m don’t want to feel pressure come up with something just because I’m there and I want you to like me. If I just want to be with you in it, I want to tell you that I’m there, not come up with something that borders on profound because I feel like I should. When I want to blog about random things, I want to do it and not be afraid.

I want these things, but I’m not sure how to go about it. I think this blog is a good place (at least as good as any) for me to practice bringing more of me, to stop hiding half my cards under the table and start pushing all in a little more often (I also like poker). I don’t think it will come easily. I learned to put parts of myself away for a reason, and convincing myself to let go, to just give it a try and see what happens, isn’t going to be easy. But if I can do it here, with y’all, I think I can do it other places, too.

I also want to honor the process, and the little girl who saw what she thought she needed to become and did a damn good job of becoming that. She was hiding, but she was also hurting, and she found her own way around the pain. If I just decide that I’m changing, here and now, I thrust her away again. Instead, I want to allow her to find healing and come out that way.

I feel really silly for being in this place, like it’s something I should have gotten over long ago. I’m ashamed, because the cues I pick up from the world around me say that I should be beyond this place. And there I go again. So I’m here, and I’m trying. And if you sense me being false, please let me know.

I wish I didn’t feel like I needed to add this caveat, but I do so I’m going to anyway. I’m afraid that you’re all going to feel bad for me, to feel like you should tell me that I have a place and a bloggy home here, that you want whatever comes out of this one little heart. And if you feel moved to do so, I’m not trying to stop you. But I want you to know I’m writing this because I want to tell you where I’m at, not so we can all have a “Poor Sarah” party and I can garner some sympathy (if we’re going to have a party, for goodness’ sakes, let’s have it for a better reason than that!). I do know the truth. I know that God made me good and that this is a safe group. Knowing, however, does not always mean KNOWING. It’s in there, bonking around someplace. And it will come out. But this is where I am today, and where I’ve been for the last few.

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