Saturday, September 27, 2014

The C Song

     When I was younger, I took piano lessons. I remember the first lesson I had because it wasn't exactly what I expected. I had always loved watching my mom play the piano at home, and I wanted to play like her right away. As you all probably know, and I soon figured out, piano lessons don't start out with very
impressive tunes. No, the first week I learned what could easily be called the most annoying song ever, the C song. One note, middle C, hit repeatedly. That's it. It didn't seem very exciting at the time, but I eventually came to understand that you need to know where middle C is to know where all the other notes are so that you can play real songs. I did eventually improve, and to this day I can play the first few chords of Pomp and Circumstance from memory, which would be very helpful in the case of an unplanned graduation. So basically never, but there you go. I stopped taking those lessons after a few years because I felt that the teacher wasn't really my style and it was becoming more work than fun. I sometimes wish I had kept going with it, but maybe that's something I'll pursue again in the future. Either way, I feel like my experience with the C song is a metaphor for the impatience I still have today.
    Patience is not my strongest virtue, and I often get frustrated when things don't happen right away. I get so caught up in the end result that I completely overlook the process, wanting to skip right over the "C songs" of life and go straight to the recital worthy tunes. But I am learning that as much as it is in my nature to get bored and frustrated if great things don't happen right away, a lot of the lessons I have learned in life have been in the process of waiting for those great things. I have to remind myself that if I had it my way and was allowed to skip right to the fun stuff, I would miss the things God is trying to teach me along the way, and I would not be prepared to do the right thing in the end. I guess it's good that I'm not in charge, because I'd probably be sitting at a piano to this day trying to play Pomp and Circumstance without finding middle C. 
A picture of young Jennie with the piano in the background, so it seemed appropriate. Such a serious looking child!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

What If

When I started a blog, I really had no idea that I would talk about my faith so much. I just wanted to write about what I felt like writing about on a regular basis, and that's what was on my mind most of the times I sat down to write. I think the main reason my faith comes up so much in my writing is because I constantly question it. I am envious of people who seem very strong in their faith and don't feel the need to question things often, because my very personality seems to be one of constant questioning. I had a teacher when I was younger who refused to answer questions that began with "What if", and if I remember correctly, I don't think I asked questions in that class very often. Questioning things and wondering about all of the possibilities and "what if's" is part of who I am, and I think that's part of what makes me a good writer (if I can call myself that for a brief second.)
I say all of that because I'm trying to lead up to what I've been questioning and over thinking lately; the accessibility of God. I know that God gives people free will to believe or not to, but I always wonder why he doesn't make Himself known in a more physical way so that everyone would believe in Him more easily. For instance, if God really wants us to believe in Him, why doesn't he come down here and visit us every now and then? It sounds silly, but wouldn't it be nice to sit down and have a conversation over lunch with Him? Or even just call him up or text him when we don't understand something? Call me juvenile, but I feel like that would make things so much easier.
     I can't say that I've completely figured out the answer to this one yet, in fact I know I haven't, but I do have some ideas. Maybe if God were more physically present, my faith wouldn't really mean that much. It's pretty easy to believe in something that's right in front of you, after all. But having to rely on prayer to talk to God, and faith because I can't actually see him, that's a little harder. Because I can't just pick up the phone and call God, the moments when I really feel a connection with him are something I often have to make an effort to achieve, and they're very significant. I'm a long way from fully understanding God, but I'm starting to realize that it's silly to try to completely define him by the earthly standards that my mind can grasp. I have to rely on my constantly wavering faith and remember that this life is a process, and only the beginning of what God has in store. I don't know all of the answers, and there's got to be a good reason for that.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Everything is Okay.

I wanted to start off with an apology. In my post a few days ago called "Allowing Imperfection" I said some things that should have gone unsaid. I was stressed over school and knowing there was a doctor's appointment in my future, and the best way I know how to deal with stress is through writing. Unfortunately my stress resulted in me saying some things that weren't very nice. I want you all to know that I appreciate the fact that you take the time to read this, and you're not intruding on my life by doing so. It's my choice to write, and I am thankful that it is your choice to read. You're not being nosy, you're just being supportive and I appreciate that. Also, it means so much to me when people compliment my writing, and if you find it wise or insightful then I really appreciate that, and I love reading your comments and hearing your take on my posts, it is probably my favorite part of blogging. The truth is, I'm just not very good at taking compliments, and I should work on that. So, I hope you will accept my apology, and that I haven't offended anyone permanently.
Now, let's get to the main point. I wanted to document this moment because right now, at this very second, everything is okay. That's a very rare thing, and I often don't take time to appreciate moments like this. Right now, my doctor is happy with my progress since my surgery and doesn't need to see me again soon, I have plans with friends later this week, and there are no major problems to worry about. This doesn't mean that I don't have little worries on my mind, or that I have completely accepted that the trip I missed this summer is something I will never get back. But right now, at this very second, I am happy, and I want to remember this moment.
In a few minutes I will go to my long night class, and judging from my past experience in that class, there is about a 99% chance that I will get annoyed at some point during those two to three hours (the time varies depending on the professors mood). Yes, very soon this moment of contentedness will probably be broken, but I wanted to remember it. I am learning very slowly that nobody is promised anything outside of this very second, and that nobody except God can completely control what happens next. I don't know what the future holds, and I'm still in the process of letting go of the past, but right here, in this very moment called now, everything is okay.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Sun's In My Eyes!

     Tonight after recklessly having a second cupcake at our campus ministry meeting (Why am I publicly admitting that?), I decided to remedy some of the damage by taking a bike ride around campus. This campus is pretty small (a little over a half a mile from the dorms to the very farthest point where there is still a sidewalk to ride on), so I had to make several loops to accomplish my goal distance for the night. Not very far into my ride, I realized that I had forgotten to bring my sunglasses, and I knew that was going to be a pain since the sun was starting to set. When I'm at home, my mom always reminds me to wear my sunglasses on
My first view of the sun, a painful light in my eyes
my bike rides, so I had to laugh at my failure to remember this simple thing on my own despite my perception of being an independent young adult. Sure enough, when I reached the end of the sidewalk and turned around, I was met with a blaring light in my eyes. For a few seconds, it was very unpleasant. I could hardly see where I was going and was having to squint and strain my eyes to stay focused. I was already heading
towards a grumpy mood because it's just been one of those days where nothing really goes how I want it to, and I was inwardly scolding myself for forgetting such a simple thing that would have avoided so much discomfort. But as I kept going, the sun slowly got lower in my line of vision, and a very beautiful sunset was eventually revealed.
     I think this situation is an example of what sometimes happens with circumstances in my life. It's hard to go through things that hurt us, especially when we can't understand in the moment what good could possibly ever come from a particularly painful time. I have struggled with this a lot lately, but my observation on my bike ride tonight reminded me of a lesson I've had to learn before. It often seems like you don't see the good in a situation until you are not in it anymore and your life is moving forward. When you get over the hill, the blaring light turns into a view that is really very nice to look at.
My second view, much easier to look at and enjoy.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Allowing Imperfection

     Well. I'm less than a month into the semester and already feeling stressed. The harsh truth has been realized once again ; college is hard. Tests and quizzes are starting to appear on the horizon, and the permanent weight they carry has settled it's looming presence into the back of my mind. The gravity of college has sunk in yet again. There's no second chance after this, you either succeed and get the career you want, or you don't and you have to figure something else out. Maybe that's slightly over-dramatic, but that's basically how I feel. Anyway, I know that this is a make or break time for me, and I just want to take it seriously and not miss this opportunity to accomplish my goals. So, the reason I'm saying all of this is that I have something to tell you.
     No, I'm not stopping the blog, I'm having too much fun to do that. I'm simply deciding not to let this hobby that I've created be detrimental to my education. For this reason, I am going to free myself from the guilt of not keeping up my every other day schedule. As much as I would love for this blog to be a viral sensation, that's simply not what it is and I need to put things of higher importance first. I sincerely hope that I will still have readers, but if I don't I have to be okay with it. Another reason I've decided to cut back is one I can't figure out how to express in a completely polite way, so please forgive me.
      I am 19 years old and enjoying the independence of being a college student, and I simply don't want to feel like half the population of my hometown is looking over my shoulder at every moment. Let's just say when I started this blog a while back and told my parents about it, they already knew, which shows me how little privacy I actually have when I share my thoughts openly. I am not mad that they knew, because
obviously it is something I want to share with them, I just didn't need anyone's help with the sharing. I am just shocked how quickly word gets around and that reminds me how little privacy I have. I am happy to share my insight with you, but I am just a confused young adult and this blog is how I express my feelings and work through the things that plague my overactive mind. It is not a complete representation of my entire life, just a little glimpse into some of my thoughts. In other words, there is more to me than just this blog. There are many thoughts that I do not share, because at my age it's good to have some privacy. I'm so very happy that you enjoy reading it and I hope that you will continue to read it. I just can't handle both the pressure of college and the pressure I put on myself to prove to all of the people that read this that God has some great big plan for me . Some people seem to be under the impression that this is "wise spiritual insight" , and although I really wish it were, I think it would be better described as angst and confusion. After all, I am a 19 year old college student, not a biblical prophet.
     All of this rambling doesn't really mean a whole lot for you as a reader. I've already been off of my every other day schedule for a while, and no one has complained. I'm simply allowing myself to be free from the pressure of trying to prove anything, and I think that will only make my writing better. I will return to writing freely about what I feel and think when I have the time, and try to accept that it will be imperfect. If you happen to gain some insight from it then that will make me happier than you know.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

What's the Plan?

This time last year, I had fairly recently returned from Honduras, and had been attending youth group as the oldest member right up until I left for school. My faith was very strong, and I was very confident about it. I entered the campus ministry group excited to meet new people with similar beliefs and get to learn with them and from them. Campus ministry is starting up again soon, and this time around it's completely different. My faith is pretty vulnerable right now, and it will be harder to come into the group that way. I often wonder why I care so much about this whole mission trip fiasco and why it has affected my faith so much. It was just a 10 day event in my life that can probably be repeated in the future. So why does the pain of not going keep popping up whenever I think I'm finally over it? Why has it become such a barrier between me and the faith I used to have? I have been thinking a lot about that, and here's what I've concluded.
  I have been basing my faith on what God let me do, not what He does for me. I'm taking comparative religion this semester (basically because I needed a credit and that was the class that would get it) and If there's one thing I've learned so far it's that Christianity is far less complicated than some of the other world religions. We don't have to perform specific tasks before we die, or remember all sorts of rituals to keep God happy. All we have to do is believe. The reason I bring this up is because I have just now realized that it never really was my faith that grew stronger, it was just my confidence in my own worth. I was using the mission trip as a "step up" in being a better Christian, and that's not how it works in God's eyes. You see, according to what I have been taught and believe, good deeds alone won't get you into heaven. A person who has gone on hundreds of mission trips and a person who serves God from home will go to the same heaven as long as they believe.
      When God allowed me to go on a mission trip, I felt useful and important, and that made me more willing to trust him. But as soon as that opportunity was taken away, I realized how fragile my faith really is. It's harder to trust God when he says "No", and I'm not so great at it just yet. But slowly, very slowly, I am learning how to have faith that isn't based on actions. I am having to remind myself that there is only one way to get to heaven, and it's not to go on a certain amount of mission trips or attend a certain number of youth group or campus ministry meetings. As much as I want to return to Honduras because it is such a profound experience for me, I have to accept that maybe that's not God's plan. It hurts me to type those words, but they're true. I don't know what the future holds, but I'm slowly learning that I just have to trust. I know what my destination is in the end, and it's up to God to direct the journey.