Monday, October 26, 2015

Lessons From a Sunday Drive

     The beauty of being a writer is that it provides a sense of control. I can choose what you want to say, and how I want to say it, and in most cases take my time making sure I say it the right way. In my last post, I was very honest about certain feelings I've been dealing with. The feelings I talked about haven't gone away, and my first instinct is to just choose another subject to talk about, and let the admission of those feelings be a single incident that is soon forgotten. But lately I've been hearing a lot about the value of being vulnerable, and I've decided to choose to do that instead of repressing my feelings and hoping they fix themselves.
     Yes, many aspects of my life aren't turning out how I wish they would right now. Yes, it's hard to be a slow learner and feel like I'll be in college for the rest of my life. It's even harder to be living in a place where people still remember who I was in high school, or even earlier, and assume that's still who I am now.
But even in a time where I will admit to being unsure of my purpose, and when I have to try very hard not to be permanently melancholy, I am still able to recognize many moments of happiness. My problem is that I don't know how to turn those moments into a constant attitude, and I'm trying to work on that. But yesterday, I got to spend the afternoon with someone who can always make me laugh just as easily as he can get on my nerves, and there was a moment where I became aware of my own pure joy, as I was laughing at his unconventional "dancing while driving" moves, and I was able truly believe in that moment that everything will be okay.
    I have lived for almost twenty one years, some happy and some sad, and even though I haven't always believed this would be true, the sad times have never been permanent. Knowing this, I have to choose to believe that my present circumstances are only temporary, and they will eventually lead me to times when it does not require so much effort to be happy.  Maybe, in a simplified way, that's what faith really is. It's believing that even though everything seems to be going wrong right now, everything on earth is temporary, including seasons of sadness. It's being able to mentally step outside of the present moment, and realize that just as there has been laughter in the past, there will be laughter in the future, even though we don't know when exactly we will discover it again. And even a person who has lost two jobs before the age of twenty one and who has barely managed to match the mathematical skills of the average third grader, yes even this immeasurably flawed individual, is able to laugh about something silly, driving at sunset on a Sunday afternoon.


Monday, October 19, 2015

A Different Kind Of Important.

A few months ago, I made a post called "This is Important", about how I felt a sense of purpose working as a camp counselor. I don't have that job anymore, and when it was over, a big chunk of my sense of purpose went with it. Really, I tried to find purpose in many things before that job even started, it just happened to be one of my more successful attempts because I was actually doing something that had true value. I know that my ultimate purpose should be found in serving God, and I'm working on that. But working with children made me feel needed, like I was essential to something bigger than myself. In a way, I think it was my method of serving God, and I miss it very much.
     Right now, there are no children for me to help with homework every afternoon, no orphans I'm called to travel hundreds of miles to hug. Friends I assumed I would be close to forever moved away and lost touch, or stopped needing my listening ear when their own circumstances improved. I had to learn the hard way that sometimes when people don't need you anymore, they overlook the fact that you might need them.
     I am not essential to anything that is happening around me. Being around children so much, I got used to being needed. As exhausting as it was, I didn't realize how much satisfaction I got from that experience until it was over. I knew that a summer job was not going to lead to a permanent sense of purpose in my life, and I have to accept that my time at that job was just a season that has passed. Another season has begun, and I'm not sure yet exactly what kind of weather this season will bring.
     I can only guess that maybe this season of my life is not about being needed, but about admitting my own needs. Maybe while I'm trying to figure out my place in the world, I'm being given a chance to lean on the wisdom and friendship of others and learn how to be the one who needs, instead of the one who is needed. It's impossible to know when this season will end, or in what way. However lengthy or brief it turns out to be, I hope I can learn to appreciate every season of life, because like the seasons of the year, each one is beautiful in it's own way.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Flimsy First Impressions

     When I was living away from home, I made a friend who was blind, and it was one of my favorite moments ever. Becoming her friend allowed me to experience something I had always longed for, because she could not see the way I walked, and the only things she could base her opinion of me on were the things I said during our conversation.
     I thought of her this week when I was reminded by an awkward experience that meeting new people is something I'm not good at. I never seem to know the right thing to say, and I either ramble out of nervousness or just don't say much at all. Maybe this innate sense of awkwardness is a result of being so introverted, but it would be naive to not acknowledge that there is a noticeable difference between me and most of the world, and people will naturally include that difference in their first impression of me. If I happen to be sitting down when I'm introduced to someone, I always think about how I have a limited amount of time to show them my personality before they see me walking and wonder what exactly it is that makes me different. It's always been frustrating to me that something I have no control over is such a big part of how people perceive me, but it does cause me to think about the way I perceive others
     It's frustrating to me that in most cases, we choose to define each other by our differences instead of our similarities. I know from working with children that we don't start out that way, because I know that although children do ask questions about my differences, as soon as they hear the answer they move on to the next thing, which is often trying to discover things we have in common. It is usually adults who pick apart and debate differences like disabilities, race, and who's great grandfather did what, and I've never seen anything positive come out of this nitpicking.
     Since I don't like to be judged for things I can't control, I need to intentionally notice how I am judging others. I probably have a lot in common with people I have overlooked for petty reasons, and I need to remember that first impressions don't have to be permanent. It's never too late to change your mind, and you might find that you can make all kinds of new friends, if you look for the quality that can be found in all sorts of people, a good heart.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Does This Count as Annoying?

     As a young Christian living in America during the 21st century, I have a shameful confession. I think K-Love pledge drives are annoying. Now that I've gotten your attention with that rude admission, let me defend myself. I understand that they are a non-profit radio station and they get lots of their funding through donations, and I'm fine with that. The truth is, I'm spoiled and I just want to hear music instead of someone giving the same speech over and over again every three minutes. But as much as I get annoyed by them, I know they must be working, because the radio station is still running and they keep having them. They have to self-promote in order to exist, and I think there's a lesson I can learn from that.
     I really enjoy writing, and I truthfully think I know how to do it well.. If I didn't, I don't think I would put it on the internet for anyone to read. There are many areas of my life that I'm not confident in, but my writing has never been one of them. Among so many other things that I have to work really hard at, writing has consistently been something that comes naturally to me. My problem is, I have a hard time expressing that I
would like for my writing to be read, maybe on a larger scale than it currently is. I don't want to be annoying, but as I've learned from those pledge drives, and from growing up with a big brother who used to shoot me with his Nerf guns and who once put a snowball down the back of my neck, (and who I love very much), is that being annoying gets people's attention.
     I do want you to read my blog. You, your co-workers, your out of town cousins, your dog, the Pope...

I think writing is the talent God has given me, and after months of people telling me so, I think it's time for me to be more intentional and assertive about using it. So, in an effort to act on that, I'm going to try to start promoting a little bit more so that more people can at least know that this blog exists. The first thing I'm going to do is make a separate Facebook page for the blog. I'm still going to put the links on my profile, but this should give people who aren't my Facebook friends a better chance of seeing the blog. The thing is, this only works if those of you who already know about it share it with your other friends. So, I'm fighting against my own shyness and fear of being annoying to ask you to please do that. Thank you for allowing me to feel comfortable enough to be a little louder about what I'm good at, and I hope you'll be the first to let me know if I ever forget to stay humble.