When a Friend is Trapped

Dear Readers,
Consider your life.

I can’t use enough words to say how important our lives are. You are more than a job. You are more than your latest or last relationship.

 

I had a shaking experience with a friend. We recently meet up, though we live in different towns, and have for years. I know his life isn’t what I’d hope for him, and despite my husband & I offering him a place to live at anytime…he remains where he’s been.

“What makes you happy?” I asked. “Not entertained, but happy…joyful.”  My question was met with silence. If possible black silence. My heart cracked. I understood the non-answer.
“You don’t do anything that makes you happy anymore, do you?” I asked, and humbly he confirmed.

He went on to tell my husband and I that he doesn’t think about “these things”. Simple questions that are deep. What difference do you want to make? What makes you happy/joyful? If money wasn’t an issue, what would you want to do or be?

My husband and I explore this questions all the time, so that we can assess the steps we take in life.  Money isn’t the goal, it’s the necessity on the way to goal. We try not to offer too much of our thoughts, ambitions, and life to such a minut factor. It’s not everything.

 

Don’t be trapped.

When I moved out of parents and into the shaky land of adulthood,  one of my first purchases for my new apartment was two huge maps. One of my country, one of the world. I hung them on my wall, and I’ve looked at them frequently thought the years. I still look and I still think the world I know is small. There is so much more beyond me yet.

If I’m happy with my small world, that okay. If I’m unhappy I remember that I could choose change at anytime. Get up, move, learn, experience, move again. No problem.

Money maybe a factor, but only one. Determination is another factor. Friends and influences could be another factor. Don’t let this things pigeonhole you. It could always change. You have choices. You have options.
In our meeting up, my friend brought his newest girlfriend. They seemed to speak of their city as the representation of our state. (A pathetic representation that would be too.) I’ve been around most of the state, intentionally learning and experiencing different things, so that I could legitimately know that state. We all make broad sweeping statements, but I’d just like to be able to back mine up if possible. It’s a wonderful state. I love a lot about it; despise a little about it, and I have learn to adore many of its quirks.

When I mentioned that perhaps they don’t leave their own city much (which I’ve seen to be true with many people) the girlfriend tried to say they don’t have much money for that.  Money has never stopped our friend before. He’d been an adventurer. Finding rides with friends, and friends of friends. Exploring whatever places he got a opportunity for. Maybe it wasn’t much, and yet …it was.

A while after talking with her, I realized she probably imaged traveling as a vacation. Hotels, eating out, spending money on attractions. We haven’t often done that.

 

GO and BE.
I believe every city has its own personality. And I suppose small towns do as well. A region can definitely have a particular culture to it. It’s amazing to see the stunning differences with crossing of a boarder, whether geographically mapped or not. You don’t have to spend tourist-y money to learn this.  Being there, driving through, walking around, sleeping, eating, talking with people, watching people …all of these normal day to day things reveal the full experience.

Often my husband and I camp when it’s warm enough. It’s cheap and it tells a lot about region. Some place have been amazingly beautiful and calming, others were rough and more unwelcoming as a whole.

 

Ironically, at the end of the day, this isn’t about traveling or visiting places. It’s about living life, knowing there’s more out there when you need an “out there” to adventure into. Sometimes we live our lives in such a small space that we miss our whole lives.

Survival mood can only work for so long, before it stops feeling like life. Before hopes stops flowing in. I don’t want to see that happen. Sometimes, I have to watch it happen. I can’t force anyone to get help, to try something different, to adventure beyond the unhappy state that they’ve known for so long.  Sometimes I can only proclaim that “other” exist.

 

We continue to pray.  We continue to hope, while we have hope. We continue to remind people the think, seek, pray, progress.  Sometimes the unpaved road leads to home.

Loneliness: Struggles of Isolation

Loneliness doesn’t mean I’m alone; it means I’m isolated. I can be hanging out with people, or sitting right next to my own husband, and I can still feel deeply alone. For me, I can grin and bear it most days of attack. But not all days. And not everyone can.

The ironic thing about loneliness or isolation is there will always be those people who say “oh I’m here! you can talk to me anytime” …Anytime? How about the last time we hung out and we never talked about real life? How about last weekend when I had nothing going on, and I dwelt quietly in my own silence. “Anytime” seems like a pretty flexible word when it’s only heroically attached.

Besides…

Loneliness isn’t defeated by distractions.
To engage in friendship long term is something I feel utterly inadequate to speak about, and yet…these are they who we depend on. If someone wants to help defeat loneliness in another’s life, they must also help defeat boredom, incessant questions, empty chatter, and yes, isolation itself.
We must be a people who act like…well…people.

The last thing I want to do is create a formula to nullify loneliness. That would be the epitome of recreating the problem. Formulated relationships are isolating. Maybe that’s why it has little effect when someone says “I’m here for you” but then never is “here” so to speak. Or they’re around and yet still very distant.

Nothing kills like the silence of my closest friend. Nothing nullifies my worth, like my husband dealing with something on his own. Just when I thought we were a team. I’m locked out.  I’m on my own, waiting, alone. Isolated.
Marriage isn’t the key to escaping loneliness, and this is a myth that I long to dispel for those who sink headlong into this new arena. Loneliness doesn’t mean a marriage isn’t working; it means you’re human…very human.

I have a big family that I love, but sometimes there’s nothing lonelier than being in the midst of that group. When there’s an argument on, and I’ve taken a firm stance on the minority side of things… whew! It’s pretty lonely out on that branch. It’s isolating. And they’ll wait me out. …so they think. Instead…there becomes a rift.
They’ve forgotten all about the argument…or most of it… and I still feel the burn of scorn in my inner being. Oh God! What’s more isolating then pretending nothing hurts? Few things are. I won’t lie. I know a few things are worse.

I grew up playing a part. Being known as a title instead of having a name. That’s what happens when you have a parent working in public service. …That’s also what happens when you have a charming charismatic brother who all the girls think is hot. From one title to the next, I was pretty use to the shadows.

So something happened when I got out on my own. A freedom that I wasn’t use to. Some people saw me, and I wasn’t use to being seen or noticed. I wrote it off …for the most part. Yet it was fun too. And then… I got married, which was awesome! But it didn’t take anytime at all before I sunk back into a shadow. My man…the theologian, the musician, the science man, the darling religious dictionary.
And I…I grew up to be the distasteful hard-nosed confident woman who shares her opinion…her unwanted opinion… without even realizing that it was an opinion or unwanted. Here I thought I was making jokes, making friends, and stating the obvious.

I can be such a fool.

Loneliness doesn’t require a lack of people or contact with people. It only requires isolation. Sometimes it’s people and dear friend which are exactly they who bring it.
I’m sure I’ve been a villain as much as a victim. I am not careful. I am only sincere.

Instead of being or finding a cure, I try to learn to walk -long walks- in isolation without it fully killing me. What’s a little more death? I make it through. I live. I’m strong. …and people hate my strength. Around another corner will be another thoughtful person waiting to take me down… down into isolation. My fire swamp. I’ve lived there quite happily for sometime now. Why should I care what becomes of me?

One. Two. Three. Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat. Repeat.

And yet… like many other human beings… I would theoretically like to be known, be seen, be remembered affectionately. Yet if my choice is self-inflicted isolation of the shadows or isolation of the strong being attacked for their strength. I hardly know which one to choose. I switch between the two like my life is a game of hot potato.

The hardest part is finding the strength to know others suffer this too.
Or so I assume. When you’re isolated it’s hard to tell.
I want be strong enough to say I suffer, not for sympathies sake, but because I fear someone else might think they are alone in their isolation, or that their loneliness is consuming and who can see them now?
It is hard to see from here, but sometimes I can still here a voice calling to me. Or I can still here my heart begging me to get up, one more time. Maybe if I feel this…maybe someone else does as well. Maybe I still have a voice that can be heard, that can help.

One. Two. Three. Breathe…

Easter on Emmus Road

Easter this year reminds me of Emmus Road. 

“Did not our hearts burn within us?” 

That moment that you see Jesus as that man who has been walking with you in your midst of time or sorrow and broken hopes, wondering what happens next? No matter how convincing any speech maybe, nothing is true substitute for he revelation of Christ Jesus. There’s nothing that cures heartbreak and disappointed hopes like recognizing Jesus, as the friend or stranger who’s been willing to walk and talk with you. As a living entity. As a possibly. Nothing replaces Jesus. 

We live perpetual seeking the experiences where “our hearts burn within us” but sometimes… Sometimes we still miss Jesus. It’s scary. 

If we let the one who we’ve been speaking with, the one who has been burning our hearts up, if we let him pass…we may miss Jesus. We may never sit, rest, and realize who we’ve been with all along. And if we miss him, we miss all the promises. We stay broken hearted. We never look up. We have nothing to share. Nothing to be excited about. The road never truly goes anywhere. 

Emmus Road is tough. Even as our hearts burn within us, they still ache. It’s hard to hope again. Could it be?  

But nothing reveals like the everyday inmate Jesus.  If we invite him to stop and stay with us. It’s faith to invites others into your circumstance on days where you don’t make good company, but perhaps it’s necessary. 

Can we hope one more, one more time?

searching for a step

That age old question of “what do you want to be when you grow?”  doesn’t always fade or resolve with a few decades under your belt. Strangely, it can re-emerge instead of disappearing.  Especially as one grows in awareness of need, even simple needs, outside one’s usual hemisphere.

Some days I feel like comfort is hard to choose the steadiness of comfort, despite the persistence encouragement for us to choose it. Despite our parents who “just want what’s best for us”. Despite my knowledge many things, and my utter lack of knowledge in other matters.

I find myself thinking about nameless, faceless people who don’t have the freedom and enjoyment I have in life. I think about people who have given up dreaming, and many without even realizing it. I think about what I believe in, and how I believe it could make a change. Those people could see they have options. This world could be different.

But do I believe that I actually have an ability to changes things is this old world with who I am and what I know? The ability to change lives? I am a simpleton. I’m good at many things, and great at nothing. I care, but I am not utterly void of self-preservation.  I don’t want to be the one who’s always been broken down, ignored, or surviving. But if I keep my life to myself, am I doing anything but surviving?

I enjoy people. …sometimes. Other times people are mean.  I intend to make friends, but I’m so much better at un-impressing people. My husband is the one with the soft warm side, which people prefer to interact with. It’s ok. I’m use to be the second string, tagalong. My whole life prepared me for that. But How can this be helpful to the world that’s in need?
If I were somebody would I be more helpful to a hurting world?

It’s insanity to assume that world will change once someone who is fully qualified emerges to preform a rescue! I mean… unless we’re talking about waiting for Jesus to come back. In which case we’re all merely living pointless existences. But that can’t be the case!
There is purpose, and that’s the point. People need opportunity to realize they have a good purpose in the earth at this time, which includes them specifically living here & now. But how do I help anyone with that?

There’s so much to learn in the world, and there’s so much to be done. I can’t wrap my head around the smallness which we get tangled into.

I want to help. I have ideas. But I don’t know how to help. Is this the perpetual cycle of life, youth, and ambition?

How does one take a step, when the people around you tell you the world is flat and you’ll fall of the edge? Moreover, how do you not take that step? How do you ignore that curiosity?  How does anyone keep themselves in the smallness of a tried-tested-and-true world? …Especially when the world isn’t working out to be all that it’s promised to be.

I know there’s a purpose to this life. I know there’s a reason I think like this. I just can’t seem to find my next step. But I know I’m not the only one.

Kissing: A Christian Parents Nightmare

My niece has told me about these parents who are idealistically strict with their teenage children’s romantic interest. As my niece tells me a few of the details I think, Oh no…the Joshua Harris movement…Is that still a thing?

Apparently these parents have made some unspoken but guessable mistakes earlier in their life and in their pursuit of romance, sex, and other things good Christians don’t talk about. There’s an obvious amount of shame still present there, or else I don’t think they’d be so strict with their kids. Especially since this strictness isn’t something they understand in experiential or self-disciplinary, one might guess from their overcompensating ways.

I want kids to have their innocents for as long as possible, afterall you can’t get it back once it’s gone. I agree to that. However I can’t agree that this approach of choosing how your children choose is really the way to bring up healthy teenage kids in today’s society. What happens when they leave home and get to do whatever the hell they want? umm.. hell happens, I’m guessing.

These parents mystify me. I feel sure I understand where they’re coming from and yet I still don’t agree with the conclusion they make. If these parents had made past mistakes which they regretted and they now strictly believe in a sort of holiness living, then what happened to “She loves much because she’s forgiven much”?

Why does shame seem to be the dominate factor? Why are the children paying for the sins of the fathers? Why don’t they trust that they’ve raised their children better and more comprehensively than their parents were able to do for them?
Why is love and romance about dominance in the Christian world? 

I don’t know anything about parenting. I only know about being a kid and being an adult. I also have the privilege to know about choosing for myself.

As a teenager I had some good adults around who gave good advice and reasonable tips. I had good brothers who reasonable friends who told me more than I wanted to know… but for the most part it was good advice. I had questions and I people I could ask. There was a conversation that was available to me.
Yeah… so my parents weren’t those people either, you know, the ones you can talk to as a teenager about relationships, love, and what happens after holding hands.  But I did have people to talk to. I read Christian books (much to my dissatisfaction), I looked in the Bible, I asked myself questions, I questioned what it was all worth. …and in the end you know what made a difference?

I had this one camp counselor who said this crazy but interesting thing when it was just the girls sitting around talking. She said something like, If the first time I ever got kiss was at my wedding I’d be like ‘Woah do it again!’. We all laughed at her description and she giggled too, but the fact was she was already engaged. She had already been kissed. But I hadn’t. …and I wondered…. how close to true was that statement.

Was kissing something that’s incredible regardless of time or age?
It seemed to me there was this big rush or push to date, to kiss, to make out, to “do the deed”, then …then what?
I wondered if these things were all something to get pass like a mile-marker, then what’s the point? What’s all the talk about?
But if they’re something in themselves, and they don’t lose value over time then that… that sounded interesting to me.

I’m a rare person who got to choose my own sexual fate, and I got to do that as an adult. I know not everyone gets to choose what happens to them in regards to sexual experiences. There at things that are stolen, there are things that are coerced, there are deceptions and lying-promises that are made and broken, and because of that, not everybody gets to choose for themselves.

So there’s an accomplishment here. If these previously mentioned parents have been able to keep their kids safe this far, and to teach them truth about what’s valuable, and how to be considerate others and not use people to get to your mile makers, then as someone who was formerly a kid, I have to say trust your kids! Let them choose.

IF you raised your kids right, then they should be able to continue in right on their own. And that trust you place in your kids might just go a long way into building a relationship between you and them.
If you think you raised your kids right, but just in case you think it’s better to “protect them from trouble” then, truth is they’ll find a way to get into trouble anyhow.

Teach your kids trust, not dominance.
Teach your kids how to make good choice so that they can become better people. Keeping them ignorant to choices will only work for limited amount of time, then it won’t work at all. Help your kids to make better choice than you made, but don’t force them to pay for your regrets.

Eventually your kids are going to taste freedom, eventually your kids will do something stupid, eventually your kids will be adults. For now, teach them from love and not from fear. Let them choose, let them grow up, and teach them to do that in healthy way.

Christians vs Romantics vs God

I did it. I shouldn’t have, but I did. I read another blog about “happy marriage”. No I didn’t read it for ideas, I read it to see how much I would disagree with it. 23 out of 85 I couldn’t agree with the idea or wording. 23 out of 85 statements I couldn’t let slip by without cringing.

When did idealism become so … mediocre?
Maybe some people are scared of idealism, so instead we shot for probability-ism.

Like for instance the phrase “nice guy” when your single these are the words that taste like arsenic.  “Nice guy” is the most general thing you could say about someone and still believe you’ve said something polite about that. It means nothing.

Now in the “married people world”  I’ve found this phrase “good man”. Wow. Really? Nice guys get married and become good men? Great.
We have a problem.

Example: Nice guys are faithful to their woman. So is a good man. So are many abusive men.
Nice guys tell their girlfriends ‘I love you’. A good man tells his wife ‘I love you’. So do many abusive relationship men.
I do not find these things to be crux of a healthy loving relationship.

Do people who worry about “a good marriage” not really know what an unhealthy relationship is? Or the similarities and role playing that can occur in an unhealthy relationship?  Maybe they’re just worried about personal unhappiness?
I am stupefied at the ignorance and the seemingly shut-up-and-take-it Christian attitude I see about relationships. Where does this come from?
Do they truly know what are signs of good or healthy relationship?

This have against the modern view of Christianity: mediocrity.

Thousands, maybe millions of church buildings, preachers, authors, speakers are teaching millions of people how to be a good Christian.
This is problem number one.

Being a good Christian is lie.

God calls for his people to be righteous. Righteous people affect the spirituality and history of the age they live in, merely by being that which God created them to be.

I was caught off guard this last time I read the book of Ruth.
I read about Boaz doing what was right according the laws and statures of Israel, and realized I’m reading about a righteous man.  Which made me think about the story of Joseph and Mary and baby Jesus, and how the Bible calls that particular Joseph a righteous man.
The proof of Joseph was a righteous man was that he was going to quietly separate from his fiance without embarrassing her publicly.  This is a little different than the standard of his time. This is a little different than the standard of our time. Yet this is something God loved about Joseph.

I’ve also notice how many “happy marriage” Christian blogs are against chick flicks and fictional stories of the such. It’s like people blame chick flicks for their unhappiness in relationships. Are these the same people that blame Barbie for their self-image problems?
People, there’s a difference between fiction and reality.
There is also similarities between fiction and reality.

Now some chick flicks are just stupid. I will give you that.
However, many of them stir something within us. Sentiment. Hope. Connection.  …So why are so many blogs, authors, and preachers against this stirring within us as women? What’s so scary about woman who yearn for something beyond the average “good man”?  What’s so scary about a woman who wants to be continual cherished? What’s so terrible about a woman who is waken to the possibility of the rollacoaster of love and the hope for the happy ending?

Who’s got time for that?  …Is that the scary part?
What if someone else is better at it? …Is that the scary part?
Or what am I missing?

God calls men and women to live beyond their standard roles within the era they live in. Instead there another calling for them to answer to, a calling from God. These people were God’s people. God’s righteous. The saints.
Dare I repeat myself?

Who’s got time for that?  …Is that the scary part?
What if someone else is better at it? …Is that the scary part?
Or what am I missing? Don’t you want to know what it’s like? That story that’s worth being the one that is written down. That story that’s worth repeating for ages. Is this too much to ask? Is this the fantasy that mess up the mediocre average.

I’m not a fan of the mediocre average.
I’m a fan of life, of beauty, of God, and true Love stories.

Maybe the secret of a “good marriage” is paying attention the story your living, and the make it one for the ages. Maybe the secret is knowing your story and not attempting to make it into some other story, one that doesn’t exist, one that’s average.

Maybe it’s not about trying to be or copy someone or something else, but by being who God’s created you to be, and by loving your mate and who God’s created them to be. The love story is right there. It’s still unfolding, and it’s beautiful.

Choices, conflict, perseverance, mistakes, connection …it’s got all the makings of a great love story! Unless we decide the best way to have a happy marriage to fill out the medium mediocre, and in that case we are no longer living our love story.

I don’t want to live for a happy marriage according to the assumptions of many of what a “happy marriage” is. I don’t want to keep a checklist for myself and my husband. I don’t want to rely on cliches for life-saving, marriage-saving advice.
I want to love the man I have. I want live the life we have. Take the adventures that we’re given. Grow. Learn. Not be afraid of changes, of goals, or of discussion.

Marriage, Life, Love … they are unique. Not average.
There is a calling beyond the standard of the age/era we live in, and that’s not asking too much. That call is fulfilling. There is more than average, there is more than happy. There is a beauty in the story you’re living. Do that. Live it.

Roots

My husband and I were on some of the local trails, out to catch a few sunrise pictures, when we came across this large been-here-before-you-were-born tree. I love big old trees, but this one had me even more taken. It was intrusive. 

Well technically the tree was out of the way of the paved easy-going path, but the roots did not hide themselves under the asphalt which was laid on top of them. Instead they continued to grow, expand, perseve, feed, and be known …the most natural thing for roots to do. However I could only imagine that they must’ve been considered intrusive, hazardous, and ugly for those who wanted a nice smooth path of walking, biking, and pushing strollers. 

There’s a problem when we trade the beauty and functionality of the natural for the luxury and easement of the synthetic. 

Roots are amazing.  They are the testimony of strength. No massive sized plant is worth much without health roots. This has not been the focus of modern indstruidal farming and lumber harvesting. Too often the industrial and corporate like a top-heavy product and do not care about the long term effects.  Roots care. 

Roots preserve. Someone had posted a picture of their backyard getting washed out during a flood. The erosion was swift, massive, and it bared the roots of their big old backyard tree. Yet that tree stood like the defender of the backyard with its root system in place and holding firm all that was enlaced into its roots.

  In farming and gardening as well, roots play a huge part and what the health of the plant and the over all garden or field will be. Roots feed nutrition not only to their plant, but it’s also believe they pull up nutrition into the soil around them, feeding the other plants and micro-organism as well.

Roots are the first thing that must grow on a seedling in order for the seedling to have any chance of success at all.  Personal I’ve seen many different plants that can be cut down or pulled out, but if there is still a root system in the ground this plants will revive themselves. Roots are life-giving.

I am intrigued by roots. But this isn’t just about botany and biology, it’s about our life. It’s about our beliefs. It’s about knowing where you came from and who your roots are.

In Christianty there is the potential to tap into some deep, deep, ancient roots. There is also the potential to be part of the system of growing roots. The foundational people of the faith. There is the potential to go down and bring up much needed trace nutrients which can stop disease, deficiencies, and erosion. 

If roots are this important why do they get no praise? If foundational people are this helpful why are they considered so backwards? 

Roots are often hidden underground, doing work that goes unseen and often unconsidered. They may not seem as majestic as branches who colorfully sway with the seasons. Roots that do appear are often considered bumpy, hazardous, invasive, ugly, gnarled.

 Often this necessary elements of a healthy field or forest are taken forgranted. Often these preserving vessels are only seen for their lack of smooth synthtic surface. They’re easy to get tripped upon for one who is not paying attention or is in a rush. Their exposed state maybe considered gnarly in comparison to leafy branches. Their strength and preservation maybe ignored. Yet roots continue to do their work, appreciated or not. We benefit from them whether we know it or not. Out of sight, out of mind does not effect the validity of the roots and foundational anchors.

There is a wisdom, if you will, that roots and foundational people of the faith live by that may seem contrary to the wisdom of those who dwell among the luxurious, synthtic, quick and comfortable, top-heavy systems. People may spend thousands of dollars to get rid of those bumps, but the same roots that can crack asphalt, can also sustain the earth and soil next to the river and keep it from washing out season after season as it gives life, hope, and sustainability.

I live an unsightly life. Nobody wants to be this. But I do. 

I am not afraid of the deep places. I’m not afraid of never seeing the light again. I’m not afraid of the floods.  I am not afraid of being walked on. I am not afraid of erosion. I am strong enough to know I can help only by being me. 

While some find me in the way, others find me to be a solid step upon a steep hill, a guardian in the midst of  a flood threatened landscape, a mysterious matter with unusual trace elements. I cannot be contained to a potted area. I need room to stretch, to expand, to grow. I’ll drill through strongholds to find something even deeper than what is known. I blaze my own path, which is never far from my core. I am connected, and my expanse does not demolish my connection, my feed, my response, my feeling. 

 I am only part of something bigger, but I love what I do. What I do is simply be who I am. It’s inglorious, but it’s beautiful in its own way.