teach me it doesn’t matter, what they say or think or don’t think about me. teach me it doesn’t. I struggle to believe it. teach me it doesn’t matter who considers me friend, who considers me foe. teach me to love you more! please teach me, my heart not to wander, it is prone to sway other ways. teach me you’re better! teach me. teach me it doesn’t matter what I look like, teach me it doesn’t matter what’s devalued, teach me to place my worth in you or else my worth will crumble and change and cry tears perpetually I’m that weak. teach me you love weakness and smallness and that you’ve turned the world upside down, that I don’t need one thing or another, that I’ve gained your approval, your trust, your spirit, your crown. a crown of thorns! teach me to love that. teach me surrender. teach me sweet surrender. teach me to bleed and to bless those who bruise me. teach me I can’t take care of myself but that you promised you always will. teach me the truth! I can’t find it in the hashtags and the mottos and life sayings of yesterday or today. teach me your wisdom, the one that won’t fade! yes, it sounds foolish, and looks foolish-er still, what with you on a tree, being spat at and scorned, singing softly that you love the least of these. but teach me what it means to be less. teach me not to trample on others for my own gain, even if it feels so good! teach me to love others before myself. teach me not to save face. teach me to be a fool, teach me radical love, tenderness, compassion– teach me how to die so that I might live.
why do I delight in myself apart from You?
vain as delighting in dust.
give me an undivided heart, O God. teach me Your ways, or else I’ll die.
and just when I thought humility was one thing, you change my mind, make me grateful to be washing dishes after every meal, grateful for things I grumbled about before.
I almost laugh.
always newer meaning with you. always depth with you. you’re not impressed by the things others are impressed by. always something more with you.
“If the world was blind, how many people would you impress?”
- went hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire
- took a biology course (albeit for non-majors)
- learned how to film + edit, and created two 5-min films
- shared about my faith with a professor
- auditioned for/joined an a capella group
- tried beignets at the Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans (among other things)
- painted two homes
- initiated more conversations, smiled at more strangers
- rode on the metro at NYC (also lost $10 after swiping multiple times)
- read Infinite Jest (well, most of it)
- lived with two different roommates
- visited Chinatown in Boston
- shared my writing with close friends, which I find harder than sharing with strangers
- biked in the rain until I was soaked to the bone, and wrote a poem about it
- visited a friend I hadn’t seen since high school
- went to a football game at our #1 rival college
- said goodbye to college graduates, hello to first-years, cried/laughed/prayed with new and old friends (firsts and lasts because I and they will never be who we were in that moment at that time, for better or for worse)
Beginning this year I’d yearned to live into the freedom I believed God had promised for me (Galatians 5:1, John 8:32, 36). Going into college I’d had to confront a multitude of insecurities and fears I hadn’t even realized had bound me. I internalized everything, felt paralyzed, and beat myself up over seemingly insignificant scars that ran dangerously deep.
Praying and pleading, I made small promises to do that which I didn’t feel ready to do. To put words and feelings into actions. To take small steps of faith. And even as I wince to admit it, these go entirely against my timid, unsure self.
2017 began with a trip to the White Mountains in NH, a trip I embarked on never having climbed an icy hill, let alone a mountain, a trip I took up with eight older, more experienced strangers. More than the foreboding email that described a 4500 ft elevation gain over 9 miles of hiking and “temperatures below -20 F and wind over 60 mph common at the summits,” I feared meeting new people (read: insecure). Unfortunate, yes, but true. Still, in the confines of a dusty room, close to one year ago, I signed up to go.
It was breathtaking.
Hard, too, as expected. I clobbered into multiple peers, slipped, sweat, and probably passed some gas… and I didn’t make it to the summit. But a year later, I’m still so thankful for the experience. It was a specific moment I chose to do rather than dream, and though I’d do a whole lot more dreaming for the rest of the year, I also felt encouraged to get more uncomfortable, more often.
And despite (perhaps because of) much discomfort, darkness, and dryness, 2017 has been an answer to prayer. I experienced more freedom and fullness of joy than ever before and fought to be more myself, more who God created me to be, in various contexts, in various spaces. I got to visit new cities, meet new people, taste new foods, cry new tears, gain new skills, and ask lots (lots!) of new questions. I am so thankful.
Even writing this now, I’m in awe of the ways in which God moves mountains and teaches me to climb them.
Needless to say (maybe), I still have many insecurities, many fears, and many ways in which to grow. Being home for the holidays is a reminder of that. I’m humbled by my own inability to love my own blood brothers and sisters, my irritability and impatience, my inclination to disobey. My flesh is wretched and I writhe in it. And it’s easier to self-condemn than it is to look to Jesus, to ask for forgiveness and help, even knowing that is what he readily and most lovingly gives. This is why I need him. Today as I sat and reflected, he reminded me again that whenever my heart condemns me, he is greater than my heart, and he knows everything (1 John 3:20). The truth really does set me free. Free from the cages I construct for myself, free from a performance/perfectionist mentality. Free from sin and the shame that follows it. Free from myself.
I remember certain quotes from Infinite Jest, and one comes to mind now: “life’s endless war against the self you cannot live without.”
This life is a war, but I know who has already won it. In 2018 I wish to lose myself and find myself in Him. It is He who has created me, who knows me better than I know myself, who has written out my life for me and loved me when no one else did, when I was alone in that dusty room, making promises I felt afraid to keep. When I, riddled with guilt and self-hatred, and hatred about my self-hatred, fell at Jesus’ feet, he knelt beside me and washed my feet, knowing full well I should be the one washing his, if even considered worthy to untie the straps of his sandals.
So aside from sharing new experiences and looking forward to a new year, I know one thing that will remain the same–the newness of God’s mercies for me every morning. With that in mind, I entrust 2018 to the lover of my soul, unready for the coming mountain highs and valley lows, but also again promising to do things I’m a little not ready to do. “I think that is how you grow.”
is it really impossible to tell another all that I am thinking/feeling/wishing for?
yes, you’re right. we move from one silence to another. they taste different.
also I’m an idealist. my Myers-Briggs personality test results say so.
weren’t we created for greater intimacy? or am I erring.
yes, you’re right, it’s impossible.
impossible, the un-mailed letters;
they’re all written in my head.
written 9/27/2017, shortly after beginning my sophomore year in college
you have made my heart glad where it used to be sorrowful. you have put new songs in my soul, songs that sing of your unending goodness to me. who am I that I should enjoy the movement of pine trees framed against the white sky? that I should enjoy a bike ride, or words written about the sensation of crying, that one’s vision was “diamonded“? who am I that you should care about my sickness, my humor, the hairs on my head? that I should see the gnats shining briefly, illuminated by the afternoon sun, or enjoy the diversity of friendship, even get so close to another being as to be hurt, to feel the tender warmth of hands placed on shoulders during prayer? oh who am I?
Even now in gratitude you’ve baffled me. That I would’ve known myself apart from jealousy or insecurity–oh, what have you done? So peacefully you’ve led me here, along straight paths. I thank you, O Lord, with a song from my heart, the song you yourself wrote–a song of victory as you gave it all for me.
Thank you, Jesus. Keep making me distraught over people who don’t know you. I’m hurting because you hurt, O creator of good, you looked upon the unmarred and loved us. We marred it. You made a way to see past the brokenness, the bruises, the beating-up-of-ourselves in the long night…now you hurt alongside us and care deeply, deepest, oh the depths of your love unsearchable.
You’ve made me myself. I thank you. I need you. Every breath I take–may it be a prayer unto you. And when you look at me, Father, I pray you see weakness. When you look at me, Father, I pray you see a need for you. And when you do see, come quickly. Hasten to help me. Do what you want to in me, around me, through me…make yourself undeniable in my life and let your work result in greater praise and glory given to you. Now I know not how prayer works or why some people (like myself) are meeting in pre-prayer meetings, talking about, breathing you, while others know not that they are headed towards the grave–intellectualism, humanism, self-delusion, sexism, racism… Lord, I don’t know your ways, only that your ways are good.
Make me less. Lord, I give eloquence of speech to you, friendliness to you, health and comfort to you–if anything makes me “me” apart from Jesus, refine me and make me a better vessel. Bring more people to you. They need you. Thank you for revealing the truth to me, for saving me when I was in darkness. You are my favorite, the only lover who can love so well. I need you. I need you. Thank you Jesus.
It’s strange to reread my ramblings and scary to post them online. To be fair, I keep this blog (?) relatively anonymous because I’m afraid I’ll censor myself more, the more people know who’s writing. (Why?) I wish to share my writing, whether free-flow and journal-y like this or refined and research-y, with others more in the coming year. I think writing is itself an act of connection, even if only to a future or past self, as in this case…
The truth is, I don’t feel so deliriously joyful as I did on Sept 27th right now. I feel farther from it, and I struggle. But by chance (haha) I went looking through my writings from this past year, and felt encouraged, felt a longing for the deep intimacy I’d enjoyed with Christ and the fullness, the freedom, I’d consequently experienced. Jesus is faithful and real and good even when I’m the exact opposite of all those things. I think it’s important to reflect on reflections, and I wish to grow the courage to share more of myself to those who think they know a lot about me already. To share more of myself in various states.