“If the world was blind, how many people would you impress?”
“If the world was blind, how many people would you impress?”
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.
I can’t take my mind off of you.
Neither can all of creation; we know it has been groaning until the present time. Pastures, plateaus, plains, they groan. Mountains, they mourn.
When will come the time of rejoicing? of singing together?
We’re waiting on you–
only make us steadfast.
Spirit help us in our weakness,
with groanings too deep for words. with groanings too deep for words.
I’m thankful especially during a time as this that I know Jesus. I know he cares for me even if all the world fails to care. Lately I’ve felt so burdened by those in my life who have been afflicted with many afflictions, and I feel weary. Inadequate to intercede for as long and as much as I want to. Spirit help me. Help me to believe my care, my trembling, is only a sliver of the heart you harbor towards them, that you have plans for us, plans unknowable and eternally glorious. Humble us, Lord, let us not take offense when your hand is heavy upon us. It is good that you remind us we are but men, but women, but children… sinners whose righteousnesses are as filthy rags before you. Help us be still.
And draw near, God. Draw near to the oppressed, the perplexed, the broken, the bitter, the burning. Be faithful to your namesake, though we have gone astray and made you to be someone you are not. Arise and make yourself known; make me to know what it means that your grace is sufficient, that your power is made perfect in our weakness. Let these be the living and active words you breathed them to be… Spirit help us.
Let us run after your promises, for they are the only things that will remain. Though the night grow dark and the light grow dim, help us to run after your promises. O make your word to be a lamp unto our feet so that we might not slip, but stand steadfast, too. Spirit help us. You are mighty. Willing. Able. Sovereign.
and you love us. O, you love us.
it snowed today last year.
You remember that and wrote my memory, too.
that makes me sing along the dry roads, sing
about being remembered and known by You,
known like a man knows his beloved.
after all that was said and done and sung,
there was a sorrow still unsatisfied, all those layers of sin and selfishness.
got to sit still, so still in your presence,
eyes closed now, silence
all the aching inside from an unmet love and self-absorbed feelings,
shame about desire and dangerous dialogue.
the red face of a boy I feared would never want me for lack of things I couldn’t help but lack, and the nervous hiding, afraid of getting caught.
the annoyance, stretched thin and taut, you just can’t sing! the screaming repeated
over and over inside my head,
the covering up with false smiles and blushing, the fussing with hair,
the stooped arms.
the fatigue, the fear of being myself,
the fear of being myself, fully.
everything laid at your feet tonight, a sinner unsatisfied apart from you. I wept in your lap and you loved me. in your lap and you loved me. I wept and you loved me, that’s all.