Complacency

I feel bored and overwhelmed at the same time.  I forget sometimes that I moved across the country and established a life here all on my own.  I think I forget this because I’m not satisfied and I miss home.

I had a dream the other night that I was trying to get my old job back in Mammoth.  I dreamed that I moved Bobby out there and we were trying to figure out a way to afford a big enough place for his studio.  But that was just a dream.  I have no plans to move back to Mammoth, and in all reality, I would probably feel almost as complacent there.  The only difference is that I would have a community that I some how took for granted when I lived there.

I’m looking for a new job.  Most people know this, but I guess it’s time to make it public.  I’ve been depressed where I’m at for some time now and I haven’t found a satisfactory way to make myself happier there.  I haven’t gotten any bites anywhere else yet though.  I feel so confused as to where my path is right now, but if I look back to my past, things have always worked out the way their supposed to.  So I have to believe that things will work out again.

I’m trying to get myself used to school again.  It’s hard and not hard at the same time.  I just haven’t retrained myself to set aside time in the right way.  I feel like I used to have far more time on my hands.  Where do all the hours go?
And I have to do this group project with no information, so that’s not stressing me out at all.

I decided to go back to therapy.  I’ve had exactly one session.  But how can I be a licensed therapist if I can’t even take care of myself?

I’m doing my best.  And my best probably looks pretty good to a lot of people.  But it feels like it’s not enough a lot of the time.  But I guess that’s what depression is.

Hello my old friend.

Me Too

You know when you’re certain something isn’t going to happen, because every time it could have happened; every time you thought it might happen; every time your heart made peace with it happening it didn’t happen?
But then at the time when you least expect it, when you’re thousands of miles away with not much money and only a frustrating phone call to go on, it happens?
Me too.

You know when you spend months planning, in innocence, half-heartedly fighting something; giving up and moving on, then accidentally giving in?
Every time you turn away and say no more something within you rebels and you know you’ll give in again, most nights?
Me too.

You know when you make conscious decisions to change your being for the better, making an effort to leave it all behind you?
But then something is destroyed and you discover that you brought it all with you anyway?
Me too.

You know when the crowd is constantly standing in ovation, while your heart, though elated, is still sunk in grief, and no one understands because you hide it well, so you find yourself sitting in a sea of standing bodies?
Me too.

But, you know when all you know has been uprooted, when you find yourself wallowing, when you feel more numb than you’ve ever been?
But you are loved anyway?  You are accepted anyway?  You are forgiven anyway?
Me too.

Blogging Everyday in July|Connections, Choices, and Everything in Between

Something I think about a lot, and that I was definitely thinking about yesterday, is how everything is connected, and how if one choice was made differently, than not only would my life be changed, but so would the lives of so many other people.  One of the biggest things that makes me think this is when I get snapchats from one of my friends that I’ve known since I was in high school, who is now very close with my best friend, who I met in college.  She posted one the other day that had friend that I knew in elementary/middle school, and have seen from time to time since then.  And my college bestie was in the snap too.  My mind was suddenly blown at that random connection.

My parents first moved to Bishop in order to go to Church on the Mountain in Crowley Lake, CA.  They attended that church until my brother was small, because it was quite a drive from their house.  They started attending the foursquare church in Bishop, which is the church that I grew up in.  The pastors of that church were an influence in my life from birth.  They both attended Life Pacific College when Pacific was still Bible and the location was still Echo Park, CA.  So I grew up hearing about this school.  And because we attended this church, I attended Old Oak Ranch, a camp I grew up in love with.  Because of loving camp, my first job out of high school was at that camp, which has led me to work at 2 more camps.  That camp also always had reps from Life Pacific, so that was another influence on my college, besides God telling me to go, which happened at a convention that I went to with the youth group from the church I grew up in.  But I only went to the convention because one of my friends who also attended the camp, but was from a different city, was also going to be there and I wanted to see him.

Anyway, I often think about what it would have meant if I had waited to go to college, or if I had chosen a different college, because I often wish I had my degree in English, or literature, or creative writing.  However, although I have always been a writer, I didn’t realize that that was what I wanted to do with my life until I was already in college.  And I may have never figured it out, had I not attended Life Pacific.  Also, it is because of my friend, Aaron, and his Yarning in the Round parties that I realized my love for story, especially other people’s stories.  That was where I realized how much hearing other people’s stories can build community.  If I had chosen a different school, I never would have met Aaron.

Another person who I never would have met, or who would have never met me, is my best friend Michelle, had I never attended Life.  If I had chosen a different school, I never would have met my best friend.
If I had moved to Portland when I graduated from college, I probably never would have moved to Mammoth.  Had I never moved home to Mammoth, Michelle would never have been compelled to visit me, thus, she would have never moved to Mammoth and found her happiness and home there.
Also, if I hadn’t moved to Mammoth or started working at The Station, I never would have done the School of Supernatural Ministry, which would have meant that I never would have seen a blind woman healed in Costa Rica, nor would I have met Ray Hughes, so I never would have gone to Ireland.  If I hadn’t gone to Ireland, I never would have moved to Alabama, and I probably wouldn’t be writing this right now.

If I had chosen to move to Alabama right when I got back from Ireland, I never would have made a lot of choices that I made leading up to my move.  But my brother probably wouldn’t have gotten his first house as quickly as he did.  However, if I had stayed longer, my brother wouldn’t be constantly looking for a roommate, and I probably wouldn’t have moved into a 2 bedroom apartment because there probably would have been a one bedroom available somewhere.

If I hadn’t started working for the resort, I wouldn’t have the confidence that I can find a job no matter where I move, because there are hotels everywhere.  But if I hadn’t worked for the resort, I wouldn’t be convinced that I like working in hospitality, which I have learned that in the South, I don’t, because I am not Southern, and Southern Hospitality is a whole different game.  However, if I hadn’t gotten the job at the hotel, I wouldn’t have known about another opportunity for a very fun job, which I interviewed for, and am really hoping that I get.
I also never would have met two of my favorite people in Alabama outside of my Ireland pals, had I taken a job somewhere else.

I could go on and on about connections and choices.  Because they blow my mind a lot.  If even one thing in my life had been different, I fully believe that nearly everything in my life would be different.  And maybe that’s a conversation for another day.  So I’m both miserable and happy.  I am thankful for my choices because of their connections.  And I’m disappointed, because choices sometimes bring hardship.  But life is a journey, and it’s a learning experience.  It’s nice to see how far I’ve come.  And it’s nice to reflect on the lessons I’ve learned.  There’s no point in dwelling on how things could have been different, because really, do I want them to be different, or do I just like to have something to complain about?

In My Doubting Midst

I gave my heart to Jesus when I was five years old.  I even have a rock that says so at my parents’ house.  Is this something that I remember?  Not really.  Are there tons of other people who probably had the same rock and have since tossed it out?  Probably.  Are these people still considering themselves Christians?  Maybe, maybe not.  But that’s not the point, is it?  I just wonder, was I brainwashed?

I’ve only known a Christian life, even when I haven’t wanted to.  I went to church with my family every week, and it was normal.  I went to a Christian school for eight years.  I read the Bible in class.  I sang songs about Jesus with my classmates.  I was warned of the dangers of having non-believing friends.  So I never even had a choice not to believe.  

The small town I grew up in didn’t have a Christian high school, and there were so many other things happening in my family, that I had no choice but to go to a public high school.  The thing is, I was excited.  I never talked about my faith or my upbringing at school, because growing up it was something that had just always been known.  Everyone had always known I was a Christian, because they were all Christians too.  We had all made commitments to stay “pure” until marriage, and to not drink, and to never smoke.  There was never really any discussion.  So going to a public high school where very few people knew me was a chance for me to entirely reinvent myself.  

However, there were some other factors.  Right before I started high school, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and had to leave town for treatments quite frequently.  I also was experiencing my first conscious episode of depression.  It never occurred to me to wonder where God was in any of it, though.  

I started cutting myself, but I still prayed.  I dated guys, but I didn’t have sex with them.  If I liked someone, I would bargain with God.  I would tell him that I would stop cutting myself if just this next guy would ask me to be his girlfriend.  And after that happened, I would start again, because I couldn’t stop.  

By the time I reached my sophomore year of high school, I had isolated myself from my Christian family, too afraid to tell them that I might have doubts.  I started hanging out with two friends that had no desire to have anything to do with God, one of which was homosexual.  My mother really frowned upon it, but it was okay.  I told my friends that it would be less scary to tell my parents that I was pregnant than it would be to tell them that I didn’t want to be a Christian.  Neither of which really seemed like a possibility anyway.  I wasn’t pregnant, and I didn’t know how to not be a Christian.

I had taken God out of the equation entirely.  My faith had become about church, and family, and shame.  

But then I had the opportunity to go to LA with my church’s youth group to go to a conference for New Year’s Eve.  My parents, with no idea of my doubts, were all for me going.  So I went.  And I experienced my first real encounter with God.  During one of the services, while I was dwelling in my own darkness, one of the speakers called me out.  Not by name, but by heart.  He said exactly what was on my mind.  He spoke of being unlovable, of being broken, of wanting to die.  Which was everything that I let define me.  At that moment, everything inside of me came pouring out.  God spoke to me.  I gave him my life, for real.  He told me where to go to college, and from that day forward, I made plans.  

I thought I was healed.  I thought that I was only dealing with depression because I was trying to walk away from God.  It wasn’t long before I found that I was entirely wrong.  But instead of being honest about my depression, I hid it, because if you’re a Christian, you must be happy.  Although all evidence spoke otherwise, I for some reason believed that following God meant that there were no more problems in your life.  This meant that I was doing something wrong if I was still experiencing crippling depression.

I ended up graduating high school and going to Bible college, heading toward a theological degree, and thinking I’d maybe be a youth pastor.  Except I had social anxiety that was only getting worse, and the idea of leading any kind of group was terrifying.  It took me more than a year to realize that I had maybe made the wrong career choice.  

I suddenly fell in love with writing, but knew that God had called me to be where I was at.  And then I broke completely.  Everything within me screamed at me to end my life.  I had no reason to feel depressed and empty, but I was.  I experienced small highs, and devastating lows.  I wanted to transfer schools and get a degree in creative writing, but even more, I wanted to end my life entirely.  

I had a good group of friends who begged me to get help, and when I wouldn’t do it on my own, walked with me as I did what I needed to do to get healthy.  I was finally diagnosed with manic depression.  I went home for Christmas break and decided to end my life.  Instead, I failed.  

I couldn’t understand where God was in this.  I couldn’t understand why God would make me with a mind that didn’t function correctly.  I wanted to know his plan.  And I wondered if he had no plan at all.  I wondered if he was cruel.  But after a few months of meds and counseling, I stopped wondering this.  I was better.  I was okay with the way I was made.  

A few months later, I stopped taking meds all together.  Probably a mistake at the time, but I had made it through.  I spent another year and a half without having any major episodes.  I didn’t want to end my life.  I wrote a lot of poetry and music.  And I accepted myself for who I am, because it made me a better writer.  However, that wasn’t good enough.

Towards the end of my senior year of college, I started dating a guy who wasn’t a Christian.  And then my grandmother died.  And then he stopped talking to me.  And I went on a drive up a mountain, wondering if I should drive off of it.  I sat, with my feet hanging off the edge, and I contemplated.

I contemplated the pros and cons of continuing on.  I contemplated leaving my faith behind.  I contemplated what my life would have been like if I had gone to a different school, if I had pursued something else, if I had lived somewhere else.  Because I couldn’t come to terms with a God who would allow me to go through life unable to have rational emotions.  I couldn’t grasp why he hadn’t healed me.  I could see no good in this, I could see no plan.  But I decided to drive home anyway.  I yelled at God.  I told him how angry I was.  He had to know that I didn’t want to follow him anymore.  Even though I was about to graduate with my degree in theology and ministry.

For the most part, I kept my doubts to myself.  I blogged about them some, but to the majority, I was a good Christian girl.  I had decided I was going to move to Portland and live with strangers and get a crappy job and write and drink.  But instead, my mom went out of remission, and I felt God calling me home, even though I was angry.  Even though I wasn’t sure I wanted to follow him.  Even though I was broken.  

But that was more than a year ago.  And I spent the last year learning to hear God again.  I stopped dwelling on the theological implications of my doubts and my beliefs, and I just listened.  

A couple months ago, I found myself at a jungle church in Costa Rica with my Finnish roommate and a team of missionaries who barely spoke Spanish.  God pointed out an elderly woman to me and told me he was going to heal her.  So my roommate and I started praying for her back, because that was where she had said there was pain.  A minute or so later, she looked up at the light and started crying.  With my limited Spanish, I could only deduce that she could see.  She could see the light.  She could see the light!  But wait, we were praying for her back.  And that was healed too.  

So yeah, sometimes I doubt.  But maybe I don’t need to anymore.  Because I saw God do exactly what he said he would, without knowing or understanding his plan.  He healed the blind in the Bible.  And he healed the blind right in front of me.  So in my doubting midst, there is hope.  That day, that woman saw the light.  That day, I saw the light too.

Performance

Performing.  It’s something we all do.  It’s something we hate.  It’s something we love.  It’s something that comes subconsciously, naturally, into everything.  But why?  Most of us don’t even realize it or acknowledge it.

I read a blog by a friend, if I can even call him that, that talks about this performance culture that so many of us are surrounded by.  Here’s a link, he’s better than I am anyway: https://adamamanse.wordpress.com/2015/03/23/seeking-originality-and-finding-yourself/.  See, performance.

We compare ourselves to everyone, in one way or the other.  I’m short.  I’m not thin.  I don’t look like the girls who all the guys talk about.  I’m a writer.  I write poetry and music, but I share more poetry than music, because that’s something I thought I was the best at.  I couldn’t handle when I found out I knew spoken word artists that might be more talented than I am.  I rarely played music for people I didn’t know because my voice isn’t amazing, I don’t sound like the musicians that people want to listen to.  I didn’t try out for plays or play sports anymore when I got to college.  Why?  Because I was embarrassed.  I didn’t want people to laugh at me if I wasn’t good enough.  I didn’t want people talking about me.  Performance.

I had a new friend say that I hide myself.  She asked me why.  People in Mammoth don’t realize that I’m a musician.  They don’t all know that I write a blog.  They don’t care.  I never really thought anyone cared.  People are surprised when they find out that I started leading worship when I was fourteen.  They’re surprised that it’s something that I’ve done before.  People are surprised when I do spoken word anywhere.  I get embarrassed when someone calls me out about it, so they assume I don’t like it, that I’m afraid, but that’s not true at all.
I am in love with performing spoken word.  I am not in love with performing to prove something.  I don’t have to be better.  Maybe I am better.  Literally, no one cares, do they?  Not in the real world.  Performance.

I wonder if this is maybe one of the reasons the I ended up back in Mammoth.  I don’t have to perform here.  I can be whoever I want for a while.  If someone hears that I play guitar or piano or write music, they’re not expecting me to be amazing, or not amazing, or anything.  They’re just interested that I do anything at all.  A guy I used to work with for some reason believes I’m the best.  But I know that he didn’t go to college where there were so many musicians, and I never felt good enough.
Maybe I came home so I can believe that I’m good again.  When I inspired other people in college to start writing poetry and doing spoken word, they got offended when a friend of mine said I was the best poet he knew.  But that was my whole life then.  It’s what I thought I would end up doing.  And maybe it still is.  Being a poet in that kind of culture made me feel like I was always in competition.
But life is not a competition!  No one cares!  Stop performing!  Get it together, people!
I am good at what I do.  And other people are good at what they do.  If you want to write, then just write.  If you want to perform, then just perform.  Stop focusing on everyone else.
Maybe I came home so that I can get away from performing for a while.  The culture here is still a performance culture, I just don’t do any of the things that people are competing against each other for.  I’m not a great snowboarder, and I know that, and that’s not my life.  I don’t go to bars to find guys.  I don’t feel like I have to be the best.  I don’t have to perform.

I think the next step might be learning to love what I can do.  I don’t need to be so concerned with what everyone else thinks.  Because although they care, they really don’t care.  And maybe I needed that for a while.  Performance.

Bearing News

Do you want to hear a love story?  

I went to a wedding on Saturday.  It was my very first college roommate’s wedding.  I love her with a large portion of my heart, and her love story is one of the best.

When Jenny was in first grade, she met a boy named Shannon.  He was her first crush.  She spent most of her life having a crush on Shannon, but never took it further than that.  
Shannon knew Jenny all through school, but never super well.  In their senior year of high school, the two of them started to build an actual friendship.  Shannon was afraid at first to take their friendship any further, because he knew that if he dated Jenny, he’d never date anyone else; he knew that Jenny was a girl you marry.
The summer before they both started college in separate states, Jenny and Shannon came up with the idea to go on a practice date, because Shannon had not dated in high school and wanted to be prepared for college.  Their practice date quickly became a real date.  They were together for maybe a month, give or take, and Jenny went away to college in California, while Shannon stayed to do college in Oregon.  
I met Jenny on move-in day.  We both had new boyfriends that were long-distance.  However, my long-distance relationship only lasted until Easter, while Jenny’s was still going strong. 
They spent the summer together, and when they were apart they talked on the phone whenever they could.  They could not visit each other often, but they knew almost every detail of each other’s life.  
Jenny did a semester abroad her third year of college.  Now, not only were her and Shannon long-distance, they weren’t even in the same country, let alone the same timezone.  But they made it through.
Last Christmas, Shannon enlisted all of Jenny’s college friends in helping him come up with the perfect proposal.  He had us all meet her in special places at the college and read notes about how much we loved her and how much we would miss her, because she was finishing a semester early.  She had no idea that this was all leading up to Shannon’s note and proposal.  She thought it would still be a year before he was ready.  So her proposal was a complete surprise.  
I led Jenny down to a candlelit gazebo where Shannon stood with flowers and ring.  He got down on one knee and she said yes.  
They had spent more of their relationship apart than together, but they are better at communicating than any other couple I’ve heard of.  And on Saturday they said “I do” to a lifetime of never being apart again. 

 

But enough of that.  
There was a bear IN my house yesterday morning.  I wasn’t there because I was on my way back from Oregon, but I guess it ate the trash and all of my roommate’s groceries that were on the counter.  And he keeps coming back.  What if I get eaten?!

Lacking Creativity

Lacking creativity, I sit here at my keyboard, searching for the right words to put down.  It seems that there should be so much to say, and that I should have so much to reflect on, but I’d rather spin fiction than share the trivial thoughts that are on my mind.  Yet, I don’t write at all.  I have characters that need developing, but it’s almost as if I’ve fallen out of love with them.  However, I realize that maybe characters are like any other person, and that if we don’t spend time enough time with them, we forget what once was so powerfully drawing us toward them.  And I realize further that this is what God is like.  Until this week, it had been months since I had sat down and spent significant amounts of intentional time with Him.  And it’s still not enough.  I want to fall in love with Him again.  I want to fall in love.  That’s it.

See, most would expect me to mention that I graduated from college more than a week ago.  And as that was such a big moment in my life, I find it pales in comparison to what it would be if I had gotten my degree in something that I actually plan on using.  I want to be a writer, although I have been writing so much less than I should if I wish to actually call myself a writer.  Yet I digress.  If I had gotten my degree in journalism or literature or creative writing I would probably be freaking out and loudly announcing that I had surely walked across a stage and received a diploma for a degree that I was passionate about.

God’s funny like that, isn’t He?  As a fifteen year old girl I was certain that I had a heart for youth, assuming that meant being a youth pastor.  God audibly called me to attend Life Pacific College.  Soon after beginning my college career I realized that I don’t want to be in vocational ministry in any form at all, and soon after that I found my passion as a writer.  God told me to write, and I still haven’t finished anything to be proud of.  I tried to leave school, but I knew that LIFE was where I was meant to stay.  After four years of perseverance, I have finished and I have my Bachelors, and now I have even less certainty about my future than I did a year ago.  I know what I’m doing with my summer.  I know I plan to move to Portland in August.  But how easily can everything change?  So I still wonder why God called me to LPC at all?

I went to a wedding yesterday.  It was by far the best wedding I had ever attended.  I even regained the courage I had in high school, if only temporarily, and talked to a cute guy.  Yet I still don’t feel compelled to write so many words about it.  I often say that I don’t believe in soulmates, but I know that Erica and Robbie are truly meant for each other.  It makes me wonder if maybe some people do have soulmates.  It makes me wonder if I have a soulmate, if people will one day say, “they’re meant for each other,” about me and some man.

Does anyone have any creativity they’d like to send my way?  Do you have any extra motivation?