Do You Know What Breve is?

Sometimes I really wish I had made different decisions in my life.  I wish I had gone to a different school and made different career choices.  I wish I had been more rebellious, instead of stuck in a Christian bubble that made me think God was telling me to be a youth pastor, thus altering the whole course of my life.  Because I could have been anything.  I could have gone to school to get a real career.  I was smart enough.  I was almost a 4.0 student in high school and college.  But instead I went to Bible college.  And my degree is almost worthless, as far as living my dreams or having a fulfilling career go.  I realized real quick that I’m not meant to be in ministry, and that I would actually be miserable there.  I had heard wrong.  I wish I had gone somewhere to get my degree in English or creative writing or something, so I could have maybe been a teacher, so maybe I would have an impact on someone else’s life.  Or maybe that I would have gone immediately to school to study counseling or psychology, because those have also always been interesting to me.

And I know that if I had made different choices in my life, not only my life would have been affected.  I never would have met Michelle, and she never would have moved to Mammoth.  I never would have moved to Alabama and met the best boyfriend ever.  My friend Sarah probably would have never met her boyfriend.  There’s a lot of things.  So maybe I’m selfish, wishing things were different.

Today, a woman told me that I didn’t know what breve was (half and half).  She explained to me that it wasn’t milk, it was cream (even though it’s half whole milk, and half heavy cream, so technically it’s both).  She told me she wanted more breve in her drink, that was made out of breve.  You can’t add extra water to a full glass of water.  You can’t fill a cup above capacity.  I can’t add more humanity to my humanity.  It does not make more, it just fills up.  So she tried to imply that I was stupid.

I am an intelligent human.  I might be more intelligent than most of the people that I’m surrounded by.  But I didn’t do anything with that intelligence.  Instead, I work at Starbucks, with a wasted college degree, somewhere much too far from home.

I could have been anything.  Instead, every stranger automatically assumes I’m beneath them.

I miss home.  I miss my people, my church, my community, my family.  I wish things had been different.

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Unintelligence

I have a good job.  I really like my job.  I just got promoted at my job.  And it’s okay that I’m not doing the type of job that I thought I’d grow up to do.  Welcome to our economy.

The job market is fairly small.  And sometimes it seems that people have forgotten that.  A lot of people go to college, but most people don’t get jobs in their field after they graduate, and that’s not for lack of trying.

A month or so ago, I was having a conversation with someone I work with who also has a degree.  People come through all the time and act like we’re dumb because we work at Starbucks, even though Starbucks will actually give tuition reimbursement to their partners who are trying to get their bachelors if they go to ASU.  Starbucks cares about education, so why would someone assume that only stupid or uneducated people would work a job like that?  No, you don’t need a degree, but I never wanted to get a job in my field anyway.
But I digress.  I was talking with my coworker about working at Starbucks and about how college isn’t for everyone and having your degree doesn’t really make you any better than anyone else, because in this economy, it’s usually pretty hard to get a job in your field unless you’re either top tier or you have a lot of connections where there are openings.  It’s luck and who you know, not necessarily intelligence or capability.
An hour after our conversation a very loud man walked and announced that he had a question.  But he then went on to say that his question required intelligence, and that was pretty hard to find in Starbucks.  Both my coworker and I looked at him with obvious offense on our faces.  He began to laugh and told us to take a joke, then my supervisor came up front and he got to ask her his question.
During their conversation though, he told her she should go back to school, because she dropped out when she realized it wasn’t for her.  He was trying to force his worldview on her.  And she was annoyed.  We were all annoyed.

It’s fine to value education.  I’m currently planning on possibly going back and getting my masters degree next fall.  And that’s not because I think my current job is beneath me.  It’s not because I’m dying to do something else.  Even if I do get my masters and find a job in that field, I might still work a few days at Starbucks, because I enjoy it, and I like the benefits.

A degree does not necessarily mean a career.  And a lack of a degree does not equate stupidity.

It’s okay that I have a degree and am a barista.  Welcome to the real world.

Blogging Everyday in July|What Music Does

A few people have asked me to write about a few different aspects of music.  Why it’s important.  How it affects people.  How it changes things.  What it means.  I’ve even been bugged because I haven’t written it yet.  So here are some thoughts.  Apologies now if they’re not all together.

Open your computer.  Go to spotify (assuming that you have it) and pick a playlist that you made a couple years ago.  (This works with iTunes too).  Set it on shuffle and close your eyes.  Do you remember why you made it?  What do you feel?  I have a playlist on my spotify account simply called “Sad.”  I made it my junior year of college, and I remember listening to it on repeat.  I used to spend a lot of my life simply that, simply sad.  Music had a way of speaking into that part of me.
I have playlists that I made because the guy I was hanging out with at the time showed me all these bands.  Those playlists made me feel closer to whoever they were for.
I have playlists from road trips I took with my favorite person, my bestie, my soul sister.  Playlists filled with songs we would belt like ballads, songs that we would fake sob to, and songs that just made us laugh.  I’m a lyric person, she’s a beat person, so when we find the perfect combination, the song is gold.

Often times, people will say something that will remind me of a song lyric and I’ll just quote it, or start singing the song.  It makes me laugh.  It reminds me of a different time.  It gives me something to share.

There are songs that I could almost say have saved my life.  I think God speaks to me through music sometimes.  And he quite possibly uses my music to speak to people sometimes.

Sometimes there are no words to say.  But then a song says it.  Songs say what you can’t say on your own.  They have the depth, tone, and emotion that words on their own don’t.
I know I’ve talked about it before, but the song Jesus, Jesus by Noah Gundersen is one that I keep coming back to.  There’s an honesty there that is hard to find.

Jesus, Jesus, there are those who say they love you, but they have treated me so god damn mean.  And I know you said, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do,” but sometimes I think they do, and I think about you.  If all the heathens burn in hell, do all their children burn as well?  What about the Muslims and the gays and the unwed mothers?  What about me and all my friends; are we all sinners, if we sin?  Does it even matter in the end if we’re unhappy?

That’s not something that you can just say to most people.  Put it in a song?  It says it all.  Songs have soul.  You want to see a glimpse of someone’s soul?  Hope that they’re a musician.  I firmly believe that anyone can find a song, even if they don’t get to play it or sing it more than once, ever.

Imagine a life without music.  Without birds that sing.  Without love songs and breakup songs and songs about Jesus.  A lot less would be said.  A lot more broken people would be unheard.  Music makes us whole again.  Go find your song.

Risky Business

Almost two months ago I did something crazy and I packed up my life and moved across the country. At that time I didn’t know what was awaiting me here in Alabama.  A lot of people couldn’t understand why I would move to the south.  They said I was going backwards, usually people move west, not east.  They couldn’t picture me somewhere with no mountains or snow, where the weather is hot and humid, and most people speak with a drawl.  But I did it.  I followed my heart.  I followed a voice that had spoken to me a world away.

I keep telling myself not to wonder what I have done.  I left behind a great job.  I left behind friends and family and a place that my heart has beat for for so long.  I left behind horrifying relationships and mistakes, but mistakes can always be undone without the need to run.  I left behind comfort.  I wasn’t alone there, although I always could be if I wanted to be.  I left behind familiarity.  I left behind a community that I didn’t even know existed.  Most of the time I could pick up my phone and find someone to go out with me or do something.

I keep forgetting that this isn’t summer camp, or college, or high school.  Close friendships aren’t built overnight, or in a week.  So my loneliness kinda comes with the territory.  Of course I don’t have everything that I left behind.  Of course I spend 90% of my time away from work alone.  Yes, I could have stayed behind and wondered about Alabama.  But I would probably be even more miserable there.  This is my home now. And there is a community here, although I haven’t fully tapped into it yet.  I’ve been told that the first three months are the hardest anywhere.  Well, I’m halfway there.

If I could go back, I’m sure I would have made the same choice to move when I did.  I may even have made it sooner.  Sure, my job here doesn’t pay as well, and I have far less to do.  But the cost of living is lower.  And I have so much more space.  Plus, a job is a job.  I keep getting emails from other companies about my resume, so maybe I’ll move on up in the world.

I have never been so alone.  But I won’t let myself feel alone.  This is just an opportunity to watch my life unfold.  In a year, I’ll probably look back at this and laugh.  I’ve been looking back a lot lately.  Maybe it’s time to start looking forward.

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.

Community Living

Something I’ve been thinking about.  Living in community.  It’s something that people talk about a lot, they praise it, they say how great it is, but no one really knows what it is, apparently.

When I was in college, my senior year I lived in a quad that showed me the closest thing to living in community that I have experienced.  We had “quad time” every other week, and it was amazing.  We would play games, watch movies, go to dinner, worship, or just talk about our lives.  We got to know each other.  We prayed for each other.  We listened, and we knew each other.  If something was going on, we worked together to fix it.  We heard each other out.  We worried about each other and we cared about each other.  But we also had our space.
I remember when my grandmother died I went to the house of a guy I was dating, and one of my quad-mates kept texting me to make sure I was okay, and to make sure I was coming home.  She was there for me.

When I graduated from college, I was planning on moving to Portland.  A friend of mine hooked me up with a pastor friend of his who has a communal home and had an opening in August, when I was planning on moving up.  We spoke on the phone and he explained that they lived in community.  They weren’t okay with people just living in the house, they had to be a part of the house.  Food was shared unless specifically stated otherwise.  They ate meals together.
This scared me, having strangers be part of my life.  And it ended up falling through anyway, I didn’t even move to Portland.  But that was living in community.

I am aware of another living situation right now, that people keep saying is living in community.  However, some of the people who keep tossing that word around don’t even live in the house.  There are people in the house that are forgotten, who are not included, and who have no voice.  They  need their space, but it is never given.  They ask for silence, and it just gets louder.  They want to be left alone for a while, but are instead intruded upon.  And whenever they do speak up, they are beaten down and overruled.
How is that living in community?

A community is defined as people who live in the same area, with the same interests, working toward a common goal.
So this house’s goal must be to force people out.
Well, they’ve gotten their way.

Welcome home.

A Season of Endings

I think I may have found myself in a season of endings.  And I think I’ve been here a while.  School, friendships, relationships, jobs… should I go on?

It’s been a year since I graduated college.  College ended.  I moved on.  My first two post-college jobs have ended.  And nothing is what I thought it would be.

I have several friends that I’ve had since high school that I thought were really important, and that they wanted to be close to me, and I’ve since realized that that was not the case.  I cared a lot for them, and it’s possible that they did still care for me, but I don’t have the energy to always be the pursuer anymore, and so they ended.  I’ve moved on.
However, moving back to the area I grew up in has left me feeling a little more than lonely.  I’ve heard it’s because this town is one that individuals move to, and they’re all lonely, but they just take that as how life is, so they’ve accepted it. I don’t want to accept it. But I also don’t want to be chasing a bunch of friendships that aren’t going to last, that aren’t going to be meaningful.  And I don’t want to drink all the time.  Living in a resort town, either you go out all the time and get drunk, or you rarely go out at all.  I’m the latter.  And I’ve accepted it.
So I think my time here will be coming to an end soon.

It’s been four years since my last real relationship.  And that relationship was my longest.  And I didn’t leave that relationship with my heart broken, because I was the ender.  I’d always been the ender.  And I wanted to believe that that was still true, but it’s really not.   I spent the rest of my college years having no one wanting to date me at all, with the exception of a guy from my hometown who would pursue me for a month or so, break my heart, and after time went by we would go through it all again.  The last semester of my senior year of college I got set up with a guy who I ended up really liking.  And I thought he really liked me until he stood me up and disappeared from my life a month later.
I try so hard to guard my heart, and every time I let my guard down, it was the wrong decision.  Since I’ve moved to Mammoth, I’ve had my heart broken twice, but I’ve never hurt as bad as this last time.  And I’m thinking it’s because I didn’t see it coming.  He was actually a nice guy.  He made me believe that he would be here, that we were friends, that we were more than that, even though neither of us wanted to accept it.  Then he moved, so suddenly.  And he said he’d stay in touch, but apparently that was too much, and thus, it has ended.  It’s things like these that make me believe I’m not good enough.

When I was still planning on moving to Portland, the person who offered to rent me a room pulled the opportunity away from me before I could even run with it.  That relationship ended.
I’ve had people offer to help me record, or ask me to do some music for them, and then they’ve disappeared.  Relationships ended.
I had friends here that got hurt at me because I told them that I had been hurt in the past by something they had done, but that it wasn’t a big enough offense to make a big deal out of.  And then instead of them apologizing, they decided that I was the offender and that I was horrible and hurtful, and they moved on bad terms.  Relationship ended.

So am I so horrible and hurtful?  It seems that I have been severing ties left and right, whether it was my choice or not.  But I think I’d like this season of endings to end.  I want a season of beginnings.

I want to move somewhere where I belong.  I want to fall in love for real, for who I am, for who I want to be.  I want to be appreciated, and I want to be aware of it.  I want to write and to do what I love.  I want to believe that I can make it on my own.  I don’t want to be broken anymore.  I don’t want to get my heart broken anymore.  But I want to accept that it has been before.  I want to be the person who comes into town and people actually want to see, instead of making up excuses why they’re too busy.  I want to be free.

It’s time to begin again.