Monthly Archives: May 2013

Aside

It’s a Wednesday and I’m eating lunch at a Brazilian restaurant. The pastor at the table offers to pray over the meal and I whisper a grace to myself “It’s okay. Not a big deal.” The cynicism in my head is exhausted by this image of myself as a person who prays at restaurants. The part of me that wants to be past the thick of the cynicism is even more exhausted that I still fight these kinds of battles. I hear the words in my ear, kind of dimly. A prayer  thanking God for bringing us (the four of us friends) to Oklahoma City. I softly raise my own heart to God for just a moment “I’m not so sure about that part. Give me time, please”. It’s a sentiment that will be summed up by a friend who deals with my cynicism as “thanks?”. Thanks? for bringing me here? For starting me back at square one? That question mark contains a lot.

It contains the security alarm that rang for two hours yesterday while I let the repairman in an out of the house. It contains the way it feels when I can’t see my best friends every day. It contains the paralyzing knowledge that I will not be at Woodway this Sunday. But it also contains a new freedom, school that may hold my interest, a city with Brazilian restaurants, and a really delightful t-shirt reading “love thy neighborHOOD” (which might be my favorite piece of clothing of all time…except for my chacos)

I’ve done a shoddy job of being glad to be here. I’ve given lip service to God, telling Him I’m glad to be here while I compare every last detail hypercritically to the way things used to be. I tend to try to assign value by the crater something leaves. We were real friends if you try hard enough to keep in touch. The experience mattered if I hang a picture of it on my wall. The class mattered if I keep the textbook for future reference. Does it echo around in the hollow places in my heart? Do my thoughts catch when I think on it? There’s no way to value Oklahoma like that. The past here is separate from the present here. And this new adventure hasn’t had time to settle in or to leave a mark.

God doesn’t assign value like that. Like Propaganda puts it “But worth,value, and beauty is not determined by some innate quality, But by the length for which the owner would go to possess them…”A lot had to happen for me to possess these moments. They are valuable not because they are good in and of themselves. For one thing…God saw it fit to take me out of Waco and bring me here for this purpose. For these reasons. For the sake of the cable guy who is coming to my house tomorrow when everything inside of me would prefer to be in Waco with Kayla and Mesha. But I’m here instead. That’s value. Additionally…it cost God to get me here. No, my cynicism and crankiness are not shouting about why Oklahoma City should feel lucky to have me. Not at all, and if we’ve been in touch the last couple days you get that. I’m not valuable for those reasons. But the ransom for my crooked heart was the life of Christ. That’s what it cost to set me free. Jesus left heaven to redeem this tired creation. To whisper in my cynicism and hold me in my anger. Don’t hear me say that’s the only reason Jesus came to earth, but Him coming? That’s the only reason I’m here and still fighting to make something out of this.

“And broken and ugly things just like us are stamped “Excellent”
With ink  tapped in wells of divine veins” (that’s more Propaganda. Song’s called “Lofty” and you should listen to it)
Thanks…God, for bringing me here. Thanks with an ellipsis, because I’m not ready for an exclamation point. I’m nowhere near a period, like I’ve got it all together. Instead I’m here waiting, trying to find the value that He has assigned to these moments. Thanks…(and through Your grace, eventually, I’ll mean it).

so it’s officially time to be thankful

on being lost…

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I get lost a lot.

And if you know me at all you just rolled your eyes, right? Because that’s one of the truest things about me. The first time I tried to go to the Wal-Mart on Franklin in Waco by myself I ended up at the Bellmead HEB—forty five minutes later. And if you’ve never heard the story of the first time I tried to drive to Woodway by myself, then you should remind me to tell you sometime. It involves a maximum security prison, an empty gas tank, and the Baylor challenge course.

I got lost yesterday. In Edmond. Which is fine, except that I have lived in Edmond for 21 years. When I realized how lost I was, and that my phone was dead, I cried. A lot of tears. It’s a rough feeling, lostness. You feel like there is no one and nothing anchoring you to where you are—like you’re there by accident. And you panic and try to get somewhere familiar, or at least somewhere with helpful signs. That’s life right now. I’m sort of living in two houses, all my stuff is in boxes, and it seems completely by chance that I am sitting in a green room typing this on my laptop from high school (but I don’t want to talk about what happened to my real laptop). Everything is in limbo and uncertain and…random.

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I sat at Lauren’s last week and we talked about whether it is easier to believe in a God who is not good or that God does not exist. It’s the kind of thing that comes up when you move and then there are tornadoes and tears and lots of misplaced things. We got deeper than I was probably prepared to go, and when Rowan Williams came up I just started looking up to try to find stars. I love summer stars. But Edmond gonna Edmond…it was way too bright to see any. I thought that maybe, if I could see a few, it would be this big spiritual moment where I suddenly knew God had placed me here with intention and I would be okay. To be honest, I’m not convinced that big emotional moments are all they’re cracked up to be. I used to think feeling found was the goal. I’m not so sure anymore.

Emotions are a battle for me. Because they’re real, but also they are fickle. Mine in particular have a track record that is less than commendable. It’s easy to revert to that high school self who thought that if I could just feel okay, or feel holy, or feel forgiven, then things would be okay. But then I think about a conversation about Perks of Being a Wallflower and I realize that emotions let you down. When you chase feelings, you end up realizing that Jeremiah was right—your heart is deceitful. The things that feel good can destroy you. When God tells the exiles in Jeremiah 29 that He has good plans for them, (if you ever quote Jeremiah 29:11 out of context, by the way, I tend to come unglued) He also tells them that it isn’t what they want. They want to go back to Israel, but God tells them to stay in Babylon and to seek the welfare of their captors.

The sky has no stars, and I’m listening to Lauren talk about how God is trustworthy, I don’t feel grounded. I don’t feel rooted to this city, to this moment. I feel exiled and angry. I feel lost and shaky and drifting. The stars don’t suddenly start shining from the darkness and a dove doesn’t descend on my shoulder and the song on the radio as I’m leaving isn’t uplifting or appropriate (in fact it’s Pitbull). But deep in my heart I realize one thing…God is here.  He is here among the soccer moms and the endless miles of highway. He is here in this room painted bright green where nothing has happened yet and in the one painted lavender where too much has happened. And He has already found me. 

 

hoo-rah kids

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I’ve been trying to think of how to write about ICM. How to verbalize what the kids and the community that I’ve gotten the chance to spend time in have meant to me.  That’s tricky. There are images that come to mind: Kayla wrapped around my neck and Charles balancing on the monkey bars and Nariah shouting about the devil and Nate with a pink face…there’s a lot. I’m thinking about the coolest kids at Baylor and how I got to hang out with them once a week. I’m thinking about the very particular smell of kool aid on a car seat that will probably haunt me for the rest of my life.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I first went to the Ferrell Center to see what this was all about. I didn’t even go to Woodway at the time, I was just drawn to the idea. I couldn’t have known it would change me this much. I thought I knew what I was in for when I started ICM leadership…but I was wrong. I was totally unprepared for kool aid all over my car and replacing a thousand footballs and rain decisions and moon bounce drama and the theology of snack time. I was so blessed to have pastors who let me make mistakes. It must have been scary to let me bring twenty hyper children to a basketball game (and Wendy’s) on the day after Prayer Awakening with ten exhausted college students, but it worked (sometimes things didn’t work, and they were supportive those times, too). But if you’re reading this Chris Boggus I’m still grumpy about the rollerblading.
I can’t stay here. I have no idea what I’m getting myself into with PT school, but like C.S. Lewis said “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for a bird to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” A substantial piece of my heart and prayers will stay at the Villages with Michael and Sam and Andrea and Ross and Josh and Zach and everybody else who will be around next year, but I have to trust God to take care of His children…and of me.

hello and goodbye…

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I started a blog because I want to keep up with people. It’s a thing. Everybody’s doing it. Pick a cliche. But there you go…

 “don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”

That’s the mantra today. Because, guess what? Saying goodbye to people you genuinely love? That’s not a fun thing (surprise). But what I can say is that college rocked. in part because I went from this person with these best friends

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to this one

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and I’m massively happier now (not to mention more sane and with hair that is a real color). And I’m more sad to leave now than I was then (by like a million). But at the end of the day stuff ends. School, friendships, leases, great tv shows, batches of oreo balls…all definitely finite. That doesn’t mean I don’t get to enjoy them while they’re here, but it is convicting to me. I need to maybe be less attached to stuff that is dying, which, if i recall correctly, Criner preached about freshman year when I was nowhere near ready to hear it…  

…But not to live in the past. Maybe next week or something I will post about PT school and moving for the first time in 19 years and Oklahoma and church hunting. For now I have an anatomy test tomorrow and a lot of Harry Potter to watch the rest of the week with a lot of lovely people.