Tuesday, August 25

The Seminary Diaries: welcome back

I can go on for days about the fun fall things--coffees, sweaters, boots, and pumpkin donuts--but the truth is, Fall, for me, I sacred.

Seven years ago I packed my stuff--after one of the world's worst break-UPS--and moved to Denver.  I knew no one, knew not where I would live, nor how I would buy groceries.  I didn't even know where to buy groceries.  I was reinventing; I was making a new path, a new identity, and new dreams.  I remember that Fall so well--the tiny apartment next to the ex-con, my two little doggies and our wonderful path behind the tiny apartment.  I remember the office I worked in, being two miles from the apartment.  I remember discovering and loving traffic, the morning news, and the bustle of the city.  I remember feeling so much hope for life, for the world, for my world.

Even today, as I look around a school campus, I see lots of hope.  This is the same campus I've spent all of summer at, but it looks so different.  Everyone feels fresh, prepared... no one remembers or has experienced first paper anxiety or mid-term studying.  Everyone remembers the freshness of each new class, the taste of their first coffee, the jokes and fun had between classmates.  Everyone remembers the good and looks forward to the hope.

A peer, classmate, and friend just stopped by to talk about his program, the classes coming up, and the hope of what comes this year.  This same friend suggested a certificate program, reminding me of why I started this program, why I look forward to the opportunities it will bring, and what's so special about having this atmosphere, this program, and this school.

So, this Fall, I'm looking forward, looking toward hope, looking for what could be.  Sure, Spring has new babies and fresh colors and relief from the long, cold winter.  But Fall has hope, new beginnings, and buckets of opportunities.  This Fall I'm reinventing, starting fresh, and looking forward.

I love Fall.


Friday, August 14

like a child

I recently told someone I needed the opportunity to "act like an adult".
It was all about proving to them I had matured, grown up...that I'm not reacting like I used to when they knew me.

And suddenly I hate the phrase "act like an adult".

I believe it's been used in a number of settings, a number of ways.  I also believe saying it implies you will "act better" or more appropriately.  Grown up, somehow.

Well, I must say, I know lots of adults who still act very poorly.  Adults still throw tantrums--They yell, they argue, they complain when things don't go their way.  They look for rewards and awards.  They compare and make sure their projects are better and toys are bigger.

(Listen to me say 'they' like I've never committed the crime.)

Also, for the most part, adults know what they are doing. They know when they have hurt someone, thrown someone under the bus, or done something inappropriate in public.  They feel it--the shame, the embarrassment, the hurt you caused on another.

Kids, though, they don't know.  They're acting out in some way so their basic needs will get met.  Sure, sometimes they see one of those "adults" reacting and responding and they feed that monster a little more. But, in general, those emotions are raging and tears just seem like the best, fastest option.

So, that's my point here; we ALL act out.  We all get upset when things don't go our way.  But kids, on the other hand, have something special that those "adults" do not.  They dream and play and imagine.  They create worlds in their minds, friends with all sorts of appendages and colors, and horses which have unlimited powers.  They love, too.  And often, they love really well, giving of themselves to others in ways which make the 5 o'clock news.  They smile and laugh at every opportunity.  They imagine worlds where love really is all you need, along with a little ice cream and a puppy.

So, my hats off to you guys.  I want to live in a world with ice cream and puppies, too.  A world where, sure, I do act out because I'm human and humans just have some silly habits.  But also a world where my priorities are love and play.

I long for the day where someone looks at me and says, 'Would you act more like a child?'

Thursday, August 13

i'm not prepared

The "in-between" gets a pretty bad rap. In fact, I've probably written four posts about the "in-between". It's this ridiculous phenomenon in time where you're waiting for something-anything-and minutes pass by like hours, hours pass like days, and days seem to never end.
(In case you're not human and you had never experienced it at all.)

Often this time is marked by the waiting for medical news, a job offer, discipline or punishment, baby news, graduation dates, buying a home, etc. Big or small, waiting for life-changing news creates a sort of agony...an agony like no other.

However, as I think about my own in-betweens and waitings, I feel a little grieved for the time wasted.  I feel like I'm missing something by scratching off the days and not taking something from them.  My waiting turns into a plea, a bargain for my own agendas.  There is always something I want in the end, an answer that suits my needs.  So, waiting for the answer presents an inner wrestling.  What happens if the alternative happens?  What if I don't get my way?  What if the answer is the one I didn't want?  Then I'll be left with disappointment, fear, anger, worry.  And, for me, all of these emotions and feelings will most likely be directed at God, though I won't call it out that way.  I'll have to be angry with Him for not giving me what I wanted.  I'll have to be disappointed in coming to terms with Him knowing better than I do.  I'll have to be fearful of losing control over my life.  I'll have to worry that what I want will never come to be.

So, instead of facing these, wrestling with Him and me, and me again, I'll just agonize and fill the space of the in-between.  I'll keep myself incredibly occupied and never visit these questions.

Or, of course, the opposite could happen.  What if I do get what I wanted?  What happens when the news is good?  Do I look back and remember how much I pined and prayed and begged for the news, for what I wanted?  Do I look back and realize it was never in my hands, but always in God's?  Do I look back and know how much I really wanted it?  Well, not if I was too busy denying all the opportunities to know myself and know God a little more.

Because that's what the 'in-between' offers...lots and lots of opportunities.  Opportunities for new beginnings, for imagination, ideas, fantasies.  Opportunities for growth and chances.  There is a part of us that knows this and wants so badly to go ahead and yearn for it.  Then the other part of us kicks in and reminds us how awful we'll feel if we yearn and don't get it.

I won't sit here and say there are three easy steps to sitting in the waiting.  I won't even tell you it won't be difficult.  Instead, I'll tell you, maybe that's the point.  You see, once you get the good news you've been wanting, you'll move forward with those plans and ideas.  You'll celebrate-as you should!  But will you realize what was on the line?  Will you realize how much it might have cost you?  Will you realize that with joy there is always a chance of pain, of sadness? 
(If not, I urge you to go see 'Inside Out'...or really any movie on the human condition)

The alternative is you'll get the bad news and you'll be full of sorrow.  You'll have to grieve all of those things that might have been.  You'll run through the gamut of hard emotions and probably be unsure of what to do with them.

So here's my plan: to sit in the in-between and take in all it implies.  I'll go ahead and imagine the possible and impossible, I'll be excited for the opportunities and new life it could bring.  I'll even make some mini-plans for what could be.  I'll also understand the possibility for sorrow and disappointment.  I'll also understand I could get the exact thing I do not want.  Simultaneously, I'll speak to God about how unfair it is that I have so little control.  I'll ask Him why my plans don't equal or govern His plans.  I'll tell Him I don't think I can handle disappointment or bad news.  I'll let him I believe it is my heart's deepest desire to live a good life, and that this thing which means so much to me today, seems like a good way to a good life.

Then, I'll remember He is in control.  I'll remember all the times He has worked and weaved His way through my life and how good that has turned out.  I'll tell Him I'm afraid to let go and let Him have control, I'm afraid of how I'll react, and I'm afraid of the outcomes of bad news. 

He'll say, in the kindest way, "I know, and I am prepared".

After all, aren't we all, each day, in the 'in-between'?