- My staff: the boss staff dynamic I have is different, but it works for me and works for my team
- Ministry: I could never work in a church, but I love parachurch ministry
- Adolescents: They are my people
- Work Hours: the time is pretty flexible
- The Environment: I have met some of the best people at my job
- Change: I get bored easily, everything is constantly shifting every day
- Potential: I like working in large organizations because there is a bevy of potential to cultivate
- Commute: it takes me 15 minutes to get to work
- Love: Star of Hope has an atmosphere of loving that I need
- Family: it is a place where I feel like I naturally fit in as I am
Life does not progress in a linear fashion. There are assumptions on how life should be ordered, but the older I get the more I realize that’s not going to happen. However, I am grateful. Life is nonlinear and I’m grateful for it.
It’s my nonlinearlife.
If you want to know more about it. Start at the beginning when I have kids with four other women.
If you have followed my blog at all this year, thank you. I write from my heart and experience. However, I know I hyperfocus on the melancholy and complexity of simple things. It’s a flaw. This year has been difficult for me. The last time, I had a year this struggle-ridden a friend sent me a link to something called Blog-tember where I was given prompts on different topics.
It has been three years since my last Blog-tember and about five years since, I started this blog. I’ve decided for the month of December to post daily with prompts. I may post other things, but I want to do something light. Also, prompts generate creativity.
So, stay close and attentive, and enjoy Blogtember.
I was in Seattle. I had found myself haphazardly sitting in a Mediterranean restaurant drinking mango lemonade. Reading Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline. It was the chapter titled, Simplicity. Life was not chaotic at the time, but it was regimented and oriented in a way that made me relentlessly busy. I felt the Lord breathe this phrase into my soul, “Live simply, love extravagantly”. It has stayed with me ever since.
I don’t think, I have pursued simplicity this past year as much as I have just decided it. Rather than fixing a car, that wanted to be broken, I took the bus. Rather than stay in one church, I left. Rather than maintain an active social life, I chose moments of solitude. I don’t regret these decisions. Simplicity is not easy, though it can be eased into. I have learned that when one peels away the busyness and superfluousness of life, there is a foundational depth desiring exploration.
There is something more wonderous being known by a handful of people than networking with hundred. There is something rich about waking up at 5am, just to embrace the last moments of the world being silent, before it pummels back into its chaos. There is something about lowered expectations for entertainment and leisure that makes a simple drive adventurous. Simplicity is grand. I don’t make these statement to condemn the networker or the late riser or the thrill seeker. I am just kind of blithering about.
There is another side to simplicity though. It can become isolating. Thematically, I have always struggled with loneliness. I remember prepubescent evenings in my basement room, bawling because I just didn’t feel like I could attach to people. I realize that in hindsight. This is exacerbated by the fact that, I would rather be alone than with people. But in this simplicity, I am left to contemplate my sorrow. I know, I am not fully alone, but there are desires for companionship that go unmet.
In the past Harvey season, I am continuing to live a simple life. I have relocated to a place where I don’t have my full wardrobe at my disposal. I have probably worn the same 25 articles of clothing repeatedly. I don’t need as much clothing as I think. I have no access to a kitchen on a daily basis, but there are simple meals, that don’t require stove tops or ovens. At the end of the night, the bed is not always the most comfortable, but somehow I find rest. Perhaps, God was preparing me a year ago.
Simplicity does make way for immense gratitude. Right now, I am in College Station. I cooked in a kitchen for the first time in about two months. I slept in a cushioned bed for the first time in 62 days. I soaked in a tub for the first time in 3 years. My room was completely dark bringing no light in. I was alone in all the best ways. In ways that were refreshing and healing.
I know I cannot stay here. I also don’t want to stay here. Simplicity is grounded in acceptance of reality. I will return to the bed that is uncomfy, kitchenless meals, standing showers, and limited clothing, but I will return with gratitude. Knowing this, God finds ways to provide simple things for me.
Tuesdays begin early. Alarm ringing at 5:30am, telling me I have 30 minutes more of rest before I need to get up. School begins in an hour and a half. You know 7:00am is real early to discuss when the union between soul and body. I love it. By the time, my mind arrives my body is prepared. Theology was meant for the beginning of the day. To ponder and discuss the divine as light breaks the chill autumn morn. It’s a transcendent three hours. Where the mystery somehow gets revealed but all the more becomes more enigmatic.
Transitioning to the tiniest of spiritual formation groups. Lead by a girl who is spiritually disfigured. Hands inverted inward, spine distorted twisting, limping hobbit-like with two women who find me “insightful”. Constantly wondering, finding truth in the quote, “God draws straight with crooked lines.” So crooked, I don’t know if I could be considered a line anymore. I’m trying to align myself with the One who sees straight, but it is hard to straighten what is twisted without breaking it. Two white women and one black woman talked about race. It was good. It makes me grateful for grace.
Time between school and work is minimal. Scurrying, my drive is mindless. I just begin composing my mental to-do list, while chatting with a friend. Drafting up conversations I will have with my staff. Dreaming up ways to change the world. Damning myself for my weight. Dropping the responsibility of caring about it this week.
Tip-toeing into the office, hiding from those who want to talk or task me with what is not mine. The youth floor is so self-contained. I don’t even know what goes on beneath me. I’m more aware of matters taking place elsewhere in the facility. Texting my Chick-fil-A order to a friend who loves me beyond what I deserve. Receiving her love and general presence was a gift. Once she left, the afternoon soared. Until it pummelled into having to find a lost student. We found him.
Tears flowed this evening, unexpectedly. Trying to reach a beautiful adolescent mother, who needed encouragement. I was never told my heart would be taffy in the hands of adolescents with strong hands. She trembled in my arms, tears falling out her eyes, torn hearted. I held her as my own. She is my daughter, browned and slight with glimmering eyes.
Tired, I refuse to stay late. I walk to my room and author this to commemorate a Tuesday. Thankful that it happened.
It only took a day for me to find out, I don’t vacation well.
I make hasty decisions. When I think back to adult decisions I have made, I have never spent more than 5 minutes before I have said yes. I know I should be a better Christian and “pray about it”, but God gives me wisdom and a gut feeling. My move to Texas, my car, and currently this vacation were rall decisions I made in less than 30 minutes. Most times, it pans out. I have now been in Texas for 5 years. I love my car. Sometimes though it doesn’t. Chicago is a struggle.
I came to Chicago for a Christian conference. Yesterday, I made it through the first general session and workshop. I walked to find something to eat. I settled in at Gino’s East for my first deep dish experience. Before my first bite of doughy, cheesy, meaty goodness, exhaustion hit me. And months of feelings and fears began to surface. Fortunately, a friend called me. I cried. I tried not to, but my tears escaped me…little bandits.
This is not my first time vacationing alone. I have been to London, Spain, Colorado, Portland, and Seattle alone. I revel in those memories. Walking the streets of London in the middle of the night. Driving haphazardly to Seattle. Prayer walking with a faithful dog named Lazarus in Divide, Colorado. This is the first time, I have been lonely while vacationing. No one should eat deep dish pizza alone. I want to experience life with a person. After lunch, I resigned to my room. In the building across from mine, people were living and moving and dancing and jumping. I lay on my bed. I didn’t go back until the next general session. I did the same today.
The only difference between yesterday and today is this. Today, I acknowledge I have run, filling my life with work and school. God will find me in my quiet resignation. I am uncomfortable being here. I am scared being here. I don’t like my withdrawal, but I can’t muster the will to engage. Luckily, God has always found people in the most random places.
Find me in the cave
Find me at the well
Find me in the river
Find me in the jail
Four hundred and seventy-seven pages into Americanah, I saw it. Shocked by its presence, I sat and stared. Fixated so deeply by the letters, they ambiguated into modern hieroglyphics. I couldn’t decipher them. Familiar but distant. I took a picture and what I saw was my name.
Tosin (toe-seen) is a name of modernity. I didn’t actually discover my first name was Tosin (actually Oluwatosin) until I was in 9th grade. For a significant time of my life, I was called by my first middle name, Funke (foon-keh). As a child, Funke lent itself to humorous, but uninspired name calling: funky monkey, funky chicken, you smell funky. The one time, I fought, it was because someone made fun of my name. His name was Caleb Brown, and I hit his head against a window sill. (I won). Unfortunately, I didn’t have the resolve as a child to own my name.
When I transitioned into middle school, I went by Ola, taken from my second middle name, Dolapo (doe-lah-poe). Ignorantly unaware of the Spanish language, anyone reading this could clearly see how Ola got real old, real quick. Unfortunately, I was highly temperamental in middle school, and “Hola, Ola” lost its humor quickly. I never got into a physical fight in middle school over my name, but I did have mastery of a couple of choice curse words, that aided me in my verbal assaults.
In high school, I landed on Tosin. My most preferred moniker. Half of my life, I have answered to Tosin. I love my name. It fits me well. It has a balance of edge, softness, wisdom, and verve. It has followed me through high school, college, and Texas. I have heard “Tosin” pass beautifully through the lips of friends who have loved me like family. There are not any American songs written about girls named Tosin, but I don’t really need them. Tosin is unique for me. I like that when a friend hears my name, they are not filtering through millions of Tosin’s. There is (typically) a singular Tosin, whose name creates some sort of reaction for them. It is me.
So, why was I so startled by Funke?
Two reasons. First, it was awesome to see my name in the pages of a book. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was not thinking of me when she wrote Americanah, yet I felt represented. I joined along with a 1,000’s of other Funke’s who never thought they would see their name in a novel. Dumbstruck and awestruck. I was mesmerized by the idea that me a Nigerian-American second generation immigrant, whose name was caricatured, would see my name as a complex character even for one paragraph.
Second, it brought back memories of childhood. Dormant beautiful memories of Funke, who was spunky and sweet, tomboyish and rugged. Funke, whose mind was a wonderland of colors and stories and weirdness and spontaneity. I don’t revel in my childhood. Reflections of that time period are embittered by abuses and terror. It was nice to get a morsel of it back.
Hi. My name is Funke.
Next to my many names are the proper phonetics for accurate pronunciation.