October: the Longest Month of the Year

I have long held the view that October might be the longest and my least favorite month of the year. As a child–and an adult– I scared really easy. So all the demonics of Halloween never appealed. Life is scary enough. I don’t need to pay someone $15 to be more scared. Let me walk a dark alley and I will be just as scared and probably out of $15. As an adult, October just felt daunting like an massive anticipation to get to the holidays. Like a plot build up for a massive let down. Like an overture that went on for 5 minutes too long.

This October felt no different.

I knew this October would feel like forever by the midpoint of September. The parts of the month I would need to move slowly would race like nascar. The parts that could have sped would drag on like roadkill. Nevertheless, like every year October comes to a close and I think I am grateful.

There are days from this month that I wish I could relive and sadness I wish I could dispense. I am beyond grateful for my counselor who has bared the brunt of my melancholy. I have cried more publicly and privately. I have stepped more fully into being a manager and out of a friendship. I have written papers, completed projects, and binge read books. I have gone to a wedding and a baby dedication. I have authored the longest email that will probably never get sent. I decided I need to outsource accountability if I’m ever going to lose weight. I have decided to let go of dreams of living in Houston, just in case the Lord moves me somewhere else. I have realized that I still struggle with figuring out where I fit in this city and in friendships and in families, but I’m grateful for those who are kind enough to make some space for me and reassure me when I’m ready to flee.

This October is no different, but somehow different. I’m glad it is over. I’m glad that I get three days away from work and people and daily life. I’m glad it ends with tears again and repentance. I’m glad it ends with a long lost friend celebrating love lasting another year in their family. I’m glad I get to look forward to a Waco road trip, Thanksgiving in Atlanta, and concluding another semester. I’m glad for silence.

I’m most grateful for faithfulness. God has been very faithful to me. This month has hurt beyond words and humbled me like nothing else, but the Lord has been with me. I have felt so lost and feel no more found than I felt at the beginning of this month, but there is hope because I know I’m not alone. God has journeyed with me through so much. Underneath it all, I’m terrified and confused, but I’m not alone.

Every blog feels like a lament. So much so that I don’t know why I write and why people read it, but I’m glad October is ending. I hope it is ending for you too. I hope November brings thanksgiving and hope.

Advertisements

Thirty-One Days Ago

Thirty-one days ago, I postponed my 27th birthday. My existence was in too fragile of a space to generate emotions, positive or negative. I just needed to know that I could live. Much has happened in the past month. There have been days where anhedonia set in so deeply that even food was not captivating. I know I have lost weight in this season. I moved away from the home I have dwelt in for nearly 3 years. Tucking my minimal belongings in a 5×5 storage unit. Work and home have become synonymous. School resumed for me and my students at work. I cried really hard. I have felt nothing. I have been depressed. Thirty-one days ago, I thought my life was over. Postponing my birthday was my own feeble attempt at creating a timeline where problems are solved in the span of a sitcom.

I drove past the Caversham Estate last night. Someone else had moved in already. I wept. I knew the house would not remain abandoned. I just didn’t know life would resume so quickly. There were plants and a chair on the patio with my old bedroom lights aglow. Selfishly, I wanted to be the only one to move on. I didn’t really want the house to be repaired before I was. Why does restoration of a home only take a month? Why can’t my healing process move more quickly? Why has God chosen an agrarian pace for growth? Is my life pruning or punishment?

Thirty-one days ago, I postponed my 27th birthday. I celebrated with friends yesterday, who have slowed their pace to walk with me in mine. Life doesn’t move at sitcom paces. Life moves at the rate of life. Thirty-one days later, I am realizing that that’s perfectly okay.

God, You’re gracious

God, You’re good

Help me change my attitude

By Your Hands

I am fed

Remind me that You’re Home again

Amen

Change & Consistency

God,

Consistency and change are not opposite of each other but work together. If everything stayed the same life would get dull, but if change too frequently occurred life would be worrisome. Thank you for orienting the universe with both. The earth rotates on its axis for millennia at a time but brings about different days and different seasons with different temperatures. Humanities and kingdoms have risen and fell on the pale blue dot suspended in the sunbeam. There is no man in history studies, that has not walked on the same earth I have.

God, change and consistency are gifts. In this season of change, I have forged patterns of consistency. Perhaps that is your mercy. I felt both as I watched the sun rise beyond the chapel steeple. A change was inevitable. I live only blocks from the bayou. As I worked, I knew the waters would find residence in my home. How could a source of cleansing also be one of chaos?

God, You leave so many questions unanswered. Help me be okay with a lack of answers. Remind me that is doesn’t point to a God who is lacking answers. Be better than all the answers I think I need. Be the better question to ask. Be the change that brings about blossoms. Be the consistency that brings about stability. God be all that You say You are, just help me to believe it.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

Jesus made this conversation possible, by connecting us through the Holy Spirit to the Father.

Amen

Solo Vacations

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

Imperfect Love

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

I have reflected on this verse often over the course of the past six months. I hear its refrain as I ponder on those whom I love and those who love me. I know imperfect love. It looms. I know it’s imperfect. It is fear-inducing and creates unnecessary risk. Fear-inducing love is not loving at all. Imperfect love is an oxymoron as it does not exist; love can only exist in complete perfection.

I got a glimpse of perfect love today. I saw it over breakfast and a coffee two hours afternoon. It was not a fear-inducing love, but one that feels freeing. One that assists in letting go. I pray for more of that love.

I pray I find it in the Lord.

I pray I find it in friends.

I pray it is found in me.

(some)BODY

When I think of my body, the best I can do is not think aesthetically but functionally. If I keep myself concerned with the things my body can do, I never have to worry if it is pretty or beautiful or good. The problem with this is that there are some things my body cannot do. There have been many things people have said about bodies like mine. There are so many more things I have said about my own body.

Running is one of those things that I don’t expect my body to do. All, I can focus on is excess flesh just moving and how grotesque a sight that is for onlookers. Gravity becoming the immortal enemy of my physicality. If I am still enough, then I can maneuver around slowly enough for things to stay in place. It is all one big optical illusion of Spanx and slimwear and clothing in a size too big. It is weird to see the thoughts, I have displayed on a screen, but this is the reality where I reside.

From Tuesday to Wednesday, I had a case of insomnia. It wasn’t even that my mind was running. I literally just could not sleep. At 3:30am, I decided to go to the gym. Most times, I just walk on a treadmill, but in delirium, I decided to run. I ran for 5 minutes straight. I remained on the treadmill for 35 minutes and upon completion, I had run/walked a little over 2 miles. I hoped this would tire me out, but it only invigorated me. I did squats got in my car and departed, for a 4am drive through the city. By the time I arrived at work, I was tired enough to hide behind my desk for a 20-minute nap…..but I didn’t.

Today, I took a half day. I went to the gym and consciously decided, I was going to run. I began running for 7 minutes. At the end of 32 minutes, I had run/walked a little over 2 miles. 16-minute miles are nothing to brag about. In comparison to even the average runner (maybe walker), I am slow. BUT my body ran. It ran and it felt wonderful and it hurt. It is unfamiliar and fascinating.

I don’t really have goals or expectations for my body. I have worked towards a lifestyle that serves my body best. I have made some progress. I am hoping I can remain consistent. Today was just a day, where I just finished running, breathless and sweaty and smiled.

“Damn, I got some body.”

Life

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ embodies the conquering of death by the Source of Life. I believe this as truth. I believe that death has been conquered for me. So, that when my physical bodies withers, I am brought to real eternal life with God.

So, what do I do here? Suspended in a real (yet quasi) life experience that is riddled with death and all his friends. Where in the middle of loneliness there is a real sorrow. Where in the middle of sickness there is a real pain. Where in the middle of hatred there is a real violence. I don’t know. I don’t know. I take the cues of Christ and move towards the mess. Where there is sorrow, I mourn like Jesus with Mary. Where there is pain, I acknowledge someone is reaching out for a touch like Jesus and the woman with the issue of blood. Where there is violence, I bend down to the ground writing mysteries in the sand like Jesus on the Mount of Olives.

Last year around this time, I was very invested in modern liturgical practices. I came across meditative tracks, by a group called the Liturgists. There is a track on their Garden album titled Sunday. In this track, Rob Bell discusses the Resurrection how ultimately the moments of joy and life and laughter in this life point to the immense beauty and worship that will occur in eternal life. And that the sorrows and pain and violence are temporary.

Yesterday was one of those days where I felt the Resurrection and the Life. Hula hooping and eating chili with popsicle wine and bubbles reminds me of life. It was worshipful and beautiful. It was children running around throwing pillows. It was laughter and naps. The Resurrection allows me to take a simple meal on a simple weekend and call it holy. It allows me to reclaim something that feels secular and find how God can make it sacred.

Resurrection is Life, not only eternal life. Resurrection is the embracing life in the way Christ embraced life now and eternally.

Happy Holy Life Friends.