Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Dreams, Time Seams, and Adult Sports Teams

Last night, I dreamed that one of my homeowners' kitchen ceiling was going to cave in due to an attic HVAC leak that I didn't catch. I'm working out again; maybe that will help me de-stress. I'm also reading "Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety." So if those two things don't help, I'm pretty much screwed.

I went to bed late because I went to Chapel Hill to say goodbye to Rob. (Goodbye, Rob; have a good life!) It was fun, but I'm okay with my friends leaving. Amy is in DC, Deb is in Montana, Rob is in Colorado, Chad's in the mountains, Lauren's in India and then Concord, Erik and Nick are almost gone, Kate's in Boston. There are periods to life. "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven," Ecclesiastes 3:1. The writer expands, and then goes on an interesting rant.

"I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. (What does that even mean?) He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil--this is the gift of God...
"Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account."

I think he's saying that we have time, and we have action, and when we choose to do our actions has a lot to do with our judgement. God will judge the time in which we honor him. If that makes sense.

Right now, I have more time than I used to have. I'm not studying for anything; I'm getting paychecks for my 45 hrs/week at work; I'm paying off my loans and living comfortably. (Bad news on that front: $900 of dental work is coming up...)

But I can use the rest of my time. If I sleep no more than nine hours a night on weekends, I will have more free time. I'm going to try to volunteer with MATCH, get back into our small group, and play lacrosse again! I'm really excited for that. It'll be expensive to get started... I think I'm going to buy a new stick, and I need goggles, insurance, a mouth guard, and team t-shirts. But it'll be worth it. After I quit UNC Club, I thought I'd never play again. It won't be the same as high school, and that's fine with me. But it'll be a team sport, one I really enjoy, and it'll be exercise that is not in our blah apartment gym.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cynicism, Rebellion, and Why UNC Really Is the Southern Part of Heaven

That is quite a blog title to live up to. So here goes.

The people who are closest to me often ask how I am doing, and I know they mean more than the usual, casual inquiry.  There is something to their tone, or their punctuation (via the internet), or their look, that signifies a deeper questioning.  I've been pretty open with my struggles lately... with anger at my God and frustration with my spiritual funk, my impatience and heartache and just plain old-fashioned pain.  It started with Jason's death (not the breakup) and has been complicated with my emotional roller coaster (over the breakup + his death) and my job switching and then Eve's death. A year and three months later, I'm sick of feeling like this.

Yesterday, Mom said I seem subdued. I am. I'm 'sweetly broken;' I'm tired of the rebellion and the cynicism. I'm tired of giving God the silent treatment/cold shoulder; tired of looking at him as if he's out to get me or as if there is just one tragedy after another waiting for me. I'm rebellious in nature, but always a rather half-hearted rebel. I forget to be mad at my friends and family, and I get tired of rebelling against my good, kind God. The writer of Lamentations in chapter three talks about how he's been pushed around and hurt... he says God "has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light." Talk about pointing fingers. He knows who to blame, just like I do. (Nichole's words on it... "Funny how the fog rolls/funnier that I'd know who to blame/never thought I'd have to own this pain... If all that's good and true/comes from heaven/then what's a girl to do/when it rains?")

Chapter three goes on and on, the writer blaming God for his pain... "he dragged me from the path and mangled me and left me without help. He pierced my heart with arrows from his quiver."  Pretty violent, eh?

But then there's a transition.

"I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.'"

Some translations end the verse, "I will hope in him."  Funny how they go together... like the Spanish verb esperar means to wait and to hope. Waiting and hoping go hand-in-hand. We don't sit and wait on God despondently.  But that's what I've been doing. I've been somewhat obedient... going where he wants, not giving up on the fellowship of the saints or my faith in general. But as far as specifics go, I've been pretty despairing.

And it's really easy for me to slip into cynicism.  That's why, as a kid, I would try to convince myself that UNC would lose whatever game we were playing, so that if we did lose, I would be 'protected' from disappointment.  That's what Jason used to try to pound into me-- that if I had no expectations, I would never be disappointed. (He didn't want me to expect anything of him.)

So, my circumstances were messy, and I rebelled. I was angry and sullen. And then my rebellion started to turn into a bitterness, and that bitterness has shown up in cynicism. I question God's goodness and his love towards me. I don't feel his love so I decide he doesn't love me after all. Isn't he in control of everything?! I believe that. But that doesn't mean he enjoys hurting me, just like parents don't enjoy their kids' intense unhappiness at getting immunizations.

The chapter goes on to say, "Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men."

Jesus put it well. "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (That's John 16:33.)

That's enough for now. Suffice it to say, my understanding of God is a heckuva lot greater than it was fifteen months ago.  I'll write about UNC being like heaven later.