life // to understand waiting and rest

Untitled

After surgery a friend prayed over me, doesn’t every great story start this way, it was a prayer for rest and it was also a prayer to actually understand rest.

When you are forced to actually slow down, all of the sudden the moments of busy really do stand out. Prior to surgery I managed to spend 4 days at Disney World, shoot 12 mini-session, drive to PA/DE to photograph a wedding, and prep my house for mom’s arrival in the span of about 18 days. Needless to say, surgery was the nap I so desperate needed, but it wasn’t actual rest. When you find yourself in a place of rest that is healthy, you also happen to learn the absolute limits of your needs. Let me be the first to say it’s terrifying. The timing, however, is liturgically perfect. It’s almost like I planned my surgery around the church calendar. Enter the season of advent, a time of waiting and anticipation.

When I slow down, my brain tumbles over and over again with the what ifs. They aren’t quite as bad as the if onlys, but they still leave you in a state of questioning. Question upon question without answer upon answer. Combine this with a period of time that is spent on the couch with a set of crutches and then I attempt to begin a period of active mental avoidance. Let’s admit it, We all do it. I mean, why else are we all so dang busy? I generally like to think it’s not because we really love having no time to think and is probably because we don’t want to be forgotten/unneeded and we really really really don’t want to have to think, about most anything, but we also don’t really want to be known either. And we wonder why our anxiety runs at an all time high. We see anything we can’t control as a failing. So what happens when we stop and we wait and we anticipate.

We wait in quiet anticipation knowing, fearing, that we can’t save ourselves.

In our weakness, we find grace and in grace we learn hope. Hope takes us to the unknown and a place were we find a peace we have never known. This peace required conflict, it requires conflict with ourselves. It involves active engagement and fighting for truth and transformation. This isn’t about sitting on our laurels just hoping the answers appear, it is the realization that weakness is our gateway to create change.

Sometimes, that change might not be so much so outwards and be very much inwards. Over the course of the last month I physically couldn’t do much for myself which made me want to pull my hair out, good thing I have a mop of hair on my head. For two weeks I depending on other people to drive me around, feed me, or just be around. Ann would check in every night to confirm that I, in fact, had not fallen down the stairs in my nightly activity of crutching up said stairs to my room. For someone who thinks she can legit do pretty much everything, except hike, it was mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting because I thought I was a superhuman who would heal like such. To go from shooting a wedding and 3 photo sessions in one weekend to being exhausted after spending 15 minutes in Trader Joes, well let’s just say it’s an eye opening moment. Some expectations fall short and on the other side, there are people who who are so above and beyond that is blows your mind a little. And so it goes. And so I wait with much anticipation.

So the realization of baby steps instead of a sprint. Being present with a purpose. And embracing every moment of rest that comes my way and the directions that will comes with it.

“for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory” – Book of Common Prayer, Evening Prayer, Rite II


For those who are like, wait a second, back up, surgery…what?! Quick version: Way back when (in May) while living my best life now (on vacation), I was hiking in Glacier National Park (it was Day 1 of said vacation). I was trekking along planning how I was going to send mom and dad photos and be like “BOOM! you think I can’t hike but look at me and my rockstar hiking self.” Then something happened, there was a pop, I played it off(ish) and danced at a wedding, and a month later I had a diagnosis of a not-so-hot labral tear in my hip. So, apparently I’m living “my best I might be 80 life now” and so I had surgery to fix it in November. Woot!

life // waiting without purpose

“What we hunger for perhaps more than anything else is to be known in our full humanness, and yet that is often just what we also fear more than anything else. It is important to tell at least from time to time the secret of who we truly and fully are—even if we tell it only to ourselves—because otherwise we run the risk of losing track of who we truly and fully are and little by little come to accept instead the highly edited version which we put forth in hope that the world will find it more acceptable than the real thing. It is important to tell our secrets too because it makes it easier that way to see where we have been in our lives and where we are going. It also makes it easier for other people to tell us a secret or two of their own, and exchanges like that have a lot to do with what being a family is all about and what being human is all about.” Frederick Buechner

Recently I feel like I have been bombarded by articles on the concept of waiting. You know the ones, people waiting for their dream job, families waiting for kids, women waiting for a man. That last one is a frequently used one, especially in the church, and over time you start to wonder if maybe we aren’t just slightly off the mark, but if we missed it entirely. Like, we have sailed way passed it as we wait for the big moment, the one that will tie up the story in a neat and tidy bow and make it all make sense.

The moments race through my head at a mile a minute. But they are small ones, not the giant moments that I can easily make up in the fantasy world in my head. Yesterday was a rough day and I can’t really explain why, but the fantasy world in my head wasn’t there to fall back on.

My long-standing pessimism is what I utilize to keep me out of magical, fantasy land. It is the little voice that reminds me that there is precedent to things, that reality isn’t make-believe and that when everyone else thinks random man a is interested, the answer is always no. My brain and my soul don’t like to match up. One weaves stories full of little moments and tiny hopes that create one wholehearted life. The other keeps my feet on the ground and my head out of the clouds, and in all honesty, that isn’t quite so bad either.

Pathetically enough, I manage to both love and loathe my life all at the same time. It feels like my sanity is being pulled in opposite directions, but sweet goodness, all I want is to catch a break. And then I remember how many I have actually had. The want to feel normal and like everyone else, but then again, why be normal when you can be as fun as a barrel of monkeys. Y’all it is super lame but I will own this (at least on paper), I don’t have time for a relationship and I’m actually pretty great in where my life is at the moment, but darn it all, can I at least have the option of being like, x person is interested and totally wants to go out. Is that asking too much? Apparently the answer to that is yes. And instead I am inundated with bad Christian articles about the sad, waiting women. Please God, I refuse to be that person.

I take a breath and I let myself sit in the brief sadness and annoyance, and then I remember the great moments. Because we should not ever be waiting, we should be remembering. And remembering doesn’t come with a requirement of it always being happy.

“Where we settle is where we die”

I recall to mind those words from a speaker at Urbana06 and think about how true that is. I think of the image that i recently read about the woman who stands at the gate waiting for her prince to come. Team, where we settle is where we die and ladies, do you want to die standing at a fence, alone. If I am going to be single, I better be living fully and jet-setting around the world with a camera, wearing crazy head scarves and flowy long skirts and…sorry, tangent…that’s my fantasy, moving on. No matter how much it hurts or how rough it is, and no matter how much you feel like you’re coming apart at the seams please please don’t settle.

Sometimes life feels like it is spiraling out of control. It’s a whirlwind and I can’t see the start or the end. But at the same time, it isn’t actually a terrifying problem. For so long it stemmed from a disjointed feeling of not being enough, and then one day it was something different. It hadn’t magically been made better, and the crazy feels didn’t disappear, but acceptance of reality and the goodness of a God who is in control takes away the power that fear of the unknown can hold over us. Remembering the truth and grace that has been given to us.

Wonderfully created and perfectly formed. Even in moments of quiet and prayerful reflection, we are not meant to just wait without purpose. And so it goes. Life isn’t all bad, it’s actually pretty wonderful and it can be a bit rocky all at the same time.

Here’s to the little moments that make up the big ones that make life so much more worth living. Without all the ups and downs, where would all the fun be. Here is to not waiting without purpose but remembering the little moments that make up the seemingly large ones. And even in the moments of annoyance, there will always, eventually, be a victory!

friendgirl.

I have been taught to wait for a boy to make the first move, that courtship is good, that excessive dating is bad. I was told to kiss dating goodbye and that it’s really okay to have your first kiss on your wedding day. I have heard a lot of no and not a lot of yes. At the same time, we are learning to walk away when we don’t get what we like. We talk of boundaries as something to guard us, but not as the wall they often end up becoming. The church talks about the broken relationships in our world. We say no to divorce, but we look the other way when people turn and walk away from friendships when things get messy and don’t go as planned.

Let’s go over what I missed.

Healthy boundaries, how men & women can be friends, how to interact, how to date without the awkwardness, absurdity and eventually weirdness if it doesn’t work out. On that one, we weren’t taught what to do if it all doesn’t work out.

We are a generation in bondage to people’s struggles.

Lust.
Anger.
Self-Loathing.

Fear. We are afraid of the unknown. We are scared to be vulnerable. We are terrified of rejection. We hide ourselves behind walls of our own making. But, we call each other out. Men tell other men to man up. Women instruct other women to be kinder, gentler, and nicer. We cannot set each other free from what is holding us back in life, only Jesus has that ability. So why are we trying to fix each other.

I sit with the most entertaining line thrown at me, “friendgirl.” The concept is simple and goes something like this: girl meets boy, girl and boy become friends, girl wants more, boy wants to avoid that awkwardness, girl doesn’t know why he doesn’t love her back, boy dates other girls, awkwardness ensues and then a friend break-up occurs.

From kissing dating goodbye to being told that I need question friendships with the opposite gender, the complicated nature of relationships in the church continues to increase, and no wonder people (male and female) are overly-cautious. At twenty-six, I have never been on a date, which already leads to people to think that either “I don’t know how to date/I’m not open” or I’m hung up on someone. People project their past and current fears and opinions onto others around them and while sometimes it leads to great advice and divinely inspired wisdom,  it can also lead to hurt and heartbreak.

At the risk of insulting many people I know, let me just state my opinion. Friendgirls, friendboys, friends with benefits (emotional or physical) know exactly what they are doing. There is an end result they are attempting to achieve (friendship or relationship) and often it is based in a want to be cared for. In honest terms, they want to be known by another person.

So I am an “others-proclaimed” friendgirl. I have been in the same “friendlationship” for about four years (yes it’s absurd). We have been the been talked about, had countless interventions and even had an article or two written about us. A genuine attempt real friendship, with opinions floating in from all sides, isn’t always an easy thing to do. (I will also own to the fact that we are not without our flaws and problems, there have been many an argument, but we are human so it isn’t that surprising).

We are given a beautiful example of friendship in the Book of John, when Jesus states “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (15:12-13). The passage doesn’t command us to like our friends, or tolerate our friends until something better comes along, no it calls us to love. And this is where we get stuck in the thinking of the western world. Love is synonymous with wanting to date and marry someone. Conveniently enough, it doesn’t mean only that. A person can possess philia, a love that encompasses feelings of friendship/family based on close association and knowing one another.

People can call it what they want, but I have a friend and he’s definitely a boy. I love and care about him and his well-being in the same way I do my girlfriends. Knowing each other, knowing each other’s hopes and fears for life, keeping each other accountable in our actions and being there for one another in our struggles. That is what friendship in the Christian faith is about. It isn’t about “they seem nice, let me get to know them in the hopes that they’ll realize how great I am, ask me on a date, fall madly in love and then marry me.” But instead we either get caught up in the attention, especially in Christian communities where a lot of dating isn’t happening, or we build a protective wall to keep the hurt out and our emotions in.

That is where releasing the bondage that binds us tightly comes into play. It is not only a call to release the issues of self-loathing, anger, lust, and entitlement, but is also a call to release fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear that dreams won’t be achieved. Fear that we can’t control the norm, our singleness. Releasing that fear into the hands of a God bigger then ourselves frees us up to walk in tandem with our brothers and sisters while they do the same. A community based in love and peace. Interacting based on the love that Christ has poured out for us.

Searching for the perfect will of loving God.

god moment.

A part of my life was compared to a scene in Little Women, I would feel proud of this because I love Alcott like a lot but in fact it wasn’t a positive comparison. It was one of those comparisons that pretty much tells you that like every character in the book/movie/play/musical…you’re not getting it.

That is really nothing that I can solve on my own, and the person who could help is so not allowed to be involved. So we fast forward to the Sunday evening insanity, we skip a gripe session about my frustrations with peoples inability to follow through on commitments and fast forward again to my shouting match with God.

Oh yes, I went there…and I took it all the way.

And in a moment of cosmic smackdown, when I thought my anger was righteous and my frustration was justified (I believe it went something like, “I never wanted this and I said you could take it back”), I was knocked off of my high horse. Cause in the quiet and the stillness, in the place where I’m scared to trust and take risks, I found myself with one thought… “for in my weakness…Your power is made perfect.”

Let me tell you, it was like having the wind knocked from my sails. And in a deep moment of calm, I remember the awesome things. I set aside my current needs to mold life into a neat and tidy box. Because in imperfection…there is greatness.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (niv)

sins.

This afternoon included looking at new office space for the churches, the space we looked at is owned by a Catholic Church. In the course of the afternoon I was absolved from my sins.

Yes you real that right, Absolution people…for my sins. From a Catholic priest. Cause I went to a Jesuit university.

Absolved. For my sins.

This. Is. Awesome.