Monday, August 29, 2016

177: us single, them married

A college classmate shared an article entitled "I Suck at Being a Friend Right Now." I knew I needed to read it because sometimes I have a hard time extending grace to my married friends. After reading it (click on the link!), I remembered something I had written in my journal. It's a little incoherent (b/c that's how I roll) but it's my reminder to myself that singles and marrieds are in vastly different seasons of life, and yet the gap between the seasons is extremely thin.

Do the unthinkable and let me not forget the feeling of walking in black mirrored fog.

It can feel like an "us" singles, "them" not. But there is a VERY thin veil between the two, with no predictor when one of us will slip into "the other side." Even I, as I walk with you along the illusion of an unending garden walkway, unending walkway while "they" have the estate's manor, may suddenly, while yet griping at my interminable status, run smack into the middle of a concrete step, look up, and see the house only a pace away, hedged on either side and pulling me through its open door with nary a chance for a backward glance.

It feels interminable. It looks unending. And indeed it may seem our lot to tread the garden path and take advantage of living this life to the full.

But never presume that those magically sucked through the illusory veil felt less surprised than you, felt less keenly the disparency between "us" and "them," and did little but live to deserve the switch. So you, walking the VERY SAME PATH of the women before you, may one day stub your toe on the manor's step and have your life changed.

And then, what fools we will have been, thinking we would never reach the attainment of "them." What are they but us in a different season of life? What are we but a parallel life of theirs?

At the church potluck yesterday, I gazed around at the tables. So many people I know from other churches, now all of us attending the same church (what happens when you live in the same community all your life). But they over at that table, while my age, are married, having kids, and are able to interact as peers with other marrieds. And those, over there, while seemingly so much older than me when I was little, are now practically peers, if I could somehow bolster my confidence and bridge the gap between "me single," "them married." Instead, I sat with other single girls my age (goodness, I'm 31) and some teenagers. It's all in my head, I know it. It is a work in progress, to rise beyond the fact that my living conditions look fairly similar to how they did a decade ago and join a world where I may not be married or have kids but I am a peer with life experiences and the ability to exchange conversation just as well as if I did. Pathetic much? I'll get the hang of this by 40, I'm sure. :)

Book Review: Come With Me

Oh, now that's ironic. Posting a book review after my last post. :-P I have been reading some really good books lately (Dignity and Worth: Seeing the Image of God in Foster Adoption, for example). Don't really want to write about every single one though, so I'll stick with the one I received for free, from Bethany House Publishers, free in exchange for an honest review!

In Come With Me, Suzanne Eller, an author with Proverbs 31 ministries (for those who follow Lysa Terkeurst, etc.) shares what God taught her as she spent time in the Gospels. Each chapter is loosely devoted to one of the 12 disciples. I say loosely because I felt the correlation between the disciple and the lessons the author extrapolated from that disciple's life were a bit of stretch at times. Still, I have never studied the disciples, so some of the connections she made really were insightful. The overarching theme of the book I think would be living as a true disciple of Christ, abandoning all for Him. Each chapter has a different focus.

It took me a long while to make it through this book, I'm not sure why, but this review is waaaaay overdue (it came out in May!), but when I did get around to opening up the pages, there would often be a nugget waiting for me.

Each chapter ends with a handful of "Taking It Deeper" questions (for cross-referencing Scriptures and reflecting), a main Scripture verse, a short prayer, and bullet pointed ideas for "Living As a Disciple." This is not a theological book. It is one woman sharing her journey of faith in an instructional way, like the older woman teaching the younger woman, only not in a "I have it all together" way but in a "let's seek Jesus together" way.

I am giving this book 4 out of 5 stars.

"Intentional gratitude is a course corrector. It turns away temptation. You aren't asked to pretend that there aren't challenges, but to take a step back and tackle them in a different way." (p. 127)
"There's nothing wrong with dreaming. Many times those dreams are a catalyst to make a difference or to take a huge step of faith. Your dreams can encourage you when getting there is difficult. . . .
Dreaming is worthwhile unless it makes you unhappy with where you are or who you're with, or it creates resentment with God's timing versus your own. . . .
Should we dream big? Absolutely. Should we obsess, worry, wrangle, or plot to get what we want, or to have what someone else has? Probably not the best plan." (p. 130)

Saturday, August 6, 2016

176: why I have a hard time getting rid of books which I delve into the psychological connection between me and my books.

What does my library mean to me?

Like, honestly.

After writing a long, rambling, very probing draft on the subject, here's my rewrite.

My library of 489 books (plus the one I just bought at the Christian bookstore) is my trophy. It is a monument to my perceived self, proof that I am intellectual, that my interests are varied, even if several of the books remain unread, or bookmarked 32 pages in with boarding passes and napkins, or are relicts of my college days.

Owning books is virtuous. Owning good books is even more virtuous. I have imbedded this fact on my psyche and, with it, great pride in my 489 (plus 1) collection.

Maybe it all started with my favorite Disney princess and her love of books

To get rid of a book feels like relinquishing part of who I was or who I want to be. The desire to be a woman who is more than a popular fiction reader, someone who is intellectual and deep and reads classics. And I do love an occasional dip into philosophy or history or Shakespeare! I do! But I'm probably never going to read a 751 page book on John Adams even though I am interested in who he was. And although I bought that still shrink-wrapped book on Sam Houston while at the San Jacinto Monument in Houston, Texas, and therefore have a sentimental attachment to it, realistically I'm never going to read 531 pages on him either. To get rid of a book is admitting that I will probably never pursue that potentially interesting topic.

Counseling interests me, and Seeing With New Eyes is supposed to be a really good book on the topic, but right now, that's not where my interest lies. But it sure looks good on a shelf!

It looks good.

I want to tell you about all the different kinds of books (not just history!) I own just so you'll be impressed with me.

Yet, they are like a weight around my neck.

I am afraid to let books go.

Afraid to let go of the memories--I bought American Women and World War II on the U.S.S. Midway while venturing out on a day trip by myself in San Diego!

Afraid to admit the unvirtuous fact that I like the Basil Rathbone movies better than the Original Illustrated Sherlock Holmes short stories.

Afraid to let go of books that would add greatly to that ideal future homeschool library.

Afraid to close a chapter and say I'm no longer interested in that subject.

That is the salient point:

I am not interested in them right now.

What do I actually read? What if, instead of holding onto books I'm interested in and take pride in and that I bought with great excitement for amazingly cheap prices, what if I culled my library down to what I actually read? It would be far more meager. Maybe not less interesting, but less diverse. Less to boast about. And with some of my favorites now on my Kindle app, not an accurate show-off of what I read.

Is this me, or is this who I think I should be?

What do I actually read? Now. This person today in real life in real time. If I got rid of some of the books I probably won't ever read, would I perhaps find my true self? Who I am now? Would I find something beautiful behind the lie that my identity is wrapped up in the gargantuan amount of looks-impressive-on-a-shelf books I own but don't read? Would I find that I can be an interesting, intelligent, culture-shaping individual without owning 489 (plus 1!) books?

This is my psychological connection to my books. Basically pride and fear.

P.S. After writing this draft, I gathered together 43 books to let go of. I am trying very hard to not let my emotions kick in and change my mind. I also have been reading the new book I bought--because that's what books are for.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

175: the discomfort of a crush

You like someone. And (of course) they don't like you back. How do you know? Because he could do something about it if he did and he's not. Logic. Doesn't always penetrate the emotions. You re-hash your interactions (even if it was literally just a "hello, *name*) and groan as you remember that thing that made you look ridiculous (I can't believe I said that!!!), those words that sounded pushy (I totally turned him off!), or uninterested (I did not! Oh no!). You let the pull and salt wash over you a couple days, and then, when you expect things to start feeling better (because emotions come in waves), I don't know, a hormone tweak or something makes the wave drag on longer than it should. These uncomfortable feelings of unrequited like should be ebbing. I want them to ebb. This is painful. No, not painful. Just very uncomfortable! I remember things I said, things I did. So so so stupid! Ack! Augh! Argh! Recoiling in amazement at my own dunce-ity and then going back and looking at the disaster all over again. I was a complete flirt! -Lie- I made a complete fool of myself! -Lie- He would never like me because I am so inadequate. -Lie- He probably has some secret weakness that I wouldn't want to deal with anyway. -Lie- I'm going to forget about him. I don't need him. I'm better off without him.

And so instead of embracing the discomfort, we do everything to make it go away. Which I'm all for, as long as we don't deceive ourselves that it's somehow our fault or his fault or that we don't want him anyway. Cuz that's what I do. I start lying to myself to make me feel better.

Maybe we should embrace the uncomfortable truths.

Such as, I like him.
He probably doesn't like me.
It's not because I'm horrid.
It might be he simply doesn't like me. *ouch* *shrug*
That isn't stopping me from liking him.
I'm going to have to live with this discomfort until it dies down. Not feed it, not rehash it, not beat myself up over it--just live with it.

And the comforting truths.

I did my best to get him to like me back.
I may not have performed perfectly, but the right guy will be attracted to me, despite my awkward or ridiculous moments.
There really are other good guys out there. I might not know any at the moment that seem as well-suited for me, but God has proven to me before that whoever I currently like isn't the end-all of amazing guys.

What to do then? I don't know. Give it over to God...again. Acknowledge He can bring romance out of clods and rocks. Confirm your trust in His power and the beauty of His doings. Remind yourself He loves you. Basically, lay before God what we already know and believe above and beyond our temporal wishes. Testify to ourselves what we have witnessed of our God.

And then, ride out the discomfort a little longer.