Tag Archives: contentment

frost bitten

You’ll be kind and
never lose your temper
and no one will misunderstand
your jokes. You’ll

wake up early and listen
to the mourning dove
sing     dooo
dooo               do-do-do
low-high calling
the new day good.

You’ll always have spare
change for the panhandler
at his median post. You’ll be

better.
You’re just a little bit good
for now.

But the You that matters
is the you that exists.

And she hits snooze and grumbles
through morning coffee, forgets
to take out the trash.

She whines and her
words don’t always
pour over wounds like soothing
balm. Sometimes,
she lets wounds fester.

But at least she exists, here,
now, placed for a season,
planted and occasionally watered.

You’re aloe with frost
bitten tips, but
you’re alive, and can still give
of your rich pulp.

Remember this,
God uses the You you are.

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i’m still here

Hello, y’all. I’m not gone; I’ve just been posting up a storm on my fair trade blog, Style Wise.

hot air balloons charlottesville

I’ve also been reading some thought provoking and inspiring articles:

It’s an almost universal truth that any language you don’t understand sounds like it’s being spoken at 200 m.p.h. — a storm of alien syllables almost impossible to tease apart. That, we tell ourselves, is simply because the words make no sense to us. Surely our spoken English sounds just as fast to a native speaker of Urdu. And yet it’s equally true that some languages seem to zip by faster than others. Spanish blows the doors off French; Japanese leaves German in the dust — or at least that’s how they sound.

Reflecting on what he went through when Ruthie was sick, he told me that the secret to the good life is “setting limits and being grateful for what you have. That was what Ruthie did, which is why I think she was so happy, even to the end.”

While honest compensation should always be sought with both humility and pride, the pursuit of riches and wealth as an end goal is always a losing battle. Riches will never fully satisfy… we will always be left searching for more. People who view their work as only a means to get rich often fall into temptation, harmful behavior, and foolish desires.

And when you believe that minuscule imperative statements trump entire narratives, you miss out on the complexity that is woven into scripture. You lose stories like Deborah and Junia and Phoebe and Tabitha and Lydia and Anna and Priscilla– because these stories about powerful women conflict with the limited suggestion of one author to one friend. You lose the ability to learn from the value of contradictions, because instead of recognizing contradictions as the human component of individual perspective and human narrative, the contradictions become something you have to explain away or deny

Somewhere in my mid-twenties, I drifted off the Romans Road and stumbled onto a bigger, wilder Gospel in which salvation is less about individual “sin management” and more about God’s relentless work restoring, redeeming, and remaking the whole world. Salvation isn’t some insurance policy that kicks in after death; it’s the ongoing, daily work of Jesus, who loosens the chains of anger, greed, materialism, and hate around our feet and teaches us to walk in love, joy, and peace instead. It’s good news, not bad news, and I can’t, for the life of me, believe that only evangelical Christians like myself have a monopoly on it.

What have you been up to?

*Hot Air balloon over Charlottesville, by Reid Kasprowicz on flickr

the time will pass anyway: navigating life in your twenties

Girls

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” – Earl Nighingale

This idea as a life framework has been on my mind for the past several weeks. I realized – in the back of my mind at first but now clearly – that it was always a lie that success was waiting just around the corner from graduation day. Success coupled with fulfillment takes time. And it’s always taken time. And the fact that the Mid-Life Crisis is a fixture of our society is proof that people have been telling each other and themselves the lie for decades, and that the delusion eventually wears off.

Life in my twenties, and maybe for its entirety, is about finding the balance between financial survival and personal fulfillment. And they don’t always arrive together, at the same time or as part of the same activity. And being content with that, and knowing I’m ok, and continuing to strive regardless, is the big life lesson.

What I’m still trying to figure out is if we need to rework what we say to kids about following their dreams or if we would cling to that idealism even if we weren’t told it. Maybe we would go through the crap of realizing in our guts that life is hard, that we can’t always get what we want, that life isn’t fair, even if attempts were made to let us down easy in the beginning.

Ultimately, it’s worthwhile to work toward hard, big, important goals. It’s easier to keep going, though, when we don’t put ourselves on a timeline, when we realize we won’t implode if we don’t get from point A to point B by age 25. I don’t think my generation suffers from a case of adultlescence. I think prior generations were simply deferring the hard questions for mid-life. And some within my generation have been intimidated into deferring it, too. But I believe that:

“Contrary to a belief popular among older people, the Quarterlife Crisis is not the idle whining of a coddled, presumptuous post-adolescent. It is the response to reaching the turning point between young adulthood and adulthood; it is the amalgamation of doubt, confusion, and fear that comes with facing an overwhelming set of identity issues and societal expectations at once.” – Alexandra Robbins, It’s a Wonderful Lie

If we do it now, maybe we can avoid it later. And that’s ultimately healthier because we’re less tied down now. We have the space – and the physical health – to move past the false expectations and self doubt and maybe arrive at a place of contentment and self-understanding in a decade or so. And we get a whole, long life to work toward our dreams instead of scrambling for it at age 50, ill-equipped and emotionally shattered.

Know that, as long you’re dreaming and reading and working toward something, you’re fine. You don’t need to have arrived. And you might never arrive. It’s the working toward something with hope and diligence that ultimately makes you a success as a human being. Believe in that and find rest.

“…The pursuit of meaning is what makes human beings uniquely human. By putting aside our selfish interests to serve someone or something larger than ourselves — by devoting our lives to “giving” rather than “taking” — we are not only expressing our fundamental humanity, but are also acknowledging that that there is more to the good life than the pursuit of simple happiness.” – There’s More to Life than Being Happy, The Atlantic

photo source: CNN

I am not less

graduate photo

One Saturday night a few weeks ago, Daniel and I were in the car on the way to a potluck dinner where several grad students would be present when he asked me:

“Why do you act embarrassed that you’re not in grad school?”

I replied, “Because I am embarrassed. And I’m embarrassed now that my embarrassment was so obvious that you picked up on it.”

Here’s my confession: I’ve been embarrassed that I’m not pursuing grad school since the semester before I received my undergraduate degree.

That was always the expectation, at first from only myself and later from everyone (at least as I perceived it): peers, family, professors, coworkers, friends. I heard them saying, implicitly or aloud:

Leah is the grad school type. Leah is smart and motivated and needs to use her academic talent to better the humanities. Leah is too good to leave academia. Leah’s job as a nanny/framer/barista is obviously temporary – we know she can do better

But here I am, two years later, not in grad school. And I can’t help feeling like a disappointment to myself and everyone who invested in a dream that may have been more theirs than mine all along. And I have to learn to cope with that. To not be ashamed of myself just because I don’t have a title or prepared statement for that pervasive, incessant question: “What are you doing with your life?”

Do I have to know what I’m doing with my life? Does anyone ever stick to their early-20s response? And if they do, are they satisfied?

I need to work through my feelings of inadequacy. I need to see value in myself as a living human being trying to better myself and be good to others. I need to recognize that I am enough as long as I strive to make life meaningful – by the moment and the hour and the day.

I need others to grant me the space to breathe. I need others to have the self-respect to see themselves as more than their resumes or academic accolades so that they can see me in that light, too.

I’m trying to internalize the truth that I don’t have to – and probably shouldn’t – measure myself by someone else’s standards for success. I’m trying to overcome the pull of the myth that the highest form of human being is the employed scholar. I can be who I want to be, read what I want to read, and discuss in depth what I want to discuss without a piece of paper that tells others I’m an expert, that tells me I have the right to speak. And I can do other things too. And I have the right to respect myself for grand things like my entrepreneurial goals and lowly things like my ability to make a great cappuccino.

And I am not less for the decisions I’ve made or the place I’m in.