Sunday, October 10, 2010

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, not the mirror

So, I've recently been reading Wendell Berry's books Hannah Coulter and Jayber Crow.  I'm hooked.  I feel like I'm breathing in fresh air when I read his works.

Here's an excerpt from Hannah Coulter that has my mind working.

I was beautiful in those days myself, as I believe I can admit now that it no longer matters. A woman doesn't learn she is beautiful by looking in a mirror, which about any woman is apt to do from time to time, but that is only wishing. She learns it so that she actually knows it from men. The way they look at her makes a sort of glimmer she walks in. That tells her. It changes the way she walks too. But now I was a mother and a widow. It had been a longish while since I had thought of being beautiful, but Nathan's looks were reminding me that I was.       (p. 65)
 If we strive to find beauty looking back at us in the mirror, then we will surely fail to attain it, for in seeking to be beautiful, I believe we give up a part of ourselves to the slavery of vanity; we actually lose beauty.  Rather, as we move towards others, allowing them to see us, to take us in, it is in their estimation of us that our beauty lies.  It is an openness to being seen, and that is beautiful.

Each of my friends is beautiful to me.  I can't help but see them this way.  Though I know they strive as I do to dress well and practice some degree of good hygiene, I find that they are no less beautiful to me as when they are in their PJ's after having scrubbed off the days make up.

I guess I want to quit trying so hard to create a beauty in myself, and instead to let the beauty that's always been there propel me towards being more open and emotionally present.  It scares the hooey out of me; it really does.  But I think it's more honest and life-giving to others and to me, so perhaps it's worth it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hope is scary, and gritty.

"Hope is a radically dangerous passion. Hope is anticipation. It is a vision of the future that guides how the present will be lived."  Dan Allender from Bold Love

I feel like I'm in a dance with hope, not a graceful waltz or passionate tango, but a war dance, and I want hope to win.  As much as I want hope to win, I will fight till the end against it.  Hope demands relational risk, and not about whether or not I will experience the hurt of disappointment, but whether or not this time I will be disappointed, because I cannot avoid disappointment.  Hope does not try to erase the fall, but stares it down with the knowledge that the score has already been settled and we are just waiting to see how it all plays out.

Hope grieves and rages and celebrates, it does not shrink back nor hide. Hope lays bare one's soul, revealing all and believing that one day my longings and desires will be fully realized, so I need not be ashamed of them now.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

In the last 10 years . . .

As I sit in Paul & Lindsey's home, rubbernecking at the trash guys taking the last trash pick up that will happen in my name at 1608, the day I will put my first house on the market, I am reflecting on what I have done in the last ten years.

1. I have earned, yes earned, two master's degrees.

2. I have lived in two countries, and two states.

3. I have had 4 different cars.

4. I have purchased my first home.

5. I have learned plumbing skills, including snaking a sewer system (thank you Scott Seebohm).

6. I have learned to brew beer.

7. I fulfilled a long time dream of being a barista.

8. I have had 8 jobs, 9 if you count plasma donation.

9. I guess I should add that I have sold bodily fluids.

10. I have been surrounded by amazing friends, including a surprising number of southerners, and over 20 roommates.

11. I have become a kayaker

12. I have seen friends marry and divorce, have children and lose them.  Life is harder than I thought it would be.

13. I have become a mac user.

14. The kitchen department of stores has become my favorite section.  I also like the garden section, storage, cleaning products, and home furnishings.  I get more satisfaction from researching and buying a fan, than a CD.

15. I have moved closer to knowing who I am and becoming more human.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Living Levitical Loca

I have a two friends who have taken a class on the book of Leviticus this semester, and one of their assignments last week was to live according to Levitical law.  They needed to wear clothes all of one fabric, not touch dead things, not eat meat and cheese in the same meal, etc.  I really don't know all that was entailed.  They both said they had to be consciously aware of the state of their hearts.

After a conversation with Emily (one of the participants), I have had something she said rolling around in my head.  She became aware that it is impossible for a person to remain "clean".  If you touch someone who is unclean (and you have no real way of knowing), you are unclean.  You can live under the assumption that, try as you may, at the end of the day you will need to rinse off because of uncleanliness.  God has made extremely difficult, under his own law, for his people to be clean.

This may sound defeating, but instead it's somehow freeing.  It makes us acutely aware of how much we need God's forgiveness.  We cannot make it on our own.  Forgiveness draws us back into relationship with God, unable to deny that we don't need him.  God has always been about relationship with his people, and since the fall we've been running away trying to be our own god.  Through his law he put in place a reminder system.

Emily also mentioned that if we examine what the underlying principles are behind the law, we see the character and heart of God.  It was never intended to be about dos and don'ts, but about being set apart in our character and hearts.

Thankfully, now we can slap some cheese on our burgers, and hug our friends after they have handled dirty diapers.  We don't have to rinse off anymore at the end of the day, because we are marked with the Holy Spirit to remind us of our need for repentance and for God.  And that same Spirit is transforming our hearts that we might one day know and we are fully known.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

the scariness of gnomes

As my roomies and I travelled from Lakeland, FL to Huntsville, AL on Spring Break (a 10+ hour drive), we were driving via a tree-lined highway.  Mary Martha was asked to watch for deer on the sides of the road.  Wanting to be helpful, I volunteered to watch for other woodland creatures like nymphs and fairies.  It was suggested that we watch for gnomes as well.  The following conversation took place:

MM: Hey, Michelle, if you catch a gnome, can I pet it?
M: That seems scary to me.

Friday, February 19, 2010

because I'm a J . . . I'm planning to be spontaneous today

I am planning on being spontaneous today if I get my homework done.
I am planning on a trip to Target, and I don't really need anything.
I might drop by and visit someone on campus who I may or may not have emailed about spontaneously coming over on Friday afternoon.
I may drink a soda, and a beer.

Spontaneity is really hard work for a J.  I really suck at it.  But, maybe if i plan in some practice time I can improve.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Shame on you, Shame.

Okay, so kind of a serious post, but I am blogging, and this is what I've been thinking about.

So I've been exploring a past PTSD experience I had while in Zambia during my current sessions with my counselor.  I realized that I had attached shame to part of the near-car-jacking event.  Because I felt shame, I didn't admit to myself or those around me that I needed help.  I hid.  This has lead me to think a lot about the nature of shame and why we do the opposite of what we most desperately need.  Shame tells us to flee from relationship, the thing that can most readily help to remove our shame.  Shame makes all our fears flare up.  Shame keeps us from freely expressing who we are created to be.  Shame keeps us from interacting freely with God as well.

When people talk about how Satan attacks Westerners, they say it's in the sins you can't see.  I think this is true.  I also think the root of that sin is bound up in shame.  We are not who God says we are.  We are too marred to be loved by Him and others.  We believe we will find rejection if we disclose our shame, where we will more than likely find mercy.

We weren't created to hide.  We weren't created to have to hold back who we are.  It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Shame is a lie.  Shame on you, Shame.

Friday, February 12, 2010

So, a new blog . . .

I was chatting with my friend Renae yesterday, and she told me she missed my voice.  Not just my actual voice, but my voice if that makes sense.  She said I should blog more, Facebook more, call more.  Well, I'd like to.  However, the stuff in my head these days I don't feel comfortable posting for the community at large.  If they don't know me, they may get a incorrect impression.  For those of you who know my voice, you will know how to read this blog.  I hope to communicate more frequently and more freely.  I make no promises as to how often I will blog, and perhaps there will be blogs that are a waist of your time because they are literally verbal processing.  For instance, yesterday evening after returning from 5 Guys Burgers and Fries, I was heard verbally processing with two roommates.  I said, "Why do these jeans fit so comfortably, but are too short?"  That was it.  So, maybe I'll blog about stuff like that too.  Sometimes I resent the aforementioned jeans, because I wish they were longer, so I don't wear them as often.  I tend to get attached to my pants that fit well.
Anyhow, we'll see how this goes.