I have always been an open person, probably too open but I have done my best to tone it down. When I was younger I told my grandparents friends that I hated waffle house, they happened to own quite a few. The older I got the more I learned how to use that little filter in my brain but I have tried not to tone it down too much. When I became a christian (AD) I got the impression I was supposed to hold things in, keep my struggles a secret and learn the correct answers to questions like how are you doing. When I was going through a hard time I learned to say, “it’s hard but Gods going to get me though it” even if I didn’t believe it I found my mouth saying the words. Then I what’s worse is I started giving answers I didn’t know if I believed. “I’ll pray for you” come out much better than the actual prayers and while I know God’s not up there waiting on me to answer prayers I bet he’d enjoy me thinking about someone besides me. A year into my faith I found I was dieing for answers to questions I was too afraid to ask. What if God didn’t answer my prayers? What does his sovereignty really look like? I had watched my mom be prayed over numerous times and each time she left sick. I was loosing faith and found little outreach in the Christian community. How do we expect to struggle together of we can’t be honest. When did how are you become a filler statement? And can someone please tell me what in the world fine means. I heard once that we are only as sick as our secrets and I think Christianity breaths better when we can air out our secrets. I dare to say that affairs in the church might be cut in half if someone could begin to divulge their real struggles. Maybe teens wouldn’t experiment with sex and drugs If they could talk about why they want to. If we could open the doors to utter honesty I think God might stand out as more than just the a man in the sky. If we could embrace all that grace has to offer then the world might not define Christians as hypocrits. Community will only come when we can struggle and rise together. Questions are not scary (as Isaac would say) if we aren’t scared of the answers. Let’s put away the pamplets about church terms and say what we are really thinking. If life sucks I promise it won’t get any better just because you lie about it. Struggle together and don’t be afraid to say what’s on your mind. Say what everyone else is probably already thinking and live a life of freedom God has promised you!
Sitting on the plane behind three giggling girls reminds me of how things have changed. They met only an hour ago but are instant friends and while the rest of the plane flies in silence, ear phones in, reminding everyone to keep to themselves. They giggle and laugh and understand something I have come to forget, we are all the same. Bonded by the simplicity that they are humans and nothing else. They don’t ask each other about incomes or religion, and they aren’t concerned that they may never see each other again. I cant help but wonder how we have gotten so far from that? When did I start believing that people were only worth connecting with if I had things in common: white, female, young. The list goes on but I bet if I got down to the depths of my plane partners heart they would want the same things, be driven by the same desires, and have an undeniable need for connection with others. However when people sit next to me I instinctively grab for my phone, put in my earphones, or scan the magazine I have already looked at. The sign above my forehead reads do not disturb and it is seen by all but children under the age of ten.
When moving forward in life it almost seems instinctual to think about the way things used to be. I remember the days when life never seemed over whelming and joy was abundant. I remember when stress didn’t mean anything and sleep was something I would do when the playing was done.I know with age brings responsibilities and with responsibilities the need to let life over take you but somehow I want the joy of childhood back. I want the everyone is a new friend mentality instead of the notion that enemy’s are at every corner. Somehow as the days and years go by the ability to handle life has becomes harder and where there was once abundant joy there is now fear.
Getting married has caused me to look at who I am not and who I was then and see the gap. As adults we strive to be better, stronger, more responsible but if I am honest I am getting worse with age. I think the best version of me was when I was five. I believe at the age of five I knew what was important and anything past that wasn’t worth worrying about. At five I understood something that has been reversed with time, God loves me. At five I had a feeling of safety that no amount of alarm systems, locked doors, and shotguns can replicate. At five I believed what people told me and didn’t assume the worst. When I was five my imagination ruled my Saturdays and I could spend hours in a box pretending that it was my home. At five God was my friend and when I was told he was going to take care of me I had no reason to doubt. It was the time before life got a hold of me, before I realized life wasn’t the candy land I had made it out to be. It was before I was hurt by my first boyfriend, lied to by my best friend, and told to be awake for sixteen hours a day with homework. The time before my cell phone was a necessity and I needed seven social networking sites to keep up with people down the street. It was the time before I realized people weren’t all good and that being a woman is a dangerous thing. A time before politics and the polite answers. A time when I didn’t blame the disappointments of life on God.
Sadly something happens in this world after you live here long enough, it wins, and you realize that God meant something when he said focus on the things that are eternal. I cant ignore the reality that hurt is more prevalent than healing and I cant reverse time. We can hide from knowledge, we can shelter ourselves from evil, and we can try to keep the child like faith but it doesn’t change the fallen world around us. Only we can change it, remembering what we knew to be true as children, before life told us we were wrong. Because evil doesn’t change the truth that God is good. Hurting does change that God can heal and disappointment does not prove that God is unfaithful. All this proves is that it is more important than ever to remember what the little girls on the plane grasped and that which I have forgotten, we are all the same.
My nephew is a master manipulator, the combination of his adorableness and his tiny three year old voice can convince you to do anything. When he started eating real food we instantly bonded over love of anything sweet and I started bringing him little goodies every time i’d see him. Every time he would see me he would smile that little kid smile that makes you melt and say “aunt tindy can I have some mm’s”. I always gave in, after all when he got fussy I could just send him back to his mom. One day he was at my parents house in my old room and he looked at my mom and said “Birdie, (my moms grandmother name) Aunt Tindy loves candy” she laughed and said “yes she does boo” to which he replied, “I love tindy”. They soon figured out that the copious amounts of sugar I was giving him made him rather moody and told me I had to shut the candy factory down. So I did my best to cut back on the sweet shop and he figured out while Isaac tried to figure out how to trick us into giving in. He would see me reaching for some cake and look at me and say, “whats that”, as if he didn’t know. I would say, “its cake buddy” and he would look up at me like he had never seen it before and say, “i can have a little piece”, as if I had asked. He also started telling his dad that things were good for him, like brownies, cookies, and ice cream. Perhaps one of the funniest things he started doing was when he would see something he really wanted he would come up and grab my hand and say. “tindy I show you” then bring me to whatever he wanted and when I would say no he would say. “I can hold it though”. Every time there was a desert he couldn’t have until after dinner he’d say. “I can hold it though”. He would walk around my parents house with his pockets stuffed full of lollipops and fruit snacks waiting until we would say ok. Any candy he saw he wanted to hold it, staring at it with his big blue eyes. Occasionally we would find him in the corner lollipop in his mouth and a guilty look on his face like it had just been too much to bear. It was hard to be mad at the little guy when I sympathized so much. He thought he could handle the temptation but in the end it won.
God is not too good for irony and symbolism, in the bible he plays off of them, demonstrating a deep connection with his peoples hearts through each generation. God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac giving us a human picture of his own heart wrenching sacrifice. David became king at age 30, the same age that Jesus started his ministry. Jesus was a storyteller, a master of his language, seeing that even the small things would captivate the people he had created. He displays his deep seated devotion to us by making strives to relate to us in a human way, even though he is not human. He is hold and in his holiness God chooses to act human, it is his way of courting us, making us feel as if we can truly relate to the God of the universe. Suffering as humans suffer, feeling as humans feel, and accepting that his own people would give his love back to him. Gods love is strewn throughout the pages of the bible, the humbling of himself when he was something so much greater simply so we could understand. He sits on a glorious throne and at your doorstep. He is praised by all creation yet he is rejected by mere humans. He knew our minds could never grasp all that he is so he came up with a way to relate to us. He tells life’s greatest lessons in the form of children stories, he does miracles to grab our attention, and thousands of years later we are still amazed at his irony, sense of humor, and powerful love. Our God is not a boring God, nor does he act in vain. He makes purposeful moves to demonstrate his deep connection to our souls. He makes us laugh in grief, smile in pain, trust what we cannot see. We often want to rattle off reasons for things that seem too coincidental but what if we started giving credit where credit is due.
One of the fears I had when I became a Christian in college was that I would have to give up a part of my life I greatly enjoyed, fun. I thought I would trade in the bars for Friday night bible study and early morning prayer breakfast. I thought, like many people do, that God is a rule follower and doesn’t enjoy laughter, humor, or even celebration but I came to learn that not only is that not true but God enjoys our celebration and laughter, after all he created them. I had bought into the lies of this world that fun only came with drinking and partying, I looked on the Christians in my high school and felt sorry for them. I thought they were missing out on all the “life” I was enjoying. I didn’t realize until I cleaned myself up that my partying had caused scars that God so desperately wanted me to avoid and the alcohol I thought made my life so fun was holding me hostage under its allusion of parties and fun. It wasn’t until I tried to give up my old life that I realized not only how wrong I was about Christians but how wrong I was about my sin. My sin was controlling me not the other way around. So after four years of running from God I decided to give over my life to him, starting over at 19 wasn’t easy and it did require sacrifice but I gained my freedom in return. God brought me deep friendships that didn’t require alcohol or compromising who I was and he taught me how to enjoy life. I had spent years pushing my family away and then I realized they were the best friends I could find. Its no surprise that I learned how to have “clean Christian fun” in the midst of my loving family and I saw my old sin for what it was, chains. I saw people trying to reach freedom with each sip, hoping it would release the person they really were or make them who they wanted to be. I could finally see the lie. I learned to be myself despite socially awkward situations and found laughter was more fun sober, Saturdays were better without a hangover, and fufulling Gods purpose for me was more rewarding than any Friday night. God doesnt ask me to sit at home on Friday night and since following him I have given up a lot to gain it all, I met my husband and had my greatest desires satisfied. I have found lasting friendships that cant be shaken by distance and a constant guiding hand that never leaves.
Ben spent this Saturday making a slingshot out of surgical rope and a stick he cut down from one of the few trees in Texas while I cleaned the house and planted flowers in the front yard. We went to home depot, argued over the color of flowers, and took the dogs to chase ducks in a pond near our house. I bought gardening gloves and spent 45 minutes debating with him over whether I had planted the snapdragons too close together and then it hit me, when did I become a cliche? When did the lines I always laughed about in Old School really become my life. I might not be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen all day but I am in there quite a bit. As a couple in our sunday school class put it, when did I start living a life just like everyone else? When did I start caring about dried flower arrangements and china patterns? When you are young you convince yourself that you will avoid the life that everyone else has fallen into and when you get older you come to accept that you really cant. I always said I would never be a housewife who spent their days cooking and cleaning and saying sentences like “put the toilet seat down” and “don’t get mud on the floor I just mopped” then I got married. Its time like this you realize the world really has nothing to offer and you can only be content when you put your focus on above. I get more joy out of watching Ben shoot his sling shot at trees, while Aiden cuddles terrified in my lap, that I ever thought possible. Texas has taught me that my ducks will never line up in a row but I can make a choice to focus on the things that really matter. Whenever I feel myself saying I will be happy when… I tell myself that if I keep this mindset I will never be happy. I can climb each step convincing myself the next one will make me happy but I will never get to the top or I can accept the step that I am on knowing God has me here for a reason. So ill sit here and watch ben shot rocks at the tree and thank God for the blessings I could so easily pass by.
When I started substitute teaching I knew my life would be more entertaining but I didn’t expect to enjoy my days so much. I found myself popping out of bed at 6am ready for a new adventure. My first real experience with high school freshman left quite a lasting impact. It was only my third day to be in a classroom with kids and I could feel my little heart pounding as I made my way through the maze that they call Katy High School. I met the teacher in her classroom since I was only doing the afternoon and she explained to me how the rest of the day would go, warning me about a few problem children in her 5th period. I was supposed to be reading them articles about AIDS in Africa and then going over the questions and prompting them on the right answers. She thanked me in a hurry and made her way out the door. Twenty pairs of eyes looked up at me expectantly, I thought this might be what it would be like to be an actor, I smiled back. I managed to quiet them down and read through an entire page of information about the horrific tragedy that is AIDS in Africa. One of the boys who sat in the front row looked up at me slightly dazed as I asked the first questions.