Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Creature of Discovery.


An afternoon off work in the middle of the week. 

What a sweet, often underrated blessing. I mean, seriously, my leg muscles are still for a change… not hiking up massive, rugged, never-ending hills at camp. You may not realize how big of deal that is, but it’s a pretty big deal.

Right now I’m drinking an iced latte at Aroma Roasters, a cozy little coffee place around these parts, and thinking about this wild and crazy California adventure I have been on since August (minus my little 2 month stint back in Nashville). What does it mean? How has it... 

Changed me?
Disturbed me?
Energized me?
Motivated me?

…All things I will see in time, I guess.

The bit that I have seen thus far, though, has been more than encouraging. As I told my new roommate, coworker, and friend at the start of training when she asked how I liked the job, I simply like who I am out here. I feel calm most days… like the clutter in my mind is being spread out in front of me and I can see its various shades and colors for the very first time.

My fears and doubts no longer scare me like they used to. In fact, I am finding that often, I actually embrace them head-on… or at least try not to run away every time I sense that an uncomfortable, yet very human emotional battle of some kind is approaching. Just like weathermen predict a tornado by the wind’s increased speed and strength, I am coming to know myself better and finding that I can sense when certain feelings are building up inside me. I feel the wind of my internal tornado hit my face… the cloudy eyes or the shortened breath, and I know that the storm is coming. And in this season, I let it happen. 

Bring on the storm, I tell myself. 
Whatever it brings, I choose not to run.

Also, in this season, I take my time for writing very seriously and I have, in many ways, mastered the sense of alone time. Oh, and I read a lot more than I used to. You know, I actually look forward to reading every night before bed. (Should I be embarrassed to admit that?)

With this new layer of myself exposed, one may not be surprised to discover that when I retook my Myers-Briggs personality test at the start of training in January, my introverted and extroverted tendencies were tied, a very first for me. And you know what, I am more than ok with that. I have always had a sort of crush on the introverted world, anyway. 

Now. Lord knows I can live the extroverted life fairly well when I am surrounded by those who I am comfortable being a kid around (which is a lot of you...), but I think what's different in this season, is I have learned how to enjoy myself more.  I have come to realize...

Hey… I kind of like myself

And if I am completely free under my own skin, I don’t really need anyone to tell me that they like me because I like me

And sometimes, that’s all you need in life… to genuinely like yourself.   

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Daily Stretch


So I have a new hobby.

Stretching.

And with stretching comes pain. The two are practically inseparable just like fifth grade boys and paintball. Chipotle’s burrito bowl with guacamole. Sufjan and unicorns.

Initially, the pain can be anywhere between a noticeable annoyance to an unbearable bullet to the muscles. But over time, it grows into an expectation and then a challenge and then perhaps even a mere moment in paradise.       

As silly as it may sound, the physical pain related to stretching can be enjoyable in the sense that you are pushing through and beyond a barrier of some kind. And then there is the small hope that the next morning there will be less pain until you just go deeper and deeper into a stretch.

And this brings me to my point.

Sometimes and even more than sometimes, pain is good… and not just the muscle kind, but the heart kind too. Just like with stretching, pain can be an obstacle to push through, an internal battle worth fighting over. I believe somewhere deep in my gut that emotional tension can be a good thing. Awkward silence can be a good thing. Not knowing what to do with emotional tension and awkward silence can even be a good thing.

Yet over and over again, we wake up into a new day of opportunity, a new day of stimulation, a new day of Divine Appointment and yet we choose to fall so easily and almost effortlessly back into our small and predictable Corner of Comfort, choosing against stretching of any kind...

Physically
Emotionally
Mentally
Spiritually. 

And in this process, we are actually experiencing more pain than we will ever know what to do with. We experience an invisible pain of sorts, a pain that exists in the majority of our population, a population of Silent Sufferers, all with emotions made of brick and ideas made of concrete. Just sticking to the routine because that’s all we know how to do. Of course, this is in hopes of avoiding the pain that we think we know so well.

We avoid stretching ourselves conversationally and experientially because we simply fear pain. We fear the unknown, the risk involved, and the overall soreness that can follow that initial ache. We will do anything in our power to fill in the gaps, to cushion our words, to stick to the script, all for…what??

Sometimes comfort can kill.
Sometimes routine can destroy.
And sometimes, a little pain is worth it.

The Ask


A three-year-old asked his mother a question.
And then another question.
And then another question.

Like a robot on repeat, the child just kept going and going becoming lost in the melodic rhythm of his Why's and What If's until finally, in order to maintain her last ounce of sanity, his mother answered.

Big mistake.

The child burst into tears as soon as the words escaped her mouth and within seconds, his eyes became free-flowing, never-ceasing, are-you-kidding-me miniature waterfalls. “But mommy why did you answer??” he asked, acting as though she had committed a terrible, shameful crime.

Can you blame him?! Ok maybe this is a slightly dramatic example but it proves a powerful, unavoidable point: Sometimes questions are meant to be just that…Questions.

Last month during training for my current job, we discussed inquiry-based education and the importance of encouraging kids to explore their own questions.. ya know, get lost in the wonder of it all. And well, I don’t think that should necessarily stop with children.

Adulthood comes with a curse, I dare say. And part of that curse is that we forget how to ask questions. We forget how to wander around in our own curiosity and imagination as we actually admit to ourselves, Hey… maybe I don’t know everything.

If you look at the stories of Jesus, He always welcomed questions. In fact, He asked a lot of questions Himself and even answered others’ questions with a deeper question. You know, I am not quite sure where in the life of Christianity that we decided questions were bad, that questions were scary.

I could not disagree more with that idea. I believe questions pull into a deeper sense of who we are. I believe they pull us into someone who knows more than us, someone we will never fully know on this side of life because He is simply more profound and more complex than we could ever imagine.

I believe questions have a unique power to draw us into heaven, a place where our questions will one day be answered and we will stand face to face with our Creator, our ultimate Answer.