Confession: It’s Kind of All About Me

Something I enjoy doing but don’t often claim boldly is writing. I actually really enjoy writing. I’ll often mask my affection for writing by saying I like blogging. Blogging somehow doesn’t seem like such a serious commitment and it doesn’t end up sounding nearly as pretentious.

I don’t actually love writing book reviews. I enjoy it and I definitely enjoy it for some books more than others. But I love discussing books and reading and the ideas presented books. I find myself wanting to discuss certain books and stories over and over while others could go without ever being mentioned.

I mention this because some of my favorite writers masquerading as bloggers have been writing posts of blogger burn-out lately. But they don’t actually seem burned out on the writing aspect of blogging so much as the trying to keep up with everyone aspect.

I am not feeling burned out at all which is strange because I’ve been pretty much glued to the computer for the last several days doing some work. (which I hope to tell you about soon) I think right now I am actually appreciating the way my blogs are giving me an outlet for all the thoughts in my head. I’m finding my evening writing routine to be extremely comforting. And this has nothing to do with community or friends, it’s pretty much all about me. (I’ve also been adding new blogs to my RSS reader and they are not book blogs. They are just blogs or online journals that are dealing with topics that lately have been flooding my head and heart.)

But the problem with blogging is that it keeps me from other kinds of writing. I only have so much writing time a day, after all, and blogging provides a kind of instant gratification through comments and stats. But I have this other thing inside of me that wants to be written…and I’m going to have to figure out how to make it happen. It’s scary to think of committing to another kind of writing, one that is uncertain and may not lead anywhere. But it’s time to think and act boldly. It’s time to start taking some risks.

(Oh and another sign of the selfishness of my blogging? I know for a fact I owe some of you emails and I’m choosing to write this post instead of answer them. Ah well, tomorrow I’ll do better!)

Advertisements

Bid My Anxious Fears Goodbye

I love the late night and the early morning (before I go to sleep, I do not enjoy it so much if I have to wake up in it)

There’s just something about how the world goes still and falls silent. For some reason, I tend to work best at this time, managing to finally catch up on the day’s emails, managing to finally write whatever is in my head, managing to tend to all of the little things that build up during the day.

I also think best during this time. I think it’s the pressing fatigue and the chance to just be alone without the interruption of the world. There’s something about the late night hour that enables me to let my guard down and invite God in.

I read a couple of convicting posts about cynicism. I never used to be cynical, but lately I’ve felt more so. It is absolutely a protective mechanism, but it’s also a sign that something’s not right in my life. When I feel myself becoming critical, it’s the biggest warning flag I have. It’s time, when the cynicism and the criticism come in, to remember just exactly who I am.

Wonder. I want to remember wonder. I want to remember that God doesn’t work, live, or exist according to the ways I think He ought to. I want to remember that people are sacred, beautiful, that they bear His image. I want to be open to the beauty that is less obvious.

I have felt so full of want lately. Longing for a change. Longing for recognition. Longing for deeper relationships. Longing for the certainty that yes, this path that I’m on is the right one.

And I’m just sitting here at the kitchen table, doing some blog work I wonder if, for the umpteenth time, is worthwhile, listening to some comfort music, knowing I should go to bed, but I let the words penetrate the hardness of my heart…I let them seep in, and wrap around me like a hug.

And I let go. Even if just for right now, just for tonight, just for this second. I breathe deeply of the promise of peace. I let go. I am reborn for another day.

Will Belief in God Ever Die?

So I’m up way too late, trying to catch up on email when Nightline comes on discussing God (yay!) and presenting the question of whether or not science has disproved God.

It all seems a little sensational to me, and they’re having this debate with people who think this is worth debating.

When they asked if belief in God had died I immediately thought, no way! Not just because I believe in God, but because I think there will always be people who believe in God and people who don’t. I just figured that this was the way of things–there will always be two sides of every coin.

But then I let myself think about it for a second longer. Could there come a day in Western culture when belief in God has died? (I see it being far less likely in other cultures) Where there are no people who believe, where some scientific explanation has swept away the ability to believe?

I still don’t think so. I think science can answer many questions, but I don’t think it speaks to the many complexities of human experience. I don’t think that you have to believe in God to answer those questions, but I think it’s one way we seek to answer the mystery. I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t see science as a substitute on its own.

I sometimes think things like genocide and famine and war are bigger God-killers than science.

In any case, it’s interesting to think about. And now I should go to bed!

Information Made Us No Good

I was reading Gone with the Wind this past weekend, and there’s a section of the book where Scarlett is reading Ashley’s letters to Melanie from the warfront. In case you’re not familiar with Gone with the Wind (and please correct this immediately it’s fabulous) Scarlett harbors a secret love for Ashley but he is married to Melanie. Scarlett naturally believes that he loves her, though, and she reads the letters looking for his passion. What is so completely charming about it all though, is that just when the letter starts to say something interesting, Scarlett stops reading because it bores her! She’s such an amazingly well drawn character, even if I can’t relate to her!

Anyway, as I was reading, I was thinking, sheesh we were doing it even back then! I’ve had friends who upon finding out their spouse is cheating on them have hacked into their email accounts to read their emails. This is actually a more common occurance than you might expect. The information…all that information so available, that secret peek into the mind of someone you love who has hidden so much from you…it’s almost more temptation than can be resisted.

But once you have the knowledge, you have it forever. You can’t unlearn something. It can be incredibly addicting as well, constantly looking at their email or maybe a journal you’ve started to read in secret.

Beth Moore talks about this fairly frequently. I think I agree with her in general, that there is knowledge that is not meant for us. Going back to the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve are presented with the option to know as God knows, they take it. And then there are consequences. And whether or not you think Adam and Eve were real people, I think the general lesson of the story is applicable….there is knowledge that hurts us. There are consequences to gaining knowledge.

When it comes to the context of relationships, I find this to be an area of importance. Sure, we can read someone’s email but do we really have a right to that information? Shouldn’t we let people take their time and reveal themselves to us in their own way? In a way it’s like gossip…I find gossip to be harmful because I form opinions about people, and impressions outside of the context of my relationship with them. It’s unfair to them, and ultimately to me as well.

And once you know something, like I said before, you can’t unlearn it. I think it influences you and your actions whether or not you like it and at times you become a slave to the knowledge.

God himself does not reveal His whole self to us. There are shadows and light for a reason. We yearn to know and be known and yet that longing inside of us will never be satisfied on this earth. (as I believe)

Regret

Last week I wrote a post I feel was a little bit misunderstood about literary identity, but I take responsibility for that as I still don’t feel I’ve come to an exact landing place myself on the subject. But it led to a conversation about regret.

I don’t mind feeling some regret in life. Have I spent too much time in regret? Yes. But I think it can be instructive. I think knowing that you might regret something can guide you in your choices as long as you don’t allow it to cripple you. I can’t even fathom not having any regrets. Don’t we often say to each other, “You don’t want to regret that?” “If you don’t do this, you might regret it later.” and so on and so forth. So I think regret is real, and not always bad, even if only the threat of it is the fire you set in your heart to move you in the right direction.

What is so interesting to me in contemplating regret is that I have a good friend, who was at one time a housemate who would do everything under the sun because she didn’t want to regret not doing it later. It got to the point where it often felt ridiculous to me as she ran herself ragged trying to do it all. The kind of regret I think I have is more the things I’ve done as opposed to that which I haven’t. (though everything you do is something you’re not doing, let’s be honest)

I should emphasize that I don’t think wallowing in regret is the right answer to anything. But allowing yourself to feel regret, I guess I just don’t see that as bad. That was a little bit of my post last week (though not all) that I was communicating. The loss I feel because I’ve made one choice. The reality that one day I’ll die and I won’t be able to do it all. I won’t have done it all. There are so many books to read but only so many hours in the day. When I’m at a bookstore or looking at lists of books, I see only possibility. But when I finish a book and see the many I still want to read, I feel my limitations.

Status Updates

A friend of mine on facebook updated his status today saying something to the effect of so many users on facebook proves how we’re relational beings and then he went on to say something about how we also were created for relationships with God or something.

I went to a small Christian college so lots of my facebook friends status updates often seem like mini-sermons.

The thing is I think in many ways facebook operates in opposition to the relational being aspect of us, and more to the insatiably curious side. I mean really, do you not often read your friends status updates without commenting? It’s so easy to keep up with so many people without actually having to do much of any interacting. There’s a couple I knew in college and I love reading their updates because they are always so fun and they seem so happy. I very rarely interact with them, and yet I have a pretty good idea of what’s going on in their lives. It’s kind of bizarre in a way.

You know me…I’m a huge fan of social media so I’m not trying to be all, social media is killing real relationships or real relationships can’t happen online, because you know I don’t believe any of that for a second. It’s just that I’m becoming more and more aware that there are people who know me better than I know them. And, well, vice versa.

The ease with which we can simply “read” each other’s lives has certainly changed some dynamics of relationships. For one thing, I think it can help us to know each other better. I feel much more confident in writing than in talking. I like to think that my friends and family who read my blog are able to understand me better. But on the flip side, I think it can create a false sense of intimacy with someone who has never met me. They may be reading my blog and I have no idea they even exist.

Again, I’m just rambling a little here, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about these things since that episode of House last week. Being able to read each other certainly does a bring a whole new element to relationships. And I’m not exactly against keeping up with people via facebook status without interacting. I think it just goes to show how desperately curious we are and how we read to make a little sense of each other in this world.

A Few Thoughts on Forgiveness

I was reading Shaun Groves post and resulting comments on forgiveness today and it got me to thinking about just how hard forgiveness is. One commenter said we must see our sin appropriately and God’s forgiveness in order to be able to forgive others.

I think there’s a lot of truth to that…when we see ourselves in light of who we actually are, when we acknowledge that we can’t be the judge of what we’ve done and it’s seriousness we begin to come to a place of forgiveness. I also think that the constant battle to remember that other people are as real as we are–as deep and complex and full of stories and self-delusions as we are–when we remember this–we are able to take steps towards forgiveness.

I think for me, one of the biggest steps towards learning forgiveness was actually doing something that I never thought I would do. Once you’ve crossed that line and acted against what you actually perceived yourself to be capable of, it becomes easier to have empathy, compassion and understanding for the actions of others. After all, once you’ve watched your own self knowingly hurt others and defame what you previously thought sacred, once you’ve seen your own selfish, manipulative work in action–well it starts to become clearer.

There are not really good people or bad people, there are just people. We so desperately want to lump people, categorize, and label. It’s easier on our minds and sometimes our hearts to simply view people through certain lenses and forget that they are, in a way, sacred.

I know it’s a lot harder when someone’s hurt you, really hurt you. Or hurt someone you love. But I don’t think we can ever know the consequences of our own actions. We never know, if somehow, we’ve been that same devil in someone else’s life. We have to see ourselves for who we really are, forgive ourselves, and then somehow, I think we can forgive others.