Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On Love, and Life as a Walking Paradox

It's been awhile since I've posted anything on this blog. It's not that I've been lacking things that I want to talk about...more that I'm lacking things that I can talk about. Tonight, though...tonight, I'm just gonna write. I have no idea if I'll make sense, but I don't really care. It's not like I have a huge audience, anyway. :)

I've realized something in the past couple of weeks. Most people are afraid of love. I've met a lot of people who are afraid of being loved. I guess in some ways, I'm afraid of being loved, too. People fear what they don't understand...I think it's hard for anyone, knowing his or her flaws, to understand how someone could see beyond those imperfections. We have this silly idea that we need to be perfect in order to be loved, when anyone who's ever loved another person knows that love doesn't hold such ridiculous standards. It doesn't make sense. It's not supposed to.

More than people are afraid of being loved, they're afraid of loving. To love someone is to open yourself up to the possibility of getting your heart ripped out...stomped on...shredded...shattered. I hit a point back in high school when I wanted to give up on loving people. My heart had been beaten down too many times. A wise friend told me then, "you can't be so afraid of the pain that you miss out on the sweetness...don't be so afraid of dying that you never learn to live." That wisdom bored into my brain and refused to leave. Since then, I haven't been afraid to love. I don't like pain any more than anyone else, but I don't let that stop me. When I love someone, not just romantically, but
anyone...my heart is there 110%. If you have ever been my friend, you are my friend until the day I die. I don't care if I haven't seen you since elementary school. I'll still stand behind you.

There has been one, and only one, exception to that rule...and that particular individual, it could be argued, was never really a friend. Still, that person will always, always own a piece of my heart...and honestly, even if I could have it back, I don't think I'd want it. I learned a lot from that experience.

Loving people can suck sometimes. It can hurt like hell. It can be lonely. I love without restraint; I never expect to see that sort of reckless abandon in return, because I realize that most people simply don't believe they have that sort of capacity. It can be absolutely unbearable. I know that I am intense; that intensity intimidates people, so I'm rarely completely open about just how much I care about anyone.

I'm not brave. Tenacious, yes, but not brave. I just know that love, as frustrating and maddening and painful as it can be, is absolutely worth it.

I am a walking paradox. I'm a strong, stubborn, snarky, independent bitch, and not the sort of person whose bad side you ever want to come up against. I'm also bipolar, often insecure, painfully shy, and one of the most loyal and loving people you will ever meet. I am both of these seemingly antithetical personas, straight to the core of who I am. I'm a hardcore Christian with an open mind and an open heart. I have a strong, secure sense of justice and morality, but I still offend a lot of people with whom I supposedly share a religion. I see no moral problem with homosexuality, and it drives me nuts that so many so-called followers of Christ can't seem to understand that Jesus criticized the greedy, hypocritical religious leaders, not the people those leaders thought to be morally inferior. I think it's absolutely ridiculous that we want to reduce people to labels and fit ourselves into boxes. If we were created in the image of the God who doesn't fit in a box, then why the hell do we fight so desperately to keep ourselves caged? Pick any box you think you can put me in. I'm not going to fit.

As I wrote
several months ago:

What if the box is actually a lot less square than we try to make it?

Maybe the box is really more of an amoeba
there are boundaries, but they're flexible. The boundaries hold in the essentialsin that way, the amoeba is constant. But the boundaries also allow nonessentials to come and go, making the amoeba dynamic, constantly changing.

Fuck the box. Be an amoeba.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Feeling Restless

I've been in a much better place emotionally in the past couple of days than I've been in awhile. This is a very good thing.

At the same time...I'm restless. I've been feeling restless for awhile now, but that feeling seems to be following me more and more closely every day. Last night, I went to bed just before 1am. I think it took me two hours to fall asleep. I just couldn't calm down. When I finally did sleep, I had crazy, intense, vivid dreams. I woke up with my heart racing, feeling very disoriented because my dreams felt so very real.

I've decided I need to do something about this. So today, since I'm actually in a great mood (it's sunny and simply beautiful outside) and I have some energy, I'm going to attempt to be creative. We'll see how well this actually works.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Searching for Answers

Recently a friend of mine issued a challenge via Facebook: he claimed that he could tear anyone's religion apart in an argument and make that person look like a fool. Now, I actually tend to avoid those arguments; I am well aware that if someone is determined to tell me that I'm wrong and call me a fool, he or she will do so no matter what I say. Something about my friend's challenge intrigued me, however. I decided to send him a Facebook message. "Ok, I'll bite," I told him. "So you think you can make me look like a fool for believing in God? Really, I'm interested in how you're going to tear my beliefs apart. :)" What am I doing? I wondered as I sent the message. What good can I possibly do by answering this challenge?

The truth is, I needed an outlet. I have become so frustrated with Christianity as it exists in the mainstream. I'm at a conservative Christian Bible college. I am surrounded by people who I'm sure mean well, but who fail to understand that hit-and-run evangelism (throwing Jesus at people immediately upon meeting them and expecting them to pray and "ask Jesus into their hearts" right there on the spot) is very rarely effective. Most people don't respond well to being beaten over the head with the Bible. Unfortunately, that's exactly what many people expect when they encounter a person claiming to be a Christian. Shaming people into "faith" isn't Christianity. If a Christian is a person who is supposed to follow the example of Christ, then a Christian should be a person who loves other people. If you read the gospels, you'll notice that Jesus didn't hang out with the militantly "holy" religious leaders of His day. He spent his time with tax collectors, prostitutes, and other such "unholy" people. And He loved them. He didn't give them verbal beatings about their sins. He loved them, and because He loved them, they followed Him.

As I started writing about my beliefs, they actually became progressively easier to articulate. I realized that, if that is in fact the case, I should be writing about what I believe more often. My friend's two biggest questions (after he decided not to call me a fool, since I actually respected his views, unlike the other people who had decided to take him up on his challenge) were, "How can God be all loving and still allow pain?" and "Why do Christians claim that they're the only ones that are right and everyone else is wrong?" I've done a bit of reprocessing and condensing so that my thoughts are (hopefully) a bit better organized, and this is what I've come up with so far.

I don't have the answers. I wish I did, but I don't. I guess in the end my line of reasoning is that if God exists, and He is good, then He must also be loving. I don't know why there has to be suffering in the world other than this: God, in love, gave us free will, the power to make our own choices. Some people use that power to do horrible, horrible things. It sucks, but if we weren't allowed to make our own mistakes, we wouldn't have free will. I don't know why innocent people have to suffer the consequences of the mistakes of others, but it happens, and I have to believe it's for a reason, and that God's heart is broken when He sees what a mess we’ve gotten ourselves into with our power to choose. He could stop suffering, yes...but He'd be making us into robots. He'd be taking away the very freedom that makes us human.

Christians believe they are the only ones who are "right" because if a person believes the Bible to be absolutely true, there's simply no other option. Jesus said: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me." In other words, Christ's sacrifice is the only way to salvation. Personally, I do believe that. However, I also believe that there is truth in other religions. I don’t think that other religions have the whole truth, but there's truth there. I also believe that God is bigger than institutionalized religion, and that He can work in ways I can't understand to bring people to Him. I’m not denying that Christ is the only way; I’m just denying that Christians are the ones who save people. That is God’s job, and He knows how to do His job a lot better than I do.

What sets Christianity apart from other religions is the belief in a God who is personal, who is deeply interested in your life, who loves you completely, and who wants to have a relationship with you. It sounds corny, but I can honestly say that God is my best friend. I sincerely believe that God has carried me this far, and that He'll continue to do so. Sometimes I run away and get myself into trouble. Even when I'm trying really hard and things are going really well with me and God, shit happens. I just believe that I can lean on the Creator of the universe for support when life gets crazy. There was a time in my life when I did try to walk away from God completely. I have never felt as alone as I did then. It terrified me. I felt like I was completely lost in the vastness of the universe, like I was completely helpless (and I’m not exactly a helpless sort of person). With God in my life, I still get lonely, but it’s never as...absolute as it was then. There's this undercurrent of peace in my life that comes from believing that no matter what happens, God is still God, and He is still good, so somehow, things will work out. Life still gets chaotic and crazy and I still have days and weeks and months when I'm depressed and maybe even suicidal. Life still sucks, but it sucks less knowing I've got the Creator of the universe to rely on. I'm a control freak. I'm independent. The idea that God is really the one in control sometimes makes me want to run away screaming, because I want to believe that I'm really in charge. In the end, though, there's something beautiful and relieving about knowing that I'm still responsible for what I do, and I really fuck things up sometimes, but God still somehow has a plan and a purpose for the world and for my life that's so much bigger than what I can understand. I might not know the plan, but I know it's there, and I can see it unfolding if I stop and pay attention. Sometimes I take really big detours, but it's there. It's actually...comforting to know that there's Someone in my life bigger, stronger, and wiser than I am...Someone who doesn't make mistakes and who won't turn His back on me when I do make them.

I know my answers aren't anything particularly original or special, but that's what they are. I'm not going to take my Bible and beat you with it. I'm not going to tell you you're a horrible person if you don't believe what I do. I can disagree with you and still respect you as a person. I guess I'm just asking for the same respect in return.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Be an Amoeba

Inspiration fought its way through my writer's block briefly when I was in class today. (It was very brief...now that I'm trying to do homework again I'm back to being stuck. Not cool, inspiration...not cool.) We were discussing a case study involving a woman who felt trapped in a very emotionally abusive marriage. She was concerned for her physical safety and that of her daughters. Over the course of the class discussion a question arose that would only come up in an environment like a conservative Christian college: whether it would be wrong for her to divorce her abusive husband. While the whole class was agreed that she should get away from her husband if she felt that she was in physical danger, there were some students in the class who firmly believed that she absolutely should not divorce him.

Now, I realize that to some of you probably find this completely unbelievable. Having grown up around people who share this belief, I can kind of understand where they were coming from. They believe that divorce is a sin: it goes back to the verse "what God has joined together, let no man separate." They think marriage is a covenant, and that covenant shouldn't be broken. I have a few problems with this. First of all, even the Bible gives examples of when there are grounds for divorce (and abuse is one of those). Second...the couple in question in this case study were not Christians. They had no interest in God. Therefore, those commands about divorce (commands given to believers), simply do not apply to them.

Far too often I see fellow Christians determined to force every issue in the world into perfect black and white. I'm sorry, but that's just not the way the world works. I don't think that divorce is the ideal, of course. I think it's too bad that it happens. But should someone stay in an abusive situation, allowing that greater evil to continue in an effort to avoid the lesser "evil" of divorce? That doesn't make sense to me. There are a lot of issues that I see like that. Take homosexuality for example. Do I think it's necessarily the ideal? No, not really. Reading the Bible I can clearly see that God created Adam and Eve to be together. But I also don't buy into the "homosexuality is a choice" bullshit. Some men are legitimately attracted to men, some women are attracted to women, and some people are genuinely attracted to people of both genders. Should these people be doomed to a life of hiding who they are? Should they be forced to be celibate forever to avoid the "sin" of homosexuality? Somehow I don't see forcing people to deny who they are as the right course of action. That doesn't sit well with me. In my mind, we live in a messed up world where things don't work they way we necessarily think they should. That doesn't give us the right to go pounding people over the heads with Bibles. I'm not afraid to stand up for my beliefs. I think the Bible is truth. I also think the greatest truth of the Bible is the truth that Jesus loved people, and if Christians are supposed to be following His example, that should be our focus.

Anyway, inspiration hit when I was getting riled up by the case study discussion. I was thinking about the happy little Christian box we seem determined to fit everything into, and this is what came out of it. (For those of you who might be particularly sensitive to the use of four-letter-words, just pretend the first word of that last line is "forget." It has the same first letter. I'm sure you can manage.)

What if the box is actually a lot less square than we try to make it?

Maybe the box is really more of an amoeba
there are boundaries, but they're flexible. The boundaries hold in the essentialsin that way, the amoeba is constant. But the boundaries also allow nonessentials to come and go, making the amoeba dynamic, constantly changing.

Fuck the box. Be an amoeba.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

In Need of a Creative Outlet

I think my subconscious is in serious need of some sort of actively creative outlet.

I've always had kind of weird dreams, but lately, I've been feeling like my imagination must be on crack. A few nights ago I had a dream that ended with me threatening to dismember someone who had been threatening a friend. Sounds really dark, right? Here's the problem: my dialogue at this point in the dream was in the form of really corny 1980's rap. I don't remember much of what I said (and no, I won't quote it here for you, sorry :P ), but I do know that it rhymed. I actually ran through it in my head right after I woke up and was rather shocked that I could make that much sense in my sleep, even if the medium my subconscious chose was kind of awful. (I mean, really? 80's rap?! There are some things I should just never, ever attempt to do...that's one of them.)

I always struggle to get out of bed in the morning, but with these crazy dreams, it's been harder than ever. The dreams are so vivid, and it seems I hardly have to try to get back into them if I wake up in the middle. It's easier to work out all of the ridiculous crap running around in my head when I can visualize it in a dream than it is when I'm stuck awake.

I wish I could draw as vividly as I can imagine things. I'm trying, but I get frustrated so quickly when things don't turn out they way I want them to. I need to start writing again. Writing has always been the way in which I best express myself. The problem is that I always have multiple storylines running around in my head at any given time, and it's hard to sort them out and pin them down on paper. Sometimes when I try to actually write a story down, when I actually focus on one story in particular, it disappears. It's frustrating, but I know I can't force a story. The best stories are the ones that can take on a life of their own and write themselves. Not that writing doesn't require an enormous amount of effort on the part of the writer. It does. It just can't be forced if it's going to sound...real, I guess.

Now if I could just learn to harness that creative energy to get homework done, I might actually be productive sometimes. :P

Monday, February 16, 2009

Looking for Feedback

Hey there everyone! I'm looking for a little site feedback here. (If you're reading this over at blogspot.com, you can pretty much disregard this post, unless you want to check out my newly revamped website
.) What can I do to improve the look of the site? Should I be using a bigger font, different colors, etc? I want this website to be as user-friendly as possible, and while I know there aren't a whole lot of people following the site now, I still value your opinions. So if you have any feedback you'd like to give, please, make use of the nifty little
page. I'm looking forward to hearing from you!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Site Update

I now have this blog synched with my old Blogger page, so everything's all in one place, and you can leave comments!