Friday, September 19, 2008

I like hugs.

Actually, I love hugs. I'm not talking about awkward little pat on the back hugs. I mean real hugs. The hugs that make you feel totally loved and protected. Most of my friends will say that I give good hugs. There are a few people who think I hug too tight (which, in all reality, is probably a fair statement), but for the most part, people like my hugs. That's fine with me—I like giving them. I feel the same way about backrubs. I don't get them very often, but I love giving them (and apparently I'm good at giving them . . . so good I've actually put people to sleep.)

In the past couple of months I have been realizing more and more how important touch is to me. I've known and readily acknowledged for a long time that touch is how I most easily express love or concern for someone, but it wasn't until recently that I realized just how much of the world I experience through touch. When I go clothes shopping, I'll reach out and touch things that look like they have an interesting texture, usually without realizing that I'm doing it. When I'm walking just about anywhere I unconsciously position myself in such a way that I can almost always be within arm's length of something (or someone, if I'm with a friend). I am just a very touch-oriented person.

As I've been realizing all of this, I've also been realizing that this particular aspect of my personality is sometimes part of what causes me to struggle in my relationship with God. The friends that I feel most comfortable with (there may be one exception) are the ones that understand my need to be . . . close. I like to cuddle. Again, I love hugs. Just being close to people I care about is really important to me. So when it comes to having a relationship with a God who I know is personal, but who nonetheless is not a tactile presence . . . that's difficult for me. I wouldn't go so far as to say that God is intangible . . . He's just not a physical presence, someone who's right there to give me a hug or a shoulder to cry on when I need one.

The strange thing about all of this is that it never used to be an issue. Once upon a time, way back in the days of junior high when life just plain sucked and there was literally no one else who knew that I wasn't ok . . . back then, I really did feel like God was there, holding me. I know that might sound strange to a lot of people, but that's the way it was. Now, here I am, 20 instead of 12, and I feel like I've taken a baby step or two forward, fallen flat on my back, and slid off to someplace totally removed from where I started or where I was supposed to end up.

I don't think I have any conclusions for this blog . . . I've just been thinking a lot, and I have a sneaking suspicion if I stick this up on the internet I'll get some sort of feedback from those of you who are older and wiser.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Longing for Something More

It's only Wednesday, but this has already been a long week. I worked 32 hours in four days, went to class, did homework, helped my roommates rearrange the apartment, starting requesting information from grad schools, had a minimal social life . . . add to all of that not sleeping enough, probably not eating enough, and definitely not praying enough, and you'll get the picture of how much (or little) energy I have right now.

On top of my busy schedule this week, I've also found myself experiencing something of an identity crisis. It started more or less in conjunction with me requesting info from grad schools. As I've been looking at these different programs at different schools, I've become incredibly overwhelmed. I realized today that less than 16 months from now, I'll be graduating with my B.A. That's terrifying. It means that two years from now, if everything goes according to plan, I'll be starting my first semester of grad school. But that's the problem—I don't really know what the plan is anymore. I've always assumed that I would go to grad school. It seems like the natural course of action for me. But is it really what I want? More importantly, is it really what God is calling me to?

This current identity crisis definitely follows the theme of the past year or so. It's just one more item on the list of things that have gone wrong. A year ago, I was just beginning another battle with depression that threw me way off my game for the entire school year. The summer wasn't much better—sure, I finally had a job and was starting to make money, but I had next to no human interaction outside of work, and most of my contact with people there happens over the phone. It was definitely a lonely, miserable summer. I was hoping that once I got back to school, back with friends, that things would start looking up. And yet here I sit, still frustrated, still unhappy, still trying to figure out exactly where things went wrong.

Maybe I'm just afraid that this is as good as it's going to get. I want more . . . I want life. I'm finding myself slipping a little more every day, slowly but surely losing a battle I'm losing the will to fight. And do you know what the worst part is? I know what went wrong . . . and it's entirely my fault.

I grew up going to church. I was raised in a strongly evangelical Christian environment. I was super involved in youth group—my senior year of high school I was at church (or church events) at least four nights a week. And then graduation rolled around . . . and I started to realize that I didn't feel at home at church anymore. I stopped going. I kept telling myself that I would have plenty of opportunities to find a church once I got to Northwestern, so it was ok to take a little time off; I was burned out. Only once I got to Northwestern, I didn't take those opportunities. I made almost no effort to get involved in a new church. I left high school feeling bitter and angry toward the church that practically raised me. I had seen too much of the ugly side of church to have any real desire to go back. At first I thought I could get by; after all, I spent time praying with friends, I was taking Bible classes, and I was still keeping up my one-on-one time with God. But then the homework hit, and life got busy, and I made a pretty rapid decline into apathy.

So here I sit, two-and-a-half weeks into my third year of college, still drifting, still frustrated. The spiritual apathy that started taking over two years ago has started working its way into other areas of my life. I haven't been as dedicated to studying as I used to be. I haven't tried very hard to take care of myself. I've even found myself caring about people less. Every day I see people that I know I should be reaching out to . . . someone who needs a hug, a little encouragement, even just a smile . . . and I do nothing. And I hate it. I hate not caring. I'm not supposed to be that person.

I want something more. I want to live. I've just forgotten how.

It's weeks like this that make me particularly thankful that God is so faithful. I will never understand how or why He's still putting up with me . . . but I'm glad He is.