Friday, July 28, 2006

Open Hearts

Yesterday I found out that my boyfriend's ex might be our new housemate in September.

My initial reaction to this was not one of joy, understandably. I don't particularly like this girl. I don't think she made a very good first impression on me when I first met her on her scout week. Even without the complication of her history with S. I wouldn't be thrilled to live with her. She is young and headstrong, dominant and loud - none of which are traits I would choose in a housemate.

However, I have no choice in the matter. That is one of the joys of living in student housing, a joy that I think I was well prepared for by living in rented houses all of my life. Everyone else in my house, all of whom feel vast reluctance to live with M. as well, have the impression that they can simply put their foot down and not allow her to live in 'our' house. None of them are life-long renters, and the notion of simply submitting to this is not even in their minds.

Surprisingly, I am the most receptive to the idea, which makes me laugh a little. I have the most reason not to want to live with her, after all. I think knowing that I have no say in the matter means that instead of a mindset of fighting M.'s inclusion to our house, I immediately go to a place of 'how can I deal with this?'. Well, not first thought was something more along the lines of "God, make another solution present itself. Make her live with first years - they don't know any better."

Because part of the problem is that none of her class mates from last year want to live with her either. She has not made a reputation for being easy to get along with, and on top of all of her grating personality traits, she's a messy person. There's just not a lot of incentive to live with this girl.

After brooding on this for an hour and then writing furiously for a while during the show, I was able to ask God for grace, love, courage and trust that this would all work out somehow. Either that another house would be found for M. to live in, or that her living with us would be a good thing. Somehow.

And somehow, when I fronted the concept to my housemates that night, I was the least venomous towards M., and the most accepting of the idea of her living with us. I guess God had already started giving me that grace and love that I'd asked for.

Since it is really likely that M. will live with us, I hope that God can open everyone's hearts in our house towards her. She is going into the busiest year of her life here, and the last thing she needs is to live in a house full of hostility and judgement. And, quite frankly, I don't need to live in a house of tension either. I like that our house is a sanctuary, a place where we can all come and be safe. Right now I trust my housemates and they trust me - and regardless of who comes in, they are going to upset that for a while, at least. I really desire for us to be able to bring M. into our sanctuary instead of having her destroy it.

In a way, it might be good that M. comes into our house. I can see that some other people could have been too quickly and easily integrated into our circle of trust without having to prove that they belonged there. At least M. will not be accepted into our confidences without good, good reason.

It's a gift that I can see how good it could be for M. to live in our house, if we can get rid of our walls towards her. She has enough walls of her own, which will need to come down if she is going to succeed here, and they won't come down if she isn't somewhere that she feels is safe. It could be really good for us too - I can see that it will make me learn all kinds of things that I would be able to ignore otherwise.

Pray for us, please. Where ever M. lives, it will not be easy for her or her housemates. If she lives with us, I anticipate a stretching, growing, painful experience - and yet I have hope that good will come out of it. But pray for us anyway...we will need all the love God can embellish us with, and very open hearts.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The World is Too Large

I just finished reading "My Name is Asher Lev". It has taken me a long time to read this book. I've gotten distracted with other books, with other occupations, with people, with things...but this book has won out and now that I'm finished it, I can see why it is a must-read on so many people's lists.

If you haven't read it, please do.

The artist's struggle - the internal debate between honesty and safety - just read the book.

Out of curiosity, what books are on people's must-read lists? My list is so really depends on who asks me. I have a list of children's books, a list of fantastic fiction, a list of books that really impacted my beliefs, a list of not fiction...lists of specific is very difficult to narrow it down to 10 books, but in a fit of spontaneity I'm going to try right now.

These are in no particular order because that would just be too much hair-pulling strain.

1. The Five Children and It by E. Nesbit
2. The Narnia Chronicles by C. S. Lewis (please don't make me narrow it down to one)
3. Walking on Water by Madeleine L'Engle (while you're at it, read all of her other books too)
4. Children of the Mind by Orson Scott Card (but you have to start at the beginning of the series to understand this one)
5. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (and then you can read the sequel!)
6. Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce
7. The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien (if I can only have one, then The Return of the King - but ha! You have to read the others for this one to make any sense!)
8. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
9. The BFG by Roald Dahl
10. Oh, I can't decide! [insert wail of despair.] I ended up remembering so many wonderful books from my childhood (like "The Cricket in Times Square" by George Selden) that books that I am reading now and quite enjoying (like Chaim Potok's "My Name is Asher Lev", or "Thief of Time" by Terry Pratchett, or "The Hitchhiker's Guide..." by Douglas Adams) got quite swept away in the flood. A top 10 list of books is actually a ridiculous idea. There are far too many good books out there. Far too many! Even a top 10 list of authors would fill me with regrets for the ones I had to leave out.

However, this list will do for now. I realize I've cheated by really listing more than 10 books, but any effort to change that will result in me throwing a mighty tantrum. Trust me, you do not want me to throw a mighty tantrum, so just leave my list alone.

Unless you want to add to it by telling me your favorite books...because however huge the world of books may be, I really don't think it can ever really be too large.

Friday, July 14, 2006

A Really Quiet, Persistent Voice

I really like how Microsoft Word puts that little red line underneath words that are spelled wrong. It's like having a very quick dictionary right at my fingertips - when I'm writing an email, or on here, I can easily check my spelling without waiting for the spellcheck option to load online. If it wasn't for that wonderful red line, I would have misspelled 'persistent' and that would have been embarrassing.

All summer in this lovely little town we have chapel services every Friday. I really needed today's chapel. We met together, sang some songs, and then went on a Sabbath walk, which was an amble to simply be. To really see the world around and to just be without having to do something or get anywhere. That is how I like to walk, but even I don't take the time to simply be alone, to see the world. This day was really no exception, as I was battling in my head. Unrest is not fun.

I have been in turmoil because my boyfriend and I don't see eye to eye when it comes to sex. He respects that I have chosen not to have premarital sex - he is very respectful of me and my physical boundaries. It's our viewpoints on sex that don't line up.

To me, sex is sacred. It is an extremely meaningful act of love and intimacy that cannot be treated lightly. To him, it is simply a physical act. Sure, it's intimate, but he doesn't see it as meaningful. That bothers me a lot. To the point where, on my walk, I was asking God if I should break up because that is something that I can see as being a problem if we ever got serious.

This is the kind of thing that I think is irresponsible to simply let go of but that is what God told me to do. "Let go of it. It isn't your problem to deal with right now."

That was not what I was expecting to hear, and I was speechless. It was surreal. And I was given peace about the whole thing. Peace that being with S. is still somehow a good thing. Peace that this bridge doesn't need to be crossed right now and when it does, I will know how to and it will be led by God.

I will never understand God if I live to be 1,000 years old. I seriously doubt that I will understand God even after I die and am in His presence. Instead of being upsetting, that thought makes me smile. He is so much bigger than I can cope with, and His ways are so confusing and yet I can still trust Him, and give Him my worship and love in a way that I have never been able to do before. My relationship with Him is a gift from Him and somehow I am calm in it.

The Sabbath walk made me realize that I need to take my turmoil to God and go for these quiet walks more often. Even when my mind is going a thousand miles a minute, His voice can still be heard. It's a good thing He's so damn persistent because otherwise the quietness would be overwhelmed and I'd never hear Him - and I probably wouldn't be a Christian right now.

I have gone through many periods of time where I thought I was a bad Christian because I don't read my Bible very often and I don't pray much unless I'm asking God for something. You know what? I am glad that I haven't ever managed to do those things. I am glad that I haven't ever managed to keep up with daily devotions. I would have been doing them out of a feeling of obligation and may have never realized that I actually need to find some time every day to simply be with God. I actually need to spend time with God every day, just the two of us.


Well, my mom can rest easy now. She sometimes expresses a fear that not having raised us with the mindset of doing daily devotions, memorizing lots of scripture, and going to Bible College has somehow impaired us spiritually. Maybe it would have been a good thing, but I question whether it would have been an honest thing, looking at where my parents were at. I think that this way worked out well. God is bigger than whatever misguided efforts my parents did or didn't make, and He has found His own way to tell me what my spirit needs.

Now my mom can focus on her guilt for not teaching me how to spell.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Innocent Presumption

Last week a girl stayed at our house. As part of the application process for the school, applicants are required to spend a week here, taking classes and getting to know people. It's a good idea. This place is so unique, and a person really needs to get a taste of what they are getting themselves into before they commit to being here for 8 months.

This girl was the oldest scout we've had so far and I really got along well with her. My parents were here too, and while I was doing other things my mom talked to the scout and got to know her a bit. We all ended up going out for dinner which was nice. Because my mom was here, blogs came up and mine was mentioned in passing.

When the scout was leaving, she asked me for my blog address. Actually, what she said was, "Oh, you'll have to give me your blog address!". I laughed. It wasn't a laugh of happiness, it was the kind of laugh that happens when someone does something that displays their ignorance, that shows how little they know about you. It was a 'wow, are you ever presumptuous - I haven't even given my brother my blog address yet' sort of a laugh. I thought it was funny that this stranger would assume that I would give this almost-secret to her. I suppose that to some people a blog is just a way to share some thoughts with the world, but to me it is a vulnerable space. I said something non-commital and then went to my room and thought furiously for a few minutes.

Did I want to share this part of my life with a stranger? Granted, a stranger that I like and that I wouldn't mind getting to know better, but a stranger? Did I have the guts to say, actually I don't want to share this with you, sorry? Or did it matter that much to me?

I eventually decided to give her the address with the by-now-customary "I alone can give this address to people so don't share it" tag line. It might seem a little strange to be so tight-fisted with this site address when it could randomly come up when someone hits the 'next blog' button on another site. I know that some would argue that I spread this site around by posting comments on other blogs (I would argue that I could choose to anonymously post comments, so that is a choice). For some reason, to give this page of thoughts to someone I know is a different thing than to have someone I don't know reading it. And H. scout is someone who could possibly be involved in my life here next year.

I am realizing that regardless of who reads this blog, I have to be honest. I am realizing that I cannot censor myself so that I won't hurt someone who reads my words. That is not what I want this to be. And I am realizing that neither is this a place where I want to vent - that is what my hardcopy journal is for, because while I will not censor myself, I do not desire to harm people either, especially if it serves no purpose but to get it out of my system. I have less harmful ways of doing that. But overall, this is my blog. These are my thoughts, and sometimes they will hurt those who read them. Sometimes they hurt me, writing them. But I know there is a huge difference between hurting and harming, and I never want to harm with my words - ever.

These are all things that I would not have realized as quickly if H. scout had not been so innocently presumptuous, so I really ought to thank her.

Perhaps I already have.