Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Restoration of All Things (Part 9)

I don't know what I thought would honestly happen when he read that note. It would have been really wonderful simply to know if he had read it at all.

The next time I saw him, though, he wasn't Eddie-who-knew-we-had-been-friends.

It was one of those perfectly-timed days when I ran into him on the dreaded shared sidewalk. We noticed each other too soon for me to exit gracefully. I picked up my pride and marched deliberately towards certain disaster.

And disastrous, it was. When I hit the sidewalk, he said "Hi" while staring at the ground. He then proceeded to angle himself so that even as he continued to move forward, he had his back to me as much as possible. He stared at his soccer friend like he had the keys to the universe.

I wanted to disappear. But I couldn't disappear. I had to keep moving forward. I had missed this stupid Health and Wellness class every chance I could get, and now I was paying for it with every labored step towards it.

It wasn't even just the sidewalk, that day. To make matters worse, he was headed towards the very same building that I was. My class time in the gym was his workout time in the gym.

Soccer Friend peeled off towards the University Center when Eddie and I approached the door. We reached for the handle at the same time, and made eye contact by accident. His gaze was icy.

"What.", he quietly demanded.

"I... nothing?"

He breezed past me and was gone.

Oh God. I blinked back the possibility of disobedient tears.

Class was the last place I wanted to be, but I really couldn't miss it. I sat with my arms crossed in my desk trying desperately not to think about it. Star was on her way to campus. We were going to go contra dancing right after this class. That was going to be really fun! I focused all my energy on dwelling on Star and contra.

I noticed that my professor was talking about AIDS. I focused harder on thinking about Star and contra and Adelaide. I couldn't cry while we were talking about AIDS! Everyone would think I had a great tragedy in my life and it wouldn't be true! I would just be crying over some stupid boy! What a silly thing to cry about!

Five minutes left in class. Stop thinking about him. I just had to make it five more minutes, at the very least.

But what was that look he gave me? Was it true that he really despised me now? And besides that, I was beginning to feel a vague worry for him that I couldn't put my finger on. I hoped he was okay. And how could he just... how...

The dam broke. I couldn't stop the tears rolling down my cheeks. My classmates all looked compassionate and concerned, and my professor began speaking very gently about how AIDS is a very hard subject for some people and explaining how it's okay to let ourselves feel.

I was about to start sputtering something about being allergic to the building, the air, homework, anything, when (by God's sweet Grace) class ended.

I scooped up my books and my bag just as quickly as I could and dashed out the side door.

As soon as my feet hit the grass outside, I spotted Eddie exiting out of the front door.

It was as if the ocean was trying to empty itself through my eyeballs. He couldn't see me like this. So I did what any self respecting college kid would do. I dove into (yes, literally into) the bushes, waited a few minutes until I thought it was safe, and I called Star.

God's Grace was further demonstrated to me by the fact that Star was a mere hop skip from the bush I was huddled all teary in. She pulled up in her car and I clamored into the passenger seat.

Star took one look at me and knew I was not going to be able to pull myself together any time soon. She didn't say anything. We just drove.

When I got my eyes clear enough to see where we were, it was apparent that we were not headed in the direction of dancing. I gave Star a grateful look and she smiled at me and said, "Of course we're not going dancing. We're going somewhere else."

Somewhere Else was the top of a mountain on the Parkway. Star stopped the car at an overlook. She left the heat on, the doors open, and Regina Spektor's Samson playing so Adelaide could carry on sleeping.

I stepped out of the car and flumped down at the very edge of the cliff, buried my face in knees and I cried and I cried and I cried.

Star sat down beside me and put her arm around my shoulders and let me.

Something like seven seconds later, my conviction that God understood was reaffirmed in the depths of my soul when the sky opened up and wept with me.

Star was as unphased by the downpour as I was. We just stayed and stayed.

When I literally could cry no more, we got back in the car. Star gave me a hug and a kiss on the forehead.

We went back to her apartment where my healing continued with our favorite combo of nachos, white Mexican dipping cheese, salsa, guacamole and a season of Friends on DVD.

My best friend has seen me through more than one emotional crisis. When I think back on it I am astonished at what blessings my life has seen.


(Continued here)

The Restoration of All Things (Part 8)

That note probably only burned a hole in my pocket for a few days, or a week at the most. It felt, however, more like an eternity.

Eddie and I looked up just a little too late to pretend we hadn't noticed each other one afternoon under the bell tower. After a few stammering minutes, we both took deep breathes and sat down on a concrete bench to pretend like things weren't so haywire. I said that I was going to Japan for two weeks, and he dodged my implication that the Hanwells missed him (especially Rosie and Josh) by making some offhanded comment about how punked out, emo and goth those kids were.

Punked out, emo and goth? I stuck my hand in my jacket pocket and fidgeted with the corners of the note. Rosie and Josh were amazing. They were such individuals. Wise beyond their years, their eyes constantly alight with expectation and hope. What's more, I knew that Eddie adored them.

He stood up and left before I could counter his statements or sneak the note into his back pack. I sat on the bench a little while longer. I watched the college kids hustling about with their own stories to live in. I reminded myself to breathe.

I don't know how much longer it was until it happened. But it did happen. I found myself face to face with him at the other end of the crosswalk. He greeted me jovially. This was the Eddie that remembered we were friends. I was happy to see that version of him, but that it didn't make me feel less crazy. It just made me wonder if I really was blowing everything way out of proportion.

He was interacting with me like nothing had ever been wrong. We sat down on the sidewalk. We laid down on the sidewalk. We were back to pretending our outlandish behavior was normal as our peers stepped over us on their way to campus.

It was enjoyable, but I knew it was an illusion. I had to remember that it wasn't real. I had to force myself to give him the note.

We sat back up when one of his soccer friends came over to say hello. He came to say hello to Eddie, that is.   Upon his arrival, I might as well have stopped existing. Never mind, though. It was a good reality check. It was also a good opportunity to give Eddie the note. I wasn't bold enough to put it in his hands, so I made do with the tiny bit of courage I could muster.

His Bible was laying open on the pavement. Perfect. I stuck the note in it's pages and closed it. It was an act of sheer brilliance. He would go to study his Bible, and my note would fall out. He would read it, understand, apologize, and we would go back to normal.

Right? I stared at his Bible with my note in it. I hazarded a glance at him talking to his friend.

No. I was out of my mind! This was a terrible idea! Just like all my other terrible ideas! He would think I was crazy! He would think I was some kind of obsessive freak! He would know that I had thought something was wrong when really all this time he had just been busy and I had just read way too much into it!

I had to get that note back.

I scooped his Bible back up and started furiously flipping through the pages. Where had I put it? Mathew? John? No, it was in the Old Testament, maybe the Psalms?

One peek and I realized he was staring at me.

"Oh.. um...", I stopped.

"What... what are you doing with my Bible?"

I swallowed hard and hedged, "It's really amazing how no matter how little a Bible is, it all fits in there!"

"The words?"

"Yeah... all the words."

I bit my lip and handed him his Bible back. The note was still in it. I was defeated. He slipped it into his backpack and said, "I gotta go. It was good to see you."

"Yeah," I managed, through all the shades of red I was turning, "It was good to see you, too."

I slowly lowered myself onto those concrete steps and watched as he headed towards class. With his backpack. That contained his Bible. That contained my note.

I felt like a lot of things at that point. I can safely say, though, that adult-like was not one of them.

(Continued here

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Restoration of All Things (Part 7)

Fortunately (and unfortunately), denial is a powerful thing. It just so happens that I am excellent at denial. So much so, in fact, that in the following weeks, I was almost completely able to simply pretend my sidewalk caper wasn't as telling as it actually had been.

I have always been a stubborn creature, who is easily comforted by a song (in this case, I switched from Imogen Heap's "Say Goodnight and Go" to her "Speeding cars", which did the trick nicely) and a nap.

There was a thirty minute time slot in between my classes, two days a week, in which my natural path to my next class went through the 2nd floor of the University Center. On the 2nd floor of the University Center, there were a few things that drew me to themselves.

The first thing was a Java City that would be happy to sell me a deliciously minty and chocolaty iced latte. The second thing was a comfy sofa that would be happy to have me sit on it while I worked on homework for my next class. The third thing was the office right next to that comfy sofa that Kaylee worked in during that time slot. She was seriously lacking in the free-time department, so it was a welcome opportunity to get to see her for a moment when she had a break. The fourth thing, however was almost as much of a push as it was a draw. That thing was that Eddie Kindle also worked in that office. He took breaks at the same time Kaylee did.

Here, I was faced with a bit of a dilemma. I could: 1) Admit to myself that Eddie was avoiding me and probably would rather not see me sitting on that sofa contentedly sipping my latte, and re-wire my delightful routine so it didn't place me in that spot anymore. Or, 2) I could tell myself that this is my usual life and I wasn't going to let Eddie's angst hurricane all over it. If he had a problem with me being there, he could come tell me why, like an adult.

Naturally, my hardheaded self chose option 2.

Of course, this option was completely conducive to making me acutely aware of just how unwanted by Eddie I truly was.

Inside of 3 weeks, it became no longer worth it. No longer worth a delicious latte, a comfy sofa, and a visit with a friend in between class. Three weeks of noticing him notice me and then turn and flit down the stairs without so much as a grin or a wave was enough to finally break me.

I had reached the point of turn-and-run. That is to say that my heart no longer leaped with any kind of hope or excitement when I saw him. All I felt was a significant longing to vanish as quickly as possible.

Accidental run-ins were terrifying. I knew that my every facial expression was conveying more truth than I ever wanted exposed. All my anecdotes and comments were losing their points. I was lost in fits of unnecessary giggles. Oh! Hide me!

I never knew which Eddie I was encountering. He could be the Eddie who remembered that we had once been close friends, the Eddie with whom I could have cut the tension with a chainsaw, or even the Eddie who genuinely looked as though he had never seen me in his life.

I would walk away face-palming and off-kilter.

All of my best efforts had done nothing except make an already precarious situation infinitely worse. It was like being lost in a maze. What had even happened, and when? Did it matter? I didn't even know (or care, for that matter) if I was still in love with him or not. All I wanted was for our friendship to heal. The possibility of that happening was looking more and more permanently unlikely every day.

Something inside me was breaking. It wasn't my trust for people, somehow. But I was beginning to realize that what I was experiencing was a very real rejection of my whole self. It was an honest rejection, too. He knew me. He knew me well. And he didn't desire one single thing that I had to offer. Certainly, not even friendship.

In Rob Bell's book Sex God, he (Rob) makes the case that when we step forward and give someone else the power in the relationship, and they respond by rejecting us, there is something divine about the suffering that ensues as a result.

His argument is that God has given us the power in our relationship with Him. The God of the universe has stepped forward and held His Heart out for us, but He has left it up to us whether we choose to accept or not.

That offer has been rejected again and again and again. Humanity has rejected and thus broken God's heart over and over and over.

It would be a few years before I would even hear of that book's existence, but I did make a habit out of crying out to God in my journal whenever I had a moment to be still. And when I did that, the ache would begin to give way to an assurance and a comfort in the fact that God understood.

At some point it dawned on me that the semester would be ending soon and my friendship with Eddie was remaining totally wrecked. I didn't want him to graduate and go away forever before we reached some sort of resolution.

I didn't know what to do. All my ideas sounded obnoxious in my head. There was no way we would be meeting. A phone call would be unbearably awkward. There would be no more conversation.

Well, fine then. I would write him a note. I would write him a note and I would fold it up just like I used to in high school. Because I'm an adult. And next time I saw him, I would just put it in his hands. And run away. Like an adult.

He would hear me out. Because you don't just walk away from your friends.

Determined, I grabbed my pen and my notebook and I nestled down in the hammock outside my dorm and I wrote:

You...

Are my friend. Did you know that?

This is a very silly letter to write, most likely, but ya know... I have wanted to talk to you, I think. But I only see you in passing nowadays, and in-passing times are never good for talking about things that might matter - especially when I'm not even positive of what those things are, exactly.

But. If you can forgive me for doing this in an absurd and high school-kid ish manner...

I just feel like when I do see you, I pretend that everything is fine. Maybe I'm not pretending, though. Maybe everything is fine and I'm only concerned because I secretly wonder if you're feeling like you might be pretending too.

And then I think maybe there's just a pink elephant following us around. And one of us might always want to say to the other, "Erm... pink elephant. Behind you."

But for whatever reason we're afraid to mention it. With my luck it's probably the pink elephant's socially awkward, close talking cousin. One can't just go calling out a pink elephant's socially awkward, close talking cousin! That would just be embarrassing.

I'm sorry I made you all awkward by letting you in on my feelings for you last semester. If it sets your soul at ease at all, I will tell you that I don't even know whether that still holds true or not. Every time I try to re-evaluate how I feel about it, I quit because I realize that it became irrelevant a long time ago.

But our friendship. That's not irrelevant, right? And I'm so sorry if I have made our friendship into something that stresses you out.

So I guess my point is ... If a friendship is busted, I hope it is fixable.

It's really too bad that these things aren't physically, tangibly fixable. Like a rip in your jeans.

But wear and tear in jeans makes them more valued these days. Maybe a friendship can be like that too?

Anyway, I'm sorry if I blew this out of proportion. I just don't do well with confusion.

And you are a favorite.

I then signed my name at the bottom with a duck in the S and a star at the end of the h, just to maximize the high school effect, copied it into my journal (so that if I couldn't remember what I said later, I wouldn't begin to imagine that it was more embarrassing than it actually was), and folded it up just exactly right.

I placed that note in my purse and braced myself to make sure it made it into Eddie's hands the next time we crossed paths.

Silly or not, I wasn't about to give up on friendship.


                                (Thank you, Banksy.)

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Restoration of All Things (Part 6)

After that talk, the days began to plow forward with the brute force of a flippin' train, and I was along for the ride, whether I liked it or not.

I called my friend Miguel. He was the guy I had crushed on in the past who allowed for me to discuss it with him when I was feeling bummed. I told him what Eddie had said and asked him what on earth he thought I should make of it.

I told him that I wished that Eddie would have just "ripped off the band-aid" and not left me room to dream. I wanted him to say "I'm sorry, I just don't like you like that and I never will. Now, let's be friends." That would have stung, but it would have been definitive.

Miguel heard me out and then simply stated, "I think there needs to be a change instigated by you if you are ever to learn anything."

I was a little horrified that he might have been right. I felt stuck between so many evils. Should I call him out again to get a straightforward "No."? Or should I just spare my dignity but allow myself to remain in the torment that having an inkling of hope brings?

Occasionally, I would have to share a sidewalk with Eddie on my way to class because our new dorm situation was such that he now lived right across the street from me. When I was in Australia, he had tried to talk me into moving into the same dorm as him when I got back. I (despite feeling totally flattered) couldn't imagine a circumstance in which that would have worked out well, so I had declined.

As I prepared to head up the hill to my dorm, one afternoon, I looked up and saw Eddie driving past me in his SUV. I was so excited to see him that I slipped on the pine-needles under my feet and literally face-planted right in the dirt. When I sat up, my books and papers were piled up around me. I rubbed my eye and chuckled at how silly it all was.

Sometimes, if the timing was just perfect, there would be nothing for it but for Eddie and I to walk to class together. It was either that or pretend we didn't notice each other, which would have been blatantly obvious due to the whole problem of being right next to each other and headed for quite some time in the same direction. I supposed I could have pulled the ol' "see him and then turn, run in the opposite direction and then hide behind a tree until I thought it was safe to come out again" but (let's face it), there's just no way to come out of that looking graceful.

It took a while to get to the "run and hide" point with him, though. So at first, I was happy when I ran into him like that, even though conversation was becoming more and more difficult to forge through.

It was like I was talking with a different person than the one I had said farewell to pre-Oz. I would say "I miss my friends in Australia so much!" and he would furrow his brow at me and say, "Why?". I would furrow my brow right back and say, "When you miss someone, it means they are dear to you!", and he would look annoyed and say, "It means something."

I was so dismayed. "It means I love them, Eddie."

Another day, my best friend, Star, came to see me with her little almost-two-year-old, Adelaide. I was so ecstatic to have her on campus with me. She lived a good 45 minutes away, and as a single mom with so much to keep up with, it wasn't often that she could escape to come visit.

Eddie had often spoken, in the past, of his love for little ones. I had witnessed his eyes sparkling at them in our pre-Australia church searching escapades. I was pretty stoked for him to meet Adelaide, since I was positive she was the cutest toddler in the world. I was also excited for him (and the Hanwells) to meet Star, since I was well aware that Star was pretty much a super hero.

(See? Aren't they so lovely? These are my dear ones.)

The Hanwells loved them. They brought a box of stuffed animals and children's books down from upstairs for Adelaide to play with and hit it off beautifully with Star. Eddie, on the other hand, looked stressed out. I could tell he was annoyed at Adelaide's toddler jargon while he was trying to teach. He almost had a look of panic and outrage when she untied his shoelaces and pulled the tongue out of his sneaker.

He didn't want to get to know them. It didn't matter how fantastic and wonderful they were.

I was becoming increasingly suspicious that my friend Eddie had been kidnapped and replaced by some kind of freak malfunctioning alien robot.

Wednesday night rolled in again and found us all sitting on the floor in the Hanwell's living-room. Genvieve came in and put our tiny church's tiny "tithe jar" in front of us, joyfully announcing, "You are this church's elders because you have been here the longest. We've got close to $300 in tithe money here and it's up to you to pray and decide what we should do with it!"

After much deliberation and prayer, we decided that we should just take the money, third it up, and stick it randomly under doors in various dorms. Who knew how much the recipients might actually need it? We trusted it would bless someone, and that's all we really wanted. Eddie went off with Rosie and Josh to accomplish this mission.

I don't think that was the last time Eddie showed up at church... but the slow fade out had begun.

More and more often my peeking out the glass on the living room door was in vain. By the middle of the semester, he wasn't coming anymore. He wasn't calling. He wasn't communicating with me, or with anyone else in our friendship circle. It was like he dumped all of us.

I stubbornly clung to the belief that he still cared about us all very much, and really, he must be so busy.

I was talking to Star on the phone one night and I spied Eddie and one of his soccer friends on their way up the sidewalk. I quickly formulated a plan. I was going to test him. I was going to prove once and for all that he really wasn't avoiding me.

Eddie and his friend and I were the only people out on that part of campus that night. If I left quickly, I could hop up the stairs and come out in the middle of the sidewalk just in front of Eddie and his friend. I would just keep talking to Star and looking ahead, pretending not to notice that they were directly behind me. Eddie would give my shoulder a sweet little squeeze and say hello as they passed me, like he always had done in situations like that in the past, and I would be reassured. Maybe we would even hang out a little and catch up. Maybe I would have a chance to "instigate a change", as Miguel had suggested.

This was the best idea I'd ever had, I just knew it!

I trucked up the stairs without glancing back at them and came out just in front of them as I had hoped.

They didn't acknowledge my existence in the least.

They did, however, continue to walk less than 2 feet behind me for another seven minutes or so before they crossed the street onto another sidewalk and went off in another direction.

This was the worst idea I'd ever had! Why did I think that was going to end well?! I sighed a great sigh, plopped onto a concrete stair, dropped my forehead onto a metal railing and began explaining to Star about what had just happened.

That was when it finally came rushing in and hit home. Our friendship was in shambles. Normalcy was not being restored. It was even possible that he hated my everlovin' guts.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Restoration of All Things (Part 5)

In the beginning of that first semester back home, I felt like I was watching the conflicted suspenseful part of a movie. The part where there is some kind of misunderstanding between the characters or something, and you are just wolfing down your popcorn and waiting to see how it's going to turn out.

Things were progressively getting weirder and weirder with Eddie, and I didn't see him outside of church. I thought way in the back of my mind that maybe he was avoiding me, but mostly I just figured he was busy.

And there was always church. Reliably every Sunday and every Wednesday, I would see him in the intimate little setting of the Hanwell's living room. I would fidget and make too much eye contact with him and then wonder if he was constantly looking at me because we were friends and he felt more comfortable sharing things whilst looking at me, or if he was constantly looking at me because he thought I was staring.

At the same ridiculous time, I couldn't figure out if I was looking at him because he was looking at me or if I was looking at him because I was staring! I was beginning to feel more crazy than comfortable around him.

After the church meeting, he would frequently offer me a ride back to my dorm (because I had taken up walking to the Hanwell's house instead of driving) which I almost always accepted, as it often turned into an opportunity to spend a little time together and I would take that as some kind of evidence that his absence was all in my head and everything was okay.

On one such an occasion, he drove me to the University Center and asked if I wanted to go upstairs and look online with him and try to help him figure out a design for his next tattoo. He said that he had scheduled the appointment for getting it for the next day but he still wasn't sure what he wanted, exactly. Of course I wanted to do that! By the end of the evening, he had chosen something to the effect of a guy laying on the "ground" with a tree growing out of him. I seem to recall his desire for this to represent the depth of his craving to lay down his life (figuratively, of course) for something beautiful. That he longed for the things that he spent his life on to be valuable and, in short, a blessing to the Lord.

I went back to my dorm room lovestruck and longing. I hoped I would see him again before church, but I doubted very much that that would happen almost as much as I was certain that if nothing else, I would see him again at the next church meeting.

I am compelled, here, to add a disclaimer. It might appear that I most valued this new little church more for the fact that Eddie was there than for any other reason, but I must immediately refute this. I was actually a bit concerned at the time that the Hanwells, Lynday, and Verona (church attendance fluctuated, but in the beginning there were usually just the five in the family, Eddie, me, and our two friends Lynday and Verona) would think that I was mostly there for Eddie.

In reality, yes, I was hopeful and wistful, and I longed for him. I did sit on the edge of the couch and peek out the glass window in the door hoping to see him trooping up onto the porch every time I heard any kind of shuffle or bump outside. I was always sorely disappointed when it was only the cat, and I did do an internal leap of joy when it really was him. However, had he not been there at all, this little church would still have been my favorite place to spend my Sunday and Wednesday evenings.

Campus Rock had been an unreceptive and cliquish wading pool. Hillsong was a whirlwind of clamor, hustle and fuss. After all the time I had spent in both of those places, this quiet, intimate, and cozy little home church was absolutely nothing short of a breath of fresh air. There was room to question freely and to study things out together as long as we needed to. This was the "something deeper" my soul had been longing for, and I left each meeting feeling (apart from whatever I was feeling about Eddie) full and satisfied. It was so simple and unassuming, yet so profound and valuable.

One night, at the end of a church meeting, Eddie came over and sat down next to me on the wood floor next to the fireplace and said, "Can I take you back to your dorm tonight? I think we should talk."

I told him that I had driven there that night, and he looked surprised and a little puzzled and said, "You have a car?"

I blinked.

How could he wonder if I had a car? He had ridden in my car many many times! Cold snowy nights after Contra dancing, he had fallen asleep in my car as I drove us an hour and a half back to school. I had put Nickel Creek on the stereo so that he would have something soft to sleep to and I would still have music to drive to.

"Um. Yes? I have a car..."

But he was determined.

"Oh. Ok, well, drive to the University Center and meet me in the parking lot. We'll go to the cafeteria and grab something to eat while we talk."

I think my eyes literally turned into stars. As in, gold stars. Gold stars like the stickers your teacher gives you when you stay in the lines whilst coloring in kindergarten. We were going to "talk"!

So I sat across the table from him in the University Center cafeteria.

Uh oh. His eyes looked sad. This wasn't going to be a good talk. This was going to be a hard talk.

Crap. I knew it.

"Sarah... me and you... ", he was staring at the table as he said it. "It's just.... not going to work out between us right now. I am in a really confusing place lately and I have things I've got to focus on ........" There was more fudging and hedging and then finally he just stated, "I can't handle a relationship in my life right now."

Huh. That was all I could think at the moment. Just... huh.

He went on to say, "I also need you to know that while you were gone, I noticed that I ... I didn't really do as much."

"What do you mean?", I asked. I was taking this all in. I would be confused later, but right then I was just absorbing it for further processing at a later time.

"I mean I just didn't do as much walking around. I didn't go as many places. Adventures weren't the same without you."

I think my eyebrows were scrinching together at that point, so I suggested we pay for our food in order to avoid having to say anything else in relation to that conversation.

After we paid for our food, I found a tub of Taco Bell hot sauce packets with silly things written on the backs of them. Eddie and I spent the next thirty minutes reading them to each other and giggling.

When my head hit the pillow that night I was bummed out but happy. I was just confused enough to remain a teensy bit hopeful.






Monday, December 6, 2010

The Restoration of All Things (Part 4)

The ground at home felt solid under my feet.

I was reunited with my sweet little sugar glider, Aquene, who (I kid you not) sat in her cage with her arms crossed and her back to me. She only glanced over occasionally to shoot me a "how could you leave me, you big jerkwad!" glare.


Everyone I loved was tangible again. Their voices, their mannerisms, their eyes. It was all mine to behold.

Well, almost everyone. Dustin had transfered to another school and campus was not the same without him. Standing in the winter bluster and snow, I was rather lost in the missing.

Suddenly though, mine and Eddie's mutual friend Kaylee came skipping down a hill and reaffirmed my existence by welcoming me back with a hug. She then went to class with the promise that we would see each other again soon.

It was about that time that my (newly purchased and long awaited) cell phone rang. It was Eddie. Oh gosh, it was Eddie! I fumbled, dropped my phone in the sugar dusting we North Carolinians call snow, recovered it and answered. He was in the University Center, he said. Great, I was just outside!

And then I was in front of him again.

He was different. The mohawk was gone. It had been replaced with a regular haircut made irregular by a homemade bleaching. That wasn't it though, something else was different. I couldn't shake the inkling that the usual sparkle in his eyes had been accosted by a subtle undercurrent of uneasiness.

Nevertheless, shivering with cold and excitement, I gratefully gave him a hug hello and asked (as casually as I could muster) what he thought we ought to be about doing. We agreed that we should be on our way to his cabin so that I could meet his squirrel.



The squirrel was lovely, and the cabin was cozy and sweet, but the conversation was confusing and awkward. If only I could remember what he said that had set my head spinning. Alas, I only remember how it made me feel. It was something that indirectly probed into my current feelings, as if my feelings were something he desired to know... and in the same breath implied that he couldn't care less.

The next time I saw him, it was for a movie in the University Center with our friend Kaylee. I sat down in between them just before he left momentarily to get some popcorn. Kaylee turned to me and whispered, "Would you like to trade seats with me? I wouldn't mind!"

I was perplexed. That was an odd request. If she wanted to sit next to Eddie, that was fine with me but the phrasing and the look of concern on her face seemed to imply something was wrong. All I got out was, "Huh?", so she further clarified. "I mean, are you sure you're OK to sit by him? I know it must be hard for you."

I blinked a few times. "Whaaa...?", too late. He was back. We sat where we sat.

When the movie was over he gave us a half smile and bid us goodnight. I asked Kaylee what was going on and she simply sighed, "Oh Sarah, don't you know that guys like to pursue? You never should have told him that you liked him." I only arched an eyebrow because I was too chicken to ask her to elaborate. I wanted to hope.

Later that week Eddie came over to my room so I could give him the paper umbrella I got for him in Australia. We sat on the floor and fed my roommate's hamster a whole snack size box of raisins just to see if he could fit them all in his cheeks. There he was! There was my friend! All was right in my world until I remembered the paper umbrella and pulled it out for him.

I was all enthusiastic, like a golden retriever. He, on the other hand, took it, stared blankly at it for a moment, and said, "What... am I going to do with this?". I guess I hadn't thought that far, exactly. He said he had to go... I don't remember whether he wound up taking it with him or not. I do remember a deepening of my dismay and confusion.

Then one night he called and said to meet him at the soccer field. He was going to introduce me to his church family.

I adored this family from the second I laid eyes on them. The pastors, Jim and Genevieve, and their kids: Kentucky (my age), and her younger siblings Rosie and Josh. I had no idea at that time what a home I would find with them.

I was about to go through a serious Fire Swamp, complete with ROUSes, lightning sand, and a deep understanding of rejection.

My Mom and Dad were moving from North Carolina to Indiana, Dustin was away at another school, and Campus Rock had become more irrelevant to me than a screen door on a submarine.

Thank God that this church family, and my sweet best friend (Star) were there to be a refuge to me. Again and again and again.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Restoration of All Things (Part 3)

It wasn't long before I was sailing through the sky on my way to Australia, squished between a Canadian and a Mexican. It kind of cracked me up that we sat in geographical order, representing our respective countries.

My heart was heavy with all sorts of life living and life aching during my time in Australia. I spent each day growing and learning about my roommates, their countries, and living apart from most things that I had ever known. I caught glimpses of the Father's Heart for the world. I saw that it was lovely and weighty, and I did my best to embrace it as much as possible.

The only church I managed to haul my directionally challenged self to was called Hillsong, and it was a mega-church. Admittedly, I went because it was easy to get to. They sent a bus that stopped a few yards from my apartment and all I had to do was hop on it and wait. I had never experienced a mega-church before, and it was a phenomenon that was confusing and overwhelming to me.

I expressed this feeling, one bus ride, to a lady from Indonesia who had taken a seat next to me. She turned to me and told of her time in Indonesia. Of the violence towards Christians that happens there. Of how intensely difficult it was to even legally build a church in her country, and how once one was built, it was extremely likely that worshipers would be violently attacked during the service. Worshiping often came at the cost of their lives.

With tears in her eyes, she put her hand on my knee and said, "Do not ever take for granted the ability you have to worship without fear." She said that to see so many Christians worshiping together without being afraid in the least brought her immeasurable reassurance and joy.

I was forever altered by her words. Though that didn't change how lost I felt amid such a sea of people each Sunday. When the services were over and I wandered around by myself I would secretly wish that Eddie was there to wander with me.

Back at our school in the mountains, Eddie and I had occasionally attended meetings at "Campus Rock" - the biggest college ministry on campus. It wasn't long before we both began to feel similarly about Campus Rock as a whole. I told Eddie that I didn't think I was getting much out of it, that I craved something... deeper. He replied with, "Yeah, Campus Rock is kind of like a big puddle. It's fun to splash around in for a while, but if you try to really dive in, you'll just hit your head on the pavement." Exactly. So we took up going to the meetings, locating each other, and then sneaking out like hooligans.

I would come home from Hillsong and go knock on my neighbor's door. Her name was George, and she was British. Very British, in fact, and very comforting, precious, and kind. She'd answer the door, offer me some tea, and we would flop on the couch and talk about life and school and eventually boys. Our conversation nearly always got round to her thoughts of one Leo and my thoughts of one Eddie Kindle.

I thought of Eddie again as I befriended an angry emu that lived on campus. My friend Kirstine from Denmark and I made a point to go sing to him (Wake me up before I go go by Wham) and he would glare at us in a livid emu rage. I mulled a bit over how entertaining I thought Eddie might find this endeavor.

(Note: I didn't actually take this photo, but this is almost exactly what he looked like from behind his fence. The only exception is that our emu looked a bit more like he wanted blood. Our blood. )

(This was my impression of the emu and his rage. It's true that I didn't emulate it perfectly, but I still think I was somewhat convincing. That lovely redhead is my friend Kirstine, who assisted me in serenading said emu on a somewhat daily basis.) 

I didn't have a phone when I was in Oz. If I couldn't afford one at home, I extra couldn't afford one on the other side of the planet. Also, I figured that I already missed everyone so incredibly much that if I heard their voices, I would just break. On top of that, the time zone issue would mean that they would all be asleep during my waking hours.

This did not stop Eddie from leaving me messages in various ways involving the internet, of course. We conversed as usual-ish. One day it would be a Myspace comment that said "You make the world a better place wherever you go.", and then I would wake up to an IM in the morning professing sadness that I was asleep in my time zone and how much joy he hoped for my upcoming day.

Once he wrote and asked me, "If you could start a church, what would it look like?". I replied first with a church that I could simply imagine into existence. The building would be one of those glorious old cathedrals with lovely architecture and elaborate artwork everywhere, but inside instead of pews there would just be a bunch of bean bag chairs and some Lazyboys for elderly people who aren't comfy with beanbag chairs.

There would be secret stairways and rooms all over the place to be found by anyone who ventured past the sanctuary. Everyone who walked into this church would feel it a second home and thus would not think twice about taking full advantage of the ability to get lost amongst the corridors and to escape into previously undiscovered corners, towers, and bay windows to spend quiet time with God where they couldn't be found or interrupted by anyone.

Of course right next to all this there would be a HUGE tree with the greatest tree-house (rope ladder and all) ever built for even more hanging out capabilities.

I then noted that the truth of it is what we all know so well to be true; that a church actually has little or nothing to do with the physical building it is located in. So I told him that if his question referred to the Church as a body of people, that services held on swing sets and monkey bars, or in mud huts with dirt floors would be glorious beyond all reason given sweet fellowship, teaching, and worship. That all that was important to me, in reality, was that it be people who understood that church was a healing place for sinners, not simply a safe-hold for angels and saints. That it would be a place free of pressure as humanly possible, where we would be doing our best to learn to love and to see the world and each other as God does.

I thought to myself, "That was fun! I hope he asks me more questions soon!".

It wasn't long after that question that I discovered his reason for asking it. The reason was that he had happened upon a new ministry on campus. It was called 24/7 Church, and it was a family of five who opened up their home to college kids so they could all seek the Lord together. I didn't know, when I first wrote to one of the pastors there, that she and that family would become one of the hugest blessings my life would ever see. But it's true. That is what they became. And it all started when I was in Oz, missing Eddie.

I did know, however, that the pastor (Genevieve) and I would be fast friends. I knew it for sure the day I came back from the beach on Thanksgiving 11 different shades of deep red and wrote to her about my severe underestimation of Australian sun, and she replied, "Looks like Poppa burned the turkey this year!"

Somewhere along the line I found brightly colored paper umbrellas that I wanted everyone to have. I thought I could cover them in decoupage and perhaps they would hold up in the rain? I snagged an extra one for Eddie. I knew it was a silly (and probably even girly) thing. But I permitted myself a little chuckle. This was Eddie I was thinking of.

Mr. Elmer's glue hair.

Mr. Wears a giant squishy purple candy machine ring that lights up like a disco ball.

He would see the silly splendor of it. I was sure of it.

As the semester drew to an end, I missed him. And I secretly hoped that maybe he was missing me too.

I went to Tasmania for 2 weeks with four of the dearest girls in the world (from all over the world) and all the bonding that we had accomplished over the last 4 1/2 months cemented further with every new inside joke, sand castle, possum break in, hostel, and hour spent in transit.






When it was all finally over, I stood at the bus stop with my suitcase in tow and tearfully hugged my friends goodbye.

Airplanes are emotional. They cover so much distance in such a short time it can make one feel the connection as well as the ripping away all at once. On that plane ride home, I poured over the sweet handwriting of my dear ones in the card they had placed in my hands amid farewells and bear hugs. I picked up the tiny construction paper hearts that spilled out of it and tucked them back inside.

I was longing for those I was leaving, and I was longing for (and taking comfort in) those who I was on my way home to be with again. My family and my friends. And Eddie. I couldn't wait to see him again.

I knew that he had adopted a wayward squirrel in my absence, along with a treasured new church family. I had also heard that he was living in a little cabin in the woods just off campus.

All of that sounded, to me, like new adventures waiting to happen.

And maybe, just maybe, when I got home he would have a better answer for me then "Huh."

At last, I fell asleep on the plane, exhausted with the conflict of grieving adieus and excited anticipation.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Restoration of All Things (Part 2)

My sweet friend Dustin took one look at my situation with Eddie and prescribed me the song "Say Goodnight and Go" by Imogen Heap, which I proceeded to listen to again and again until I wore it out completely. I then continued to listen to it until my ever patient roommate likely had dreams of strangling me in my sleep with my stereo's power cord.


(Dustin made a habit out of sneaking "Say Goodnight and Go" into any given car's stereo, even from the back seat. He would then look at me with a glint in his eye and a suppressed smile until I would figure out what was going on and have a mini freak out. This was especially the case if Eddie was in the car with us as well.) 


(Ever-patient roommate in her denim dress after we decided to go to an 80's party thing. It's a good thing she wasn't really the power-cord-strangling sort.)

The journey into crazy-land had begun but I was happy and unaware. Well, mostly happy. Except for the nagging feeling that if I had a serious and ever growing crush on my friend, I should probably tell him.

Of course I had a hopefulness in the pit of my stomach that it might be reciprocated. A girl can dream. But the thing that really ate at me was how unfair it seemed to have a thing for a friend and just carry on like normal. I knew I was acting funny and I felt he, as my friend, had a right to know why.

I was nervous he didn't dig me back, and I was not looking forward to doing the work of getting back friendship normalcy if that was the case, but my expectations were colored by my past.

That is to say that every crush I had ever had, had been on friends. I didn't "date", exactly. I never knew how. I also didn't understand (and still don't for that matter) how people skipped friendship altogether and went straight from being strangers to being interested in each other. To put it bluntly, I didn't (and don't) have "wiles".

But the first boy I had a crush on chose to ignore it to spare us the awkwardness, and eventually it just went away and we were solid again. The next boy I had a crush on was precious and actually went so far as to say that if I was feeling sad that my feelings for him were not reciprocated, I could feel free to call him and we could talk about it. Which, we did. And my feelings for him dissolved into friendship and sibling-hood. He remained one of my dearest friends.

When boys had crushes on me and I didn't feel the same way towards them, I told them I didn't and would never have plans for dating them, but that our friendship wouldn't change. We would press through until it was normal again. And we always did.

So honestly, I was more concerned with how I was going to suck it up and tell him and work through it before I went to study abroad in Australia in the following semester then anything.

I remember my first attempt at embarrassing crush-laden honesty. If you could call it an attempt. I went over to Eddie's room with intentions of spilling it, but I was waiting for some mysterious "right moment" (hoping for some kind of lead in so it wouldn't seem quite so out of nowhere). Finally, Eddie needed a bathroom break, so he ever so thoughtfully directed me to his AIM buddy window, which was open, and suggested that I find a mutual friend to chat with momentarily in his absence.

Dustin was online. The conversation went something like this:

Eddie'sScreenname: Hey duseroo! It's Sarah. Eddie stepped out for a sec. How's it goin'?
Dustin'sScreename: Hey! Did you tell him yet?
Eddie'sScreenname: What! No! Dus, we can't talk about that on here, I'm
Eddie'sScreenname: He could come back any minute!
Dustin'sScreename: You have to tell him, just say it like we practiced!
Eddie'sScreenname: "I like you....nicorns???"
Dustin'sScreename: "I like you....nicycles!!!"
Eddie'sScreenname: "I like you....nibrows!!!"
Dustin'sScreename: "I like you....phemisms!"
Eddie'sScreenname: Hahahaha ok ok, let's talk about something else! We gotta get this conversation off the screen STAT! Quick! Before he comes back!

We successfully talked a bit more about trivial things expressly to hide that conversation, so when Eddie came back, and my phone rang, I hopped off his computer without a second thought to answer my call.

It was Dustin. "Seriously, you can do it! I believe in you! Tell him, tell him!", said he. I was grateful for the encouragement, but I wasn't sure how to field that phone call now that Eddie was back in the room. I anxiously fidgeted with Eddie's skate board. I stood on Eddie's skateboard. I wheeled myself forward a foot or so, staring intently at the floor and trying to use vague terms with Dustin, hoping he knew what I was saying in stilted, awkward code.

I finally took my eyes off the floor only to find Eddie was curiously scrolling up in the message box conversation. I panicked, shouted "NO!", hung up on Dustin, and fell off the skateboard. It wasn't a graceful fall, but it was well aimed (kind of). Mid-fall, I managed to reach over Eddie's shoulder and click the X on the message box. Whew. That conversation was deleted forever.

Eddie looked shocked and confused. The skateboard was hanging arbitrarily off the top bunk with it's wheels spinning furiously, and I sat on the floor where I had fallen laughing and blushing and making haphazard excuses for my bizarre behavior.

That was the first of many attempts that ended similarly. In an effort to make me feel better Dustin started drawing cartoons of me and Eddie in my journal.

One was of me with squiggly arms screaming "I AM ZA LIKING YOU!!!", Eddie saying, "Schwat?", me being blindsided by a giant fish yelling "FISHED!" and then me saying "shnothing.".

Finally the last day of the semester was upon me and there was nothing for it but to pack up and go home. So that's what I did. I said goodbye to Eddie, who was distant and a little weird. And I went home.

I got a miserable job at a factory that made boat motors to save up for Australia and contemplated my options in the millions of hours I spent alone in my station.

One day Eddie called and left a message on my phone. It was a really sweet message, about how he wanted me to know how amazing I was and how much I would be missed in the following semester. Also, he was going out to eat with his mom. Or something.

I heard that message out and in an impulsive burst of energy, I called and left him a message. I told him that if he wanted to call me later, there was something I really needed to tell him.

Later that night he called me back and asked what was up. I told him I really wanted to tell him, but my tricky gumption just wasn't around when I wanted it to be. "Silly gumption", he noted, "It's like trying to nail jello to a wall." It was like that. So I confessed that I wasn't ready to tell him yet and asked if he could please call me back in an hour. He said that would be fine.

I went outside in my front yard and sat down in the grass under my stars. I watched the fireflies winking and took a deep breath of night air. I might have been a weenie, but I was going to get this out once and for all.

(Here, except at nightfall.)

The phone rang and I answered. "Hi". Silence. "Um... so... I .. uh... Ilikeyou." More silence. "Huh."

That was all he had to say. Just, Huh.

We fumbled through the rest of the conversation, "So I just thought I should tell...", "No, yeah... um .. it's..", "And I'm going to Australia in a few weeks...", "Hey, that'll be fun!", "Yes. Yes it will be.", "OK well, I'd better be going...", "OK, um... bye", "Bye."

Click.

Well, OK, I thought. At least the telling-him is out of the way.

And I tossed my phone aside, collapsed in the grass, and rested in God's arms.



The Restoration of All Things (Part 1)

I surely didn't see it coming. Any of it. In this whole story. How could I have? I was starry eyed and held in my hands a heart that believed (easily) the best of anyone I considered a friend. I knew, theoretically, that friends were capable of hurting each other. But I didn't really believe that. Way down in my knower, I knew that all broken friendships mended. That all hurts were healed.

"Hey, I really like those shoes", he grinned, pointing at my sandals (which I also happened to like, very much). That's how it all started. An 8am Geography class, and a compliment. I found him entertaining even though (OK, OK, probably largely due to the fact that) he was wearing old man thrift store pants and literally styled his hair with elmer's glue.

His name was Eddie Kindle. (No. It wasn't. But for the sake of this story, it was.) He was very secretly a bit of a player, but my happy-go-lucky self didn't notice that in the least. All I saw was a sweet and outrageously fun boy who would get online and wait for me to show up on AIM so we could hang out when I was too broke to own a cell phone.

Was he ever charming! Before I knew it, my little heart was doing a dance of joy whenever I returned to my room to find his screen name popped up on my computer monitor with a subtly flirtatious invitation to an adventure.

Coffee? A movie? Dinner? Oh no. He was way too creative and interesting for such cliche pastimes. Once, I went home to find his AIM box reading, "Want to go to the store? I'll bring the goggles!"

Yes. He was serious. When I climbed into his SUV, he had on a gas mask, and handed me a pair of snow boarding goggles. I put them on like it was normal, and we went to Ingles, where we proceeded to march right over to the lobster tank and sit down in front of it. There we sat, wearing strange things on our faces and watching the lobsters. Just when we thought we couldn't be more pleased with ourselves, a small child skipping past us pointed and shouted, "Look Mom! Super heroes!"

Thus was the nature of our antics. We formed a close bond pretending that the world was our playground. When it snowed, we convinced ourselves that the snowmen popping up all around campus were an army bent on destroying us. It was us against them. And we sought them out and battled each one to the death until the wee hours of the morning.

We went contra dancing ("hippie line dancing", as he called it) and ate at Waffle House afterwards, where we invented an interactive more-fun-than-chess chess spin off board game out of ketchup and other condiments.

When we realized that our dorms were on opposite ends of the campus, and we should probably choose a meeting place that was somewhere in the middle, did we choose the bell tower, like normal people? Noooooooo. Of course not. We chose a grave site that had a tombstone that read "Hattie". We did this specifically so that when people heard us say to each other, "See you at Hattie's!", they would think we were going to a living person's house. But they would be wrong.

When I came down with a nasty cold, he invited me over to sit on the floor with him in his room and watch a movie (the only way we would be watching a movie) on a tiny black and white thrift store television. He made us both some tea, and we sat in comfortable silence, stirring it with pens.

We searched together for a church we could call home. The rickety old Baptist one had it's charm, but a series of glances was all it took for us to communicate our boredom to each other. At the very first moment in which we thought it wouldn't be too conspicuous, we made a stealthy exit. One at a time, so as not to be obvious, we slipped out of our pew and out the back door. When I got outside, he literally somersaulted "stealthily" (read: clumsily) down the hill and scurried behind a bush. Oh, I knew this game. We mission-impossibled it all the way through the darkened parking lot and into the car.

In the Walmart parking-lot there was a yard sale. He purchased a wheelchair for $3, scooped me up in it, and then spent the duration of our grocery shopping wheeling me about the store. Strangers looked at me with a face that said, "Poor thing, she's so young!", and I mentioned to him that we might want to keep an eye out for lightning because as much fun as this game was, it was probably awful of us.

We had antics for the sake of antics. Like the time we broke into Dodson cafeteria just so we could pretend we were in jail.


He had chronic random nosebleeds. Whoever thought nosebleeds could be endearing? One would think not. But I was so proud of him the evening that we built a fire in his backyard, and with no tissues anywhere to be found, he tore up a box and used the cardboard to draw a bloody Christmas tree, a sunshine, and some presents with his nose.



If I thought I stood a chance, I was wrong. The night I finally fell for him was the night the Presbyterian church had a free midnight pancake dinner for college kids. I was eating my pancakes like a civilized lady, and out of nowhere, Eddie picked up a glob of syrup from this plate and smeared it on my arm. I blinked a few times and then threw my kool aid right in his face. Hilarious. I'm sure we were horrifically obnoxious, but you must know that this meant war. The syrup fight that ensued was nothing short of epic.

I might mention here, that I won.

On our way back, we jumped a fence and I cut my finger. It was bleeding, and he kissed it.
That was it. That right there. I was in love with my friend. Just, gone.



Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Dirt and the Sweat

And in those days (yeah, I'm still reminiscing about college life here) my church and my dear ones struggled, but we struggled together. On the other side of the struggle, we look back and see God's unrelenting faithfulness. But dang.

I once said to my pastor, "I just don't understand why [in the Chronicles of Narnia] Aslan is always GOING AWAY!". And she said to me, "I know why He goes away. It is so we can hunger for Him."

You, dearest ones, I have always known to be so steady.
C
onstant in emotion and reaction.

But this season finds us most out of character.
E
motional.
Ready to cry or laugh at any moment for any reason.

I hurt with you in the car on the way home.
And cling to your hand as if I would pull your sorrows out through it,
and shake them off until only the joy is left...
but the only balm for this heaviness is Sufjan Stevens on repeat.
I hate goodbyes.

Lately we beg the question, "God... where are you??!"
I have heard my closest friends confess that they have felt a silence.
We don't go through it alone...
We all feel this emptiness at the same time - but it still, it remains personal.
Not so much, "Do You exist God?" , as it is more like... "Do I exist, God?".

Wendsday night in the livingroom,
we all stop to seek Him together
I put my face in my hands and let my soul cry,
"God... where ARE you??!?!",
without knowing that at the same moment,
you put your face in your hands and let your soul cry
"God... I feel like I'm DYING!!!".

And He whispers to you,
as you look up to see all of us who love you to the moon and back,
"It's a good place to die in, huh?".
When you share this with us, we are comforted.

But my heart still aches with... vacancy?
It feels like vacancy.
I feel like I can't see more then 3 hours ahead.
I'm confused for no reason at all.

But, oh the glory,
when I wanted only Him last night
and I drove miles upon miles,
to try to keep Him in my veins,
and finally decided I needed to be on the parkway.

Because it's easier to tell God I'm sorry
when I can say it with my face in the grass
on the mountian where He comforts me.

But I first went the wrong way,
and in turning around I was afraid.
Once righted, I found fog almost immediately.
Suddenly I was engulfed!
Did it just come out of nowhere?
When did I get here?

I couldn't see more then three feet in front of me.
I was confused.
Why would He tell me to keep going?
I could drive off the mountian!
I could get maimed by hobos!

But I drove and drove ...
until I finally reached my intended destination.
Would you believe...
that's where the fog cleared.

When I got out of my car and looked over the mountian tops,
what I saw was breathtaking.
Fog draped gloriously around mountians sillohetted black against the purple sky.
Stars shining in their proper places.
And I think I heard Poppa say,
"See? You had to go through it to make it to the top
so you could see that it was beautiful".

And oh
It was beautiful.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sobriety.

This was a product of my life as a college kid. I wrote it before marriage and the settling that tends to bring. Back when I lived in the dorms of a secular school, surrounded by sweet people who wanted to live life fully and not miss a moment, just as I did. We attempted to achieve that goal in different ways, but I longed for them to know my heart regardless of the differences of our choices and convictions.

It's not that I'm "religious".

Oh, I hope I am not religious!

The dreadful things that go along with that word!

Routine.

Judgement.

Mindless comfort.

Works mentality.

Guilt.

No.

I don't want any of that.

I want to know God's heart.

I want to learn to love like Him.

Relationship is a beautiful word when one remembers what it means.

He is the King who would wash my feet?

Really? I mean, He is God...

And I?

I am a blunderer.

I blunder into everything!

Into danger.

Into safety.

Into trouble.

Into friendships.

Into class.

Into diversion.

Into life.

So there's that.

It's not that I'm religious.

I love Him.

He loves me.

And He has been forever showing me how beautiful life is.

When it's easy and when it's hard.

In the sun and in the rain.

The joyous moments of friendship and laughter...

And the times no one wants to mention

because they hurt so deeply.

And the closer He takes me into His heart, the more I crave to know.

And that is why I would rather sit quietly in the living room,

and doodle in my journal

than drink with you guys.

It's not that I think I'm better than you.

No no no no no.

It's that I adore being sober.

Because I don't know what's going to happen,

but I sure don't want to miss it.

And when I live it, I want to know that I will remember it in the morning.

God never told me to make a decision about whether you are living like you should be or not.

That's not my assignment.

Why do Christians take that on?

I don't want that responsibility.

Its a beautiful thing that it has nothing to do with me.

It frees me up

to attempt my actual assignment.

And that is to love.

Deep and genuine and for real.

I don't claim to have it right.

Or that I find it easy to get a heart for every imperfectly beautiful human that crosses my path.

But I am learning.

And I can tell you right now that it wasn't hard to be endeared to you.

You and your accents.

You and your curiosity.

You with your nose scrinched up making faces at Aquene

as she sleeps snuggled in her bandana,

tail curled around her for warmth.

And you appreciate it.

That's what I see when I see you.

So don't mind me.

I'm content.

I'm sober.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Queen of Third Grade

This is a story that was shared with me in a conversation on a message board that I enjoy immensely. I know the author who lived this story and who wrote it down for us as Cherish. I am so grateful to her for guest blogging here by allowing me to post her words. Cherish can be contacted at: stories.from.my.heart.@gmail.com

When I was a child, I was a bit of a misfit. In those days I was too skinny, a know-it-all, I had coke bottle glasses and wore all the wrong clothes. I was not what you would call one of the "in crowd" and yes, there's an "in crowd" even in the Third Grade. One thing I did have was a wonderful relationship with Jesus. That's how I recognized Him in other people.
One afternoon, a little girl in my class did something amazing. We were all about 8 years old. She was the prettiest girl in the class, maybe even the school. She was very well off, and very popular. (She had multiple birthday party invitations every week!). One day, she asked the teacher if she could rearrange the tables and change the seating around. For some reason (popularity, maybe?) the teacher let her.

Everyone snickered as she started gathering up the "misfits" and putting them at one table, having other people trade seats with them. I was already at that table, and she didn't move me. Then, the most astounding thing of all...She took the last chair at the table. Even as young as I was, I knew that I'd just witnessed some sort of holy, defiant act. We would have crowned her queen, but we never got the chance.

The first thing she did was tell each one of us why she wanted to sit at a table with us. She told a little boy (named James) that everyone picked on that he was the nicest boy in the school because he never did the same mean things back that other people did to him. She told me that she always wanted a smart friend who was as kind as I was. She told one very chaotic little girl that she was so creative and picked beautiful, fun things to wear. (This little girl started the trend of mismatched everything! )

The funny thing is, I don't remember her name. Just her honey blond hair and her sweet smile, and the most incredible act of goodness that I'd seen up to that point in my life. I decided then and there that if I was ever "popular" or "one of the good kids" I would do exactly what she did. She had God's heart. Later on, I realized I didn't have to be in the "in crowd" to love people, to include them, and to tell them exactly how wonderful they are.