Thoughts on Depression (hello, I am back)

Talking about what it’s like to come out of depression feels…harder in a way than talking about depression does. Let me explain. When you are depressed, you can just say that you’re not ok. We’ve sort of come to a place as a society to accept those sorts of statements, and we know what to say to someone. We are constantly getting better at accepting the role of therapy in our lives and we know that “it does get better” (and truly, it does, I promise).

The thing I’ve learned, though, is that healing is not linear (and oh, how I wish it was). Coming out of depression is starting to feel better and then realizing all the messes that you have around you because you weren’t taking care of them when you were taking care of you. Your house is probably a disaster. Your personal hygiene routines might need to be reset. Your physical body may not resemble what you thought it used to.

Oh, and the world? It kept going. Many of your friends are no longer as close as they used to be. Unreturned calls and texts, cancelled plans, and not talking divide those relationships you used to hold dear. You still hold dear. But to reach out and try to fix it still feels overwhelming.

Because it’s not linear. You don’t just get better. You start getting better. You are constantly learning new things about yourself and dealing with things that set you off. You are learning that some weekends will just destroy you – and your coping mechanisms won’t work perfectly 100% of the time.  Sadness is still a hue part of who you are and you wonder if people want to walk along side that as you keep trying to get better, even if you do slide backwards sometimes.

Meanwhile you are still sorting out everything you’ve worked through. New revelations about why you do things certain ways and trying to fix them (and being very aware when you still haven’t). Dealing with things that trigger overwhelming feelings – triggers you didn’t know you had. And you still have a pile of things to sift through. Thoughts, feelings, ideas … how has this impacted your faith? Your perception and understanding of yourself? How you express yourself?

And it is lonely.

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”

– Genesis 28:16 (ESV)

In this passage from Genesis, Jacob has had a dream about how his descendants will cover the earth. He awakes and knows that even though he couldn’t see it when he went to sleep, the LORD was present. He then builds an Ebenezer – a pillar of stones as a marker of where the LORD had spoken to him.

God hasn’t given me a special dream to show me why I have had to work through all of these things – why I am still feeling like I will never fully be whole. And yet I know that He is in this place. He is between the lines of my journals as I write out my thoughts. He is in the space between my ragged sobs on the darker nights. He is in the gentle words and hugs of dear friends holding me up.

I have been writing this post for weeks. I just couldn’t get it to come together. I think it’s because I wanted to be fully healed and done before I wrote it. I thought my pile of rocks (i.e. special blog post on the internet) couldn’t be built until I was done. But Jacob’s story wasn’t done after he built the alter at Bethel. And I want to remember this time – and I want to be able to look back and see the things I’m learning. That’s truly what this blog is for me – a record of where I’ve been. I’ve been so afraid to write anything for the last 2 or so years…but I’m back (I hope). It’s nice to see you again.

Ordinary Worship

It is 1am and I cannot sleep.

I don’t know if that’s a sentiment you can share – I’ve definitely been up this late on purpose before. But tonight I did not want to stay up until 1am. Far from it – in fact I’m hoping to wake up at 5am…

Tonight I can’t sleep because my mind is everywhere. Lately I’ve been trying to read or scroll through the internet until I get so tired I pass out – but that’s been taking longer and longer to happen and so here I am. 1am. Deciding that if I’m going to be awake I might as well try and write out some of my thoughts instead of letting them swirl in my head. I also took bread dough out of the fridge so now I’m committed to letting it finish proofing and then baking it. I’ve watched 6 seasons of the Great British Baking Show and if I’ve learned anything from Paul Hollywood it’s that you can’t renege on proofing your bread dough.

Tonight I am drifting between two topics: of grief and of worship. The former is due to the recent passing of my grandfather and the latter is similarly related but also just because I have been thinking about the next season of leading worship at church.

Part of why I’m sitting here is that I am of the mind that worship is much more than singing songs and playing instruments on a Sunday morning (or at any other church/parachurch meeting/alone/etc. I’m pretty sure I’m right because Paul backs me up in Romans 12:1.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Now, if you’re like me, you were probably super thrown off by the ESV translation of  λογικὴν λατρεία to “spiritual worship” – but no fear; they have a footnote that says it can also be translated to “rational service”. Why they picked spiritual worship I don’t know, since rational service is a much more direct translation (or reasonable worship), but if I took an exegesis class I might have a better idea.

Anyway, point being that by physically committing our lives and bodies to God we are worshiping him.

Now I’m going to back up one more step and get a quick dictionary definition of worship, because I think in the church the word “worship” is one of those weird words where we throw it around all the time but we never really define it very well/when put in the spot we can’t say what it really is (or maybe that’s just me?). So worship, according to my Google search is “to show reverence or adoration.”

We can easily see how singing praise songs shows reverence and/or adoration to God. That’s kind of what singing about/to someone IS. Going back to Paul & Romans, though, we see that we are to also show reverence and adoration by offering our lives to his service. A living sacrifice is a little bit of a weird oxymoron since a sacrifice is generally something that you kill. But God doesn’t ask us to kill our livestock, offspring, or selves for him. He asks us to live – and by living I’m pretty sure He’s just talking about doing our daily ordinary things in a way that shows him reverence and adoration.

I honestly don’t think either the ordinary or the extra-ordinary lend themselves perfectly to being able to “live for God.” In some ways the ordinary is easier – we can get into rhythms and routines that can easily be tailored to revere God. However, the ordinary is also very, well, ordinary. It can get boring and monotonous and become easy to forget to do the simple things as acts of worship – or just seem a bit pointless (brushing my teeth as worship does sound a little out there).

In contrast, sometimes extra-ordinary things are really easy to use as acts of worship. Weddings and births and other exciting things can easily lead to choices and actions as we consciously behave in reasonable worshipful ways. After all, it’s usually easier to adore someone who gives you a good thing. However, sometimes we just…forget. So caught up in the moment and the things that we forget who and what we’re actually living for. And then there is the opposite end of extra-ordinary, which can be equally as difficult or easy. Being worshipful in loss, hardship, and grief? I mean … it can be easy to rest in God’s peace but getting there and laying down your burdens can be so, so hard.

A friend recently asked me if I thought that leading worship the day after my grandpa passed away made my worship that morning more or less genuine. What followed was an extremely brief conversation that I wish had been longer. It’s got me thinking a lot about how worship is more than songs, and how if you are claiming to worship God, you ought to be committing to worship in happy and upsetting moments. You are committing to walk your entire life with Him and worship throughout all of it.

Romans 12 can say “therefore” because Paul just spent 11 chapters talking about how we are saved by Jesus and how this works with and fulfills “the law” so we can be saved by faith. So we are therefore, in response to this, choosing to give our bodies and lives (this is me performing my own exegesis – that by “body” they are talking about more than just the flesh I inhabit, but that it extends to the actions and things I do in this body) and that in doing so we are saying that regardless of what happens, we are choosing to turn to look at God. Choosing to seek him and his face despite our circumstances – in both the extra-ordinary and the ordinary.

And so this brings me to my now 2am thoughts: if worship is an outpouring based off of what God has done in our lives, then ordinary times ought to find us in a perpetual state of worship. Similarly, extra-ordinary moments, whether happy or sad, ought to lead us to deeper moments of worship. That worship might look like exuberant singing, but it might look like broken hallelujahs or silent sitting. Whatever it looks like, it is choosing to show reverence and adoration as we walk and wrestle through our thoughts and feelings.

It is now 3:30am. I don’t know when I will sleep, but I know that I can rest a little easier knowing that as I walk through each moment I am still seeking the face of God and resting on the sure hope of the promises being fulfilled one day. I am working out what it means to be a living sacrifice – and I’m trying my best to live my ordinary (and extra-ordinary) worship. And that’s good enough for 3:30am – and every other ordinary moment that will come.

On Singleness

If you’re reading this I sincerely hope that you are not single. Not because I hate it and wouldn’t wish it on anyone – not at all. I hope that you are not single because I want you to understand me just a little bit more, and maybe remember what it was like for you. To know what it is like now. And if your’e single, I’m glad you’re here, too. I don’t know if my experience will fully resonate with yours, but I hope you can find comfort or challenge in these reflections. And fullest of disclosures – I’m mostly talking about singleness in the church 😉

So singleness. Singleness is coming home to my apartment and finding every single thing exactly where I left it – for better or worse. It is deciding to do things on a whim and being able to drop everything (if you want) to hang out with a friend or help out with a church event/ministry. It is staying up all night on Friday night on your couch with a pizza and wine and going to bed when you fall asleep because no one told you it was 1am. Singleness is also walking into a work Christmas party and losing count of the numerous confused faces when the answer to “where is your boyfriend” is “I don’t have one”. It is awkwardly smiling and shiftily looking side to side when they talk about marriage or children at church, or trying to steady yourself in your car before you walk through Ikea alone, again, or even better, preparing yourself mentally for you next large family gathering where everyone wants to know (with the absolute best intentions, I might add) if you’re seeing anyone now. It is talking to yourself in the grocery store as you try to decide if you can really COMMIT to eating an entire cucumber and a whole container of ripe peaches this week.

Singleness is great. And it is hard. Just like any other relationship status. And I feel like we definitely have it figured out with how to relate to single people…until they don’t fit into our box of what it looks like. Or until they reach their mid-to-late twenties and we realize they don’t want to only hang out with all the other young singles, they want to still be with their peers. Particularly in the church in general. What do you do with us? What do you think of when you see us? I confess I wonder this sometimes as I sit in my seat – especially when marriage or children come up. Do you look at me standing by myself and pity me? Do you wonder what is wrong with me? Sometimes I wonder what is wrong with me – if I’m statistically supposed to get married then why am I not?

Singleness is hard. Singleness is also great. I can pull an all nighter to get the church newsletter out on time if I want. I can say yes to more time commitments and ministries purely because the only time I have to schedule is my own – so I can choose to eat takeout for dinner and volunteer after work instead of cooking a meal. Or last minute say I’ll go away all weekend on a youth retreat because I don’t have kids to worry about or a significant-other to reconcile calendars with. I can unabashedly say yes! Yes I will watch your kids tonight I’ll be there in 5! Yes, I will help you clean the sanctuary after work tomorrow. Yes, I will wait until the last minute to step in and take a new responsibility when you cannot find anyone else who has the time to fill that role. Yes.

But it is lonely out here trying to be in your community. I want to get together with you. I want to be your friend. In fact, I want to be friends with your 8-year-old daughter, the 53 year old couple who just became new grandparents, the 70 year old woman who still organizes the Sunday morning coffee. I want to be invited into the messiness of raising toddlers, the craziness of pre-teen hormones, and the loneliness of empty nesting. I want to share with you my baking and crafting adventures, my career highs and lows, and have coffee or tea or dinner together – in our homes or out. Literally whatever you want.

One thing I did during lent this year was try to invite more people over to my home. And it was terrifying. I’ve always wanted to have an open home where people feel comfortable and where I can have hosting opportunities. But then I got here and suddenly I didn’t know if it was ok for me to invite a couple over if I didn’t have a partner to entertain my girlfriend’s husband. Is it ok for me to invite over the parent’s of my young adult friends because I want to know them, too? Is it ok for me to invite a family over? I don’t want to invite myself into other people’s lives, but I also want to offer this different way of existing among you. This idea that hey – maybe I can be a valid part of your family. And maybe it’s scary because it’s all in my head – but I don’t see too many of “me” out there.

Singleness is supposed to be a gift – Paul tells us so. But it’s a really hard gift to use sometimes. I feel like an unwrapped present sometimes. We are all so busy – we blame our kids, our spouses, our commitments to (too many?) things for our busyness. But we are so busy. But maybe we can find a way to un-busi-fy ourselves and make time for each other instead. Because isn’t that what we are? Single, married, dating, way too young to be thinking about that? (I’m looking at you, 18 year old looking for love).

We believe that we are all in different stages to be able to learn from each other and grow with each other, and that we are all able to serve and give differently as we grow through those stages. So maybe, instead of segregating ourselves all the time based on our marital and offspring status, we instead viewed ourselves as all part of a huge family where we are able to interact and grow deep relationships? We can be in relationship with those that are our peers, but I also want to be in a church where I am in relationship with other people too. Where a single woman feels free and comfortable to invite an older couple over, and where a family with babies feels free to spend time with a couple with teens and doesn’t worry about the state of their house (I genuinely would rather you have a bit of a messy house when I show up than you be exhausted from cleaning everything before I walk over the threshold – REALLY). Where we truly allow our self-imposed barriers to break free and embrace the differences that make us who we are. Because we are all people who are loved by God and trying to become more like him. And, arguably, you have as much to learn from me as I do from you. And I can’t wait.

5 points on Friendship

This past Sunday I celebrated my first anniversary at church. A year ago I did a hugely scary thing (for me at least) and left the small church I knew and loved to venture out to a much larger place where I knew absolutely no one and absolutely nothing about the church (except every single word they had on the website). The move was for many reasons, but specifically because I wanted to have the opportunity to build friendships with my peers after graduating and realizing everyone I knew conveniently lived at least 45minutes away…

One of my commonly heard quotes this year was “I have, like, no friends,” (like optional). It was often followed up with someone in the near vicinity responding with a list of friends I do have, spurring clarification on my part to “it doesn’t FEEL like I have friends right now.” Why did I feel that way? Because I wanted someone for every second of every day (not realistic) and someone I could talk to any time about anything (again, not realistic. Really I just needed more Jesus. Moving on.)

In the journey of meeting a lot of new people and reflecting on my anniversary Sunday, I’ve had the opportunity for many thoughts about friendship to percolate in my mind. Specifically, I’ve been considering how building friendships in the body should look like, and so I wrote a blog post about it (#obvi).

While I have had my fair share of friends outside “the body” I think friendship amongst believers is something extra special we get to partake in and it’s what I was really looking for after graduating. There is the added aspect of how our spiritual lives are interconnected as we join together and support each other to build a temple for God (Eph 2:19-22). People we never would have met/become friends with suddenly can become some of the deepest friendships we will ever have.My favourite example of friendship in the Bible is David and Jonathan because even though they were from different places and their life trajectories didn’t exactly mesh, their souls were still knit together. (One was born the heir to the throne but the other one was who God decided would be the next king. #awkward)

So without further ado, here are my 5 thoughts on growing friendships in the body (though some of these are applicable outside the body as well):

1. You aren’t the only one looking for a friend

When I started my new church, I literally knew no one. As in not a soul. (Which was actually incredibly freeing, but thats another thought for another time and blog post). I was kind of terrified to meet people – like if someone says hi to you one week do you assume you can talk to them the next week? Does that mean they’re down to be friends? (I still don’t know the answers).

The cool part for me was realizing (and meeting) people who also didn’t have their friend quota filled … or rather people who were willing and looking for more friends. It was surprising to realize people who had been around longer than I had were still looking for friends (even if it didn’t look super apparent from the outside). The important part was realizing that there were lots of people willing to be friends and start building a friendship, which leads me to point #2…

2. It doesn’t happen right away

You aren’t going to become BFFFFFS with someone right away. Like with anything, it takes time to build up a friendship with someone regardless of the intensity of that friendship. Friendship requires time together, and as we get older it gets harder to find regular time to build those friendships. I find it hard because I roll through a 3 week shift rotation so I can’t commit to doing something on a weekly basis/if someone cancels on me I have to wait a pretty long time to make it up. Maybe for you it’s a different reason, but the fact remains that it can take months+++ for a friendship to grow up from the dust of nothingness. Especially if you’re looking for a deep D+J friendship – if we all just shared our deepest secrets with each other right away they wouldn’t be as deep and special, which kind of ruins your vulnerable/intimate aspect (more on that thought another time, too).

3. It requires both parties to want it

I tried asking someone to meet up a few times and eventually I just stopped asking because I was always the only one initiating, and when we did meet up it felt completely one sided as though they owed me asking all the questions because I asked to meet up. I’m 23 and while I still have a lot of life ahead of me, I don’t have time to try and worm my way into people’s lives. There are other people who need friends too and TBH there is enough humanity to go around for us all to have friends. Yes, it’s annoying to try and make friends only to stay acquaintances, but you can’t be good friends with everyone you know. It takes time (sometimes a lot — see point #2), and sometimes we just have to recognize when it ain’t gonna happen, and open up time for other people. As I mentioned before, you really never know who a friendship will spring up with – and besides, as we’ve already discussed, there are tons people down to hang out and make new friends (point #1).

4. There is more than one model of friendship – and that’s ok

Unless you are the afore mentioned human who never moves and whom’s friends also never move and you and your friend posse do literally everything together, you will eventually have friends that don’t live near you anymore. Are they no longer friends if you can’t see them a few times a week? Some of the friends I see rarely are still some of the closer friendships I have, they just look different. They consist more of social media and occasional text messages and maybe a weekend together every year if we’re lucky. As long as both people are willing to invest in the friendship, however it looks, it can be a good and healthy friendship (and still bring both of you closer to Christ).

4. Friendship does not fulfill what we need.

#guilty of thinking friendship would fulfill the lonely places in my life. Friendship parallels the desire for a relationship here — just because you have a bunch of friends doesn’t mean you won’t feel alone sometimes. We were created to be relational beings, yes, but those relationships are a part of something greater. We are longing for things that can’t be filled by our friendships (or relationships), but we will never find full satisfaction in each other. One day we will have those longings and desires met in our creator, but until then we will still have those longings around us. The important thing I’ve found is to use those feelings to bring me closer to God instead of closer to someone else. I’m especially thankful for the friends who remind me about the most important friendship I have and that it too needs to be fed over time.

5. Just because you haven’t seen the messy part of someone’s life doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

When I was younger I would look at other people and think about how great it would be if I was friends with all of them. My life would be sooooo much better if I was friends with them (aka cool kid syndrome). Even when we’re making new friends, we put our best foot forward to impress and draw people in.

Here’s the problem. If we’re making friends, and I’m talking about true, weathering many seasons, brothers-and-sisters-in-Christ, David-and-Jonathan, joined-together friends, we have to remember that we are all sinners. We are all people with messy lives, struggles we don’t tell everyone, and imperfections we like to gloss over. Just because when you’re starting to get to know someone their life seems put together and perfect doesn’t mean it IS. We all have our own personal epic fails where we let people down, totally botch a task, and blow up in each other’s faces. Becoming deeper friends means that we are vulnerable and share those messes with each other. We tell people about our struggles and we let them have the ability to hurt us. And then when they inevitably do, or we hurt them, we forgive and work through it and continue to grow with each other as we point each other back to God.

 

I don’t know why I love you

Most times you can go online and read someone rant about how movies and music and Hollywood and Disney completely skew the portrayal of what love is supposed to be. We think we’ll find our “true love”, and  in a few days we’ll know they’re “the one” (worked for Romeo and Juliette…). We’ll know because they’ll put up with our crap and check off everything on our “I want list” and make us feel great. If we have awkward silences with them sometimes, they must not be the one (also if you weren’t masquerading around in a dress and talking to cartoon animals, you aren’t a princess). This magical person will fall from the sky and into our lives and then life will be great.

I read an article about how there is no “the one” a few years ago, and that we are surrounded by people who a relationship may work with. Since then I’ve read numerous articles and blog posts about how people didn’t marry the one, their soulmate, their other half … all driving the same point home – this mystical “the one” is complete bogus. It’s completely changed how I look at the friends I have, and makes me pretty cautious about friend zoning anyone. What I find most interesting is that I can look at a few people and think about how our relationship would be like. With some it would be non-stop laughter and hilarity, while with others it would be a calm, steady ship in a wind storm. Every relationship is different and any of them could work. They could. It doesn’t mean they will. There are other variables at play like, you know, feelings. And I would also like to mention that NONE of these people check off every box that I have on my “perfect guy list”, because that guy doesn’t exist. And if he did, I probably wouldn’t like him.

Moving onto the reason I titled this the way I did, I think that some of the Hollywood movies that have come out actually are fair descriptors of what kind of love we should be looking for. Maybe even some Disney ones. My favourite line in a movie is when someone asks their lover (or whatever you want to call them) “Why do you love me?” and the answer comes along the lines of “I don’t know,”or “You make me angry, ticked off, and upset – but I can’t stand being without you” or, if you like 27 Dresses

“I’ve been waiting my whole life for the right guy to come along and then you showed up. And you are nothing like the man I imagined. You’re cynical and cranky and impossible. But the truth is, fighting with you is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. And I think there’s a very good chance that I’m falling in love with you.”

I don’t think that we should be looking for someone who checks off everything we’ve ever wanted. I think we should be looking for someone who challenges us, and is a real person. One of my friends just got engaged and when she was talking to me about him, she talked about how he brought out sides of her that she never knew she had. Together, they complimented each other and their strengths and weaknesses worked together. You wouldn’t have put them together out of the blue, but when you see them together you can’t help but believe that love exists.

There are going to be things that we absolutely hate about the person we end up with, along with things that we knew we wanted and will always love. And there will be things that we find in this person that we never thought we would want, but come to love more than anything we thought we would.

Why I hate “Comments” Sections

I really like blogging (hard to believe given the gap between this and the last time I posted … I should fix that). And I love how the internet these days has been giving people the ability and confidence to express their opinions on things. I can read an article about how awesome Pascal from Tangled is, or I can read someone’s opinion on being a vegan for a few days. My favourite part is when I can share an article with someone I know and have a discussion about it and how it may be relating to our lives.

So I finish reading an article and I’m starting to critically think about what I read and form my opinions on agreement or disagreeing, and then I think “Hey I wonder what other people thought!” Lo and behold, ye section of comments is here to save the day with an argument about people who agree or not. Thank you for having an online argument with people you’ve never met before! It’s so exciting to verbally bash each other without proper expression of emotions while hiding behind our screens. It takes so much courage to post on there how utterly wrong they are in a way that can come of lovingly or hatefully depending on the mood of the person who reads it. And I’m sure that person you just tried to blow out of the water appreciates it. They totally saw the error in their ways.

And now I’m left leaving the article completely confused about what I just read, it’s validity, and what I actually think about it. Who needs a university degree anyway? I now know some half-formulated arguments from random people, so obviously I don’t need to bother learning how to think critically. Why learn to think for myself when I can just let other people hash it out for me? I’ll just wait for the official statement to come out on which subjective opinion based side was right, and go from there.

Honestly. We’re going to disagree about things. Part of the internet’s beauty is that I CAN write about Olaf the snowman, my love for radiant orchid, and how much I really want sweet potato fries right now. It’s called expressing myself. Either we let people do that, or we don’t. It doesn’t make sense to me to go and rebuke someone online that you can’t see and have a conversation with. Online conversations I have with people I KNOW often end up in disputes and upset friends, so how is having one with a stranger going to be any different?

I’m not saying that comments sections are all bad. There can be some great conversations that happen, and adding points to things, expressing how you enjoyed something … but if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Or at least discuss it to someone’s face so you can work it out.

Facades & Nail Polish

I did my nails in a French manicure the other day for an industry event. Now it’s half falling off but I keep forgetting to grab the nail polish remover. However ugly I think it might look to see the pretty (and fake) nails juxtaposed to the original (and slightly dirty – how do people keep their nails clean? I just don’t get it) got me thinking though.

French Manicure

I painted an picture of what I wish my hands looked like overtop of what they actually are. This is similar to the image I try to paint around myself sometimes (who am I kidding, a lot of the time) when I’m talking to someone or getting to know people. “You don’t like country? K me neither……”

But is that really ok? Do I want people to know me, or a fake version of me?

I’m not saying we should be hanging out dirty laundry out for everyone to see it (please don’t), but I do think that we can be avoiding the joy of having someone know who we really are and still liking us. We forget that we can be pretty awesome people just by ourselves. I dared myself this fall to not text one of my friends unless what I was saying was legitimately what I would have said in real life if I wasn’t afraid of being judged for what I really thought. It’s really hard. But they’re still my friend (I think?) and it encourages me to continue to have the same vulnerability and honesty with other people in my life.

But I think this needs to be taken a step farther.

As hard as I try, I know I still slip up and cover up parts of me I’m ashamed of or think would be best left unseen (bear in mind there are still some things you probably shouldn’t share with everyone). But I know still that there is one who does see behind my facades, Every. Single. Time. The fact that God can see everything about me and still chooses to love me is just astounding sometimes.

I read Lamentations this morning, and I was reflecting on the acknowledgement of our sins. We can put up walls and masks that other people never see through, but God can still see through them. He can still see the ugliness inside, and he loves anyway. He sent his son to earth to die for me. He came to die for the sinner, not the righteous (Mark 2:17).

If having a person know things about me encourages being me, then knowing that God loves me even still is more so.There is such freedom in knowing that you are loved for who you really are. It goes beyond loving yourself and moves to the desire to be better and strive for godliness. We are loved when we succeed, and loved when we fail. And we can rest in knowing this as we try to do what we are called to do.

I hope that this realization empowers you to be you today; and to be a better you, relying on his strength, tomorrow.

Taking My Faith Seriously

To be completely honest, I have grown to dislike that statement. A lot. Not because I think its bad to take your faith seriously, but because I think that it can devalue your faith prior to this point (also the two words don’t even really go together …)

First off, if I have faith in something, I’m pretty sure I’m taking it seriously. Its sort of hard to have faith and not take it seriously … because then its not exactly faith – its just words. Faith is “complete trust or confidence in something or someone”. If I don’t “seriously” have faith … then I’m not completely trusting … which means that I don’t have faith at all.

Typically, this phrase is used when someone who grew up in the church share their testimony. “I was born .. blah blah blah … I never understood what I believed … blah blah blah … then I decided to take my faith seriously :D”. I”m not saying that its impossible for you to reach a point in your life where you decide to do certain things in response to faith. In fact, that is important in the steps of maturing and journeying in faith.

My problem is when people think that they weren’t saved until they reached university, had quiet times, learned all about theology and evangelized to some people. This is like me saying that because the 8-year-old girl who I witnessed accept Christ at camp this summer isn’t “taking her faith seriously” because she can’t recite the gospel in 4 points and she doesn’t have routine set up for reading her Bible before she goes to school. The “serious” faith of a 5-year-old looks a LOT different than the “serious” faith of a 20-year-old.

I personally don’t think that going through periods of doubt means that you are suddenly unsaved. In fact, some people only doubt what they DO believe. In fact, I think that everyone who grows up in the church DOES doubt at some point. It is then that their faith becomes more mature. Not necessarily because they took it seriously. I took my faith seriously when I was younger – but I didn’t have personal quiet times every day when I was 6.

The growth of the walk with Christ is not something that just happens suddenly. It is a constant journey forward. And last time I checked, when you’re on a journey it is never perfect. Things go wrong. Things mess up. You mess up. I mess up. Even people who currently “take their faith seriously” have times when they just completely fall off the wagon.

So, instead of using the term “taking my faith seriously” why don’t we say something along the lines of “I started to understand better what I believed in” or “God started showing me that even though I said I believed in him, I needed to act like it” and stop contradicting ourselves.

What Twilight Actually Taught Me

Just to clear the air a little for you, this is not a sarcastic post. I’m 100% serious.

So I started reading the Twilight saga when I was in 10th grade. And truth be told, I totally fell for the “ERMAGOODNESSIWANNABEAVAMPIREEEE” thing for a little bit. This probably comes as a surprise to most people who think I have “better taste” in books, but there was something about the story that made me finish. Yea, I could do without book 2, thats a little to angsty for me, but i can still enjoy the other three (books) four (movies). Which brings me to the point of why I’m writing this.

This weekend, everything about Twilight will come to an end (unless Meyer goes and writes those books in Edward’s point of view. I can still dream, right?).  So, obviously, I’m going to go see it. But as I was thinking about Twilight and hearing about it and seeing it pop up everywhere etc. etc. etc. I realized that there are 2 things I’ve learned from Twilight – or rather that it inspires in me. They are inter-related, but here they are.

1. Marriage is a partnership

One of the most striking lines in Breaking Dawn Pt 1 (coincidentally,my other favourite line is in the next point) is when Edward is talking to Bella after they find out she’s probably going to die while delivering their child. He’s ticked, and that’s not surprising. He doesn’t want to lose his wife – and he has no choice because “she decided all on her own.” They were supposed to be a partnership (which means you decide things together). They clearly didn’t here. If you know the story, you know Edward isn’t a saint here either, but the point is … lack of communication = failure of marriage. You don’t just coexist, you are walking together. You don’t just walk around with your significant other. You (quite often in today’s society) hold hands. You talk to each other. You don’t just walk for 5 miles silently ignoring them (unless its a prayer walk … or you’re REALLY angry). The partnership created through marriage is two people becoming one. Not two people becoming two people who exist slightly closer together.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Gen 2:24, ESV)

Comprendez-vous? Going in thinking its all about you is not going to work. Ever. And hey – thats not easy! But look at that, Bella and Edward prove it isn’t.

Granted, most of us don’t have a vampire trying to exact vengeance by killing us, but we still have problems. The problem arises when we assume that because something is going wrong, we clearly weren’t meant to be together. Life isn’t handed to us on a silver platter. Neither is it in Twilight. Relationships take work – hard work. They require constant nurturing and growth – which only comes when time and energy is invested in it. Being in a partnership means that when your partner is in danger, you protect them. It means that they are celebrating, you celebrate with them. It means that when they have a vampire growing inside of them and they want to carry it to term, you do everything you can to help them (ok, that last comment was a little sarcastic).

2. No one is perfect – and that means no Fairy Tale Endings

And so we move to my other favourite quote (also said by Edward)

“Its an extraordinary thing to meet someone who you can bare yourself to; who will accept you for what you are. I’ve been waiting for what seems like for a very long time to get beyond what I am – and with Bella I feel I could finally begin. So I’d like to propose a toast to my beautiful bride: ‘No measure of time with you would be long enough, but why don’t we start with forever.'”

I feel like all too often we are searching for the perfect person.We want the perfect fairy tale ending. We literally want to have the Cinderella/Ariel/Belle/Mulan/Jasmine/Bella ending. And we think that culmination of our lives is finding this person and being with them forever. But we forget that no one EVER is going to be our perfect person. Sort of like Scarlet O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind”. Man was she obsessed with Ashley – or rather the thought of who Ashley was. And then at the end she realizes that she “loved something that didn’t exist”. Nice job Scarlet.

But back to the point, I think that all too often we get caught up in the fairy tale ending, and constantly search for something that will just be perfect in our lives. But that is completely unrealistic. Bella’s life isn’t perfect. She’s a vampire for heaven’s sake. Plus, she didn’t just have it handed to her on a silver platter. Sure, Bella is immortal, with Edward forever, has a baby, has a best friend (who is coincidentally in love with her baby…), and gets to stay in contact with her dad. Sounds like she’s got it made, right? Uhm, did you forget she had a mom? Oh, and she ALSO had to make it through 4 books to get there? While Twilight is steeped in happy endings and “perfection”, there are still things that go wrong.

Even Twilight doesn’t have a perfect ending.

Yes, I understand how so much of Twilight and any other Tween/Teen/Adult Romance novel/book/movie makes it seem like life is perfect once you find your perfect match person … but I’d just like to point out that we usually ignore the two hours of screen play before that ending.

Do I still hope that I’ll find someone I’ll marry one day? Uh, yes. But hey – I know better than to expect my life will end up like these perfect princess stories. I also know with fair certainty I’m not turning into a vampire any time soon. But anyway,  herein lies my rant on Twilight’s redeeming qualities. Not too many, but enough to remind me of what I’m waiting for.

Be the Change

I was sitting reviewing for my midterm tomorrow (yes, on a Saturday. I don’t know why), and I noticed a tweet from the “Official Thousand Foot Krutch” feed. It wasn’t particularly a super life-changing one, because it was just the theme from their last album. They have a LOT of tweets like it, but this one just hit me. Probably because of the A. the song I was listening to, and B. the simplicity of the tweet.

@OfficialTFK: #bethechange

See? I told you it was simple. But it just resounded so much within me that I stopped studying to write this.

It is SO easy to look at people around us and condemn them for what they are doing. However, it is just as easy to sit around and talk about our thoughts, good intentions, and ideals on what we should be doing as Christians. But are you being the change you so desperately want to see?

I think this is appropriate for this time, because of these wonderful elections we have coming up. Living in Canada, I don’t get to vote (and neither does anyone else here, but does that stop everyone from following it? Oh no, sure does not). If we complain about how our country is falling apart, morals are going down the drain, this guy will be better than this guy because he endorses _____, _________, and _______. Who cares? Regardless of who you elect, your country is STILL going to be going on the same path! A country is made of its leader, yes, but it is also made of the people within it. The population as of July 2011 was 311,591,917. So, with super complicated math, if you subtract the one president and then make a ratio, you get this.

1:311,591,916

Yea. Maybe I’m crazy, but I think that if you go out and try to change things you see that are wrong and investing in the lives of the population, the country might fare a little better. You can wait for the government to change things so they’re “right” or you can go out and Be the Change.

Being the Change requires action. Action requires doing something, not just sitting there talking about it. If I’m being completely honest, I’m not working to change things that I want to see fixed. I definitely fall into the “sitting around talking about things” type of people. But I also know that I can Be a Change that I want to see.

Do I know how? No. But I know that if I start taking steps towards this, I’ll get there eventually. Life is a process, is it not?