What the H*ll Do I Know? (Confession 5)

I have a friend going through a bit of a faith-crisis at the moment, and it really is one of those things that can make you feel completely impotent.  Not only is nearly impossible to know what to say or do, it is pretty much certain that anything you say or do will probably only make matters worse. So you’re just there for them. Let them vent if they want to, or ramble, or whatever non/verbal processing they might tend toward. And maybe, if the situation calls for it, you share what you actually know.

But what do you actually know?

And what do I actually know? So, where do I get off telling anyone else what their faith should be?

But, do I just leave it there? Let a friend languish? I have a hard time swallowing that pill.  I think we should have a hard time with it.  And I think how we handle it is key–and I think the place where we really go wrong is where we start offering up loads of junk that we don’t personally know, in favor of churchy things we think sound right. Continue reading “What the H*ll Do I Know? (Confession 5)”

Some thoughts

Sitting in our morning lecture, and I have a whole train of thoughts competing with, and in response to, what Todd Johnson has to share this morning.
I got to thinking about what kind of theatre I might want to do and I returned again to the idea of shows with questions, ideas and topics that stir people up into conversation and even to action.  Seeing theatre as a potential catalyst for the community, for the church. And then I heard the naysayer in my head.  “Bleeding heart” Continue reading “Some thoughts”

Are you Lazy? (confession 4)

Man, sometimes I feel like the laziest person I know.

I live with two other women, and we’re all quite different from one another.  Both of my roommates put me to shame when it comes to focus.  They both always seem to be studying, or getting lots of other things done.  One of my roommates has commented on several occasions that since I’ve moved into the apartment, she feels like she’s been on a nearly non-stop vacation.  She means it as a complement, but I can’t help but feel the indictment in it too.

Let’s add to the equation, that the sermon series for the last few weeks at my church has been Fresh Start (it’s good stuff. listen to it here).  This series among other things, has been challenging us to recognize where we may’ve dropped the ball –perhaps in 2009– and encouraging us to get back on track in 2010.  Hey, there’s no shame in placing a sermon series at the top of the new year that hopefully capitalizes on our desire to start a new year off on the right foot.

All totaled. I feel like a lazy lump.  Over the last few months, my to do lists seem to be less and less crossed off.  I’ll even confess that I may have avoided making a list (literal or metaphorical) on a few occasions, just so I wouldn’t have to face it unfinished at the end of the day. 

But, I keep returning to God on this topic, and we’re working on some things together.

So, do you feel lazy? Are you doing anything about it?

Quick, Slow, Slow (confession #3)

Several weeks ago, I was at lunch with some friends and one made the offhand comment that she just wasn’t a Bible-study person. Several things happened at once, and I want to highlight two of them for our conversation today. When this comment hit the table, no one responded–their silence electing me as the Spokesperson For Convincing Others of the Value of Biblestudy. But I just didn’t know what to say, so I too remained silent. I was listening to a young woman who I’d personally seen grow, dismiss the value of studying God’s word for her life. She was willing to admit that it must be beneficial for others, but she simply wasn’t one of those people.

There are so many tangents I could take with this. But, I want to focus on two: her comment and my reaction. As I sat silently at the table, I was trying to figure out the best way to respond. I knew in that moment, I could reinforce her statement, or could at least give her another angle to consider; and perhaps that angle would open her up to the possibility that Biblestudy is beneficial to all, including her. But, while I paused, someone else choose to speak for me. I am a bit of an entertainer, and those who know me personally know that I’ll often take the path that leads to the laugh. A clinical psychologist could probably have a heyday analyzing my need to make people like me by entertaining them, even at my own expense. And this pattern in my behavior must have been the reason that another friend at the table announced something like “oh here it comes, Nicky’s going to loose it”. In a split second I was choosing between the thoughts I had been considering (how to encourage this girl to engage God’s word) or to react melodramatically, as was expected, and make the situation (hopefully) a joke.

I’d like to say I convinced this girl that there was no such person as a not-a-biblestudy-person. That indeed, she may have been previously invloved in Biblestudies that had dissapointed her in some way; but that must have been a shortcoming of the study itself, the method or the format, or even the theacher, but NOT that she had nothing to gain from small group study. I’d like to say that I did that.

But, I instead allowed my other friend to (in essence) tell me how to react. I didn’t actually “loose it” but I did offer some kind of muddled response between what I would’ve liked to have said, and a response far less gentle.

So this leads me to the two things I’d like us to ponder together, and I really hope that you take a moment to comment, I’d really like to hear your response (especially since I had to post the short version of this, since the full length would have been tooooo long)

What do you think of the question my friend posed at the lunch table? Do you think there are people who just aren’t Biblestudy-people? Do you feel that way about yourself? If not, what would you have said?

Have you ever botched an opportunity to do or say the right thing in a loving way, because you were expected to react differently?

the dreaded loneliness post. (confession #2)

Here it is, the one you may have been waiting to see, and hoping not to see all at the same time:

the dreaded loneliness post.

If you were expecting it to be different, you’ve never done this before. You’ve never left your whole tribe–left your Haran and gone out ‘to the place you will be shown’ (see Genesis 11:27-12:1). Perhaps you’ve never known the feeling of being hundreds of miles away from anyone who’s known you for more than a few hours. The catch in your throat as you drive away from just about everything you’ve invested your life in. The piercing feeling that attacks your heart and your stomach simultaneously as you see your friends drive away to return to the home that isn’t exactly yours anymore. It may be possible that you’ve never had to pep-talk yourself before walking into a new place all alone and hope to God that someone talks to you.

Yeah. Maybe you didn’t know it would be this way.

And, I can’t say you’re the lucky one.

Maybe you did. Maybe you know that living a daring life has costs. Maybe you understand that to live passionately for your God means the choices sometimes hurt a little. Maybe you know. Maybe you know better than I do.

I heard tonight that LA is the second largest city in the country. Although I didn’t know this before, it didn’t surprise me. I’ve made the good team effort to deny my impulses to hide in my room, waiting for classes to start. I’ve accepted the invitations to attend parties where I know no one. To visit homes of strangers. To find comfort in the becoming-familiar faces of people who don’t even know my name. And to hear that statistic tonight made me feel even smaller than I already did.

Yes. Every fun and exciting thing I’ve posted so far has been thoroughly true. I’m not putting on a brave face for anyone back home; and this post proves it. But this rounds out the story, because it would be a lie to tell you anything else. I’m not going to tell you I’m homesick, it’s not true. I’m not going to tell you I’m not terribly excited to be here, it’s not true (yes, a double negative). I’m telling you that I find it so thrilling to see the sun rising over my palm tree knowing that God put me here, and I still don’t really know why.

confession 1: surly old lady

I confess, I am sometimes a surly old lady. Granted, I’m not old, but if you read a transcript of some of the grumpy things I say and do, you would surely think Patty and Selma Bouvier are my kindred spirits. If you have met me on one of my SOL day’s I apologize. Despite my friends’ assurances that I am not a jerk, I have certainly caught myself displaying jerky behavior and to my everlasting shame, I have behaved this way in front of witnesses.

I was at the movie theater yesterday, and my friend and I were seated in a row where there was a railing in front of us, instead of seats. It’s a special row, with pairs of seats spaced apart providing space for wheelchair access, and like every other patron at this theatre, my friend and I had our feet up on the bar. A man walked up–past several empty seats and at least half a dozen other people with their feet up–and stopped at a seat next to our railing told him to move his feet, and then proceeded to sit in the seat near the bar. Although this man did not say please (or even ask for that matter, really, he barked out a command) my friend gently smiled and moved his feet to a lower bar on the railing and further away from the man’s seat. After several minutes, the man got up called my friend an a$$hole and moved to a different seat.

I was stunned at the completely random and unprovoked display. Plenty of rhetorical questions abound. Why my friend? Why that seat? But finally, How often do I behave that way? The man was indeed beastly, and I am proud to say that my friend was unruffled by the encounter. It left me wondering how often I exhibit the same attitude. Sadly, more often that is ever warranted.

Not too long ago, I walked into the new Chili’s restaurant near my office. It was a busy day, right at lunchtime, and I was meeting friends. I asked if they just seated three gals, who were waiting for one more person (myself) and the multiple, cute little blond hostesses just looked at me in confusion, and then pointed to a very large group to my right. “Do you mean that party of seven?” Um, no. About then I noticed my friends to the back and pointed “oh there they are”. Perfectly reasonable exchange, right? Except that as I took a step away “how hard is that?” (or something else totally catty) came flying out of my mouth. I didn’t even think the thought before it came shooting out of my mouth. I didn’t say it directly to any of them, and so perhaps the din of the busy restaurant kept a few of them from hearing it. But I’m sure at least one of them did. What I said was uncalled for and I have no idea why I said it.

So to those unfortunate witnesses who’ve seen my Surly Old Lady behavior I officially apologize, and hope that you see her less and less frequently. I’m working on the old bat.

Have you ever encountered your own surly old lady or surly old man?