Thursday, March 31, 2016

Reboot

So I'm back to blogging! Hooray! Shut down the site for a bit while I was job searching (prospective employers would probably have been understandably alarmed/concerned if they had perused my social media accounts), but now that I've been hired, I figure I'm more or less in the clear now (though, jury's always still out; I'm an at-will employee).

It's been quite an interesting journey, these past four months of unemployment followed by a month of temporary employment followed by what will (hopefully) be a year of term-limited temporary employment. There's been plenty of time for soul-searching and tears, but thankfully it appears that the worst of the crisis is over. I may not ever fully understand the "whats" and "whys" of the entire Bolivia debacle, but I'm just so glad that chapter is now more or less over. It was definitely scary, and I still cringe knowing that three of my friends are still in that "church," being psychologically and spiritually taken advantage of in a very icky way. Yet, in order to cope, I have had to face the fact that since they do not want to leave, and I have done my part to try and convince them otherwise, the situation must be left in God's hands. I have had to relinquish responsibility and trust that the eventual arc of their lives will bend towards wholeness, wellness and healing, though for the present it is not.

Adulthood can be disorienting at times. I've had so many folks give me well-meaning yet disparate advice of what I should do and how I should live my life, but when it came to Bolivia, and the choices I had to make afterwards, there came a point where I just had to decide to do something and live with the consequences. Bolivia eroded a lot of my self-confidence, especially in my intuition, judgment and discernment. However, living life at a standstill, paralyzed and afraid of making the "wrong" choice, I found, was simply impractical.

I am wary of religious perfectionism, which requires that each and every personal decision made must be tested and approved as the explicit "will of God." This requires much agonizing, weighing of options, and hours of prayer devoted to receiving "confirmation" or God's "blessing" on moving forward with something. Is life really that spiritual? Yes, there is absolutely Biblical precedent for asking God for guidance and direction for important decisions (2 Chronicles 20:12; Acts 13:1-3), but I just am highly skeptical that this level of intense scrying is altogether necessary. God obviously intervenes when there is, in fact, a "wrong" choice to be made (case in point: me returning to Bolivia). However, is every little choice and decision judged in a moral/spiritual scale, implying there are gradations of spiritualized choices, with God keeping score? I've decided this is a miserable way to live, full of regret for what could have been, and fear of what could be (see the psychic headache that is The Adjustment Bureau). Thus, I've nixed this approach to life.

I'm also wary of the other extreme, self-protective human secularism, i.e. taking matters into my own hands and barreling forward in life assuming God approves/I know his will absolutely. This would mean "running after" food, clothing and housing (a la Matthew 6:28-34) as ends in themselves and winding up a materialistic, "self-made" woman. It would also require a certain amount of hard-heartedness towards God (relationship with him is implied/assumed rather than deep/actual), which I'm not willing to stomach. Again, hard pass.

My latest strategy has mostly just been to not really take things so seriously or overthink them. I can be intense, perfectionistic and exacting; so in other words, I'm trying to "lighten up." I'm just trying to respond to situations as they occur and make peace with the fact that I won't always get things right the first time. I'm seeing that there's a lot of safety in knowing God and belonging to him. Sure, due to my own choices, I can get myself into a lot of trouble. That's always going to be a possibility. Yet, having made it out of a couple of pretty dramatic tough scrapes so far, God's care and faithfulness is undeniable.

Is this what it feels like to "wing it"?

Friday, January 15, 2016

The past two months in hypothetical blog post titles, categorized.

Didn't see it coming

  • I almost joined a cult. Whoops!!
  • Escaped a cult and not sure how f---ed over my mind is?
  • On being a neurotic Christian. 
  • When good intentions don't preclude failure. 
  • When a detour feels like a prison. 
  • The harmful effects of shame. 
  • Is it all just in my head? 

Coping

  • Recovering from a punch to the heart. 
  • TV bingeing: a recipe for general life dissatisfaction. 
  • Falling down the Wikipedia rabbit hole. 

Metacognition and deconstruction

  • Realizing I think in black and white. 
  • R.I.P black and white thinking. 
  • Paralyzed: don't know how to think. 
  • Does anything mean anything? 
  • Nuance and ambiguity is everything now, I guess. 

My emotional self

  • On verbal dramatics and hysterical realism OR When every word that comes from my mouth is hyperbolic. 
  • How my strong emotions make others uncomfortable. 
  • To be or not to be: when contradictory advice makes me question my entire identity and very personhood. 

In sum

  • The agony of agonizing. 
  • Crying and I don't know why. 
  • Jesus?

Friday, November 06, 2015

In-Between

Today marks the end of the fourth week (!) since I finished up work at University Presbyterian Church. I have been living in Beacon Hill at my grandma's two-bedroom condo, and have been spending much of my time cleaning up and cleaning out the place to get it ready for sale. My grandma has vascular dementia and for more than a year has been living in assisted care facilities while her old condo has remained vacant.

The kitchen and hallway closet which have since been significantly de-cluttered.

Systematically going through different sections of the condo boxing up items to donate to Goodwill, and cleaning (sweeping, mopping, dusting, vacuuming), has been a welcome challenge to tackle in this in-between time prior to my return to Bolivia in January 2016. I am amazed with the sheer amount of unopened items (platters, vases, clothes, pots, pans, mugs, tea pots) Grandma stored in her closets. I assume she intended to either use these things later, or give them to others as gifts.

My favorite things I have stumbled upon so far have been some precious old photos from my dad's childhood and even from grandma's childhood, her high school diploma from Franklin High School and her yearbook (1949). She also tended to save birthday, Mother's Day and Christmas cards from family. Those cards kind of make me sad when I realize she probably would have little to no interest in reading them in her current condition. I am saving them in a box anyway.

As I reflect and pray about my upcoming departure to Bolivia, I am overcome with gratitude and also hit with a considerable dose of sorrow thinking about the dear family and friends I will be leaving in order to serve with the Bolivian church and to engage in God's purposes there. So I am doing my best to be grateful for each day here in Seattle. It's not always comfortable to be in this in-between space between points A (UPC) and B (Bolivia) but I so am thankful for it! Working, resting, waiting, praying, preparing. It is all good!

Sunrise from Grandma's condo
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight" (Ephesians 1:3-4). 

Followers