Am I ready? That is a question I have spent significant time dwelling on lately.
Am I ready to graduate?
Am I ready to move forward in relationships?
Am I ready to be a teacher? To be responsible for a group of students?
Am I ready to start paying my own bills (especially paying COLLEGE LOANS…ugh)?
Am I ready to live on my own, which first requires finding my own place to live?
My answer from the Lord seems to be no, and yes. No, I am not ready. But yes, I am as ready as I could be. There is nothing more for me to do except trust the Lord, invest in others while taking care of myself, and focus on the 2 greatest commandments which can be summed up in 1 word…Love. Dwelling on this allows me to stay far from real anxiety and allows me to thrive in the In Between.
Most days I honestly do not know where I stand. I pretty much read blogs by those who defend the weak, those whose priority is to be a voice of love to the LGBTQ community, which means they are mostly Christians who believe in God’s full acceptance of this community. However, today I came across Jen Hatmaker (http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2014/04/02/where-i-stand ). She proclaims where she stands with a love I have not witnessed in the conservative Christian community when it comes to discussions around this community. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate her honesty and the grace with which she speaks. Hatmaker believes homosexual relationships are outside God’s original design for his creation, but she still acts as a voice of love.
I do not know if I agree completely with Jen Hatmaker. I wrestle with where I stand almost daily, but I am happy to see that there are Christians who proclaim in love the beauty of homosexual relationships and there are Christians who proclaim in love that they do not see homosexuality as part of God’s design.
My uncertainty has led me to befriend and have good conversations with both “kinds” of Christians, if you can even call them that. We are all one, I hope, but you understand….
My uncertainty has led me to rarely share my heart on the issue. I would rather pull a “neutral” in this culture war, but I fear neutral means I participate in oppression:
Elie Wiesel — ‘We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.’
I do not want to be silent. But my heart doesn’t know what it thinks except that it wants to act and speak only out of love. God’s creation is beautiful in it’s diversity, and yet his Word is unclear (I believe) in what God’s design is for relationships in regards to gender. So I continue to seek The Lord and speak as he prompts.
There are forces that try to build you (and me) up. There are definitely forces that work to do the opposite. I don’t know if I’m in control of which wins, but sometimes it sure feels like a choice, albeit a hard one.
I expect life to fall apart all at once
In one dramatic gesture.
But it’s not really like that is it?
It’s more like the taking down of a Jenga tower
Block by block weakening defenses
Until one moment it crashes.
Or maybe it doesn’t crash,
but instead it’s more like 2 toddlers
building a fortress together until one decides
he will start taking it down.
He doesn’t knock it down,
He races the one building it up.
So that the game becomes whether the tower will grow up
It’s like falling in love,
One day struggling to imagine staying with him
Right after waking up to a nightmare in which he isn’t in your life.
Which feeling will win?
It’s like deciding whether or not to hit snooze.
Just one more time.
Or deciding whether or not the number on the scale
Is something to celebrate
A decision. 2 options, both with convincing arguments.
“Fill in the circle next to the best possible answer.”
I’m falling apart
At the same time I’m being built up.
The 2 toddlers laughing, but fighting…
The observers laughing, and placing bets…
Who will win?
The builder or the destroyer?
I choose to be built up.
In high school I did a project modeled after Benjamin Franklin’s attempts to improve himself (this was also an English project). I graphed out how my complaints impacted my emotions and the emotions of those closest to me. I learned—surprise!—that my complaints directly affect others’ happiness for the worse.
But I haven’t been reminded of this for years, until today, when I got a text from my mom letting me know that she feels a lot better. Why? Because instead of complaining about how little I got done last night for student teaching I told her that I got more sleep. I withheld a complaint and focused on the positive. I’m happier, mom’s happier—so why complain?
Philippians 2 says..
14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe
Shine like stars in the universe. Stars have an impact on those around them. If I want to shine like a star, and be a better person for myself and others, I need to watch what I say (or text!). So here are a few positives from my day:
- Being told I gave an excellent poetry lesson by my cooperating teacher
- 2nd grade quote “I wish you’d be in our class for 2,000 more weeks!”
- Thoughtful emails
- Jeans day!
- Watching the first hint of the sunrise this morning on my way to the library and school (around 7:10)
Just some positive thoughtsbykiersten…
Today–1.26.2014–Orange City, Iowa
6 months ago—July 26—Athens, Greece
I think I’m obsessed with time. I always want to look back on where I was then compared to now, so I continue. This may also be on my mind because I had a dream last night that I was showing friends around Athens and trying to teach them the transportation system by bringing them to Pikermi, to my home where I no longer live.
ANYWAY… July 26, 2013, I was quoting a song and exploring the idea of brokenness. I spent last spring anticipating brokennesss in my summer, but it didn’t come the way I expected. It came when I gave up trying to find rest in the love of friends and family (that I expected) but it also came when I gave up trying to sooth myself, trying to be self-sufficient. I couldn’t depend on others OR myself. I had to give up and lie in pieces at the foot of my Savior. So I wrote these lyrics, even though I’m not a song writer at all, which are set to a few different songs’ melodies. That’s not the point, but check out the words.
I am broken at your feet
Like an alabaster jar.
Once clay molded “perfectly”
Now just begging for someone
I am shattered in your midst,
Once whole now I wait for you.
Pick me up, Lord, piece by piece, like a puzzle,
Your love is the glue.
“You” not “I” is now the rule
Thanks to your unending grace
Kiersten now is formed anew
Running a much better race.
That other section I don’t have a name for:
But we will sing out Alleluia
And we will cry out Alleluia.
He is God
You are God.
Lord, I’m busted
Please restore me.
Lord, I’m beat up.
Please, restore my soul
You are God.
Shout it. Go on and scream it from the mountains.
Go on and tell it to the masses.
He is good.
So…I worship about once a month in the Taizé tradition at a local Episcopal church. (If you have no idea what that means, check out this link http://www.taize.fr/en_rubrique8.html) (Side note: Nathan, if it wasn’t for you I’d plan on living as a sister in this monastic ecumenical community in France.) Anyway…I was asked to play flute for the service once, and I’ve been going pretty regularly for the last year or so as a result. The general idea is to let a few lines of music play continuously for enough time that it becomes a bit like breathing, something to carry with you throughout your day (pray without ceasing, get it?). Silence is also a large component of the worship service time. My mom thinks it’s a cult. I promise it’s not :-)
Most nights Taizé gives me some peace and stillness, often much needed, but tonight it was more than that. I left the service tonight feeling like I’d just been hit by a truck. Maybe that was the Spirit of God…but it certainly didn’t come like a gentle whisper! I can’t describe any sort of message I was being told or any action I must go carry out. I just felt hit—struck—put in awe by who God is and where I fit into his picture. I felt so very important to His Kingdom and yet so low that I was not worthy to lift my eyes to Him, not worthy to touch His feet. He was that awe-inspiring. The word formidable comes to mind.
It certainly puts things in perspective when I then turn around and fill out another teacher job application, prepare to teach about the moon to 2nd graders tomorrow, and try to work ahead on my work as a student teacher being assessed on my performance.
God is so much bigger than it all, and yet cares so much about it all. Wow. Am I lucky to be a daughter to this King and a member of this community or what?
1. Pray more regularly for those I love.
2. Take steps towards finding a summer job and a job for the next school year.
3. Continue to read voraciously (about a book a week) and use these books to inspire and encourage others!
4. Learn more about myself so that I know what actions to take to prevent and manage days where I am not physically, emotionally, or spiritually where I need to be.
5. Teach like it’s my last chance to inspire a student. Every. Day.
6. Love well. Live loved.
7. Make the world more awesome. (Goal courtesy of Kid President—but I’m adopting it as my own!)