Life is weird

[Disclaimer: this is essentially an online journal post.  I hope you find yourself in some of the things I say, but this is really the sort of thing I should confine to an old notebook somewhere and not post on the eternal web.  If you get to the end and say, “Ruth.  That was super boring and I don’t care about your weird feelings,” know that you’ve been warned.]

Life is weird.  You may have already known that.  People are weird, relationships are weird, jobs are weird, college is weird, fun times are weird.  But the weirdest thing of all the weird things is that nothing is weird–I only perceive it as weird.  This is life.  There’s only one of them.  So everything is normal.  Life is normal.  Somehow, even though this is my first, and only, time through life, it still seems weird to me.  Which is weird in itself, because this being my first time through, I shouldn’t really have preconceptions to judge life by–but I do, and when life doesn’t match my preconceptions, I call it weird.  But it’s not.  It’s actually normal.

I said jobs and college and other things are weird.  And I truly think they are.  Pretty much nothing I have encountered in my life so far is like I had played out that it would be in my head.  But the weirdest thing in life to me is me.  I’m kind of complicated.  Maybe you are too.  I’m not really what I expected me to be.  I thought that life should be pretty standard, pretty normal–that I should be standard and normal.  But I’m not, and it’s weird.

It’s weird to me that I often find washing dishes more fun than hanging out with people.  People can talk, crack jokes, do fun things, provide interaction.  Dishes only talk in Beauty and the Beast, and if they crack, it’s not usually a good thing, but for some reason I find their company soothing.  I need people, but I want to do dishes.  I wish that wanted people and needed to do dishes.

It’s weird to me that rather than familiarity breeding contempt, it actually breeds love.  Over and over, with people, tasks, food, colors…  I love to vacuum the entire library where I work.  There isn’t anything much more relaxing and mind-clearing for me than to spend an hour vacuuming.  A year ago, I tolerated it.  Now it’s my down time.  This has happened more times than I can tell. Why can I change what I like and don’t like?  I’m a fluid stream, but I thought I was a rock.  I was wrong.

It’s weird to me that I’m never really ready for anything in life.  Sometimes I think I am, then I jump into something to realize I have no clue what’s going on.  And when I realize I’m not ready is actually when I’m most ready, because somehow acknowledging my unreadiness makes me more ready.  Tenacity, not confidence, is my foundation for the future.  Some foundation.

It’s weird to me that my mind and my heart still can’t get along.  You’d think that after 20 years of living together, they would put up with each other.  Bickering children at least pretend in front of their mom to like each other.  My conflicting parts don’t even make a show of it.  Knowledge and feelings rarely align.

In other words, it’s weird to me that I’m an introvert.  But only sometimes.

It’s weird to me that trite sayings don’t govern my personality.

It’s weird to me that I can’t prepare for things that there are no way to prepare for.

It’s weird to me that I’m a complex emotional, physical, spiritual creature.

Pretty much, I’m weird.  It really has nothing to do with life at all.  Life is a complex creation of God; I am a complex creation of God.  Maybe instead of trying so hard to understand, I should step back and allow my breath to be taken away by what he’s making and take comfort in knowing that he understands me when I don’t.

 

 

Aside

Saying goodbye

I still remember leaving Brazil.  I’d been there for a scant month, but I sobbed as I boarded my flight for Sao Paulo where I would connect to Dallas.  I treasured my last look through the window at my friends waving on the other side–would it be the last time I would see them?  If I did ever go back, I knew it wouldn’t be the same–not the same time with the same people.  It was gone.

I hugged my sister.  I teared up, knowing this was the last time–in a matter of moments, we would no longer share the same name, the same room.  This was the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one.  I wasn’t saying goodbye to a person, because I still have her.  It was all the years and memories that I had to finally realize belonged to past.  They were over.  They were gone.

I feel the same way every time I say goodbye to my church family in West Virginia before a break, and every time I hug my siblings before I head back to school.  I feel this inner conflict, knowing that to say goodbye to one is to go back to the other.  I wish it weren’t this way–I wish that time and space didn’t operate the way they do, that goodbyes didn’t have to happen.

Until then, every goodbye is a reminder to me of a day when i’ll never say goodbye, and a knowledge that there’s one person I never have to say goodbye to.  His name is Jesus, and he’s all that gets me through saying goodbye.

 

 

An imprecation on false emotions

Lord, I beg of you to align my emotions with your truth.

Do not let me feel peaceful when I am not right with you, for that is not true peace.

Do not let me feel happy when I am seeking satisfaction apart from you, for that is not true happiness.

Do not let me feel fulfilled when I have sought my will and not yours, for that is not true fulfillment.

Do not let me feel content with complacency, for your desire for my life is excellence.

Lord, do not let me feel what is not true.  Give my emotions truth-glasses, so that they may be accurate indicators, like pain, of what needs to change in my life.

For I would rather feel emotional pain now than go on living a lie before you.

Lord, I beg of you to align my emotions with your truth.

‘Here’

I’m… 20?  I guess so.

It’s weird how it happened.  One day I was a little girl, and the next, people were telling me that I had grown up.  Very odd.

I think the strangest thing about it is that I knew it was coming.

But I thought I’d be different.

I can remember being 12, 13, and having a distinct image of what I would be when I was older.  Acne: gone.  Responsibility: attained.  Life: planned.  Relationship status: not single.  I would be graceful, grown up, dependable, and on my way to somewhere.  I would have figured out how to manage my unruly locks; how to mow in straight rows; how to be happy and independent and disciplined.

But now, I’m here.  I’m not sure where ‘here’ is, and I’m not sure how I ended up ‘here,’ but I did.  And by ‘here,’ I discover that I’m not ‘there.’  My facial pores haven’t gotten the memo that I’m no longer 13, nor has my frizz acknowledged the authority of any of the numerous styling products I’ve subjected it to.  I’m not half as funny, smart, dependable, or disciplined as I thought I’d be.  My mowing leaves rows so crooked that even an orthodontist would be at a loss–at least last time I mowed, which, admittedly, was a looooong time ago.  On top of all that, I have survived two years of Bible college and am still very single (trust me, there’s a difference between ‘single’ and ‘very single.’  I’m ‘very single’).

Point being, I’m not who I thought I would be.  I’m not ‘there.’

But how did I get ‘here’?  What’s my secret?  I just lived, 1 day at a time, until I reached 365 days.  Then, I repeated that 19 more times.  That’s how I came to 20.   Foolproof plan, right?  And I know that seems pretty obvious, but it took till now for me to realize that.  That there’s not some magical transformation that happens when you switch decades.  It’s just a matter of counting days, living days.  I lived yesterday.  It was like the drop in the measuring cup that finally pushed the water over the 3/4 cup line, but that one day meant nothing apart from all the days preceding it.

So, then, who I am is the culmination of all the days I’ve lived thus far.  Those days are broken up into hours, moments, seconds.  Those hours, moments, and seconds contain circumstances and people that I stumble across (rather, that are granted by God) and my reactions to those circumstances and people.

I, then, am a combination of God’s careful planning and my choices and actions.  That’s what ‘here’ is.  And maybe ‘here’ is not quite what I thought it would be–maybe part of me still longs to be ‘there.’  But ‘here’ is a good place to be.  ‘Here’ is where God brought me; where my choices landed me.  And if there’s still growth that needs to take place, which there is; if I still want to get to ‘there,’ which I do; the only thing that stands between ‘here’ and ‘there’ is time–and me.

Next year, what will I be?  Maybe I will be closer to the elusive ‘there,’ but I will still be ‘here,’ because ‘here’ is where I am.  And, try as I might, I will never escape ‘here,’ who I am–the only solution is to embrace ‘here’ and make it, by daily choices, into what I wanted ‘there’ to be.  To fill that measuring cup full of beautiful drops of choices and days.  That’s the beauty of ‘here.’  Some stranger will not take my place; I get to be me, and to improve me.  So, till next year,

I’ll just be here.

the wasteland of my mind

Dry. Parched. Empty.

I admit, having a job has sapped me of energy, motivation, creative juices.  Some nights I get home and don’t even feel like thinking.

The strange thing is this–I’m trying.  I’m still reading.  Right now it’s Blame it on the Brain? by Ed Welch and Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybels, and last Saturday, for fun, “The Courtship of Miles Standish” by Henry Wadsworth Longellow, my favorite poet.  It’s always the perfect binge read, because it’s a short story, so it only has 8 (or 7?) short staves; it’s non-rhyming poetry, so it’s literately beautiful, but flowy rather than purely rhythmic; and it has the perfect amount of plot, romance, and historic background for my sentimental heart.  Anyhow, I digress.

I’m trying.  I’m studying [although not as much as I should…].  Biology–gotta CLEP this thing!–and New Testament Greek.  I have concepts to digest, information to analyze and synthesize, charts and lists and definitions to review.  It’s not necessarily my first pick; my hopes for study this summer was what I like to call ‘the psychology of music,’ or how body, brain, and spirit are involved in responding to and producing music.  Still, I like science, especially biology.  I like pseudopods and autotrophs and different cardiovascular systems.  I enjoy vocabulary and word morphology and verb conjugations.

I’m trying.  I have the most consistent spiritual discipline I’ve had in a long time, as far as Bible reading and memorization and prayer are concerned, and I feel close to God in those times I share with him.

But I’m pouring a cup of water onto the Sahara.

I’m reading the thoughts of others, but unable to generate my own.

I’m adding the information to my mental stew, but like oil and water, every time I try to ‘stir it in,’ to integrate it with what’s already there, it won’t mix.  It floats back to the surface.

I’m drawing near to God, and I have a greater awareness of his presence in my life (which I wrote about in a previous post).  His presence is there, but the spiritual insight isn’t.  The fresh observations in the Scriptures, new discoveries about God’s character, they’re missing somehow.

What’s the cause?  Maybe it’s the physical tiredness.  Maybe the dreary weather.  Maybe because it’s mid-June already, and I’m a little down that my summer at home’s already almost half over.  And let’s be honest, my frequent bursts of inactivity (there’s a nice contradictory statement for you…) probably don’t help my brain’s state, which is currently the mental equivalent of a sloth.

Whatever it is, I’m tired of it.  I want to have a thought again, one that stays.  My showers for the past week have been peppered with tantalizing little birds that quickly flit away.  Somewhere between shampoo and conditioner they leave me.

Whatever this midsummer’s meh is that’s come over my thinking, I’m not sure where it came from or if it’s leaving any time soon.  I don’t know why the thoughts go in and won’t come out. But I know for certain that the stupor won’t leave by me resigning myself to it and giving up.

All I can do is keep reading.  Keep studying.  Keep seeking.  Keep trying.

Because I believe–“Ask, and it will be given to you.  Seek, and you will find.  Knock, and the door will be opened to you,” (Matthew 7:7).  I definitely believe Jesus’ words are a spiritual promise, but I think they’re also a general principle for all of life. It’s one of God’s spiritual principles that he put into physics, too.  Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  Every thought put in results in a thought put out.  I know this synthesis of Scripture, science, and what I’d like to believe about how my brain operates isn’t perfect–I’m still working on it, but, as I might have mentioned, it’s been pretty dry around here lately.

Maybe you’re in the brain-desert too.  Or maybe you’re in a veritable greenhouse, exotic and lush.  I guess we’ll just keep on.  Keep watering the ground–

eventually something will grow.

Fast-food haiku

[DISCLAIMER: prepare yourself for an abnormal post. Like, not really any ‘thoughts’–just dead brain vomit.  Consider yourself warned.]

So, for some reason, I had an urge to write a fast food haiku–do people write those?

Yes.  Yes they do.  Here are a few of my favorites that I ran across:

Chinese take-out box
It’s a common quick dinner.
Soon hungry again.

[from Cecilia]

or,

Fish is all they serve
At Long John Silver’s drive-through.
That’s so disgusting. 

[This site has a pretty great list of the major food chains.]

More realistically,

The competitive
Fast-food wage, in short, is not
Enough to live on. 

[Found here.  That’s why this is a summer job.]

And yes, someone did actually write one about DQ:

Dairy Queen is Great
The Blizzards, The Malts, and Shakes
So Stop In Today!!!

[Thank you, Milford DQ]

But honestly, we can do better than that, right?

Visored girl greets you.
“We have blizzards, not concretes.
Psst–don’t get hot dogs.”

Mm, not too good. How about…

Welcome to DQ!
Would you like to try any
Of our baked… ITEMS?

Actually, I didn’t write that–that’s the message on our drive-thru right now, and yes, there is a super awkward pause before “items.”

Let’s try one about the kitchen, where I work:

Ask for no-salt fries
If you want them hot and fresh.
Workers will hate you. 

Kidding about the last line–sort of.  We don’t hate our customers. Except for the ones that are super obnoxious, demanding, slow, or forget to tell us they didn’t want pickle on that double cheeseburger and then complain about it.

Alright, alright.  We’ll end on a positive note.

It’s fan-food they say:
We love working as a team
To make your food right!

Less exciting, but probably the most accurate.

Maybe no one else likes haikus as much as I do (honestly, I mostly like them for the ridiculous factor–I mean, they claim to be poems, but they don’t rhyme!  Come on, Asia…), but if anyone shares my strange fondness for them, I’d love to hear some of yours–especially if they’re inspired by the fast-food industry or your job.

Because haikus make
Your job seem more poetic
Even though it’s not.

The sobriety of death

So much death.  I hope you’ll take the time to watch this video–honestly, what would you be doing with those 18 minutes otherwise?  Scrolling news feed?  Don’t do that.  Watch this.  It’s sobering.  It’s thought-provoking.  And I can’t pin-point exactly all the thoughts it’s stirring up in me yet, but I know one.

Death is reality.  These people really died.  Reality is the sphere in which we live–I am only separated from this horrific condensing of death–so many deaths which should not have happened for 60, 70 years–by time and space, and not terribly much of it.

So what?  What sentiments should that thought inspire?  Sobriety [I love this word, by the way.  That’s a post for another day, but I love the picture of thinking in reality and not being ‘drunk’ on alcohol, drugs, fame, delusions…].  It was real, and it was ugly.  Thankfulness.  It could have been me, but it wasn’t.  Sympathy.   There are so many who do undergo the pain, the heartache that I’ve been sheltered from–what’s happening in Congo, the Middle-East, and Syria are the same ugliness, just smaller in scale.  For that matter, what’s happening down the street may be the same ugliness, just smaller yet.

Anyway, enough of my ramblings.  Watch the video.