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Archive for the ‘christianity’ Category

I have a hard time letting go.

I needed to write that down. Confess it. I like to think I welcome change and growth in my friends, family, the world and in myself, but it’s not necessarily true.  I cling to my past like a life preserver in knee-deep water. All those thoughts, all those feelings…sometimes they are just excuses for me keep clinging, pretending like I’m drowning, even though I’ve swam all the way from the deep end to the shallow.

Throughout my first two years of college, many issues plagued me. Self confidence, body image, my faith, academics, anxiety/depression, my big personality, my likability, etc, et all, the list could go on for miles. There has been a lot of progress made in many of these areas, and a few have even proven to be healed over, sealed with new, pink skin. Some have been given a band-aid that has been ripped off, the scabbed picked, just to discover the wound was just as sour and painful as ever.

But I look at myself in the mirror and there’s no pain in my heart, no laments to God in the middle of the night because I was scared and shaking, no hiding from people, no lying about when I’m not okay.
Today is Easter Sunday and He is risen. Why am I refusing to rise out of the dirt? He took it all for my right to turn my back on the old and run without fear into the new and better. Focus on the new. New life. New covenant. New legs to swim.

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Just when I thought spring would never come, God delivers a gorgeous day. I even got up to go to church today.

They sang this song that has the line take the coal/cleanse my lips/here I am. Every time I hear it the image is so stark and gorgeous. It’s magical and real. Words can’t explain my attachment to the passage that the line references. The first time I heard it I was 8 years old. We did something with in Sunday school. We colored bright orange and read coals. I pressed my lips to the waxy crayon. Ever since, my spiritual life has been connected to to that verse in these winding, jig-saw ways. When they sang that song in church today, I couldn’t even sing. I just cried these unrecognizable tears. I wasn’t sad, but just extremely humbled.

Isaiah 6:5-8

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

The image of burning hot coal pressing against my lips. The power of being burnt clean. It’s all too much for me to handle sometimes. There’s a humility involved that resonates with me. It’s a call to be made lovely again.

Maybe it’s just a security blanket for me to believe that all the times I’ve been burned there’s some sort of plan behind it. And if it is (though I don’t believe that), so what? It’s not hurting anyone, and it’s certainly not hurting me. I feel so lucky to have been as close to the Lord as I have been at points in my life. I feel like I’m going back to that, though it’s a snail’s pace.

Today, I’m just really happy that I’m a Christian. I just wanted to write it down.

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so let’s cause a scene

clap our hands and stomp our feet

I just gotta get myself over me

The First Single, The Format

It was one of the closest things to true bliss I’ve ever experienced: hearing my favorite song, a song so perfect, I feel as if the words poured out of my own heart, played live.

Click here to listen to The First Single.

I can thank freshman year for this. A girl named Joanna lived down the hall. She was (and still is!) artsy and friendly and hilarious. One afternoon, I came back to my dorm room to find a lovely little burgundy and lime green paisley scarf and a burned CD tied to the door knob. I rejoiced. On it was a song called “Janet” by a band I had never heard of called The Format. It was Destiny, with a capital D.

At first I was hesitant about it. It reminded me of…nothing. It felt more foreign than the Swedish pop music I paid top dollar to import. My musical tastes were quite limited then; showtunes, Hanson, the aforementioned Swedish pop groups and boys with guitars were my only true sonic loves. But I kept listening. It was like learning new partnered dance. I had to be lead through slowly, note by note, lyric by lyric. Finally, several weeks later, the verdict was in: I had never been so enchanted by a band since I was 11 years old.

It’s a pity I can’t remember the exact moment I heard it. But I know from that moment, it must have pushed “A Song to Sing” by Hanson out of the top spot of my All Time Favorite Songs and it has yet to budge. In a world where musicians hit the top of the charts and then slowly fizzle away, I believe that to be quite an accomplishment, at least for a girl who has been baptized into the indie music subculture and hasn’t looked back. It must have been through one of the mp3 blogs I still visit every day on my internet rounds, Fuel Friends. I bet it was magic, though. During my freshman year, I slogged through my first identity crisis that most college students must go through. I doffed all of my past sins, habits and friends and became an entirely new person upon move-in day. The lyrics must have been salve for the necessary still-open wounds of this identity surgery.

you know me,
or you think you do you
you just dont seem to see
I’ve been waiting all this time to be
something I can’t define
I still don’t know what I’m waiting to be. I thought I knew back then. I thought I knew this spring. Had another identity exploratory surgery over the summer. Conveniently, that aforementioned moment of bliss came at the end of the summer. The guitar pumped through the speakers, pulsed through my stomach. The staccato snare drum reverberated through my ears. Nate (the lead singer) counted off…1…2…1, 2, 3, 4.
I can’t stand to think about
a heart so big it hurts like hell
oh my god
I gave my best before
three whole years
to end like this
do you wanna fall apart?
I can’t stop if you can’t start
do you wanna fall apart?
well, I could, if you can
try to fix what I’ve undone
because I hate what I’ve become
I screamed. I screamed, my eyes closed, my fists wrapped tightly around the metal barrier in front of me. And I prayed.
I know prayer isn’t something one does at a rock concert, let alone a “secular” rock concert. But this song, I swear, it had become my secret anthem. God, I prayed, please mold me into what you REALLY want me to be, not what I think you want me to be. Jumping up and down, the song became more like worship than any other hymn or praise song I had ever sung. It was undignified. It was intense. It was the most genuine praise I had ever given to Him.
Yes, I wanted a change when I came to college, three whole years ago. And I got it. I got a change that squished my square beliefs in a round hole. I trimmed the corners of my square. I sanded down the edges of my hard to swallow opinions. And it worked. I found people who accepted me, who believed (in the beginning) that I was so perfectly round.
It’s been five months since the concert and I know things have changed. I subscribed to a feminist magazine. I placed my GLBTQ ally pins on my front door instead of hidden away in my desk. I’m seriously contemplating starting a Bible study that is open to and addresses contemporary liberal questions about faith and the Bible.

me, flushed after the most amazing concert ever.

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shoo!

this isn’t me really saying “SOMEONE PLEASE LOVE ME!”
what I am saying is…
if my true love is out there,
I’d really like it
if perhaps, maybe, they
please don’t come right now.
because I have a feeling I’d resent them
for being so lovely.
besides,
my lips are chapped
and not primed for makeoutage.
also,
I think valentines day is kind of a joke.
I try to express my love to my friends and family
everyday
through my actions
(I know I fall short a lot)
why have only one day where
we buy meaningless (although tasty) things
that are supposed to
REPRESENT our love?
why can’t we ACTUALLY love?
it’s distressing to me
that on valentine’s day,
the “most romantic” day of the year,
we treat love like
it is our representative government.
we send in other people to be our voice.
we send flowers and chocolates and
pre-written cards
instead of our real love,
however that is manifested.
I suppose it’s better than nothing.
I’ll be honest;
I really like receiving valentine’s
day surprises.
some people don’t love through actions
everyday.
and that’s okay.
valentine’s day provides them a space
so they can be
a romantic, if they want to be.
I’m trying to learn
that I’m emotionally exceptional
that most everyone isn’t like me
and that’s okay.
that I’m just a little
too sensitive.
and that I’m
kind of a flake
and I’m kind of
selfish.
so,
that being said,
I still hope that my
true love stays away
for awhile
because I want to be
the best
I can for them.
and if I become
more
and more
like Jesus
everyday…
then whenever I meet them,
finally,
I will be that much
closer
to being better.
I will wait for you.
that wasn’t a poem, I just like the way
the text is centered under the picture
and playing with line breaks in prose
is really kinda fun when you can’t sleep

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wondering

One of my greatest flaws is caring too much what other people think of me, especially friends. Specifically, I have a few friends have a great deal of sway in my life, regardless of rhyme, reason or how emotionally healthy it is (or isn’t). One of said friends broke off communication with me this spring in regards to my personal and emotional issues. I can’t say I blame them, honestly. Sometimes I’m a writhing mass of intense and strange feelings that I can’t manage, let alone someone else. I can’t say I was particularly happy about. In fact, I was down right crushed. To be honest, I still am, somewhat.

She finds fault in how I need words of affirmation. I as much as I try to cope with this, it’s impossible for me. I need something, anything to tell me someone has some sort of affection for me in return. Often, I feel like I give a great deal to some my friendships and receive little back. Could it be too much to ask for someone to say something positive to assure me that I am wanted? Or is that only feeding my need for acceptance from others?
I have this same problem with my relationship with God. I feel like He’s silent far more than He is a roll of thunder. I know this means I need to readjust my antenna, that God is broadcasting on a frequency that I am not tuned into. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to do that. I’m probably too busy waiting for a friend to assure me that I have worth to them.

God speaks in so many different ways to us, but most commonly, I always pick up the frequencies found in the Bible and in nature. However, in winter, I rarely find God’s majesty and love in muddy grass, gray clouds and short days. So I only have the Bible to search for God’s words of affirmation to me. Even now, as I use convenient websites to help me locate a verse that pertains to my situation, I can find nothing.

It is my prayer everyday that God will show me, and the entire world, how much he loves us. I miss Him when I can’t hear it.

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what words can describe
you enough to be worthy?
 you who wash me away and
and never leave me?
Merry Christmas 
(photo credit: Square America)

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do not want

My love, though silly, is more brave ;
For may I miss, whene’er I crave,
If I know yet what I would have.

-from “Negative Love” by John Donne

 A few days ago, my mother and I ran into a boy, Zach, who’s a friend of my cousin, Sam (the closest thing to a brother I have). Zach has been Sam’s friend since middle school and is a groomsman in the same wedding I am a bridesmaid. Zach also happens to be my sister’s ex-boyfriend.

Zach and Kelly haven’t dated for years now, but my mother still clings to the idea of Zach being “a good boy.” I wouldn’t say he’s a “good boy” but more of an “okay boy”. My mother can’t seem to comprehend this idea. “But Brianna!” she nearly begs me, “He’s such a nice boy! I know why Kelly won’t date him. Why won’t you try? He’d be good to you!”

I tried to explain to my dear mother that I have very important and distinct characteristics for dating (which I won’t bore you with). Why should I waste my time being in a relationship with someone who 1) I’m not compatible with both in temperament and more importantly, morally, politically and intellectually, 2) doesn’t share any interests with me, and 3) I do not find attractive (on both a physical and emotional level) just so I can say I’m dating someone?

I am part of many online communities where I meet people who are literally obsessed with being single. Or they are obsessed with being alone. They date people they know are not good for them. They hook up with random people in bars. They stay with people who hurt them emotionally. People use sex as a way to fill a hole within them, to desperately affirm that they have some connection in this disconnected world. I worry about the friends and acquaintances I meet there. Has eros love and romance just broken down to a commodity we “need”, like water, just to get by in a distant and cold world? By all accounts, I think it has, for many, many people.

My mother just wouldn’t drop the topic, even hours later. “Brianna, you’re going to have to lower your expectations sooner or later or you’ll be alone the rest of your life!”

This seems insane to me! Why would I set myself up for heartbreak and conflict by lowering my standards and being with someone just to experience the commodity of eros  love (the old adage is true: sex sells)? Yes, I understand that every relationship is a compromise within itself, but why should I compromise what I feel like I need as a person just so I’m not “alone”?  Does everyone do this? Is this the dirty little secret of marriage? Did everyone lower their standards just so they could fulfill a biological imperative?

I have said many times before that I feel like I’ll never get married or have children. And you know what? I am more than fine with that. These last couple years have opened my eyes to worth I possess with out anyone else attached. I don’t believe I was made just to compliment someone else. I was made to have my own life, to bring something completely different to this world that has never been here before. That blows my mind every time I think about it. Each and every single one of us have never, ever been made before. We are new. The whole world has never seen a person quite like us.

Maybe I am made to have a “better half”. I’m alright with that But if I don’t, it’s okay. Not ever experiencing a physical, sexual love? Sounds okay to me. Because of the commodifiction of sex and “closeness”, people probably think this is crazy. Am I crazy? I don’t think so. No one has ever died because they haven’t had sex.

Am I the only one in this world who is alright with this possibility? Well, I’m not the only one but sometime I feel like it, especially among Christians. I know God said “Go forth and multiply.” But does God have multiplication as an operation in my equation? (AHAHHA sorry, worst play words ever!)

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