Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tell me your story, show me your wounds, and I'll show you what Love sees when Love looks at you

I've had some conversations lately that have gotten me to think about love... and again I can only say that it's the only thing that makes life make sense to me.

It kills me when people believe they are unworthy of love. I mean, I get it. There are times that I feel that way myself. But that's heartbreaking. There is not a single person that is unworthy of love. No matter what they've done or what they didn't do, no matter where they've been. Everyone deserves love. Every. One. 

We live believing we need to hide our flaws, our brokenness, our tragedies, our missteps... and all that does is build up walls around who we are... it keeps us from being truly known. Granted, it's terrifying to be vulnerable, as we run the risk of being rejected and hurt some more, but there's also the opportunity to be loved for who. we. are. 

I feel like a hypocrite, because there are some things I definitely don't want other people to know about me... I'm just as flawed as anyone else. I get angry, I'm selfish, I'm absurd, and I make stupid decisions sometimes. And I forget to forgive myself for being broken. I sometimes forget that my mistakes, no matter what they may be, are never enough to warrant me undeserving of love. I'm dumb. I get it. But just as much as I don't see it for myself, I can see it for others. I hear someone mention feeling inadequate, unworthy, broken, etc., and I just want to take them in my arms and transfer the knowledge that they are so. beautiful. and lovable straight into their hearts. I know I can't fix anything, but I want them to see what I can see in them. I want them to be able to see the beauty of their soul. I want to hear their stories and show them they are loved anyway. I want to show them they are worthy of happiness, that they deserve goodness.

Sometimes I wonder... what exactly does Love Himself see? If I'm allowed to see such beauty and goodness with my broken capacity to love, how much more beautiful is God's vision of our broken selves? And how much more heartbreaking is it to see such stunning children disbelieve their own worth?

In any case, no matter where you have been, no matter what you have done, no matter what gifts you don't possess and others do, no matter what your flaws may be: you are beautiful and worthy of love. You. Are. Loved.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

When you walk upon thin ice that you know you should not be walking, why do you wonder why that you fell through?

Forget about the fight to wear the crown of scars
Cause you've already won.
Forget the pain and leave the tears behind you.
Bury underneath your feet the remains
Of what's been left behind,
Cause you've got a long, a long way to run

But now you dance the rest of the way
And you don't look back
Can you hear the angel singing
As you rise?

Now you can fly away
And you don't look down now
And you laugh until you can't laugh any longer
As you watch your chains fall to the ground.

When you fall against the wall that you have built with your own hands
When you trip upon the thorns that you have tied your legs together with
When you walk upon the ice that you know you should not be walking
Why do you wonder why you fell through?

Now you fly away
And you don't look down now
And you laugh until you can't laugh any longer
As you watch your chains fall to the ground

And now you laugh
And your tears
Smile down at your fears
From where you are
From way up here
You know nothing's ever looked so good
Nothing ever looked so good

But now you dance the rest of the way
You don't look back
Can you hear the angel singing
As you rise
Now you fly away
And you don't look down now
And you laugh until you can't laugh any longer
As you watch your chains fall to the ground

^"Crown of Scars" by Lifehouse. It's a wonderful song. I also think it's very powerful. For me, it reminds me to quit focusing on a lot of my issues, or at least step back and take a look at them. How many times do I have problems because of something that I caused? How many times do I know something isn't the best idea or what's best for me and then get frustrated because things turned out poorly? How many times do I fight to keep saying that I'm hurt instead of walking forward anyway? Wounded though I may be at times, I still need to find within myself the strength to go somewhere to be mended. I can't just sit there and whine about how much whatever it is hurts, etc. 

"Forget about the fight to wear the crown of scars, cause you've already won...bury underneath your feet the remains of what's been left behind 'cause you have got a long, long way to run." Sometimes I think we feel we need to have it recognized that we've been wronged, or we're hurt. But sometimes it's enough to know it for ourselves... at least it needs to be enough that we know it for ourselves. There are times it seems we'll never find justice in a situation, and that's ok. Seek mercy instead! Yes, the crown of scars has been placed upon your head, but it's not the end. Life doesn't end with scars, and neither should our story. Why should we put everything on hold for pain? We need to keep moving.

That's not to say it's easy, especially when we make it a habit to seek justice for our pain or we prefer to be stagnant. Fear is also extremely crippling. BUT, when we start again, when we start to move forward, seeking the good for ourselves and those we encounter, the scars have a tendency to fade.  We become stronger, and we lose the chains that have bound us, even the ones we put on ourselves.

Anyway... that's my random evening rant. Happy Gaudete Sunday! (it's one of my favorites!) Find a little joy in what's left of your day, or recognize it from earlier :) Find joy in your own existence, as it is truly beautiful.

Monday, November 28, 2011

I'm coming to terms, I'm starting to learn this ain't all it's cracked up to be

"I know life is hard, but I feel like it shouldn't be this hard."

^Topic of a recent conversation I had with an incredibly beautiful soul.

What shouldn't be this hard, you may ask?

1. Trusting God.
2. Maintaining friendships/relationships
And of course many other things... but this is what I'm sticking with for the sake of this conversation....because this is a conversation? ;)

1. Ok, so, intellectually, I get that God is perfect, can't change His will, is all loving, and ALWAYS wills the best for me. That being said, His way of going about it just doesn't always compute well with my little broken human intellect and such. For example, (not getting into the details, though most of the people who know me can probably hazard a guess) for a great length of time, I was working towards a specific goal, and I earnestly believed that it was God's will that I do. However, wouldn't you know it, said end goal ended up being swept from beneath me and lost its every ability to be an option. I must say, I can understand now, and have for a while, that I really was never meant to meet that goal, that it's better that I didn't. However... I really did think it's what I was meant for at the time... and I thought I was giving all that I had to do what was right. It wasn't perfect, but I honestly thought I was following God's will for me.

Ever since, even though, once again, I get it's better in the long run, I've found it a lot harder to trust God. Or maybe it's more just that I don't trust that I'm following Him. Or a little of both. I still find myself asking Him why He let me believe He wanted a certain end goal for me if He really didn't. It boggles my mind. And I know that everything is in His time and in His way, but I have to ask Him why He had to use methods that feel so underhanded to my broken heart. (disclaimer: I know He's not underhanded, etc. I'm just rude and imperfect and this is the best way for me to describe it... He and I have an understanding, I promise)

During a conversation with the aforementioned beautiful soul, she mentioned to me that she just had a friend who left the seminary because he realized his call was to be a husband and father. And he said that if he knew in the beginning that he would be leaving the seminary after four years to pursue the vocation of being a husband and father, that he probably wouldn't have been as committed to the formation he received in the seminary. But that formation is what he needed for the next step in his life.

I still don't know the precise reason I had to run headlong toward a goal that was never meant for me, but I have learned a great deal about myself in the process. I have also grown a lot stronger in some respects. I have grown to appreciate vulnerability and openness, even in myself, more than I have before. I also  understand better how my heart operates, and some things that I will not live without. I am coming better to grips with my own worth, and that alone is tremendous, I think.

Everything has a purpose. I just have to focus on doing what's right. (And of course keep the focus on the Big Guy) Everything else will fall into place.


I put more emphasis on this because, for me right now, this seems to be more of a kicker. Not that it's more important...just that God is there at any time, for any reason, and can always love in the right way... He can't mess up. He never changes. People change. People are different. And weird. But beautiful! But weird.

It's so easy to be friends/maintain a relationship when we're always around each other and having a good time. But then there's distance. Then there's a fight/disagreement. Oh no! The world is ending!

That's how it seems sometimes. But WHY?? I mean, if you really love someone and act on what you believe is best for them, it should just easily follow and work right... right?

But then there's not speaking the same love language, not bearing burdens the same way, working things out differently, yada yada. Sometimes we want so badly to do something wonderful to help the other, but it can't be received the way we want because of how the other functions. And that really hurts sometimes. BUT IT'S OK. That doesn't demean what we've done in the least! The success of love is in the loving, right? It's natural in love to want what's best for the other person, but at the end of the day, it's all about the  fact that we love them. It can be frustrating when our efforts aren't as fruitful as we'd like to see, but they still bear fruit!

...ah, life.

I know that I'm far from being where I need to be... I don't have all the answers, and I never will. As much as I get frustrated with life and how complicated it can seem, I know it mostly comes down to my own limitations. I need to have more peace of heart. I need to own my own gifts. I need to love more strongly and more consistently. I need to seek beauty. I need to recognize beauty. I need to translate for those who don't see it. I need to smile more often. I need to recognize it's also ok to cry, be frustrated and what have you- emotions are part of being human. That being said, I also need to not run away with them, as I feel I am mostly a big ball of emotion. I need to forgive more, including forgiving myself. I need to trust my instincts and my upbringing.

I need so many things. But I also know that I'm given everything I need to meet those needs. Because, go figure, God wants us to be happy...not to think "this ain't all it's cracked up to be." (I'm listening to some Carolina Liar, hence the title... fit the mood/post though). If we ever get to a point where we're recognizing that something in our lives isn't what it's meant to be though... something's gotta change, be it our perspective, where we are laying our trust, or where we're seeking happiness. If it's not in the Good, it's gotta go, right?

In other news: I pray your day is filled with joy and beauty, and that your heart may be turned in such a way that you can perceive it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Write you a letter, but it's better that you hear me

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yeah, this is one of those slightly cheesy Thanksgiving what? You know I'm going to ramble a bit before I get to the really cheesy stuff, so I think it's a fair trade off?

I just wanted to take this opportunity to say: thank you.

God knows I'm a mess and a half... I wouldn't be anywhere close to functioning if it weren't for the amazing family and friends I've been blessed with. Thank you.

This week has been a weird one. It's been one of those clearing through all of the crap in the basement/attic and choking on the dust kind of weeks. For a normal human being, that's obnoxious enough, but for an allergy-induced asthmatic such as myself, it's just a little bit more uncomfortable. (and yes, I'm still being figurative...just weird...go figure). But I think I'm starting to see more of the big picture... Maybe... and that's something that is very good for me.

Anywho...fall cleaning (I'm a little backwards, and I like fall better)...working through life... trying to figure it out...awkward and uncomfortable (as I often am)... I am spoiled and blessed. God's pretty good like that.

As always, through every trial, there remains a million little reminders that I am loved. (and if this mess of a lady is so well loved, you can bet that you are pretty darn loved as well. Because you are. So. Loved.)

I'm starting  to see that (believe it or not) I am making at least a minuscule difference in my workplace. (which is huge for me because most of the time I feel like I'm a million years behind where I need to be to do a good job.... I also put impossible standards on myself, knowing I can't meet them at this point, and get frustrated with myself when, go figure, I don't meet them. I'm kind of dumb sometimes....) I am blessed with some truly fantastic co-workers, and I am beyond grateful for them. I am proud of them. They have been doing so much to make our store work better, and they keep me sane... most of the time ;) I am uberly thankful for them.

I am also thankful for my roommate...roomie...roobie...oobie...oobs... we've gotten lazy and absurd. (no way!) She's a huge support for me, and she never yells at me when I know I'm being dumb. She's just there... like Samwise... and that's pretty neat. I am so thankful for her.

I am thankful for dear friends who randomly visit me at work or come to my apartment.  And for gatherings with cheesecake, tea, and cocoa. Last night, my oobie and I set up our tree while friends were visiting and making merriment. SO good for my little heart. (don't judge too harshly on the Christmas tree...Thanksgiving will be over before we fully enjoy it. We're just eagerly anticipating the Christmas season! And putting some extra beauty in our apartment. everybody needs extra beauty in their lives, yeah? Well, we decided we did.) Anywho, I am thankful for my lovely friends and the merriment they provide.

Think I forgot my family? HECK NO! Because without them I wouldn't be here in the first place. They are my support, my stronghold, my sanity, and my joy. I love my family. Family is just about the most important thing in the world. I love mine. Love them, love them, love them. And I'm so happy to be able to spend today with mine! We're going to chow down on turkey and taters, and all will be right with the world. SO thankful for them.

I am also thankful for my faith, which, admittedly, I take for granted sometimes. I realize it's one of the things that truly keeps me grounded. If not for my faith and all that I've been taught, I dont' know where I'd be. It makes life make sense. So... yeah... thanks for that, God. Thanks for you too, God. I mean, you're pretty neat.. and the source of everything good that I have... that's pretty amazing.

I am wonderfully blessed. Even indirectly. I am so thankful for the soldiers fighting for our country. I am thankful for those serving/taking care of our sick and injured. I am thankful for those who educate our youth (I feel like that makes me sound old, but my baby brother is 8... and also the 'youth' are our future... we need to make sure we give them what they need to continue making a difference). I am thankful for priests and religious. I am thankful for awesome moms and dads. I am thankful for those in food service, for those in retail, and those who volunteer. I am thankful to artists.

I am thankful for YOU.

Because your existence makes this world that much better.

And that's something to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

They don't even know you...all they see is scars

My Sixx A.M. kick continues, but this time I'm pulling from their new(er) album. The last track is called "Skin," and I think it's beautiful (go figure).

"'Cause they don't even know you; all they see is scars. They don't see the angel living in your heart. Let them find the real you buried deep within. Let them know with all you've got that you are not your skin."

At first, all I could think of was the people I know who've harmed themselves. I have a friend who never *seriously* harmed herself, but obviously was crying for help... and she was yelled at... and rejected. "It's stupid and selfish to cut yourself. How did that help anything?" I visited her in the hospital and I wasn't sure what to do for her. She knew cutting herself wouldn't change the situation. All she knew was that she *hurt* and she couldn't pinpoint where... so she gave the pain an outlet... a location. 

She got the help she needed, but she still struggles with the faint scars lefts behind. Now she's labeled a "cutter," even though she hasn't harmed herself since her stay in the hospital. All people see are the scars.

This song brought me back to that, and again, all I can think about are our broken. Why is it so much easier to see scars on another and automatically think of the worst of them? Why is it that scars incite fear or negativity and harsh judgement? Why don't they incite *compassion*??? Yes, they represent a terrible action, but behind that action is *pain*. Behind that action is suffering, and illness. Yes, it takes an illness to do such a harm to oneself, but those afflicted are treated as lepers. It agitates me.

When we see friends suffering from some physical ailment, we direct them to a doctor or remedies we've tried to cure it. Why is it harder to do the same if we notice a friend is ailing mentally/emotionally? Is it because we know less about what to do, or that seeking help indicates some sort of "weakness?" What is it? 

Admittedly, I feel somewhat helpless when I know someone is suffering so much. I know that I don't have the capacity within myself to "save" them, but I just pray that whatever love I can give is translated in such a way that it does some good. I can never pretend that I have the answers because I don't. But sometimes it's enough to listen. How often do we even do that? How often do we get irritated listening to someone list their woes because it means nothing to us? What if those woes are crippling that person and they just need an outlet? What if it took all the courage they had to tell you about them?

Just because a person is suffering from depression doesn't mean s/he's weak. They're just *hurt* I think the only weaknesses that exist are sins. Depression isn't a sin. I'm going to stick to that. People will say that depression is selfish, just like self-harm, and suicide. It's not ok, but it's not a sin. It was once the case that those who committed suicide could not have a Christian burial because of the sin of taking a life, but we've realized that one canNOT  be fully be in the correct mindset if they're at such a point. I don't think it's so much that someone suffering from such an affliction can't think of others. There are plenty of people suffering from depression who dearly love their friends and family, and would do anything for them. But that doesn't mean they can just "shake off" the depression. I'd say it's like breaking your wrist and still trying to use it every day- it's painful to the point of distraction. You keep coming back to it.

I feel like all I've been able to talk about is depression, pain, and brokenness, but I guess I'm just tired of (seemingly) no one else caring. I'm surrounded by broken people who I love, and I want them to know they're loved. All advertising is spent anti-depressants. Medication isn't always the answer! As a society, we're so set on band-aids to cover the issue instead of TREATING it. Gah.  

Anyway... A person is more than her scars (or his scars). When we reduce a person to ANY particular point, we lose who s/he essentially is. And that's heartbreaking enough as it is. We're made to be seen... to be known... and to be loved. Even all the broken pieces. It's generally where we find the most incredible and beautiful strengths, anyway. And God knows we're in need of more of that. 

Next time, look for the soul as well as the skin. The skin tells a story, but only a small part, and we don't want to miss out on the person telling that story.

Paint yourself a picture
Of what you wish you looked like
Maybe then they just might
Feel an ounce of your pain

Come into focus
Step out of the shadows
It's a losing battle
There's no need to be ashamed

Cause they don't even know you
All they see is scars
They don't see the angel
Living in your heart

Let them find the real you
Buried deep within
Let them know with all you've got
That you are not your skin

Oh [X2]

When they start to judge you
Show them your true colors
And do onto others
As you'd have done to you

Just rise above this
Kill them with your kindness
Ignorance is blindness
They're the ones that stand to lose

'Cause they don't even know you
All they see is scars
They don't see the angel
Living in your heart

Let them find the real you
Buried deep within
Let them know with all you got
That you are not your skin


Well they don't even know you
All they see is scars
They don't see the angel
Living in your heart

Let them find the real you
Buried deep within
Let them know with all you've got
That you are not
That you are not your skin

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fragile doesn't even come close to describing how I feel

So, I've been on a Sixx A.M. kick lately. The Heroin Diaries album has been playing almost nonstop when I'm on my computer (This is Gonna Hurt has gotten some play time too, but I've been sticking mainly to Heroin Diaries). The music is definitely not for everyone, nor the content. However, I am genuinely moved by all of it. The album goes through Nikki Sixx's addiction to heroin, his overdose, and his recovery. His honesty about the pitfalls and the pain is so beautiful to me.

Perhaps that sounds cruel... I don't mean it to be. I am not happy that he went through all he did, but I think it's admirable that he was able to get through, even though he relapsed, and that through his experiences, he was able to being something beautiful from his pain... and that it has been a benefit to others.

In the song "Girl With Golden Eyes," he chronicles a ten day period of rehab. "Day 4: last visit to the clinic.My whole body feels like it's cracking into pieces. Fragile doesn't even come close to describing how I feel."

It gets me. Every. Time.

I know people who have and do struggle with addiction.  I know people who have and do struggle with depression. It can seem, outside of the situation that the pain can't possibly be so great, that getting better is merely a choice that can easily be made. But "getting better" isn't a choice. It's a series of choices. Or maybe it's the same choice that has to be made over and over again. In any case, it isn't easy.

"All you have to do is quit." "All you have to do is find a reason to smile every day." etc. How do you know that's "all" it takes? How do I know that?

I read a quote lately that got to me. It was something along the lines of, "Never compare yourself to someone else. You have no idea what their journey is about." And you know what? It's true. I will never fully understand the depth of what you've been through. You and I could be experiencing almost identical circumstances, but because of your past and mine, how we handle/bear it will be at a completely different level. And that's ok. Something I struggle to carry may be lighter than air for you, while something that weighs you down may be an easy weight for me. You never know. I never know.

Sometimes I need to remind myself of that. Ok, maybe more than sometimes. It can be easy for me to get caught up in all the little things... so much so that I can forget to make the effort to be kind anyway. Arg. It's frustrating for me. It's not as though anyone has to "earn" my kindness- that should be something I offer regardless. Mother Teresa said not to let anyone come to you without leaving better for it. I know I have failed in that regard. Many times. But when I remind myself that everyone is fighting their own battle, it gets a little bit easier.

Kindness is more necessary than I think we realize. On a daily basis, you probably encounter someone who is fragile to the point of breaking, hurt so badly they're almost numb. Seriously. Daily basis. People you wouldn't expect...because they won't let everyone/anyone see their journey. It breaks my heart. But it's not enough to be hurt by it... I have to love them as best as I can. That's why I don;t think I can ever smile too often or wear out the words, "I love you." Whether or not they believe it that instant, maybe hearing it often enough will get through even the smallest bit. Even when we feel our efforts go unnoticed... it doesn't matter. If it were only for us, it would. But a kindness for our own gratification isn't really kindness. Love, no matter what the result of it may be, is still love.

And that is success enough.

And in the times it seems pointless: you know what pain is like as well. Whether you've ever been broken (seemingly) irrevocably or just plain *hurt*, you know what pain is. And you know how necessary love is when all seems lost.

In the end, it comes down to love. It always does.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Inhale this moment deep into my lungs

Today is a beautiful fall day. I love fall. I think it's the most beautiful season. The colors change, the weather shifts to necessitate warmer, comfy clothing, and it's just peaceful.

I've been sitting in my apartment with the windows to the living room open (even though it makes it super chilly- that's what my cup of Earl Grey (best tea ever, btw) and hoodie are for), to enjoy the rain while I simultaneously blast some Sixx A.M., and paint. I am not particularly artistic, but it's so cathartic. It's one of my joys. So I paint.

Anyway, this is one of those times I can just breathe in, breathe out, and just enjoy the moment. So. Good.

Truthfully, I've been a little cranky lately. (me, cranky? Never... I mean... yeah...) I've been burnt out and without a lot of patience. I've been extremely agitated. And even though I just feel like a brat throughout it, God continues to spoil me. Or maybe He just knew this weak kid needed a break for her sanity.  In any case, I'm feeling much more at peace than I have. I can't say that it's going to last- God knows maintaining peace of heart is one of my struggles, but hopefully it'll be enough to restore my pitiful patience tank at least a bit ;)

Enjoy the day. Find a little beauty in it. Breathe in deep.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I wish the best of everything for you, I hope you know that honestly I do.

To all the people whose presence my life has been blessed by, past or present,

Thank you.

Whether or not we even speak anymore, you have helped me get to this point in my life. While some days I don't consider it an entirely enviable position, I can say without a doubt I have grown wiser if nothing else.
Thank you for everything you've taught me.
Thank you for the smiles we've shared. (Thank you for any hugs, too).
Thank you for the support you've given me.
Thank you for encouraging me.
Thank you for inspiring me.
Thank you for moments you've seen me when I couldn't see myself.
Thank you for the advice you've given me.
Thank you for believing in me.
Thank you for challenging me.
Thank you even for hurting me. I've learned and grown just as much through any struggles as the beauty and joys.

My heart overflows, to the point it feels a dam is bursting when I realize how blessed I am.

I am sorry for the times I have failed you, but I hope in earnest that each time has turned into a blessing and given you something you need.

I know I'm a bit of a mess, and I fail every day, but with whatever good is within me, I am reminded of how beautifully I am blessed.

Whether our paths cross today or never, thank you. I am grateful for you, and I wish nothing but the very best for you. I hope you find happiness in your every day, that you find your dreams, and that you pursue what is good with everything you have, even when it feels like you have nothing. You are beautiful and worth the world.

Thank you.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I am spoiled.

God makes me laugh. Sometimes I think He's rude (though deep down I know it's just that I either don't like what He has to say or that I don't like how He wants to handle a situation. In the end, I'm the rude one, but I blame Him anyway because I'm charming like that (ha.)), but I know He's always taking care of me. Far beyond anything I deserve.

The past week(s), I've been in a funk, for reasons I can't explain. It's not as though I don't want to talk about it; I  just honestly can't pinpoint the problem. I've just It's extremely unpleasant. It's much easier for me to deal with my life when I know why I'm upset- I can at least work on processing the emotions and yada yada... But when I'm just overcome with loneliness or oppressive negativity... blech. <-that's how I feel. It's just a big cluster of weirdness and I just want to puke it all out of my system. Immediately. (sorry if that's too graphic.. that's just the best way for me to describe it) But whenever that happens, it just feels too large to actually come out... like somehow whatever is in me has grown past the space its occupying. It's gross. And weird. And incredibly unpleasant.

Anywho, unpleasant gross feelings... Can't get rid of them... I go to work, admit to being tired but overall keep smiling and trying to put on the face of hospitality and joy to keep my people in a good mood. I go home feeling even more gross. I whine to my roomie, but instead of being cathartic, it's just like acknowledging someone I don't like is in the room... just a statement of a fact... bleh.

I decide to have a little chat with Jesus (not that I haven't been talking to Him since the time the grossness began.... just returned for an extra "were you listening when we chatted last?" talk. Because as I said, I'm rude), and I say, "Ok buddy, what's the deal? I'm trying to set this aside but it just keeps pressing on me. I can't ignore this. Um... can you make it go away?"

Next thing I know, I have a couple of the worst days I've had in a LONG time. Not that the events in the day were actually bad. I was just completely overwhelmed. But throughout those couple days, God did not allow me to forget that He loves me.

After Mass, I got a message from a friend I haven't talked to in MONTHS which was basically just one of those, "Hey, just thinking of you, I love you," texts. So. Necessary. And beautiful. Thanks for the love, God.

Two of my friends and their baby made dinner at my apartment, and I felt like a normal human being for a couple of hours. Thanks for the love, God.

My roommate gave me a bracelet that BC was giving out. It says "Be not afraid." I don't know what it means for me yet, but I know I needed it. Thanks for the love, God.

Terrible, horrible day number two, I get a text from a friend with a Bible verse that again tells me, "Be not afraid." Thanks for the love, God.

Another friend of mine sent me a random message, "Hey you're wonderful and I love you." Thanks for the love, God.

Another friend let me vent about my awful feelings and just let me know he was there for me. Thanks for the love, God.

My sister has been sending me random pieces of happiness and stupidity that we both enjoy. Thanks for the love, God.

The next day, better than the two previous: I had a day off. I chopped my hair off. I probably had four cups of Earl Grey, opened the windows, curled up under a blanket, and started reading The Help while listening the rain. My oobie (that's roommate, btw) and I watched a stupid movie and our dear friend came to visit. Thanks for the love, God.

Today I'm alive and well. I know I didn't process anything. I still have no idea what was wrong with me. But I'm ok. And I am loved. Way loved. I will probably still have days of oppressive negativity, but I'm never alone through it. I am truly spoiled. And very loved.

Thanks for the love, God.

ps- You are so very NOT rude.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Could you let down your hair and be transparent for awhile?

"Could you let your hair down and be transparent for awhile, just a little while? Let's see if you're human after all. Honesty is a hard attribute to find when we all seem like we've got it all figured out. Well let me be the first to say that I don't have a clue; I don't have all the answers. Ain't gonna pretend I do... just tryin to find my way..."

The song "Trying" by Lifehouse is beautiful. If you haven't heard it, you should listen to it. I'm biased... they're my favorite band.. but they also speak very clearly to authentic love and the strength of the human spirit... I love them.

In any case, I was thinking about this because I was having a chat with a friend about trust and masks we sometimes wear. How often do we show our true face to the people around us?

I know it can be terrifying to be ourselves with another. We're broken, and we continually let each other down. Even knowing we're capable and guilty of the same sin, when others let us down, it becomes so much harder to continue to let ourselves be vulnerable. At least it is for me. There are times I throw my hands in the air and say, "That's it! I'm done with people. I won't let anyone in again." Then I realize that's stupid. JPII (beautiful man that he was) said, "Man only finds himself when making a sincere gift of himself," (the quote may not be entirely correct, but the sentiment definitely is). When I am so concerned with finding the woman I am meant to be and what path I am meant to travel, I cannot ignore this. The only way for me to be truly myself is to give of myself. Which entails making myself vulnerable. Terrifying! But necessary. And wonderful.

I still need to makes sure I am not careless with my heart, however. Where is the balance??

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." -Proverbs 4:23

To guard is to keep safe and protect. This does not mean, "lock it away from sight." Our hearts are treasures, "the WELLSPRING OF LIFE," needing protection so as not to be destroyed, but it is only used for its intended purpose when given away. So we've got to do what we can to make them strong. We have to learn to love ourselves. We have to learn to see ourselves through God's eyes. We have to surround ourselves with faithful allies who care about the condition of the treasure we contain. They will fight to protect it. Even when they fall, they have made the effort. We have to seek the good and pursue it. Our hearts delight in that and grow ever stronger. We need to let the love in our hearts be seen and be given. It's funny how much giving of ourselves really does help us to gain infinitely more.

The thing is, our hearts were made to LOVE. "Oh God, our hearts are restless until they rest in you." -St. Augustine. Guess what? God is LOVE. Doesn't it make sense that our hearts are strongest and most at peace when they imitate their Creator?

Anyway...I'm exhausted and rambling. Let down your hair and be transparent for a while. Let others see the treasure of your heart and inspire theirs.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Love is louder... Than anything

Today I stumbled across Love is Louder. Like To Write Love on Her Arms, they're an organization that seeks love for the person.

I fell in love.

Again, it is beautiful to come across movements to "spread the love." The world *aches* for it. You ache for it. I know I certainly ache for it. It. is. so. necessary.

We're meant to be known and seen and loved. Because we're created by Love for Love.

I think of all the little ways we can love each other...from simple acts of service, a hug, a smile, words of encouragement, etc. These things seems so small... and they have the greatest impact. For many, that "simple" smile can make the day worth living.

Pain can be suffocating. It can be be overwhelming. Sometimes it can seem like the only voice left.

But love is still louder.

Love endured the pain of death on a cross that we might have life. And our life has purpose, Every life has purpose. We best fulfill it by loving. LOVING. It's foreign to our society of selfishness, but it's more inherent to our nature, just as goodness is. We've simply made a habit of being selfish. Why do we ever think it's a good idea? And why does it sometimes seem so much easier than to love our neighbor? Isn't the work the greatest reward? Perhaps it's just that we've forgotten.

Despite any of our selfishness, however, the call to love continues to crop up. The recognition of its necessity continues to show its face (ha). That should be proof enough. Love is louder.

It's funny how God shows His face sometimes. He always does in the ways His children need. What we need now aren't awesome signs and wonders...we need Love. Or maybe it's just that, with the turn society has taken, the awesome signs and wonders are the small ones. Because they are so stifled. As the hands and feet of Love, however, we've gotta bring it to the streets. We need to bring it to our neighbors, our friends, and even the ones we have a hard time getting along with. Maybe you're the one to show them love is louder than the pain they harbor.

Love is louder than the pressure to be perfect.
It is louder than the insecurities we feel.
It is louder than the numbers on the scale.
It is louder than the scars on our bodies.
It is louder than our shortcomings.
Love is louder than hate. (how else would it resonate so much more deeply within us??)
It is louder than prejudices.
It is louder than the differences between us.
It is louder than unkind words and actions.
Love is louder than loneliness.
It is louder than darkness.
It is louder than bullying.
It is louder than persecution.
Love is louder than the voice that says, "You can't."
Love is louder than the voice that says, "You aren't strong enough."
Love is louder than the voice that says, "You. Aren't. Enough."
Love is louder. Than anything.

This is not to say that the pain people experience isn't legitimate. Of course it's legitimate. We live in a broken world full of broken and broken-hearted people. However, Love can heal it. It's the only thing that can. And when the voices that scream, "You are worthless," "You are alone," and, "Give up!" (even when they come from within), are overpowering, we need to speak Love. Small and simple random acts of kindness speak more loudly than we can even fathom.

Speak Love.

Love is louder.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I would give my final breath to make you understand how beautiful you are

Beauty is one of the only things in the world that makes sense to me.  I literally cannot imagine life without it- I believe we all would go insane. That being said, I also believe it would be impossible for beauty to not exist while goodness does. But I digress...

Since beauty is one of the only things that makes sense to me, I seek it out. Amazingly enough, I see it everywhere, especially in every person I meet. (I may not see it right away. When my only experience with a person is not a pleasant one, it makes it a bit more difficult, but the fact of the matter is, no matter what their disposition, the fact that they exist is a testament to the goodness and beauty within them, even when I don't see it manifested.) Beauty is abundant, and it is overwhelmingly necessary.

What breaks my heart is, when beauty is so evident in each person, it is overlooked, forgotten, dismissed, and believed to be nonexistent. Grr.

Again, I speak on the views of society, success, and silly expectations we place on ourselves...

Society's view of beauty is so skewed... it pains me. It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder... and society needs to get its checked.

Beauty is in everything good and true. It is in the gifts we possess. It is in a smile. Laughter. The color of our eyes. The way we love, be it through hugs or simply listening to another tell their story. Beauty is even in the way we react to our situation because that speaks intimately to who we are. Beauty is in all the broken places.

Why is it so hard to see that?

Why is it so hard for people to see their own beauty? Why is it so hard to see how necessary they are?

I cannot say that I am not guilty of this. For all that I love others, I do not always see the goodness in myself, or if I do see it, I feel as though it is not enough. Who I'm making these expectations for? I'm not entirely sure. In some sense, I guess they're for me, as I desperately want to meet them, but in another entirely, I feel as though I've placed them on myself for the benefit of someone else... I don't entirely think it's for God's sake, as I know He loves me as I am... not that I don't want to be a better person, as I'm called to be.. It's a complicated state, I guess. In any case, I place expectations on myself that I cannot meet, I put walls up because I don't want others to see that I can't meet these expectations, and in the end, I lose sight of who I am and what I actually have to offer.

Which is lame because I would never do that to another person.

I would never place impossible expectations on another. So why on earth do I do that to myself? Am I really so hellbent on assuring myself that I am unlovable? That's absurd. But then I wonder if it's the same for so many others.

We live in an age where addiction, depression, self-harm, and suicide are far too common. There is an overwhelming trend of loneliness and worthlessness that has seeped into the hearts of the people... my friends and neighbors... your friends and neighbors... in the people you might not expect because they keep such a brave face. every. day.

When I come to face the magnitude of the issue, my own heart is overwhelmed. It hurts. I want to take each hurting heart and speak to it directly: You are beautiful. You are necessary. And. You. Are. So. Loved.

Maybe it sounds a little cliche. Maybe it sounds a little naive. But there you have it. Because, despite however it may sound, it remains true. I love people. I love beauty. And it just so happens that the two are inseparable.  I still cannot fathom what I am going to do for the rest of my life in terms of a "job," but I can say with certainty that my vocation is to love. I know I cannot reach everyone I wish to, but I will do my best. Every day. Even if it's only through trying to offer a hug or a smile, I'll do my best to love. I'll also do my best to support organizations who love the heart as I do. Because they can reach the ones I can't. (Love for TWLOHA!)

Dear reader,
You are amazing.
Whether or not they are known to me, you have gifts that are meant to be shared.
You have a heart that is so strong, even the times it feels weak.
You have a smile unlike anyone else's.
You are beautiful. So beautiful.
You are necessary.
And you are loved. Beyond belief.

Monday, September 12, 2011

At least we both know that I tried

Lately I've been doing a lot of wondering... mostly about what I hope and dream for the future. I used to have these grand ideas of what I wanted for my life, and now I just can't even begin to imagine what the future has in store for me. I don't have the hint of a dream to aspire to.

I'm not saying, "Oh poor me, I have no hopes and dreams..." Not really, anyway. ;)

Lately many of my conversations with God have gone along these lines:
Me: Ok, God, I really want to be able to do what you want from me, but I don't even have the faintest idea of where you're leading me. The last time I thought I your go-ahead to rush forward, I was quickly thwarted. So... uh... wanna give me something clearer??
God: Just be patient. You'll see.
Me: ... But...?
God: You'll see.

In my bitter impatient moments (as patience is a virtue I probably need much more of and because I'm an emotional human being), I might start inwardly grousing, "Well, the last time I had something I was working towards, when I had dreams, they were brutally shattered, and I'm still stepping on the shards of glass so excuse me for being a little hesitant to try to go somewhere else without certainty."

Then He does that thing where He's quiet for a bit, gives me that, "Are you done now?" look, and smiles. Then He says, "Be patient. You'll see."

This is an answer I'm not too fond of, but I'm slowly growing to appreciate it. I can't get bent out of shape because things didn't work out as I'd planned. Honestly, I can see how it's for the better, though I never would have imagined that. The point is, I tried. I made a conscious effort to follow the path I believed was meant for me. Did I stumble? Yeah. I certainly have my flaws, and as I said before, I'm unfortunately impatient. I've made mistakes, but I pick myself back up, brush myself off, and continue on my way.

Right now it feels like I'm sitting on the side of the road trying to figure out some jacked-up map.

Right now, I might be closer to understanding it that I thought I could be.

God is, I think, trying to teach me to move through this moment. For one, to help me grow in patience. For another, to help me to see WHERE I am. When I am constantly looking into the distance, I miss what is at my feet. I can also miss the opportunities, the gifts, and the graces right next to me. That is my problem as I chase after my dreams. Why on earth do I bother worrying about where I'm going to be ten years from now, or even next year?? What does that matter when I may only have today?

"Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day." (Matt. 6:34)

Well, ok, Jesus. You may have to pound it in my head a few times, but I get it.

When I think about how easy it really is, I feel like an idiot. Then God just smiles and says, "You tried. Let's just try again." Ok.

So... here's to living in the moment and filling each day with as much goodness as possible.

Currently listening to "Crash and Burn" by Lifehouse. I love them. And it's sort of my anthem...
All these nights are catching up to me
I just can't put insomnia to sleep
I close my eyes but all that I can see
Is someone who I'm never gonna be

I hope that you can bring me back
I gotta make it right

And if I fall and crash and burn
At least we both know that I tried
And as I crawl there's lessons learned
Yeah, they remind me I survived

Silence just keeps screaming back at me
The ones I love are lost in memories
And I wish that I could take back what was done
You can only change the person you become

I have to try and find a way
To leave it all behind
[ Lyrics from: ]
And if I fall and crash and burn
At least we both know that I tried
And as I crawl there's lessons learned
Yeah, they remind me I survived
And I've been hurt, and I've been scarred
At least I know that I'm alive
And If I fall and crash and burn
At least we both know that I tried

All of the things I tried to say
All of the words just got in the way
I'm waiting here, I need your help
Don't leave me down here all by myself

And if I fall and crash and burn
At least we both know that I tried
And as I crawl there's lessons learned
Yeah, they remind me I survived
And I've been hurt, and I've been scarred
At least I know that I'm alive
And If I fall and crash and burn
At least we both know that I tried

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I am lowly...and that's ok

I actually have LOTS on my mind today... I feel like I've had a million conversations in the past two days (something surprisingly significant for me as of late), and I'm still in the midst of processing it all... but here's a start.

I am frustrated that I'm not as frustrated with my "lot in life" as I "ought to be." Confused?

I received a college education. Cool. I earned a degree. Excellent. I am now two years out of college. Neat. What do I have to show for it?

That's the question that always irks me. Something about it makes my heart twitch in the most uncomfortable fashion. Why is it that I feel that I have something to prove? Who am I trying to prove it to? And whose standards am I trying to live up to?

I majored in Theology and minored in Philosophy. Is that not enough? Is that not worth something? (Again, how do I measure this worth?) However, as a college grad, the constant question is, "Oh, so what are you doing with that?"

For one, how can one NOT use that kind of education? For one, I feel like it has strengthened my formation as a human being in general and as a Catholic specifically. Such an education can and will always benefit me because, in the end, isn't the state of my soul more important than my income? Regardless, people aren't interested in such an answer; they're interested in who's writing the paycheck.

"Well," comes my timid reply, "I'm actually working and managing full time at McDonald's."


That's it. "Oh." Instant dismissal. Feeling of worthlessness creeping in. I obviously wasted four years of my life and thousands of dollars of mine and my parent's money. What do I need a degree for if I'm taking up a career in fast food? I am a failure as a human being.

Wait. Says who? Whose judgment is it that I am so vehemently afraid of? Why is it that I cannot proudly state my current occupation with a smile on my face? Why don't I own it?

In truth, I *love* my job. I do. I love the people I work with. I love being able to serve people. I love helping the people I work with do the same with a smile on their faces. I love having the opportunity to be a source of joy in people's day simply by taking care of them the best I can.

No, I do not love all aspects of my days. No, I do not love all of my customers as well as I ought. However, at the end of the day, I know that I can take pride in what I do. The voice in my heart can say that with a quiet confidence because I am honestly at peace in this place.

So once again, why the inferiority complex?

I was speaking to my a lovely friend of mine, and we decided it's because there is no place for humility in this society. There is no love for service. We live in a society that prizes power and wealth above all other virtues (ah, capitalism). There certainly is no wealth in such a position, but there is a great power that is absurdly overrated.

For one thing, where on earth would those with power be without the ones who serve them every day??? Sometimes I wonder if they take the time to consider it. Sometimes, when facing a particularly rude customer, I think to myself, "How dare you look down on me. True, your patronage is the reason I get a paycheck, but where would you be if we, the 'lowly ones,' were not here to serve you your burgers and fries? The way you're acting, I'm led to believe you'd be truly lost, so buck up and show some respect. I am not less of a human being because I am serving you."

Sometimes I really wish I could say it. Instead, I smile and try to squeeze out whatever kindness I can muster.

That kindness is another key point when speaking of the power of service (I'm not trying to toot my own horn...just defending the "little guy"). There is an element of kindness and humility that almost follows service naturally. That is not to say that you will never be served by a cranky miss or mister (face it, we all have), but someone striving to do their job excellently cannot avoid being the face of kindness for the people they encounter every day. And that kindness is a truly. powerful. thing.

I might be the only smiling face a person sees in a day. So I'm going to smile with all I've got. I might be making the comfort food to ease someone's awful day. So I'm going to make that hamburger as quickly and as wonderfully as possible.

Gestures of service make a difference. I see it every day, especially in the faces of my regular customers. Regular. Customers. They don't just show up because we have yummy greasy burgers. They show because they appreciate the service they're given. It's beautiful.

I am not wealthy. I am still paying back my loans, and I will be a for a while. I do not have a prestigious job. I have a lowly job. And it's a job that suits me. To the person who thinks saying that sells myself short: you're crazy. I am a simple girl. Always have  been. Always will be. I am lowly. But that is not to say I don't have a lot to give. Because I do. I really do have a lot to give. I've just disovered that McDonald's is where I have to give those gifts right now.God has me here for a reason. Who am I to run from it kicking and screaming because the world has no respect for it?

God is choosing me to be one of His lowly ones. And that's ok.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Oo oo, oo oo, I love your every coloor...

I love your every color... it's a song by Train, and it makes my heart smile every time I hear it. Train is great about authentic and beautiful love songs.

This song speaks to me especially because I long to be a woman of color. I long to be someone who's vibrant and alive and someone who shows that in varying hues. It's why I love peacocks so much, I think. It's why I'm drawn to bright and beautiful colors... I *want* that. In me. Pouring out of my soul through my speech, my touch, my eyes, whatever. I want to show the colors of peace and joy and love. I want to show the color of empathy, of compassion, and mercy.

What also strikes me about the song is that he says I love your EVERY color. Even the dark ones... Love, if it is truly love, can only love all the more when faced with dark-colored imperfections. Afterall, aren't shadows the evidence that there is light? I know I have many faults and shortcomings... but aren't they contrasted by the goodness in me?

Right now I'm quite the mess of color, a bit chaotic... the picture isn't quite clear yet. But I'm working on throwing on layer and layer of light and color until the image that remains is one that I want to see... that woman of vibrant color. Many colors. And while there will be some shadows that linger, I hope to be surrounded by those who will love every last color I reveal and to someday be one who's color "is on the brink of changing all the ways [I] see the world."

(This song is so beautiful!! Think about it. Someday...)

I can see the red, white and free in you
You light the night up like the moon
And underneath your clouds, I see the blue

You're hopeless 'cause you tell the truth
The stars are jealous of your shine
If you were mine
There's not a thing I wouldn't do

You're black and beautiful, yellow, tan
You're white as light and soft as sand
With greens and greys and oh for days
A silver lining on the way you cover everyone
Just like a morning sun
You turn me into someone I would rather be

OOO- I love your every color
OOO- I love your everything
You wear the day around you
Like it's yours to stay around you
Maybe I could stay around you too
If that's alright with you

You're coffee brown and bubble gum pink
And oh I think the shade of you is on the brink
Of changing all the ways I see the world
I could drown inside a single drop
Of all the kinds of things you got
And all the kinds of things I'm not

Might just give me a chance to see
From way up where you are
Above the silent stars
Just dancing in the sky

You're better than any rainbow
You're brighter than the sun
You look like my first day of summer
When my spring is on the run
You're gold and more gold
And you're platinum too
With snow toned, copper attitude
I don't know what I'd do without you
I don't know what I'll do about you

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Getting started?

So, I haven't done this blogging thing since the glorious days when every girl I knew had an account on xanga to either "discreetly" use it as an outlet to badmouth everyone else or publicize emotions in such an obscure fashion so as to negate any effort to actually process said emotions. Ah, the complicated heart/mind of the teenage girl... I admit I don't miss those days.

I cannot promise any profound thoughts, only the humble reflections of a young woman trying to figure her life out. I will, undoubtedly, reference many songs, as I have found their creators have found the words I myself have been searching for. On one hand, it makes me feel lame that I cannot articulate the words of my own power, but I also seek comfort in the fact that these thoughts, emotions, and experiences are not unique to me... Even when I feel like an island, I come to find that there is another on my side of the ocean, and it is a gift to know that.

For now, though, I must find a quiet spot in the ocean and get some sleep. 3:30 comes far too early...