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...