at home, enjoying secrets

#6 I want to tell the world, but I want to enjoy the delicious secret myself for a while, just me and Jesus.

I have made some decisions recently. Or, perhaps more accurately, I am in the process of making some decisions. They’ll be coming down the pipeline. It’s a rather large leap of faith which I’m not entirely comfortable with. Ah, but therein lies the beauty. I think I am going to enjoy the uncertainty, and I am sort of loving the way it’s up in the air. Last time I did this the options were: married/engaged/waiting; Colorado/Idaho/Washington; employed/poor/in debt; preparing for overseas/waiting/leaving/staying.

and now, while some of those options have entirely dissolved (think: Idaho, married, etc)… some still hold true and some are taking shape and some are where I am at (Colorado) but from where I am about to jump into the great unknown of God’s providence and perfect timing. Lord have mercy, I’m going to trust Him and I think we’re off for a somewhat whirlwind adventure.

And while I want to tell the whole wide world what I think I’m about to do… I also want to keep it to myself. Like Mary, I want to treasure up these things, these moments, these glimpses of glory. I want to gather them in and hold them together and marvel over them–at least for a few days. And then I think I will just burst with the excitement and tell the world.

and I just have to give a shout out to Abby H. Because yesterday at work she teared up during our one on one and we had to hug when no one was looking (except Charles, who sees and hears most everything). And her sweet heart shaped face was sort of pink and her eyes were bright with the salt water and her bangs kept falling across her forehead and I kept thinking that I have been blessed so incredibly, so immeasurably, to have her as a friend. So thanks Abby. I’m glad we’re friends despite my quirks, despite my inability to tell you about my super awesome friend Jesus who I want to share with everyone. I don’t know why I stumble over the words when we talk about him. It’s like I don’t know why I stumbled over the words when Nick would text me (and eventually forget me). Perhaps because there is beauty in the fumbling for proper expression, and perhaps because the lack of ability to speak is somehow the essence of what needs to be expressed. And mostly, I am just glad you hugged me and said you were happy for me, and that you believe in me, and that your eyes welled up and we both had to sort of giggle and part ways to keep from bursting into tears–before you came back and said “god, I don’t care if we’re at work, I have to hug you!” And then you wrapped your arms around me and squeezed and whispered that I’d do great.

which is a round about way of saying… I think I know what I might be doing. I think I have a goal. I think I know where I am going. And it’s a roundabout way of saying: stay tuned. more is coming.

what if you…?

self discovery #5 (?)

there are a lot of “what ifs” in life.

Today I toyed with the idea of jumping in my car and driving to Utah. I had an extra outfit, a cutesy jacket, a pair of flip flops and a bright green nalgene that two years later I still don’t know how to drink out of without spilling all over myself. Basically: I had everything I needed except a full tank of glass and that is easily fixed.

Danielle was fretting over an email that had a boy’s phone number in it. Do I text? Do I call? Do I ignore? How do I play this game? Do I play this game? And she kept looking to me for advice.

Jessi told me that it’s my responsibility that things are getting better with her boyfriend. “It’s thanks to that one!” she said with child like smiles and delight this afternoon when telling us that Eric has finally been treating her well and showing interest in her.

Abby sent Danielle with a peace offering because she knew I wasn’t handling life well this morning. And Jessi stuck up for me yesterday. And Abby laughed when I told her how flustered I got when Sipan asked for my number and that I–like her–had to take off my shoes to cool off and calm down, pattering around the floor barely covered in stretched out carpet that sags and catches the wheels of my chair. Why does this keep happening? She asked. Mr. Anderson, Richard, Nick, Sipan, Brett, how? Make it stop! I laughingly shouted into the phone above the static that never dies despite new lines and cords and boxes. It’s Friday! she cried and we both did a merry jig despite the three city blocks that lie between us.

Danielle said I should have gone to Utah. I almost regret it, in a vague sense as I listen to Frightened Rabbit and dream of winding the mountain roads that stand twixt him and I. I can see my headlights bouncing off the mountain’s side, hear the weary squeal of my tires around tight curves, and I can almost feel the stiffness in my knees or the ache of my wrist after shifting for hours when it’s still sore from my clumsy Wednesday morning fall.

But I can’t have gone to Utah, for myriad reasons. There is of course, the financial issue which seems to trump all else (though how often do I throw aside fiscal responsibility in the name of friends and faith?). And there is the timing problem–eight hours there, an exhausted day there, and eight hours back? There is the problematic housing: it’s fairly inappropriate to crash on the apartment floor of a group of boys you don’t know very well. And most of all there is this:

I don’t want to give off the wrong impression.

I mean, he expressed interest. And I sort of… shut him down (albeit graciously).

But we’re good friends, I feel! Or perhaps, that is only on my side. But his grandfather is dying! What can I even do? But, maybe he needs me! No, who needs me? God will have his glory and see his purposes accomplished–he’s entirely capable without my arrogant and willing assistance.

So I text him, and he hasn’t written back. What if he doesn’t want to hear from me? What if he’s hurt by me? What if I’m the wrong person? What if he never wanted to hear from me? What if I’ve played my cards all wrong this hand? What if I shouldn’t have de-stressed to him so much about my job?

What if I don’t have a job on Monday? Maybe that’s why I didn’t go! My lack of job security, my fears for financial ruin.

What if I never find a worthwhile job?

What if I’m condemned to mediocrity?

What if I’m just scared?

What if–

Peace, child, peace.

David will be fine. Jesus holds him like he holds Nick… like he holds you. God holds the bank together,  he makes the company, the city prosper, he gathers nations, he raises presidents and prime ministers, he lays them down to waste and ruin.

So I didn’t go to Utah. Instead, I applied for another job while munching on homemade hummus that was quite a little disaster. And I’m letting go of what ifs. About my job. About my car. About my money. About my family.  About my friends. About David and Nick who seem to consume my prayer life lately.

peace. what ifs are questions that perhaps become dreams. but sometimes, without the faith in Christ, what ifs are questions that oft times become nightmares of senseless worry.

So someday, I’ll take that winding road to Provo. And until then, I’m not going to circle around the wrinkles of my brain looking for the worst answer to every possible what if proposition.

[but, she asked, what would you do if he was a Christian?

well, I said, that I had not exactly considered]

Oh the Woes of Technology

My computer has (for the moment) decided to bite the dust. We (meaning me and my tech team: Popi and Daniel) have not decided if it’s the battery or the charger…. or the disasterous possibility that it’s something worse. Yikes! It should be decently easy to figure out, but in the meantime I’m pretty limited to my internet capabilities. This is frustrating for a few reasons:

I am currently job searching and this presents a conundrum.

I would really like to update you all on my self discovering

[which is happening more and more rapidly]

I can no longer listen to Pandora with Drake, Swell Season or Frightened Rabbit

I can’t email David as frequently (or Cami, for that matter)

But! It is also good. Because it has opened doors for me in some rather startling areas. I am at my parent’s house right now, after talking with my dad about technology and the wearisome problems it causes. And I was given the chance to confess to my mother that I desperately need her. Also, a friend just found out about my computer deficiency and offered me her laptop until I know what must be done to bring my own back from the dead. How awesome is that? I just told my mamma that I am a little kid sorta wandering around and kind of lost; and then a friend expresses incredible sacrifice and generosity without limits by handing over a computer!? Jesus is pretty stellar folks, let me tell you.

Another blessing: I have no access to my favorite tv shows which I once watched via internet. So what else can I do? I can READ. I’m reading a great book right now called Reading Lolita in Tehran that reminds me of why I hurt for the war torn areas and drags me back to the insatiable fear and desire to move to the Muslim world and tell them about Jesus. I’m also reading the Bible more and more and more and actually enjoying it (this phenomenon has carried on since I actually started reading in February). I’ve also been reading The New Yorker and the occasional other magazine article when my friend brings me older copies at work. We’ll chat about that soon though. Because right now, while I have internet, I have to email a few more contacts and really work on this job search issue.

unexpected beauty

To the fourseome gathered around the table speaking of church in whispers; to the barista outside smoking a cigarette to manage your stress and maintain the thin waisted girlish figure of youth; to the awkward couple in the corner–he with helmet and leather jacket, she with matching hawaiian pant and blouse set with bright yellow flowers against periwinkle background– to the man at the table by the door with tatoos on your withered arm and scribbling away on xeroxed paper beside the autobiographical novel: Born to Run, with your hungry eyes and seeming contradictory air,

to the starbucks at Hampden with her late night inhabitants both sleepy and caught up in reckless dreams:

thank you for reminding that life, though contradictory, is fraught with beauty in the most unlikely of places.

assorted memories

I drove “home” tonight to the basement apartment that holds the bulk of my earthly posessions but which I am not yet accustomed to considering as anything more than a location of residence. It is the place where I usually sleep and sometimes eat. It is the place where I most often shower and dress, though truth be known I almost always have a spare set of clothes in my car. It is the place to which I oft times return at night from wandering the world amidst work, play and worship. But it is little more to me than that. Right now, it is simply the room I rent where I recently had daisies that now languish in the trashcan that is not mine, while I am sitting on the bed that does not belong to me, writing–putting to “paper” the one thing that is truly mine, as it were.

Tonight I drove “home” from my parents’ house after a long evening of conversations and job hunting. I talked with David about ethics and legislating morality which carried into dinner and evolved to a discussion with my father regarding limited government, my right to life and property, and the need for academia–or was it philosophy?–and a night that ended in both tears of frustration and eyes rubbed red for sorrow. And as I drove on the lonely highway at a breakneck speed I dreamt of days long past and thought I should write this note to you. Perhaps it was the shooting star that I wished upon that brought such things to light: the warbled memories that run like old films with browned edges and stuttered movements. But no matter the cause, while I nervously considered Israel and sang while shouting alongside Bebo I thought of you, and you, and you and then I thought perhaps my silence would not do.

I thought of you and the look on your face when I stepped off the plane and came in the gate to baggage claim. Your hair was getting long and kinky then, darkened by the winter grey and falling in your eyes. You looked delighted to see me, and I remember the sort of vague sense of relief in spotting you across the tiny crowd that milled through the open space of that tiny airport. You wrapped your arms around me and I remember feeling safe; but I think that even then, somewhere inside of me I knew that this feeling might not last. I pushed the thought away, I needed you then, desperately. And through those long nights of grey winter when my life had gone dark and hopeless, I would need you all the more: to point me back to Jesus, to remind me of my brokenness, to tell me a’hava, and to kiss away my fears. I am thankful for you, I know that, and I am thankful for the blessing of God that you were: keeping me in the church, keeping me on the path, keeping me in the fold despite all stubborn attempts to jump the fence and race for the wide open spaces to which I have yet wandered.

And I thought of you, in the parking lot at Village Inn, staring at the stars as though unsure how to acknowledge my presence or the apology. Your hands were in your pockets, and you looked so uncomfortable while I tried to ask forgiveness and longed for so much more. The stars were poking out, it was warm and almost humid. I thought of sitting in your truck, after shivering in the parking lot, talking until after 1am just months before that moment of torrid confession and petty forgiveness. I remember the way you looked at me, with care and concern in your eyes, your ridiculous green hat sliding down and blocking the light of hte parking lot lamps. You prayed for us that night, or you prayed for me at least. I wanted you to hold my hand, but in some kind of distant respect, you wrung your fingers together and held them in your lap and spoke those words to Jesus that both awed and encouraged me. I swore that night to know Him as you do, and for that I must say thank you.

But most of all, I thought you. I worried about the past month, the things I’ve said, the words I’ve written and spoken, and all the feelings I’ve never had the heart to share. I was frightened, shy and hurt by others before. I didn’t know how to answer the things that you said, and so I either remained foolishly silent or went ahead and said the things I didn’t mean. I thought of that night at the park, watching fireworks through the rain. I thought of you with your arms wrapped around me, reassuring me while I cried about the sins of my past and the ways that I’ve hurt others. I thought of the night in the kitchen, running my fingers over your battered knuckles and praying that God would heal your heart and restore you to the good. I thought of our walk when my knee ached so badly and you wanted to go home to protect my body but I wanted to hear you talk, more and more and more! and so I stubbornly shut my mouth to complaints and we wandered for hours more. I prayed to God that I haven’t ruined you for Him. I prayed against the things that hold you back, the chains that you (as I) so desperately cling to. I cried with my father tonight for your sake. How can you look Him in the face, yet turn and walk back to the life even you admit has done so little for you! I begged God for your soul tonight, not for my sake (though you’ll never see that), but for yours. I am culpable in your salvation, or so it seems to a somewhat arrogant heart. I am culpable in that I am terrified to be the only one who ever speaks and perhaps you did not hear, or perhaps I spoke too softly, to gently or to harshly. My sin, my pride, my insecurity, my foolish girlish ways, they are often a distraction, or more likely, they can be destructive. I’m not perfect, and my fear is that perhaps I’ll have spoken well but acted poorly and thus have pushed you away. But you must see! You must come! He can heal your heart, like I told you on the highway, passing under the exit sign for Belleview, after selling the bike, while holding your hand and saying someday you’d by another. I am not so good, I insisted, but for the grace of God. And you brushed it aside like it was nothing, a ridiculous excuse, something that made no sense. But someday, you’ll see. I have this shaky confidence that someday, Abba will bring you home to rest and peace and you will know Him. I only wish it would come sooner than I think He deems it necessary. But better later than never, and so I’m praying for your soul and your heart and your being. I wished on that star for you tonight, that Jesus would bring you to Him. I wished for you, and a little bit for me.*

It was only a twenty minute drive home, lengthened perhaps a minute or two by the cop who wove through lanes to follow me before finally exiting just one before my own. But it felt like hours, to run over the memories, to pray, to hope. And for a little while, my mind slowed down and I was able to sing; “I am everyone who’s ever lost hope,” but Bebo reassures me, Jesus always brings hope back around.

“Come ye weary, heavy laden

Lost and ruined by the fall

If you tarry, till you’re better

You will never, come at all”

______________________________________

* a little bit for me, because, though I am greiving the sad month I’ve endured and the loss of both our relationship and friendship I am perfectly willing to admit: I’m still a bit hung up on you. [well shoot son, ain’t that just the kicker]

project, tally, or human being?

self discovery nuuuumber 4:

nobody wants to be a project. and definitely not me!

I have this friend that I think I’ve mentioned on here recently: David. He’s a strong mormon that I went to high school with and recently had the opportunity to catch up with this summer after four years apart and no contact. It was a great time this summer doing different things with him: chipotle, long runs, teaching him to drive a manual, etc. And most of all we had some incredibly talks about Jesus, God and our very different faiths.

The second to last time that I saw him was actually on a Sunday when I attended the local single’s ward* with him. He had asked in earnest and told me he’d appreciate it if I would just come and visit. So, being the pushover friend that I am, I consented. That adventure ought to be told in person with plenty of hand motions, confused facial expressions and a good deal of laughter.** But the best part was when we sat outside for an hour after the meetings had ended and just talked. We went back over some of the issues we had already discussed and wrapped around several more topics before I let out a long sigh and for a moment stopped tearing hte grass up. I looked at the building that I had just spent three hours in and wondered how it could stand there, so calmly while my soul was raging against it. David asked what the sigh was for and reassured me that I didn’t need to be diplomatic. It hurt though, as he sat in the grass beside me with his chocolate brown pants and the sweet thing pinstrips running down to the pointy leather shoes that may have originated in Russia. His crisp white shirt looked freshly ironed but for the few wrinkles acquired that morning in services, and the tie brought out the bright blue of his eyes that now looked saddened or– at the very least–pensive.

“I don’t know how you believe any of this. I mean, I just can’t wrap my mind around it. And I hurt for you David, my soul hurts for you. Because you have to earn your salvation, and I can’t imagine what a heavy load that must be. What an incredible burden you must live under every day! I can’t imagine what that is like, and I wish that you knew Jesus, and you knew the freedom and the grace and the rest. I just hurt for you, because I think it must be so hard, and it must be a pretty sucky existence.”

Of course he told me it isn’t so bad as all that. And eventually we had to part ways. We did so, in laughter and the promise to see each other once more before he left on Wednesday.

Monday, he invited me to “FHE,” an event at the ward. I turned him down, mostly on the pretext that the meeting would be about finances and the world knows I get enough of that at work… And besides, the promised dinner and game of volleyball don’t appeal to exhausted uncoordinated Sara on a Monday night.

Tuesday, he invited me to ultimate frisbee with others from the singles ward. And this might have been my last chance, becuase he left on the 8 hour drive to Utah the next day.

But… but… It was another event with the ward. And I didn’t want to see the ward, I wanted to see David. I mean, seriously, I had just spent fricking three hours trapped in that building on Sunday. The awkward silence during “communion,” the struggle to censor myself, the desperate rage against the lies, the begging of my soul for freedom for those around me–and he wanted me to go back to that?

Did David even want to see me? Of was it as I had first suspected: that I was not so much a friend to be enjoyed but rather a project to be molded and shaped into a new mormon? Another tick on the tally sheet of converts? And then it struck me even more soundly:

this is how “non-Christians” feel when we only invite them to church events. No wonder they don’t come! Nobody wants to be a project! I’ve never felt like the potential convert–I didn’t know what it meant to be on this side of the fence, and you know, I didn’t like it! Leave me alone, let me follow Jesus and if you want to be my friend that had better entail a lot more than just religious excursions. Because if it doesn’t then you really aren’t interested in friendship and I am out.

So now I have much more sympathy and even empathy for non-believers who experience this.

I’m a human being. Love me to Jesus. Don’t drag me to events to get me there. Trust me. It isn’t going to work.

_______________________________________________

*Mormons (LDS) divide their populace into wards which are much like parishes in the Catholic church. You’re assigned to a Ward which you attend on a weekly basis. There are two types of wards: Family and Singles. Family Ward is for–you guessed it–families or married couples. Singles Ward is for those between the ages of 18-30ish*** who are unmarried.

**The laughter is, of course, referring to my inability to fit into the situation, my confusion, bafflement and general inability to censor my thoughts throughout the three hours spent in the ward services.

***30ish, I asked David how long you can go to Singles Ward for and he didn’t honestly know. When I asked if you could go if you were, say, 30, he laughed and said, “well I hope I’m married by the time I’m 30 and I’m in Family Ward.” Which is a very annoying way of altogether sidestepping the question.