clarification

hm. I’m good at bad communication. which is a backwards and almost double negative way of saying: I don’t communicate well.

so let’s be straight about some thigns. No flowery language. No mess. Just clarity.

1. I am really quite okay.

2. I like my life.

3. I am lonely sometimes. That’s why I am back at Adullam. That’s why I went to two church services yesterday because it meant spending time with Ingrid and Grahm between services, and lunch afterwards with everyone else. But, 70% of the time. I am okay with being single.

4. I am not a perfect Christian. I swear. I snap at people. I don’t turn to Jesus as I should. But I’m repenting. I’m moving forward.

5. As to the couple posts regarding my friend Brett:

(a) we are friends, really truly. But he has hinted at more than that and I have taken advantage of that when I’m bored or lonely; because he is available. So I text him. Because I know, if no one else responds, Brett will always text me back.

(b) so we are friends. but I have used him. (see point 4) I am repenting and moving forward.

6. I don’t always know who I am.

7. I don’t always know what I am doing with my life.

8. I am learning who I am.

9. I am trusting God to know what I’m doing with my life.

10. I’m really, most of the time,  doing okay. (sometimes: I’m fantastic. :] )

21:21

^ the exact amount of time when Ingrid and I got off the phone today. And I got a lot of my heart out in that conversation. I love my community, and I’ve only just entered it.

Ingrid: what are you doing?

Sara: mm.. well, (laugh), honestly, I’m on facebook.

Ingrid: no way, me too. Hey, there you are!

Sara: yeah, um, I’m actually on your page.

Ingrid: are you stalking me? It’s okay, it’s what all the cool kids do.

something different

alright. alright. I’ve been doing this feeling/learning ish lately on here. So today, I’m going to subject you to my writing–the fiction/creative kind. Maybe it’s a reprieve from subjecting you to this painful growing spurt. Maybe it’s just me, trying out something else since today at Gathering Greg asked how my novel was and I sort of blushed.

Something about Fog, we’ll call it. [or something about shifting and stretching]

“I’m sort of bad at relationships,” I say, softly, hesitancy hanging on the morning fog that clings to the earth in terror. The sun is calling her away but she is frightened and does not want to go. Here it is safe, among the calm blades of grass, the whispering trees and sleep eyed flowers that are stretching out their well lived lives into the last of their dayins in early fall. The sun may be calling the fog away but she is not quite ready to be lifted high and moved to far off lands. Eastern sands are calling, distant shores of salty ocean spray and the towering mountains may long for the fog, but she is haunted by memories of past travels: plummetting earthward in great drops of heavy rain, wafting softly as snow only to be crunched beneath giant paws of wild beasts in lands long forgotten and ignored, or perhaps worst of all, the easy gliding through sunny skies, the view from above as so many below go busily about their happy lives well she drifts gently, softly, slowly and does little but observe the teeming masses. This she loaths and fears most of all: this she fights against as the sun torches her edges and tugs her away.

David sighs, shifts his weight forward, centered over crossed legs and wet, aching knees. I wonder if he heard me, I almost want to repeat myself… David still sits in silence, watching the fog as she relents and begins the dfifting upward climb. And then, a grin comes over his face. “I think we are all a little co-dependent,” he says, “I mean, co-dependent on God, at least. After all,he does sustain and hold together all thigns. If he withdrew his breath, we’d all just shrivel up and die. So we’re rather codependent, don’t you think? And I think, Merz, it’s okay to get some–just not all–of your identity from a man. I mean, especially after you become one flesh. Tell me that’s not an identity issue. God is taking you places, teaching youthings, you’ll grow and learn and become the woman he wants you to be. And when it’s right, you’ll find the man he wants you to have. And the world will sort of come together in this new way and things will be clearer but they’ll also be blurry as well.” He pauses, to think? To let the words sink in? But the grin quickly returns and he repeats, “but in the long run, you’re still somewhat codependent. And,” he winks mischeviously, “God knows that’s the last of your issues.”

“David!” I snap and elbow his ribs as he laughs. he rocks to the side, away from my abuse but swings back and throws his arm around my shoulders. “Dear God,” I laugh with deep affection towards the boy beside me, “I love you.”

“And he loves you,” he plays off as though I referred only to the invisible one who has seen us through.

“David! That’s not what I meant,” I laugh and go to elbow him again but he blows the blow and squeezes my shoulder as he pulls me tightly into him.

“I know, I know. I love you to Merz. And I am going to miss you when you go back to your Catholic people.”

“My Catholic people,” the phrase is amusing but I like the feel of it in my mouth, the tug it gives on my heart.

We sit silently on the hillside, watching the sun come iup over the city and burn away the fog at last…

mmmuuuuuur. it isn’t much.

but today I sat at lunch with Grahm, Molly, Matt and Ben. Jed tugged on my vest before pulling me into a thick hug and Ingrid threw her arm around me.  Hugh said I was more mature and not to go back. Grahm said we’ll never really know what we’re doing and Ingrid reminded me I’m not a very terrible person: just someone who needs Jesus. And besides, there was chipotle and caribou and free milk from sunflower market. It was a beautiful Sunday morning.

impossible communication

[EDIT: I suppose the most baffling thing to me is how something so simple as the indwelling of the Holy Spirit can really jack up communication between two people. This is the point of the following…]

This is sort of my own response to the previous post about the fact that I so often turn to others for counsel and wisdom as opposed to going straight to God with questions/issues. While I do think that others are an important medium through which God speaks to us… well it’s just not the same as dealing with something in prayer and study. Not to mention when the people we turn to are not of the same mindset as believers. Case. In. Point.

last night, the guy from the summer texted me. Entirely out of the blue. I actually picked up my phone thinking it would be something from Abby or Danielle because I had just written  both of them recently. Instead, I picked up the phone and did a double take at the red light on Parker and Pine. Nick. What? He asked how I was, and had I found a new job? What? So I went to the normal person: Brett. Why is he texting me? He’s dating someone else. I haven’t heard from him in a month. Why didn’t he write me yesterday with the same cliche message I got from 27.3 other people about being thankful for our friendship? That would have made more sense: then it could have been a mistake amidst the mass texting fiasco. Then it could have been casual, meaningless, and easily disregarded. But this? This was deliberate. This was specific. And it pissed. me. off. Who are you to tell me you’re dating someone else, not contact me for a month and then randomly write me as though we’ve been chatting and things are normal? Who do you think you are? (ah, the simple ability to sin in our anger)

I did eventually text him back several hours later. I was honest. Life is good. I’m  not really looking for a job. I’m enjoying my time off. But that’s not really the point of this. The discussion I had with Brett is more the subject. Brett got snippy. He asked if I wanted to talk with Nick. I said that I didn’t think about it much. (which is a lie: I don’t want to talk with him, but I pray for him. I can’t say this tho, becuase then that will lead to the fact that I also pray for Brett and that’s not a conversation we are going to have.) So he said it was up to me, “but someday, you should probably start respecting yourself a little more or you’ll have to put up with th is kind of [crap] your whole life.” And then, he started lecturing me.

It was sweet, in an offhanded way, because I know it’s due to this bizarre notion he has to be protective over me. But it was so wrong. I told him it’s not so easy as just taking care of myself. There are a million other things to consider. I want Nick to know Jesus. There were days while we dated when he was so close. I can remember strolling through his parent’s neighbourhood after a hodge podge dinner at their place. We talked about Hell and God and mercy and fear and surrender and why we can’t do it on our own. He was nodding his head, he was squeezing my hand and then letting go and gesturing and getting excited as we rounded the corner towards the high school. I remember laying on the ground just outside the ball park while waiting for him to use the nasty port-a-potty. I stared at the black oblivion above me, dotted with gleaming rays of truth and I prayed. Show him. Show him.

So looking out for me isn’t going to work. There has to be this line, this tight rope that we walk. I don’t mind being the net that catches people. Brett snapped that I am always being walked on. I didn’t retort, I just said calmly that it’s not a big deal. Jesus was walked on too. I have mixed feelings about Nick texting me. But at the same time, I’d rather err on the side of grace and just put up with his shenanigans. I mean, like I said  yesterday, Jesus is putting up with loads of junk from me. And if everything I do is supposed to reflect Him then sticking up for me (as though I am number one) just isn’t going to be the best way to do that.

Brett, I can imagine him shaking his head when he read that text, said that he gets I want to stand for Jesus. But I should worry about myself first a little bit, and let God worry about everyone else. It’s like in the airplane: you put your oxygen mask on first then help those around you. If you’re passing out, you aren’t much good to the kid who can’t reach the inflatable bag swinging from the ceiling. But if I’m so busy with my oxygen mask, with my comfort, with my sense of well being, then I’m worried about me. And honestly, worrying about me hasn’t done much for me thus far.

I don’t remember how the conversation ended. I think Brett gave up. Said he just worries about me being too much of a good little Christian (at which I scoffed in my bed, because I’m not a very good person). But I remember thinking that this is why I cannot rely on Brett. Because he doesn’t understand. It’s not for lack of intelligence. He gets that i want to put others before myself even though I usually fail miserably. He knows that after everything Jesus is the biggest, most important part of my life. I don’t know who I am without Him. But Brett, on a very deep heart level, is never going to understand. He can’t understand because he doesn’t know. He’s as lost as Nick, just in a different way. He doesn’t see that Jesus hasn’t promised an easy road. He doesn’t see that Nick’s salvation is more important than my discomfort over a bizarrely unexpected text. He was trying to advise me, but it wasn’t from the right perspective. It’s not as though it wasn’t good counsel, it just wasn’t the right counsel.

Not to mention: He alternatively stuck up for Nick texting an “ex” despite having a current girlfriend and swtiched to telling me if I would just stop letting people dump on me, then this wouldn’t happen. (aka: he couldn’t decide whose fault this really was. Which just says he didn’t know what to say, because I baffle him too deeply).)

He said I don’t respect myself enough. I don’t think that’s the case. I think I’m just worried that having dated a non-Christian, any lack of grace on my part will reflect a lack of grace, mercy and forgiveness on the part of the Father. And that will never draw Nick to the one who can bind up his wounds and heal the broken heart.

[but how can you explain that to a man who does not know the Father himself?]

Slipping and Sliding

Well, this is a fun post. I didn’t know what to call it, seeing as there are probably five million options to encase the following lines.

#13 I’m a sinner

shoot son

I realized this bizarre phenomenon several years ago, of course. I was thirteen. I had moved to Colorado, was hating my parents, hating God, pretty much hating everyone and everything.. and one night it sort of struck me that this overwhelming sensation of disdain towards the entire world just wasn’t going to work out for me in the long run. But at the same time, I couldn’t seem to stop loathing the created universe. It was pouring out of me, even though I managed to fumble my way through classes and social settings without giving away too much of the war going on inside. I even managed to smile my way through church most of the time though that might have been from the need to impress a certain young man who was on the worship team. I mean, let’s be honest, no boy on the worship team is going to be attracted to a girl who hates Jesus and lies in bed at night telling God he doesn’t exist. And then it sort of happened on Easter (such lovely and thematic timing. It was so cliche that I almost hated the change in my heart even more than I hated what had been going on and who I had started becoming). I don’t know what happened. It was one in a series of events that have occurred through out my life which impress upon me the very supernatural essence of our lives in the hands of God. But something happened. I started crying and I kind of “re-met” Jesus and here I am today: house sitting for the small groups pastor of a mega church and his wife who works at a local Christian school. And I don’t hate the dog I’m watching, or the thousands of crosses I’m finding in the oddest nooks and crannies of this oversized home to three.

So being a sinner isn’t some kind of new realization and self discovery. But the last several days I have been surprised in some of the ways this dual nature thing keeps playing out. Let me explain:

I consistently have been pushing God aside lately. It isn’t anything major. I mean: I’m going to church, I have been seeing Christian friends, I am continually being convicted about things (like tithing, my time devoted to God, my discontentment, my nasty habit of not honouring my parents, etc). Yet there is this nagging feeling that something has sort of been left out, or discarded rather carefully and then left behind. I took the dog for a walk today, along winding sidewalks towards Daniel’s Park and straight into the blinding sun. My boots sloughed along underneath me while I had my arm outstretched and Boomer straining against his leash. I was waiting for a friend to text me back about plans for the weekend. By plans I mean the fact that I am driving him to work tomorrow because his radiator “blew up” last night in 10 degree weather, and I’m still not clear on how he made it back to his apartment. I thought my phone vibrated in the pocket of my third coat but when I finally managed to dig it out (while yanking Boomer back from the street) there was nothing but the familiar locked screen shifting through pictures of leaves and clouds. “Flipping Brett, text me back!” I sort of snapped and jammed the phone back inside my pocket. And in one of my five trains of thought I went back to a time when I said the same thing at work while waiting on a text from the same guy and my friend Abby looked at me with a bemused expression: “I feel like you are always waiting for him to text you back.”

Because Brett is sort of like my crutch. And I’m sort of his. It’s this really weird, messy friendship. He’s seen me through two break ups and I’ve walked alongside him through his first steady relationship in years that crashed and burned sometime between the falling leaves of September and October. I went to Harry Potter with him for his birthday and whined about waiting in line for almost four hours in the cold. He made sure that I was safe the night we went downtown in a huge group and people kept trying to buy me drinks and he kept pushing the 45 year old away and snapping that I was only having water.* I get random texts from him like when he’s freaking about the radiator blowing on his jeep last night, and I am always asking him to translate what the men I’m dating are saying to me. So you see, we’re really good friends. But there has been this problem lately.

He’s making… advances?** I don’t think that’s the right word. It’s just that on occasion I get weird texts about how frustrating I am with my Christian morals and how both of us are too stubborn to change to make something work. I just keep pushing it aside, sweeping it under the rug. We have this understanding: it’s. not. happening. I mean, we have always known that since the first time we argued at work over whether or not Jesus was the son of God and born of a virgin (compared to the cult of Mithras and the whole Saturnalia issue). It’s not even a question in my mind. But I think for some weird reason it has become a little more ambiguous in his.

And what does this have to do with my sin? Well, a lot.

Brett’s my crutch, instead of Jesus. I don’t go running to my Bible when I’m lonely. I don’t seek God out in prayer when I’m stressed and worried. I want to.*** I really do. I want that to be the automatic response when I am struggling with something. But it isn’t. I do that second. Usually I text Brett and tell him I’m frustrated: with work, with a boy, with money or with life in general. I mean, that’s what I do when Ghena’s not around. Which means, that I sort of go to Ghena first, and then Brett, and then God. Which means that Jesus is #3 on that list.

How did that happen?

I fasted over the summer at one point and it was glorious. I mean, I don’t love fasting because I love food. I like baking, I like cooking. I love the smell of thyme simmering in water just after I throw in the pasta and a bay leaf. I adore the squish of gnocchi between my teeth, the splurting juice of cherry tomatoes dancing off the roof of my mouth, I love the sting of my eyes above chopped onions and the sticky film of fresh garlic. I love food. But fasting was this great experience because I kept having to seek God for strength when coworkers were eating and my stomach was making noises like a bear just come out of hibernation. I was aware of my weakness and for a good deal of time afterwards I was continuing to lean on Jesus because I had gotten into this habit while fasting. It was grand. I don’t know when I have been more aware of the presence of God or my continual need for him. But something happened. Maybe it was when I dated Nick. Maybe it was my seething jealousy over weddings and relationships as my singleness began to seem more permanent. Maybe it was the stress of work. Maybe it was a desire to fit somewhere, anywhere, and the fact that I wasn’t finding community among Christians to be very easy (if at all feasible). Maybe, maybe, maybe.

But I started making all these bad decisions. I started slipping dow an icy road, steep like Dravus St. in Seattle, icy like Breckenridge when we haven’t had fresh snow. I haven’t done anything terrible (and yet, all sin is terrible). I started talking more about Jesus and following him less. I saw my hypocrisy through glazed over eyes. I was running from it. I think that’s when I started doing sprints. I had to push harder and harder to clear my mind for a few minutes. I stopped writing, or I started writing, or I just sort of existed in my notebook.

But on Sunday night, I talked with Alicia for over three hours. And she said that’s going to be okay. God works things together for his glory and he can do that with me too. And on Tuesday I went out shopping with Jed and I was attentive even when he explained what a pixel is (which took all my strength to listen to and not feel insulted that he should think I am so technologically inept. But I appreciated his gentle teaching manner and I could respect it). And I realized that was something like the work of the Holy Spirit in me. Which is bizarre. Because I told Alicia I’ve been so stupid. She just kind of laughed, said she’d done the same thing, and then she said in her halting way that maybe, if we move forward, into God’s arms, in a few years we’ll look back and laugh and not be so worried about all this because we’ll see:

we’ll see that God knew what he was doing even when he let us go our own way. And we’ll see that we can never outdo him and thwart his great plans.

I have all these idols that I’ve put in front of Jesus. Brett, running, writing, money, my plans, my life.

It’s almost a little terrifying to see how quickly we can go from hearing God, enjoying our time with him, striving for his glory, and realize that it turns into a selfish pursuit of… ourselves. I’ve been filling my needs with things that I thought would satisfy. But they don’t. Because I cannot run forever with my crabby knee and aggravated shin splints. I cannot drink enough lattes to keep me awake and out of the land that loiters between sleeping and waking and in which I seem to most often face my failings. I cannot buy enough clothes to cover the sin that resides deep within my chest. I cannot write the plague of the fall out of my soul. And I will always be waiting on Brett to text me back.

I’m slipping all over the place. This world is seductive and easy to fall into. But I think, today on my walk with Boomer, in the blinding sun and nippy wind that cut through my jacket, I think I reached up a hand and asked to be pulled out. Please. Please.

save me from myself.

_____________________________________

*John should get some credit here too. I have a distinct image in my head of the creeper leaving his gold digger girlfriend at one point and asking to buy me a drink and both of them stepped in front of me and told him to back off or get me some water, but I wasn’t drinking.

**And this is the other reason this is a huge sin issue: am I using him? If he keeps making romantic comments, even while always finishing the statement off by reaffirming that “it’s a bad idea”, if he keeps saying junk like that, am I leading him on by not putting a firmer foot down? I always agree with him and tell him I am not interested, or rather, I say that he doesn’t love Jesus so let it go… But is it leading him on to continue being such good friends? Is it using him when I shrug off and ignore these bizarre advances and don’t deal with them head on–because I don’t know how I’ll manage without him? And doesn’t that make our friendship a huge idol? Because I don’t know how to manage some of my stress without him? Part of me says that’s what friends are for, but if he is romantically interested, then maybe there are some [emotional] boundaries that need to be more clearly defined… Friendships with guys can be such a pain.

***Romans 7.19: For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want… (7.24) Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? (NASB)

announcement

it’s official.

I have sent in an application for a visa. Please pray. I ended up having to send my cashier’s check separately because I was a little flustered at the post office and forgot to put it  into the envelope with all the other documents. I have contacted the embassy but I am still a little nervous they’ll deny my application or just send it back when they discover there’s no payment in there…

I am getting excited for this little adventure, but I am also a bit nervous as things are just taking their time to come together. I am learning a lot about trusting Jesus day by day whether that is for housing, food or future plans (of which I have none). But it’s awesome. I love this time of ambiguity and unknowns. It’s not always easy, especially when so many people want to know my life plan and I don’t have one after March… But God has everything under control and I am really growing in my respect for him and knowledge of that truth.

So there are lots of things that could be prayed about. (as always) But mostly, I would appreciate if you’d join me in prayer over that flipping visa, that I didn’t screw it up too badly and that the embassy takes pity on my idiocy…

oh slang lingo…

today…

Jed: so what are you doing?

sara: well I’m supposed to have a phone date with someone right–

Jed (laughing): phone date? Did you just say phone date? Is that even a real thing?

sara: well, yeah, I mean, um, at least it is in Seattle.

Jed (still laughing): right. a phone date. awesome.

to cars and clubs

Yesterday two wonderful things happened: I got to have lunch and help “plan” the Ahava Fest at my church. Really it means I got to go to the comedy club (Comedy Works) where the event is going to be held and talk about how many tables we’ll need to pack in and if we can use the roof, and how exciting it is that we don’t have to pay for this venue and there are already decorations and linens so we only have to do tableware and really it won’t take us long to set up but could I please be a part of that crew and arrive a few hours early that Saturday? And then I got a free lunch at the Irish Pub across the street. I do love Shepherd’s Pie. There’s leftover downstairs in the massive fridge that is mostly empty because the family I am housesitting for cleared it out except for some yogurt and vegetables. I am having Shepherd’s Pie for lunch. Yum.

The other thing that happened yesterday was on my way to Comedy Works to meet up with the others (a meeting I thought I would surely be late for, but ended up arriving #2 of 4, not so bad when you consider my latin time schedule track record that puts me well behind the American world in punctuality). I ran out of gas, and had to fill up at a dismally expensive station near where I used to work. But it reminded me to share something that happened last week, and so, running out of gas-though costing $30-was a wonderful thing to have happen on a windy Monday afternoon.

Last week I was invited to go with soe friends to the Cheesecake Factory to celebrate a little one’s birthday. I arrived at nearly the same time they did, after spending hours in a coffee shop reading and writing. I walked in, feeling sort of awkward because of the out of town family who I did not know. But after we had settled into our seats the situation turned out to be quite amicable and we were soon laughing and getting along like we’d known each other for years. (of course they have known each other, but I was delighted to feel let into the group rather quickly and easily.) At one point, while checking on what her kids wanted to eat, my friend passed by my seat and gripping my shoulders leaned to whisper in my ear: “This is going to be covered. So get whatever you want.” Was it going to be covered by her and her husband? Or by the visiting out of towners? Either way, it was a gift I haven’t earned. I settled on a white pizza: four kinds of cheese and spinach. I didn’t think it could get much better than that. But it did. The cheesecake orders were made and I was asked for my opinion: as thought it mattered! But they ordered the one I mentioned, though I had nothing to offer, though I had not paid my way or earned some token by which I should be allowed to name my preferences!

And then the sister from WY said she ought to be heading home, wanted to miss construction traffic. But she didn’t know her way to the highway from where we were. I listened as a few people tried to explain it when suddenly a thought dawned on me. “Nessa,” I said, “I’ll just lead you to the highway. I drove separately. I can take you. I-uh-need to get gas anyhow, so it’ll work out.” She protested but even in the dim lighting that is a signature atmosphere in the Cheesecake Factory she could make out that I was determined. So she consented, let me carry her left overs and then let me help load things into her car beside her baby boy in his carseat that dwarfs him like a newborn rather than the 4 month old he is.*

I was only a little wary as she dropped me at my car and I turned my key in the ignition with my clutch pressed firmly against the floor. The gas light had come on just as I had turned into the parking lot, and I wasn’t keen to get o I25 with a lack of gas to fuel my speed and keep me from limping off to the shoulder–or worse, simply stopping on a busy highway on a Wednesday night and creating a traffic fiasco involving a multi-car pile up. Hospitals on Wednesday nights just aren’t my thing. That’s much more a Thursday night venture, as are traffic tickets.

But the gas light, oddly enough, did not flicker on in its arrogantly bright orange. So I pulled us out of the parking lot, round to County Line and onto the highway as it bends past the mall complex and North towards Fort Collins and Cheyenne. Nessa followed me perfectly, which is a miracle in itself–I am a terrible person to follow. But she’s from Jersey so that must have had a part in her expertise of weaving through traffic with me. And then, I saw my own exit coming up so I cut over into the right hand lane and watched anxiously, hoping she would realize that this time, she was not to follow me. Her headlights came nearer, but they stayed to my left and then shifted over even further. I waited for her to catch up and then, as I began to veer right to 225, I rolled down the wind, caught her eye and we waved at each other. And then she sped up and was gone from sight as I wound East to Aurora.

And quite literally, after we had waved goodbye, I turned to check my speed and the gas light flicked on.

Which is, I think, quite the gift of God that I was able to made it all the way until she no longer needed me before I was in need of gas. It’s like God was taking care of me so that I could bless someone else. Which I think is probably one of the reasons he blesses us in the first place: so that we may do the same to others.

_________________

*Creeden looks like a newborn. He has just hit 10lb. He is gaining weight finally, after hovering around 7lb and 8lb for a few months. But you can keep the precious little guy in your prayers that he would be healthy and keep growing as he has finally begun to do.

run naked… it adds colour to your cheeks

okay, we didn’t run naked, it was snowing after all. that would have been cold. but this conversation did take place:

 

Friend 1: you do realize that we are eating turkey plain, off the bone, and it’s not even very good!, at ten thirty at night, after a five mile run, while standing half naked in my kitchen, while it’s snowing outside… this is a little ridiculous.

Friend 2: that is so going on the blog.

All Upon a Saturday Night

My friends Ghena and Jonathan (with whom I sort of live) had a friend in town this weekend. His name is also Jonathan, so for the sake of the following post, we’ll call him Brown.

#11 I interview horribly

[especially when I don’t know it’s an interview until half way through]

Brown works at World Vision in the southern end of what is known to most as Seattle, Washington. It’s technically Federal Way, and it’s hidden on a curvy road between looming trees and dark houses and creeping fog: or so it was the night a friend and I got lost and stumbled upon the glowing sign that gleamed in the night, World Vision: The largest NonProfit in the World. It ought to have been a beacon of hope, but at that point  it was more a sign of how incredibly lost we were, fumbling through the highways and back streets of Washington.

I told Ghena that I was going to ask him for a job when he came to visit, and I hoped she wasn’t offended or put out by such audacity. She sort of smirked and said: “if you have the gumption to ask for a job, go right ahead,” which seemed a funny way to accept my proposal of meeting someone and asking them to hire me in the same conversation. I cocked my head to the side and asked what that was supposed to mean. “It means, he can be kind of intimidating.”

“Intimidating? How?”

At which point, Jonathan looked up from the laptop and said without batting an eye: “He’s a very attractive man.”

And thus, I was prepared to ask Brown for a job at World Vision pending a thousand variables that are slowly coming together. It happened on Saturday night, after a late evening run of only two miles and an even later dinner of seared steak, baked potatoes, crisply steamed green beans sprinkled with garlic that I added to the pot just a little too late, and Dancing Bull to drink. It was perfect. The children were in bed after baths and Bible time, my cheeks were flushed for the snapping cold of the run, and the conversation had wandered between passive righteousness, broken  engagements and the titles of our future best sellers. We removed to the kitchen finally, at which point Jonathan quickly disappeared to bed (having been up since 3AM). And then it was just the three of us, finishing the dishes, climbing around each other in the narrow kitchen, laughing awkwardly and familiarly until Brown eventually took a seat on the stool and said he’d help but it just seemed a little crowded with him. And besides, he wanted to munch on the un-finished granola that I had neglected. “I don’t know, Sara,” he said thoughtfully as he plunged his well licked fingers back into the sticky blue  bowl, “French Onion Soup and granola? I think we might have a chef Sara on our hands,” or some such nonsense. I distinctly remember blushing slightly, and the tips of my ears may have burned despite the low temperature of the house. After all, it has been a while since a boy (in this case a man) suggested that I had any ability in the kitchen. I must have beamed in spite of myself and the worn out baggy sweatshirt whose had dragged in my food at throughout dinner. And then it started, as I was bent over the dishwasher, rearranging and sorting, Brown asked with another mouthful of gooey oats and flax, “so, why Pakistan?” But he didn’t exaggerate the name of the country like so many others are prone to do when they ask the same question. It was simple curiosity. There was no judgement, no surprise, no fear or worry, no confusion and finally: there was no belittling of me or my desires as though I am childish, innocent and hopelessly naive. It was, for lack of a better way to express the sentiment, a desire to understand.*

I gave him the long story, because he said to start there since he could always ask me to fast forward. We walked through the halls of Beslan School, looked into the hopeless, enraged eyes of the shooters and the faces of the children silenced with wild fear. He sat beside me in class under Dr. Davis announcing to fellow students that “Miss B___ has a death wish,” and sorting through articles from newspapers and magazines that kept me up to date on all things Chechen and more broadly: the happenings of Central Asia. He joined me on the floor of my hotel room in Vladimir, laughing outloud at God when I was told to come back to the states. And most recently, he saw the delight in my face when Joy asked if I was serious about Pak and then said lightly “Good! ‘Cause we’ve been brainstorming what you can do while you’re there,” as matter of factly as though I had already bought a ticket and acquired a visa. And then, after all that, when we’d gone through my plans after I return (which are entirely theoretical, involve two states and several countries, school loans and public transportation), I asked the question pretty point blank: “so that’s the plan, sort of (uneasy pause of building up my courage as I lean around the microwave from the silverware drawer) unless you want to higher me at World Vision.” At which point we all sort of laughed and I said, “of course, I’m only half joking. Well–actually–I’m not joking at all,” by this time I had come back to the counter by the sink and was leaning forward–perhaps a little too earnestly–and I looked him in the eye as I asked more seriously, “do you want to higher me?”

And thus came the interview. It was full of those frustrating questions for which I have no answers:

what do you do better than anyone else?

who is your best friend? (Caitlin) and if she had to describe you in three words what would they be?**

what does your perfect job look like?

why do you want to work for World Vision?

and a million other questions, all of which I answered rather poorly. I don’t know what I am very good at, I snapped cheerfully that I am simply aware of my own inadequacies and listed compassion as both a blessing and curse. I mourn with people. I rejoice with them. I’m good with people, I said. I have loads of cross cultural experience. I can write a flipping good prayer letter cause I’ve been doing it all my life. I can raise $3000 in 5 weeks, I can argue with an embassy for a passport, I can write and I can sing and none of these have anything to do with a job at World Vision. I rambled a bit, I walked around things in circles, I avoided some questions altogether until he pressed a little harder, I said Caitlin would tell you I am a little reckless and if it was anyone other than Brown I think that would have been the wrong thing to say (Brown had a flicker of amusement in his eyes, and I knew he was thinking about Pak).

And I didn’t realize it was an interview until he said that if I didn’t know what I was better at than anyone else, how was he supposed to know? And how, if he couldn’t know, would he manage to figure out where I would fit in the World Vision group?

I think the worst part came today when I reappeared at Ghena and Jonathan’s house to help with dinner, spend some time online, trade out books*** and sort through children during “club chaos.” Jonathan came home with a book that he teasingly handed to me, something from work on interviewing skills. We laughed, I was genuinely amused. He asked me some questions from the middle section of the instruction book (as opposed to the thinner work-book-looking-thing that was left on the counter) and I tried to re-live the answers I had given Brown for those same queries. We laughed again, especially when Jonathan admitted he wouldn’t know how to answer the questions, despite having interviewed a host of people nearly twice his age in the past several weeks. It was sort of discouraging, realizing how I sold myself short because I’m still insecure. It was funny, to be sure, but the tears that gathered in the corner of my eyes had more to do with failing hope than pure laughter at my Saturday night debacle.

Brown, surprisingly, was not intimidating. He was a bit like Jason, and sounded (literally, in tone, in volume and inflection) like Keeleh. He was easy to talk to, and I was not overly flustered–a point I had prided myself on until Ghena told me that he had been gentle and chosen not to be intimidating.

Which frustrated me all the more–have I nothing from which to gather pride?

Interviews.

I officially loathe them.

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*or so I took it that way, from the casualness of his tone, that he had no previous thoughts as to my insanity or stupidity, but genuinely wanted to know why.

**at which point I used phrases and informed Brown that phrases would have to count as single words. He laughed and asked if one of the things Caitlin would say to describe me is that I redefine boundaries and definitions?

***I traded out Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I’m flying through them since I’m seeing the movie this weekend with friends and have a significant issue [read: egotistical-pride-issue] with reading books before seeing movies. Since I wasn’t allowed to read them growing up, I have to make up for lost time. I am 6 down, 1 to go in 2 weeks… Flying people. On a Nimbus 2000 broomstick.