Scholarships, Trying and Lent

I’m writing an essay for a scholarship that I don’t qualify for. I’m not sure why I do things like this to myself. I mean, there’s no way I’m going to get it. But in someways…it’s this bizarre challenge and I’m ready to take it on. I said to myself as I walked off the seminary campus that I was going to write a damn good essay and make them reconsider their qualifications for the full ride scholarship. And then I sort of stopped short, paused in the falling snow. “Wow, you just swore on a seminary campus, chica,” I muttered to myself and then started laughing, shaking my head. I’m a walking contradiction. And I have got to work on this language issue, I sound so uncouth (and in general, I just don’t like it about myself).

I drove my father to the airport last night. He fell asleep to the sound of Derek Webb singing about a wedding dress and being the prodigal son. I tapped my hands on the steering wheel and really tried to sing the melody this time. But it was hard.

He made me stop at Walmart to  buy me a new windshield wiper. “How do you live with it like this?” he asked, laughing. I sort of shrugged. I don’t drive from the passenger side, what does it matter what their view is like? I can see well enough, can’t I? In Walmart I told him about the interview at the church yesterday. The one where they asked how I manage stress and I shrugged. Why do people ask that question in interviews? You just put your head down and deal with it. Go for a run when you get home. Isn’t that what everyone does? And then they asked me to describe a time when I was faced with something I didn’t know how to do and how I overcame that obstacle to get the task done? I had to think for a long time. My popí started laughing when I said I had to think. I don’t try at things, after all. I just do them. And if I don’t know how to do them I either figure it out (website/html/guitar amps/setting up drumsets) or I don’t do them (quitting piano in 6th grade. you have to practice? who wants to do that?!).

But back to the stress issue. They asked about when I was stressed in college, was there ever a time when I had to do something timely and that cut into doing it well? I could only think of that stupid paper in Former Prophets during a hellish week with people’s lives falling apart. I repeated myself for ten pages. I said nothing original. I admitted in my interview to this one instance of turning something in because it had to be finished even though I had not done it well. I shrugged in that interview with those three people and said I had to put “my girls” first because they were more important than getting an A on the paper. Heads bobbed and things were scratched down on papers and iPads.

the best part, I whispered to my father in the car, is that I still got an A.

My father laughed.

What’s it like to have to try at something? I said this is my only fear with seminary. I’ll probably have to try with learning Hebrew and Greek. I’ll probably have to actually apply myself and not write papers two or three days before they are due. I’m not entirely excited about that part. Trying is a foreign concept.

I’m having to try very hard at something over the next forty days. Lent. I’m giving up all beverages other than tap water. No coffee, tea, hot chocolate, espresso, cider, juice, coffee, chai, soda, coffee, seltzer water, did I say coffee? Look out world, I’m sure to  be an unkind person the next few days while I come off withdrawal. I’m doing it with my friend Molly for an organization called BloodWater.

I’ve done Lent before. I like liturgy. I’m going to Ash Wednesday service tonight and have even convinced a few friends to come along. I like spiritual disciplines. I appreciate the physical reminders to  help me remember that the walk with Jesus is not so abstract and that it is important, it is real, it is here and now and it affects me. The headache coming on this morning is a good reminder of that.

I have friends coming with me to church on Sunday. Two. Maybe three. It’s weird. I asked them to come and they said yes. What? They said yes. It’s going to be a terrible long 40 days in a decaffeinated desert. But the awesome part of entering into the sufferings of Christ is that we are also given the chance to endure for the joy held before us. Every time I want coffee (like now, and five seconds ago, and now, and in fifteen or twenty seconds, and now! and tonight), I get to thank Jesus for all he did (all he does!) and then I get to pray for my friends that they would come to a saving and transforming knowledge of the one who:

for the joy set before him.

endured the cross.

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