quotables

I went to the stock show with my friends Corey and David. Corey is from California, David is blind. It was a unique experience. After running into David, a woman apologized and then–on realizing he was blind–kept apologizing until we’d gotten past her. David has quite the knack for sarcasm:
“I don’t understand why people start apologizing more when they realize I’m blind. I mean, it’s like, ‘oh my gaw! you’re blind! I’m sorry! It’s so much worse than running into a person who can see! It’s not like they have feelings!'”
later:
“People just say stupid stuff, you know? Like, my favourite is when guys say, ‘man, you’re so lucky you’re blind. You must not struggle with lust at all.’ What?! Right, because blind people don’t have sex drives.”
or
“Yeah, the other good one is when people at church come up and tell me, ‘you’re so lucky to be blind so you don’t have to see all the sin and evil in the world.’ I want to be like, you didn’t see the Holocaust, did you? Does that mean you don’t know what happened?”

last night in class, while going over the syllabus, my professor was trying to explain what might be a suitable excuse to miss one of our three quizzes: “none of this, ‘oh, I’m going on vacation’ no, no, that’s not my problem. A good excuse would be…something like a fatal car accident. Or perhaps loss of limb during a ski accident.”
fatal car accident? You’re right that’s a good excuse, because it was fatal!

 the same professor also told a story to illustrate improper use of a computer in class. “I was listening in on a lecture–evaluating an adjunct. So I sat in the back of class and watched a student who was on Facebook almost the entire class. It was really distracting for even myself, so afterwards I went up to him. He was a very short man [Professor is very tall] so I stood really close to him, just to make a point as I towered over him and said, ‘you know, it’s really disrespectful to do that while you’re in class and it’s also quite distracting for other students as well.’ The student gave me this look and in a snotty voice said, ‘and who are you?’ [gasp from class] Yes, so then I told him who I was and he sort of stuttered, ‘oh! I’ve always wanted to meet you!’ Well, now you have.”

and now, I’m going to stop procrastinating on that 10 page behemoth waiting to be created.

WHY: I’ll Skimp on Studying

Tonight I am going to hang out with a friend while her husband is in class. Her own class gets out at 715 and his doesn’t end until 915. I can only promise her an hour, because in the first two weeks of the semester I have a 12 page paper due. But, after several hours of researching in various locales, I plan to take an hour long break and get to know this girl.

Why?

When I have so much research to do? When my time was already devoted to school work, which was already interrupted by several friends on campus who wanted to catch up and forced my work ethic to come to a shuddering halt?

Because Laura is a girl.

And yes, that gender difference is a big deal.

Today, I had a study group over for breakfast. We had done this several times last semester and decided that though we weren’t in the same classes, we’d like to keep the tradition alive. So, with ingredients for a delicious fritatta, five men traipsed into my apartment today, wiped their muddy shoes off and did such things as cook, pray, laugh and fix my kitchen sink.

I love my guy friends, don’t get me wrong.

I’ve also been swindled into a few unexpected dates by being “friends” with a guy.

I realized, that even though I have been (and always will be) a tomboy, at 23 things are changing. It’s hard to be just friends with a guy. Not impossible, but harder. Sometimes, there are bizarre lines to navigate–like when a really good friend starts dating a girl, or he’s actually married and you don’t yet know the wife (even when you do know the wife!). These things can be confusing. The waters are often muddied. Feelings are hurt. I may  not know how to put makeup on very well, but at some point between college and grad school, the boys stopped caring about that. Instead, they wanted someone who was real, natural, comfortable in her own skin and able to hold a steady conversation.

And thus, I, the undate-able girl suddenly became quite date-able. In fact, I’ve found myself quite surrounded by men (and women) who want to be my friend and who sometimes seek for something more (women don’t want something more, but I have found myself friends with more and more people). Thus, I have found myself on dates that weren’t dates when I agreed to them. That’s not to say that every guy I know is interested. I went to the stock show with two friends over the weekend, and certainly neither of them are interested.

It is to say, however, that I’ve found myself an object of interest and that maintaining a platonic friendship isn’t as easy as it once was–when I was the frumpy tomboy in sports bras, tshirts and jeans that didn’t fit.

So I realized that I wanted to be friends with more women. I’m trying to be careful what that looks like. I don’t appreciate our tendency to gossip. Since women are more verbal about almost everything, I think that sometimes verbal “processing” can easily turn into something else. I don’t like when some single women are “on the hunt” and can’t talk about much more than men and clothes and showing themselves off. There are a million other things I don’t like about the stereotypes in my gender.

But I’m going to make an effort.

Laura is married to my friend Noe. They are a wonderful, humble couple who really have a heart to know God better and to serve him. Laura is an incredible wife, in my opinion, and she is a great match to Noe. I admire them. I admire her.

So, tonight, I’m going to cut 45 minutes out of researching the Energies and Essence distinction given by Gregory Palamas in the 14th cent and talk about the date I had a few weeks ago, her excitement to be in her first seminary class, how her food budget tripled when she married Noe….

Because, there is a good deal of freedom in being friends with a strong woman who desires nothing more than the betterment of others. There is freedom and confidence in the fact that she is a woman and we can be friends without funky lines, awkward moments and muddy, incomprehensible questions of attraction versus platonicity.

 

and yes, I did just make up the word platonicity. but I think you know what I mean.

WHY: I didn’t date

I decided in July to take a hiatus from dating. I had just been dumped by a man who claimed to be a Christian, hard worker, reformed boy who wanted to be a man. I entered this dating relationship after having had successive relationships with nonChristians and I was trying to be out of that habit. It was like coming out of a fog. I don’t mean the kind that sits in the mountains and which you drive through in a quick blast, where there is a wall that ends abruptly and you are thrust into the brilliant light of day. No, this fog was more the drifting kind that nags at your heels and refuses to dissipate but slowly. So I took halting steps forward. One of these was to slowly disassociate myself from those nonbelievers who I desperately loved, and for whom I wanted salvation and peace. But I had realized in the dim and grey light that I was not strong enough to be with these people and I needed to move away from them so as to avoid the poor choices that so often plague my generation. I was introduced to a guy by mutual friends who admitted to having made poor choices in his early twenties but claimed to be reforming and growing as a Christian. Being a foolish and lonely girl, I took the bait.

Two months later, he ended things. He turned out to be something different than I had expected and that was incredibly disappointing. Not only in the situation, but also with myself in general. How had I fallen into such a relationship? Was I so blind? Or was the truth that I had terrible standards?

So I took a break. It wasn’t one of bitterness, nor was it one of learning to be happy single, nor even the desire to put God first. Certainly those things had a place in the hiatus. But the intentions were to examine myself, my standards and discover the reasons behind them. I chose a time period of six months  because it seemed like a significant amount of time. As well, that meant that I could be open to the possibility of dating in the new year when I would have completed my first semester of seminary, the lease on my apartment would end and I would hopefully have a somewhat better grip on what my future might look like.

It’s January now.

The past six months have been a bit of a roller-coaster. My first semester of grad school was vastly harder than I expected. Financially it’s been interesting–I’ve had to learn a lot about trusting God. I’ve been faced with a good deal of sin in my life which is never enjoyable. I’ve had to go without a mentor for the first time in two years–just when I was starting to yearn for such direction and correction. There’s been a shift in my social life. I spend my time differently, my finances stringently, my energy is expended too quickly and I have learned to sleep while typing a paper. It’s been great fun. It’s been hard.

In terms of dating, it has been a great joy to be at seminary. I am incredibly well taken care of by the men in my life. They are gracious and kind. They often pay for things unexpectedly. They value me as a friend, a woman, a scholar, a sister in Christ, a person. This has been a startling experience for me. Most men I’ve dated don’t  pay for me, let alone my guy friends. I have been told by nearly all the boys I’ve dated that I am “intimidating” because of my intellect. It’s never been celebrated, it’s been a threat, and something I have often felt encouraged to suppress. The men I know at Seminary do just the opposite. They value my opinion, they consider it worthwhile and useful. Corey teases me about my “brilliancy” and several of them have encouraged me to continue my studies even when I’ve been discouraged.

I have enjoyed the opportunity to ask some of these men for advice, for spiritual direction, for their thoughts and reflections on a variety of things. It has also  been great to witness my married friends and the way that they treat their wives or speak of them with friends. I am learning a good deal about what it means to be honoured as a woman, cherised as a sister in Christ and encouraged as a fellow human being, student, and person of worth.

I am open, now, to the idea of dating. I don’t know that this will be happening any time soon. One guy from school wants to take me out for coffee and I have some marginal hopes there. I have also learned the importance of guarding my heart and keeping God first. But I would say, the past six months have been a huge period of growth–or an introduction to the growth that I believe is just now beginning (and painfully so at times!). I’m glad I took an intentional break from dating. It was incredibly helpful and freeing as I started seminary. I was able to focus on school, my life with God, my new friendships and my family life as I didn’t even consider the men around me for dating or possible companions. Nor, were they allowed to think of me that way.

I’m quite content single.

But, of course, I wouldn’t mind if the scrawny half -bearded kid would take me for coffee soon.

lately

going back to school, renegotiating some things in friendships, wrestling through where God is calling me, and a variety of other thought processes have led me to appreciate the words in this Avett Brothers song: The Perfect Space.

I wanna have friends that I can trust,
that love me for the man I’ve become not the man that I was.
I wanna have friends that will let me be
all alone when being alone is all that I need.

I wanna fit in to the perfect space,
feel natural and safe in a volatile place.
And I wanna grow old without the pain,
give my body back to the earth and not complain.

Will you understand when I am too old of a man?
And will you forget when we have paid our debt
who did we borrow from? Who did we borrow from?

WHY: I love and hate coffee shops

Today I went to a coffee shop to do homework, check my email, be warm, etc. It’s snowing outside. Apparently, it has been snowing since last night. I woke up to a frosty blanket all over the parking lot and a creeping fog on the windows spotted with crisp frost.

First I went to see Molls at work. She’s fabulous. I’ll talk about her some other day.

Then I ended up at a coffee shop. I sat down beside a friend from school who had just finished his shift. We started talking about classes. I announced that i was reading for homework–even though my JTerm class doesn’t begin until next week, and the regular semester doesn’t begin until the week after that. Someone looked over to us, asked where we went to school and I knew from the look in his eye that we weren’t likely to have a quick conversation with this man. He wore his wedding ring on the wrong hand, his glasses were from two decades ago in style and shape. His face bristled with the scraggly growth of three days and no shave. He asked, did we know the Master’s name?

My first thoughts went like this:

What? Master? As in the Grand Master from the Templars?

The Templars ended in the Middle Ages, thanks to a weakened pope and a heavily indebted Philip the… seventh? In France. Good lord I’m a nerd for knowing that.

But seriously. Are we talking about the Templars?

Does he mean Lord? Does he mean God?

Master? Who just asks that across a coffee shop full of people? Who just says that: “Do you know the Master’s name?” What do I look like? Someone who’s going to be comfortable with such a question?

Is he crazy? Is this a trick question?

I picked the wrong day to come to a coffee shop.

Curse the way Rusty’s voice carries. We could have avoided this question if you didn’t talk about Seminary so loudly.

My friend, Rusty, had no idea how to answer. And in the interest of not having a staring contest added to our already uncomfortable situation I asked if the man meant Jesus. Turns out Jesus was the wrong answer. Because what he really wanted me to say was YHWH or Yeshua. Oh. My bad. I didn’t know you spoke Hebrew and wanted the original of Jesus’ name. I thought translations were ok. Especially since we’re in America. Speaking in English. But sure. Hebrew’s great too. I like dead or revived languages as much as the next person.

So for an hour…I don’t even know what we talked about. We sort of argued. Rusty was a bit heated at times. I wanted to reach out and touch his knee, whisper “shhhhh. He’s crazy. Just let it go.” But the man was also saying things that were somewhat heretical. So, in a sense, he had to be challenged. Rusty is good at trying to listen to people and he really tried to hear what the man was saying before responding. But we went on so many tangents…by the end of the conversation, when our new friend left, I turned to my fellow seminarian and was like “what did we just talk about?” We covered, in an hour, everything from the Nicene Council(s) to the Vulgate to Warlockery (which, if you’re wondering, is not a word) to the “spirit of death” hanging over today’s churches. And that’s all I can give you. Because I was still reeling from that conversation when a second individual sat down in our little corner of the coffee shop.

He heard us processing, heard something that sounded “Jesus-y” or “church-y” and sat down. He quoted John 1 and said we were brothers in Christ. Interestingly, he said sons of God, not sons and daughters. Just sons. No political correctness here. Good thing I’m only flirting with the line of Egalitarianism.* Then he began to say that Scripture was true. He called it the Dynamic Word. He talked about the KJV and how it was close then. But it’s even closer today with the NIV or the NASB. That was kind of awesome because the first guy had been pretty strongly against scripture. He kept talking about re-instituting the use of the Hebrew name for God…Except…we don’t really know how the tetragramaton is actually pronounced because the Jews stopped saying it and they didn’t write with vowels. He was so sure that Scripture has been corrupted. The second man was like a breath of fresh air with his certainty on scripture.

But we didn’t just talk about Scripture. In about 30 minutes, that man crammed in more information than I’ve heard crammed into a three hour class. I shouldn’t even say we talked. My friend compared it to drinking from a fire hose. And we couldn’t back away. The fireman had us held in place, while another forced that thing into my mouth and a third turned it on full force. I once prayed and asked God for a prophecy. I had a friend who had prophecy spoken over him and I thought it would be a good experience.

It’s actually incredibly overwhelming. I was uncomfortable. I wanted to stand and leave. But I couldn’t. I could hardly move, I was so riveted by even the stare that this man had as he leaned forward, gesturing fervently with his hands as he made his points. There were things to be sifted through, to be sure. The verse that kept coming to mind was to test the spirits, test the spirits. So I know that perhaps he wasn’t entirely right on absolutely everything.

But he said good, true things. Some things that I needed to hear. And things that my friend needed to hear. Things like…

We don’t control our thought lives. We could, if we submitted. If we obeyed and we allowed God to do it for us. But you don’t hear sermons preached on taking every thought captive. But we are what our thoughts are, and we are our thoughts before the throne of God. Yikes. Seriously. Yikes.

We need to submit. We need to obey.

He’s coming. I don’t know what he meant by that, but the man said several times–He’s coming. Like a thief in the night. What does that mean? About how I’m living? About how I’m not living?

We aren’t condemned. There is no condemnation.

We might fail and do things of the flesh, true enough. But it’s what we’re after. It’s what we are going for. So we aren’t condemned, because though we may fall, God knows we aren’t after the things of the flesh, ultimately.

He said some far out stuff about the Holy Spirit too. Something about the indwelling of the Spirit changing the molecular structure of humans so that they in turn change things around them (with out even meaning too). Like the Apostle’s shadows healing people. Like knowing that the person you’re sitting next to is a fellow Christian without even speaking to them. Far out, man.

I think there was more. I’m still sort of reeling.

I love coffee shops. I love watching people. I like getting to know regulars. I enjoy the quiet ambience, the chance for mild distraction while I read thick philosophical books. But that, that was a little much. I’m a bit overwhelmed. I keep glancing at my text book on the Seven Ecumenical Councils. I kept trying to make myself read it. But I can’t bring myself to do it. I’m still processing. I’m almost numb after everything the just happened. Warlockery? It’s not a word. Condemnation? The flesh? I needed to be reminded of unconditional love. That he chose to die. Yet, all of that, in barely two hours, when I was hoping to enjoy my last lazy day of break? I love coffee shops. After all, this couldn’t have happened anywhere else.

___________________________________

Maybe once every three hundred sixty five days,
God will do that, have two random prophets speak to us.
{Rusty}

____________________________________

Egalitarianism: I’m cautiously flirting with the idea. Don’t worry too much.

WHY: I should stop being insecure

alternate title: WHY: I should not be so chatty when insecure.

recently I met a friend’s new roommate. I invited him to come to something and then thought  he might feel obligated so I immediately flipped around and started explaining myself. I tried to recover from something that wasn’t even a failure. My friend related what happened after the event was over and he had returned home.

C [roommate] : your friend’s interesting.

E: how so?

C: well, I just met her, and I could tell she was into me.

E: dude. She’s not into you.

C: what?

E: she’s after some scrawny half bearded kid at seminary. she’s not into you.

C: oh. okay then.

and all this, simply because I didn’t want someone to feel obligated to hang out with me if they didn’t want to. I have got to learn that I can be friendly. But not overly chatty and feel a need to recover from something that doesn’t need recovering from…. because apparently, I give off the impression that I’m romantically interested in someone when I talk to much.

I don’t think I want to meet too many more male roommates in the future.

First Mondays

First Monday in January. First Monday in 2012.

I read this on a blog I follow. I thought it was an appropriate idea to be pondering this week. This year.

“With the onset of a new year, we ought not to be reminiscing on our shortcomings, but reflecting on God’s providence in preserving us through the year. Moving forward with the full measure of His grace, we should press on into the new year, striving for that goal so we can point to the cause of all progress—Christ Jesus.”  {Chelms Varthoumlien}