Oh, the randomness...

Just my thoughts on life, love, and the pursuit of Jesus.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Can I Get a Witness?

I’ve been watching the movie RENT again lately. A lot. I think the music from that play ties with my #1 favorite, Les Miserables. I’ve never seen a movie that brings me to tears as constantly and consistently as RENT does. I see so much redemption and love and so much of living the Gospel through this story about a rag-tag group of friends living a rough life in New York, many of them living with HIV, many with various sexual orientations. And in their stories, I see a lot of my Jesus.

One of my favorite choruses that is sung a couple of times in the movie goes like this:
“Will I lose my dignity
will someone care
will i wake tomorrow
from this nightmare”

These are people facing the fact that AIDS was not a well-known or understood disease at the time. Many were shunned from society because of it. It was the ‘outcast’ disease of its day: the leprosy, if you will. And they are scared that their life will pass by without witness, without meaning…that they will die an undignified death, and one without love or care.

Isn’t that what we all want? Someone to bear witness to our life? To say ‘you matter. You are important. To me. To us. To your maker.’

I know that is one of my core desires. I feel the saddest state of affairs is when a life gets lived unnoticed.
-Every homeless person on the streets that we walk by every day, not caring that this is their life and it shouldn’t have to be this way. We don’t see their stories, only the statistic.
-The recovering alcoholic/bulimic/self-injurer. Instead of seeing their life, we see their problems and the darkness they were living in. We don’t see how we can help bring light to a hurting place.
-The son or daughter whose parents don’t see them for who they are: but rather see them and try to make into who they want them to be. The life they want to see is their focus, but they miss out on the life that is being lived.

We only have one life. Don’t isolate yourself from others. Community is so important. And for those of us in community, let’s stop judging others for things, but instead bear witness to the life they are living and be a light when they don’t see any, be enough hope for when they have none, and encourage when they reach a new place. Believe me, this is a rally cry for me as much as you. I want to live my life knowing this day, this moment, this breath could be my last. As another RENT song says:
“There is no future
There is no past
I live this moment as my last
There's only us
There's only this
Forget regret
Or life is yours to miss
No other road
No other way
No day but today”

No day but today. Don’t wait to bear witness to others’ lives until it’s too late. And don’t be afirad to let others’ bear witness to your life.

And ultimately, don’t forget, we have our Father, our Maker, who is always bearing witness to our lives. Whose very existence is Love, and it is this Love that gives us the ability to know our lives are not in vain, that we are not living purposeless or meaningless lives, and that we are seen and loved for exactly who he created us to be.
That is hope enough for me.

Changing You, Changing Others

You can’t make someone else change. Nothing you can do can make another person change.

That’s a tough concept for me. Especially when you see someone with so much potential for growth in their life, and you see clearly that God is putting things in their life for growth, but they aren’t choosing it.

But that does mean…the only person you can make change is yourself. What areas do you need to grow in? I’ve realized a couple of obvious ones for myself, particularly with limiting myself and limiting God.

I have such a hard time believing in myself. I know the things I am gifted with, but it’s hard for me to imagine I can really do ‘great things’ (defined in a variety of ways) with them. But that means I really am also doubting and limiting God. He can use anyone to do his work: the greatest and the least, the rich and the poor, the fundamentalist and the emergent. :)

I also realized lately that I quite often buy into the lie that God is holding out on me. “If only I had ‘this’, life would be better. My neighbor has ‘that’, why can’t I?” And I subconsciously place that on God and say that if he really loved me, he would give me these things. But that’s just not true. It’s because God loves me that I am exactly where I am, confusion and all. Confused about what is next in my life. What I’m supposed to do with my life. What God is calling me to.

The biggest lie that I’m buying into right now, and I know it eyes wide open though don’t know how to get past it, is that I can ever really be in a relationship with someone. Ha – I told one of my friends the other day that I don’t think I’m going to get married because I have too many issues for someone to deal with…and his response was priceless. “So, deal with them.” So straightforward and direct, and so true. It’s what I needed to hear. But more than that, I just don’t think I can do it.

Yesterday I spent time at one of my favorite local coffee shops, with one of the awesomest couples I know. They never make you feel uncomfortable to be around them; you never feel like a third wheel. Their love is so amazing it’s actually tangible in the air around them. I love that about them, and I love that their love for each other is something that I truly believe enables each of them to be used by Jesus even more. That is what I want in a relationship with someone. And yet, I left their somewhat sad because I can’t do it. I don’t know if I bring myself to ever open myself up to someone that much. Or if I believe I can have what they have. I don’t know, I just know that I really, really don’t believe I can do it. Somewhere is a small voice telling me that’s a lie, but I have a hard time not believing it. And it gets me so frustrated.

*sigh* I’m just way too good at taking care of others and yet am simultaneously scared for what it looks like for someone to take care of me. Why can’t I let my guard down? Why can’t I find that calming presence? Why can’t I believe that my gifts and personality will be enough for someone, while not being too much, either? Help my disbelief.

Didn’t someone else say that once? In the Bible? Help my disbelief. I’m pretty sure Jesus rewarded that request. A friend in Orlando has said a couple of times that Jesus loves our bold prayers. So I’m going bold, and I’m asking for help in my disbelief. In my lack of trust. In my constant trying to put him in a box.

Let’s be bold.

Let’s ask for help changing ourselves into the people Jesus calls us to be.





Holding our tongues. Slow to anger. Quick to love.

Love without Limits

Well folks, I’m back at it. I know my blog is so sporadic, and I’m sure it matters to all my faithful readers (LOL!) . The thing is, this blog is a place for me to think things out. Some of these thoughts have been building for a while, and have now reached a point where I need to think ‘out loud’ about them.

Love. It is still constantly the topic that fascinates and scares me the most. I love many of my friends dearly, and don’t express it enough. I really need to tell people much more often that I love them. Romantically, I’ve only ever loved 2 guys. One was…a disaster. Back in college let’s just say I was a total doormat and I accepted a horrible substitute for love as the real thing. I shudder just thinking about it.

But, this whole love thing is really hard. It doesn’t just mean loving people when I feel it. Or loving people only when it’s easy to, when they ‘deserve’ it. It also doesn’t mean loving them on my terms. I think that’s the hardest for me. For instance, for me, loving a friend means showing up at their events (sports, art shows, weddings, parties, company launches, etc.) even if it’s not convenient. And it means inviting them to my events. But sometimes I have friends who don’t invite me to things, and it’s easy for me to get hurt by it. I am such an ‘inclusionist’ that the ‘exclusionists’ of the world can easily hurt my feelings. And I’ve noticed that when I’m ticked off because someone hasn’t loved me the way I would love them, I want to shut down and shut them out. Punish them, I guess. But let’s talk about that…what does Jesus call me to do? To pressure them into inviting me out of guilt? To show up uninvited? To sulk because they love me differently that I love them? No. He calls me to still love them.

Without limits.

True, not to be a doormat. But he does ask us to lay down our lives for his cause, and I believe his biggest cause is love.

Friends, this world is so full of hurt. And pain. And isolation. And misunderstandings. And people on the fringe. I refuse to consciously add to the pain. And where I subconsciously do, I pray it is revealed to me so I can be intentional about righting those wrongs.

I guess though that while I firmly believe this, it’s really hard to put into action. If I find myself being the friend who reaches out all the time, I start to doubt the other person truly cares. I even did a little experiment this year where I stopped reaching out to friends for a little while. I figured I would know my true friends by those who noticed I was out of their life, and who realize that friendship isn’t about convenience, because they would reach out to me. What a cruel test to do to my friends, and oh how so many ‘failed’. I say it like that because I don't think anyone actually failed that test: I’ve come to realize that I have lots of ‘friends’ – people who are more than acquaintances but less than super close friends…that are in my life because I pursue it. Not because they do. And that is OK – that doesn’t mean they don’t genuinely like me or that they are less of a friend than I am. But I should realize that I am the one making the choice to pour into them, even if they haven’t said they want to pour into me at the same level. And then I have my handful of super close friends, those people who when I’m with them, I feel ‘home’. These are the people who are there even when it’s inconvenient. The people who, when I say that I need them to reach out more or be the initiator or invite me places, they do it. Not because it’s easy for them or comfortable, but because they love me enough to show me love in the ways I need it. And vice versa: these are the people who get smothered if I call too much so I refrain so they feel love in their way, the people who get mad when I don’t reach out when I’m sad or having a hard time and so despite it’s unnaturalness, I reach out during those times. I love these people because they are the only place I can truly be me: insecurities, doubts, ugliness and all. And they help me see my worth and beauty and place in this world.

I don’t even know what I’m saying in all of this. Kudos to you if you've kept up with this rambling and this honesty about what is hard for me and the impossible standards I put on myself and sometimes on others. I guess I’ve just reached a much better place about loving people despite what I want love to look like. Jesus calls me to love, and ain’t nothing gonna stop me.