The Cloth I’m Cut From (Part 2)

The job I currently hold is at a truly lovely private school on the wealthier side of town, that the children of (almost entirely) wealthy families attend. It’s a great place, & I am thrilled to be employed there. One of the many benefits of this school is a gourmet dining service which sources much of the food locally & is allergy-friendly (meaning a variety of foods free from common allergens are offered & ingredients are listed plainy). So, fridays are pizza day at this school. Always have been, probably always will be. In years before, the school has sold Little Caesar’s cheap, low-quality, crowd-pleasing pizzas as a fundraiser. Now, however, the school buys & re-sells pizzas made by the on-campus dining service. Last week during a study hall in my classroom, a student named Jackson (who delights in playing the role of class clown) wrote a complaint about the pizza on my whiteboard: “[Dining service] pizza is like eating cardboard with ketchup & goat cheese.”

I chuckled, but after three weeks of overhearing students lamenting the pizza, & hearing about a LEGIT PETITION that the students had drafted & collected signatures on (more than 100! These kids need to be in politics, no?!), I could no longer resist the urge to share my opinion on the matter.

“I will spend this weekend crying every tear for the poor students of this school who are forced to eat gourmet pizza.”

I observed them as they read what I had written. Their facial expressions were priceless, a mixture of taken aback &: oh my word, she totally has a point.

I told this story to my dear friend Meghan & she was quick to point out how beneficial my ability to share “realness” with others can be.

Her words were something along the lines of: you make other people feel like it’s okay to be uncomfortable, to acknowledge how absurd life is sometimes. You help people see how off their perspective is without making them feel bad about it.

My other best friend, Emily, is a woman of few words. When I sent her a picture of the white board her response was succinct: Everyone needs your realness.

(Side note: I wish phenomenally encouraging friends like this on every human. They are the biggest blessing of my life, hands down.)

I think that the ability to turn every (perceived) bump in life’s road into an opportunity to know oneself better is an innate human quality. But on my good days, I can access that power better than folks who are Cut from a Different Cloth.

Last night I went to an art exhibit at a gallery down the road from my home. I pontificated to my partner about my (perceived) inability to make friends at such social events, but my desire to keep showing up anyway (I’m fairly certain that only people who are cut from the same cloth as I would complain on the way to an event that they had suggested attending). Three minutes after we entered the bustling space (having snagged snacks, of course), I was engaged in conversation with someone I thought I had recognized, but don’t actually know. It was uncomfortable for me, the whole conversation, yet so lovely. The man was shifting from one foot to the other, lags in the chat between us brought me (and probably him) bouts of panic, but we made it through, & I walked away feeling the glow that follows the creation of new connection. The conversation was another chance for me to learn that my lack of self confidence is almost ALWAYS grounded in unreliable feelings rather than reality. That moment of coming back to reality is part of what I like most about the particular shape of my personality. I laugh at myself & internally celebrate returning home to reality, again.

 

I’m writing this series about what it is like to be in my skin, because I see what is lacking (another superpower ;)) in lots of the texts about folks like myself.

Humans are glorious.

I am no exception.

Neither are you.

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Untitled Poem

 

Sometimes a woman must go

with herself

to a place

where she can be alive to the dark, unfriendly, & inhospitable

emotions that stir

beneath the white lie

of her smile.

 

She does this because her emotions put

her mind back into her body, where

she can breath,

create,

slither out of the snares

she walks into: naked doe dissected

day after day.

 

Every month she bleeds but it isn’t the blood that

costs her  

dignity.

It isn’t the blood that threatens her, nor is it the emotions.

The threat is the short list of predators:

ego, fear, and

denial of herself as the doe, of life

in this barren land

as the scalpel.

 

Sometimes a woman must go

with herself

to a place

where she can smile

in the dark.

Audacity to Ask

54 days ago:

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom~Psalm 90:12

The last journal started in struggle and ended in burn out. A lot was accomplished in between. But no amount of productivity is worth the forfeit of my soul’s health. I want this journal to be full of all the joy and health that comes from living Coram Deo [in the presence of God]. I hope it is peppered with instances in which I put down what I am doing at the slightest urging, and readily join God in whatever He is up to. I want to follow Him in all things, everyday submitting myself to His great self. Every day an expedition into grace and He is my Captain. Where will we go, Lord? What will happen? Only You know, and that is what is best. I hope to be renewed by deeper connection to the Fount of Living Water. You can make these dreams come true in my life, Lord, and I pray that You will, knowing that even as I pray You have already answered. 

On the last page of the same journal I wrote:

My God overwhelms the giants. He slays dragons. He gives us what it takes to lift trembling sword in the fact of monsters unimaginable. He puts the war cry for justice deep in our throats. He sets fire in our belly so we can stand appalled and indignant in the way of abuse and terror. It’s His breath in our lungs anyway. Let’s praise Him with it.

Amazing that He answered my prayers even before the journal was spent.

Receiving God’s gifts is a gentle, simple movement of stooping lower.~Ann Voskamp

Transitions

It is ironic that I like driving alone in my truck. Even a short jaunt from place to place on a sunny afternoon brings me immense happiness. The irony is in the fact that while I adore these physical transitions I struggle with the emotions of life’s most basic transitions. Changes weigh heavily on my heart. Season leaves behind season, years peel away to reveal new decades. I often feel stuck in remembrance, unwilling to let the precious past go.

Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.~Psalm 126:5&6

I’ll never sit at Grandma’s side, chatting about nothing and about life in pain while we watch the brass pendulum tick the hours by. It hurts that I can’t call her on Fridays anymore and that my phone is slowly erasing all the saved voicemails she left. I treasure these glimpses into a time before her final transition.
My composition instructor who so challenged, bored, inspired, and fascinated me (depending on the day) will not teach me anymore. My heart is tender as I walk amongst classmates down the gray hall. I hear him enthusiastically yelling even now, “Do something worth writing about!” and I am thankful.
I won’t see Tori again. A friend as constant as the sunrise won’t stand next to me in the pool again. She won’t cut the cake at my wedding. She is gone. We won’t talk about our lives or cry over movies together because that time has reached its end. Suddenly, her color in my rainbow is gone, and the childish era when our lives overlapped has passed. A painful wound is left.
Such great, somber hope fills the void.
Spending time on behalf of the outcasts, and using my voice to speak for those without voices, yields less of a paycheck than one might think. How to cling less tightly to earthly security, its a dear lesson to learn. With God’s help, I will rely on Him more fully in time.
Growing into my personal beliefs instead of foolishly adopting those of my culture, another lesson. I am holding more loosely to ideals with which I have been indoctrinated and suspending life long biases in pursuit of personal faith in the better Way, the real Truth, and the abundant Life. There is a Guide who knows the best way. Jesus is my Rabbi, also my Friend. To Him I owe a loyalty greater than I owe to family, country, or friends.
Learning to joyfully count the cost and give it all up for the sake of my King.
Aching as time continually changes the landscape of my life.
Rejoicing in new lives, new days, and memories that speak: I am not home yet.

I drive my truck and I love it, from place to place.

Be to me a rock of refuge to which I may continually come~Psalm 71:31

Hearing, I forget; seeing, I remember; writing, I understand.~Chinese Proverb

Divine Days

My thoughts follow each other in constant cycles; I would love to be in a place where there is good, close community. I would love to have friends who keep me accountable and spur me towards godliness. I would like to have time to spend with those friends.
What about right here?
Is there any part of you that would like to be here, Lydia?
This is where God has placed you. Do your continual wonderings* glorify Him?
Instead of thanking Him, you allow thoughts that question His methods to run circles around your mind.
In His will is the best place.
Be it dark, confusing, lonely…the place He has for you is the only place you will have peace.

Don’t ruin it.
Choose to love it
By choosing to love Him.

But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh~Galations 5:16

*Not actually a word. Until now.

Put Together the Moments

I rang in the new year below the border. My 2014 was greeted with pops of confetti, 12 grapes, and music all in Spanish.
January 2nd: I’m grateful to the point of tears for this moment. For Your peace. I look out of the window and I see rolling hills, arid ground clothed in dusty shrubs. Baja, Mexico. I look inside myself and I see darkness being rolled away, even as old habits fight to stay. I see You making Your home in me. My story is such a great one. Lord, I am unworthy to have you near me.

We will this year gather celestial fruits on earthly ground, where faith and hope have made the desert like the garden of the Lord~Charles Spurgeon

January 3rd:
Thank You for challenging me
Hold my feet to the fire
Put the right heart in me
Search the depths of my soul and know me
As no man ever could
Reveal my sin-the immensity of my depraved nature-
And comfort me with knowledge of Yourself
When I search the Scriptures
Seeking to find You
Let my heart be open and raw
Give me sight to see and understand the whole message
Answer me out of Your loving kindness
Or my whole life will be in vain.

Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground for it is time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you~Hosea 12:6

(Still January 3rd:) The weight of what God is calling me to do starts to sink in…My understanding of the cross-cultural life starts to be fleshed out. How immense the bridges to be crossed are. How alone I shall feel in a culture 100% different from my own. I ask God to strengthen me for the coming challenges and support me as my heart is heavy for the unreached, and for what I have to do. I ask Him not to let me turn tail and run, as is my first instinct.

The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down~Psalm 145:14

January 4th: The world is too big. People are too blind, corrupt, selfish. And I am one of them.

January 6th: I want to move into another culture. I want to make my (small, concrete, dirt) home there. I want to marry the culture and have its children. I want to surmount the difficulties of living in another culture by time and trial. I want to die there. None of this because that culture is better, or because I grew tired of the U.S. I will be there because that is where God wants me. I will sew seeds of the Gospel where none have sown before. It will be the most difficult initiative of my life but God will guide me through all the tears, discouragement, and frustration. I will love people as my own family, and they will become my own.

Obedience Story

(written May 27,2013 by someone too lazy to post it….)

It all seems quite pointless
Everything seems complete and handled
(Except me)
And I’m just floating along, head barely above water,
Staying afloat because it’s the thing to do.
Then chaos happens
And as I respond with immediate action,
Care,
A picture forms in my mind.
A tale of obedience; A path that I am walking,
Start to finish.
All that I do is a process,
An uphill battle, a struggle towards Glory.
What’s going on now is a part of that.
A girl walks along,
Messing up,
Doing good,
Messing up,
(Repeat.)
It’s her life story:
Always doing wrong
Always coming back.
Wandering-returning,
Walking in the dark, uncertain, bolstered by faith.
It is difficult as people get hurt due to her weaknesses.
By good grace she moves constantly forward,
Upward.
Like a monkey swinging from jungle vine to vine,
She takes the ups and downs in stride.
She flies on,
Living in sunshine brokenness
Overflowing with joy
Terrified of what’s to come
Hopeful for a good ending
At last.