Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Place Where I Learned too Much

The concrete was wet. No one was looking. Someone stooped down and scribbled nine words into the pavement, “This is the place where i learned too much.” My friend told me it has sparked some discussions around campus. I told her that I hoped they left it there.

I went to that Bible school for three years. I loved it, but there were days where I felt like I was drowning in knowledge I would never be able to retain. I heard it described as standing in front of a fire hydrant and trying to drink from it with a straw. There were days I felt pretty battered mentally and physically due to a lack of sleep. I learned so much and built strong friendships, but I think I would have remembered more if less had been asked of me.

Some undergraduate teachers gave out graduate level homework priding themselves in the fact that for their students graduate work would be so much easier because they would be overly prepared. I never planned on going to grad school. Those hours and hours in the library reading books that debated the difference in how the disciples were portrayed in the book of Matthew as opposed to the book of Mark were hours of my life that I wish I could have back.

Can you learn too much? Maybe. In a way, no, and it is good to learn, but sometimes “learning” gets in the way of life. Sometimes there is so much study that the actual point gets missed in the dissection of something that should have been meditated on.

I called my sister this week. She had two eight page papers due on top of a lot of reading, two article reviews, a class project, a proposal, and mandatory chapels. She survived the week, but barely. When it comes to study, study, study I think about the poem “I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” by Walt Whitman. In the poem, Whitman writes about attending a lecture on the stars. At this lecture he heard facts and figures and saw charts and measurements, but all the talk made his mind tired, and he left feeling sick. When he walked out of the building back out into the open night sky; he looked up at the stars, this time in perfect silence. Everything felt right again.

That is how I feel when it comes to studying God. Sometimes you need to close the books and just walk outside. God is too big to fit in a lecture or even a doctrinal statement. Yes, He can be studied, but more than anything He needs to be experienced. Israel’s king David, a former shepherd, was referred to as a man after God’s own heart. He didn’t just study God. He had a relationship with Him. He asked God hard questions. He wrestled with difficult truths. He poured out his heart and waited for an answer.

Bible school can become a place where you can learn too much because sometimes in the midst of “learning” the relationship gets lost. Psalms 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Maybe there should be a class period of just being still, but then what would you do when God meets you in that place and the class period runs over time.

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The Rest Are Just Curious

“Be careful who you open up to” the quote read. “Only a few people actually care, the rest are just curious.” An interesting thought. I’ve certainly felt that way when someone seems to know what I ate for supper, or where I was when, but can’t remember my name or thinks I am still in high school. A lot of times, in a small town, it feels like people know about you, where you live, who you’re related to, sometimes even what you do for a living. But, it is crazy how few people actually know who you really are, what you’re passionate about, how you see the world when the noise finally stops, and it is just you and your thoughts.

I am glad I have a job where I get to interview people, mostly local artists. Those interviews are my favorite part of writing for a newspaper. I love to find out what makes someone feel alive. Why they do what they do, how they got started, what makes their craft or hobby uniquely them. Questions like that often let you see a glimpse of someone’s soul. This fascination is also why I love blogging. With blogging, yes, you have the freedom and a platform to write about what makes you tick, but the most inspiring part is reading about other people’s passions and feelings and getting to live a slice of their journey with them.

Maybe some people do just want to know things for the sake of idle curiosity, but I believe there is more than just that. Yes, it is good to have levels of friendship and to know what information is appropriate to share and what is not (don’t post everything you think on facebook people), but there is a certain beauty in vulnerability. When someone writes or shares something in an honest, heartfelt way it draws more than just curiosity, it makes people care alongside with you. Like a blog post written by a mother who found out in the delivery room that her daughter was born with down syndrome. Reading about her struggle with intense grief and joy, pain and strength made me want to go and hug both her and her precious little girl.

It’s good to care, and even though it can be painful, it’s good to feel. Opening up is scary. Taking what is closest to your heart and holding it out to an unstable world is definitely risky, but often taking that risk can be a source of strength because other people, who have walked a similar road, will care.

While many people are just curious, I think more people care than one would think; and if people were more willing to be open and create safe environments for other people to be open, it could be a beautiful thing. There are dark spots in life and some very rough patches to get through. I know. This last year I’ve dealt with depression and more stress and anxiety than I care to relieve, but if you see me and ask how I’m doing I’ll say fine not because I am but because that is the culturally appropriate answer. I am great at turning conversations around so they focus on the other person and not on me. What this culture desperately, desperately needs is a safe community. A place were it’s ok not to be fine all of the time.  No one should feel like they have to walk through pain or depression alone. Take a risk. Be yourself. Open up and share your passions, dreams, and even some of the pain. Some people may just be curious, but others might just join you on your imperfect journey.

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Do I Really Want to Grow Up?

Do I want to grow up?

I realized the other day that I’m getting old. I know 25 isn’t really that old, but what I mean is I’ve had a shift in the way I think, what I talk about with my friends, and how I spend my free time. A couple weeks ago, I was genuinely excited about having an entire Saturday off so that I could paint my kitchen. I think that’s when it hit me that I’m more of an adult now than I am a kid. I also get excited over certain birthday presents (like say a vacuum), enjoy taking a good nap once in awhile (something I said as a kid that I would never enjoy) and intentionally add spinach and other grown up foods to my dishes. Weird, I know who would have thought.

Change is a funny thing when it happens so slowly that you don’t even realize it is happening. I’ve been blessed/cursed with the fact that I look much younger than I am. People tell me all the time that I look 16 which most would think is a good thing, but it gets annoying when people treat you like you’re sixteen long after high school is starting to become a fading memory.

About a year ago, I was out shopping with a friend of mine, who also looks much younger than she is, and the young guy behind the counter started bending over backwards to help me. “He was so flirting with you,” my friend told me after we left. “I know, I told her. “Maybe after he finishes high school and then college we can talk.”

I felt old over Labor Day weekend when we stopped to pick up my sister from the college she is attending. It was about eleven at night and there were kids everywhere laughing, screaming, jumping off walls, and just being goofy. I couldn’t wait to pick up my sister and head away from the mayhem. Then I got to thinking it wasn’t too long ago that I would have felt right at home on that very same campus. What happened?

Honestly, I wouldn’t want to go back. I’m done with all-nighters, loud dorms, and freshman drama. I loved college while I was there, but each stage of life is fun in its own way. Not all parts of growing up are fun. I was reminded of that fact on Wednesday when a short visit to the clinic cost me 93 dollars and 60 cents, yuck. While it’s not fun paying rent every month and doing your own laundry, I love cooking my own meals, having the freedom to pick unusual paint colors for my walls, and not having to be home by 10 p.m. I guess, growing up has its perks.

It’s easy to want to live in the past thinking “yesteryears” were so much better than what is here today, but part of that is because when looking back, it is easy to forget the challenges and only remember the good memories. Today is here. It’s not always perfect, but it’s not all bad either. I love growing up, growing older, getting to see new things, and having new responsibilities. Each new day brings an adventure, and I don’t want to miss the good times that I can have now by wishing that things would go back to how they were.

What made you realize you were growing up?

What do you like most about your current stage in life?

Is growing up overrated?

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That Much Sweeter

Two years of waiting. Two years of working long shifts at a factory in Michigan. Two years of paperwork, delays, anticipation, studying, training, and lots of prayer that everything would finally fall in place. This week it actually did.

My second college roommate and, very, very good friend, moved to Toledo, Ohio this week to work as a house mom for girls rescued from sex trafficking. She was hired for the position with the expectation that the living facility for the girls would be completed in less than a year. That year turned into two as proper licensing and construction took longer than expected. But, the doors of The Daughter Project are finally ready to open and my roommate posted on her blog on Thursday that she loves her job and has been busy training with the art therapy program, partnering horse farm, and nutritional team. The Daughter Project is already in the process of accepting their first girl with many more to follow.

It’s sad that a country like America needs homes like The Daughter Project, but it does. According to US Department of Justice, human trafficking is the second fastest growing criminal industry just after drug trafficking. The International Labor Organization estimates that 12.3 millions adults and children are human traffic victims. Out of that number, 1.4 million are victims of commercial sexual servitude. One of the saddest statistics is that the average age of a trafficked victim is between 12 and 14 years old. 56% of victims are women or girls and 40-50% of trafficked victims are children.

In the US, Ohio ranks 5th for having the most trafficked victims right behind Texas, California, Florida, and Minnesota. Toledo, Ohio is the third worst US city when it comes to trafficking. Many victims are blackmailed or tricked into a lifestyle they never intended to choose. Some have run away from home and past painful experiences, but others look more like the girl next door forced into a violent lifestyle at the threat of harm to herself or her family.

Even after the girls are rescued, rehabilitation is far from simple which is where The Daughter Project comes in. The hope is to provide a safe place for the girls to heal a stable, nurturing home. It has been a long wait. I’ve had the privilege of getting to see some of the process, through my friend’s eyes, as it has come together.

Even though the wait was often frustrating, especially when not having the doors open meant not being able to help girls who could benefit from the facility, my friend said that God has taught her a lot during the waiting season. Lessons that she now sees as invaluable as she prepares to mentor and nurture girls from very rough backgrounds.

Sometimes, I think the waiting period is the hardest one to get through. Seeing everything finished is exciting. Seeing people’s lives begin to change is humbling and beautiful, but waiting, waiting for it all to start can feel like forever. I’m learning that life is more of a marathon than a sprint, and many times you do just have to hang on tightly until the next season starts to turn. When it does turn and all of the waiting is rewarded, I suppose it makes the outcome just that much sweeter.

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