Thursday, June 30, 2011

Speaking of Priorities

So after that general post about priorities and needing to get mine in check, I've been wanting to write a blog talking about what my life priorities are. It's hard because I'm sure they're going to change as I grow and change, and honestly, sometimes I think I know what I want--but I really don't. Yep, I admit it, I don't always know what's best for me. However, that is helped by the fact that my faith says that I have a helper--someone who has an amazing future, all the resources in the world, and an incredible, infallible love for me--and so with that guy by my side, I'm feeling pretty confident.

A priority is something that you set as important--your number one priority is something that is set in importance over everything else. My priorities have been screwed up lately, and I just want to state for the record--my record--that I want my priorities to change. I want to be a better person. I want to live my life to the fullest. I want to be everything that I was made to be.

So what does that mean? It means my number one priority has shifted back to my faith. Seeking God, and what he wants for my life takes precedence over everything else. It shapes all of my decisions, and my faith with help guide me. I know for some people this is unfamiliar, and probably seems foolish. I'm ok with that. Let me just say that I know that christianity has been represented and lived out by many people in offensive, hurtful, and unattractive ways--including myself. I know that the Bible can be confusing, and that it seems to contradict itself at times, and that it's stories seem far fetched and sometimes pretty crazy. I know pretty much all of the slams and reasons why people don't like christianity or christians. I've experienced some of those same feelings, been mistreated by people who were supposed to be "loving" and have questioned my faith multiple times.

But there's something in me, something that just knows God is real. There is something inside of me that clings to the hope and faith in a God who is good, loving, trustworthy, faithful, kind, merciful, generous, and forgiving. There's something inside of me that can't help getting excited about a faith that lifts up the underdog, that celebrates and embraces the misfits. There's a whole part of me that is intrigued and challenged when I hear things like "turn the other cheek," and "love your enemies." There's a part of my heart that soars when I see that Jesus came to help the poor, set the captives free, and bring equality to all people. There's that fact that I can identify with so many flawed people in the stories and chapters that God loved and used in wonderful ways despite their inadequacies. I can't get away from it, and no matter how hard I've tried, I can't deny that what I've experienced, seen, and just KNOW, is that God is real. So that's what shapes my life.

So there's that. My faith is going to obviously going to have an influence over my other priorities. And I've been (kinda) thinking about it a bit, and these are the ones that I've mostly come to:

Healthy living. I want my body to be healthy. I want to be strong, fit, and full of life. Exercise and eating well are going to be made priorities in my life. Getting enough sleep is also on the list.

Being generous with my time and money. I know how to give what's comfortable. I know how to have money automatically deducted from my account to causes that I like, but don't really have to think about. I want to be better about being conscious of what I'm doing with my money, as well as being better at giving my time to important causes. I don't just want to throw money at things, I want to be involved, and to truly CARE about those things.

Being there for my current friends, and developing new and deeper friendships with others. I love the people that I've surrounded myself with, and I want to be better at being open and friendly with others, as well as consistent with the friends I've lost contact with or who aren't in my immediate life vicinity.

Being financially responsible. I have a wonderful budget that I follow most of the time, and it's helped me pay off multiple debts. I want to be better at following that budget, and really getting my spending habits under control. I'm a shopaholic, and I want to be better at saying no to things that I don't need. I also want to continue to save, invest, and give more. I also want to live a life where I'm able to have fun, travel, and have all of what I need, and what I want in moderation.

Praying. Hmm, that just randomly popped in my head. I feel like I'm pretty terrible at prayer. I'm a rambler, and it's easy for me to get sidetracked and distracted. But after that experience during 40 days of prayer, and recently with everything that's been happening with friends--where I feel totally helpless--I'm finding that prayer give me comfort and peace. And hey, I believe it never hurts to ask right? Right. I'm not sure how this one is going to look, but I'm just going to go with it.

Alright, I think those are some good priorities. They speak to who I am, and what's important to me. Ok, I gotta start my yoga, then it's off to bed. Yay for 3 days weekends!!!!

Monday, June 27, 2011

One Of Those Days

I feel like I have so much to say these days, but don't even know how to put everything that I'm feeling and going through into words. I think about writing on this thing everyday, literally everyday. But whenever I think of putting all of the jumbled thoughts together, I just feel exhausted. Emotionally and mentally exhausted. I need a change. Do I need a different job? Do I need a different routine? Do I just need a change of heart? I don't know, but I really need to figure stuff out.

One more thing, that I have to just say. It's about love. We speak about love, we make movies about love, we dream and sing songs about it. Lately, I'm really having to "face" what real love is--how to Love others completely and totally. Love is not just a word, or something that should be taken lightly. Love is an act. And it's shown in so many different ways, but recently for me, I'm learning once again that the people that you love are going to make choices that will slowly destroy their lives. And Love, love is patient. It doesn't judge. It doesn't condemn. It listens, and it consoles. It supports, and it speaks truth. The hardest part about Love, is that it doesn't force. It doesn't force people to change. And it isn't conditional. If people don't change, it doesn't abandon them. And maybe these are the best things about love. But I can honestly say that it's so hard to Love when you see people hurting themselves and there's nothing you can do about it. It's so hard not to judge and say "Why can't they see what they're doing to themselves." It's so hard to hear the stories of abuse and very unloving actions, to see them go back to it time and time again, and not give up.

It's funny I've been praying to have the kind of love that Jesus has for us. And it's exactly that kind of love. Unconditional, ready to accept us back even when we've fucked up again and again, ready to hear our woes and stories over and over (even when we're doing it to ourselves), gentle, kind, generous, full of truth. Even when I am being terrible, Jesus still loves me. When I'm hurting myself, he still loves me. When I intentionally or unintentionally hurt others, he still loves me. I should always be careful what I ask for right? If I knew how it would feel, how much it would hurt, how devastating it was, I don't know if I would have asked. But now that I know, now that I know, I want to better. I want to Love others better, and I want to be appreciative and open to the Love that is offered to me every day.  If that's the kind of love that I want, that is offered to me, it's the kind of love that I should give right?

8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,”[a] and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Rom 13:8-10

So even though it's hard to see a friend hurting, and making decisions that may very well crush them, I am going to try out this whole Love thing. I am blown away by Love, completely and totally blown away.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  8 Love never fails. 1 Cor 13:4-8

Monday, June 20, 2011


And, I'm back. It's been awhile. I have been...what's the word...busy. Busy, busy busy. Funny how it creeps into our vocabulary, making excuses for what we don't do. Oh, was I reminded of that this week.

One of my absolutely favorite blogs Back to Her Roots talked this week about the bare necessities, and other than the fact that The Jungle Book is one of my favorite disney movies, the post really challenged me. She talked about how for her, when life gets BUSY, exercise is one of the first things to go. Which is ironic because exercise helps her to recalibrate and de-stress. Through another woman's blog (I love how we all inspire each other), she realized that exercise is a necessity, as necessary as breathing, sleeping, eating, etc. You should go read her blog. Like now. Or at least save it and read it when you're done here :) I loved this quote:

"The truth is not that I’m lazy. The truth is that as important and empowering as exercise is to me at times, in my mind, it was never vital. A fun thing to do, but easily tossed aside if something better came along.
Now that I recognize my views toward exercise, I can start changing them. I’m not sure what my plan of attack will be. After all, how do you change your outlook? But I at least know where I am and where I want to go to. I know I need to view exercise as a vital part of my life."

I am so with her on this, and not just on exercise and eating responsibly. Yesterday I went to church and Richard ever so gently and eloquently gave my mind a little shake talking about this same exact thing--priorities-the bare necessities. He talked about the kingdom, and how everyone's idea of the kingdom was so different...and so wrong. Jesus' kingdom makes the least, greatest. It changes everything. It causes our priorities to change and it asks us to live differently.

 I've been living life, and adding Jesus on. I've been seeking my priorities and the things I want, and saying "oh yea, Jesus fits in there somewhere." But in the meantime my values have been muddled-even in my own head sometimes. The things that I was passionate about, my beliefs, my faith, have taken a second seat to the kingdom that I created. My own little world in which I seek what I want, desire, and feel like I need. Instead of putting his priorities for my life first, I'm making my own.

So where do I go from here? Repentance. It means a total turning around. I was going one way, and now I'm going the total opposite. It doesn't just mean SAYING what I'm going to do, and it doesn't mean just KNOWING the right thing to do--it means acting on it. It means that mundane details such as time won't let me so easily kick my beliefs to the curb. It means that I no longer just say I have a faith, but that I truly act on it. It means that my shop-a-holic tendencies are going to take a backseat to the priorities that he sets in my life. Not that I can't have the things that I enjoy, but that if it comes between clothes and giving generously and I feel like I'm supposed to give, that clothes will have to wait.

Richard said two things more things that really resonate with me, first, you don't know where you land. People seeking the kingdom live different lives. Some are plagued with sickness, some are healthy as horses. Some are persecuted, some live without that fear. Some are rich, some are poor. Some are missionaries, some live in their homestates. God calls us to different things--we're supposed to seek his kingdom and see where he wants us. Second--it you try to live into the kingdom only when it fits, you're not getting it. This is a commitment. It's a complete change. It a total a complete shift and re-prioritization of my life.

So, where do I go from here. God only knows (ha, literally). But I'm ready for the change. I want something different. I want that burn that I feel when I'm running and feeling good. I want that proud feeling that I have when I eat healthy and choose to say no. And I want my life to be a reflection of hope and love in the world.

"I’m not sure what my plan of attack will be. After all, how do you change your outlook? But I at least know where I am and where I want to go to. I know I need to view exercise (faith) as a (the) vital part of my life." Back To Her Roots (italics mine :) )

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Weight Of Glory

How is it that when I read the Bible, I occasionally will catch a moment in which things are totally illuminated, and I learn and grow, but it seems every time I read C.S. Lewis, I end up blubbering my prayers? And this may be an exaggeration, but today, it was most certainly true.

I've been reading a lot. I'm pretty sure I've read at least 15 books this year--probably more. When I was in school, the majority of my books were christian theology books because, well, I was studying christian theology. Even when I got out of school, I didn't seem to tire of reading them (the good and interesting ones at least). Then, I rediscovered the joys of reading books like Harry Potter, and Tolkien, and girl books like Confessions of a Shopaholic and somehow my enjoyment of the other books went away. Or so I thought. That in fact was not the process, the process was that somehow along the way, the passion of learning and growing in my faith somehow gave way to me just holding on to the things I knew.

And that doesn't mean that I haven't learned or grown in my faith over the past couple of years, but sometimes I think that I have recycled the same things over and over again so much that they are yes, engrained, but in some senses, don't mean as much to me as they meant when I first learned them. There are so many things that God has shown me through people, blogs, MUSIC, regular books, nature, and just life over the years, but sometimes you need a little C.S. Lewis to bust you over your head and remind you of the basics. Right? Right.

And in his ever loving and simple way, Lewis showed me how self centered I am. But let me back up and say that he also reminded me of a desire in my heart, so simple, so innocent, so, almost boring that I forget that I have it--it's a desire to be known. It's a desire to be known, acknowledged, accepted, and let in. It's a desire to be seen and appreciated for who I am. It's a desire to be welcomed. And he talked about how that is a part of the perks of the faith--glory, being known and acknowledged by God.

In a particular part of the reading he's talking about how scripture supports the idea of glory as being known by God. He talks about how in Corinthians a promise is that we will be known by God, and that in other parts of scripture, the other part, the opposite is God saying "I never knew you. Depart from me." He talks about that deep longing within each of us, and the unspeakable fear that many of us have.

"We can be left utterly and absolutely outside-repelled, exiled, estranged, finally and unspeakably ignored. On the other hand, we can be called in, welcomed, received, acknowledged. We walk every day on the razor edge between these two incredible possibilities. Apparently, then, our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside, is no more a neurotic fancy, but the truest index of our real situation. And to be at last summoned inside would be both glory and honour beyond all our merits and also the healing of that old ache." pg.42

To be known, is an ache in my soul. I want to not only be known and seen by God, but also by the people around me. Lewis says that it's very possible for us to focus too much on our own glory, but that it's pretty impossible to think too much of our neighbor's glory. He talks about how everyday we are helping each other become creatures of beauty, or creatures of horror, and that instead of treating each other with flippancy, and judgment, and worst as all--as if that other person doesn't even exist, we should be treating each other with such care, such love, such goodness, that it's encouraging each other towards the goodness and beauty rather than the horrors. I don't know if I'm even describing this right, but in his words:

"There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit--immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously--no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner--no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses." pg 46

Which brings me back to my self centeredness. I've come to realize that I don't treat people as I should. And maybe it's fear of rejection, but I tend to hold people at arms length, and not really take the time to know them, let alone see them. If I see them, I might see them as someone who has something I want (like that woman with the cutest purse), or I might see them as someone who can get me somewhere. For the majority of strangers in my life, I see them as faces, not people who have the same desire to be known and seen. And I find that disheartening, and sad, and incredibly enlightening.

I am at a point in my life where I can choose to continue to pass by, live in fear of rejection, and not engage people in a real way, or I can choose to see people. I can choose to step out of my own self centeredness and appreciate, love, acknowledge and not prejudge people. It's so hard for me to not defend myself--because I want to say all the good things that I do, and how much I love the people who I know and how I volunteer and buy real change and blah blah blah. Fuck that. Seriously. It's not enough to love only those you KNOW. It's not enough to do good to those who do good to you. It's not enough to smile at someone who's homeless and hand them a dollar or buy them food. EVERYONE needs to be loved. Everyone needs to be seen, and I need to take a step out of my own world and begin to see people, and treat them as I truly want to treated. To know them as I want to be known. As Lewis says, "There are no ordinary people."

"Now I see you, til kingdom come you're the one I want, to see me for all the stupid shit I've done. Soil and six feet under, killed just like we were, before you knew you'd know me, and you know me. Blooming up from the ground, 3 rounds and a sound, like whispering you know me, and you know me." Blind Pilot, 3 Rounds and a Sound