hope/fear/year

Faith and fear are interlinked but opposite. Hope is certainty, though it toes the line with doubt. I found myself swimming in the sticky web of these ideas all year (2016) long – tired, frantic, and unsure what to do with myself.

I wonder if I will always be trying to catch up…to myself or life or whatever I should be processing. I have been mindless or falling into doing whatever. Forgotten the process of intentional friendship with conversation and good questions – something at which I once considered myself adept. Forgotten what it is to ask God for help and to surrender control and the anxious searching in order to put hope and trust where it belongs – the only place the chaos can ever rest. Forgotten to live for others before myself.

End-or-beginning-of-year conversations, posts, and blogs are sentimental, tiresome, and helpful. New year’s resolutions have become something we consider trite, and we joke about the inevitable giving up and inability to follow through of all the people who join the gym in January. I know this, but I also enjoy reading and hearing about the reflections people have – I admire the people who can distill themes and lessons from their year, or who can set something before themselves for the year to come, something to intentionally learn.

In my fear and uncertainty, I haven’t been paying attention very well to what I should be learning and how I might grow through life circumstances and everyday experiences. What has been the theme of my year, then? Fear? Transition? Uncertainty? Self-loathing?

What do I feel compelled toward?
Obedience. Joyfulness. Kindness. Faith. Hope. Courage. Daring. Engagement.

It’s easy to feel defeated – these are lifelong pursuits, and you can’t just learn one and then keep it forever in a year’s time. I forget that it’s okay for a phase of life to last more than just one year, or a few months even. It takes as long as it takes, really. Patience and waiting…maybe that’s something.

But I have traditionally enjoyed and followed through on new year’s resolutions or goals for the year, when they have been manageable and really desirable and when a moment of failure isn’t allowed to ruin the whole thing. A year of no soft drinks. A year (for the most part) of no meat.

I went back through my Instagram pictures from this year – kind of superficial, maybe, but I try to capture real life moments I want to remember. Isn’t that one point of social media? It’s not all stupid.

The first four months were my last working for RUF. Our Winter Conference in Colorado, Spring Break serving in Chicago, and Summer Conference in Florida were the highlights. I started noticing strangeness in my heartbeat, and started investigating – anxiety, palpitations, more questions. Nick released his second CD, Sunflower.

In June, we moved to St. Louis. Nick started class immediately, and I spent most of my time job-searching and trying to get used to this life. I started working at Anthropologie, and I stopped at the beginning of September, when I started nannying instead. Nick went for a tour with his friend Paul before the crazy semester started. Pretty much everything felt overwhelming and stressful – possibly because we weren’t getting enough sleep and because part of being in a new place (for me) is insecurity, restlessness, and sadness.

I’m still processing the election. I’m still trying to figure out how to be gracious & compassionate in my heart and with my thoughts toward people I think just don’t understand the gravity of what’s happening. This has been teaching me difficult things about myself. I can so easily turn bitter, judgmental, and unwilling to listen. I’m working on calming down enough to open my eyes and see what’s going on. I was very interested in the election as far as it was in my power to stop Donald Trump (not much/at all). Right now, I am just sitting in shock and waiting to see whether I get drafted into the next world war, get killed by a nuclear weapon, or simply end up living peacefully though the phase in which our country is the laughingstock of the rest of the developed world (or so I think it must be?). Personal withdrawal wasn’t an option before, but I really wish it could be now. And I don’t even hope for things to go well. I hope things fall apart, because it would give folks a sense of the reality that who we vote for matters…and I need to feel that principle is valid, too…Still processing this stuff obviously – and it might take me a few years. I’m just in shock from catching a little bit of his press conference on the radio and wondering whether he understands the reality we live in or anything about how civilized life works/

Being home with family (mostly this applies to extended family) makes me realize how isolated we can become during the majority of the year. And then, for one or two days, we are supposed to come together and these are the people we should love to spend our holidays with, feel close with, and buy gifts for. It’s a strange feeling, and I know communication needs to happen more. Though it goes both ways, I feel a sense of responsibility or guilt…but it obviously isn’t just me that’s failing to keep in touch. I wonder if it would be easier to talk about the issues in our lives – and our world – if we knew each other better. Hmmm??? Hah.

I’m wondering why humans hang on to things so hard for so long. We hang on to relationships, we let past offenses and blunders influence our view of others for such an unreasonable amount of time. Sometimes I don’t feel like a human. I feel like an Observer, from Fringe. But then I realize I have a human heart, and I’m not completely numb. This goes in waves, in and out.

I feel more awkward than ever – less able to pull my weight as a friend, and definitely exhausted by the process of making new friends, even though there are many people coming into my life that I so enjoy. I just want it to be figured out. I don’t do the friend-shopping thing. I sort of know from the beginning who I feel I can dive-in with…and I just want them to figure out whether I’m one of those people for them, or not, immediately. I can’t invest in many people, and it hurts when I try with someone who doesn’t ultimately want to try with me. And I’m not that interesting on first-impression, so when people stick around after that, it’s usually a good sign. Not sure why I’m talking about this.

Not sure if this was a year (2016) of growth or resistance.
On the first of the year (2017), I found myself listening to a sermon with more attention than I’ve given for a while. Christ asks us not to be anxious, and his love promises to hang on to us and not let go. The call on our lives is to turn to God, repent, and believe in the good news that Jesus has been faithful for our sake; believe that the kingdom of God is both here and coming; surrender our lives and seek the good of others; trust what Jesus said is good news.

The sermon was an all-encompassing summary of the Biblical storyline, a reminder of the call to live as followers of Christ. I’ve been reminded over and over in two specific classes of the importance of obedience. The importance of how we respond to God’s work in our lives.

I find the desire to be vulnerable much more often than I find the ability. There’s the gap. Don’t know how to be my real self, especially when I am in limbo. Picture me blurry around the edges. But that’s what I have to start with.

I haven’t put myself out there to pursue cosmic answers because I have been afraid that it won’t actually turn out all right and I won’t actually be okay. Always thinking about my own interests.

My mind is twisty.
But I think it will be okay. For the first time in a long time, I am feeling optimism. I am feeling that hope might be okay.

“Every hope left in your heart is waitin’ on what you’ll do
With doubt.” (“Don’t Doubt,” Blind Pilot)

 

My current recommendations…because just one is not enough:
And Then Like Lions, the album by Blind Pilot
Tapestry, the album by Carole King
La La Land, the movie written and directed by Damien Chazelle

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