Friday, June 27, 2008

Emotional Self-Medication

I was really falling apart yesterday, and even this morning. But by nine o'clock I was feeling fairly cheery. The only explanation I can come up with is that journaling for 2o minutes did what talking and praying and sleeping and crying had failed to do. I may abandon the blog for a while in favor of nurturing my introvert self.

Who needs therapy when you could have a pen and paper and solitude and silence?

But in all seriousness, I really do underestimate the importance of the role journaling plays in my emotional and spiritual state. I think it may be even more vital than social contact. . .

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Divine Generosity

(Somewhat taken from a sermon given at Three Village Church a while back.)

Generous is not a word that we typically hear applied to G-d. But Ephesians constantly refers to G-d's riches--"the riches of G-d's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding" (Eph. 1:7-8). I think it is really easy to think of G-d in the vein of the Graeco-Roman ideal of moderation and rationality, as distant, calm, dispassionate, measured, even cold; or in the traditional fire-and-brimstone sense, as the harsh judge or strict father, even as the almighty punisher ("Smite me, o mighty Smiter!"--Bruce Almighty). It is easy to think of G-d as being like human authority figures, who give according to law and merit, sparingly, if at all.

But that is not who G-d is. He is generous beyond our comprehension, eager to lavish undeserved riches on us, his spiritually impoverished children. He has given us "every spiritual blessing in Christ" (1:3), He forgives us because of "the riches of G-d's grace" (7), calls us to "the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints" (18). He is extravagant! This is not some carefully meted out giving, but an overflowing from His unfathomably good character into our lives. Ephesians' epithet for G-d is "G-d, who is rich in mercy." He calls us to abundance and riches. "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins . . . But because of his great love for us, G-d, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ . . . in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace" (Eph. 2:1, 4, 7).

Don't allow your mind to reduce G-d to a sterile abstraction, devoid of character and interest, when in reality He is fuller and richer than we can begin to conceive.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sabbath Keeping

I had to move this week's Sabbath to tomorrow, because I had to work today... So no post tomorrow. This is not working as smoothly as I would like. My attempts to establish routine always get disrupted by reality. =P

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I'm sitting on the lawn in my backyard, with my damp bath towel separating me from the grass. I would be sprawled on the grass, but I'm wearing a dress because it's so hot.

(The bath towel is here because I showered across the house from where it belongs, due to the construction workers who were taking up the whole middle part of the house, and then I didn't want to return it to its home, again due to the occupants of the kitchen/living room. An ant is crawling over the towel. It mostly manages to stay on the tips of the loops of thread, but it is struggling to cross them. It has an easier time on the band of towel that doesn't have loops, though. And now it's scurrying across my keyboard. And now it's gone.)

I feel so girly for wearing this dress. Then again, I am not wearing for anyone or any event. I don't know why I am so averse to the trappings of girldom and to the label GIRL (the one said with a roll of the eyes). It's not a bad thing to be a girl. I don't want to be anything else (though I suppose at this point I could be labeled WOMAN. Huh.) But I hate conforming to the stereotypes, and I deliberately avoid doing so--which has the unfortunate consequence that I am being reverse-psychologically controlled by the same stereotypes I want to escape. Grr.

I'm perfectly happy to be a girl. I just don't want other people to think of me as one. How does that make sense??

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Sometimes I wonder if I'm supposed to be a counselor. I give out so much advice and listen to so much adolescent confusion, maybe I should try to equip myself better via a psychology degree.

Maybe not. Maybe I should just get more sleep.

But I am overflowing with other people's words and problems. It's hard to tell just where the brim is. Sometimes other people's problems spill over the dividers into my own issues. Other times, I see reflections of my own past months (weeks, days, hours) in my friends' presents. I hardly know what perspective I'm seeing from. Maybe every life is the same one, recycled over and over again, but seen from slightly different angles, overlapping in impossible ways but collaging into one unified (if confusing) piece of truth, like a cubist painting that the mind cannot quite resolve but must simply accept.

And maybe not.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Purpose, Feelings, Church, God

I was talking to a friend today about some of life's more intense issues. How does one find one's purpose? He has been trying, in a rather drastic fashion, to switch away from his primary purpose of the past 4-ish years--and this wrenching away has left him adrift. He is looking for a purpose...

I don't know how one goes about seeking a purpose. I recommended to my friend self-examination (asking himself what drives him, what satisfies him, what grieves him, etc.), and experimentation (does volunteering make him feel fulfilled? or art? or fixing things? etc.), and reading books (to get exposure to other people's thoughts on the matter).

What I do know, though, is that life's purpose comes not from another person, or even really from inside yourself, but from G-d... (It's late and I don't feel like elaborating at the moment. I'll try to fix that later. Or you can ask me if you really want my comments!)

But that begs the question of how I can find out what G-d's purpose for me is. I don't have a good answer for that one, either. (Wow, I'm helpful. :-/ ) But that brought up church, and what makes a good church, or a good church experience. What does it mean if you never feel "the divine presence" at church? What gives you that feeling in the first place?

Feelings are so subjective and complicated. They are hard to talk about, hard to understand--slippery in the mind, elusive, like floaters in water that slide and swim out from the scooping spoon that tries to remove them. I don't know how to explain. All I have is the vague answer that your emotional experience of G-d is largely dependent on your personality (=> how you "fit" with your environment) and your internal state. Perhaps I should have said something about it depending on where you are with G-d: your moral habits, your spiritual disciplines, ... Trouble is, I don't really know what I'm talking about. My ideas are all vague. (I'm too young, too inexperienced!)

So many questions, so few answers. Good thing I get more chances to talk to him later. Good thing G-d can work despite his servants, not just through them.

Friday, June 13, 2008


It's barely still Thursday, and the world is sleeping. My parents lie parallel in their immense bed, my sister tangles warm brown arms in her covers, then tosses them to the floor. . . I am sitting on the floor myself, in the dark.

Light has deserted this entire house, except this glowing screen, and I keep thinking I should push myself to my feet, uncross my legs, wend my way across the den (rendered maze-like by rearranged furniture) to the light switch that waits so stoically on the wall. I should not maroon myself in this blackness, should not fix my eyes on the screen. I feel like a traveler lost in a trackless forest, drowning in black branches and susurrating leaves, who can see only the moon, and so stares up at it. His world telescopes into that one white disc. His mind blocks out all that is around him: all he would be able to see in the day, and all that is beyond all that he would see. The dark still presses, but it slips off his mind, which is concentrating all its power on the Moon, the waxing gibbous Moon. He hugs himself in the dark dark dark, this small figure, and leans his head back. He gazes and gazes, lunatically.

And now I will darken my moon (my computer screen). I will rise and thread my steps through the furniture, tread gingerly across the papered floor, find my room, my bed. Find sleep.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sea and Sand

[subtitle: A quick lame post cuz i'm behind]

Sometimes I forget the feeling of sand on bare feet: the grit between the toes, the sinking in with each step. The sand was especially soft this evening where we were walking along the sunset-ly shore. My feet sank deep, and the footprints gaped like the entrances to caverns, with water seeping into the bottoms. We left parallel trails of pockmarks along the edge: where the ocean mingles with the sand--where the sand dances a frenzied dance in the swirling water, and settles back into being a solid--where the crowd of sand particles welcomes the seeping water into its embraces, and absorbs it like a city absorbing a new wave of immigrants--where the boundaries is fluid--even the boundaries between solid and liquid and airy element: where the waves reach, and creep, and turn back, and water sprays, and foams.

The freezing water foams white, and the setting sun gilds it. The waves crash in silver and lace and steel. Nothing stops the sea.

Monday, June 9, 2008


So! I've been horribly lax about updating this blog for the past while. Blame goes partly to finals, partly to emotional exhaustion, partly to lack of computer access. (Not that I'm complaining, since if I had to choose between spending the rest of my life without a computer and spending the rest of my life without mountain get-aways, I would definitely forgo the computer.) But the factor that really matters in my not posting is just a lack of discipline. . . I haven't been "feeling" the writing. . . haven't taken the time. . . But I'm going to! After this sorry excuse for a piece of writing, real posts will follow. I am resolved.

This is going to be a summer of structure. The practical reason is that my internship (40hrs/wk) forces me to plan out my time expenditure; the emotional or spiritual or personal reason is that I need the constraints and rhythms of habit to bring me to the place I want to be in relation to G-d and my own sense of self.

Confession: This past semester, I was singularly undisciplined in all sorts of domains. It started with emotions and a relationship, and drifted into my time management, and then my spiritual/personal life, and even (a little) academics (in my patterns and methods of getting things done, and my attitudes--I still finished things and did well in the end.) It wasn't even so much whether I did or didn't do things, as how I did them: with what frame of mind, what internal state. I couldn't concentrate, couldn't settle down. Disharmony dominated me.

Which is not what G-d's will is.

I am seeking integration and . . . something else. Purification? Harmony? Growth? All of the above, I suppose.

My means to those ends is habit. Goals for the summer: memorize the book of Ephesians (with my sista!), have quiet time every day, keep Fridays as Sabbaths (from sunset on Thursday to sunset on Friday, no computers, no spending money, no secular reading). I also want to read various books / learn various things, keep up with this blog; see friends, ride my bike, cook; sleep. Blog-wise, I'm going to try to post Tues/Thurs/Sat. Three days a week is fair, right? I'll start that schedule tomorrow. :)