Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Scarlett I: Indecisiveness

‘You’re indecisive because you’re terrified to make a mistake! You want to be perfect, but it’s impossible—I hate to break it to you, but you WILL make mistakes, Katey!’

I stood, slightly in shock. My annoyance had grown ten fold and all I wanted to do was storm away, rage pumping through my veins. How dare he! What right did he have to make an absolute fool of me? I never asked for his opinion!

I was a senior in high school. I was blissfully about to kiss high school goodbye and begin my new life in Seattle, WA as a cool kid Acting student….but instead of partying up senior year, I was being reprimanded by a boy that I had barely been on a single date with.

And yet, for once in my life, I found myself… speechless. I wanted to cry and scream at him. I wanted to punch a wall, and then walk away. But I was frozen, and all I could do was look him in the eye as he told me how I hid behind my ‘perfect’ demeanor.

I kept thinking to myself, ‘YOU’RE WRONG, JERK! You don’t know me! I make decisions all the time!’

But let’s be honest, that’s a total lie.

When I look back on high school, I realize how hard I worked to make myself look like I had it all together. All the bullying as a child [and even some in high school] made me terrified to just be myself. I was almost positive that, regardless of how much I liked my personality, people would reject me. I thought I needed to build an aura that exuded ‘perfection’. So, I let my type A personality take a hold of me and became obsessed with seeming…whole. I was a straight A student. I got leads in most of the shows. I was acquaintances with everyone, but friends with very few. I knew everyone’s name, and I never broke from my happily joyous attitude, for fear I would be ridiculed. When it came down to it, I was a walking politician—and I was damn good at it.

So, at this point you’re asking why this young man lashed out at me, right?

Well…because I couldn’t decide whether or not I liked him.

What a horrible kid, right? What a terrible girl for jerking a poor boy back and forth because of her not knowing what she wanted. He was my friend though, and I didn’t want to screw things up right before I went to college. He wasn’t a man of faith, he was a man of science and politics and I knew in the long run it’d never work—but aren’t we suppose to date to see what qualities we want in the future? I mean, he was cute and nice and was definitely going somewhere in life…but he was so anti-religion!

I was confused, to say the least.

It seems that when life gets tough, my brokenness rears its ugly head and instead of praying, I spend my time blaming God for not taking care of me and making the decisions for me. I sit and stare at the pieces of my life, which I have so methodically placed on the floor in front of me and allow myself to melt into the exhaustion of all the decisions that weigh on my shoulders. All the things that I worry about for my family, my friends and myself suddenly come to the forefront of my mind. I worry so much, it gives me anxiety and then the anxiety gives way to more worrying…

And soon I find myself frozen and incapable of making any kind of logical decisions.

This is embarrassing, humbling and difficult to say…but I am terrified to make a wrong move. I’m scared that I’ll miss an opportunity if I make the wrong choice, I’m scared that I’ll screw up the plan that He so perfectly created. Sometimes I am so overwhelmed by this world, I don’t know how to trust in Him. I can’t count the number of times that I have questioned His will and plan for my life. Before I go to bed I can't help but replay every move I made during the day in my mind, and think ‘Was that right?’

Why, yes. I am imperfect.

It’s amazing to look back on that night. I feel my cheeks flush as I picture his face so assuredly telling me something I had made myself blind to. Here, a man that had so little trust in the existence of God was telling me, a woman of such ‘strong faith’ and ‘devotion to our Lord’, how to take risks. And live.

I woke up recently with the full awareness of how beautiful my faith is. How, I have nothing to worry about because I have a creator who is constantly rooting for me. I’m finally at a point in my life when I can say thank you to that young man. Because whether or not he remembers that night, I do. And because he was able to have the strength and courage to say that to my face…I finally have the courage to say:


There are no wrong turns, my friends! You cannot make a mistake in the eyes of the Lord! If you are living, experiencing and being authentically and intrinsically good…working your hardest to make it to heaven, you’ve already chosen the closest thing to ‘right’.

In fact, let’s take ‘right’ out of our conversation. The only ‘right’ thing in this world is God. The rest of it is, in fact, superfluous. When we make a decision, if we are devoting our selves and lives to the light of Christ, then He will always open a window or a door or break a wall down for us to get to the situation that He thinks we deserve more. He wants us to have the best possible! He wants to give us our hopes and dreams and all that we wish for so deep in our souls. But even more than that, He wants to give us what He knows will truly make us happy.

Because He loves us.

And it is with this sentiment that I have finally been able to embrace the ideal of taking risks. I try new foods, I date people so incredibly opposite my personality and belief system, become friends with tax collectors and prostitutes, devote my life to a craft that often times is not as wholesome as I had always wished it to be—and because I have risked and lived to my fullest capacity, I have been given the gift of being able to wholly glorify the Lord’s name.

Because He took a risk and gave me the best example of risk-taking I can find to date. He chose to die for us, just so that we might live with Him forever, even knowing that many of us would choose to deny Him.

Thank God for that night. Thank God for slapping me across the face and into reality.

Listen kids, I don’t have time to be afraid! And neither do you! We have one life to prove to God that we lived and worked towards praising His name, and, I don’t know about you, but I would much rather take risks and ask for forgiveness than stand in front of Him on judgment day attempting to make a case for why I stood frozen in fear for an entire lifetime.

So. My request for you today is simple.

Be bold, my friends. Don’t be afraid. And when you’re over-analyzing a situation or a choice you have to make—be at peace knowing that, no matter what decision you make, God is on your side. Making these decisions has yet to ruin or end my life. In fact, they’ve only helped me grow.  If you let Him into your heart and life, He’ll always be there to, as our GPS systems say so very often, ‘recalculate’ until you make it into His arms.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Stretching Faith: What's in a name?

The poem below was one that I wrote two years ago, when I finally arrived at being comfortable enough in my own skin to express who I was as an artist, a Christian and even more a human being. The title of the piece, just happens to be the title of my blog! I feel, in many ways, this piece of writing still articulates perfectly my deep-rooted love of humanity, the disappointments and the joys that I have overcome and embraced, and just sincerely sheds some light on how I view the world. 

When I decided to start this blog, I prayed about what I should title it. A name can so easily make the wrong first impression, and I wanted everyone who read or stumbled upon my reflections to understand that this is not being about a fantastic writer, but about faith, love, hope, growth and HEALING! And the more I prayed, the more God made it obvious that I should title it after my most prized piece of writing. 

I mean, isn't that what life does? Push us? Mold us?

S t re t c h  u s ?

Ten years ago, we as a nation learned how to love in solidarity, mourn in solidarity, forgive in solidarity...and even pray in solidarity. The great tragedy of 9/11 stretched our faith, but in the end made us such a beautifully strong community and that is truly something we will never forget. 

I, as the writer, think it's fitting that today, on this memorial, I share this poem with all of you, because the truth is this poem isn't just about me. It's about humanity. It's about each individual human being's walk through life, our search for joy and understanding, through faith, trust and God. 

God bless humanity.

Stretching Faith [written by Katey K.]
Sometimes in the morning I stretch my arms so far away from my body that I can feel the weight of the world crushing down on my soul. I fold my arms as close to my chest as I possibly can to keep my insides from turning upside down, but the problems, they just keep on coming.

And on a good day, I can feel the sun stretch its arms toward me, gently caressing my face. The warmth electrifies every cell in my body and I am propelled into verb. My eyes flit as they observe the world, my mind’s eye always correcting my first impression and soon I am leaping from this world into the divine.

On a good day, the sidewalk is not just a pathway that leads from point A to point B, but is the beginning to a journey that twists and turns and never truly ends. It is the story of a million people’s footprints. It is the story of life itself, tracing the arduous walks of pain and the child-like skips of jubilee.

Sometimes in the afternoon I laugh so hard that I can see the laughter fall to the floor in a million pieces, and I scramble to save each joy before they are stepped on by the cowards who roam the streets with unclean consciences. But I am left alone with nothing but my salty hopes, trickling softly down my face.

But on a good day, the breeze wisps the songs of children’s prayers to my ears and I am suddenly invigorated by the innocence that still exists in this very age of darkness. Their shouts of glee are the very foundation of my hope for the peace that could once again be reinstated to our world.

On a good day, I am rejuvenated, excited to help those who are broken down, unappreciated and searching for something substantial to grasp onto. I am lifted high on the euphoria of love and faith and I find strength to be the rock, the very support, for those around me.

Sometimes in the evening I squeeze my eyes so tightly shut in anticipation to my own disappearance into the darkness that enfolds me. My lungs begin to close to keep out the ghosts that circle me slowly, whining their expectations in my direction as if I know how to speak their language of despair.

Yet on a good day, the peaceful moonlit sleeps fill my body with a serenity that cannot be compared to any other activity. The shadows that move to and fro on my walls appear as fairies dancing in the glory of night time folly and I am perpetually holding myself back from dancing along with their gracefulness.

On a good day, I cannot help but smile as I fall into slumber. For I have lived a full and bountiful life. Regret has become merely a myth among the chaos that runs ramped in my mind. I am the embodiment of humanity. And this is the most calming sentiment after a full day’s work.

I am the embodiment of humanity.

Monday, September 5, 2011

New Season, New Resolution: Let's be thankful

I am thankful. I am thankful for the earth. The sky. Trees. Flowers. Faith. God’s mercy. Smiles. Hugs.

I am thankful for love.

I am thankful that I have both of my arms and that each of them is fully functioning—and am thankful that I have them so that I can hold the ones I care so deeply for. Thankful for both legs which take me to and fro without leaving me tired or aching. Tremendously thankful to have a brain that functions properly and for the common sense that I picked up on the way to adulthood. [You know, that common sense that has given me the gift of knowing when to advise, comfort or simply just to shut up and listen.]

I am thankful that I can articulate my thoughts and feelings with as little effort as opening my mouth or typing on a keyboard. And even more thankful that what I have to articulate is not regarded as silly or a waste.

I feel blessed to have my hearing. That I have heard children’s laughter in my lifetime, heard their squeals of jubilee, is something I will not take for granted. I’m even thankful to have heard their crying, which somehow reaches down into my heart and pulls at every inch of my soul. Heart wrenching, and yet…still a gift.

I’m thankful for Coldplay. That each of their songs somehow hits my soul in a way that none other could. In fact, I’m thankful for music. I’m thankful for the way it brings people together, makes people jump up and dance. I’m thankful for my ipod and speakers and laptop, which allow me to listen to each glorious note without distortion.

I am thankful that I know what it feels like to wake up in the morning and not have to worry about whether or not I’ll have food in the refrigerator.  To know what it tastes like to eat a fresh peach, mom’s chicken Parmigiana or to have the freedom to simply take a spoonful of Nutella and indulge in a moment’s bliss.

I would be graduating from college this year had I not transferred to the program that I now attend in Chicago. I know that God wanted me here for a reason and that I am incredibly blessed to have been given the opportunity to study at such a prestigious program…but I can’t help but feel a little left out as I watch my friends grow up and prepare to enter the world.

It’s bizarre to hear some of them talk about jobs or their ‘fall back’ plans. A couple of them aren’t quite sure what they’re going to do, but feel they have some direction or ideal of where they’d like to start. A few are thinking about Grad school.  While others are moving clear across the country to start ‘making connections’. And, believe it or not, quite a few are getting engaged or are in serious relationships that seem to be heading in the direction of marriage—and then there’s me. Sitting at my dining room table at 3:30 in the morning, watching my roommate play video games, with no clue where I’ll be in a week let alone in two years.

What the heck have I been doing with my life?

So I start to panic. I sit and start to think that God has no idea what He’s doing with me. Like, somehow I slipped through the cracks and ended up on this earth when He wasn’t looking and now He’s just trying to figure out a semi-bearable plan for me while He takes care of all of His other, more important, children first. Sure, I’ve got talents and passions and dreams...but all of them have yet to bloom, I haven’t seen my hard work pay off and bear fruit…and what if they never do?!

I am caught in desolation as this new school year approaches.

And He shakes His head so sadly at me when I find myself lost in these dreadful thoughts. He is disappointed that I can’t see all the gifts that He has given me through out my lifetime.

He begs the question, ‘When have I ever given you a reason to doubt me?’

I am thankful for my mom, who is not only my most dear friend, but is also the most beautiful woman, both inside and out, that I have ever known. I am thankful for my dad who loves me so deeply and wants nothing more than to see me smile. And I am thankful for their openness. That they weren’t afraid to let me be me, and to share with me who they are and were. I am thankful for their presence in my life, day in and day out.

Why do I doubt?

I am thankful for my best friend, who has laughed with me, cried with me and fought with me—but has yet to disappear on me. I’m thankful for the many beautiful friends I have collected over the years that are spread across the world, living their own lives, but who so clearly made their marks on my heart.

So few come and don’t go. 

I get anxious as I compare my life to those around me. I’m not where the world told me I would be at twenty-one. I should be preparing to graduate. I can’t help but whine—I just want to be like everyone else my age!

But my whining gets me nowhere. My worrying leaves me frazzled. My worries lead to more worries. And my questioning God leaves me feeling empty and unlike myself.

Surprise, surprise.

So. Today I am choosing to be thankful. I’m choosing to be aware of all the gifts that He has given to me over the past twenty-one years so that I can be excited for what He’ll bring in years that will, all too soon, follow.

I am thankful for theatre. For acting. Writing. Romance. Kisses. Kittens. Puppies. Sharks. Books. Quotes. Exercise. Gustav Klimt. Fall. Clouds. Sunshine.

I am more than ecstatic to have been given the gift of life itself.

I am thankful for the water. I am thankful for the freedom I feel when I am fully immersed in the cool, refreshing tides of the ocean. I am thankful for the smell of chlorine on my skin after swimming twenty laps, my eyes still in a dreamy daze after staring off into the cool blue haze of the underwater world. 

And I am thankful for the stars that glisten in what often feels like an impenetrable darkness. Because their distant glow sets my uneasy mind at rest and leaves my head filled with a thousand hopes for what may be. When they shimmer, it’s easy to imagine them to be ethereal kisses sent from God, as if to confirm that He is thinking about me.

Because He is thinking about me.

I’m so lucky. These next two years are going to be amazing. He told me so.