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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Resolute Resolution: Take 22.

So, if you didn’t know, the world will be ending this upcoming year [2012, RUN!]. Because of this shocking revelation, I have decided to write a little something on what I hope this upcoming year will be like.

First, a recap.

While I look back on 2011, I am not only inspired but awe-struck by the grace that I was given to keep my head above water and a smile on my face. There are many days that I recall being immovable, steeped in a depressed stupor of human flaw. I experienced loneliness in a way that I had never before understood. Rejection and heartbreak were shadows on my walls that I became all too familiar with. They seemed to follow me around in hopes of filling my hung head with false truths and indescribable emptiness.

I lost weight. I gained weight. I lost even more weight and then I crashed and ate everything in sight. I was deleted from facebook, and harassed via e-mail. I started wearing make-up for someone and then I stopped wearing make-up because of that same person. I was hit on, ignored and let down. I screamed, he screamed, she screamed…we all screamed. I fell in lust, and time slipped away.

All the while, my heart sat in darkness stretching its arms toward the Light that once shone brightly.

I had my good days, and I had my bad days…but mostly I just faked it.

It was one, rather late night, as I wrote my future husband an e-mail out of desperation for a friend and listener, that I finally cracked. I began weeping uncontrollably, knowing I could not continue on the way that I was going. I was a car running on “E” and there was no way I was going to avoid this inevitable break down.

“What was I doing writing a man that probably didn’t exist? My future husband? Come on. How could anyone love something as broken as me? That’s right, I am a something, not a someone!  I will settle for anything or anyone that will take me…I mean, I’m a mess! A joke. A waste of space. A headache that no one should have to be stuck with till death do them part…”

It was decided. I would be someone’s purgatory but never anyone’s heaven.

And so I wept, for myself and for my sinfulness. I was heart-sick for what the Lord had wanted me to be, not what I was.

And as Dane Cook so gracefully pointed out, I, wishing to see myself cry in the mirror, did the one thing that would accentuate the agony of the stupidity I was choking on. With a tear stained face, I googled ‘To My Future Spouse’ assuming I would find that I was the only idiot on the planet that had stooped so low as to be the unthinkable….A Christian. And even worse, a Christian praying for their future spouse.

What followed was both a miracle and all-too-soon a painful reminder of learning to keep my mouth shut.

The very first thing that I opened was a blog post that a young Christian man had written to his future wife. Heartfelt, vulnerable, honest…echoing the very fiber of His Word, I now wept for a different reason.

They existed.

All the men that had filled my head with empty promises and lies were now forgotten in the light of God’s Son who filled my spirit with hope once again. Good, faith-filled men were out there. I realized that my future husband could actually be out there praying for me…

Wow.

And in my joy, I wrote this young blogger an e-mail of thanks. I wanted him to realize what he had just done for his sister in Christ! I wanted him to realize that he had just saved me from depression by shining the light of my Divine Love on me. This blogger had granted me peace by reminding me that the Prince of Peace had a man out there that would find my brokenness insatiable. And so I wrote him. Not hoping  or looking for love or gratitude but for friendship with a foundation in His holy name.

And I never heard back from him. In fact, he posted on his blog a couple days later in response, probably not directly to my e-mail, but to many swooning women that he was not looking for a wife and that he was simply opening his heart to His Lord.

Okay, okay. I won’t lie, I was sad and a little pissed when I read the post. I thought God was sending me a friend in the middle of a dark age. I thought I had made it clear that my e-mail was a letter of thanks, not a message selling myself for romance. In fact, trying to make him fall for me was the last thing on my mind—I had been in a state unworthy of love, remember? The last thing I was doing was trying to find it! I just wanted to feel that I belonged to some group or forum, and I thought God gave this desolation to prove that I did!

But I let the post go and I didn’t think about it… Until, of course, as a woman, I couldn’t resist the urge to go back to his blog and read his words of wisdom. Regardless of whether or not he understood my heart or my intentions in e-mailing him, the Lord was using him as a mouthpiece [and I really enjoyed his writing].

That day he was directing his audience to go read something he had written on another blog. A blog specifically for women.

Nothing is accidental, everything is providential.

Here’s how I first became acquainted with the Good Women Project.

What a blessing this website became. Women sharing their thoughts, their wisdom…their crosses. I could relate to each woman’s story, and though I probably seemed a little too emphatic with my excitement and joy for having found a refuge, I couldn’t express or contain how happy I was to find a place, though pixilated, that I finally felt I would fit.

I decided that day…that I would start my own blog.

I have always had an unquenchable desire to share my thoughts and my heart through the medium of writing, but before this, I didn’t think anyone would care what I had to say or what I thought or learned through the trials and tribulations Christ had sent into my life. But, because of this forum of women, I decided it didn’t matter! I didn’t need a following: I needed a deepening of faith! I needed to draw myself closer to the Son of Man that saved my life by breathing new life into my heart after four dark months of depression. The God that filled my emptiness, that dried my tears…that loved me when I was most low. No, I would not write for anyone but myself. Soon, after discernment, I decided to make it public. This way, I would be kept in check by those close friends that knew my reasons for writing.

And that leads us to right now. Here I am, folks. Raw and uncut. I came here to find refuge for meditation, and what a success it has been.

Because of Him, I am a success story.

But what’s next? What comes in the next chapter of this broken, recovering serial-flirt, body image obsessed, love addicted, sinner’s life?

Time will tell.

Or should I say, the Master of Time will tell.

But in the spirit of the world ending, and in hopes to make my divine Husband laugh, I want to make a few public New Year resolutions for the last year of the world's existence. So, if you’ll bear with me…here goes…

  •  TRUST: It has become obvious, through my meditations and prayer, that I am being called to a deeper trust in His plan. I wish to continue giving myself over to His will, and to become more aware of where I am failing, in hopes of growing closer to reflect His goodness.
  •  LOVE: While I’m revved to find my husband, I know that my heart is still suffering with deep hurt from my childhood and past relationships. I ache from the rejection I have faced and have grown cold and sarcastic as a means to protect myself from more damage. I want, in this upcoming year, to allow the Lord to melt my hardened and imperfect heart and replace it with His own. I want to love without expecting anything in return. I want to love without fear of being tossed aside. I want to love for all the right reasons and in His name.
  •  SELF LOVE: I write many things on how I am learning to accept who I am as a human being, that I am learning [by the grace of our Savior] how to look in the mirror and recognize the beauty that is within me…but this is something that does not happen over night. It will be an ongoing journey. No man, woman or therapist can tell me that I am worthwhile. This many silent years worth of damage is something only He can mend, and it is my job to open my heart and let Him. This year I will exercise to keep healthy and not to fit a mold.  Instead of liking myself every other day of the week, I want to love myself every day of the week.
  • STRENGTH: Not everyone is going to like me. Time to wake up, smell the roses and move on! This next year will be about Matthew 10:14 and less about bending over backwards and feeling sorry for myself when people refuse to acknowledge me.
  •  SHINE: I’m a talented actress. I’m a pretty decent writer. Eventually, I want to work at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre Co., The Goodman Theatre, or even Steppenwolf. I want to start my own theatre company that creates pieces of art that are revolutionary, inspiring, and, most of all, wholesome. I want to publish a novel. I want to know what it feels like to be chased for all the right reasons. I want to make a thousand new acquaintances, and if I come out making one new, good friend…I’ll be happy. Perhaps I can't do it all next year, but it's time I said aloud what my ambitions are.

I’m going to live. I’m going to take risks. I’m going to grow.

I am often told at school that I’m too apologetic for my work. I find myself apologizing for no reason in my everyday life. If someone accidentally threw something and it hit me in the face…I’d probably apologize for being in their way.

So, this year…I’m choosing not to apologize for my existence.

Thanks for a great year, everyone. Whether anyone reads this or not…it’s irrelevant. It’s been a blessed year, and I can’t wait to take on the next one.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

His Gift to Us.


Tonight, as my family drove home from dinner at a local Indianapolis restaurant, in the violet twilight of the evening…we passed the house that I grew up in.

It was dark enough to not see everything clearly, but light enough to know that it had been painted since I was a little girl. Once upon a time it was white with black accents, now it’s been converted into a caramel brown disaster. My heart ached for the once upon a Christmas time.

And then I saw the most beautiful thing—the two trees that my father had planted in our front yard, two beautiful pines…were decorated with Christmas lights. So many precious memories came flooding back!

JOYJOYJOYYYYY! Merry Christmas JOY! There is nothing more thrilling than those joyous Christmas memories I have of my childhood. My elderly neighbor would take me, during the Christmas season, down to the end of our street to change the light bulbs on the pillars that marked the entrance to our neighborhood, to red and green. My father and I would put lights on the trees we had planted in my adopted brother’s honor. We would get our Christmas tree at the last minute, often times a rather Charlie Brown-esque tree and would wait until Christmas eve to trim it with lights, an assortment of random homemade ornaments and tinsel galore. At the crack of dawn my mother would drag me into my parents bed while I was half asleep and turn on the Urbi et Orbi [the live papal blessing from Rome]. We would…well, I could go on for hours, really.

The point is: Christmas was our thing. We lived Christmas, we breathed Christmas…it was more than just a couple of days off from school or work. It was a way of life. In fact, it was a celebration of life.

His life.

Regardless of the ridiculous traditions we held, or how many times we listened to that one Bing Crosby Christmas album over and over and over…it has always been apparent that this is more than just a time to give gifts. 

This is the season of joy.

Because He chose to be born of a pure and humble woman, choosing to come into the world in the very form of weakness, He showed us what it meant to live. He, in His human nature gave us the ability to understand what it meant for the soul to love, to give, to trust, to respect, to be obedient, to be humble, to be pure…

How can we NOT be joyous while dancing in the Light of His birth! A star is guiding us to find Him wrapped in swaddling clothes, too small to even compare to the very stars that He created. Too small to reach up and touch His own mother’s radiant face. Both divine and human in nature, irresistibly lovely in visage and the Savior of our world.

Today, our Emmanuel was born. Today, in His manger, He accepted the cross.

Today, we were given the most beautiful Christmas present ever offered—Eternal Salvation!

We are LOVED immeasurably! Let us rejoice in His birth! Let us rejoice in this gift of Truth!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What I learned in 2011: Let Go, Let God


The clock at the church across from my window struck midnight.

Silence.

I watched my phone in sweet anticipation, longing to hear his voice. Expecting to hear my favorite three words from the boy I was so sure I would someday be married to.

Silence.

I couldn’t contain myself! Where was he? Didn’t he know the tradition of New Years? If I couldn’t be with him, I had hoped he would at least want to call and tell me he loved me!

My phone sat sleepily on my bed, exhausted from the anticipation I had built up for it.  

Silence.

Three weeks later, I was single.

Scratch that. Three weeks later, my whole life fell a part.

One of my favorite Buddhist sayings is ‘Let Go—Attachment is suffering.’

Last year I had fabricated intricate plans for what I believed I wanted my life to be. I had decided that if I wanted to be happy, I would have to give up my dream as an actress and put all my energy into helping him pursue his dreams. I had fallen in love with my best friend, and while I knew it seemed sudden, his presence in my life was more thrilling and rejuvenating than the cut-throat world of a theatre conservatory. So, I gave up who I had been for years, I gave up my strength in our Lord and in my talent to be with him.

He made me into something I was not, and I let him.

And then he broke my heart.

At first, I didn’t know what to do. I would lie in my bed weeping for hours, a recording of the rosary playing softly to keep my soul at rest. My roommates brought me donuts, my friends made me go out with them, my parents called each day to make sure I was alright…but I couldn’t let go of the fact that everything I was willing to give up, wasn’t enough. I wasn’t enough.

Fast forward through eleven months of ups and downs, and what an absolutely beautiful blessing that heartbreak has been! Yes, it’s still painful to think I’ve been deleted from the life of the man that I once loved…but it has taught me to recognize that I must trust in His plan, and not my own.

See, this year I learned that my plan is flawed.

I’ll come clean, I have an issue with control. I like being in it! And prior to this heartache, prior to my life shattering into little pieces…I had been able to skirt by without truly looking to our Lord for support. I had a boyfriend that would love me, parents that would take care of me and friends that were there to make me laugh. And that felt like enough.

I could hold on tight to my plan, and proclaim and that it was all in the name of my Divine love.

But when the façade came crashing down on me, it became apparent that what I had been craving from the start was a different kind of solace. A different kind of love and romance.

That of the Kings of kings.

I’m human. I know that I’ll still spend my life craving the feeling of having a handle on my life. That feeling that leaves me responsible for what’s going to happen. But the truth is, no matter how much I desire control…the only thing my clinging to 'being in control' has done is smother everything that was going well without my prodding!

When we detach from what we, in our brokenness as humans, think is ‘best’ for ourselves and reattach to what God knows is perfect for us…we find that our strength is renewed in Him and our souls are free to soar.

This year was about letting go of what society told me I should need (namely, a boyfriend) and asserting what I knew I truly craved: Our Lord.

I can finally say, with joy on my fingertips, God made it a point to shut the door on that relationship. He knew I had a lot of growing left to do…and that there was someone better out there for me. Who ever he may be, I’ll keep praying for him…but this time, I won’t push or chase…I’ll simply let go, and let God.

Give the wheel to God, ladies. His plan for us is more deep and rich than any of us can comprehend. What a blessing.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mending the Birthday Blues.


It’s coming. It’s cold, and windy and the weather forecast is predicting snow. It’s the season to be jolly, and I can hear that wretched day approaching like the obnoxious bells on Santa’s sleigh. I mean, it’s hard to escape it when all you hear at the sushi restaurant below your apartment is Bing Crosby’s ‘White Christmas’ over and over. That day is coming and I can’t avoid it….

That’s right folks, you guessed it; it’s almost my birthday.

Oh wait, you totally thought I was going to say the birth of our Lord, didn’t you? Sorry about that! His birthday is just fine by me…

But…mine. Different story. Let’s begin, shall we?


On April fool’s day in 1989 the following exchange occurred:

‘A Love Story’ in one act…

[A young and beautiful woman sits at a pizza joint in New York. Her dashingly handsome husband exclaims…]

HUSBAND: Let’s have a baby!

[She laughs.]

WIFE: Yeah, right! I’m not falling for that! Good one. [Eyeroll.]

HUSBAND: I’m serious.

WIFE: Yeah, sure you are.

HUSBAND: Okay. Let me see. How should I put this… I want to have a baby with you.

WIFE: …  … …

[Insert lots of awkward back and forth looks here.]

HUSBAND: … … …

WIFE: Fine, ask me again at midnight, when it’s not April fool’s anymore.

Hours later. Midnight. A little conversation and…

BAM. He punched her!

Just kidding.

More like: BAM! She was pregnant. Nine months later, my mother was in a hospital bed, holding a 6lb baby girl and thinking ‘whoa, I’m a mother..’

It’s beautiful, really. A story of love. A man and woman begin a new life together by creating a new life together.

All that beautiful poetic stuff said and out of the way, let’s get to the real point of this post:

I really dislike my birthday.

Now, before you get all weird on me…hear me out, okay?

One day, the Lord thought me up. His heart yearned for something and to fulfill the void, to fulfill what he felt was missing from this world…He created me. He loved me into creation. He wanted me. He chose me. Just as He chose all of us into being.

This being said, life itself was the greatest gift I could have ever been given, and every day I am reminded by His mercy and love that I am blessed beyond all reason.

So, why then, do I get so depressed whenever December 15th rolls around each year? It doesn’t make sense, when it comes down to it! I’m a child of the Most High, a daughter of the King of kings…engaged to the Bridegroom.

From what I can tell, I should have no reason to get bummed out whenever my birthday comes. BUT! It does! Every year, like clock-work. A month before, I start getting excited and wondering if anyone will remember or throw me a party or do something special for me. Three weeks before hand, I start talking about how excited I am. Two weeks before hand, and I’m reminding everyone, but also begin to get leery of people actually remembering. One week before, and I’m so thrilled, I feel like I’m on speed!

And then the day arrives. And it’s the same old same: December 15th:

I lie in bed and count the reasons I hate my birthday.

Weird, I know. Even after having built myself up in excitement for a month, I find myself crashing into depression. But, I’ve been thinking about it, and I believe I’ve finally figured it out.

The dirty little secret to this complicated human heart of mine is that…I do love my birthday. A lot.

My mother always made a huge deal out of celebrating life. Celebrating MY life. She wanted me to know that my existence was the greatest gift God had ever given my parents. She wanted me to know I was loved, and that I was worth being loved…and that with every year I lived, I was giving glory to my creator.
She made me love my self, and my existence. Every day was a rebirth, every day was a cause for celebration, and so I celebrated every day as a new birthday to grow closer to the Holy Spirit.

I spent each day taking care of the people that I loved. In fact, I spend every year basking in the joy of being cared for and reciprocating that affection. It’s fulfilling and beautiful.

…but when my birthday comes, and I’m sent four hundred and thirty facebook comments of ‘happy birthday’s’ from people that probably don’t even remember how they first met me and I’m given money and gifts and material things, but the pure, unadulterated love seems to fade into the background as the weight of the material grows higher in importance…I feel more empty than I’ve ever felt.

Birthday’s have become so base that they hold little to no meaning in this society. Life was once a cause for celebration, but in this culture of death…it feels more like another way to get lost in sin.

It’s your birthday? Well, in that case…let’s drink until we can’t remember who we are! It’s your birthday? Well, you ought to throw a big obnoxious party and get people to bring you presents! It’s your birthday? Shake the card before you open it, see if there’s any money inside!

I would rather hang out with my best friend, watch a movie and gossip about boys than go out and get wasted with a ton of acquaintances who probably would only be using me as a cause to drink, rather than a friend to celebrate. I would rather get a hand written letter, a handmade gift, a well thought out and personalized gift [no, I don’t mean with my initials on it], than get the newest and most expensive toy out there.

Granted, I appreciate what I’m given. I’m thankful for the beautiful gifts my friends have offered me out of love. I cherish them [I mean, let’s be honest... I’m still a girl, and I’ll always secretly love being pampered], but the idea of birthday has morphed into something else by the world. And it seems ugly.

The attention that comes with it being your ‘birthday’, the ‘affection’…feels false. And my spirit can sense it, and before I have five minutes to accept that this is just the way it is sometimes, I sink into somehow taking this lack of joy and love personally. It’s like, after all the beautiful things that happen daily…I can’t fathom accepting it is as reality.

But this year, after a lot of prayer and time spent with my Divine Love in adoration, I’ve decided to deny the pity party that the culture of death is planning on throwing me, and choose joy instead. I’m going to wake up in the morning this upcoming Thursday and smile because, regardless of whether or not anyone else is happy that I was born—I’m happy that I was born. And that’s what’s going to get me through the day.

Praise God.

Soooo...Happy [almost] birthday to me! As I look forward to another year of adventure and growth, I would like to thank you all for your beautiful reminders that life is worth being filled with joy, even when I struggle.