Monday, March 29, 2010

Through the Eyes of a Child

Last week, Becca and I got an entire week of uninterrupted big sister little sister time. She rode back with me the entire seventeen hours from Nebraska after spring break and braved two plane flights all by herself last Saturday to return home. She came with me to almost all of my college classes, made a new friend with my professor’s daughter, went shopping with me at my second love (a used book warehouse called McKay’s), saw a world-renowned concert pianist, finger-painted, and finished an epic story about two princesses. We had a blast. Everyone this morning at school has been asking where my mini-me has gone.

In the midst of all our adventures, I found myself stopping to ponder the difference in perspective between my eyes and the ones of my nine-year-old sister. For one thing, it reestablished my appreciation for quiet and stillness. Becca was always moving, even when she sat, pumping her legs up and down in the chair and fidgeting this way and that. She was also constantly moving on to the next thing, asking what was next when I was still trying to finish the last. At first I wanted to chide her, inwardly thinking that she needed to slow down to fully appreciate things, but then I thought that perhaps we just appreciate life in different ways. Becca, she races to take in everything at once. I think she constantly moves because she doesn’t want to miss anything. She has eyes and a heart that are open to just about any and every adventure. Me, I have come to the realization that I will never be able to see it all, so I’d rather slow down and savor a select few things, soaking up all their riches. I like to pull up a comfy chair and settle into a moment, perhaps sip on a cup of coffee while it passes (only metaphorically of course; those closest to me know that I would never venture to drink the stuff in actuality, but I like the smell and idea of it).

Secondly, I noticed how easily I felt like silencing her voice or prompting her to sit down and behave properly when I was around my professors and peers. But they enjoyed her spirit, the carefree dreams of a nine-year-old writer and animal-lover. I realized that I’ve settled a bit too far into decorum, have lost the touch of innocent adventure and excitement of enjoying the little things in life, the child-like things perhaps. And I miss that. I miss being able to skip through a park or sing at the top of my lungs without worrying about someone looking, or dreaming without being squelched by the reality of logistics.

But mostly, she came into my world with the capacity to love what I had deemed unlovable. That is what humbled me the most. The heart of a child so willing to accept, so able to look past grievances and love what needs to be loved. I’m praying for the strength to reach that point too. I’m praying to see this person and situation with the eyes of God rather than my own. Perhaps with the eyes of a child, the faith of a child in a strong God. A God who does not differentiate between who and what he will love, unlike the struggling hearts of his grown-up children.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Heartstrings

I’m graduating this semester with a B.A. in English writing. What I won’t be graduating with is an M.R.S. degree. Sorry, Lee University. Despite all the propaganda, no ring by spring for me.

Despite my scathing views of Lee University’s mating obsession for its students, I’ll be honest by saying it’s not the future I would have envisioned for myself several years ago. As a na├»ve sixteen and seventeen-year-old, I wanted to skip the whole college thing and go straight for the babies. And even when I did settle in for the academic ride, I thought for sure by graduation I’d have found the one. Or perhaps be holding somebody’s hand. Or at least surely have had a date. Or if push came to shove, be promised one. But I haven’t. Unlike many of my friends, I am not planning a wedding. And over the last few months, for the first time I can say I am really, truly, honest-to-goodness okay with that.

I’m even, enjoying it.

Right now, I find myself in a season where I don’t even feel ready for a man. And in some respects, I don’t know if I ever will be. There are so many things I know about my heart now than I did not know when I left for college four years ago, but I’m still in a season of watching God open up a vision for where I might be created to fit.

Last semester, my friend Charlotte and I were talking about guys and dreams and futures. And she looked at me and she said, “It’s not about what I want. It’s about the gospel.” And she’s right. Making choices isn’t about a standard of morality. It’s not about asking if something is permissible, not about seeing how far I can let my heart go emotionally before I cross a dangerous line. It’s about offering what I have to the service of the gospel, about asking what will bring God the most glory. And that applies to every aspect of life. I think some people can glorify God most strongly when they walk through life two as one, and I think that for some people God can be more glorified in a lifestyle of singleness. And I’m not sure yet what the answer is for me.

But I’m okay with either one, and that makes my heart joy-filled. I’m finding such sweet places hidden inside the heart of God that I don’t think I would have ever been able to find if I had started sharing my life with a man four years ago. And I think there are so many more, I hesitate to think of giving them up just yet, of letting any distraction steal my focus.

It’s not a cakewalk. There are days and nights when it is still difficult. I don’t allow myself to watch certain types of movies on Valentine’s Day, and there are genres of books and movies I won’t entertain. Period. There are places I have to pull my heart back from lingering in. But overall, I’ve found a deep grace that God is pouring over my soul from years of pressing into his heart. A rich, wondrous grace. Besides, we’re lying to ourselves if we think that finding someone to love will solve all our problems anyways. What kind of deceptive logic is that?

All I know is that I’m graduating, and I’m single, and I’m excited about life and mysteries and journey. I think there is more to life than finding earthly love. And I am content, because God tells me who I am, and the glory of His kingdom is a calling worth living for, no matter what.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Musings from the Library

So, I’ve been sitting in my favorite back corner of the library for the past several hours. Yes, it’s a Saturday and I’m in the library. I was also here on Friday night. Some of you may have ideas about what this means for my social life at school, but it’s okay. I already know, so you can stop fretting and keep them to yourself.

So, I’ve been sitting here writing, and I just looked up and noticed that the books on the shelves across from me include titles such as Censorship, Books Banned in the USA, and Book Burning. I’m trying to write a piece of creative fiction, and the books across from me have been smirking at me this whole time. I don’t really have anything profound to say about this observation, other than the fact that I’m not superstitious and taking this as a bad omen. I thought it was ironically funny, and it brought a laugh to my otherwise boring Saturday afternoon. I hope maybe it makes you laugh too.

Today is an indifferent day. I’ve written at least three pages of a short story in the last couple hours, but it doesn’t feel absolutely thrilling today. It feels good to know I’m making progress, but good in the way of knowing I’m doing what I’m supposed to right now and not being lazy and killing brain cells in front of a movie or something. Not good in the sense that my imaginary world of characters is exploding and creating something all on their own. But that’s okay.

Some days are just not extraordinary. Actually, most days aren’t extraordinary. Most days you just have to do what you have to do. I’ve had a lot of days like that this week. No thrills, no excitement, just working at it a little more at a time. But if I keep it up, maybe in a few weeks I’ll have a manuscript to bring back to show to the books in my favorite corner of the library. Then it’ll make me feel better.