Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Do's and Don'ts of Proper Church Behavior

Have you ever thought about how many unspoken rules/behaviors that take place in a single church service? 

We almost always clap after the first worship song, we know to get the in the "prayer position" when the lights dim, and we know to be respectful and quiet while the pastor is talking.

So what happens when someone disrupts these patterns? How do we react?

Not well. 

Today at church, I was sitting near the back and there was a mentally-challenged older lady sitting close by who was muttering to herself every few minutes. Though it wasn't too loud, she was certainly getting attention for it. Many people around me, including myself, turned around to stare at her. I suppose it was our passive-aggressive way to tell her to be quiet. As I stared at her, I started ask why I was irritated by her. Sure, she was talking out loud, but to be honest, it wasn't loud enough to cause that much of a distraction, let alone, that much attention. I think I was staring her because she was breaking the "norm" of church behavior.

Something similar happened earlier this year. It was again during service, and the pastor had asked the congregation a question. faithful members of church, we all know that when a pastor asks a question, he usually doesn't want an answer. It's rhetorical. Or something we answer in our minds. A man sitting in the front row, raised his hand to answer the question. He was instantly met with either looks that seemed to question his intelligence or ignored. I watched as he slowly put his hand down, and looked completely dejected. He left soon after that and I found myself deeply disappointed with my fellow Christians.

Yet I found myself doing the same thing today to a lady that did not deserve it. 

 And sadly these "distractions"-- oh excuse me, I mean people-- are not shown love, but rather the door out. We remove the things causing the disruptions. I've seen it in many churches. An usher quietly walks over to that pesky person who is stopping the faithful followers of the church from listening to that anointed message, and are asked to leave. 

I mean really. That's about as Christlike as we can get, right?

Please don't misunderstand me. Order is important. I understand that. I've been to churches where it's pretty much just chaos. But to ask someone to leave, or shoot them dirty looks, because they don't understand the "rules" of church is ridiculous.

If you think about it, most of those who go against the norms, have never been to church before. So how can we expect to instantly know "how to act". We show them the door when we should be welcoming them. Church is supposed to be a place of safety and comfort where believers come together to worship and care about each other. Who cares if someone isn't conducting themselves in the way we expect them too. And if they are honestly being disrespectful or causing a serious distraction to the point where the pastor can't get through his message, then lovingly pull them aside after church and explain why what they did was wrong. Don't just make them leave and not tell them why. That happens far too much.

Oh my goodness.

I just...I hate that we do this. I hate that I do this.

People are so precious and throughout history, Christians and churches have had a reputation of turning away those who need God the most. I don't want to be that Christian. I don't want, nor do I have the right, to judge someone and put them out because they aren't exhibiting proper church behavior like the rest of us.

Jesus is so good and He loves everyone despite their appearance or how they may act. We need to actually live this instead of just saying we do. I feel so convicted because I am so guilty of judging someone based off of their behavior.

But I don't want to be that person anymore. It isn't right. It isn't what we are called to be.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

We Just Want the Fire in Our Bones

I think I've firmly established that I'm a bit of an oddball.

So with that said it should come as no surprise that passages like the valley of dry bones and ones that almost seem to be yelling or scolding are the ones that inspire me the most.

One of my favorite verses is Romans 13:11
 "You know what sort of times we live in, and so you should live properly. It is time to wake up. You know that the day when we will be saved is nearer than when we first put our faith in the Lord. Night is almost over, and day will soon appear. We must stop behaving as people do in the dark and be ready to live in the light."

Guys. This verse is awesome and it just cuts straight to the heart. Like there is no messing around with this verse. No way to interpret it into something other than a wake up call.

I've already mentioned how I feel about the modern church. Now I want to talk about us. Modern Christians.

Can I just first say...what in the world is wrong with us?!

We've become so tolerant of pratically everything in our society. We don't take a stand for anything anymore. And if we do, the majority of the time it's looked down on by other Christians or something that is completely not in line with what the Bible says.

For example. Gay marriage. Yes, I am going there. I'm sorry I can't help it. It honestly blows my mind how Christians can stand up for gay marriage. How have we gotten to a point that we not only tolerate, but support something that goes completely against what is written in the Bible? Ok. I'll stop because that whole thing frustrates me to no end and I don't want to go off on a whole other tangent.

We're so full of fear it's ridiculous. I am so full of fear it's ridiculous.  And I don't understand why. There really is nothing to be afraid of. What's the worst thing that can happen to us? Death? Oh well. We get it's kind of a win-win. But I find that in so many situations I hold my beliefs back because I am afraid. I'm so frustrated with myself for doing this.

Our nation is literally going into such a gross place and are we really just going to sit back and let it all happen because we don't want to offend anyone? When was the last time we've all come together to stand up against something that is wrong and stuck with it? Most times we're all just talk but when it comes to actually facing the consequences we get too afraid to continue. Do we even come together for anything anymore? Another weird favorite verse of mine is Revelation 19:5-6:
"From the throne a voice said, 'If you worship and fear our God, give praise to Him, no matter who you are.' Then I heard what seemed to be a large crowd that sounded like a roaring flood and loud thunder all mixed together. They were saying: 'Praise the Lord! Our Lord God All-Powerful now rules as king.'"

My favorite part of those verses is "then I heard what seemed to be a large crowd that sounded like a roaring flood and loud thunder all mixed together". Can you imagine how amazing and powerful it would be if we all came together as one to praise God? Dude. It would be insane.

Unfortunately we let petty differences like denominations, churches, and different views keep us from ever being unified, and because of that, we've lost so much of the influence we could have.

I mentioned above that the valley of dry bones inspires me. If you haven't read it (and I definitely recommend reading it), it's about God taking Ezekiel to a valley that if full of dry bones. The Lord asks him if the dry bones can ever be made into living people again. He instructs Ezekiel to speak a prophetic message to them, saying the Lord will breathe life into them and make them live again. They eventually come to life again and the Lord says:

“Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone. Our nation is finished.’  Therefore, prophesy to them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the Lord.  I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the Lord has spoken!’”
Ezekiel 37:11-14

I think many of us are like that today. There are many of us and we have the potential but we've let ourselves become dried up and dead in our faith. 

We need a breath of life in our bones.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

This Is Not My Home.

"This is not our home". "We are not of this world".

We hear these phrases over and over again. In sermons, from believers, there's even a clothing and accessory place dedicated to this phrase. Seriously, I can't count the number of times I've heard this and just been like "yeah, yeah I get it". But lately I feel like I'm actually starting to get it.

And I'm starting to get a wee bit restless.

I was lying on the pavement last night in a near empty church parking lot (I am such an odd human) and thinking about this. If this place isn't my home, then why am I investing so much into it? Why am I spending all this time and energy to get a degree that will hopefully get me a good job? Like a degree and a good job isn't going to matter in heaven! Oh gracious. Okay. I'm getting all fired up just thinking about this again. I'll try to calm down a bit.

Ok so here's my thing. I don't want to sound ungrateful because I know how extremely blessed I am to be able to go to college. Seriously. I.AM.SO.BLESSED. But I can't help but feeling like I'm wasting my time here. And yes. I know what the answer is to this "feeling". "God has you where he wants you" "God will use you in your job and at school" or "we don't have to go the Africa to change the world" (my personal favorite). I'm not trying to put those down. They're perfectly valid. Actually...are they?

I'm going to get a little more touchy here, but what if those answers aren't exactly right? What if they're kind sorta excuses we tell ourselves to feel more comfortable with our lives? I mean...what about the early church? They went out into the world, without fear, and shared the gospel. Without any thought of a "comfortable" life. They were legit world changers. So what seperates them from us? Why have we fallen into this mindset of "go to college, get a job and try to be financially stable"? Isn't that basically the premise of the "American dream"? Like does God really want us to live comfortably? 

I could go more places with this, but I feel like it's already a touchy enough subject for me to push anymore. 

Maybe it's just because I was created with such a restless (incredibly impatient) passionate heart, but I WANT TO CHANGE THE WORLD...or at least attempt to make a difference. 

My greatest fear is that I'll come to the end of my life and realize I did nothing. I wanted to change the world when I was a teen and now I'm 21 and feel like I haven't accomplished anything. Well...I guess in the world's eyes I have, but I don't know...I just want to do more with my life. I can't even explain it. I just feel like this need to go out and be like Jesus and stop caring about material things and getting good grades. 

I just want to make a difference.  


Monday, September 10, 2012

Agape--> or lack of it.

Have you noticed how little love there is between Christians today? Actually, let me be more specific, have you noticed how little genuine love there is between Christians today? 

This has been something that has been brewing in my heart for quite some time now and again, please forgive me if it comes out incoherently. But I've noticed we place such an emphasis on loving the lost, which is great and all, but I feel as though we've lost the emphasis of loving each other. 

It's easy to love unbelievers. We see them as lost souls; we don't look at their outsides. But we look at each other on a different level. Since we are secure in each others salvation, for some reason it gives us leeway to judge each other based off of appearances and personality.  And if you don't match the criteria, then...oh well. You're ignored. And the best part? We don't have to feel that guilty about ignoring you because you're already saved!

What irritates the living daylights out of me is when we say, "we really need to show the love of God to others" or "We need to reach out in love to the unbelievers on campus". Isn't it just a wee bit hypocritical of us to say that when we can't even have real fellowship and love between our "brothers & sisters in Christ"?

What happens when you save a non-believer? What should happen is that you maintain a steady relationship with them and help grow each other. However, the reality is, if you aren't exciting enough then you're left alone. That isn't right. How many people do you think have walked away from God because they were ignored and treated like crap at a Christian event? What about people who are depressed, who have contemplated suicide because they feel so lonely and no one will reach out to them? What about the fact that people feel inadequate and unworthy because they don't feel good enough to be part of this "Christian elite" group? How is this what Jesus wants of us? 

I came to Salisbury to find that strong genuine fellowship that I feel like I've been lacking and honestly? I could probably count the number on my hand of genuine Christian people who have actually taken the time to reach out and get to know me. It's ridiculous. It almost makes me hate Christians and I am one! Honestly, I feel like non-believers are more genuine and accepting of me then most of the Christians I've met here. 

I know this post is coming off whiny and I'm sorry. But it just...blows my mind. I'm so frustrated. Being around Christians is where we should feel the most loved. Where we feel so at home. It should be like a strong bond. Instead Christians have taken to judging each other and becoming incredibly cliquey and just plain snobby. 

Maybe for once we should take our focus off of others, and direct it onto ourselves. Would Jesus really be pleased with the way we act towards each other? Would He really be proud of the love we have towards each other?

We always talk about how radical it is to love the lost...wouldn't it be radical if we learned to actually love each other?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Are we equipped for the war?

My roommate and I got into an interesting conversation earlier this evening. Somehow our conversation jumped from spiritual gifts to spiritual warfare. We talked about the experiences we've had, or witnessed and how scary they were. We both came to the realization of just how unequipped we felt for it.

And I think many of us can relate.

We all know spiritual warfare is real. But I don't think we understand just how real it is. The bible says that there is war going on around us. Sure, I feel like I'm constantly at war with my selfish desires, but rarely do I feel the full impact of the war for my soul. Can you imagine it? Whenever I think about it, I always picture muscular angels flying around with flaming swords or something, attacking demons and whatnot. 

Somehow I don't think that's exactly how it happens.

I feel like this is such an unexplored part of Christianity. Or something that no one ever wants to talk about. Which I can understand. After all, talking about the devil and demons isn't exactly the most fun conversation you'll ever have. But shouldn't we be at least somewhat prepared? Or know how to prepare ourselves against these attacks? And I know that Ephesians 6 is a pretty good passage to look up if you want to be prepared, but I wish pastors would go more in depth about it. I mean, that passage is pretty powerful stuff! It's telling us how we can be prepared to fight! So why is it reduced to standard Christian cliches?

Why are we so afraid to bring this stuff up? Whenever I ask this question, the reply is almost always something along these lines "we don't want to give the devil a foothold". I can understand that. I also understand that talking about demons and evil all the time can lead to many bad things. However, I think we need to find a balance. This war isn't something that is going to vanish simply because we refuse to acknowledge the full extent of it.

To be honest, I don't think that most of us aren't equipped. At least I don't feel like I am. I've talked to many other Christians who have felt the same way. We don't talk about it because we don't want the devil to have any power in our lives. Okay fine. But isn't labeling it as some sort of taboo that we shouldn't talk about, giving him more power? If we don't talk about it, how are we supposed to know how to fight it? It's a war right? And whenever someone is about to go into battle, they get training. So why aren't we trained? After all, Jesus and His disciples drove out demons. They didn't shy away from it. They were prepared. They were equipped.

 I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this in almost every single post, but I am an extremely fiery and passionate person. And I am  tired of feeling so fearful and unprepared. I don't want to sit by and let this battle rage on while I ignore it because it isn't something "pretty or loving" to think about. No. I want to join this war. And the only way I can do that is if I am equipped. And the only way we can become equipped is if we discuss this. 

Let the discussion begin.

[sidenote: It's currently 2am and I am battling insomnia right now. I sincerely hope this post makes some bit of sense and isn't just a rambling mess.]

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Would Jesus Recognize the Modern Church?

It's no secret that I am not altogether the biggest fan of how modern American church is run.  Or for that matter, modern day Christianity.

(Well, I should say I'm not a fan of how some modern American churches are run. I don't want to lump all churches together when there are some really amazing churches out there.)

Anyways. Before I get into this I just want to say that I know this post will be controversial and maybe offend some people. But honestly? Good. Things need to be a little shaken up. Because that's one of our problems as Christians isn't it? We've (and I am definitely including myself in this) gotten so darn comfortable and somehow have managed to turn Christianity into some watered down version of what it used to be. But let me not go least not in this post. I'll get to that some other time because of course I have an opinion on it. Surprise, Surprise.

I want to make this post as coherent and un-rantiful as I can.  It's something I am extremely passionate about, and sometimes it can be hard to express that passion in an understandable way. But I'm going to try.

A couple of days ago, I was listening to a podcast from Francis Chan and something that he said resonated with me. He asked (and I'm paraphrasing here) What if you had never attended a church service in your life and all you did was read the bible? What if when you read Acts and all about the early church and thought to yourself "That's the church". Would what you read about the early church match the reality of the church now? Would you really expect to see a bunch of people sitting in neat little rows of chairs, singing a few worship songs, and listening to a timely 30-45min. message?


 The early church was real. I can't find another word that accurately describes it. People cared about each other. There was such a deep sense of fellowship and love between the members.

Acts 2:44-47 says, "And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord's Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity- all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved."

 There was genuine love between them. Love that gave freely and without strings attached. Love that sold their worldly possessions just to help those in need. GUYS. They sold their own land! I mean if that isn't doing something in the image of Christ I don't know what is. I'm not saying they were perfect, they did make many mistakes, but they were just so caring. And there was such an emphasis on fellowship that I feel isn't as important today as it used to be. And also please notice that it doesn't say that they met once or even a couple of times a week. No. They met everyday. Everyday, praising God and just enjoying each others precense. Can you imagine that? 

No. We can't. And therein lies the problem.

There's so much fire, and I feel like a pretty just fire in my soul right now that it's honestly getting hard to compose myself. An apology to my poor neighbors who are most likely hearing my grunts of frustration and anger right now. It's just...where along the line did we as a church get so...different? I mean, how did church that met everyday and probably for long periods of time get stuck in such a rigid schedule? When did we become this calculated church society?

And you know I can already hear the arguments against that statement. The excuses that will be raised in defense of the church. Excuses like "well my church does this and that for the poor" or "you can't expect people to sit in church all day everyday". Well for the first, I have to say that many many churches help their communities in big ways. I would be lying if I said the church used to attend didn't make an impact on their community. They definitely do. And I know most churches do the same. And some churches make great strides to give all they can to people in need. I know this. And again, I'm not trying to lump all churches in America together. As for the second, while I understand that we need to work and provide for our families...can we really not make room in our busy schedules for more than 2 hours of church each week? Would that really be so impossible?

 I know that we aren't supposed to judge. Especially by appearances, but it's crazy to me that so many churches today look like hotels. In Dallas, there's even an aquarium in a church. And not just a small one. A 75000 gallon tank. Seriously. Here's a link to their website so you can see it yourself I am absolutely flummoxed by this. That money couldn't have been put to a better use? Like, I don't know...maybe helping out those in need in your community?

It just makes me so frustrated. Why do we spend our money on useless crap? Why do we spend our money on material possessions? Again, people in the early church were giving those up so they could help those in need. And instead of following their example, church money is being spent on redecortating, or the latest technology, or coffee shops! I just...what in the world. And I don't want to hear the excuses of how these things matter. Why can't we just have a simple table filled with coffee and donuts? Why do we have to make a cafe? What because it "brings people together"? I'm sure we can find other ways to get people to fellowship. And yes, wanting your church to look nice is not a sin. But when it becomes the main thing commented on when you visit, doesn't it seem like a problem?" And since when did we start promoting the church while listening to a message? Being on your phone during church used to be seen as disrespectful, but now it's like you're expected to say something good about the message to your friends on facebook and twitter.

I could go on and on about this. And the sad thing?  Some people will read this and immediately close off because no one wants to talk about stuff like this. I've met people who will honestly refuse to listen to a single thing I say about this because they chalk  it up to bitterness. And yes, I do have some bitterness but it's something I am honestly praying to get rid of.

 But this post isn't coming out of a place of bitterness. It's coming out of righteous anger. Anger at how we've become a people content with surface church. Church that doesn't want to "offend". Hey guys guess what? Jesus was kinda offensive! So when did our services get to be this "let's not step on anyone's toes" mess? Where did accountability go? Where did feeling convicted or hearing a message that talks about how painful it can be to walk with Jesus in this world go? Instead we get this watered down "oh you know, you might struggle with some things in your walk with God, but it'll get better!" What if it doesn't ever get better? Do we teach about having joy in those circumstances or do we just quote the verse about Paul saying "rejoice in your sufferings". When did we start caring more about quantity over quality?

Where did that fiery, fellowship-driven church go? And how did we get to this?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

We're all cast-aways in need of ropes

The irony is that while God doesn't need us but still wants us, we desperately need God but don't really want Him most of the time. He treasures us and anticipates our departure from this earth to be with Him-and we wonder, indifferently, how much we have to do for Him to get by.” 
- Francis Chan

Today I was walking around the mall, when I was just hit with the realization of how much I desperately need God.

Of course it would be at the mall. Seriously though.

I can't begin to describe it. I was just floored with this overwhelming desire for Him.

I don't want to go too deeply into it, but lately I have been far away from Him. There have been things going on in my life that I have been having a hard time dealing with. Let's just say this summer hasn't been at all what I expected. And I was on the verge of breaking down, actually I did breakdown but luckily God put it in my heart to call a very special friend of mine who said exactly what I needed to hear.

Sidenote: (Shelby Newcomb. You are amazing and you will never truly understand how much you helped me that night. And I appreciate that you were there to listen to me cry and pour my confusing heart out to you even though you are a working newlywed. You offered so much peace and understanding. You have such a special gift . Seriously.)

Anyways. On top of this need for Jesus, I felt my passion for ministry begin to flame again. Because I have not been as close to God as I should have been, my love for ministry and teens was slowly dying down. I just recently noticed it and to be honest it made me very anxious. Since I was fifteen, I knew that I wanted to work in youth ministry, and to have that desire be hidden because of all the junk in my life? Well let's just say that I definitely have woken up from my haze.

Right now, I am restless. Restless because I just want to dive into ministry. I just want to work at a church, and be surrounded by a strong fellowship of believers. However, with the restlessness also comes frustration. Frustration at myself. I have let fear hold me back from doing so much. Even this morning (well also with the added lack of sleep) I let fear dictate my decisions. Enough is enough.

I don't want to live my whole life being rooted in fear.

It's funny because I always felt like God created me with too much passion. I think that's part of the reason why I often times feel so restless. I have so many desires and things I want to do and help out, that I can easily become impatient and frustrated.

I lost that passion for a little while. I lost it because I got wrapped up in my problems and myself. I got wrapped up in self-pity because of how alone I felt. But I've come to realize that although my circumstances aren't what I pictured, I have the ability to let my desires become a reality. It just requires me to take a determined step out of my comfort zone.

Of course, everything is not beautifully perfect right now. I am still dealing with the feeling of being lonely and desiring that connection of fellowship. I'm still worried about my poor baby Gremlin (car) and struggling with the need to be perfect for Jesus and trying to accept that He does indeed love me. But I feel more hopeful now. And I'm finally taking some action in my life.

I feel like I'm on the road to fully experiencing and knowing joy, not superficial-fading-away-happiness-that goes, I mean true joy.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

All your faults to me make you more beautiful

Curtsey of Kelsi via tumblr:)

I was sitting in church Sunday morning and something the pastor said really stuck with me. He said "everyone is broken." Of course, I already knew this. It's an obvious fact of life. Yet for some reason, that simple statement resonated with me. And it took me awhile to figure out why.

I realized that lately I had become so wrapped up in my own brokenness that I was starting to isolate myself into my own special category. A category that allowed me to separate the brokenness in my life as something unique. Something that few people could understand. 

How ridiculous.

I realized that I was letting myself get so wrapped up in my problems that I was ignoring the pain of others. I was intent on focusing only on my own hurt and refusing to see that others were in need of comfort also. Pain, unfortunately, is everywhere. So is brokenness. I suppose that comes from living in a fallen world. It comes from many things. Rash decisions, selfish choices, and sometimes unavoidable situations. I don't think there is one person in the world who hasn't experienced some kind of hurt in their life. It's not all the same, but I don't think it's fair to "rank" it. Yes, to an outside observer, some pain may seem greater than others, but every person experiences hurt in their own way.  It's not our place to judge. But I'm on a tangent (really you can't blame me if this post doesn't flow. It is 1am.)


Like the picture above says, Everyone is broken but if you continue to live in that mentality it becomes your defining trait. Once you give yourself over to brokenness, it can become incredibly hard to take yourself out of it. In it's own twisted way, it becomes comfortable and you feel safe in that label. Living in that state allows you to keep your defenses up. And if your defenses are up then no one can hurt you. You have control over who you allow into your life and who doesn't get the privilege to know you. I'm discovering how easy it is to live that way and not even realize it. But I'm also realizing how many opportunities and how much of life can be missed out on living that way. And it isn't worth it.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with brokenness. In fact, it can be a powerful tool for good. It can help others. It teaches life lessons and it can be a step to becoming closer with God. It's only if we let ourselves fall completely into it and let it define us. That's when it becomes dangerous.

It's not easy getting over brokenness. I still have a lot in me that feels damaged and broken, but I also know that I'm not allowing myself to become consumed in it. Why should I waste my time feeling sorry for myself when I can be helping others?

I'm beginning to see the beauty in brokenness. Or maybe I should say the opportunity. There are so many people out there who are broken. They need hope. So why should I focus on myself when I can be sharing the love of Jesus with others who need it the most?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I Want the Whole World to Come Dance with Me

The world is waiting.

The world is huge. Duh. But have you ever really thought about it? I mean there is SO much to it. So much to discover. I feel as though I've been subconsciously living in this mentality that I will be stuck in Maryland forever. I was thinking about what seminaries I could go to after I graduate that were here or at least in the surrounding states, and then it hit me. Why? Why was I limiting myself to this area? I could go to seminary in California, Florida or even England. 

Hello! I could end up anywhere.  

I have this desire to explore. I want pack everything in one bag and just travel. To anywhere and everywhere. I want to see the world. I want to witness other cultures and customs. I want to go to Africa and give as much love as I can to those kids. I want to give them TOMS shoes and see the joy on their faces. I want to go to Australia and surf and enjoy their low key lifestyle. I want to go to England and hear their amazing accents and go sight-seeing. And of course, traveling to Sweden and Iceland is a must because they have the coolest music. Not to mention Ireland, New Zealand, and even places in the US. 

There is so much to see. 

I was born with a restless heart. One that never seems to be content in anyplace for long. I have this...need. A need to move on, to try new things. A need that craves change. Of course I have fears. And I've let those fears and lack of money keep me from doing so many things. But in the undoubtedly wise words of Matt Thiessen, "overcoming these obstacles is overcoming my fears". 

I don't know where I'm going to end up. I could end up in another country or state, or even Maryland. That's the beauty of it.  All I know is that I refuse to place anymore limitations on myself.

So. At the risk of sounding oh-so-cliche...

Let the adventures begin. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Honey I'll Be Gone Before the Nightfall

Ahh Summer. 

Obviously it's the best season. There's no question about that, although fall is a close second. I don't know what exactly it is about summer that makes it so amazing. Maybe it's the incredibly beautiful blue skies, or the immediate warm "hug" you get once you step outside, or the feeling of hot sand between your toes at the beach, or being stupid at the pool, enjoying barbecues, playing outside with your friends, or sitting outside on your deck, sipping on some tea, enjoying an evening thunderstorm. I could go on an on. Summer is just so...busy. Yet relaxing a the same time. People are always outside, always doing something. It's a season of change. And this summer, I'm doing something different. 

I decided to stay in Salisbury this summer and live by myself. I know it's not really a big thing. After all, I'll only be living three hours away. I don't know exactly why, but for some reason I just felt this pressing need to stay in Salisbury this summer. Even as ugly and boring as it can be, I just feel really at home there. Don't get me wrong. I love Frederick. I just feel like I've outgrown it? I'm not sure if that is the right way to describe sounds so snobby and "I'm better than you" and that's not what I mean. It's just...I don't feel like I quite belong here anymore. I don't really have a home church here anymore (not after that whole debacle last year) and my friends here...well we're all moving on with our lives, and we're at different places. I just feel less relate-able now and less like I fit in here. I don't think it has anything to do with those around me, I think it's just the kind of person I am. I've always loved change. I know, it's weird. But I'm the type of person who actually looks forward to changes and new things. I love meeting new people and I love doing things. ALL THE TIME. I want to take as much advantage as I can of being young. I mean, I'm only 20 (well 21 in three months but you know...) And I guess I just feel like living in Salisbury, I'll be able to do that. I have more opportunities to grow and change, at least more than I do in Frederick. I love the church I attend there, and for once there's actually a youth pastor that encourages me in what I want to do. I feel genuinely cared for there. It's a nice feeling. 

As much as I'm going to miss my family and even Frederick, I know Salisbury is where I'm supposed to be this summer. I can't wait to get started on my own little adventure there.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Art of Labeling

I know, how corny is this? A second post on the same day? I'll just chalk it up to eagerness I couldn't control.

Everyone of us is a product of labeling. In some way, whether it is conscious or unconscious, we have labeled someone. You don't even have to know someone to label them, we just do it. 

However, what we may not realize about labels is how limiting they are.

I've known for sometime now what I'm generally labeled as. I'm referred to as "quiet/shy" and "sweet". Those of you who know me a bit better would probably disagree with this. To be honest, I have struggled with this label for a grossly long period of time. I personally don't see myself as those things. I am definitely not quiet and not shy. I love people. I love being around them. I'm an extrovert. Being in the middle of a crowd is one of my favorite things. It's alive and exciting. I love to talk, probably more then I should (my poor roommate is a saint for putting up with all my chatter). I'm loud and I can be annoyingly obnoxious. And while I don't consider myself to be a horribly mean person (although I was sorted into Slytherin does that even happen?!) I don't necessarily consider myself to be sweet. Nice, yes. Sweet, no. There is a difference.

Not only are labels limiting, but they have the tendency to stick around for a long, long time. In the church I attended for 19 years, this was my label. And every area of ministry I went through or served in, this stigma remained firmly attached. No matter what. And when I did do something that was in-character for me, but out of character for me according to others, I was criticized for pretending or trying to be someone I wasn't. I was never able to be myself. And it didn't just happen there, it happened at school. Different labels, but still ones that have stuck around until now. I will admit, I am fortunate in my labeling. It isn't bad by any means, it's just...boring. Sweet and exciting aren't normally associated with each other. People generally want to hang out with a fun person instead of a sweet one. And that's happened to me before. Because of a label and not having the chance to prove myself otherwise.

I'm not trying to make this a corny "this is who I am accept me for what it is" post, although it may be coming off like that. It's more of a challenge. To myself and to others. 

When I really spend time thinking about it, how silly is it that we do this? Our entire outlook of a person is based off of a few interactions. People are complex. Even the simplest person has many layers to them. Yet because of the labels we put on them, they are confined to one character. And most of the time, it's characteristics they don't even identify with! Can you imagine how many people out there are not who we think they are? And I don't mean that in a bad way. We just never give them the chance to be who they want to be. 

My challenge to myself is to stop. I have lived with the frustrations of incorrect labeling. Knowing how dumb it is, how can I actually do the same to someone else? It isn't right and it isn't fair. 

Foreshadow What's to Come

When I think about writing blogs, I imagine sitting at a cool unknown coffee shop on a beautiful autumn afternoon, sipping on some chai and listening to indie music. Instead, I'm in my living room at home, with a humid breeze coming through the windows and sipping on some hot coffee. However, I am listening to a wonderful indie playlist.

So I have one thing right.

I've realized this is my third (fourth if you count tumblr) blog I have started. I suppose I didn't have to create a new blog, I could have just added this on to one of the other ones. But as odd as this may seem, my other have blogs have sort of created a "theme" in themselves and this one wouldn't fit in. The lovely thing about this blog is I have no idea what it's "theme" is. It can be anything.