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It is officially my favorite season of the year! I love nearly everything about autumn: sweaters, pies, heartier beer, changing leaves, knitting, long pants, apples, apple-picking, and the cool chill of evening that feels just right with a cup of tea.
This week, my good friend taught me how to knit “in the round,” so I’ve been making myself a hat with some yarn I’ve been saving! Here’s what I’ve been doing all day (besides being thankful to be at the front desk at work, and not doing my actual job):
As dreary as it is today, I look forward to the days with crisp air and clear skies and changing leaves. I think most people see autumn as dreary and as being the beginning of the dying of the year, but I find a freshness and newness each autumn. Having begun something new each fall for the last 15 years (school, new job, new apartment), it’s hard for me not to feel expectant as the air starts to chill. This year I did get a new apartment, and with that, a new community. A small one of two other girls also living in the apartment, a slightly larger one in the “compound,” and an even larger one in the Neighborhood of the Arts. As I enter this season, I look forward to marking the first year with the one I love, to traveling to see family for holidays, to settling into (and finally unpacking!) the apartment, and to seeking after God and His purpose in my life, which is sometimes a nebulous thing, with a hopefully renewed fervor.
Big. scary. word.
Discipline. DISCIPLINE. Here are some things discipline is starting to mean to me:
Not buying fancy (read: expensive) coffee every morning. Tithing even when it’s scary. Bringing my own lunch to work. Sticking to my budget. Running. In the morning. Not eating that ice cream sandwich. Actually reading my Bible (note: this has only happened once in recent history). Going to bed on time.
I’ve been struggling with the idea of discipline for a while. I am not disciplined in regulating what foods I eat, thus I am, uh, curvy. I am not disciplined in regularly practicing, thus I am not as good a guitar player as I could be. I am not disciplined about where I spend my money, so I sometimes have to do some “creative finance,” as my mother calls it.
But there is hope! After trudging through on my own for so long, it finally occurred to me the other day that this is not a battle I can possibly ever win on my own. Cheesy as it may sound, I need God’s strength in this one. If I can not lean on His strength, I can never hope to be disciplined in following Him.
This feels like a new journey. I am a lazy, lazy girl, so I’m sure it will be a fight.
One more thing, and then I’ll stop yabbering. I woke up this morning, having talked myself into a morning run, and when I got to the door, it was raining. So I went back inside, knowing I had time to sleep another 30 minutes. Instead I turned my coffee maker on, grabbed some breakfast, and went into my room. I grabbed my Bible, which has been acting as a coaster, and sat on my bed. In the peace of my room, I opened to Romans 7 and realized Paul had the same struggles. Not being able to control his own sinful desires, He too had to lean on Christ.
I am freed to be disciplined in Christ.
To steal a phrase from John Mayer.
Today at work, I spent the afternoon looking at pictures of people’s tattoos online. I have a really cool one on my right foot — Psalm 46:10 in my grandmother’s handwriting — but I’ve been itching to get another one. As I saw some really beautiful tattoos, and some really terrible ones too of course (why would you tattoo your own name on yourself!?), I couldn’t help but want something totally badass. It was that moment that I felt like I’d settled into some kind of cookie cutter. I don’t really think that, but at that moment…I wasn’t sure.
Maybe I would be destined for mini-vans and always wearing shoes so the other moms at play-group wouldn’t see my tattoo. Deep inside, I know that’s not me at all. I am not destined for any kind of boring normality. But I can’t help but wonder what I’d look like at 40 covered (at least a little bit) in tattoos. Would I be excluded from any jobs I might want to pursue? What would my boyfriend’s parents think? Isn’t growing up and becoming normal what people do?
I just can’t own a mini-van. Ever.
I soon found myself looking back (from the ripe ol’ age of 22) on my earlier days of crazy hair colors and earrings spanning the entirety of both my ears. Not that I feel the need to be-jewel my ears again or dye my hair pink again. I think I’ve matured at least somewhat past the “I must look a certain way to be cool” stage.
But really, do any of us really get over that? I’m just saying. We all dress the way we do for a reason. Because we like it, cool or not. We choose to present ourselves the way we do to make whatever statement we want to make.
I digress. You can go back in time and un-read those last two paragraphs if you’d like.
It was this whole issue, or at least my tiny mention of it this afternoon, that prompted Elliot to diagnose me with a quarter-life crisis. And…I think he’s right. I am in this very unsettling stage where I feel like I should have more things figured out. I don’t know what I want to do. I don’t always know why I say or do the things I am saying or doing. I am lazy. I have an unreasonable desire to purchase a sportscar… No scratch that–that’s the mid-life crisis–but I am just itching for a new tattoo. And a path.
Recently some things fell into place in my brain. If I can get a job that will actually pay me enough to only work that one job, I can actually have time to practice and play music. Friends, this is big. I am falling so head over heels for the So and So’s (my church band), for that feeling of connection and art and music–not just the sound but the spirit–ugh, I want to do it more. Sometimes I catch myself thinking, “Man, too bad I didn’t get a degree I can use for a job. Why don’t I like anything enough to do it for a job?” And then I have moments playing music, spontaneous “One clap…two claps” erupting from the congregation that I think “Yes. Yes, this is it. This is it.“
So, step one: Real job. Step two: BAND. Practicing, writing, honing, disciplining, playing.
I am constantly haunted by these words:
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” (-Annie Dillard)
Constantly. As I watch forty of my weekly hours pass sitting in an old desk chair staring at my computer or practicing my zen breathing to keep myself from becoming overly frustrated with one of my customers, I can’t help but wonder what I am doing here.
I am twenty-two, wildly passionate and just as wildly lost it seems. Just a year out of college, I am constantly bombarded with, “Oh, so what are you doing now?” I find myself trying to make my job sound more interesting than it is. I’m working for the orchestra! I’m really enjoying it.
I am treading water.
Fortunately, my job gives me a lot of time to read my daily digest of blogs. Jon Acuff, author of Stuff Christians Like, wrote this article on his 97 Seconds with God blog. Jon reminded me that even after David got called to be the king, he went back to the fields to be a shepherd a while longer.
This is a pretty comforting thought. I know this stage in my “career” isn’t going to be forever. I am working nearly full-time for basically peanuts with no benefits. Not that money is really the goal, but I would love to have a job where I could pay all my bills without waiting tables on the side. If David had to tend sheep, maybe I can sell tickets to some cranky old people. And let’s be honest people, even Jesus was a carpenter before he was out preaching the good news.
At the same time, however, I feel like I am wasting time. How I am spending my days is sometimes troubling, and I find myself floundering when someone asks me what it is I really want to do with my life.
I want to love people. I want to feed the hungry. I want to see justice happen here. I want to make music. I want to be a good listener. Someday, I want to be a loving wife and mother.
Can it be good enough for me to be in a field right now? Hopefully good (read: more interesting) things are on the horizon. This fall I am hoping to start a seminary program. I am thirsty for reading and lectures and ideas and papers. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? I can’t wait, and I think that must be a good sign.
After debating for a while whether to start my old blog up again or start a new one, I opted for fresh. If you are sneaky enough, you may be able to find the old me out there in the internet-abyss, but for now I will focus my literary energies here.
After spending perhaps all of my twenty-two years figuring out exactly who it is I am, I decided this summer that it didn’t matter so much–that I would let myself just enjoy the journey and not worry so much about the destination. It’s funny how when you feel like a new person, you begin to feel like yourself again. And you want to start fresh everywhere.
I immediately bought a new journal. New me, new journal, right? I got sucked into the world of Twitter (follow me there!), and finally decided I needed a new place to blog to top it off.
All this to say: Welcome to my new blog! I hope I can verbalize some of what goes on in my sometimes ridiculous brain. Sometimes it just helps to write, you know? Don’t expect brilliance or magnificent eloquence–you will be disappointed–but welcome.