Monday, December 11, 2017

Magical Thoughts

I asked my social worker for a list of Bible quotes regarding waiting. That led to a list of quotes about patience. And upon further reading, the quotes are not a one stop shop for patience nor waiting. But that’s the way any reading is--it’s the blueprint to a deeper meaning. And sometimes that deeper meaning is only accessible with what we interpret around our lives.

The quote coming from the over-quoted passage in 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 about love. Perhaps you’ve heard of love? Love is patient, kind, it does not envy; nor does it boast because it’s not proud. If you read further you will see another over-quoted passage that speaks about growing into adulthood by leaving childish things behind.

Have you associated both passages to the final verse in that section, aka 1 Corinthians 13:13? Paraphrased, Apostle Paul says that as an adult--or a mature being, we are to abide by faith, hope, and love. But of all three the greatest is love.

That’s magical in the child-like sense of magic...to leave childish worries aside to leave insecurities and doubt--could we just have faith, hope, and love? What a clandestine thought, if we just held each other in faith. If we just held hope for each other. If we loved each other. Well, if we did all three we’d have a very blessed world.

At its root. If we had faith in ourselves and our personal relationship in Christ. If we had hope in ourselves and our talent, treasure, and time. If we had love for ourselves to know that we are nothing more than clay refined by the flame of our Lord. Yet because we ARE molded by our maker we ARE more than just clay in the earth.

If I could open a box in my mind and be filled with all these magical thoughts. That I could be filled with faith in myself, hope in myself, and love in myself. If I had these, then maybe I’d finally reach the other end of this severe depressive and anxious crisis in my life. Then maybe I’d be magical inside and out. Shining even to myself.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Running on E


E is for Emergency? Empty. E is for empty like when your tank is empty in the middle of a fake gasoline crisis after Hurricane Harvey. These past few weeks I feel like I’m running on E. It could be that I haven’t had enough sleep. It could be the decrease in Vitamin D from the lack of sun on the streets. It could be stress. It could be that I haven’t been attending church regularly.

Whatever the case. I’m low on specific neurons that keep me bustling around. And I use little things to keep me running. Things like proper meals, chocolate, ice cream, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

It’s not an easy thing to run low. But sometimes I think that if you have the energy to do something, you do it. If you do not have the energy to do something, you still do it. The ends sometimes justify the means. Even if you’re kicking and screaming on the inside.

Or as my sis sometimes says: even if you’re dying on the inside...the last time she employed that phrase it was to say that we’ll never walk a narrow line between paying bills late and getting services discontinued before paying bills late. It’s a fine line.

Maybe a goal needs to be to NOT run on E. Even if I don’t want to, I have to. It’s what I’ve always told myself and maybe I’ve always been wrong. There’s only one way to find out. To gas up before I hit E. To keep up, keeping on.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Get it done.

Children of the 90s really enjoy a couple of things no other children do. Like high fructose corn syrup, tootsie rolls, Blues Clues, well and then some things like bumper stickers. Remember the age of bumper stickers and key chains sayings. The popular slogan, “Just do it,” motivated the masses. Made a billion dollars for multiple industries and kinda really reinforced a culture of motivational seekers.

Throughout all this phenomena… we’ve forgotten a motivational message that doesn’t not sugar coat things: Get it done or die. It’s clear cut, negative, and fear inducing but it’s the best kind of motivation. Get it done.

How can this motivational message be put into practice? Well, there’s something I’ve kicked around in my head. It’s this question, “how badly do you want something?” You’re going to want it so badly that you’d fight to stay alive for it. That was my answer after regurgitating the question, chewing it up, bring it back up--pretty awful sounding right?

But it got done. I found a insensible answer to an insensible question that felt like my responsibility to answer. It’s a do or die type of world and we’re either doing or dying. Don’t think that some are going to want something bad enough they’ll die for it. Some of us just want to do things so badly we will do them instead of dying.

It’s just something different. And it will be done.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Leaving things behind

It’s not always. But when I forget things at home, I forget things like my cell phone. My wallet. And sometimes--if not most often, my house keys. It’s kind of bad when you forget your cell phone but it’s absolutely worse when you forget your wallet. Money is super important. Lucky for me I leave spare money in random pockets of my wallets in case of emergencies.

It’s always easier to talk about tangible, physical object when approaching a subject like “leaving things behind.” It’s not always clear how to best transition between the physical thing and perhaps the emotional thing. Or time periods in one’s life. So I’ll quickly segway this conversation using scripture and societal teachings.

If you look at 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” You can see, well I can’t, I have seen many refer to this line as a grown up acceptance line. This line is something that Mexicans, as a society, reinforce with things like “you’re not a child anymore.” Or, “you’re too old for that,” or “act your age.” This line in Scripture and phrases clearly draws a line in between “adulthood” and “childhood.”

But nowadays, we have found a gray ground called “young adulthood.” That broad spectrum after youth and adulthood where one is not quite a child anymore and not quite an adult.I feel that I jumped into that young adulthood realm too early as a child. I didn’t do it alone.

I had encouragement from adults when my younger sisters could participate in children’s activities and I couldn’t because “I was too old for that.” Or “I wasn’t a child anymore.” Incredibly enough I’m only three and four years older than my sisters. But I left my childhood behind in between seven and nine years of age.

In a sense, leaving something intangible behind is the same as leaving something physical behind. You might not be reunited with it at the end of the day. But I can vouch that after a long and winding road you will encounter what you’ve left behind.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Drawing the Line

There comes a time in my life where I set my priorities straight. Usually every few weeks when I decide that I’m not doing enough with my life and that I do not deserve breaks. I do not deserve time to breathe and I most definitely do not deserve time to refresh.

It’s clearly not true and I’ve learned that I’m not the only one that feels that way. So I decided to set my priorities straight (again). My priorities as of today are pece, health, seminary, employment, travel, and having a dog. Though, I did hear a very convincing argument for owning a tortoise.

So where do I draw the line? Clearly a lot of the stuff I fill my time with are things I enjoy. I enjoy going to work, I enjoy helping people out, and I enjoy everything I do at church. But then...what are some things I can do to enjoy myself that are regenerative, peaceful, and nurturing?

Well that’s why I think that buying an elliptical is a great idea. Just kidding.

I don’t exactly wake up every day thinking “how can I change the world,” but I feel that I try to make at least ONE person feel like they are cared for. If I can make it my life’s goal to set aside a little bit of the day to make myself feel cared for… then maybe I’d be onto something. Maybe that’d be the fine line between doing things I enjoy for others and doing things I enjoy for myself. It might just work.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

H. A. L. T.

If you ever need an acronym to live by, it hast to be HALT. If you’re ever in a moment of distress or you’re seriously considering why you’re doing whatever you’re doing. HALT, is a good way to just stop. Stop. Ask yourself:

Am I HUNGRY? Am I ANGRY? Am I LONELY? Am I TIRED?

Sometimes it’s too easy to not “halt” to “keep going” and to “not stopping.” And in my case I was just angry and tired. Angry because I had no control and tired because the lack of control took my ability to sleep at night. And the anger led to more tiredness and the tiredness led to more anger.

And instead of stopping things get shut down. If I like crochet; then crochet goes away. If I like to cook; then cooking goes away. If I like to write; then writing goes away. Everything that brings me joy seems so unbelievably unworthy because the cycle of anger and tiredness are the only important things in life.

And slowly I put everything about myself into a box.

And that box compresses everything until things leak out. And quietly things like hobbies ask, are you still interested in us? Sunshine, are you still interested in me? And slowly the box expands, disappears a bit. I recenter, refocus.

I just need to stop sooner. The roller coaster doesn’t need to end up in hell before the next spin.

Friday, September 22, 2017

This Day Made for Me

Four years ago on this day, I was baptized as Sopphey Vance. We had a small service in the Fellowship Hall of the church because the sanctuary received new carpet. You could say that the previous summer was the Summer of Love between Christianity and me. But it wasn’t without a fight, without drama, and without hardship.

At that time I had ended a big part of my social activist life and at the same time I hit rock bottom physically. If it wasn’t the nausea, the mood swings, the panic attacks, the fatigue, the constant upheaval, the tears, the arguments, the end of a relationship...it was that haunting and gnawing feeling that though I ran. I could not outrun God.

I had vowed to myself on the January of that year that everything would change. That I would never suffer like I had the past few months. And I still did, but through that suffering, anxiety, and indecisiveness I found myself standing face to face with God once again. The last time being 12 years before when I told God, without knowing if God was real or not, that He could stuff it because I was branching out.

Four years ago today I stood in that church professing my quavering faith to Christ. Professing my intent to do sin no more. I stood there reciting the Apostle’s Creed, the Lord’s Prayer--and I trembled with fear. Because through my physical illness I looked at God straight in the eye and I said clearly. “Do your worse. Anything you do worse than what you’ve already done in the past year, I will endure it! I will lift my aching, sick body, and will do this. Your agenda and mine will work together.”

That’s how I entered into covenant with God. Along the way I learned I was saved through Jesus Christ. And I learned to be in communication with the Holy Spirit for the good of others or for me. Nine months ago I decided to further my dedication and promise to God by expressing my intention to go to seminary..and to be ordained..and to proclaim repentance and forgiveness.

And now I’m having doubts. It’s not that I doubt God’s call, because I can’t put my Bible down and I can’t stop innovating and doing things at church. It’s not that I doubt that I can teach Bible Study or any number of things I do at church. I’m fighting with God. Maybe I’m not as bold as Jacob was when he fought with God. But I am a fighter before I am a lover.

And today, I fought. Today I didn’t lose but I changed my attitude. This doubt that I hold is not consistent with my beliefs. If anything it’s trying to rip the foundation of my core apart. Who I’ve been as an individual and who I am in Christ are not completely the same persons. They’re a mix of each other for better or worse.

And where does that leave me in my covenant with God? Well, there’s enough boat left to save myself as the rains flood over the earth. I’m not perfect and I’m not the best. But, to be a good follower of Christ I do believe there are some things that I could do better in. Then there’s stuff that I have no power over and I turn those over. I pray for the strength every day to continue my path with God.