Unbad

I read something recently in response to which I wanted to comment that the existence of worse things in the world does not make a bad thing unbad.

And then I talked to a friend today who just got back from a service trip in the Philippines and I realized that maybe I was wrong.

Maybe in some situations, the existence of extreme poverty makes the idea of taking a minimum wage job at a restaurant after getting your bachelor’s degree sort of unbad.

 

Or maybe it was just never bad to begin with.

 

I often hear stories of third world countries and barefoot orphans running through the streets with nothing to eat, but today I was reminded that the life I have really isn’t my own.

It’s God’s breath in my lungs so I will pour out my praise to the one who has ordained that I be here at the exact time and in the exact place I am this very uncertain post-grad moment.

Because I’m realizing that so much of what I thought was bad, is actually unbad, and that if I really think about it, all the unbad things in my life are actually gifts from God.

Wonderment

Today it was so hot we turned the AC on.

And then it started raining.

Hard.

I heard it before I saw it, and when I saw it, I yelled, “It’s raining!” and ran to watch water meet earth, to feel sky water meet skin.

My brother asked me why I had yelled, but I couldn’t put my finger on it–there’s just something magical about rain, isn’t there?

I went outside, then brother, then sister–we had a water day the natural way. No sprinklers or hoses or pools–just sky.

What is it about water falling from the sky to fill your life with wonder?

And then later the car ride to church was one of the best I can remember–nothing extraordinary–just infectious laughter and singing and playing and I blame it on the rain, on the unexpected wonder of it all, on the brilliant sunset and the hope that comes from appreciating small things like falling water droplets in hundred degree weather.

Mary

Today, my great-grandmother passed away at the ripe old age of ninety-one. And there’s this theme in my mind that I’m struggling to pull together, because the thing is, I didn’t know my great-grandmother, Mary well at all.

There are a couple things I remember about Mary–I remember that she smoked when she was still independently living on her own, and that she smiled a lot when she lived in her convalescent home. Beyond this, I have to rely on my grandma and great aunts and uncles to get a picture of this woman whose existence was crucial to my own.

This week I’ve been thinking a bit about how sometimes you can discover things about yourself you never even knew. Like for example, last week I found a scar on my lip I didn’t know I had, and I thought, “Whoa. How has this little imperfection been a part of me, right here on my lip, without me knowing anything about it for years?”

And today, as I was rereading some of my great-grandmother’s poetry, I remembered the first time I learned that Mary Gallegos was a poet in her own right. There was this feeling of connection, this weird sense of a sort of poetic inheritance that I had received.

I’ve come to understand something about myself–that poetry is my second language, my heart language. And reading my great-grandmother’s poetry, I wonder how it’s possible that decades ago this woman, with whom I share flesh and blood, but almost no relationship, was writing these words of deep pain and longing in a form of writing so dear to me.

There was always this poet in her that I never knew. And it makes me wonder what else I don’t know about myself and my story. But Mary’s story is a part of my own, and I have to wonder if poetry is in my DNA, if it runs in my genes like the Dutch and the Mexican do, if maybe I wouldn’t be who I am without my great-grandmother, for more reasons than just the biological.

“I can’t believe it’s been a year

I hoped the passage of time

Would ease this sorrow of mine

And maybe at night I could

Fall asleep without tears”

–Mary Gallegos

Take the Next Step

Most of us have heard it said over and over again that, “There’s no such thing as a bad question.”

I understand the intent behind the statement, but I disagree with it on a number of levels, one of them being Biblical.

I watched this sermon by Holly Furtick yesterday called, “I’m Just a Girl” (http://elevationchurch.org/sermons/im-just-a-girl/) and it was exactly what I needed to hear. Holly talked about Mary and how when God called Mary to be the mother of the Son of God, Mary asked Gabriel a question,

“How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

Holly made the point that Mary wasn’t doubting God–she was merely saying, “Okay, awesome. How? What’s this going to look like?”

In response, Gabriel explains to Mary how she’ll become pregnant by God’s very Spirit. Whoa. Cool.

We know that Mary’s question wasn’t doubtful because of how differently things went down for Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, and her husband, Zechariah. Zechariah was also told that he was going to miraculously have a child, but he asked Gabriel a different question,

“How can I be sure?” In other words, “Really?”

And then Gabriel told him that because of his lack of belief, Zechariah would lose his ability to speak until the day his miracle child was born. Whoa. Harsh.

Sometimes we ask the wrong questions.

I highly recommend watching the sermon, but I want to quickly share the main thing I took away from Holly’s message:

Sometimes we ask God to tell us what to do with our lives. “GOD, HELP WHAT DO I DO? Make the path clear, Jesus!” And then we wait. And wait. And complain because it seems like God isn’t answering us. And then we wait some more.

But sometimes we’re asking God the wrong questions.

Sometimes God has already told us what our next step should be, but we didn’t like that step, or we decided that we needed to wait for the whole plan to be clear before we moved a single inch. Sometimes we pray for clarity and God’s actually waiting for us to move in on the opportunities he’s already set before us. He usually doesn’t give us the whole map, just one specific direction to follow, and when we can handle the first one, he’ll give us the next, and when we can handle that one, he’ll give us another.

The only prerequisites for being used by God are a willing heart and the courage to take the next step.

What’s your next step?

Holly’s message: http://elevationchurch.org/sermons/im-just-a-girl/

 

 

Becoming Family

When I was younger I used to pray and ask God for community. I didn’t realize I was praying for community at the time, but I was–I wanted to be close with other people’s families, to spend holidays with them and have a level of comfortability with them where we all sort of just felt like one big family. I wanted people to know me and I wanted to know them.

I think my desire partially stemmed from being an only child for ten years and not really having close relationships with my extended family. It was just me, mom, and dad for so long but while God created my parents with more introverted natures, he created me to crave and thrive on close relationships.

I’m saying all of this because when I was younger I started praying for families who we could become family with and then freshman year my family moved to Japan…without me. And while I understood why they left and supported them in their mission, my heart sort of broke from the distance. The move was for an indefinite amount of time and when the summer after freshman year came around and I realized I didn’t really have a home to go to…it was sort of, well, sad.

But then one of my roommates invited me to stay with her and her family in St. Louis and I got to know her parents and siblings and cousins and aunts and uncles and close family friends and I realized how much of an answered prayer it was that my family moved to Japan–it was devastating, but it opened up doors for me that would have never been opened if my family had stayed local. All throughout the school year, families from my church opened up their homes for me during holidays and weekends and I had the opportunity to get to know them on a deeper level, just how I had always hoped I would.

I’m writing this specifically tonight because I’ve been feeling a little homeless lately as I’ve tried to figure out how to avoid a two hour commute through L.A. traffic on Wednesday mornings. I’ve been making it work by spending Tuesday nights at my best friend’s apartment, but she’s in Brazil for the next month and a half so…I’m homeless again.

And I was sort of giving way to anxiety when I got a text from Summer saying that I could stay with her and her family. And I realized once again how much of a blessing it is to be some version of homeless for a time, when people open up their homes and allow you to become a part of their families. Tonight, I am grateful for uncertainty and not sleeping in my own bed.