Starting Again

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I’ve been making excuses for not blogging for quite awhile, mostly because I didn’t think I could keep it up while working the night shift. That’s probably true, but I’ll give it a shot anyway. My 16-year old brother promised to harass me to do at least one a week. It was really therapeutic when I blogged consistently before. I have been writing on the side, though, mostly journaling with a little bit of world-building on Scrivener. I haven’t quite worked up the gumption to try my hand at high fantasy, but at some point, I’ll get there. Playing around with concepts and characters has been fun.

There’s been almost zero consistency in my life for the past two and a half years, which is often frustrating. I have a lot of free time, but that comes with the price of being perpetually sleepy (no fatigue, though, thank goodness!) and awake at mostly odd hours. This past summer, I’ve started to channel some of that free time into more productive activities than Netflix and Hulu (mainly because I’ve watched nearly everything I’m interested in, but I’m pretending that it’s because I’d like to pursue more stimulating past times).

What I did is I bought a bunch of random good books (so that way if I tired of one genre or author, I don’t have an excuse), and I made a goal for myself. It’s a lot easier to focus on reading now that I’m not constantly in pain. One of my favorites from August was Never Let Me go (Kazuo Ishiguro), recommended by a good friend. That same friend also helped me gain momentum reading more challenging books, just trying ten or so pages a day. I’ve been slogging through The Sound and the Furyand have been heavily relying on SparkNotes). It’ll take me awhile before I’m brave enough to attempt stream of consciousness again.

I’ve also been trying different types of exercise. Before, even swimming brought me pain, and that’s supposed to be one of the lowest impact sports. I started out by trying hatha yoga a year ago, (which is a whole other blog post entirely), and have since been able to swim again and try pilates, cycling, Zumba, and long walks! My biggest milestone was going on a 5.6 mile walk last week when on a family vacation.

So, good things are coming, better things are ahead…

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Ender Hits Home **spoilers**

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**spoilers**

I just came back from Ender’s game and feel a little shell-shocked. That’s good, because that’s how I felt after reading the book for the first time. Ender was publicized as a kid’s movie, and the reviews I read were mixed, as I think people wanted to see the entire book visualized on-screen. (To me, that’s boring. Example 1: the super long Pride and Prejudice). Nothing about it was childish, though.

Watching the xenocide happen, as I knew to expect, made my mind fly back to Star Wars and hearing Ben Kenobi say “I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.” The death of the bugger homeworld hit me much harder and more personally than watching the death of Alderaan did, because I felt the connection to Ender’s feelings.

Ender’s loss of innocence strikes home, because it’s a significant part of growing up. Parts of us die and are broken constantly, and we try to cling to our previous ideals. It may be that they are right or that they are just comforting, but losing those parts of ourselves is always hard.

To me, that’s why the Cross is so comforting. We are given new life and the ability to live boldly and differently. Even after our hearts are changed, our natural state constantly works to destroy pieces of us, and others participate in that destruction. Jesus offers us the chance to participate in our own healing. Like Ender, we are given opportunities to love and give ourselves to others, and in that process, our hearts are healed.

While maybe the movie didn’t do the book justice or it left out a few things I liked, I came away feeling satisfied. Card’s unfilmable book translated better than I would have ever imagined.

On Change, Personality, and Our Infinite Souls

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I’ve been thinking a lot over the past year about how people change and grow. Because I’ve been in an acute and concentrated stage of transformation, I felt like I’ve lacked perspective in this area.

A friend once said to me that “people are constantly fractured, constantly evolving”. I argued that I thought there was only one big and true change that can occur in a person’s lifetime and that there are simply moments and times when you run away from yourself and try on new things.

If that’s true, then I am terrified. I don’t want to believe that my only big change was when my heart was redeemed, because I have seen the ugliness in my heart that I am capable of time and time again after that change. I want to believe that God is bigger than all of that, that He can continually take all that is unholy and all the damage that I wreak, and make something better out of me.

My friend continued, saying that “there are moments where I could take two totally opposite paths and be true to myself. Within me are different forces and facets working with each other and against each other. If we are fundamentally the same, there is still much under there that lies unseen.” I think that’s much closer to the truth.

How can I be this soul with depths that I can’t comprehend, be made in the image of God, and yet still remain unique and the same, in spite of growth and experiences? It seems paradoxical that I remain fundamentally myself even though I am constantly renewed, transformed, and purified. Can my design really be a glimpse into the nature of God Himself? If I am truly this complex, then I can’t begin to comprehend the complexity of the Creator.

C.S. Lewis touches on this, and also reminds me of who I interact with daily.

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations–these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit–immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”

When I, or another, is in one of these stages, when it feels like self is slipping away and chaos takes hold, I start to panic. I start to wonder if my world will ever be the same again, or if I really knew myself or the other person at all. I have done this continually, even though God proves Himself just as frequently.

But then, I am slowly starting to gain perspective and see the bigger picture. As an individual, I have gone through many rough personal stages already and been through difficult times, but I know that I am better for it and have learned a great deal.

Maybe times of struggle, even ones where we see ourselves or people close to us slipping away and turning into something unfamiliar, aren’t so bad. Maybe it isn’t so terrible that we are forced to walk through those times even though the outcome is uncertain. Maybe there are times to step back and stay safe, when things become toxic.

What I do know, and what I believe to be the most comforting thing of all, is that situations are only hopeless and people are only beyond help when God is out of the picture. I know He isn’t, and that in spite of my fears, I will persist in “considering it all joy”. 

A Year and a Half and a World Away

It’s that quiet time at night, where nearly everyone is still, but my mind is neither quiet nor still. I have a feeling it’s going to be awhile before I become disciplined again and learn to focus my thoughts. Let me give you flashes of the time that’s gone by, and you can glean what you will.

I found myself becoming “the worst version of myself” and sought to change things.

I’ve tried new things, some successes and some failures.

I’ve already completed more off my New Year’s Resolutions list to date than I have any other year.

I found out I had a new disease just before the old one was treated (successfully, after eleven years).

I made more new friends than I thought I could, and much quicker than I ever have.

I’ve moved twice, and once on my own. (And when I did, I realized 75% of my belongings are books and that I could put another 10% in storage and not miss it a bit).

I’ve had enough people make me cry that now only ones I care about can make me cry.

I walked a trail just one year and two days after my procedure…something I thought I’d never be able to do again.

I’ve stayed up for more than 40 hours straight and loved every minute of it.

I wrote a book (it’s not very good, and I’ll probably scrap it. I just needed to finish something).

I’ve learned when it’s time to say no and hold ground and also when it’s time to concede. In spite of all the changes, new experiences, disappointments, and growth (I hope), I’m still the same person and glad of it. This quote from Alice in Wonderland sums up how I feel about things:

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

This is all not specific enough to satisfy anyone, I’m sure, but I think a few tidbits after a long hiatus were called for.

On “Safe” Religion, Freedom, and a Firm Foundation

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Antigone's Clamor

I like that Christianity is not an easy religion. It is one that does not give us all the answers, but rather, it gives us the tools to search for them. I always reflect on the story of Jacob, because I consider him the most perplexing Biblical character. In spite of his deceit, his trickery, his weakness, and his audacity, he was one of the three Patriarchs, honored by generation after generation. He was beloved by God, but he was the least admirable of the Patriarchs. Hamlet might make a better hero than him. But God chose Jacob, and that is a concept for me to wrestle with.

I’m going to talk about a few of the aspects of Christianity that I find incredible, and I’m adding in quotes from a book on Jacob by Madeleine L’Engle, called A Stone for a Pillow. Unfortunately, I can’t remember what book…

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