nostalgia, and how to abandon nostalgia. (dear you, pt. 9)

i think that this is what it feels like to abandon nostalgia,

because the things that have passed were great,

(in fact, they were incredible),

and the people in the past were great,

(in fact, they seemed incredible),

but the memories seem tainted now.

the rush of those moments and the thrill of the nights,

now stained by stark reminders of where i took myself,

and who i tried to become.

i had it all and lost it all,

only for so many of the ones i thought i loved to become ghosts.

i think this is what it feels like to let go,

because the calls stopped as soon as better options and opportunities presented themselves,

and as soon as i didn’t have anything more to offer that you wanted.

the joy of giving myself away seems squandered now on people who didn’t seem to want to give any of themselves back.

at the end of the day, the more you allow yourself to be treated like a commodity, the more you’ll mistake that for community.

i think this is what it feels like to wake up,

desperate to rewrite the future while taking the best of the past and shaping my present reality.

it’s all so simple now when looking from a distance. it’s painfully obvious and sometimes more painful than usual. but the fight is slowly proving to be worth it.

the things that made me broken are teaching me to be whole.

and so while i miss the many things that I have lost,

i’m learning to embrace the things that i have been given in order to receive far more in the future.

it’s scary and painful and downright exhausting. but it’s a fight worth fighting every time.

 

 

dear you,

i miss you, and all of the moments we shared together; all of the laughter and tears and honesty. i wish we could have that again.

but i think this is what it feels like to finally love myself.

grey. (everything ends someday, pt. 4)

life was simpler when things were black and white,

but when things got hazy nothing focused quite right.

i don’t think our eyes have become accustomed to seeing grey.

it’s messy and painful and usually scares me away.

like i don’t belong,

(and yes it is true that we don’t fully belong here, but we should at least be able to set some things down and adjust)

and like love from those around us only covers a limited amount of wrongs.

there’s no words that people have spoken to me lately that have brought anything other than grief.

i’m just trying to find some room to breathe and begging for relief.

there is a promise that i still hold true- that God shines through the darkest days;

it’s just maddening when those you love seem to be adding to the haze.

maybe we weren’t meant to see grey.

maybe we can’t handle the nuances;

maybe we don’t know how to pray.

because life is so unfathomably complex,

and maybe the fall was when we started asking, “why?”

unfiltered, these distinctions, these subtleties are masterpieces and they’re wonderful and inspiring.

maybe the haze has just confused us and caused it to spiral and spin and left us with migraines.

maybe we were meant to see grey,

but maybe i can’t handle it yet.

could you help?

i think you’ve tried.

but maybe after all of the nights like these where i bared my soul for anyone to see, you’ve all grown tired of hearing from me. maybe i’ve burned you out,

because you don’t ask me about it anymore. instead, my progress has been much slower than you wanted, and it’s become a chore for you to try and get me to grow up and figure it out.

so you wave cordially,

smile when you can,

and maybe someday i’ll be useful again.

maybe you know what it’s like to understand grey,

and so for someone to miss it so often feels like a lost cause.

maybe we weren’t meant to see grey.

maybe we were meant to see grey.

right now, it’s blurry.

 

 

everything ends someday,

and it ends up right back where you started, picking it up.

only this time, it’s left a stain and now you’re done being let down.

i’m sorry to let you down.

one year ago

one year ago,

i had a place to call my own,

and people who helped make it a home.

although

i lost some sense along the way,

and the damage was always growing. bigger and bigger,

until the cracks could no longer hide beneath the surface.

one year ago,

i had a place that i called home,

and the relentless desire to make that home known.

but maybe i tried too hard to make it my own,

and maybe i had been given too much space to roam.

i don’t know how i threw it away,

but it doesn’t feel like home today,

even though the ones i love never left their places,

i still can’t bear the disappointment on their faces.

one year ago,

those who i held dear were all gone,

and it was a sign that i wish i hadn’t missed.

those people are back, and they’ve given my heart a home,

and a reminder that sometimes we can get lost when we set out to roam.

one year ago,

i was searching for love.

although,

i think that i really just wanted acceptance

at any cost.

this longing for a space to fit into turned me into a shell of what i thought i once was.

and in the end,

those who i was trying to impress are now at some of the farthest distances from my heart.

meanwhile,

those who i thought had lost hope in me pulled me from the wreckage.

one year ago,

everything was different.

and i told myself,

“it’s going to be different this time.”

in many ways, things ended up being different,

but so much remained the same.

the problem is,

how do you know if the things that changed are for the best?

can you truly know if this is the right place?

because everything feels wrong right now,

and yet in the midst of the chaos there remains elements of beauty.

often, it’s a chaotic beauty. there’s a sense that we’re all still a huge mess, and we all know it.

and yet the pursuit of a Father who truly understands our pain and our needs and our longing unites the chaos,

and holds these pieces together.

one year ago,

i lost sight of the center.

i lost sight of the Savior.

i lost my vision and i lost my way.

i’m ready to pick up a map,

put some glasses back on,

and head back towards sanity.

happy new year.

servant of all (politics, the election, etc)

In 1858, Abraham Lincoln gave a speech at the Illinois Republican State convention known has the “house divided” speech. It was referencing a concept that Jesus spoke of in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke: “If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” (Mark 3:25 ESV). That to me isn’t the standout line from Lincoln’s speech, though. It’s this:

“If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it.”
-Abraham Lincoln

 

I think that when I look at my country right now, I ask one major question:

 

Where the hell are we?

 

 

I’m 22 years old. This is the first election that I’m registered to vote in (I could’ve voted in 2012, but I registered too late). This has been by far the nastiest election cycle I’ve ever witnessed. I spent this morning looking up polls and surveys on the election, mainly because my Netflix keeps cutting in and out. Priorities, right? Here are some interesting stats I found from Pew:

 

·      Less than half of voters say they know “a lot” about where Trump and Clinton stand on important issues (41% for Trump, 48% for Clinton)

·      36% of Republican-registered voters and 35% of Democrat-registered voters say they are satisfied with their candidate.

·      33% of Trump supporters say the main reason for supporting Trump is that “He is not Clinton.” 32% of Hillary supporters like that “She is not Trump.”

·      64% of voters say the campaign is not focused on important policy debates.

·      71% of voters say this campaign is too negative.

 

How did we get this way?

Why have we settled for such mediocrity?

 

This election has been particularly troubling for me as someone who professes to be a believer in Jesus. Christians have been placed in a weird spot this year. We’ve lost any ability to claim to be the “moral majority”, at least in my opinion. Many who supported Trump early on simply because they could not ethically support a Clinton presidency have been faced with two choices: attempt to justify the abhorrent things Trump has said about women, minorities, Muslims, etc. (which is a rather amusing song and dance to watch), or somehow ignore these things altogether for “the greater good” (the greater good meaning keeping Clinton out of office). Many are taking sides in the election specifically on the issue of the Supreme Court and the unique position we are in right now with the amount of vacancies. It’s a complicated issue, one which I still don’t fully know where I stand.

 

What I do know is that so many of my fellow Christians have sacrificed their witness in pursuit of politics. I’ve seen more hurtful things on Facebook in the last two years than ever before…MOST of them coming from fellow believers. Whether it’s subtle (or not so subtle) racism, the Black/All/Blue lives arguments, the hateful comments made towards the gay community/Muslim community/non-right community, or even the harsh words spoken to me over simple statements, it’s a freaking mess.

 

This country is hurting. It’s hurting badly. So many acknowledge that the status quo has to change, but are unwilling to do so. And I see the hurt from all sides. I see communities of color who feel marginalized and attacked by their government, their law enforcement, and even the church. I see police officers and police families who I respect and admire and who have suffered needless violence and vitriol in the last few years.  I see non-straight friends who have been hurt by the church and are struggling to find a place to belong. I see poor families who don’t know how to break a cycle of poverty and despair, and I see middle to upper-middle class families who feel strangled and suffocated by an overbearing government. I’ve watched countless friends walk away from their faith in God not necessarily because of intellectual debate, but many who simply don’t want to be associated with a religion that has been represented poorly by so many. I also see close followers of Jesus who desperately want to see this world change and who genuinely love and care for their brothers and sisters, but who are really starting to understand what Paul meant when he said that we are aliens and foreigners in this world.

 

I hate the polarization. The divide has become so wide, and yet so many of these issues are not black and white. We’ve become so quick to generalize the “other side” that it becomes easy to demonize them. It’s easier to respond All Lives Matter than to acknowledge the hurting in the Black community. It’s easier to fiercely claim to be pro-life than to love the women who may have made the life-altering choice of abortion. It’s easier to try and vote for “the lesser of two evils” than it is to reform an inherently evil system. It’s easier to come up with stock answers for the issues of this day and age than to realize that things are far more nuanced than they seem.

 

Paul spoke in his letter to the Corinthians about how in our freedom, we are to serve all for the sake of the Gospel:

 

“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.  I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” 
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 ESV

 

A servant of all.

 

As Christians of all races, ages, genders, and statuses, are we willing to become servants of all?

Are we willing to be the servants of our black and other minority brothers and sisters?

Are we willing to be the servants of our law enforcement communities?

Are we willing to be the servants of the LGBT community?

Are we willing to be the servants of our Muslim neighbors?

Are we willing to be the servants of liberals?

Are we willing to be the servants of conservatives?

 

Are we willing to do all of these things for the sake of the Gospel? It’s hard. It’s uncomfortable at times, and it’s downright painful and messy at times. I don’t think there’s an easy answer. Are we willing to be wrong? I hope so. I hope I’m willing to be wrong. I hope that I remember that the sovereignty of God is much bigger than the sovereignty of the United States, and that someday this country might fall like every country before it but God will still reign. I hope I remember that if Trump wins, God is still God, and if Clinton wins, God is still God. No matter who is on the Supreme Court, or what laws pass and don’t pass, or who can marry who, or what I can or cannot do in this country, God is still God. America is not God’s chosen nation. It is a great nation. But my allegiance is to God and God alone. I could be dead wrong in everything I wrote here, but God is still God. And I have to believe that if the Gospel is our number one mandate, it has to come before America, or before an election, or before our security and safety, or before “religious liberty”, or before anything else we think matters.

 

Hebrews 13:8 reminds us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” I don’t know who I am going to vote for next week. I know that God’s will doesn’t depend on who I vote for. I know that God’s will is to show love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control towards those I don’t agree with. Even online. And for the sake of the Gospel, let’s try and figure this one out.