Wednesday, 23 April 2014


I'm trying to think of what has been on my mind in all the leftover space. To be honest, I haven't been hashing through any grand or lofty issues. Sometimes I just get very quiet and contemplative and content with the present moment. That has been happening a lot lately. I've just been appreciating life and where I am right now, soaking in time, praying quiet prayers, and generally flying under the radar. I really love flying under the radar: not in the sense that I am underestimating myself, but in the sense that I know myself, I'm secure in where I am and where I'm going, and I like having ambiguous areas in my life that only I know about. 

A steady theme in my life this year has been the idea of becoming autonomous- not relying on anyone else or anything else for my identity, yet being part of a community and loving it well. I'm so prone to dive in and latch on to places, ideas, people, and when the time comes to move on, the rip is anything but clean. I leave kicking and screaming and finding hollow places in myself that I try to cover will all these external things. Not anymore. I've brushed up against that elusive balance between independence and interdependence. We all need people and places and seasons, but not as saviours. 

I wrote the above over a month ago. As the end of first year approached, I began reflecting on the past eight months more often, in quieter moments. It's funny how little memories remain impressed in my mind. They seemed so insignificant at the time, but really those little moments were mini turning points, pulling and twisting me into change and a new perspective. Looking back, I was so right. I'm done school now. I've said good bye and, somehow, I'm not very sad. Of course, I know I'll be going back next year but the old me would have tried to hold on to little pieces of this past year, attempting to preserve them. Now I've come to realize that good friends, good places, good experiences are a gift to be enjoyed and thankful for. There are always endings, but there are always beginnings, too. Life ahead is full and promising.

I remember one night, in the middle of winter, I was in my room, wrapped in a blanket, and suddenly I had this clear thought: "Christy, what do you actually want?" It wasn't a selfish question. I had been frustrated with myself and cloudy areas in my life that didn't seem to be working out in a very clean or ideal way. When that question dropped in my mind, I was reminded that I was drifting toward a very problematic path of living in a way that seemed "right" because it was the direction that I perceived most other people to be walking. However, when I thought about it truthfully, I realized that it didn't fit with who I was at the time. I was trying to shuffle myself into a "norm" rather than being honest and making decisions for myself.

That moment released a dozen others just like it over the next few months. Surprisingly, staying true to myself and the direction I knew that God was guiding me in allowed me to love others in a more free and accepting way. I think it made me more secure in myself. It's a strange paradox: focus on yourself, and you will be freed to live for others. I've been trying to unravel it for a while because it can be so easily misinterpreted or misunderstood, but it is something essential that I had been missing for so long.

It might be the difference between people pleasing and loving people. I think before I would have said that I was "living for others," but really I was trying to bend into the person I thought they wanted me to be. That isn't helpful for anyone. Rather, maybe this paradox should look more like: know yourself, and you will be freed to love others. If I were to nail down one part of me that changed the most this year, that would be it. Know yourself, love others.

For me, this "knowing myself" part meant allowing myself to own opinions and speak them. It meant exploring who I am as an artist and understanding who I am not. It meant balancing time spent with people and time alone. It meant figuring out a new rhythm of prayer and listening to God. It meant staying healthy mentally, physically, and emotionally. This is only the beginning of my personal list. There are so many things that tangle and cross to converge within us as humans, and it is the untangling and massaging out the knots that teaches us who we are, one lesson at a time.

Autonomy. It's something I didn't know I needed to grow in until it happened. I'm seeing now how being a Christian is a lifelong journey. I am constantly being taught and changed by God and it is always intriguing to me how God is going to grow me next. It is such an adventure, and it never fails to challenge me, perplex me, and bless me in hundreds of different ways. Like I said, endings always trail into beginnings. Life ahead is full and promising.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The One I Didn't Want to Post

I didn't want to post this. There is nothing scandalous here, no deep, dark secrets, but being vulnerable in a public space is just rough, sometimes. Often I'll learn things about myself and it turns into a post and I just kind of pray, "God? Couldn't you teach me about some kind of world issue or.... I don't know, something else that isn't so personal!? Couldn't this be a bit less like a journal?" But no, this is what it is.

As a little update, I've been keeping up my weekly pilgrimages to the mall to pray. I keep the fact that I do this pretty quiet in "real life," because I love having this space in my week totally carved out and secret. I've had so many interesting encounters and experiences on these outings, and it is a rhythm that has enhanced my life, and my relationship with God, so much since first semester. it is amazing how simply taking the time to show up and pray expectantly, or just sitting in silence, has opened my eyes and my heart. It has been a way to intentionally refocus, and it has been so, so worth it.

I've changed so much over these past two semesters of school. One of the prayers I pray most often is: "God, what needs to change in me now?" I find that those prayers are always answered in the most interesting and startling ways.

That essay I wrote about? The issue was less about the content and topic of the essay, and more about what it sparked in me. I'm finished it now, but I've been thinking hard about all of this, grappling with this passion I have for writing and where I want to take it from here. I say I'm grappling with it because, really, it has been a point of contention with myself for as long as I can remember.

Writing is what makes me fundamentally myself. Words on the page expose my most truthful self, something that can't be expressed in any other way. On the other hand, I've always wished that I had a different gift. I've tried to store this one away, hide it, downplay it, pretend that it isn't mine. I've been frustrated that writing isn't a necessarily "performable" talent (like dancing or singing), I've kicked back against the honesty that writing forces me up against every time.

When I think of who I am, the first two words I would use to describe myself would be "writer" and "introvert," both parts of myself that I've wanted to change countless times as I've grown up. I've always had this strange wish to be a logical, extraverted person and not this quiet, creative personality that I've been given. I remember, as a very young girl, retreating to my closet to write among stacks and stacks of papers; half finished ideas, stories, letters. I hid it all. Even now, I equate writing with hiding to some extent.

Hiding. Flying under the radar. I've been a bit of a wallflower all my life because it is the most comfortable place for me to be. I prefer to stand away from the spotlight. My idea of a good time mostly consists of activities that can be done alone. That is my niche. However, as a Christian, being alone all the time isn't what I've been called to do. I've also been given this intense love for people, and I've been learning to balance my natural tendency to retreat and this calling to love people.

So- writing. It is uncomfortable. It is gritty. It is also one of the most fulfilling parts of my life. Just as I haven't been called to hide away, I have also not been called to stifle my gifts or hoard them selfishly. That is why I share my writing. It is not something that I want to do, exactly. I'm not here to impress anyone or imply that I have all the answers. This is what I have been given, though, and every time I have used this gift, I've been blessed in countless ways. I'm reminded of the parable of the talents in the Bible, the one where the servant buries the treasure his master gives him rather than putting it to use. That is not who I want to be.

This year, praying about what needs to change, I've grown into myself more than ever. I've begun to embrace this creativity, my writing, my opinions. I'm trying to hide less and settle more into what I've been given.

This is where I stand now, at the edge, batting questions back and forth and peering through keyholes in search of answers. I'm constantly being pushed into uncomfortable corners of honesty and truthfulness, and I'm learning to be okay with that. I'm learning balance and autonomy and wisdom. I'm learning to accept the gifts I've been given and use them well. I'm learning that change is an ongoing process and that when I ask, I will receive. When I press in and really seek, I will find. I might not find what I thought I wanted, but that is the beauty of it all. There are so many unexpected gifts in so many unexpected places.