Saturday, 31 October 2009
I have a curious habit of talking to strangers and getting myself into trouble. This week, I have done this twice. The first time, I got talking to a man by a lake before my seminar who far too often insisted on kissing my hand and/or cheek. This made me feel horrible. The second, last night, I had been walking around and started speaking to this guy who offered to sell me weed. I told him he didn't need to sell weed, that I wasn't going to buy any, that my boyfriend (who always pops into existence when I'm talking to strange men) wouldn't like me to meet up with him, and despite his efforts at persuasion, I would not hang around to help him sell. I did give him some chocolate. He did follow me up the road. It was late. Admittedly, I got nervous. After a dramatic few minutes, all is well.
Anyway, some things struck me.
First, both of these guys said the same thing, "I think you could help me". The lake man wanted me to get him off drink and go to church with him. The drug dealer said "I think you'd be good for me, a good influence". I said, "I'm rubbish".
This I think is sad in two ways. First, that I was telling the truth.
Second, that I'm willing to bet that neither really wanted help.
And I'm thinking, where is this harvest? Where are these people thirsting? Why do I find only falseness and manipulation? If I were a guy I would have met that dealer. So frustrating.
This is very incoherent, probably because I've been reading for 15 hours. About fish in the enlightenment. Electric fish that don't in fact help hemorrhoids at all. Shocking. Literally. Disenchantment essays are due in Wednesday which meant I had a surreal experience of the IC late on a Saturday night...dark and dingy, energy-saving lights flickering where needed...I found it slightly sinister to drift into people so quietly and regularly in the occult section. Weird.
Anyway, the point is, Agape is on tonight. Agape is showing Jesus' love to students in and out of clubs through talking, giving out water, praying and generally looking out for them. It goes on every major club night in the week, 12.30-3.30. Tonight being Halloween, it's an exciting one. Even more so than usual. Lights in real darkness. I haven't done agape yet this year. I want to, but I'm held back, just like I am getting into a church...resultantly, I'm considering studying in Canada next year. So tonight I'm once again sat alone, praying over people doing what I should be doing, wishing I was. Where is the harvest? Where are the thirsty people? They're there! ...Where am I?
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
So, the youth worker (I think he was called Tom) from Philly was walking through town, and passed a pub. As he passed the pub, he got a bad pain in his knee. A few minutes later, he walked past the pub again, and again his knee hurt inexplicably. He looked in the window and saw a man in a wheelchair, and felt that this was a prod from God to pray for the man. So he went in, explained that every time he walked past the man, he got a pain in his knee, and asked if he could pray for him. The man was quite indifferent, but agreed. He explained that he had been in a motorcycle accident 2 years ago and had been paralysed from the waist down ever since. He unstrapped his legs from the chair and turned back to his pint and friends, and continued talking to them as Tom prayed over him. After a few moments, the man said, "hey, what are you doing? My legs feel hot". Tom smiled, "that's cool, don't worry. Sometimes when God's doing stuff like healing you'll feel heat. It just means God's working". So he kept praying. A minute later, the guy shouted, "No! Stop. I don't mean my legs are mildly warm, I mean they're hot. They're burning. They're on fire! It really hurts!". Tom stopped praying sharpish, slightly concerned. The man was rubbing his legs, batting them as if to brush burning embers off, frantically. To do this more effectively, he stood up out of his chair. His friends stared open-mouthed. Tom stared open-mouthed. The man remained stood, realised what had happened and shouted, "Holy -!" Something I wasn't told what.
God is awesome. And present-tense. And life-changing. And compassionate. And ready to meet people in pubs.
Something I don't get is why healings aren't on the news. Somebody was resurrected in Exeter this summer. Who knew? People get healed every Sunday at probably hundreds of churches. Yet the majority of the nation would dismiss this. I wonder if that man from the pub knows Jesus yet.
Sunday, 25 October 2009
Saturday, 24 October 2009
I love people. And I love relationships with people. Not romantic necessarily. But intimacy, I think, makes love so much more than that accepting, non-judgemental, help you out if you're in need but leave it at the superficial, thing that it can be...or that it can be given as a name for. But for intimacy we have to be honest, because if, say, I go round censoring what I say, throwing out this image of myself into the world that I want people to see, acting perhaps not how I would if there were no expectations to live up to...if people like me, they don't. Not really. They like who I think they'd like me to be. Where's the satisfaction in that? Bar the self-congratulation of fooling everybody successfully for another day, reaping the esteem and acceptance of people as reward for a perpetual charade? I personally think we're all great actors sometimes.
I would love sometimes, for people to be truly honest. I would love for people to cry, just burst out, when they feel like rubbish. Instead of smiling. I would love, when people are happy, for them to sing. I would love a generation of people to stand up and say, "I don't have a clue what life is about, and it's scary". I would love an answering crowd to shout, "I think I've found what you're looking for". One in twelve students at UK colleges have suicidal thoughts. But everyone is so concerned about being just as normal as everyone else, that few say anything, and remain feeling alone and hopeless. Honesty threatens our pride, our reputations, but if people opened up, if people were real with each other, more things might happen. Real issues might get brought up. Real prayers might be prayed. Real lives might be changed. Real relationships and real love.
Or we could keep acting.
To quote Damian, "Like communism, it's a nice idea, but it's never going to work".
My heart lives in my mind. I'm that person who confesses undying love even when there's no hope of it being returned, because that's just how I feel. If I hear something horrific on the news, I'll cry at the radio, because if something breaks your heart I say let it. React. This morning I watched a video of 2 baby ducks hatching from the same egg, and smiled for 10 minutes because it was just beautiful. The other day, I was sad, so I emptied all the coins out of my purse into my bag, walked around campus and pretended that I was a pirate and the jingling noise was my treasure. I smiled in my mind. I also said "arr" when got bumped into in the shop, and this made me smile out loud, but luckily they didn't know why...because honesty is good but I don't want people thinking I'm mad now. I have my limits. I won't tell people when I'm really sad. I won't tell people when I feel miles from God. Even now, I'm thinking how I don't want people to know that these things even occur in my life- should I delete the last sentence? Crazy.
I don't know what the solution is really.
I'm relatively happy today, to be [truly] honest. My head really hurts though. Ouh.
Thursday, 22 October 2009
I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day.
What hours, O what black hoürs we have spent
This night! what sights you, heart, saw; ways you went!
And more must, in yet longer light's delay.
With witness I speak this. But where I say
Hours I mean years, mean life. And my lament
Is cries countless, cries like dead letters sent
To dearest him that lives alas! away.
I am gall, I am heartburn. God's most deep decree
Bitter would have me taste: my taste was me;
Bones built in me, flesh filled, blood brimmed the curse.
Selfyeast of spirit a dull dough sours. I see
The lost are like this, and their scourge to be
As I am mine, their sweating selves; but worse.
It's been making me a little itchy in seminars and lectures recently, that we keep brushing past Christianity everso briskly, and often not in a positive way. In literature, it'll be cynicism in Emily Dickinson about the hope of resurrection...talk of the sleeping dead waiting and waiting as the world spins perpetually on with no sign of a call for them to wake. In history...well, in HST114 it's all religion mixed, confused and saturated with superstition, harsh rituals and graceless persecution out of fear, with rationalisation being considered impossible to reconcile to belief in God. In HST112, it's the crusades, enforced conversion for political stability and persecution of heretics. All I want to do (apart from whack some sense into the majority of past generations) is to tell the people around me, be it 9 in a seminar or 300 in a lecture, that what they're seeing isn't it. That being a Christian isn't about violence and ritual arrogance and enforcement of law and control over society and intolerance of others...but that it's about love. Grace. Freedom. Truth. Peace. And relationship with an all-powerful, all-compassionate, all-faithful God who is jealous for our hearts and who knows each of us and wants each of us to know Him and enter into a true and incredible love relationship. A God who cries for the broken, weeps for the persecuted, fights for the oppressed and dies for the sinner. All I want is an opportunity...and the spirit to take it.
Going to be late for a lecture!
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
I've been thinking a lot about identity and what defines us recently. Chris Easton's oh so Scottish voice resonates in my mind, "I...am a muppet". My thoughts exactly. First thoughts. Give me a second and I'll reinforce, I'm a child of God. Still a muppet, and worse, but God loves me and made me like Him and everything I am/have/do is down to Him.
To be defined by God...is this different from what I'm saying here?
People define us I guess. We can't stop them. I implode a little when I consider that people have opinions about me...I'm certain most won't be good. I think I'm finding this hard right now... I don't make close friends all that quickly, and I feel a little left behind on the outside. But, I do have one relationship that's lasting and dependable... basically, this isn't the most cheerful revelation in some ways. Sorry. I suck a little bit. But even so, I have a love greater than life in me, and I want to spread it. The jist- I'm probably not everybody's cup of tea...but I'll make one for anyone?
Sometimes I want to get rid of myself...my personality, everything about me, and just be a mirror of Jesus. I just want my life to be an expression of the love that God has for everyone on this planet, and this voice tells me that who I am can't possibly be that. I guess there's a balance that needs to be reached. The rational part of my mind tells me that I was made how I am for a purpose, that my traits are designed for what plan God has for me to glorify Him.
As is probably evident, it's been a rough couple of days. Disturbingly familiar feelings. But, we persevere. I keep wanting to run away, as usual, but won't. "The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."-Exodus 14:14. In some ways it's good, because when I feel rubbish all I can do is give myself to other people, otherwise I feel there's no point in being here. If only I could do that all the time! A life of love, why? Because He loved us first. And how great is that love! that heals, saves, conquers and restores. Rather good. Flipping awesome.
It's raining. I love it. Rain down.
More of You!
Saturday, 10 October 2009
Trials and tribulations.
Life's good. God's doubly so. Life is also hard. And although it doesn't affect His aforementioned goodness, God can be troublesome...for such a weak one as me. He never promised an easy ride, only that we'd never fall from the palm of His hand no matter how hard we're rocked.
Right now I think I'm in the fire. Or on the ironing board. Or the potter's wheel. Being refined, having those creases pushed out, the dents and deformities re-shaped. I know this is a constant process, that I'll be here until I die, but this time right now I'm feeling it with pressure and intensity. It's hot and heavy and makes me dizzy. Things are hard, I'm discontent and broken. I find myself unable to stop tears flowing at most inopportune times. Sometimes. As I stated at the beginning [of life, of this page], God is good, and this has not and will not change. Parallel to the beautiful brokenness is an abundance of joy. Thus is just one of the paradoxes of life- how immeasurable happiness can live symbiotically to intense longing and sadness- mutually exclusive but at the same time inexorably linked. I need to point out right now that the apple I'm eating comes from a bag of 6 from Tesco and having opted for the cheapest (88p), I'm disappointed to find it tasting explicitly alcoholic. To the linkage- everything that I'm sad about is part of this refining process. Lonely? Rely on God. Unloved? Fill yourself with God's love and pour it out on those around you! Other examples are not so easy to sum up in bitesize portions. Something I will say is that so often I know how I should be living and just don't. Recently I've actually taken action to correct one -yes, only one!- issue- and still I complain! I belong with the Iraelites, grumbling about my empty stomach and burning feet. Why would you lead me this way? What are you thinking? Don't you know it's hard here, I'm not comfortable, I'm famished, I was so much better off before when...oh, wait. Slavery would not be so appealing if our perspective was undistorted. Think about it rationally and this is really a pretty great desert, with grains of grace and freedom. Sure, we're headed somewhere way better, and this isn't by any means ideal, but we're safe and on our way.
My word talk about stream of consciousness.Patience, Iago.
In other news, I bought climbing shoes today (using 2 weeks' worth of food budget). I usually wear a size 6. They are a 4.5. They are also shaped like a claw, so that my foot goes into cramp when I put them on. I cannot wait to try them out in the morning. Time to be humbled!
Thursday, 1 October 2009
One of my history modules is on The Disenchantment of Europe in some area between 1570 and 1770. I think. Anyway, it actually is really interesting because it's all about what people believed, why, and why it changed. It makes me wonder why I believe what I do. There's so much that I just seem to accept and integrate into my world-view without really thinking about it. So I keep drifting off in lectures to ponder life, the universe and everything. I was doing my first bit o' reading for quite some time today in the IC, eyelids sliding precariously shut for alarming amounts of time, when odd phrases jumped out at me, "the Reformation once again assumes a critical role in effecting the development indicated in the title, a key symptom of which was the reconceptualization of religion itself as a set of internalized dogmas rather than ‘a ritual method of living ’." Now, I'm deceptively bad at history, so may well completely misunderstand this, but God knows how my mind works and how I'll take it- Sometimes I think I'm in a "ritual method of living"...I live life with these sets of morals and rules, but perhaps more out of habit than zeal. If I thought about it, I'm sure I would act the same, but with a greater understanding of the purpose and effect, and I think this consciousness is actually a really important aspect of life. Otherwise, there's no meaning, reason or rhyme. Just a clanging symbol, out of time and echoing discordantly. So, all in all, I'm asking myself, "why?" quite a bit. Why do I believe? Why do I live how I do? Why does it matter?
God is good. So good.