25 November 2007
There was nothing specifically wrong with the day--it started out quite lovely, in fact, but for some reason it just wasn't good. My computer mouse refused to have a little holiday cheer and cooperate. I burst out into tears at the craft store over next to nothing. The number of commercials in the Ravens-Chargers game drove me to near insanity, and I'm not even much of a football fan.
Such a day called for extreme measures.
After sending a frustrated email to a close friend and searching iTunes for a song I'd been wanting, I pulled out the big guns--I cleaned my room. Yes, parents, I clean when I'm upset (it's not as perfect as it sounds, ask my mom.) In fact, it's so obvious that I clean when I'm upset that my ex-boyfriend once walked into a kitchen to find me cleaning, stood there with a look of absolute dread on his face, and said, "You're cleaning. What did I do?"
Indeed, cleaning is my anti-drug, or at least my anti-frustration.
I suppose it has something to do with making order out of the chaos of frustration (thanks, freshman Intro to Psychology), but for some reason it works. Within five minutes of clearing off my desk (and listening to the aforementioned iTunes purchase), life wasn't so terrible after all. You know how they say that music soothes the savage beast? Well, cleaning soothes the savage LooHoo.
It makes me wonder, why is it that cleaning will calm me down so quickly, but I never think to pray when I'm so upset? Why do I prefer a broom to a rosary? Everyone has their "thing" that they do when they're mad--some take walks, some listen to music, some hit a pillow, some eat comfort foods, some clean. I wonder why it is that more of us don't "take it to the Lord in prayer" as the hymn says. I certainly don't.
The idea opens up a whole can of questions. Even if I did stop scrubbing the shower long enough to pray about my sorrows, would I feel better? Would the "peace that transcends all understanding" settle upon me? Would I trust God enough to actually let go of my problems? As much as I'd like to answer yes, I'm not so sure I would. It would probably end up as more of a "Hey God, this sucks. Love, Me" sort of prayer, letting God be my venting platform, but not my solution. And even if He did solve it, would I recognize it as God's work, or would I attribute it to whatever I did in the meantime?
So many questions, so few answers. Perhaps I should just pray about it.
21 November 2007
But wait! When does God ever just give you one chance to completely embarrass yourself in the name of faith?
And so, about five minutes later, the woman with the pink hair (I wonder if she's any relation to the Man with the Yellow Hat?) walked back in, got some coffee, and sat down as far across the room as possible from me. Excellent. Not only do I have to talk to a complete stranger about something that she might not want to talk about, but I'd have to take a walk to do it. I enacted my plan carefully: walking over to the snack corner (which was inconveniently the closest destination to the woman with the pink hair other than the seat next to her) I poured myself a cup of water and stood about ten feet away "watching the fish tank" (in reality, there was a rather interesting Blue Tang doing what seemed to be a synchronized swimming routine with itself, so I really was interested).
Suddenly, I jumped as the automatic doors behind me sprung open and a male nurse came out shouting "Kimmy? Kimmy?" and looking around. The woman with the pink hair tried to get his attention, but he was too busy looking for Kimmy, who was taking her sweet time sauntering across the waiting room. Now was my chance! "Sir? She's trying to get your attention" I pointed to the woman with the pink hair. "Oh, how can I help you?" he replied as she sprung up and ran towards him, mouthing "Thank you so much!!!!" as she passed me. As the nurse, the woman with the pink hair, and Kimmy (finally making it to her destination) disappeared behind the wooden doors, I sat down in the seat across from the one the woman with the pink hair had just vacated, ideally positioning myself just in case she came back.
Oh yes, it was ingenious.
My chance came about two minutes later as she returned, wiping tears from her eyes, and sat down across from me. Well this is more awkward than I expected I thought to myself. Taking a deep breath and trying to seem as pleasant as possible, I ventured, "Do you need someone to talk to?" She looked up from her tissue, sniffing a little bit. Here it was. The make or break moment. Either she could spill the beans and confide in a total stranger or turn down my offer for companionship and therefore make the rest of our time in the waiting room incredibly awkward. The proverbial ball was in her court. Taking a shaky breath, she explained everything like we were old friends sitting in her kitchen. I moved across the aisle to the seat next to her as she continued her story, looking relieved to have someone to talk to.
When she finished a few minutes later, she wiped some more tears off her face. "I saw you waiting over there with your friend, is she okay?" We talked for about a half an hour about anything and everything, from the masters degree she was pursuing (a combination of forensics and being a coroner, from what I understood) to what I'd do with my degree (teaching/writing/pastoring/whatevering) to her husband's musical talent (a fellow cellist!) to the tattoo on her wrist (her grandfather's dog tag number, which apparently her grandmother thought was "neat"). Just as my friend was coming out of the emergency room, she was called back. Standing up, she put out her hand, "I'm Sarah, by the way."
Isn't it amazing how many times you share your life story with someone else only to learn their name at the end of the conversation?
As my friend and I left the hospital and headed back for school, I glanced over my shoulder to catch one last glimpse of Sarah. Alas, all I could see was a head of bright pink hair walking down the hall toward the nurses.
"Who was that?" my friend asked.
"Oh, just a new friend" I responded.
See, that wasn't so bad was it? said The Voice. You should have asked her how much that tattoo hurt, though....
15 November 2007
Do read on.
Let's start at the beginning (it's a very good place to start...I really hope you got that "Sound of Music" reference). Exciting things were happening in my Hebrew Prophets class a few Thursdays ago. Of course the conversation about First- Deutero- and Trito-Isaiah was exciting enough, but then I realized that the girl next to me wasn't taking notes. Or blinking. Or really responding to anything at all. She was, however, shaking. Not a good sign, I thought. Asking if she was okay, she shrugged it off, "I'm fine, don't worry." Five minutes later, she was no better. Seven minutes later we decided that class wasn't the best place for her to be and left (later on we had to apologize to the professor, who was being observed for a promotion that day...great timing). Nine minutes later we decided that the hospital was in order, and thus I met Sarah-with-the-pink-hair.
It was quite an adventure.
Here is where I must admit to something: when I'm incredibly bored, or maybe just a little bit bored, or really when I just can't find anything more interesting, I tend to eavesdrop. It may be wrong and it may be rude but it also makes for some very interesting blog entries and so I beg your forgiveness. So there I sat, in the waiting room of the hospital in the world's most uncomfortable chair (obviously designed to keep you coming back to the hospital with back problems) with the world's most boring news station playing in the background (what? Singapore Airlines had to ask people not to engage in any funny business in their new first class cabins with double beds? Scandal!) when suddenly I heard something decidedly more interesting than Australian millionaires complaining about the "course of nature" in air travel--the woman behind me crying on the phone.
"I just don't know what to do," she sobbed, "maybe I'll call Planned Parenthood, maybe they'll be able to help me."
Slowly I turned, ever the epitome of cool, to look back and see who the woman was. It was the one with the pink hair that I'd seen walking in behind me and my friend (who was now back with the doctor) when we came to the hospital. I wonder why she needs to go to Planned Parenthood, I thought, why would someone need to go there unless they had not, in fact, planned to become a parent? Soon my question was answered as I heard her voice again, "Hi, is this Planned Parenthood? Oh good, um, I need some help..." my ears perked up in anticipation "...I...well..." she burst out into tears "I just had a miscarriage.......and my.....my.....my doctor said that I have to get a shot in the next 72 hours or..........I won't be able to have any more children and I'm.............I'm at the hospital but......but they're not helping me and time is running out and I didn't know if it's something you can help me with..."
The rest of her conversation was lost to the river of shameful That's why you shouldn't judge people....you know what they say about assuming-type thoughts running through my head. It was absolutely heartbreaking. I looked back again. She'd obviously been crying for awhile; the now puffy skin around her eyes matching the color of her hair and the small mountain of crumpled tissues peeking out of the purse at her feet made that perfectly clear.
It was then that I heard The Voice. Oh yes, that one. You know the one I'm talking about. The Voice that taps you on the shoulder and whispers You know, you should really go (fill in the one thing that you absolutely have no interest in doing) when you're having a bad day and are far too busy to go do things for God. Well, I was having a semi-bad day, and I really was far too busy to go do things for God so it only makes sense that the Voice was speaking to me, telling me to go speak with the sobbing woman in my midst.
Now???????? I asked. Seriously? She's a mess, she won't want to talk to me, she'll be embarassed.
You'll never know unless you try, besides, think of that tattoo you'd get if you could get one.
Oh The Voice is tricky, isn't it? It just so happens that if I were ever to choose to sear something into my flesh it would be a twofold design: "His hands" on my wrist and "His feet" on my ankle, both preferrably in some sort of Biblical language to remind me that we are God's hands and feet to the world.
Yeah God, I thought, throw that one back in my face, why don't you?
God really has a sense of humor sometimes.
At some point in my mental tyrade, the woman with the pink hair had finished her conversation and walked out the sliding glass doors to the parking lot.
Oh great, I've lost my chance.
You wouldn't have lost it if you'd just done what I said when I said it.
.................I guess You're right.
What happens next? Does the woman with the pink hair come back to the hospital? Do I ever start listening to God? Find out next time!
13 November 2007
05 November 2007
My freshman year of college, while taking my (at the time school-mandated, "I'll never be a Bible major in my life") Intro to the Bible class, I had a bit of a crisis. How on Earth, I wondered, if the Bible was written at a different time in a different culture for different people, could it possibly have anything to do with me? How could it relate? How can I find any applicable meaning to it? Lucky for us (or again, maybe it's just me), William J. Webb wondered the same thing. In his book, "Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals" (don't let the title scare you please), he talks about how to read the Bible in light of those pesky little issues like 2,000-year time lapses and completely opposite cultures. And that, boys and girls, is what we're going to talk about in how to read the Bible (which, oddly enough, includes the Gospels!) today.
I'll save you about 150 pages of reading and give you the gist of Webb's book: find the overarching theme of the passage and apply that to your life.
There are certain passages that are culturally bound in the Bible. For example, Deuteronomy 22:11 tells us not to wear clothes of wool and linen woven together (gosh, there goes my poly-wool blend sock collection!) Then, there are verses that seem culturally bound, but which you can still apply to your life in the 21st century like when God reminds the Israelites of how He brought them out of Egypt in the Old Testament. "Well," you may think "I've never been enslaved in Egypt, and God never brought me out of it, sooooooooo..........how does that work?" The point is to look at the overarching theme (God's deliverance of His people out of seemingly hopeless situations) and then apply that to your life today, aka God delivered His people out of Egypt, so surely He'll deliver me safely out of this taxi and therefore away from the Cab Driver of Death. Moreover, you can look at what the people in the Scripture did in that situation as guidance for how you should conduct yourself. For example, Moses listened to God despite his feelings of inadequacy (Exodus 4) and he ended up delivering God's people from slavery. So when you're sitting in the taxi and hear that still, small voice say "Tell him to pull over a block early" and you feel a little awkward about it, just do it.
Isn't she beautiful? These were taken about a day or two after she was born, which was almost two months ago, so she's much bigger now. We all decided that she has Peter's nose, good nail beds and high arches, so she'll be set in life.