Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sometimes, words fail.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Four Years

I started classes today. I have been at school in the residence halls for almost three weeks, though, for RA training. I'm emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted, and my first week has only just begun. Great.

But as I go to classes and hear the same speeches about class expectations, rules, academic integrity, assignment policies, blah blah blah blah, over and over again, I find myself bored, wishing I was finished with college. And as my RA job sometimes feels more like babysitting and crowd control than valuable experience and mentoring, I find myself frustrated. And as I feel like there aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done that everyone expects me to do, I find myself feeling like a failure, like I'm letting people down. And as I spend time with friends, who will graduate in December or in May, leaving me alone for my senior year, I find myself wishing time would stop right in its tracks.

But today a professor said: "Enjoy this time. It's the best four years of your life."

Here's the thing. This better not be the best four years of my life. Not because I don't love college. I do. I love almost everything about it. But my philosophy is that if my life is not getting (overall) progressively better as the years go by, I'm doing something wrong. When I leave college, I shouldn't then have ahead of me fifty years of letdowns, of wishing I could just be in college again. That isn't to say that life will be a breeze or that there won't be hard times, but I feel like if I'm miserable or upset about something as I go through life, I should work to fix it. I want to be in control of my "destiny" so to speak. I can choose to be happy or choose to spend the rest of my life lamenting about how college was the best four years of my life. I want the former.

Life should get better, not level off or get worse. College shouldn't be it. It should just be another springboard to get to where I want to go.

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. -Abraham Lincoln

Friday, August 08, 2008

My Restless Heart

I wrote this poem about two days ago... 

My Restless Heart

My restless heart grows weary
From the strain of every day
As I plod my way through life
And watch the skies turn gray

My restless heart strains
Against the pulling of the tide
As I fail and stumble, trip and fall
Though time and time I've tried

My restless heart cannot take it
The years of endless failures mount
The heartache and the broken dreams
Are far too numerous to count

My restless heart is tired now
From trying to love this world
And trying to please everyone 
And be their perfect little girl

My restless heart is empty now
Void of any hope or dream
For as angry words break me down
Bitterness tears me at the seams

My restless heart is torn between
Trying to leave my past behind
Or traveling down the worn-out road
Toward a familiar pain I know I'll find

My restless heart is growing weak
From the toil of each painful day
My restless heart is just not strong enough
To choose to go another way

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Weekend Convo

We were all hanging out in Laura Jo's room... and I was trying to maneuver around some stuff, and in doing so I, without thinking, kicked her dumbell hoping to move it out of my way.

My response wasn't a cry of agony or a groan of pain. I looked Laura Jo square in the eye, and said indignantly, "Your dumbell didn't move when I kicked it!"

"Gee, Linds, it's an eight-pound weight. What'd you expect?"

"I dunno. It's light green and cute and pretty. I just figured it would float away when I kicked it."

And then there was lots of laughing and realizing the insanity of all that had just happened.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Forgiveness, Pt. 2

But I have finally been able to realize that for me, forgiveness is much harder than murder, but more people benefit in the end. The guy who hurt me has a wife and a daughter (Does that bother me? Definitely. Do I wonder if he hurts his daughter? All the time. Do I think it’s unfair that he could possibly be living a perfectly normal, happy life without remorse? Of course.) But for me to stop living and resent him forever is only tearing me apart.

There’s a quote: “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.” Let’s be honest, I never had plans to murder him. But there were times when I sure thought I had it in me. But murder only makes me feel less threatened. It doesn’t bring true closure and in the end, it only hurts more people. Forgiveness fully liberates me from having this define me. It has shaped me, to be sure. I will never be the same person I would have been had I not gone through all of this. But I’ve learned a lot and grown so much from all of this. That’s not to say it isn’t painful almost on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Forgiveness is harder than murder. It takes more strength, more drive, more emotion. It forces me to relive what I went through, to accept that what happened cannot be undone, and to love myself in spite of all of the trauma, and to know that I am worthy of love as well.

I spent almost four years believing that I was at fault for what happened. That I could have screamed louder, said “no” more times, fought him off, etc etc etc. But the truth is that, regardless of whether that would have stopped the abuse or lessened it, I am still not to blame for what happened. But coming out of that mindset was hard… and it led into something equally as difficult to move past: being a victim. I hated being a victim, because I felt labeled and defined. I began to conclude that I would never be able to be close to anyone because I was so afraid of having their trust violated, or of being hurt physically and emotionally.

I had been held captive for so long. I was a prisoner to my rage, a captive to my bitterness, and enslaved by the feeling of being worthless because of what had happened to me. And forgiveness—not murder, not isolation, not fear, not anger—could open the prison doors for me. It’s ironic to me that while I spent four long years wanting this guy to go to prison for what he had done, I had in fact been behind the cell doors myself.

I’ve spent too long being captive to something that caused enough pain to begin with. The grudge I was holding and the bitterness I felt was about power—because victims feel powerless. It was about me saying that I could forgive on my terms, unlike the abuse, which was on his terms. But that’s so contrary to what Jesus demonstrates on the cross, when, as He’s being crucified, He is praying that God would forgive them/us for they/we do not know what they/we are doing. What a beautiful model of perfect forgiveness.

I’m still on the road to fully forgiving the guy and myself. It’s a daily process, and one that will take many years. I’ll probably never hear him say “I’m sorry.” I’ll probably never get to see whether or not he is remorseful in any way. I’ll likely never watch him being led off in handcuffs to jail. And one day, I’ll be okay with that.

I will never forget when my pastor told a story at church about a small group that he and his good friends were in during high school. The guy who led the small group was a pastor and claimed a lot of outlandish things. My pastor found out later that a couple of his friends were being sexually abused by this pastor. He also said that after years of bitterness and rage, he finally forgave the guy and he even said he wanted the guy to go to Heaven.

I’m not going to lie, that’s hard for me to swallow. And I told my pastor that. And he smiled and said that we could talk about it... and that I'd get there too, one day. I am very justice-minded. Laura Jo is forever telling me that my passion is justice. And in some ways, that’s accurate. I like to be justified in what I do; I like for other people to be justified as well. And it was no different with my own story: I needed God to justify to me what happened.

In my mind, God created me and He created the man who would abuse me, knowing full-well that it would happen. So I have spent years wrestling with God about why He didn’t just not create one of us. I was putting God on trial, basically. I was trying to get Him to explain his rationale, to tell me, with all my finite understanding, why He would create both of us and why He would not stop the abuse while it was happening.

Mac, the main character in the book The Shack, (which if you haven’t read, you must!), wrestles with almost an identical set of questions. In fact at one point, Mac says to God: “How are you going to justify what happened?” after his daughter was murdered.

And God says to Mac: “I have not come to justify it. I have come to redeem it.” How much greater is redemption, O Reader, than justification? Justification levels the playing field. Redemption brings it full circle, heals the wounds, and builds a foundation for the future. It also glorifies God.

And so even though it’s hard for me, to this day, to pray for my enemies and bless those who curse me, I try. And when I can’t find love and grace and forgiveness for this man, I pray for God’s love and grace and forgiveness to flow through me.