Saturday, May 17, 2008

Small Victory

Today, I realized I had won a small victory. The story begins several months ago...

You see, for all of my life, I have been a Charmin gal. (For those of you unaware, Charmin is a toilet paper company.) And for most of my life, they have made the same great product. But in recent history, they decided to discontinue their superior product in favor of splitting it up. The regular Charmin became "Ultra Soft" and "Ultra Strong." Neither was quality. They both were very inferior to the regular Charmin.

As a concerned consumer, I lodged a complaint with the company after trying both new products. I explained my concerns to them, and begged them to bring back the original.

Walking through Wal-Mart today, I realized I needed to buy some toilet paper. Begrudgingly, I set my path toward the Ultra Strong. Bad as it is, it was still better than Ultra Soft. Then, it caught my eye. Charmin Basic. They brought the old product back!

It's a small victory, but a victory nonetheless.

Oh, and for those of you who care about such things, I graduated college this morning with my Bachelor of Arts degree. So now, I'm job hunting. I guess if nothing else, I can be a consumer advocate. Haha.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Come, Let Us Worship

I'm really struggling with the concept of church right now. See, everything is different. I know I can't explain it well enough to help you understand, but there's nothing about me that is how it used to be. Everything about me has changed (except for the clothes because, let's face it, gas prices are too high to worry about the newest fashions).

It's not the people. I love my church family to pieces, and they are my strength. It's so great to walk in on Sunday mornings and stop and talk with everyone (although there are a few people who I sometimes wish would leave me alone). It's nice to have that sense of belonging. And yet, I also have a sense of not belonging that I can't quite put my finger on. One part of me senses the caring and embraces the relationships; but another part of me realizes that these people do not truly know who I am. Heck, at this point, even I am not sure. It's changing every day.

But the less I know of the old self, the more I find out about the new. It seems like the less I know about myself, the better I know myself. A paradox.

And I'm finding that I have to come up with a different way to worship. Standing in the back just isn't doing it, but it's not really about location. It's about...spirit. There's something stronger in my heart now, something more vitally alive, that is looking for a more passionate way to worship, a more reflective, expressional way of doing this. There's a thirst for something more. And I'm not sure how I'm going to quench that; not sure what will do the trick to connect me to God in a more vibrant way, a way I am seeking.

And yet, the less I know of God, the more I know of God. Another paradox.

I don't know yet whether I'll go to church in the morning or not. I haven't been in a couple of weeks. It's nothing really against it. And I know that God wants us to go to church; the Bible is full of churches. It's just this weird, transformative journey I am on. I have to listen to those forces that are guiding me toward something greater right now and see where that leads me.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Where Self-Worth Originates

In just a few short months, my college e-mail account will fade into the history books, destroying all the records I have held there for the past three years. In preparation for this eventuality, I spent some time today looking through e-mail messages I had saved over the years. They all had one theme in common: praise.

"You're a superstar."

"You could compete at the national level RIGHT NOW and win."

"I look forward to more of your creative brilliance this semester."

Really, they mirror many of the messages I've kept in my personal e-mail account, messages from people who loved me well over the years. Having grown up without praise, these messages have built me up for so long; I have used them at times to define myself.

No longer.

As I read through them today, I realized that I am far beyond where I used to be. These messages, while still nice to read, offer nothing substantial for me right now. On some level, yes. It is nice to be noticed and appreciated and to have a reminder that people are paying attention. But on another level, no. These messages no longer define who I am. They define things, usually, that I am good at. What I do is not necessarily what I am.

That really just goes for the messages in my school inbox. Those in my personal account have more personal touches to them. But from school, it's just professors bragging about me, boosting my ego based on performance. That no longer defines me. At least, not on a personally spiritual level.

I read each one of those e-mails before permanently deleting them. The more I read, the more frustrated I got with the old self, which had allowed itself to be defined by performance for far too long. I think this is a trap that many of us get caught in - if we can just be good enough, then that makes up for everything else. That's not who I want to be.

It was a weird feeling deleting all of these messages that I knew had once meant so much to me. I'm probably going to go through my personal account and pare that all down, too. I want reinforcement of the things I am finding deep within myself, the parts of my personality and of my being that make me who I am.

Furthermore, my motivation is no longer external. It comes from somewhere deep within me, from a place where I see and feel beauty and hear the still voice of God telling me who I am. Those are the messages I should continue to listen to.

It's definitely better to be good at things than to suck at them, but if that's all I've got going in my life, then I am living a shallow existence. I want something deeper. And if I'm going to get something deeper, I have to shed all that buoys me in ego and find the air tank that will bring life at great depth.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Telling Typo

For months now, as I have wrestled with myself and with God, I have come to find myself completely incapable of typing a specific word. That word, is "destroy." Even typing slowly just now, I mis-typed it at first. It's not very often that we use such a powerful word in our society. What is ever truly destroyed? But the way I've been typing it tells a lot.

I've been typing "destory." As in de-story. As in to take away the story of.

That's fitting. The quickest way to destroy someone is to destory them. Once you take away all that a person has about himself or herself, what are they left with? Nothing but devastation.

And in the healing process, it is important that we not destory ourselves. It's easy to believe we are on the path to healing when really, we are just stripping ourselves of story and sinking back into the quicksand of denial. Each step along the way for me, I ask myself if I am de-storying or re-storying my life. Because even though destroy is only one letter transposition away from destory, restory is only one letter away from restore.

I believe I am re-storying myself. Each day comes with a level of new understanding, a new insight I didn't have before. That's where the key to the future lies, at least in my view. And we are free to restory ourselves as we see fit, as long as we keep the original translation in mind. It's never about losing our stories or changing the past; it's about grabbing hold of the present and changing the future. To re-story isn't to change what already happened; it's to create anew all the possibilities that have yet to become.

Are you destorying or restorying your life? What are you going to do about that?