Saturday, July 31, 2010

Coulda, Woulda, Didn't

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

A few months ago, someone I loved and trusted did something to me that was really, really thoughtless and cruel.

I would have been totally justified in absolutely freaking out, telling this person off, and slamming the door shut on our relationship.

But I didn't.

I could have.

My friends told me they would have, if they'd been me. They were shocked that I didn't.

But I didn't.

I actually had something similar happen to me years before, and since then, I swore to myself that I'd never let it happen to me again. Not me, no way. Never again.

And yet. I didn't.

God spoke to me right when I needed to hear Him. He told me what was going on. He gave me peace. He let me in on what was happening in this person's head. He told me, not only to not freak out, but that I didn't even need to worry about it at all. It wasn't a problem. Everything would be fine. He was going to take care of it. "Chill out, sweetie, it's fine."

I'd love to say that I believed God with all of my being...but I didn't.

He was very clear, very obvious, very convincing, and also very comforting. Very. Perhaps more clear and more comforting than I've ever felt Him before in my life.

I mostly believed Him.

Even so, there was still a little part of me that wanted to freak out. I wanted to cry and scream and tell this person exactly how wronged I felt and how hurt I was. I'd been through this before and I swore it wasn't going to happen to me again!

But I couldn't. I knew I wasn't supposed to. I knew it would have been against God's will. Somehow, even thinking about doing it felt terribly wrong, and I knew that God would be angry with me if I did. I knew it would have made a big purple pig's ear of everything, and it just wasn't necessary. God kept saying, over and over, "Shhh. It's okay. Don't worry about it. It doesn't matter. I'm going to take care of it."

He wouldn't let me do it.

So I didn't.

And He did take care of it. Everything was fine. It didn't matter. At all.

Just like He said He would.

A few months later, I learned a little bit more about how much, according to worldly standards, I would have been justified in reacting in anger. But now, it just seems silly. That would have been so stupid, and would have hurled a wrecking ball through God's will and the amazing things that He has done since then.

I'm so glad I didn't. Not just because I kept someone close to me who I care about, but, even more so, because of what it means between God and myself. It means that in the last few years of working in me, quite without my even realizing it, He's grown me up from a defensive, self-righteous girl who reacts with "never again" to - is it possible? - a patient, gentle woman who reacts with "I forgive you."

For that reason alone, I'm so glad I didn't.

Friday, July 30, 2010

In Spite of MYself

I swear, I totally saw this couple in Subway today. We were the only ones in the restaurant. I couldn't believe it.

It's to the point, now, where if I go a day without having at least one big cosmic meringue confection lobbed at my head...I miss it.

And I was reminded, again, just when I needed to be reminded, to keep on hoping.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Through the Looking Glass

If I'm being honest, I don't post as often as I should, or, for that matter, as often as I'd like. One of my (many) goals for the upcoming weeks is to post more often and actually act like the writer I claim to be. So, to open up a bit and let the two people other than my mother who read this blog into the inner workings of my mind a bit more - because emotional unavailability gets you nowhere! - I'm taking a cue from Andy, and...drumroll are 50 things about me:

1. I realized in the shower this morning that directing comedy is what God put me on this earth to do and when I'm not actively doing it, something is tangibly missing.

2. I'm going to rectify that situation very soon.

3. I've been working in customer service doing phone technical support for a year. It's forced me to have more patience than I knew I was capable of, and even though I don't like it a lot of the time, I can see God all over it.

4. My name is pronounced "Eeleesse" and not "Ahleesse." Most people get it wrong.

5. It doesn’t really bother me that much. Only people who are really close to me get it right, so it’s like a sign of emotional intimacy.

6. The idea that if you expect nothing, you won't be disappointed is perhaps the most depressing thing I've ever heard.

7. Unlike most other girls, I never hated being a redhead.

8. In fact, I love it. It gives me an excuse to be fiery.

9. I can pretty much tell within a few minutes - hours, at most - of meeting a man if he has the personality to handle me. Most men don't. I'm a lot to handle.

10. That being said, I'm very, very giving.

11. I am alternately frustrated and amused by politics and how upset people get over them. If we all just lived like Jesus and loved each other, we wouldn't have these problems.

12. My mom always told me to be proud of my scar from my open heart surgery, and I always have been.

13. I cherish my parents more and more every day.

14. I also admire my father as a strong man in Christ more and more every day, and will feel blessed to find a husband who is like him.

15. I often wonder, if my sister and I were closer in age and not related, if we'd be friends. I secretly think she's much cooler than I am, and I'm glad we're sisters so she doesn't have a choice.

16. The best compliment you can pay me is to call me "hilarious." Obviously.

17. I remember clearly every single time I've gotten that compliment.

18. The sweetest thing anyone’s ever said to me wasn’t that, but it was similar. And wonderful.

19. In February of 2008, God told me that my future life would look "nothing like I could ever imagine." I believe it.

20. Cooking is one of my favorite things to do...but only if I get to cook for other people.

21. I love my dog very much, but feel guilty about the fact that sometimes I think my life would be easier if I didn't have her.

22. Then again, I would be terribly lonely without her.

23. Quite literally, I just glanced to the right, deep in thought, my eyes focused on something entirely random, and God used it as a sign. Wow.

24. I love it when that happens.

25. My favorite food is cheese.

26. I have a strong distaste for vulgar humor but at the same time regularly think of innuendo-laced one-liners that would shock most people.

27. They're not vulgar, they're clever.

28. I can't wait to have just one person to share them with - just between us.

29. When I was able to choose whatever food I wanted as my first solid food after my open heart surgery, I chose watermelon. In November.

30. That should have been a sign to my parents. It probably was.

31. My dad makes the best pies in the whole world.

32. I talk to myself. A lot.

33. Correction - I talk to other people. They're just not actually there at the time.

34. I'm really not crazy.

35. Mom says we'd know by now if I was.

36. I sleep with a pillow lying vertically beside me because I like to hug it.

37. The two years I spent in England grew me up in ways I never knew I needed to grow. It was incredible.

38. They were also the hardest and loneliest years I’ve ever spent. I'll never travel abroad alone again.

39. I got my Master's in screenwriting, but what I really want to do is direct.

40. And be in ministry.

41. I'm learning to look at every situation as an opportunity for ministry, even if it's temporary or not blatantly obvious. That includes every single call I get during a day at work.

42. I've talked to customers about God. And didn't lose my job because of it. Praise God.

43. I have this problem (gift?) where I see the potential in people and believe God can get them there rather than just accept where they actually are.

44. I’m not a very physically affectionate person in general. If I’m physically affectionate with you, you know you’re special to me.

45. When I was 14, the local newspaper did a story about me directing Shakespeare with the headline “DIFFERENT IS OK.”

46. My favorite movie is “America’s Sweethearts.”

47. I’ve been what I thought was “in love” twice. Hopefully the third time will be the charm.

48. My favorite song is “Something Beautiful” by Robbie Williams.

49. Roses are my weakness. Among other things.

50. My brain never, ever shuts off.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Why yes, that was intentional.

One afternoon in mid-March, sitting on the couch in my apartment with my dog, I suddenly, starkly realized that I was completely dissatisfied with my life.

A few weeks prior, I'd been given the news at that I would be losing my entry-level, part-time customer service job. Two days before that, my landlady had informed me that she had to make some changes to her living arrangements and asked me to move out within two months. I was broke, confused, and lost, not to mention as single as the dollar sitting in my bank account.

Something wasn't working. Wasn't happening. Wasn't right. When I moved to Raleigh three years ago under God's direction...this wasn't how it was supposed to turn out.

In that moment of clarity, He made me realize that part of that something was me.

Sure, there are some things that I can't control. The economy is bad. Everyone is struggling. Many people are getting laid off. Many people my age have to live with their parents. Many people haven't found their chance, found their way, found their spouse. But as a person of faith, I can trust that God will take care of me, that He'll provide - the right opportunity, the right circumstance, the right person. That's God's part.

But then, there's also my part.

For about six months now, God has been teaching me that He wants me to do more than just sit and wait for Him to perform miracles. He will, of course - He already has, in my life. Often. A lot. So much so that I'm in awe. But for me to just sit and wait for more is at best passive and at worst disrespectful. Passive and disrespectful to the God who has given me so very much.

I trust the Bible. I trust what God has spoken in my heart about my life. And now, He is telling me that He wants me to take what He has given me and approach everything - ministry, relationships, jobs - with intention.

Basically, that means that He wants me to give as much of myself as possible in every situation. He wants me to be intentional about the job He gives me, the relationships He blesses me with, and the ministry He's called me into - no matter how mundane the task, how challenging the person, or how scary the next step. He is asking for all of me. In a nutshell, He's saying "If you're going to do something, do it right. Don't squander what I am giving you."

I've been thinking about this whole thing kind of like being in a swimming pool. God threw me into one end of the pool and promises He won't let me drown. He pushes me forward with waves of guidance and teaching and spiritual revival, and He's told me what He wants me to do and what He has for me along the way. But He also gave me arms and legs, and it's up to me to use them. Otherwise, I'll just be treading water. Not drowning, not sinking...but not getting anywhere.

There's God's part, and then there's my part.

I intend to do God's will. I intend to give everything He gives me my all - because I believe what He's told me, and it's time I started acting like it.

No more treading water.

Present Laughter

I've always fancied smart, charismatic, witty men who are a bit to the left side of normal and aren't afraid to be themselves. Let's face it, if a man is going to be able to handle me, it's kind of a necessity.

It's no surprise, then, that when I adapted and directed "Twelfth Night" in eighth grade, my favorite character was Feste, the jester, who, as is the norm for Shakespeare's jesters, was really the wise, truth-telling seer just playing the silly, wise-cracking fool.

The reason I'm bringing this all up? Well, it occurred to me, when my favorite line of his - perhaps my favorite line in all of Shakespeare - ran through my head yesterday morning as I was waking up, that I've never explained where the URL name for this blog came from:

What is love? 'tis not hereafter;
Present mirth hath present laughter;
What's to come is still unsure:
In delay there lies no plenty;
Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty,
Youth's a stuff will not endure.

I've loved that line for years, but the older I get, the more I like it.