teacher.

So here I am again with my yearly blog post.

A few updates:

Cali and I have adopted two dogs: Jojo (Jack Russell terrier mix- we were not adequately informed about the breed prior to our purchase, but we love her spunkiness), and Cleo (Australian Shepherd Mix).  Both our wonderful and have been a great addition to our pack!

Cali and I have also both purchased our first house.  We moved in about 3 weeks ago.  No one warned us about the stress that would ensue with buying a house, but my was it worth it!  Our pups love their back yard, and the ability to have a space to call our own, to fix up, and to have break down on us, has been great.  Yes multiple things have already broken on us so no need to worry if we’ve been initiated into homeownership.

As you have probably heard, Arizona teachers had a walk out at the end of the school year.  This was the culmination of a #redfored movement that has moved across the country for the past several month.  When I moved to Arizona, I knew I was moving to a state that didn’t pay their teachers well, and whose education system continually ranked at the bottom.  I also knew that the state was in desperate need for teachers, so desperate that they would be willing they pay for my certification.  There are currently 2,000 teacher vacancies in the state, and there are teachers fleeing the state due to the fact that Arizona is the 48th lowest paid teachers in the country.

What I didn’t know about the Arizona education system was it has been suffocated of funds for the past 10 plus years.  Since 2008, budget cuts have drained public education systems of proper funding of the schools.  Now this makes sense due to the economic situation, I understand that.  But what does not make sense, is that with the gradual incline of the economy, the gradual incline of money coming into the public education system did not increase.

Apparently what happened was in 2000 Proposition 301 was passed which required the state to provide school funding with a 2% increase in funding to adjust with inflation.  This also prohibited per pupil school funding to drop below $2,687.  But, during the recession this money was not met nor given to the public education system as promised and a lawsuit ensued claiming it was in violation of the “Voter Protection Act”.  Proposition 123 was enacted to supposedly replace the missing funding and attempted to settle this lawsuit.

Since I just finished my first year, all of this history happened before I even lived in the state of Arizona.  So, I feel like I don’t know what I’m talking about, but from the experience of the teachers I have chatted with, neither of these propositions have made a huge difference in their salaries.  Whether that money is getting caught up in the legislature, the school districts, or it’s being distributed too thin, the money didn’t make the per pupil spending anywhere near what they were proposing, and it didn’t increase funding like they were expecting.  Classrooms are still falling apart, and teachers are still working for close to nothing.

The #redfored movement started in West Virginia and was a huge success.  It moved to Oklahoma and was not successful- or was shown as not successful by the media.  The teachers did not receive any of their demands and were ultimately told after two weeks to go back to work, or they would be fired.  The movement moved to Arizona.  None of it had to do with the union, it wasn’t political at all in fact there was no political divide.  This was purely for our students, our classrooms, and for our families.  The media portrays a certain aspect of a good story- they paint a political picture of a movement, that it was led by a political fascist, who is going from state to state, or we’re all communists and liberals, it’s not true.  We were teachers.  That’s all we had in common.  We were teachers who knew we could do better for our students and that’s what we were fighting for.

When I was in college, I never wanted to be a public school teacher.  I would sit in classes, and we would discuss standardized tests and the laws set forth about taxes, testing, how we measure learning, etc.  I found it all annoying, because all I cared about was seeing my students go from not knowing something to understanding and succeeding at something they couldn’t do before.  I didn’t think that could be measured, and I also didn’t think you could monetize it.  I sat back frustrated that there was money and politics involved and I told myself I could never teach in the public schools because there were too many politics involved.  And here I was.  Involved.  Speaking out and fighting for my students and what I knew my students needed- a classroom that didn’t have holes in the walls.  A classroom that had desks that weren’t falling apart in the middle of my teaching.  A classroom with windows that I could open without fear of them breaking.  A classroom with Wi-Fi that I can connect to.  A classroom where my students have access to 21st century technology- maybe even an iPad, or Google Classroom!  I was fighting for all of that.  On top of the small fact that I knew if I had a family, we couldn’t afford to live.  If Cali and I had one child, we couldn’t afford to send them to daycare.  If we decided to have a child, we couldn’t afford health insurance for them, or to send them to the doctor when they were sick.  Right now, all we can afford is to live for ourselves.  We can’t have a family and survive teaching.  And I don’t think that’s right.  If teaching is a career, than why do we need to work 5 jobs total in order to pay the bills?  That’s not ok.

Unfortunately, Cali and I probably won’t be teachers for the rest of our lives.  We love teaching and we love our students.  But we can’t live our lives like this.  We want a family and we see our lives differently than this.  If we have a family as teachers, we would struggle, and our family would suffer.  If things don’t change, we can’t be public school teachers.  This breaks my heart because I really am passionate about the kids that I teach.  I love what I do, and the lives that I change, but it clearly is not valued like I value it.

 

 

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between.

In a world that demands labels, identifications, and sides, it’s a nightmare to be stuck in between.  To not be “normal”, “average”, “white”, “straight”, “American” or “majority” is a constant struggle between two worlds.  I witness this uneasiness everyday working in a high school.  Students are constantly attempting to conform, change, shove, and push their way into the popular, smart, hip, skater, or emo group.  The labels high schoolers place on themselves and peers add pressure to ‘be’ and ‘act’ a certain way.  I especially see the struggle of my students with special needs as they try to make friends, and try to reach out to students who don’t understand why they look or act a certain way.  It seems as though they are seen as different from the start, and their struggle to “fit in” is so much harder than other students.  My heart breaks for them to know how much greater they are than they can even imagine.

I often reflect on my own life and what these labels mean and do to me now.  Life and it’s labels are given by society instead of the peers and colleagues around me.  The expansion of these labels have taught me a lot- mainly that I don’t belong.  Do we ever really belong?

I am a Christian, half Japanese, half American bisexual woman whose labels don’t describe who I am.  The complexity of a human being is fluid and much deeper than any label could describe.  I have felt caught in between many of these labels- it’s a pretty lonely place.

In particular I struggled with my “Christian” label and “bisexual” label.  When you think of what a “Christian” is, you think of a moral, conservative, creation believing, Bible thumper who has all the answers, right?  They are confident about where they’re going, what they believe and sometimes they seem to tell people they’re wrong if they don’t believe what they believe, right?

When it came to my sexuality, I had a picture that Christians were straight.  If they weren’t, they were celibate, that was expected and taught.  So, when I realized I was bi, I felt my “Christianity” was like oil and my sexuality was water.  They couldn’t and weren’t supposed to mix.  I couldn’t be both bi, and Christian.

Because I was told my number one identity was always supposed to be “Christian” (because I believe in Christ), I shoved my struggles with sexuality away.  I wrote it off thinking “I can’t think like that, that’s wrong”, and most of all sinful.

When I think about sin, I think about actions that pull you farther from who God is in a destructive manner, whether that’s destructive toward oneself, ones relationship with God, or ones relationship with others.  When I look back on my denial, ignoring, and bottling of my feelings towards the same sex, I realize how destructive it was towards not only myself and who I am, but also my relationship with Christ and how I relate to Him.  I felt shame, loneliness, uncomfortable, and stuck between two worlds.  When I began to come to terms with my sexuality, that’s when I felt a weight off my shoulders.  I felt God telling me it’s ok, the struggle is ok, and (most importantly) I am ok, the way I am, the way God created me.

The most dynamic, life-changing, view altering thing I’ve learned since coming out to myself and others is how great, deep, and expansive God’s love for us is.  No matter who we are, what we do, or how we hurt ourselves, His love is far deeper than we could ever imagine.  He has taught me how to love Him more deeply, and how to love others more deeply.  Even others who disagree with me.  I’ve realized Christians aren’t tied down to certain stereotypes, certain labels like I described before.  There are Christians who are liberal, independent, straight, gay, transgender, scientists who believe in evolution, smokers; Christians who drink, who aren’t sure, who don’t know everything, who don’t understand all of the universe, and most importantly who don’t know how God works all the time.  When Christ is involved, labels aren’t needed.  Christ is bigger than Christians in this world.  He’s greater than how we label ourselves, and if we go to church every week, or if we go to the biggest church in the country or the smallest.  He is bigger, his work is bigger, and his love for you is bigger.  He is not contained in a label- he’s not contained in a church, or a culture, or a specific bible passage.  He is so much bigger than all of those things.  I’ve found when I step beyond the labels, when I’m stuck in between the labels, although it’s deeply lonely sometimes, I’m able to grasp more fully an understanding of who I am in Christ- and nothing more.

rhythms of loneliness.

The other day I was on Facebook and this video popped up on my news feed: What Facebook is Doing to your Brain is kind of Shocking.  The gist of the video is how social media is increasing loneliness in our culture because social media gives us a sense that we will never be alone and we as humans are “sacrificing conversation for mere connection” and therefore, we claim to have many friends, although we are actually really lonely.  This video caused me to seriously question my purpose for Facebook and what I’m actually using it for.

Last night, one of my friends and I got together to improvise and make some music.  I showed him this video because I knew he would appreciate it’s message and that it would resonate with him.  It led us to discuss what being lonely means, and what friends mean to us.  There were a few profound things I realized through our conversation.

One of the striking lines in that video is “instead of creating friendships, we are obsessed with endless self promotion”.  My friend mentioned that that really is what our society is currently about.  We are constantly forming, deleting, editing the image we present to the world around us and therefore we are obsessed with how other people view us and see us.  How much more wrong could this be?  Why is it that our society is obsessed with ourselves and how others view us so much?

No longer are we judged merely by what we actually say in real life, but we are judged by the words we write and things we post online.  We are more than just humans in flesh, we are beings in a virtual world expressing ourselves and promoting ourselves so others may like us or think differently about us.

The unfortunate thing is that this self we are promoting can and will be distorted not only by our own editing and deletion but by how the world around us reads it and interprets it.  So when will we ever be ourselves if it is constantly being bombarded by two different worlds, a virtual world and an actual world?

Another thing I noticed was how our society deals with loneliness and being alone.  My friend mentioned that Jesus had rhythms of solitude and community.  He said that it’s ok to be alone, and when we are alone, we should be communing with God.  Our society has completely lost this concept because when we are alone, we are on Facebook, or texting, or constantly filling our lives with connections to other people ignoring the fact that we are actually alone.

How often when we’re alone do we actually sit in our loneliness and be?  Most of the times I’m alone or feeling alone, I’m on Facebook, having a chat conversation or texting someone asking them how their day was.  In that sense, I am never actually alone, because I’m making mere connections with other people to try and hide the loneliness I’m feeling inside.

This really challenged me because although connections with people are good and sometimes healthy, they can also lead us away from being alone.  When was being alone a bad thing?  What am I doing with my “rhythms of loneliness and community”?  For me, I’m filling my loneliness with community that is simply mere connection to satisfy the loneliness I’m actually feeling instead of embracing being alone and taking solitude and refuge in God and his presence in my life.  Unfortunately, our lives so often revolve around the connection we have through a phone or social media that we miss the loneliness we feel that could lead us into deeper community with Christ.  It really struck me about how reliant we are in the current century on the technology of connection.

I hope to better embrace the times I’m alone and take them on as challenges to call on God in my loneliness, to feel his presence in my life and not instantly reach to my phone to check Facebook, or text someone to hang out.  The video mentioned that social media offer us “three gratifying fantasies”: that we will never be alone, that we will always be heard, and that we can put our attention wherever we want it to be. As a Christian, I believe we have hope that we will never be alone and that we will always be heard.  Not necessarily by the world around us or people we think should hear us but by the God who created us to be alone with Him.  It also reminds me that as Christians, we will never be alone and when we are physically alone we should be called back to Christ and knowing that he is with us no matter what.

improvisation and suffering.

What have I accomplished today?  I woke up at 6am, warmed up my car that I’m afraid one day is just going to decide it can’t start, walked out the door at 6:40, went to Starbucks, drove to Buswell library to find out that it was locked, drove back to Starbucks and now it’s 7:30 and my class starts in an hour.  Instead of doing what I was hoping I would do (Aural Skills homework), I’m writing a blog post.  And I’m oddly ok with that.

I’m not sure where this post will lead, so I apologize if you read a post and hope to know the point before I start.  I don’t know the point of this post, therefore, you won’t know the point either.  Hopefully there is a point to it though.  As always, there has been a lot on my mind.  One, my senior recital is coming up in less than a week.  It’s made me think about my musicianship throughout these past 5 years.  For those of you who don’t know me, I play the cello.  I’ve been playing the cello for about 13 years.  I’ve realized that I came into college very well trained technically.  But my musicality was very lacking, which I think is a good place to be.  To have the techniques down on my instrument but be lacking in the musicality.  It’s better than lacking in technique but advanced in musicality, because technique will always hinder from the musicality.  That’s beside the point.

Since coming to college, my one major accomplishment performance-wise has been my ability to step away from the music and actually say something with the notes that have been written out for me.  The main way that I was able to accomplish this was through the ability to improvise.

I love the cello.  I love playing, performing, but most of all I love hearing the cello.  I love the instrument, and I know the instrument.  Improvising has allowed me to gain the confidence to be ok with playing something that may sound bad, and moving on from it.  When you improvise, not everything sounds good.  I would improvise with a pianist, and so most of the time it wouldn’t sound good.  I started out playing whole notes under the piano, but now I’ve been able to play moving notes and it becomes easier and easier to play off something that doesn’t sound good and making it seem like it was supposed to be that way.

Here are some links to improvised music that my friend Ryan and I recorded:

7.27.13d
8.4.13

Most of all improvising helped me to step away from the notes.  Prior to my improvising experiences, I was so caught up in getting the right notes that I couldn’t step away and find the line of the whole phrase.  Improvising gave me the freedom to say something with my instrument where prior, I couldn’t because I was focused on the details of a passage.  It would take me forever to read and learn a piece of music because I was so focused on the notes and all the details within that note (dynamics, articulation, etc.)  I’m going to be honest, I’ve only started practicing for my recital within the past month.  And even that practicing hasn’t been a lot.  This week, I’m planning on actually practicing a lot… which who knows if that’ll be a lot.  But the point is, I’ve learned new pieces much faster than I did before because of that ability to read through a piece of music the first time and understand the phrasing of it instead of just focusing on the notes.  Music and the way it is written makes sense, and when you understand why a composer wrote something a certain way, then you can easily understand where he/she is going with it.

Enough of the music jargon.  I’ve also been thinking about relationships and how God provides.  When you lose someone close to you, whether they pass away or they just drop out of your life, there is a grieving process that takes place.  I’ve been going through this and it’s been challenging in many ways.  I’m not going to go into details of what’s happened or who I’ve lost, but I miss them.  I’ve been in denial, I’ve been angry, I’ve tried to see what went wrong and questioned with what ifs, I’ve been depressed, and I’ve been anything but accepting of it.

I trust that the acceptance will come in time, but for now, I’m suffering the loss.  It’s been challenging to move on in my life and leave the past behind.  One thing I can say though, is God is good.  He has provided for me friends that have blessed me in so many ways.  I’m able to be myself now and I’m enjoying my life and where I’m at so much more.  Many of my friends have no idea what I’m suffering the loss of, but they have been supportive of me and loving of me as if I’ve known them my whole life.  I’ve felt very alone and isolated, but I’ve also felt more loved this past semester than I have in a long time.  God has been so good in providing me exactly what I need at exactly the right time that I needed it.

I am certain that God had this planned out in my life that I wouldn’t suffer alone.  I am also certain that he would not let you suffer alone either.  He has blessed me so much by his provision and by the body of Christ.  My view of the body of Christ and it’s purpose in this broken, lonely world has greatly expanded in the past 5 years.  God has shown me who he is and his presence in my life much more fully and I’m so thankful for God’s grace in showing me that.  Through the pain of loss, I know God is good.  That is the one truth I hold to, and everything else will fall to pieces around that.  I pray that in your suffering God will teach you that same thing, that he is good despite the pain.  I pray that truth will lead you through the rest of your life.

the questioning soul

Today’s small group was so good.  I shared my story and also felt like God was leading in our conversations today as well.  Our conversation led me to think about my relationship with Christ in a way that I haven’t thought about in awhile.  It made me question whether my relationship with Christ was real and whether he actually was working in my life even when it didn’t feel like it.

My faith was not my own until the summer after my seventh grade year.  That was when I realized I needed a restart; I needed to change. It was a breaking point in my life where I needed to either be following Christ, or I was going to be dead for the rest of my life.  God humbled me enough where I fell to my knees in complete and utter inability to continue with my life, unless his forgiveness and favor fell on me.  This was the beginning of my journey of walking with Christ.

I think my story is different than many Christians, especially those that I encounter at Wheaton.  Mostly because the people at Wheaton almost all have similar stories.  They mostly all grew up in Christian homes, which Christian parents, and their testimony extends practically back to when they were in the womb (not really, but you understand what I mean).

For Christians like this, I think it’s easy for them to find an ideal in their relationship with Christ and fixate on it.  It’s hard to be sitting in questions and not feeling God and his presence in your life.  It’s mainly hard because faith has always been innate in their nature.  The gospel has always made sense to them, and trusting and having faith in God has always been easy.

For me, questioning is easier.  I can’t say it’s super easy because it’s not, it’s still challenging.  But I think the uncomfortable feelings of questioning my faith come more naturally because I questioned God from the start.  The reason I am explaining this is because, as Christians, we feel the need to always know the answers and to always be comfortable with the “this is right, this is wrong”.  But the more I’m learning, the more I’m realizing that life isn’t about the easy neatly packaged answers.  Life is about the messy, frustrating, anger inducing questions that we can’t answer, and I don’t think God ever intended us to answer.

This is going to be a short entry (I’ve been very distracted tonight for multiple reasons).  But I want to challenge you to question.  I want you to challenge the idea that questioning isn’t a lack of faith, but rather a strengthening of faith.  I saw on my news feed this “Commitment+Doubt= Growth”.  That equation is exactly my point.  When we cling to Christ in our doubts and questions, that is when God can more fully show us who he is.  God uses our questions to prove his mercy and faithfulness to us everyday of our lives.  Maybe as Christians we should see questioning our faith as a way to grow and understand more fully who we are as humans and more fully who God is.

confused.

Today feels like a whirlwind.  I can’t describe to you what I’m feeling right now.  I’m trying to be careful about what I say and be considerate of what I write. Here’s just legitimately, the list of what has happened to me today and last night.  Last night I made one of my students cry, this morning I woke up and bombed a lesson I was supposed to teach in Elementary Music Methods, and I got a notice about my student account telling me I have a hold on my account which led to issues with my mom.

My student last night who is from the Dominican Republic started crying after I attempted to play a game with her where she has to listen to what I’m singing and play the interval on the violin.  First off, she’s 28.  I just wanted to point that out, because I play this game with my 2nd and 3rd grade students, it’s not like it’s really challenging to the point where I’m basically murdering her with the challenges I’m asking her to do.  She’s made progress since we started, and when she works at what she’s doing and doesn’t complain about how hard it is, she can do it.  English is her second language, and so it’s hard for me to communicate with her sometimes.  But I am patient and I’ve been patient with her in making sure that she understands what I’m saying.  Basically she started crying because she told me I make her feel stupid the way I talk to her.

At first I just felt terrible that I made her cry. But her crying made me look back on my own personal experiences and realize that my cello teachers made me cry before many times.  I realized that sometimes music lessons sucked, and I would come home crying asking myself why I want to play the cello, and wanting to never touch the cello again.  But it was through those times that I became a better musician.  It was through those times of pure and utter embarrassment and questioning that I realized I did want to play the cello.  It made me fall more deeply in love with playing the cello.

But later, it was not the fact that I made her cry that bothered me, although it truly was shocking.  It’s the fact that she told me I make her feel stupid.  This concerns me because if I come off like I’m stuck up or I know everything, as a teacher, it would be really easy to not respect me or appreciate me.  I hated my teachers that made me feel stupid.  I want to be a good teacher, and if my student feels stupid the way I talk to her, I need to change that.  It made me think about the way I carry myself, or the way I say things, and it really scared me.  It scared me because I was concerned that maybe I’m communicating to them in an authoritarian way (the way that I hate, and never want to be like) where I’m feeding them information.  Maybe I am teaching like I’m the know it all, because technically I have been studying music for the past 5 years.  I just continued to struggle with my behavior as a teacher and what I was doing wrong.

Then I woke up and did my “orffestration” lesson in Elementary Music Methods class.  I totally choked.  I couldn’t even sing the melody that I had practiced, and I didn’t know what I was doing anymore.  My mind went totally blank.  The teacher had to help me and give me ideas, and it was quite honestly awful.  This led me to realize that I’ve always done this.  Performing in any and every way has always been a challenge for me.

I’ve never been good performing on my cello, in aural skills class, in conducting class, on written tests, and presenting anything.  I’ve always completely blanked, no matter how much preparation I put into it.  My professor emailed me his thoughts about my lesson, and he told me that maybe Elementary music isn’t for me.  This was really hard to read because I’ve enjoyed my elementary music methods class, and I’ve learned so much from him and his teaching.  I’ve been able to apply a lot of what he’s taught to my own private studio and it’s been very helpful.  I am even leaning towards being an elementary music teacher as opposed to being a high school or middle school music teacher, so to read that maybe this isn’t for me, was really hard.

It made me question everything that I’m doing in my life right now.  It’s been awhile since the last time that I questioned being at a conservatory and going into music (the last time I questioned it was probably my sophomore year), but today I questioned why I’m at this conservatory and why I’m in music.  I have not felt so discouraged and so frustrated in a long time.

This discouragement really made me question why I was in music, but more sharply it made me question myself as a potential teacher.  This I had never questioned before.  I’ve always felt adequate to teach, where I usually questioned my musical ability.  Questioning the entire degree I am working towards was very hard for me, and it challenged me to think about what I love about teaching.  It challenged me to look at my other students and realize that I connect with them, I love them, and I am able to teach them in a way that not everyone can.

After this happened, I checked my email and noticed that I was notified I have a hold on my account due to my unpaid bill.  I texted my mom and asked her for help to pay for my tuition.  I told her that I know she cut me off financially, but I need help.  She told me that she did not cut me off financially, and that the only thing I have to repay is for my “boneheaded action” this summer, which I’m assuming is her saying I had too much of a lazy summer for her to count it as anything worthwhile.

This frustrated me in more ways than one.  She did cut me off financially, and it was frustrating that she didn’t acknowledge that.  My sophomore year, she told me that she could no longer support me financially in my decision to stay at Wheaton because I’m paying thousands of dollars to become a music teacher and that it’s a dumb decision to continue the path that I was going.  If she had not meant that then, it was frustrating that she made me have that idea and that I’ve been busting my butt for the past 4 years trying to pay for Wheaton.

She also told me I could always ask her for anything I needed.  That’s wrong.  She never told me that.  And on top of that, I was under the impression (apparently) that my family’s financial situation was dismal.  But apparently she was able to pay for my bill this semester?  This is just confusing to me.  I really have no explanation.

So that was my day: pure, utter confusion from three different fronts.  Why did this day happen?  I have no idea.  On a positive note, I did work out for the first time today in several months.  So maybe the confusion is good for my health.  And, I babysat for this family I haven’t babysat for since the summer probably.  I missed their kids.  And, one of the boys told me I looked skinny.  As I thought about that, I realized, I have literally never been described as skinny.  So I think he must’ve been confused.

Also, through my complete and utter confusion about everything that happened today, I have to still know that God is not confused.  He is not wondering why all of these things happened today, but he knows why all of these things happened today.  He planned them before I was born and he has a purpose for them.  I wish he would’ve maybe planned it so each of those things would’ve happened in a three day span, but I’m not complaining.  This truth is hard to remember in the midst of confusion, but I have to keep reminding myself of it.  God is and I am not.

cling.

I just wrote a blog post yesterday, and I realize that. But tonight I am overcome by emotion.

“Hang in there”.  Sometimes I feel like that’s all I hear.  “Just hang in there”.

Why?

Why must I “hang in there”?  It’s as if I’m holding life by a single thread as it’s pulling and tugging at me in all different directions and I just need to “hang in there”.  The past several days have been awful.  I’ve been constantly busy, needing to do work, and constantly running out of time.  It feels as though every time I decide to go to sleep, and I get more than 4 hours, I’m rushing around the next day trying to finish everything.  I have gotten next to no sleep the past several days, and on top of that, I’ve been going non stop at school.  What is worse is I really can’t do anything about it.  All of my free time has been spent doing homework, and that “free time” (which morphs into “study time”) seeps into my much needed sleep hours.

I’ve been suffering in many, many ways.  I’m hurting emotionally with deep, deep pain, physically I’m exhausted and my eyes are heavy, nose is stuffy,  my mind is constantly going and telling me lie after lie after lie, and my heart is believing every single one of them without fail.  Life is what is weighing on me right now.

Today, I was reflecting on my life.  I spent some time with a good friend, and I was once again reminded that I am single and I have always been single.  I got frustrated with myself that I long so deeply for a relationship with a man.  I questioned what was wrong with me, and why I’m just not enough for a guy to be interested in me, and for a guy to have never been interested in me.  I even questioned if I just look like a man, and therefore no man has an attraction to me.  I really don’t understand what it is.  But I don’t want to be single.  I would love to have a family, and have kids, and glorify God with another person.  But it feels like God forgot to about that in his grand scheme of things.  This desire to spend my life with a man is not all consuming, and although there is a fear with what life as a single woman would be as far as how people would view me, I know I could do it if God called me to it.  But that doesn’t mean I would want that.  I was reflecting on my past, and I just really wondered why I’m still “holding on”.  I’m tired of it.  I’m tired of relationships, I’m tired of people, I’m tired of this world, I’m tired of being hurt, and I’m tired of feeling pain.  All the time.

So why hang in there?  Why is that supposed to be encouraging?  It’s assumption is that this life will get better.  Or that by some how hanging on, it will fix itself.  What if that assumption is wrong?  What if this life will always be hard, and there will never be a moment where I could say my life is going great?  What if I’m hanging on to something that is no longer there?  Am I being a Debbie Downer?  Based on my own life, I don’t think life gets any better.  If anything, I feel as though my eyes are opened to more and more of life’s brokenness.  My longing for heaven becomes deeper, and deeper with every passing year in this life.  The joy I’ve found on earth has been fleeting, and I see no reason why that joy shall not continue to be fleeting.

The only true encouragement I have found while on earth is that there is heaven.  There is something better than this place (thank God) and that brings great joy.   A joy that cannot always be expressed, seen, or felt; but it is still present.  My struggle is having to stay here on earth when I so desperately long to no longer be here.  Maybe that’s what it means to “hang on”.  Right now, that joy that Christ has died for me and for my sins is very distant.  I have no joy right now.  I only have great searing pain, loss, and longing.

I am tired of the monotony of my life.  I’m tired that nothing really does ever change (at least good change).  I am just very weary of where I’m at.  So I guess my hanging on to this life will hopefully bring me  closer to the next life where I will not be able to find anything but joy.  But what if my letting go is where the encouragement actually lies?  What if my release of my desires, my struggles, my pain, and my comfort actually lead to joy?  What if instead of hanging on to life, as if it is something I am losing, I let go of my life and just gave up like I so deeply desire?

In my desire to “hang in there”, there is a sense of clinging to my earthly life.  But I don’t want that.  It’s tiring, frustrating, and painful.  Instead I think it’s clear in Hebrews 12:1 that we need to throw off everything that hinders (not only sin!) but every weight which clings so closely to us, and let us run the race with perseverance.

That seems like a rather fluffy ending to my post, and I’m really not sure if I like it.  Letting go of everything is not an answer to my great frustrations with life.  It may free me up a bit to just “be”, but that doesn’t mean that my pain and struggles will disappear (although I wish it did!).  I think the constant pain, struggles, and frustrations I have in this life are fully because of our broken nature.  That doesn’t make it any easier, but it does encourage me and help me to set my eyes on heaven and not here on earth.  I pray God would teach me to cling to him.  I pray God would show me how he sees the world.  I pray he shows me how to love people who have hurt me.  I also pray that God would put more hours in the day so I can get more sleep.  But that is just a side note.