changes and consistency.

Well hello there. It’s been awhile.

After graduating I realized how much I had changed in the past 5 years, and on top of that how much I had changed in the past year after my friends graduated.  I realized that the people who said they would be there for me weren’t and the people who I had met in the past year were there for me.  I realized people are flaky and that people say things they don’t mean.  As a result, graduation was inwardly painful but also a good time for me to realize my life is moving on, and the people who aren’t in my life won’t be in my life.

Life is interesting that way.  It’s unexpected, change happens, you’ll be somewhere in 10 years you would’ve never expected.  I don’t want to be cheesy, but it’ll end up happening eventually- one thing remains.  The faithfulness of God throughout our entire lives.  Whether we turn from him, fight him, love him, trust him, seek him, worship him, or deny him, he will always be faithful.  I’ve learned this in a deep way.  I’m not who I was 6 months ago, nor am I the person I was yesterday. Change is constant for humans, but God is consistent and the same today, yesterday, in 10 years, in 50 years, in 10,000 years.  That’s what we should lean our lives on, the consistency of Christ, not the ever changing people, places, things, or community around us.

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empty words.

Within our empty worlds filled with meaningless text messages void of emotion or feeling of any sort, lie empty words. Sometimes I don’t think we see the ramifications of the empty words we speak, other times we do. And we still speak them. Maybe that’s why I write. Just to read that I have some type of intelligent thoughts swimming around in my mind. And I don’t know the ramifications of the words I write nor do I see the ramifications play out.

But either way we say empty words.

Sometimes things change and words that were filled to the brim with meaning and feeling have lost all its sweet flavor. As if the time around us has created a rotten odor within the words we once spoke, destroying any life or joy within them. And they become empty words.

Sometimes bitterness creeps into the meaningful words we say and stain the meaning to nothing. As though we allow our words to lie unprotected and let the void within our hearts become jealous of joy we once felt. And they become empty words.

Sometimes our mouths are so impulsively swift and impetuous we say words we don’t mean. We cut deeply into those we love unintentionally wounding them leaving ourselves hopelessly trying to pick up the pieces and put them together again. Even empty words can cut and tear apart a soul.

Sometimes in the moment we throw words with meaning to intentionally cut and destroy only to step back and realize we didn’t actually mean what we said. And we are left hopelessly trying to pick up the pieces and put them together again.

We can cover up, ask for forgiveness and attempt to change the words we have said but truthfully no words, even words with meaning, can ever extinguish the words without meaning.

We live in a world where words are empty. Our interactions now are more than just simply words spoken. Words are read and interpreted with as many meanings as one can think of. Even the simple word “hi” can be given meaning of annoyance or simplicity or just a simple greeting. But the problem with the many interpretations is that the word is left without meaning.

Because of the vast interpretations of a single word, our society has lost the meanings of words. Words can mean and be read as so many things and it has caused breaks in our relationships that are unnecessary and painful. We’ve allowed words of emptiness strike at our soul and eat away at who we are as human beings.

We’ve allowed it.

Now when we read a response from a person, we give it it’s own meaning even if it was unintentional. It doesn’t matter. We still allow it to hurt us and deeply wound us. Or annoy us. Our frustrate us. Or anger us. Or give us hope.

This is the problem I see with the society we are creating. We a creating a society of humans who are becoming less and less human and more and more fragile and broken due to our lack of patience for empty words unspoken.

life and death.

So, I realized the other day that the past few posts I’ve written are kind of depressing, and harsh.  I apologize.  This next post may be depressing, but after a much too long conversation yesterday with my mom, I began thinking a lot.

My mom just recently finished nursing school at Kent State University.  I don’t want to get into the ins and outs of why, how, etc., I realized yesterday she’s seen a lot.  As a nurse observing, etc., she has seen life emerging and beginning, life being preserved and saved, but she has also seen life ending as well.  I hear about all of these times.  We were talking yesterday about my grandma.  My mom has seen “do not resuscitate” orders taking place on patients, and she described the horrors of the pain that patients have to go through in order for their lives to be saved.  Usually DNRs (for short) are used for patients who are older, and I’m sure it’s some legal thing because a doctor has to help a patient write it or sign for it or something.  Anyways, my mom wants my grandma to have this.

Now before you decide that my mom hates my grandma and wants her to die, or any other nasty terrible thoughts you’re thinking in your mind, let me take you a step back for a moment.  When a DNR order is not in place, the medical doctors have to do everything in their capabilities to keep the patient alive.  Listening to my mom speak about this, this means CPR involved intense chest compressions which involves breaking ribs, defibrillator shocks, shoving things down the patients throat to make sure they can breathe, and usually ends in the patient staying alive through a feeding tube and breathing machine, etc.  Now, I don’t claim to be an expert on this subject, because I’m not.  But I call into question what life is.  Is life just breathing and eating, laying in bed all day not knowing what is happening around you anymore?  Is life to be enjoyed or simply just had?  Is life supposed to have a purpose?  And ultimately, is life supposed to end at a specific time?

As I was talking to my mom, she told me about how she had a conversation with a family doctor who’s been in our family for a very long time.  She told me he said something like this: “In our culture, we are obsessed with prolonging life, instead of accepting death”.  This really struck me.  It caused me to think about how we now have technology and instruments to keep people alive longer, even when their life has seemingly left their body.  It made me think about our culture, and how we long to live longer without realizing the implications of life lost on earth.

It made me wonder, if people who are in a coma, or stuck in a vegetative state who are breathing only through a breathing tube and only surviving because we’re pumping food into their stomachs, if they are in heaven, and if their body is just a cavity in which they once were.  I know miracles, happen, and I believe in a God who can do miracles, but what if we hope so much in earthly miracles we forget to see the miracles he’s already done?  Why do we feel the need to see miracles with our own eyes when in reality, there are miracles happening spiritually everyday?

I’m not calling for everyone who’s on a ventilator or feeding tube to cease to live, and I’m not saying that their life isn’t worth anything because it is.  There is beauty, great beauty in brokenness and dependence.  But sometimes I wonder if we let life continue selfishly, for our own good and purpose, to have comfort knowing that someone is still breathing, even if only through a machine.

 

I apologize because I realize now that this post is still depressing.  But to put some light on the subject, in Ecclesiastes 3, it says there is a time for life, and a time for death.  And I believe that God has a time for both of those things for all of us.  But the trouble is accepting it.  There is great, incredible beauty in the pain and loss through death, but I think we should cling to eternal life and not earthly life, because our God is greater than what we see here on earth.

transitions.

Transitions are times that you see coming but can’t prepare for, and are inevitable.  I’m realizing this more and more as I continue to live life.  I “graduated” from college, and it seems like the apparent next step for me is to get married.  Four of my good friends are getting married this year, I’ve already seen 2 of my good friends get married.  But aside from marriage, apparently graduation from college launches you into the “real” world or I guess the career world.

I miss college already, but what’s mostly hard about it is I’m watching people around me and how they have made lifelong, deep friendships in college, and I thought I was going to have that, but I didn’t.  The friends I made were flaky and when a moment of transition hit our friendship they were gone.  There are some good friends I’ve made, and I may be friends with them for my lifetime, but it’s not like I’m able to have fun with them or spend time with them freely.  I don’t have anyone who I can just pick up the phone and call to talk about life, or to just be with.

Life is so bound by the career we choose or the location we’re in that it’s so hard to connect with people outside of that realm.  I feel like everyone is moving around me and I’m just still.  I mean, I’ve watched my friends get married, and I’ve legitimately never been on a date (Thanks Wheaton College).  But in a more serious sense, the friends I’ve made have been good and beneficial, but temporary and that’s hard for me who makes very intentional friends.  I will go out of my way to be there for people, and if we’re friends, there is intentionality to our friendship and meaning.

I wish there was a way that I could prepare for the feelings I’m feeling, or the transitions I’m dealing with, but there isn’t.  I think because I’ve been feeling a lot of transitions in such a short period of time, I’ve just felt like people are sweeping by me.  I miss consistency and steady relationships and people in my life.  (I also did just Skype one of my good friends last night and I realized how much I miss hanging out with him, so that could be where these thoughts are rooted in…).

summer.

Graduation was great.  It was a stepping stone for me to move on from my Wheaton life and step into my life as a Wheaton grad.  The only bad thing about Graduation was the rain.  Apparently 20min before the ceremony ended it started pouring rain outside.  As we were processing out, they led us into a circle in Edman and I was very confused.  We were being led straight into the library.

During commencement rehearsal in the campus library, they told us we were going to meet our “graduation partners” at the loading dock.  That instantly made me feel like a piece of meat being shipped off, and also made me think why does our library have a loading dock?  But anyways, at commencement, we were instead being shuffled back to the library, where we didn’t get wet, but instead we were forced into a building with 600 other people.  It was hot, gross, and I didn’t have a cell phone to call my family.

When I finally found someone I knew with a phone, I called my mom and this was the conversation:
Mom: “Hi, we’re going to get your sister.”
Me: “Mom, I’m not with Lisa.”
Mom: “O, you’re not?”
Me: “No.”
Mom: “Where are you then?”
Me: “At the Library.”
Mom: “Where’s the Library?” (As she says this I realize the person’s phone I’m using is getting a phone call)
Me: “It’s right next to the building we were just in. But I gotta go. Sorry.”

It was as if I was dying and my last conversation with my mother was absolutely pointless and didn’t get anywhere.  To say the least, post commencement was absolutely insane. We were all in the library, it was stinking hot, I couldn’t find anyone, and no one was leaving, and I couldn’t walk back to Edman where I came from.  On top of that, I didn’t know where my family was, and I didn’t have a way to contact them.  It was terrible.

Onward with the purpose of this post (I was just recently reflecting on that day…).  My summer.  Graduation makes me feel like I need to have a grown up solution to what I’m doing with my life now.  One of my students the other day, after I told them I’m graduating from college replied “O! what are you going to become?”  That question overwhelmed me not only because I felt like I all of a sudden needed to be something, but also I felt like I needed to know what I’m doing with my life.

In some ways I do know what I’m doing with my life.  I have a goal in mind- I’d like to eventually have an after school arts program, or some sort of private studio for inner city kids or special needs kids where I teach them music and give them a place to be, and a means to express themselves.  But how I’m going to get there, I don’t know.  I have interests- I think very deeply and I enjoy learning about how music affects the brain.  This has given me ideas of grad school (which I know eventually I will do).  I also enjoy people and understanding them, getting to know them, and figuring out how they work and think.  I’m more just trusting that God has a plan for me, and that I will be doing fulfilling work that enjoy and love.  In fact, I’m doing that right now, but I’d love to head up my own non-profit (which I have no experience with) or some sort of business involving the aforementioned students.

That being said, this summer will involve myself continuing to teach and loving on kids.  I love what I do right now, and despite my frustrations with working at a store and the fact that I could never work here forever, I love my students and I love watching them develop and grow as musicians and more importantly as kids.  The fall brings two more credits for me to finally, FINALLY, finish my degree at Wheaton College, and post fall semester brings adventures of hopefully getting out of the Wheaton area.  It’s exciting to finally be moving on in my life and not feeling like I’m stuck in a rut working on my degree.

culminate.

On Mother’s Day, exactly one week and 2 days ago, I graduated from Wheaton College with a Bachelor’s of Music Pedagogy degree.  I walked across a stage to accept a folder with a fake diploma in it.  Apparently, this was the culmination of my 5 years at Wheaton College.  It was the public declaration of the work, time, and money I had put into my education up to this point.  To culminate is to reach a climax or point of highest development, according to google.  For some, graduation is this point in my education, the highest point of my development, but for me, I would disagree.

Graduation was a celebration of my hard work for the past 5 years.  The frustrations, the ups, the downs, the As and yes, the failures.  I made it (aside from 2 credits), maybe not how I intended to “make it”, but how God intended me to.  Honestly, Wheaton taught me so much, this short little blog post would never be able to encapsulate the extent of what I learned.  But this is just a tribute to the lessons God taught me through Wheaton.

5 years at Wheaton College taught me what an augmented fourth is, who Erik Satie is, and a lot of other stuff I didn’t know.  It taught me that music is so vast, I could dedicate my whole life to study it and still wouldn’t reach the ends of the subject.  It taught me that performance isn’t about playing something perfectly, but rather playing something with intention.  Wheaton far exceeded my academic expectations.  But Wheaton College taught me so much more than that.  

This could get really cliche, so I apologize.  I came into Wheaton with many ideas about life, I was still a deep thinker like I am today, but I looked and searched for answers.  I wanted black and white solutions to gray problems. Wheaton taught me that there are not a lot of straight black and white answers in the world.  Wheaton taught me to sit in the questions and be ok with not finding answers.  Wheaton challenged me to think about reality in a different way, and I still continue to be challenged by that.  

Living with friends caused me to understand what true love actually is.  Love is when you forgive and continue to give without questions. Love is an action that takes work, active consistent work.  It taught me love has to be accompanied by grace in so many ways.  Living with friends showed me what Godly relationships look like.  It showed me how to trust people in ways I wasn’t ever able to before.  It showed me the value of what a good friend is, someone who is there no matter what.  Who will travel to see someone, to celebrate, or to grieve.  Despite how horribly forced “intentional community” (a phrase every Wheaton College student would cringe at) is, it taught me what community actually is.  Maybe through failed attempts, but community honestly can’t be forced.  It showed me the church is far bigger than I ever thought, has a purpose, and is often wrong in the way we approach the world.  It showed me the Bible is not the center of a relationship with Christ, but Christ is the center of a relationship with him.  

Wheaton taught me that God’s plans are much, much, bigger than the plans Wheaton College has set out for its graduates.  God’s plans are so much greater than anything I could’ve expected to come out of Wheaton College with.  It taught me that God has made me and my mind beautiful in so many ways that one academic area could never measure the beauty he created within me.  Intelligence can’t be measured, and neither can hard work.  Wheaton taught me that yes, I am not the best at what I do, but rather there are unique strengths I have and the combination of them can make me the best in an are that I work towards.  I learned that no, I can not become anything I’ve ever wanted to be despite what the culture has taught me to believe all my life.  I learned that I can work hard at something and not be as good at it as other areas.

Wheaton taught me that good grades aren’t what make you valuable.  For some at Wheaton, this is probably one of the hardest lessons to learn.  For me, it was pretty easy.  I felt very out of place at Wheaton from the beginning because I was very aware of the population around me.  I was aware of their apparent strengths and abilities and it made me very aware of my weaknesses and failures.  But Wheaton College taught me that I can learn so much more from my failures sometimes than my successes.  My failures are what made me a stronger person and taught me to persevere.  It is what gives me the confidence to say I earned my degree at Wheaton College, it wasn’t handed to me.  I worked my butt off to receive the credits I received and I’m proud of my failures and my struggles.  Just because I fail doesn’t mean I can’t do it.  

In some ways failure could define my time at Wheaton College but I’m very certain it isn’t.  There is so much more to life than academics and good grades.  I made some of the deepest and greatest relationships I have ever made at Wheaton College.  I grew in my own independence and thinking as well.  Most importantly, I learned so much about the God who created me.  I learned about his faithfulness, his provision, and his deep, satisfying, unconditional love for me that no one else can offer me like Him.  I learned to trust him in areas of my life that were painful to release.  

In many ways the culmination of my education at Wheaton was my entire 5 years there.  The process and change that God brought me through at Wheaton has given me hope and promise for the rest of my life.  It made me deeply long for heaven sometimes, and it also made me deeply long for this world and it’s brokenness.  But Wheaton has taught me who God is and who he created me to be and I am grateful for that.  I thank God for the opportunity to graduate from Wheaton College, but more importantly, I thank God for what he taught me through Wheaton College.  He is good and he will forever be good.

people.

Well, apparently it’s May, and that means that April A-to-Z Challenge is over.  All I have to say, is I’m really proud of myself.  I may have not have written a different topic everyday for the whole month of April, but I got up to T.  Usually I’d stop within the first week.  I apologize for those of you who kept checking my blog to see my new post for the day after I posted for ‘T’.  It’s not that I didn’t have topics, it’s more than I didn’t have time.  I didn’t think about how the semester was going to be winding down so quickly after the month of April.

Tonight. I am literally so tired of people.  All day I was just wanting to hang out with people.  I feel like I’m constantly asking people if they want to hang out, trying to see what people are up to etc., and literally no one asks me if they want to hang out or what I’m up to.

I think it’s a Wheaton problem. So I’ll be happy when I’m not at Wheaton anymore where people are normal.  But I feel like it’s actually not a Wheaton problem.  It’s an America problem.  Where we think we’re too busy for people all the time.  There is always more work to do and always not enough time to be with people.  To invest in people.  That’s a problem.

I understand that people are busy, but how as the church can we be too busy for people? Today Mitch Kim (who is pretty incredible) talked about fake flowers.  He talked about how they look real nice on the outside, but you get up close to them and you realize they’re fake.  Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure that’s how the world views the Church and Christians. We aren’t real with people and therefore people think that we have life altogether, and everything is dandy because we have Jesus.

But aren’t we missing the people God has placed around us?  I’m not saying I view the church this way, or the people I’ve been attempting to make plans to hang out with for the past several months, but there is a need.  Sometimes people have an immediate need, and how as Christians can we respond with “Sounds great! I’d love to get together.  How about in two weeks?”

I’m literally tired of being real with people.  I’m tired of being real around a bunch of fake people; the only real flower in the bunch of fake flowers. (That sounds really negative, but so I’m sorry.  Not everyone around me is fake.)  American culture though has us wrapped up in ourselves.  In how to better ourselves, and therefore oftentimes we only help people when we see a need and want to feel better about ourselves.  The world looks at the poor and feeds them because they feel they need to out of necessity.  But Christians look at the poor and feed them because they want to, because they are called to.

What if the poor people are all around you?  What if the person who is hungry is actually the person you talk to everyday at work?  What if the poor reach out to you to spend time with?  What if God is actually speaking to you and giving you millions of opportunities everyday?  Sometimes as Christians we’re not satisfied because we don’t see any results, or we don’t see God working in people’s lives.  What if you aren’t taking as many opportunities as you can to reach out to people around you?  And why is it that Christians look at serving opportunities to only people who are outside of the Church?

I’m literally tired of the fake flowers around me.  I’m tired of putting myself out there and being real, and reaching out to people, and being forgotten or feared.