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a rare breed…

“I don’t know if you realize how rare you are.”

that’s what he said to her a few days ago. those words that i just read tonight because i fail at keeping up on google reader. i fail at keeping up on blogs. which is why i don’t follow many. it takes quite a bit to make it into and stay in my reader. because i know i fail and it’s not fair to those i’m trying to keep up with to be fail. anyway, i digress.

“I don’t know if you realize how rare you are.”

as this post went on and the back story and explanation went on i thought and i thought. i thought about the people i know, i thought about all the people i’ve met over the past year, i thought about their personalities, i thought about how i feel about them, i thought about what people say when they meet me.

do i realize how rare i am?

yes, i do.

the people like me, the people like us, who throw our lives and our hearts out there for people to see are rare. and i don’t just mean putting our hearts out on type in some interwebs world. i mean in the real world too. i mean those who let people see them. those who are authentic and vulnerable in their relationships. in all their relationships. with everyone around there.

some people see it as bad. some people see it as a heart on a sleeve, as a way to get attention, a soft personality. i see it as being real. i see it as appreciating everything around me. i see it as thanking james for getting me a glass of water. i see it as appreciating my mom buying stuff for my wedding. would they know that i was grateful even if i didn’t say anything? yeah.

but why hold it in? why hold it back? why create rooms full of things you left unsaid?

i want those around me to know that i appreciate them. and that i love them. and that they’re important to me. for too long, i kept all that inside. i wasn’t an emotional kind of person. i wasn’t someone who put myself out on the line, who let people read into my thoughts and my feelings. i certainly didn’t voice them. and to be honest, i don’t think that it was one huge, life-changing event that changed it all for me. i think it was a series of huge, life-changing events that made me realize what i was doing.

i lost a cousin to a drunk driver a little over two years ago. that made me step back and look at how precious time is. how important it is to slow down and SEE the things around me. to SEE the people around me. to pay attention to what i’m doing, to rediscover and redefine my faith. just over a year ago, i graduated from college (the first time) and i had no job. i had nothing to sustain me. i was living on a savings account and fumes of a failed relationship. a relationship that ended with a houseful of rooms, all filled with the things that were never said. i retreated into that house and began to wander through the rooms, taking out everything that was never said. some things were finally said, of course those being the things that should have remained unsaid. i wandered through the house and i looked through the pictures and walked through all the memories, the painful memories.

then, one day, i opened up.

i was sitting in a car with three of my friends, driving home from a hockey game when i finally, for the first time in over a month, admitted to someone else that my relationship was over. for good. forever. they were all completely surprised. i remember the expression on my friend’s face when she turned to look at me, both of us in the backseat. i still vividly remember the pain of that confession. in fact, i can still feel it when i think back to that night. i can still feel the choking pain and the despair wash over me. i can still feel my heart explode as the words came out and the idea suddenly became real. i remember the conversations we had after that, the conversations where i poured my heart out to her. i poured out my pain, i poured out my anger, my frustration. i remember her patience with me and then experiencing her very own pain. her very same pain.

then i joined a group at church and found someone else. i opened up with her about some very personal things but still kept quite a bit to the back. we talked a lot about the break up and her marriage, which had been on rocks almost from the beginning. we talked about life, about love, about pain, about addiction, about coping, about God, about each other. i grew to really trust her and eventually shared with her some of my deepest and most personal thoughts.

then i found another person. and i opened up more. it took a few lucky guesses on his part and i opened up to him. i shared with him things i never shared with anyone. i told him things i’d never told anyone. because i needed someone to listen. and he listened. at least on the other end of facebook chat.

i was soon able to open up to people in real life. those who had known me for years. i finally was able to open up to them and tell them things that i’d never said, things i’d never dare to say. and i found that people liked it. i found that people liked ME.

i began to see that all the things about me that had caused me so much pain in my previous relationship were precisely the things that made me who i am. the way i interact, the way i talk, everything about me that appeals to other people. i had been told and been led to believe that these were bad things. that i needed to change them. that i needed to change me in order to be good enough to be loved. i began to see that this wasn’t the case at all. what i began to see, and what others had seen all along, was that the person i was made him uncomfortable and he lashed out at me in his discomfort.

i reconnected with people from the past and i asked for their forgiveness for my terrible behaviour. even though i was young and stupid and hurting, i knew that my actions had been unacceptable. i heard back from all four of them. that they were proud of me for what i was doing, reassured me that all was well and i was forgiven, and we all moved on. i debated as to whether i should now invite them all to be part of my life and finally decided not to. if our paths were to cross again, it would be wonderful, but it wasn’t necessary as a part of healing to include them in my life.

i connected with bloggers who were like me. almost exactly like me, who came to care about the person i am and what goes on in my life. and i care about them and what goes on in their lives. i’ve discovered a new medium in which to open up. and i eventually opened it, this blog, up to everyone in my life. anyone who follows me on twitter, anyone who finds me on facebook, and for a while, anyone who could google my name can find me and this blog. because i don’t want to hide anymore. i want to be open.

“I don’t know if you realize how rare you are.”

most of the new people i’ve met over the past few months have been very unlike me. they are about keeping up appearances. they are about watching out for themselves. they are good people for the most part, don’t get me wrong, but they are not vulnerable. at least not without a few drinks in them.

i am rare. i am special. i am a gem.

it’s taken me a long time to grasp that and believe it. it certainly helps that i hear it everyday. and it helps that the face and the eyes and actions back up those words. it helps that he loves to sit with me while i do my homework and rub my back or play with my hair. that he loves the smell of my hair. that when he looks at me, i know that he’s genuine.

i had certainly begun to realize and see these things before i met him. i think it was precisely that realization and that acceptance that made me ready to meet him. that made me ready for him. i had already begun to know that the next person, the next significant other, would have to be something out of this world for me to open up to and trust. i think my heart knew right away when i met him. it took some convincing of my mind to agree.

it’s impossible for me now to close up. it’s too liberating being open and honest. it’s terrifying being that vulnerable but i don’t want it any other way. i want people to know me. i don’t answer “good” to ‘how are you?’ unless i am good. i don’t do generic answers to that. i do honest answers, even if it’s just to say that i’m tired today. i don’t need an excuse or a reason to close back up. i don’t need to start that trend. i know that human nature makes it all to easy to hide in our closets and come out only when we’re pretty and presentable. i never want to close my closet door. i don’t want to hide behind a curtain anymore. i don’t want to be afraid of my glass jar being dropped. life is short. it’s meant to be lived. it’s meant to be close to people.

so yes, i’m rare. people like me are rare.

do you let the world see you for who you are or do you try to hide?

things that happen in class…

so, i’m sure you’re all DYING to know how i did on my american dream paper.

well i ROCKED it!!

i got to read my paper to the entire class, or at least the 60 that were in class today. the other girl that turned in her paper got to do the same thing, so it’s not like it was just me. so we got to sit in front of the class, read our paper (yes, every word of my 8 page paper), and then answer questions from students.

and apart from the surprise of it all, it wasn’t bad. i’m a really good reader, so that’s not a problem for me. i would have liked the chance to read it over before i read to everyone just to get familiar with wording and whatnot, but that’s ok.

and then he told us that the really good papers that were turned in would be read aloud to the class. so, of course, that means that cari wrote a good paper. and i agree with him. it WAS well written. this other girl (i think her name is kate so we’ll call her that), so, kate wrote in a completely different style than i did. she wrote an informal reflexive paper where i wrote a much more formal analytical paper. neither paper was better than the other one, but just different. he wanted us to read them so that other people could get an idea of how to write their papers. and he wants a copy of it himself which i already emailed to him. i think that’s super cool too.

so anyway, we got to read them and then we got to discuss them with the class and answer their questions. and that was cool. i had a couple questions posed directly to me and i was so proud of myself because i really stopped to think before i answered them. i wanted to make sure that i had coherent answers that made sense to people. there is a girl in my class who says ‘like’ ALL the time. and i can never figure out what she’s actually saying. all the extraneous talking noise gets in the way of what she’s actually saying. or trying to say.

other than the surprise aspect, it wasn’t bad at all. i would have liked some time to read over my paper once or twice before reading it to the class, just to get a feel for it and for the wording. i stumbled over some phrases and i’m not sure if it’s because i was really nervous or because it was worded poorly. i don’t know.

i did enjoy being in front of the class though. i’ve always wanted to teach. i think i’m a good teacher and i enjoy it. i started college as an education major but all the garbage that went along with getting a secondary or primary teaching license wasn’t worth it to me. i’d rather have the freedom that the college environment affords. and i’m not obligated to care about those who don’t care about my class where i probably would have been in a lower educational setting. i would care a lot about my students who care about my classes and i would not care about those who don’t. and that’s fine. i’m of the school that is college is about choices, being mature, showing up to class, getting stuff done, and it’s ok to fail someone if they fail to meet the objectives of the class.

someday, i think i would really like to teach. that is a nice goal to have. i have goals, i have aspirations and i think that i can attain them if i work hard enough. if i’m committed to it. which i am. my education and my hard work will pay off in the end for me. and of course, there are always those few whose ability to take chances, dive in and make huge changes in their lives to follow their dream that inspire me. i know that if they can do it, so can i. especially now that i’ve found what i love and what i do well. i definitely see myself happy in this line of work, in psychology and teaching. i could never quite picture myself in music. i enjoy music, but it’s not in my blood, it’s not my passion. i’ve found my passion.

all because of what happened in class.

continually walking, never arriving…

sometimes i wonder what it is about religion that makes people feel like they need to “arrive”? buddhists strive for enlightenment. hindus strive for self-actualization. christians strive for holiness.

the thing is… christians NEVER arrive. ever. not until they are glorified by the very presence of God in heaven. and the others finally “end” their soul’s life when they ARRIVE at nirvana or enlightenment or self-actualization. and all of these things are based on what the PERSON does. christianity is all about what GOD does IN us.

as humans, we are innately and naturally concerned with ourselves. our self-interest. our self-preservation. our self-esteem. our self-whatever. it’s about me. i’m not saying that all these things are bad or even that a little of each of them is bad. i think it’s important to take care of yourself to survive.

but what about beyond that?

what if it’s something that doesn’t DIRECTLY harm someone else? or so you think.

what if it’s an action that NOBODY sees you do? and nobody KNOWS about it?

i think that buddhists and hindus are kind of on the right track with their views and faith. they perceive themselves as continually walking a journey of betterment and concern for others. there’s a lot of good stuff in there. but what does it do? it makes YOU a better person. no one else. and what is the REASON for doing it? because it’s the right thing to do? for recognition? why?

what if i want to make a difference? what if i want to make OTHERS better people too?

therein lies the problem. i can’t do that. i can’t make anyone better. NOT EVEN MYSELF. i can’t do it. i’m too selfish of a person to WANT to be better.

this is probably my favorite speech ever… so quick (8 minutes) watch it BEFORE moving on. if you can…

the best line in that?

“i always knew what the right path was. without exception, i knew. but i never took it. you know why? it was too…damn…hard.”

the right path. it’s hard. it’s always hard. it takes sacrifice. it takes saying no to ME. to what I want.

i came to a cross roads today. i knew what the right path was. i knew what i should have done. but i drove away anyway (no, i didn’t hit anyone’s car or anything. MUCH less involved than that.). i didn’t WANT to take the right path because it benefited ME not to.

then i “heard” it (not audibly, more like felt it in my soul). Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?*

but no one saw. i’m not hurting anyone.”

“it’s not yours.”

it might not be theirs either.

“it’s not yours.”

and He was right. it wasn’t mine. it wasn’t mine to take. to keep. to play off like it’s ok because no one saw. He saw. so i went back. i left it for them. because maybe it was theirs. and maybe they need it. even if they don’t, it wasn’t mine to have.

why do i share a few vague details and not the whole story? because the story isn’t the point. because i’m not sharing to get commendation. i’m not sharing to be celebrated.

if i claim to be a christian, but i don’t act accordingly, what kind of christian am i? certainly not the kind i want to be. certainly not the kind that GOD wants me to be. because my Father sees what i’ve done in secret**. He sees my heart. He sees my obedience, though unwilling. it’s not about me. it’s about Him. when people look at me, they should see Him. i WANT them to see Him.

i can’t make myself a better person. only God can. only God can give me the desire to want to be a better person because outside of my faith, i have no reason to be a good person, to do unto others. the only reward i would ever get then is right here on earth. my earthly commendations.

but still i walk, still i strive. i walk the road that leads to holiness and Christ-likeness. sometimes willingly, sometimes unwillingly. sometimes it’s surrendering my will to His, my selfish tendencies to His demand of holiness from me. that’s how things work when the choice is to not have my life be about me.

others can have their religion. they can have their rituals, their dogmas, their laws, their everything. i choose a relationship. i choose life. i choose growth. i choose inconvenience. i choose integrity.

i choose the slow walk TOWARD Christ and not the walk away from Him. each path is taken one step at a time.

*Luke 6:46

**4Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you…6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you…18and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you…21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (found in matthew 6)