the reality is (part two)…

part one

for as long as i can remember, he was there. he was strong. he was active. he took me fishing. whenever we visited, i was his little shadow. everywhere he went, i went also. i would sit by him always, eat by him. he was immortal to me.

it never occurred to me that he might get old, get frail and die. not once. not until we were going to my sister’s wedding and he had a mild seizure and couldn’t go. at the airport, he had it. in the shuttle. it scared me to death. that was about 6 years ago now.

then came the memory loss. not knowing where the milk was supposed to go. then the alzheimer’s diagnosis. that was a devastating blow to me. for the first time, i was forced to come to grips with the fact that he is mortal. he is not going to be here forever. i looked forward to with eager anticipation and dread every time we saw him. i never knew how much worse he was going to be but i wanted to spend every minute i could with him. and every time, he was weaker, more forgetful.

this last thanksgiving was really hard. it was just a few of us and he though he knew the protocol of having guests over, he just wasn’t himself. he had such a blank look on his face. he was so… mild. so not himself. that was when the prospect that he might not be able to come to my now impending wedding really set in. i think that he knows that he knows me but he’s not exactly sure how. it hurts. i knew it would but i don’t think i knew how much. i don’t think i anticipated how hard it would be to see him go like this.

and now he has leukemia. it’s a slow acting one. i know there’s a word for it but i don’t know what it is. they’ve been monitoring him for two years for it and just now are able to diagnose. it’s stage zero. rumor is that nothing is going to be done about it. rumor is that they’re just going to let it run its course. this is what will ultimately kill him.

another large pill to swallow. another reason that he won’t live forever. i’ve always had a hard time coming to grips with that. i’ve never quite been able to wrap my arms around it. never quite been able to accept it. but i have to. i don’t have a choice.

for a while, i thought that i had been brought to james to help him through his grandpa’s medical issues. that it was just a really perfect timing thing. and now i know that we were brought to each other to help each other out. to help each other stand. to be a shoulder to cry on. to have someone be there who will simply be there. who will sit for two hours and not say much. who realizes that i don’t want to talk about it. who realizes that i just need him to be there, to be near. to be strong for me. i know that God is enough to get me through, but i know that it is much easier having someone else there too. someone physically there. i know this is going to be hard, but i know that i have someone to count on.

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being so proud…

… and not in a bad way. not in a looking down on you because you don’t have the successes i do or anything like that.

this is strictly a proud of my fiance mood. proud of the steps he’s taken recently. proud of the way he works. proud of the way he treats me. proud of the man he is. i want to parade him to the whole world and shout ‘do you see what you’ve left behind, world? do you see what you were never able to catch? do you see what God was able to catch and to bring to me?’ or whatever direction that last question would go.

i could never in a million years have imagined the man that he is. i could never have imagined all the wonderful things about him in one person. sure, in four or five, but one? just one? no way. i had been convinced that if i wanted to get married, there were certain things i had to sacrifice. i would have to sacrifice conversation or responsibility or maturity or i would have to deal with a volatile temper. i always thought that SOMETHING would be missing, something that i desperately wanted or even needed. i never thought that i could honestly have it all.

and now, i look at the man that stands beside me. and i see someone who is perfect for me (well, minus being short and liking country music, but those are things with which i can most certainly cope and live). but to find someone who’s personality is so much like mine, despite having such different upbringings, was something unheard of for me. and then to find someone whose strengths are my weaknesses and whose weaknesses are my strengths. to be so perfectly matched and balanced is something that only God could have orchestrated so well. only He could know exactly what the other person needed and only He could custom build us to match so perfectly.

and not only am i proud of him, but i’m proud of me. i’m proud of the woman i’m becoming. i’m proud of how far and how open and how resilient i truly am. i’m so glad that someone could hold me up to the light so that i can see all those things too. so that i can look at myself and see positives and strengths instead of negatives and weaknesses. i never fathomed that someone could show me so much of myself and such wonderful things about myself. i had imagined that the only way i’d ever be seen is a collection of things that needed to change first. something with promise. something with potential. but never something that was fully arrived or developed to begin with. i had thought that there would always be that something missing. that little dream that i had to let go of. an unhappiness that i had to accept.

fortunately, long before the fiance came along, God was working on me, getting me ready. He was developing a set of characteristics that would be perfect for one man. He was developing a character that is strong and resilient and a heart that is tender and kind and empathetic. He was developing someone who could take all that this man had to offer, all the good things, all the bad things, all the hurtful things and be able to see someone beautiful. to be able to see someone as a human, as a person. to see someone who deserved a chance. and i’m so glad and i’m so proud of him. i’m excited to start our lives together. i’m excited to see where we go and what we do. i’m excited for everything.

evangelizing my backyard…

i don’t even know where to start with this post because there is simply so much that i want to say. so i guess i just need to pick a spot and go.

we’ll start with monday, actually. no, last thursday. on thursdays, there is a group of people from my college age life group through church who meet up to talk about stuff. life, God, the Bible, things like that. and last week, we got to talking about evangelism. i shared that i’m pretty certain that evangelism isn’t one of my spiritual gifts. we got to talking about that and surprisingly, to me at least, everyone said pretty much the same thing. which got me thinking, maybe it’s my DEFINITION of evangelism that prevents me from thinking that it could be a spiritual gift. of course, when i think evangelism, i think of billy graham and his crusade that has touched millions of lives. true, i will NEVER be a billy graham. that has never been placed on my heart. i’ve also never really felt called to world missions, which is another facet to my definition of evangelism. i have no desire to tromp through a rain forest sharing Christ with people. God has not placed that desire in me.

but who’s to say that evangelism can’t happen right at home? with those around me? and who says that evangelism has to be a blatant slap in the face? who says that i need to go around throwing Bibles at people?

who says i can’t be an evangelist just by being who God created me to be?

so on monday, i decided to give this new idea a test drive. i started small. i simply asked God to show Himself to one person through me, whether with or without my knowledge. because, you know, He’s God and He can do that. so on monday, it so happened that i had two conversations with two different people about the exact same thing: me wanting to go to seminary and eventually be a Christian psychologist. the first one happened so fast, right after my first class. which was about an hour and a half after i prayed for this opportunity. it was with a freshpeople in one of my classes about my future. he’s so 18 and a smart kid who desires to do really well in school, really well being get straight As. he has much to learn. and so we got chatting after class a little bit and he asked what i was doing and what i wanted to do with my degree and it seemed like an opportunity, so i took it. i jumped, i chomped. and it was cool. because it turns out he thinks that going to seminary would be really cool too. the next conversation i had was with a girl running a psychology experiment that i needed to participate in for class. and she basically asked me the exact same round of questions, and so i gave her pretty much exactly the same answers. and it turned out that she was a Christian as well and felt that psychology and therapy are less than useful if you don’t have that foundation of faith to stand on. it was a really cool conversation. and i was SO blown away by that. i mean, really. it was crazy.

so then on wednesday, i tried it again and went for a little bolder prayer. and it was that i would have a CONVERSATION about God that day. and of course, about an hour after i prayed, i was presented with the opportunity. and i blew it (didn’t see that coming, did you? haha). yeah. i missed it. another fellow in my class (the same class as the freshpeople) was talking to me about a paper that we have half the semester to write and he was sharing that it was about homosexuality and stuff and at that particular moment in time, i was too busy for it. i was trying to get a post done before class and i was chatting with james on facebook and i just sorta brushed it aside. i engaged a bit, stopping what i was doing to chat, but only for a few moments at a time. and i copped out of that conversation by saying that i don’t really know where i stand on the issue. which is a big fat lie when i think about it. i know exactly where i stand and i agree with him and i disagree with him at the same time (i’m not going to get into it now, but if you’re curious, you can email me and i’ll be happy to explain my position to you). so he walked away to go to class and that’s when i realized that i blew it. God sort of nudged me and said, ‘that was it, dear. right there.’

so then i began to think over the next day why did i do that? what was SO important that i couldn’t take five minutes to talk to the guy? and it’s not that anything is wrong with me or that i’m ashamed necessarily of my stance. part of it is that i’m more worried about what I’M going to say and how I’M going to react and it’s not about how God will work through me and give me the words to say when they need to be said. i get so worried about how i will respond that i forget that God is the one doing all the work anyway. i also am one who doesn’t like to disagree with other people’s opinions. if my opinion is different from yours, i get uncomfortable because i don’t want to be attacked. i know that the Christian life is the persecuted life, but it’s still something that i don’t like. it’s something that i haven’t surrendered to God yet. so i think that’s another reason why i didn’t take the opporunity.

so as i shared all this with my college group, God showed me a way that i can try again. isn’t that awesome that He’s the God of second chances? so, i’m here at school early, which is not unusual, writing this post waiting for my other classmate to show up. and this time i’m going to do it right. even if it means that i don’t get this posted as soon as i want. but i WANT to talk to him about it. i WANT to have that conversation.

prayer answered. gotta go.

guarding my heart…

a friend of mine, well, not really a friend. more like an acquaintance (that sounds harsh to me, but i guess it’s the truth. we’re NOT friends. i’d never call to hang out. whatever. we’ll just go with friend knowing that it’s not the whole truth there).

so a friend of mine is in a relationship. has been for a while now. with a really nice girl. i think. i don’t really know her that well. i’m assuming that she’s nice and wonderful and whatever. so this friend has been using this phrase for a while “guarding their hearts” and for the longest time, i had absolutely no idea what he meant by that. i mean, i figured that it had something to do with not moving too fast but i still just wasn’t sure. so i finally stalkerbooked him and asked ‘what do you mean by that?’

though his answer was short and to the point, it was a really good answer and now the cogs of my brain are turning turning.

he says that there are 3 accelerators to a relationship: physical, spiritual, emotional and that basically guarding your heart means not giving more of yourself than where you are in the relationship. of course, that’s still a pretty vague definition but it leaves room for thought, for pondering, for wondering…

i am not what one would consider as good at guarding my heart. i open my heart to everyone and let them (for the most part) into it and then, of course, let them leave when they want too. so for one who doesn’t guard her heart, she’s had a LOT of heartache. and i can certainly see where all (or most) of that would have been alleviated had i taken care to guard my heart. would the ex have hurt me as badly? no, i don’t think so because i don’t think that our relationship would have survived as long as it did. i don’t think that we would have given as much as we did to each other.

and then i wonder am i making the same “mistake” in my current relationship? are we moving faster, giving more of our hearts than where we are in the relationship? are we speeding down the same road that i went before? that i’ve gone so many times before?

is everyone capable of guarding their hearts as such?

i’m not entirely sure. i’m not entirely sure that i would be able to hold back on certain things, especially the emotional and spiritual involvement. what’s the point of being in a relationship if you’re not investing in it? and maybe i’m not understanding it completely correctly. maybe it’s not that you’re holding back anything but just that you’re not steaming into a relationship, giving more than what the two of you are ready for.

i think that it’s moreso that part of me feels like if you’re guarding your heart, you’re not really giving yourself to that person, you’re not actually investing in the relationship. but if you look at it the other way, then you’re not giving yourself to someone that you’re not going to be with forever. you’re not taking anything away when the relationship ends. you’re not giving part of yourself to someone who doesn’t deserve to have it and you’re keeping as much of yourself as possible for the one you WILL be with forever.

overall, i think it makes a lot of sense. it’s a really good idea. i’m not entirely convinced that even if i had known about that concept whilst with the ex that i would have had the fortitude to do such a thing. i simply don’t see myself as able to keep that much out of a relationship. not that i would need the relationship but i think that if you’re going to take the time to form a relationship, a friendship, it needs to be as real as possible. and open. and vulnerable. i’m not good enough about not being vulnerable.

so i figure that those who are able to do so should do it. and i have the utmost respect for them. i would probably recommend guarding your heart to anyone. i just don’t think that i’m capable of doing it myself.

in which i get all existential (or something)…

i sent a message to a friend on stalkerbook yesterday. she just got married not too long ago. we’ve been friends for ages. we grew up together, went to the same church together, went through some very trying experiences together. and as i messaged her and i realized that i haven’t talked to her in a long time. i miss her.

two things have caused us to grow apart. time and distance. we were great friends back in the day. we talked about anything and everything. our struggles. our victories. our hurts. our joys. everything. fears about the future. and then i went to college. and i tried to keep in contact, i really did, but i kinda failed. life got busy. and then she went to college. and she got busy too. and we lost touch, sort of.

sure, we’d talk when we were home at church. and we got coffee a few times. and chatted. but… something was different. it wasn’t the same. too much time. too much distance. too much to catch up on. though when i think of her, i feel it in my soul. i feel the time. i feel the distance. i feel the hole that was left. and i wonder if it’s too late. i wonder if it’s too late to catch back up. i wonder if it’s too late to be friends again. to be close again.

i think about all my new friends, who are moving and have moved and i wonder if the same will happen. i wonder if i will feel their absence the way i feel hers. i wonder if that absence will occur. i wonder if time and distance will draw us apart as well. is it something that you can avoid? or is it inevitable? is it all simply an attempt to delay what’s ultimately going to happen?

we all get busy. we all get new friends based on where we are. we all change. does this mean that we have to grow apart? can we possibly have the time and energy to maintain long distance friendships? are they more difficult to maintain than short-distance friendships? i think that they can be. i wish that wasn’t the case, though. i wish that it was just as easy to maintain those long distance relationships.

maybe, though, just maybe if the relationship is important enough, you make the time. right? how else can a long distance relationship work? any long distance relationship. yes, there will be hard times. there will be times where you physically just want to see the person and go out for coffee. and just be together.

so, my stalkerbook friend who is going through so much right now, i will try to make the effort. i will try harder to stay in contact with you. because you are so sweet and i love your heart. my heart reaches out to yours right now and i hope that you can feel it. i feel your ache, my friend. my heart aches for you. we’ll keep in touch. i promise.