28 January 2014 / 4:17am / Awake

I’m awake and I’m not entirely sure why. I think I might be having an allergic reaction to this.

I’m very allergic to peaches, as I found out while watching Batman in a movie theater with my family a summer not too long ago. My throat swelled up and I had a great deal of trouble trying to breathe. I thought maybe this drink had peaches in it, but it doesn’t. Maybe it’s the apple. There are apples in this. Wait, it’s got to be. I’m allergic to apple peals… Gosh, could it be that simple? Any way, tonight I have a similar sensation to when I had those peaches before Batman except not as bad, but perhaps equally as frustrating.

I finally gave up on sleep at around 3, threw on my fleece, put on my shoes (pants already on) and went on a walk through the neighborhoods in Madison Park. This place is so magically peaceful at night. Nobody is awake except for that mysterious man walking towards his car, which has been running for at least 5 min. Where is he going? What is he thinking? He doesn’t see me staring at him, does he? I don’t really care. I’m just so damn exhausted. For God’s sake, let me sleep.

(sigh)

I turn left and continue on walking.

At a point in my wandering I realize just how tired I am and so I sit on the curb and rest my head on my knees. In this moment I feel somewhat homeless and so deeply alone. I wonder just how bizarre my night is in comparison to my friends’ nights and how they are most likely sound asleep dreaming things they’ll probably forget in the morning. I am still conscious and living in a broken universe. I am still dying. But all of a sudden I catch a deep breath and I immediately praise God because “oh, what a gift,” I realize, “to be alive.” But then I become very honest in the exhale and think, “But what a frustrating, painful, and lonely gift…” I stand back up, breathe deeply once more and say to myself, “Yet I still believe God is good.”

I walked back to the clinic, locked the door behind me, turned out the lights, and annoyingly listened as the man above me took his very early morning shower. But as usual, somewhere deep down in a dusty corner of my being, I was content to have experienced these hours because I still believed that I’d be telling someone I love all about it one day.

A Year Gone By

This year I began my senior year at Seattle Pacific University. I’m majoring in theology with a double emphasis in Christian mission and theological studies and have grown quite passionate about better understanding the Christian story. This has fueled my desire to be the coordinator of the weekly campus-wide worship service called group for my second yearI absolutely love it and it has undoubtedly developed my sense of vocation more than anything else has during my four years here.

Aside from that I’ve managed to remain committed to my band Darkpine. We got the incredible opportunity to record our first album with renowned producer Scott Colburn, whom I randomly met one afternoon while grocery shopping. Since then we’ve been playing shows in the city here and there and have had a lot of fun with that. I have not found the inspiration to draw lately, but I intend to pursue that art soon enough if not before I graduate. And I obviously have taken somewhat of a break from blogging, but I have taken to writing in my private journal a bit more, which has been good for me. Journaling has taught me that there’s admittedly a bit of ambiguity concerning my immediate future after graduation, but that’s never really bothered me. I have always had a good deal of faith concerning my future and where my life is headed, and I’m really thankful for that. I think there’s something beautiful about never fully knowing where we’re headed – it’s the essential mystery of being human. But I hope I’m becoming more and more grounded not by where I am but where I’m headed.

This year split me in two—one towards victory and the other towards defeat. This has, in many ways, been the greatest year of my life. I absolutely love my school and feel so privileged to be studying theology at a university that seeks to transform lives. I’m so lucky to be at a place in my spirit that allows me to fully step into the ministry side of SPU. I am reaching for truth only after realizing how little of it I have acquired. Freshman year was when I was really made aware of my naiveté towards the Christian faith and out of that awareness I have been seeking to figure God out ever since.

I’m in awe of the Christian hope. It’s so immense and I wish all of my friends and all of their friends could see it. Let me take two sentences to tell you two things that I have learned and fascinate me more than most things these days. The final end of the spiritual way is that we humans should also become part of this Trinitarian coinherence or perichoresis, being wholly taken up into the circle of love that exists within God. And the ultimate Christian hope joins up with and becomes one with the hope that ought to energize our work for God’s kingdom in the present world. (Okay, I’m done.) I’ve grown absolutely passionate about these things even twice as much than just a year ago. Being an undergraduate theology student as well as being mentored by the assistant director of University Ministries for the past two years has humbled me in profound ways, ways that have set fire to a burning desire to listen closely for the voice of God’s spirit in my life and pursue the unknown. This is victory and freedom sets my eyes on the future with anticipation and excitement because I trust that God will be there to meet me as he already has, which is what I find is nurturing me in the present moment more and more.

But within my posture towards the freedom of faith there is a part of me that feels a deep sense of hopelessness and emptiness in who I am and who I can never be. Insecurities I’ve always had have been brought to the surface like never before. There have been days this year that I’ve looked in the mirror in the morning and ran straight back to my room too scared to leave. I ask, “How can there be such darkness inside of me when a part of me is so close to taking flight and stepping into a fuller version of myself?”

One of my professors last quarter spoke of a verse (Romans 4:18) that began as my mantra of hope this school year, but there are lies within me that have crept up and kept me from tasting God’s truth—walls of the sea surround me and cover me in doubt. The sea creatures yell at me and tell me that I can never be good enough for the dreams that are buried in my heart. Tears begin to run from my eyes and become the very world I am caught in. I forget how to swim and days go by where I feel like I’m drowning in my own sorrow. Human nature, I feel, shares the same vicissitudes of nature—rain or shine, calm or storm and it’s as if I have changed as summer becomes winter and sometimes it’s unbearable and I feel unable to ever be a minister.

Pain is so real for me this year. Physical pain. Physical issues with my health and my body. Emotional pain. Mental pain. It’s all there. This will be the year that I was once two—one hand reaching for my destiny and the other hiding in the darkness of shame and pain and defeat. But if I’m honest I have a deep conviction that this is a necessary step in my journey, that the only way to step into the fullness of who I am, to learn how to become human in the way God designed me to be, and to enter in to this story that is far bigger than me is to deal with my insecurities head on. I know that, but it doesn’t mean it’s any easier knowing that. I have never felt this amount of pain before and the hardest part is that it’s so personal. It makes me hide, but I wasn’t made for hiding. None of us were. You either. It’s beautiful—God’s purpose of raising us all to life both now and in the future, but it’s sure scary for some of us to get there and to face our brokenness. But what seems like death is usually God’s way of bringing new life and that’s what I pray will become of my struggles.

And so at the edge of this year I find myself looking out over the creational waters of mystery and wisdom to see that there is little in my life that I am certain of aside from the sure feeling of being exactly where God wants me to be in my position as a ministry leader. God has breathed life into areas of my vocation that I didn’t even know existed—areas of leadership, of service, of education, of ministry, and of other people, all of which, three years ago, I would have ran away from. And that’s exactly what God does to us. God surprises us. This year, God surprised me and I can’t even begin to imagine where God will lead me in the next year, but there’s lots of hope in knowing God’s history, which is all about redemptive resurrection and always will be now and forever for me and for you and for them whenever we all finally grow eyes that see it and whenever we at last accept it because it’s what the whole world is waiting for.

And so I pray…

“God, do you see my eyes? Do you hear my words? ‘Abba, I belong to you.’ Even in uncertainty and depression and hopelessness, I belong to you. You use our brokenness to display your wholeness and to remind us of your ultimate plan for us, that we are held and entirely secure in your redemptive plan. May the love and truth of that reality and that future for all of creation give me the strength to open up my hands and relinquish to you what, in truth, has always been yours. And Lord, call me out from underneath and if I must travel through the underworld to reach my other hand covered in light, then may it be if for only a moment to catch your thawing breath. In the name of Jesus and for his sake, Amen.”

Peace to you and thanks for reading, whoever you are.