10/29/2006

Intellectualism

My dog is being such a little lover lately. She's so excited and spunky and really knows how to make me feel loved and needed. I am loving on her so much just because she's my bread and butter! Me have fuzzy doggy moment.

Though I talk a lot of crap about feelings, I could talk even more crap about intellectualism. When I say intellect I mean what the dictionary means:
"the power or faculty of the mind by which one knows or understands, as distinguished from that by which one feels and that by which one wills; the understanding; the faculty of thinking and acquiring knowledge. "

Where feelings and emotions can make us like animals, intellect can make us like robots. I just read this book called "Demon Seed" by Dean Koontz. The premise is that a computer program gains a will of it's own and decides it will transfer it's 'mind' into a human fetus and be born in the flesh. The computer only knows what it was able to find through access to the world wide web. So it obviously has no concept of true human reality. The computer is pure intellect with no heart.

Intellectualism can provide a convincing illusion for people. We think we are actually participating in life because we THINK so much about it. But I have had the pleasure of seeing my fantasy for what it really was: all in my head. In my head time moves much faster and the world is much more predictable. In my head I can find the reasons not to do a lot of things. I have piles and piles of reasons. But under all that reasoning is the simple gem of faith that I must uncover.

Faith requires a balance with reason and intellect. Nicodemus would understand me. Faith is most readily understood with the heart. I don't mean the emotions because faith and fear cannot coexist at one moment. But the heart of a person knows.

10/26/2006

Feelings Again

Why does it appear as though I have a hard time with kindness? It seems like every time someone confronts me it's because of something I said or did that 'hurt their feelings'. I really want to know what it is about me that's so mean. I'm definitely not 'gentle as a dove' all the time but I have a tremendous amount of love for other humans. In starting to love myself more I'm finding that people are more invested in what I say and/or do toward them than I would really like.

Apparently I have this responsibility for other peoples' feelings in a way that they don't have for mine. I have made it a practice not to listen to my emotions first. My emotions are a helluva lot more sensitive than my intellect. When my emotions get hurt I counter them by speaking truths to them with my intellect. The most effective truth that silences my emotions and replaces fear with joy is this truth: "If God is for me, who can be against me?" Romans 8:31 Then I can have compassion on whoever might happen to hurt my delicate little feelers. I can give them the benefit of the doubt and go to God with my assessment of the person's character.

When I think about Jesus' words to His disciples and the Pharisees, it didn't seem like He took their feelings too seriously. He even rebuked Peter in a way that would have demolished me ("Get behind me Satan!"). Peter didn't talk back to Jesus by telling Him, "LORD, that was hurtful and mean. How could You hurt my feelings like that?" Peter's feelings of guilt and shock were important to teach him the valuable lesson of not doubting his LORD. Just like when you scare a two-year-old out of touching a power outlet. You yell and grab them and smack their hand so fast that it throws them for a loop. Then you let them cry in fear until you see that they learned the importance of the lesson. Then you tell them you love them and move on with life. You don't hold it over their head for days and days as if they didn't understand the point when you scared the crap out of them.

So feelings are in us for a good reason, one of them being: to drive a point home. But it's when my feelings get out of control and start to make my daily decisions that life becomes animalistic. That's also the time when I can't seem to hear God's voice through the din of my emotions. I know He's there comforting me, but He's also waiting for me to calm down before He guides me. Feelings seem to filter reality and change perspective to suit themselves. One of the sayings of modern times that I loathe is this, "It feels so right it can't be wrong." That's what dogs believe when they are humping the neighbor's leg. But, alas, poochie it's just WRONG.

When someone tells me to take their feelings seriously my first reaction is to say no. It's not that I don't love them, it's that I don't love their feelings. Plus, they aren't taking MY feelings seriously and I actually appreciate it. People say things they don't mean when they are emotional. I'd like to be given the space to express my emotions without being taken too seriously. Sometimes I just want to yell profanity! I do a lot of emotional expression while I'm driving. Not because people on the road make me mad (I avoid anger over small things), but because whatever challenges may be going on might be REALLY difficult and frustrating. So I yell at God because I know He won't be hurt by me. God doesn't change when I freak out. God's not sensitive and delicate. God's feelings aren't hurt when I get mad at Him. He doesn't take my passing, flighty emotions seriously. He knows from what I am operating. When I'm done throwing a tantrum He is there to hug me and tell me He loves me. Then I feel foolish because I let my emotions run away with my mouth and He forgives me and wipes the incident from His mind. Then we get down to the important stuff again. He doesn't hold it over my head or bring it up later and say, "Remember when you said that mean thing to me when you were mad? Well, I'm going to ignore you for a few days because you hurt my feelings." HAHA! God would never cold shoulder me. As soon as I repent, it's gone! A friend of mine yesterday said, "Yeah, God's a cool guy because of that." I thought that was kind of an understatement, but it was the right idea. It's about the most awesome thing about God!! After living my life feeling perpetually guilty for being born human, it's nice to know I can mess up and God won't hold it against me. But He keeps teaching me and loving me without skipping a beat. Because He sees me for what I am in Heaven. He's not looking at my filthy rags because they vanished at the cross. He doesn't DWELL on my sin. I repent and it's forgiven, then we get down to the business of making me more like Christ.

It's a sweet deal. Does that mean I want to keep sinning? No way. God's not going to let me get away scott-free because He wants me to grow up and stop wasting my life. He's gonna discipline me with consequences. I'll still end up in Heaven but right now I want to do more and be more for Him. I can't move forward if I keep committing the same sins over and over. God has protected me while I've been learning and I am truly thankful. Thankful is an understatement.

I WAS GOING TO DELETE THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH FROM THE MIDDLE OF MY POST BUT INSTEAD I MOVED IT DOWN HERE TO THE END. I DON'T KNOW WHY I DON'T JUST DELETE IT, BUT HERE IT IS: (For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Just a friendly warning from Matthew 7:2 of your holy bible)
Sometimes I find myself in the current of our animalistic society and I start catering to my feelings. My favorite feeling is lust, I'll admit it. Sensuality changes the very chemistry of my body, instantly. What a rush! My least favorite emotion is anger. I try to avoid anger whenever possible. That surge of adrenaline makes me want to run away and clear my head on top of a mountain somewhere. If it's fight or flight, I flee before I have a second thought. Some people live for adrenaline, not me. Anger breeds violence and sickness and I try to avoid physical pain, too. Lust creates endorphins and it's negative effects aren't immediate. The consequences of lust are subtle and long-term. I am an 'out of sight, out of mind' person so lust is my greatest challenge. All I really think about is the present moment and how positive and beautiful everything is. Then I start to see consequences of lust as the days go by and I will suddenly bail the situation. I find someone new to become infatuated with and the cycle starts over. Do I need prayer? Yes I do. So do all the tender hearts that happen across my path. Just because I know this stuff about myself doesn't mean I intend to do anything about it. I know things have to get pretty uncomfortable for me to change the behaviors that have been working for me. I hate to admit it but God's sometimes got to put a bit in my mouth to pull me in the right direction.

10/24/2006

Straight and Narrow

I said something today at an interview for a preschool teaching position that I felt was true, but it also enlightened me about myself. I'm sure I've said it in passing to many people as if it were of no particular consequence but the reaction I got from the lady who interviewed me caused me to reflect on what I'd said. I told her how much I enjoyed joining churches that are in transition. She mentioned that church attendance wasn't what it used to be and I know it's because of the transitional period of getting a new, younger pastor. I made a definitive statement about myself that surprised her. I said, "I'm the kind of person that's more comfortable during change." She apparently thought that was unusual because of her surprised look. Whenever someone that I'm trying to impress looks surprised, I make sure I really meant what I said. After pondering the patterns of my life I think it's safe to say I spoke the truth about myself. But perhaps it goes deeper than such a simple statement.

The feelings in my last post about lack of security and a sense of being unsure about my future were full of anxiety. The word 'anxiety' reminds me of the brief time I had in therapy this year where the therapist mentioned that I might have an 'anxiety problem'. He even recommended a book on dealing with anxiety. Maybe it's true that my tolerance for stressful situations is low. Or maybe it's more true to say that my patterns have created a higher level of stress than people normally face. Such anxiety might be expected in such a transition-oriented lifestyle. I think I might be addicted to change.

God has given me a beautiful opportunity at this new church. There are needs here that I feel I’ve been prepared to fill. Working at a preschool with the two-year-olds is a skill I recently developed. This church needs a two-year-old substitute teacher and in a month or so they’ll need her to be a full-time teacher. After the interview today it looks as though God has led me to this church to possibly fill this need. They are also looking for people who are willing to get involved in the music ministry. Anyone who knows me knows how I have longed for the opportunity to participate on a worship team.

I have some irrational fears that I’m not sure I want to make public. I read a quote in this novel yesterday that says, “The devil is dumb when it comes to tempting us. He only knows what our big mouths tell him.” (something like that) I wonder if that’s why I’m such an easy target, because I explain my fears in such detail in words and in writing. If I kept them to myself, would I fly under the devil’s radar? Somehow I doubt that. I should look for scriptural advice on the subject of vulnerability to the enemy.

Just to be on the safe side, let’s just say I’m addicted to change. It might be obvious to people who’ve observed my life for the last ten years, but did you see it as a problem? Some might just call it thrill-seeking or exploration. Some might call it flightiness or bravery. All I know is that there is nothing solid or steadfast about a life of constant new beginnings. I rarely finish what I start, especially when it comes to staying in one community. Even in high school I didn’t have a ‘clique’ that I hung with. One benefit to changing friends and communities all the time is you stay fresh and new to new people. There’s no time for people to grow tired of you and absence makes the heart grow fonder. If you leave on a high note then the bridge between you and that person still has sheen to it and it stays strong and sturdy. The relationships I’ve had and maintained for years and years have bridges that fall into disrepair so that someday I may not be able to reach that person. I burn very few bridges. But nothing frustrates me more than a bridge that looks sturdy but that will crumble the minute you try to cross it. Or when someone puts a barricade on their side of the bridge that locks from the inside, which is equally infuriating. Here you think you have a relationship only to find yourself denied or rejected.

Bridges and people aside, I change my environment a lot. Part of it is because I don’t feel people should have to put up with me when I stop being fresh and entertaining. The other part is I see myself in the way people see me. I really enjoy being a source of hope for people. In the beginning I look like a valuable resource with so much to offer. When they find out I’m as brokenly human as the next girl the disappointment in their eyes is such a bummer. Oh how I wish I could be everything that these hopeful people project onto me! But the best thing I can be is God’s servant. Their expectations may not be what God has planned, just as mine might not be either.

This is what I see: I have been sailing the aimless waters of circumstance since I arrive in Louisiana. I’ve gotten out of the boat and now I walk on dry ground. It was muddy all along the shore and I was afraid that I would sink into quicksand. God pulled me out and placed a path before me. It’s a straight path on level ground and I can see down it for miles. It’s terrifying what I see. The path remains straight, narrow and level. But on either side of the path I see dangers and distractions. There are hundreds of wrong turns and curvy detours that lead into unknown places. There are ‘Wrong Way’ and ‘Do Not Enter’ signs all along that straight path, but God didn’t put those signs there. There are even mountains that stand jagged and cliffs where the path continues straight and solid with these dangers only inches away from where I will walk. So much can happen with each step on this path. The challenge isn’t to see how many side roads I can take and still find my way back. The challenge isn’t to collect souvenirs or photographs of those dark detours. Whatever I have gathered from straying off the path has turned to dust and shadow in my pocket, or has weighed me down with burdens. The challenge is to stay on the path and stay focused on the bright beam of light that shoots into the sky there at the end. Sometimes it seems like the light isn’t getting any closer, but things are hardly ever as they seem. It’s not my job to doubt God or the path He’s chosen for me. It’s simply my job to stay on it and trust that it leads to New Jerusalem, lit by His glory that’s brighter than the sun.

All of those detours and distractions are nothing to the LORD who lives within me. Of course I am powerless over my curiosity and rebellion, but I trust Him to be my strength. I will do my best to be courageous and trust that the straight and narrow is worth staying on.

10/23/2006

God is in Control

Just a quick post to ask for prayer. I'm waiting on the LORD. I have a faith-based job where I never know when I'm going to work. In an hour I will drive to the restaurant and 'hang out' at the bar hoping someone will want to go home so I can take their shift. I feel like a Mexican that just crossed the border, standing on the corner waiting to be hired for anything. But if that's how it must be, then woo! Tomorrow I go in for a part time daycare interview at the church I want to attend regularly. I'd work Fridays if I get the job and then starting in a couple of months I would work Tues thru Fri 7:30-3:30 at $7 an hour. I'll still need to be a Mexican at night to make ends meet. It's good money at the restaurant so it's worth hanging at the bar looking ready to work. But it is faith-based because God must provide.

It feels so unsure and insecure. But I'm sure the feeling will pass when God shows Himself to be faithful. He always does. Normally I would be panicking but I am praying for peace and less anxiety. Deep breaths and lots of water, jogging, and playing with my dog. This is a delicate time for me when escapism starts to knock at my heart-door. I don't like to panic. I flee. But God will hold me steadfast and my confidence is in Him. Christianity is a precarious existance. We're always on the edge of some great precipice. It would be fun if I was sure that God would never let me fall over to my death. Haven't I had enough experience with Him to believe Him? Doubt is extremely dangerous at such heights. It reminds me of the first time I drove on the freeway. It was at night in the rain on the Cajon Pass with semi-trucks growling around me. I would have died if God hadn't given me the clarity to stay calm. Just like now. I have a week to make rent and keep the peace in my house. I can see things setting themselves up for flight; so many huge obstacle are appearing on the horizon. The only thing that doesn't fit is that I found a new church that I adore. It always happens like that, ya know. As soon as I find a people I can fellowship with, the rest of my life turns to utter chaos and threatens that beautiful thing.

Please pray that God's angels beat back the enemy and that the Holy Spirit would change my heart so I can endure these trials with the confidence of young King David. There's so much at stake for me right now. I know this because I've been here before. This is right about where I always mess up.

Deep breath. Peace. God is in control.

10/19/2006

Testing Love

I'm doing the most recent study with Charles Stanley called "Knowing God's Ways". I just listened to part one and I sense that the Holy Spirit is going to start teaching me again. One of the most important things I remember is that we are to know God, not just know ABOUT Him. He has recently been showing me how He loves and accepts me despite my sin. I repent hourly for my thoughts and sometimes my actions. I get to the point where I'm sure He's tired of me confessing and He wants me to TURN from what I'm doing and change my behaviors. But I'm powerless over them. Only God can make a way out of the mess I've made of my life. All I can do is return to Him, broken and lacking even as I still have rebellion in my heart and beg Him to change me again.

I don't understand His love for me. I don't think I ever will in this life. I feel like a squished bug on the sole of the world. But rather than just give up, I am throwing myself at the feet of God and begging for His mercy.

I always test love. When someone says they love me I say, "Oh yeah? If you love me then I'm going to treat you the worst way I can think of and then we'll see if you really love me." God told me He loved me. So I've been ignoring Him and rebelling against Him in my heart. I've made things MISERABLE for myself just because I insist that people prove their love for me. Because if they really knew how shitty I can be, then they wouldn't love me. It's actually been proven that the shittiest I can be is not lovable. So here I am single and twice divorced. Here I am testing God who told me He loved me. As if all of my efforts to make Him not love me will somehow force Him to leave. I HATE that I do this. Why can't I just treat the people who love me with respect and honor? Because if all I ever do is good for them, then what if I mess up and make a mistake? I need to know that they can catch me if I fall, even if I fall right on them and almost break them! So I push and push and heat things up to the boiling point. Then when I see that it is too much for them and they start to retreat, I get terrified and I pour out the love and affection. I keep them there even though I know they won't be able to love me when it gets hard. Then it gets harder to keep them from running away...I can't fulfill their needs anymore to make them stay so I stop. The relationship

10/18/2006

A Lot of Tedium

This is one of my least exciting posts ever, I won't be offended if no one is compelled to read it. It's long and tedious and I don't even want to read it over for typos. If was good that I wrote it, though. It has helped me sort through some of the chaos in my head. Without further warning:

Where have the last ten years gone? It feels like forever since I was 18 but it has only been ten years. Money problems are chewing on my brain so I'm trying not to think about them. Instead I am going to pound pavement and get a more promising form of income ala fast food. Yes, it seems that's the thing to do! Nothing like adding a little grease to my humid and sticky self.

I dove down to the spiritual depths recently and I couldn't handle it. I really don't have the luxury to analyze my life's journey right now. I almost need to be automotonic (that would be a good band name) and get my basic human needs filled before I can question my current reality. If I have a dark night of the soul at this time I would risk my living situation and I would probably flee again. This is the moment of truth, as they say. This is the point when I would collapse and run home. But that's not an option. Besides, I wouldn't make it very far if I got pulled over for ANYTHING seeing as how I am breaking the law by driving at all. If I had $2000 I would pay my car off, get minimum insurance coverage and then I would be able to register it in this state.

I don't give a whole lot of thought to consequences until they are happening to me. I'm not big on strategy games. I played chess last night with my friend David and neither one of us are big on consequences. The only reason I won is because I'm the one who just taught him how to play. But mostly I just wanted to make out.

There's something misfiring in my brain when I try to get organized. Maybe it's from all the drugs I did back in the nineties. Or perhaps it's just easier for me to sit down and twiddle my thumbs when I get to an obstacle that requires any determination. I lack determination. De-termination. Why don't we say distermination or untermination. We say, "That person has a lot of determination." Termination stops things while determination crosses over boundaries and decides things. There is something terminal in my thinking that halts my determination and dissolves it. I've never really been determined about much except giving other people the responsibility to determine my choices.

That must be it, then. I'm glad I had this digression. It makes sense to my twisted head now. The reason why I lack determination is because I haven't really been required to have much. I surround myself with helpful people who love to share their points of view. Everyone has an opinion on what I should do because I am so indeterminate. As long as I can stay indeterminate, those helpers will always come through. So I lack determination.

I also don't think about consequences very much. Gamblers don't think about consequences either. That's the thrill of gambling. If I really gave importance to consequences I would live a very safe life with wholesome fun and purity. I sure as hell wouldn't smoke. Every time I light one of those cigarettes I am betting more of my health on a losing hand. But we don't know the future, even if we try to create our own. I've tried to create my own future a lot of times only to realize that I didn't 'think it through'.

How can we possibly think through all of what may happen?! There are infinite possibilities in any given moment and a person can't possibly be prepared for all of them. I suppose there are ways to predict the future by looking at the odds, however. How many people have profited and how many people have lost everything? What kind of people were they and how much did they invest? I am suppose to see what has worked for others.

When all else fails do the obvious. I have to stop waiting for a miracle and start living. How many times have I said: God doesn't seem to like being predictable! It's when our eyes are straight ahead that God side-swipes us with blessing. They were just going about their business at Pentecost when ALL OF THE SUDDEN!!! Tongues of FIRE from HEAVEN!! They had no idea what to expect from what little Jesus told them. He just said, hang out in the city until the Spirit comes. I would have been like, will I know when the Spirit has come, Lord? How will I know? The disciples were pretty much just concerned about Jesus taking His Kingdom back. It's been a couple thousand years and He hasn't been here to take His kingdom back, as far as I know.

God doesn't fill us in on everything. If Jesus had said, "Wait in Jerusalem until the Spirit comes down like tongues of fire from Heaven and you start speaking in other languages. Then go and preach and Stephen will be stoned to death and Saul the Pharisee will be converted on the road to Damascus," the disciples would have stared at Him, blinked, and then probably started making plans to try and make that stuff happen the way THEY wanted it to go. Maybe they didn't like the part about firey tongues or Stephen dying a horrible death. If God told me when I was 16 that I would marry and divorce twice before I finally got a clue about guarding my heart, my wellspring of life (Proverbs 5:23), I would have laughed nervously and then been even more suspicious of each boyfriend. I would wonder, "Are you my future ex-husband?" Really the whole point is that I am thick-headed enough for it to take that much for me to learn discretion. Or maybe it's determination.

So I will stop taking such huge risks with my money and my heart. I've been gambling away the inheritance God has given me and now I'm left with nothing until I come back to the safety of the Father's will. I'll be a hired servant somewhere like Wendy's or Burger King because at least they eat better food than buttered spaghetti and fried eggs every meal. Pay checks can buy vegetables and health. I want to do it God's way and until I know what that is, at least I can stop taking huge risks and just do what I know will work. Safety.

10/11/2006

Selling Courage to Strangers

Disjointed. Dislocated. Distracted.

I am drinking a cup of coffee so I can get the dishes done. I know I am swirling in a toilet bowl of mental confusion when it takes morning microwaved coffee to get me to do the dishes. I just want to sleep my life away, not because I'm depressed but because I am confused.

Lost another love last night
guess I can't do nothing right

So I thought I would write and try to organize my spaghetti mind. The male influence has gone from me and now my motivation drags. What heals a broken heart faster? Sleep or activity?

I got a deep tissue massage yesterday. She helped my spinal fluid rhythm with what is called cranial sacral therapy. I saw a royal blue butterfly behind my eyes. There were no drugs involved, just a pair of lady hands and some oil. But where is my positive attitude now?

The caffeine is starting to work my nerves but I wish my brain would catch up. It feels like ketchup. Every time that bird chirps outside my window it sounds like my dog whining and my motherly instincts contract. That's just a sample of the distraction I am susceptible to. I shouldn't have drank that glass of wine last night. I might not have cried and I might have prolonged the inevitable. Some people would rather just stay where they are. I'm done trying to sell courage to strangers. I don't make any profit and it sucks the motivation right out of me. Plus it's so sad when I have to leave them behind. Why am I a ferrari? Why can't I slow down? Then I have days like this where I realized I crashed myself into a wall and now I have to put myself back together again. It seems like each time I rebuild I've added new features like air bags, safety warning lights, and a gps navigational system. Of course, God is pimping my ride. Now I'm at the shop waiting until I can drive again. Coffee might have been a bad choice since I'm confined to a small space at the moment. Restless. I suppose I'll have to go do some dishes now. I need to set my cilia free so I can get more oxygen to my brain. God will have to add that feature to my car: an anti-smoking arm that comes out of the dashboard and smacks the cigarette out of my mouth before I light it.

My brain's on overdrive now. Only it doesn't know what to focus on. My favorite word right now is: sedation. If only sleep would cure my soul.

10/10/2006

Southern Comfort

I have a job interview today at 2pm for a fast-paced bar and grill. I really hope I can start working again because it's been two days and I'm restless. I couldn't work at the daycare anymore because no matter how much I love those kids, I can't afford the pay. At least with tips I can make ends meet and possibly buy time to find a career job.

I've been exploring the possibility of being a full-time music student. There's got to be a grant or loan out there that could support such a dream. I have called and left messages with a couple different financial aid advisors. I'm going to keep bugging them until I get me some answers. There is an audition process that Southeastern Louisiana University has where some small scholarships are awarded. It's not much, but $1000 would help here and there. After I get some money I want to buy some study guides and get my math skills up to par. Anyone know where I could find a book on basic algebra, geometry, and trig? I have until December to enroll but I'm starting now. I may have to wait until next year's fall semester if I can't get my ducks to line up.

Social life is exciting. I am good friends with a boy named David who is a really fantastic person. But I am trying something different than the Mach-15 relationship that I'm famous for. We are starting as friends with an option to buy. Sort of a rent-to-own plan. Ha! Really, though, I am going to take it nice and slow. He's too special to just bulldoze with my overwhelmingness. We have fun though. Louisiana life is a lot of family and friends with cajun spices thrown in.

I performed at my first open mic last Thursday and it was GREAT! I really hope I can get Thursday nights off so I can be a regular. There are a lot of talented musicians out here. If I could take music classes I'm sure I would meet the perfect band and we would conquer.

The days move on, muggy and drowsy under the Southern haze. I like my accent and the fact that I jog almost every morning now. Emily and I are going to be Charlie's Angels or Charlize Theron or just SUPER GORGEOUS. We are on the fit wagon. I didn't know my body was capable of jogging 4 steady miles! I feel I could go 5 some days. Now if I could only kick smoking, I could go cross country. Marathon-style! Speaking of, I gotta go jogging before the temperature gets any hotter out there. Loving all you loyal readers that had faith in my return to blogging. I hope to write more as the computer is available to me.

Jesus is the WAY!