Monday, April 26, 2010

A Rose by Any Other Name

I’ve lived most of my life in Fresno, Ca, in fact, I’ve lived most of my life on the same square block. It’s a sad fact for me to admit, but it’s the truth. I say it’s because my family is here, and that is a big reason. I say it’s because it’s so cheap to live here, and that doesn’t hurt. I say I’ve tried to get out and it keeps drawing me back, and on some level that’s true, but the reality is, it’s comfortable.

Everything about Fresno is built for comfort. No matter where you are in town you are two miles from a Target. There are a total of 5 in the city. No matter where you go in the city you are 1.5 miles from a Starbucks (give or take). Most of which you don’t have to leave the comfort of your car to enjoy. Everything about this city is built for two things: comfort and convenience. While those things are nice and have a certain appeal, lately I’ve been thinking, Is that really all there is? Is that really the goal of a city or a group of people? Of life? Comfort and convenience.

I refuse to be one of those people that lives in Fresno and bags on it like crazy, but I can also put aside my idealistic tendencies and look at it honestly. Fresno doesn’t have the greatest rep. Though there are tiny portions that are lovely, for the most part it’s a box ville of chain stores. Chain stores I’m embarrassed to admit, that I adore. ( As you know I love me some TJ Maxx.) However, there is a downfall to all this comfort and convenience. Comfort and convenience almost always produce mediocrity and mediocrity is what we have producing for some time. It’s what we’ve been settling for. Heck I’ve settled for it. Some where along the line mediocrity speaks to you and convinces you that you are safe, that you are comfortable (which you are) and then it lies to you and tells you that that’s really all one can ask for. I’m refusing to believe that’s the truth.

I’m refusing to believe comfort, convenience and mediocrity are all that life has to offer. Are all that one can hope for. I have let myself be convinced, for too long, that my comfort is what’s important, but it’s not. In fact comfort, almost never, produces excellence, or the extraordinary.

So what does this mean? I don’t know yet, but I’m excited. Excited to learn beyond my horizons. To challenge myself to make my life less convenient and more meaningful. To manage my time differently. To pursue what excites with fervor.

The older I get the more I’m learning, maturity and growth are about learning to be fearless. That’s the secret behind any great art. Not great technique or planning, but being willing to risk failure. Being willing to not be afraid to fail and whatever it is you’re trying to create. I think it’s the secret to living an extraordinary life as well.

Fresno, hear my call, abandon the numbing comfort we’ve all become accustomed to and embrace something unexpected. Someone suggested that we should change Fresno’s name in an article in the Fresno Bee once. The author claimed that the reputation has been so badly blasted in the media that this was the only way to change the nation and the world’s notions about Fresno. An interesting notion, but a flawed one. If we change the name, but fail to change the people or the city, the world will not be fooled. I’d rather change us. I’d rather inspire us to be more and sit back and watch as the world notices a group of people truly living.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

"I'm Sorry"

When I was a kid I was a dreamer and a liar. I would get carried away in my own imagination. I would imagine scenarios and stories. Play out conversations in my head. (Many involved the president and Oprah, not joking.) When I was in trouble, there was always a period of time that I would have to "sit and think about what I'd done." I didn't usually think about what I'd done though, usually, I'd think about how I could get out of it. I'd craft arguments and positions in my mind, colorful explanations for what I did and why. Though I would dream up wonderful, matlock-esq explanations, I never really lied outside of my own thoughts. Not until I was in High School anyway. Usually, I would come up with all my stories and by the time my parents came in, what came out of me was, "I'm sorry."

To be honest I'm not sure how sorry I was. I bet sometimes I was sorry. Like if I'd made my sister cry or something, but usually I think I knew "I'm sorry" was the way for me to make things right with my family. It would end the separation I experienced when I had violated the terms of our arrangement. I had disobeyed my parents and I knew "I'm sorry" was my ticket back in.

I still say I'm sorry a lot. Sometimes at inappropriate times in conversation. I think when I say it, what I'm trying to say is, I don't want things to be uncomfortable between us anymore or I want things to be right with us or Are we ok? But instead what comes out is I'm sorry.

I've noticed the same pattern with me and God. Often I'll quickly run through my list of confession to Him. I'll breeze over the list of my sins and quickly get to something more tolerable. It's made me begin to question, How grieved over my sin am I? I know I want to be right with God. I know I don't want things to be uncomfortable or weird between us. I don't want to feel like He's far from me. I wonder, am I actually repentant or am I just trying to appease God by apologizing for my sin.

I think the motive of getting out of the dog house isn't completely bad, but it's not complete. God wants me not only to apologize, he wants me to grieve my sin, to hurt a little. To long to be right with him again. Not so I sit in self pity, but so I don't want to do it again. So I can identify with the pain Christ felt on the cross and so I can appreciate how great a sacrifice He made.

Even though it's awkward, it's good for me to think about what I've done. If I don't think about it how will I be motivated to change it and if I don't work towards changing it, am I really sorry at all? I know I'll never be perfect, I recognize that full well, but I can't grow weary of trying to change. I can't get cold to the gravity of sin or else I'll demean the gravity of the sacrifice of Christ for me.

Now once I do grieve, once I do confess, I can't dwell. I've got to let it go. I've got to let God do what He does and restore us and not hold on to it. I've still got accept what He's done for me, but I can only accept it fully if I experience the pain fully. I do it a disservice if I numb myself to it or hold on to it.

There are a lot of things I'm not sure of, but I have a feeling God wants a little more than an insincere "I'm sorry" from me.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Feeling pathetic about yourself doesn't make you a better Christian. Though popular thinking might support that. For most of my life I thought that guilt and shame were just a normal part of a Christian existence. In fact, I even convinced myself that when I felt that way, it was because I was repentant over my sin, but that's not the truth. What started as repentance quickly became wallowing in self pity. Which isn't pretty from any angle.

The truth is, the root of my self-depricating behavior was not my grief over my sin, but my lack of faith and my pride. The truth is, it's easy for me to believe in the grace of God when I don't need it. As soon as I sin, especially a sin that I judge as "big" or "dirty" or "extra bad", I doubt whether God really forgives me right away. Which is pathetic and the reason I do it, even more pathetic. The reason I do it isn't because I'm so broken over my sin. The real reason I do it, is because most days, no matter how many times I read "it is by grace you have been saved through faith, so no man can boast (eph 2:8)" I still believe in the way I respond, that God is keeping a record of my rights and wrongs. I still believe, in that moment that I'm not measuring up. And then, instead of turning to Christ and accepting his Grace. I sit, in self pity, because I've failed again to redeem myself in my actions. I feel that way because I still, some days, don't want to admit that I need a Savior. I still believe I should have some part or role in my own salvation, even though I don't.

If whatever you are feeling after you sin, doesn't cause you to worship and seek Christ, it isn't repentance. It's guilt, self-pity, or shame, no matter what you name it, it's your pride. True repentance produces worship. True repentance puts God in His proper place and you in yours. True repentance is the first step in healing, not wallowing.

When it comes down to it, my true theology is what I practice; not what I claim to believe or even what I've memorized and theorized about. When my reactions and emotions do not match up with what I know or believe to be true, it must begin the process in me again. It must take me back to Christ and to a process of self-evaluation, so that what I believe can match what I practice.

Lord, help me not to be pathetic.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Annoying Boyfriend.

With permission from Andrew.. here you go.

Andrew used to do this really annoying thing when we started dating. When I would vent to him about a person, situation, or nearly any frustration he would take the finger I was pointing at the person I was frustrated at and point it at me. He'd remind me that I do whatever it is that I was frustrated with another person for doing and it drove me absolutely CRAZY. To answer your question guys, Yes, Andrew is fearless. Most guys would not have the cajones to say that to a woman who's frustrated. You can see how this would be a recipe for disaster.

However there is something that he doesn't know... the reason it drove me absolutely crazy is cause he was absolutely right. Actually, he probably does know that. Man, it's annoying dating someone who is mature, pretty much always right, and knows it. Annoying and Awesome.

But I digress. Even though he graciously hears me out and doesn't say it anymore, it still plays in my head every time I'm frustrated with someone. What started out as annoying has become a really useful tool in not wasting time and energy being annoyed by people. By recognizing that I do the very things I'm annoyed with, it's made it much easier for me to love people where they are at, because when I do those things I need that grace from others. It's helped me point out areas in my life that I judge myself too harshly and because of that, I judge others too harshly too. Now, when people annoy me, which they do, it's an opportunity for me to discover something about myself and sort it out.

The result has been that I am much more Zen about things. Much more peaceful. Much more unburdened by the eccentricities of others that I used to use and still do at times as a distraction from dealing with my own issues. It doesn't mean I want to be everyone's BFF all of the sudden, but it is making it easier to give grace to myself and others.

Tuche Belleci. Tuche. :)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Old Regimes

"Although this kingdom was given to David by God, David would have to take it from the old aristocracy."-Beth Moore

A group of ladies and I have been going through a book about David written by Beth Moore. It's been an interesting experience. I think I've been more interested in the time I get to spend with these ladies than what we've been going through, though both have been rich. I have a very Texas sort of crush on Beth Moore. I wish I didn't like her, because I feel like that would make me a lot cooler, but she's pretty much one of the only legit Christian women speakers. (In my opinion, which is the only one that matters on my blog).

I love this quote. I've written a lot about the effort it takes to move on, to grow, to move past, and this speaks to that. You're probably over it by now, but I'm not so ha. Personal growth takes work and effort. You don't magically become a different person, or in this case King. You'll remain under the "old regime" for as long as you allow yourself to.

This quote also speaks to the awkward in between. I feel like I keep finding myself in these almost/not yet sort of situations. I haven't arrived in any area of my life which is exciting and yet unsettling. There are certain things they don't tell you when you're growing up. Like, when you graduate from college, you aren't going to get the job of your dreams. In fact, you'll probably have the job of your nightmares, if you're lucky, that will have nothing to do with what you actually want to do. Oh, or you'll find what you thought you wanted to do, you wouldn't want to do in a million years.

You'll find yourself in relationships that are grey and confusing with people who are grey and confusing (which are the best kind of people by the way, see Alice in Wonderland:

The Mad Hatter: Have I gone mad?
[Alice checks Hatter's temperature]
Alice Kingsley: I'm afraid so. You're entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are.)

You'll have more questions than answers, and much more to learn.

But no one tells you that. They tell you what to do next, but not what's coming after. They don't teach you how to pursue the future for yourself. They don't prepare you to make your own decisions. Because all of the sudden, you decide what's coming next and what's happening after. And while that is an all together terrifying experience. It is rich with possibility and those of us who believe in God can do so with a peace that there is purpose in whatever place we find ourselves.

What I love about this quote is what hope there is. David might not have the kingdom yet, but He will, because it's God's will. That doesn't mean David sits back and waits for God to hand him the kingdom. He had to do the work. He had to take it.

So what did he do in the meantime? He spent time with God so he'd know when to move and then he moved when God said move. He took the kingdom.