Monday, June 23, 2014

nine months falling for my best friend.

and counting.


To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than  anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.
-Timothy Keller

i live between two types of people.
i have friends who are living according to the ways of the world --
abiding by relationships where morals are lenient and consequences not quite considered.

and then i have friends who are on the pursuit of a seemingly unattainable purity.
and i can't knock them for their pursuit, but i also can't quite live up to it at times.

the truth of the matter is that i fail to identify with both sides.
and it's not because i give in to one side more than the other.
and it's certainly not because i am better or lesser in any way.
it's merely because i have set out on this path -- my own path -- that
doesn't need to be like anyone else's.

i say this so casually, and yet these words do not come easy because on a daily basis i
compare my life to others. it is so wrong of me. yet it is also so human.


i knew that i wanted a crazy kind of love from the moment i understood what true love could look like.
i withheld dating until i was seventeen mostly because i didn't want just anyone,
and i didn't want to just give my feelings away to multiple people.

i was guarded from the minute i ever had feelings for a boy.
and i trusted my own heart more than i was willing to give it away.



now that i am at an age where it is finally reasonable to fall in love, i often feel like i'm still
a teenage girl on the verge of having big feelings for boys.
i feel like i have this secret within me and i find myself shy or fickle.
i dated briefly during my first year of college.
it was sweet, but i was still heart broken from before.


but since having the time to grow and find peace within myself -- within my own independence --
i was able to properly approach a new relationship. remember this day?

so it's been nine months of dating and nearly one year of knowing a man that has completely redefined love and relationship.

it's been one of the best years of my life, really.
and he is my best friend. my very best friend.
and the thought of life without him is daunting and even a bit hollow.

but the idea of he and i, between the two types of people that pull us in completely different directions,
well that is just as daunting. and yet. yet. we press on.

there is something about this man that i hardly address blatantly.
one, because it's mainly his business.
and two, because it's personal.
and three, because it might sound rude or it might be misconstrued.
but, here it goes anyway:

i am dating a man with completely different views than me.
not on everything. we actually have so much in common.

but our views differ on one key thing -- one thing that sits deep in my heart and resides heavily in my soul. one thing that is at the core of my being.

so much of what i have been told has warned me against such relationships.
actually, i do not advise pursuing this kind of relationship if you are not in one.
it is a challenge. a push and pull challenge that will make you cry and make you crazy,
and all the while you might just continue to fall in love.

i had read the warning on the label before i took the pill.
i knew the side effects and the politics and the dangers.
but i leaped into it for god knows why.

and so, nine months later, i have fallen in love with a man who isn't a christian.
but before you get caught up in the technicalities of the title and before you assume that i am
labeling him as a man who doesn't love, or believe in god, please know that your assumptions are entirely wrong.

because nothing about this man indicates doubt or contempt.
in fact, he exhibits the exact opposite.

for the first season of this relationship i felt under control.
as if to say, i've got this, god. like i knew a thing or two that he didn't.
and that season turned out to be the toughest for me.
i had never felt so misunderstood and lost.

i was losing myself,
and just when i wanted to blame the man that i loved,
i stepped back. only to have god ask me to reevaluate my own self.
to see where i lacked with him.

you see, dating a non-christian is truly being "unequally yoked" as it says in second corinthians.
i used to roll my eyes at the term.
but what i have come to learn is that it is indeed literal and tough.
a struggle beyond words.

to be unequally yoked means to have god on only one side of things.
my relationship was entirely one-sided.
and nearly all of it was my fault. entirely.
because i was hiding the one thing that was at the core of my heart.

because the day i met this man and my friends said he'd fall in love with me i sarcastically replied,
"he can't do me if he can't do jesus."
and while they laughed at the crass joke,
my mind was already wheeling.
already i was asking permission to pursue and be pursued.
because i knew that this man couldn't possibly love me entirely unless
we really saw what existed in my heart.

so a few months after that joke -- when i knew i already loved him but felt lost within myself -- i began to ask questions.
and i began to shed layers of myself.
and never had vulnerability felt so harsh against my skin as it did when those first questions were asked.

because the road that leads to the answers might never end.
it will always alter and become more.
perhaps it will become less.
but for now -- for these nine months -- i have learned one of the most valuable, beautiful lessons.


to the man i have loved for nine months, 

thank you for teaching me that...

walking with somebody in life dismisses all types of physicality that pertains to a relationship. 
walking often means sprinting towards the truth. sometimes it means guiding or following. and all of the time it means serving and holding. 

speaking truth doesn't just mean complementing the other person and filling their ears with kind words -- though that has its own importance. but speaking truth is to speak life. to speak worth and value. it is the ability to see god working in the life of the other and delighting in that with them. it's recognizing the faults in the relationship and shedding light on the darkness.

purity isn't something that leads to self-righteousness. purity is the most humbling experience that involves focus, selflessness, and unconditional trust. it is intimacy in the form of conversation and respect. it is dying to one's desires so that they can be stored for the proper time.

openness doesn't just mean having an open mind. but it means having the ability to remain steadfast in what you know to be true, while having the courage to share that steadfastness with the other person. it is knowing when to guide and when to be led.

friendship isn't something casual. but it is a foundation for the fundamentals of a relationship. it's having the ability to cry and to laugh and to be angry when these and all other emotions are necessary. it is inhaling and exhaling each day, through anything and everything. it's about unconditional love and joy. it's about protecting the other and building them up.


in nine months i have learned just how loved i can be. not only by you but through you.
and you have taught me what it means to love entirely unconditionally. 

i have not the slightest idea where the next three months to nine months will lead.
but for now you have given me an idea of what a relationship should look like,
in spite of obstacles.

thank you for proving ideas wrong. and for affirming the ideas i know to be true.
and thank you for the openness you have shown me.
i could only aspire to have that sort of selflessness someday.

to our crazy, weird, intentional love...

i love you. 




the end.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

before this day ends.

let's first go back to this day, one year and one day ago.

because one year ago today i embarked on an epic journey.
a silent epic journey.
one that doesn't require many, many weeks or months;
an epic journey that is only heard after days and months and years after it has happened.


i first arrived in newberg, oregon, where i stayed with
some girls before being picked up by van at 3:00 in the morning.
sleep came and went quickly, if at all, that night and before i knew it i was standing
in a chaotic line at portland international airport, bags checked, with a backpack strapped to me, a passport in hand, and three plane tickets gripped tightly in my palm. 

that was it.
i was about to go international for the first time.


my first flight was to washington dulles international airport.
the flight felt long.
it was a five hour morning flight.

we arrived and took the train to the international portion of the airport.
and there, we waited.
and waited.
i can't remember if the layover was eight hours or ten.
but the sun burned humid in the sky all afternoon.
it set.
and hours later, around ten p.m.
i was boarding a flight for germany. 

we arrived that morning.
and within an hour i was leaving most of my team behind to board an
earlier flight to bucharest, romania.

one team leader, her nine month old baby, and her thirteen year old daughter joined me.
they were assigned seats at the front of the plane while my seat was much further back.

i remember watching from up in the air as germany disappeared.
i remember noticing that the plane, unlike my flight to germany, offered no source of english.
there were  few on the flight.
mostly men. one family near me.
they stared at me excessively.
as far as they knew, i was a foreigner and i was alone.

i felt peculiar. but most of all, i felt as though my life in america had been paused.
it baffled me that those around me were leading their normal lives simultaneous to the life i led back in the states.

how could two drastically different lives exist at once?



romanian air is hot in the summer.
hot.
it tasted like dust and smog to me.
everything felt mediocre -- but i was a westerner, accustomed to only western ways.
looking back, i was so self-centered to have labeled a land that i had no right labeling.

it wouldn't even take twenty-four hours to change my entire mindset on the world.


i took a van to the city of bucharest, since the airport is on the outskirts.
the only thing i could read was the sign for ikea.
and that's not even american.

the cars were small and fast on the freeway.
the buildings old and new at random {which i would later learn meant that they were communist style or post-communist style}.
the sky was an orange haze in most parts.
the people were beautiful and looked, well, european.
which sounds so shallow and ignorant, but i had never been a minority before, so to be
in someone else's country completely took my breath away.
i had no words for the flood of emotions.

after settling into my hostel, the man who retrieved me from the airport took me on a walk in a park.
those who stared at me made me feel self-conscious of how i exhibited myself.
i didn't want anyone to assume that i was judging or staring back.
but i did wish to ask so many questions.
i wanted to familiarize myself with their normal.

keep in mind, my world had just grown by a whole ocean and some.
i was astounded by the realization that billions of lives happen everyday,
and that my life - my routine - is only normal for me.
and that, just because it was my normal, didn't actual make it normal, or typical, or more than any other normal.

my world was suddenly not about me,
and that was the first beautiful gift that i received.



i could write on and on about the whole story, but you're a saint if you're even reading this far.
i think it's safe to say that any first trip abroad is like a first child -- you can oooh and ahh at it forever, and you think that it's the best topic that you can talk about.

so yes, i can talk on and on about the cultural differences and the food and the sight seeing and the historical facts that i learned.

but what most people don't know, don't ask, or don't know to ask about is the experience.
the experience that you only know happened once everything has digested.
because i am still learning from that trip, and i have only begun to apply what i know now.

you can prepare all you want to go to another country.
but when you leave with the intention to learn and to humble yourself,
it's much different than a vacation or tourism. 

what you can't prepare for are the hands that you hold.
the small hands that work hard and play hard, that once were used as cups to beg but now are restored for writing and for holding books.

no one can convince you that you're not there to change the world.
you simply become humbled with one moment of realization that the world
does not revolve around you. 

you can't prepare for the feeling of resentment that silently grows against materialism.
you most certainly can't claim that your desire for materialism will never return,
because one day it does, but that doesn't make you a shallow person.

no history book properly tells the tale of communism,
especially in comparison to one's story that happened only a matter of years ago.

there are no words for a child who smiles at you like you are the most interesting person because you are from a place that they know of only through television.
there is a weight that filled my heart when i realized that children perceived me as rich for the very things i was too often ungrateful for -- things that are selfishly small in my eyes.

and what no one can ever truly prepare you for is just how obvious god is in the eyes of a child when that child has every reason to cry, and yet they fill those around them with joy.



my memories are mostly stained by images of the street. good memories and sad memories that contain stories, realities and testimonies.
i will never shake the feeling that i had, standing there - humbled by all that was around me - knowing that god was walking the streets.

knowing that this world is small and large all at one time.
that it's full and diverse and going, literally, in a billion different directions.



lately i have been antsy and restless.
and i couldn't quite pin point why
until i realized the other day that it was almost one whole year since i'd crossed borders.

and, i assume everyone feels this way but perhaps it's only a select amount of individuals, i have this insatiable desire to go into another unknown -- to feel uncomfortable and humbled.

but that's all in due time,
and for now i have the most beautiful memories and a list of many stories.

i just wanted to use this post to recognize an experience that i was blessed with.


and to remember that traveling is my first true love.
i can't ever lose that.

there's a fire that comes with traveling that can only simmer at it's lowest but never ever be snuffed out.







p.s. i didn't spell check and it's late.
i apologize for {probably} the many typos. 


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

i'm trying to write a story.

i started a story last year and made more progress on it than i had on any other fiction piece.
when i talked to a professor at the end of this past semester she told me about the story she's hoping to write.

during our conversation she told me something along the lines of "i can write about it because i've forgiven it," as though you shouldn't write about something if it isn't forgiven -- at least in her scenario.

that idea resonated with me because what i had initially been writing pertained entirely to bitterness that i had rather than the story i truly wanted to tell.

for nearly one year i have been contemplating a new story -- something that feels familiar and forgiven in my life. i only have ideas -- and one page written in the mind of my character -- so far, but it's something.

i'm learning to write with the intention of being read by a one-person-audience.
it not only takes the pressure off, but it makes the piece more personal and less tried.

so far it's a fiction piece told in multiple pieces.
today, when hanging decorations on my wall, i told my mom
that i didn't care about a level because i'm not a precise person.

i struggle with outlines for stories and i also get bored with
spontaneity of writing that has to continue on for pages and pages.

i'd much rather throw up great ideas onto a few pages
and then do so another time -- with the creativity being how they all
connect and flow.



fingers crossed.

Monday, June 9, 2014

...

“Love says: I’ve seen the ugly parts of you, and I’m staying.”
“Our culture doesn’t love love; It loves the idea of love. It wants the emotion without the sacrifice.”
Matt Chandler