when people are more than the means to my end

yesterday i found a new crack in my heart.

i think i already knew it was there, but i was too afraid to check.

but yesterday my fingers wandered just a little too close… and they found where my heart had splintered in yet another place.

and so they prodded deeper, because curiousity will always be my vice.

closure doesn’t always mean what we think it means. 

when they were teaching me trial advocacy, they told me to never ask a question to which i don’t know the answer.

but i asked the unknown anyways.

and i didn’t like the answer given.

i was hurt and angry and i cried ugly, messy tears.

that tiny little crack hurt a lot more than i thought it would. and i realized, it ran far deeper than it should. and it wasn’t a new crack at all, it was old, but it had finally cracked the surface of my cold, icy, numb heart. 

and i was angry at how i had been used.

until i crawled into my bed, weary and broken from just another Monday. and i stopped to think.

you know, written between the lines…

it sure sounded to me like…

that person who hurt me? well, it sounded to me as if they had been hurt, too.

and if they had been hurt

isn’t it my job to heal?

bitterness has never really gotten me anywhere.

i don’t want to see people as the means to my end. let them be people, just like me. filled with pain and insecurity and hope.

and let me be hopeful and healing and overflowing with love. 

2014 resolutions

i have to say that i secretly really like resolutions, particularly for a new year.

i know, i know. it seems like everyone and their mother hates resolutions now and instead of resolutions we get lists on why we shouldn’t make traditional resolutions.

but i still like them.

i know that i’m a constant work in progress- i’ll never really be finished, and life is a journey. but a new year just feels so crisp and clean to me. i like lists because they make sense to me.

my friend Laura wrote her new year post over at This Blog is Epic, and she shared One Word 365. i like that idea of having one word to define my year, but i still like the idea of a list.

so i have my own list of resolutions – but i want them to be united with one word for 2014. and that word is,

C O M M I T T E D

i sort of stumbled upon that word while i was reading about the idea behind One Word.

because i’m a person who always has big IDEAS and PLANS. i confess that i’m not nearly as good at following through on those ideas and plans. and a lot of the resolutions on my list aren’t new, but they’re slight changes and progressions i’d like to see over the next year.

so without further ado, my resolutions for the new year:

why? over the past few years i’ve been paying much closer attention to my finances and (lack of) budgeting skills. i like this challenge because it’s realistic and doable for me, and this challenge specifically focuses on the idea of committing to saving money each week. in the past, i’ve tried to save money by stashing away a large chunk of change in the summer when i’m working, but somehow it always ends up soon gone (oops). this challenge lets me grow into the idea of sacrifice, starting small and ending up big, and requires me to commit to it each week.

a few years ago i finally got into the habit of reading my Bible every day (or nearly every day) when i began using She Reads Truth. i’m so glad that i’ve stuck with that habit and made that effort over these past few years. and now i’d like to add on to this by committing to daily prayer time specifically – i’ve done this on and off, but never daily for a long period of time (as in no more than a couple months).

  • set up a cleaning schedule

i’m not a neat person. i’m typically very organized, but not so neat. i need to figure out a schedule that works for me so that i don’t end up with a disaster on my hands by the time exams creep on me. because i’ve realized that clutter makes me feel mentally and emotionally anxious.

  • fitness goals

i have quite a few i’m mulling over here. trying to figure out exactly what i hope to accomplish this year. i’ve been working out consistently for a couple years now, but i want to up my game. for the first three months of 2014, i’ll be taking a yoga class (which i’ve missed because now i’m achy and sore all. the. time). i’m going to continue with my strength training and running – and honestly? i’d love to do a half-marathon this year. but even if i don’t, i’m angling for a 10 mile race. i’m also kicking off the year with the #LoveYourBody fitness challenge from Tone It Up. mainly? i just need to commit to taking a good, hard look at my food habits.

happy new year!

Clarity on Clarity

i’m a researcher.

i’m a master at internet search engines, i have my own personal library, and i enjoy reading article after article.

(this is pretty much inevitable for someone who got her first degree in the social sciences, and is currently working on a law degree. researching = my bff.) 

it’s helpful, mostly. i want to make informed decisions, and i’m always pondering one question or another.

but some times? too much information can be a bad thing.

i know all the “right” answers. and it’s easy to file away those answers in my brain, and save them for the day when i need to refer back to them in order to make a decision.

all too often, however, i file away that knowledge only to later find myself paralyzed with indecision. and i realize then that i never really understood the answer at all – i just accepted it and moved on.

clarity in dating relationships is one of those areas, and i just realized that today. i have always known that clarity and communication is crucial to a healthy relationship (well, duh. this seems obvious.)

until i found myself in a situation where things weren’t clear to me, and i’ve thought things through so much that my mind is muddled. i’ve managed to confuse myself.

let me tell you that i’m the kind of girl who just wants things to be honest and straightforward. otherwise, i just end up  hyperventilating.

i’ve had my fair share of relationships where we just played head games with each other. i’m so over that and the headaches that gives me. but i’m also not convinced that my confusion is a sign that someone is messing with me (and my poor, little, anxious heart).

instead of reacting on impulse, i force myself to question my natural response and my concerns. i have to remain objective while still maintaining my subjective understanding of the situation. which sounds difficult, but this happens all the time in legal tests so i feel like it is possible.

  • am i reading too much into words and/or actions?
  • am i projecting my feelings and/or fears where they don’t belong?
  • what am i really worried about?
  • objectively, what do his words or actions indicate?
  • objectively, what do my emotions and concerns indicate?
  • if the two of us were to have a conversation about this, what would i say?

then i consider what my answers to these questions tell me.

you know what i know about myself? i have a tendency to jump the gun. i rush. i try my very hardest to control every little thing.

and this isn’t to say i should be completely passive – one of the last questions i asked myself right now was whether it was an appropriate time to broach the subject of defining the relationship.

which, incidentally, tells me a lot: communication is one of the problems here. i’m itching to communicate and understand and relate. i’m also at a point where i’m starting to feel in over my head – which is likely why i feel the need for clarity. and underneath all of that is my desperate desire to maintain control.

with respect to my worrying and anxiety – that’s a different issue altogether. that’s a symptom of my failure to handle these concerns well. i’ve been bottling up my emotions, trying desperately to “just let it go”, and instead of actually letting it go i’ve been ignoring it. no prayer, no giving it up to God, no peace.

something no one ever told me

sometimes, dreams change.

it seems like we spend our entire lives dreaming big and dreaming impossible, and the sky isn’t even the limit anymore.

i think that’s true. i don’t think that’s a bad thing.

i grew up in a home where independence was encouraged, and intelligence was idolized.

i can’t tell you how many times i was told that i am smart. (nb: this never guarantees your child will believe it.)

i was told i could do ANYTHING. for a while, that meant politics (first elected female Prime Minister to be precise). later on that meant law school. apparently that didn’t change.

until one day, i realized it did change.

i was not told i was kind. instead, i was cold (frigid) and too prickly to get close to.

which is fine. for a lawyer.

so i shuffled along, chasing this dream. my dream? it made sense. there were times when it was scary, but it made sense.

but in the back of my mind, i wrestled with myself. i have to wonder though, was that me wrestling with my own, or am i just another jacob wrestling with God?

i have tried to wrap my head around the logistics of my future, and settled on leaving it up in the air and up to God, and just letting things be wherever they may land.

i can’t tell you the depths of courage it took for me to breathe these secret, treacherous desires out into the world for a trusting friend to hear.

i do not want this. not anymore. 

make no mistake - i believe i am precisely where God wills me to be. i have followed as He has led. and i do not understand.

i am here. but i do not wish to stay here forever.

i love what i am doing, but my heart is pulled in another direction.

my impossible dream doesn’t include politics. and it doesn’t include practicing law. i value my education, but to me, impossible is the sound of small children laughing (and even crying), and a home and a husband and a place for me to BE. and grow. and change. and struggle. it is not in an office, it is not postponing children for the sake of my career, it is not in a university lecture, and it is not in a courtroom. these things? they are difficult, yet they are easily possible.

i want my impossible dream. the courage to walk away from the expectations others hold me to, and the strength to move on past their disappointment.

that’s what i call my God-sized dream.

meaningful choices

i’ve been running into this idea of “meaningful choices” a lot lately.

it’s one of those uncomfortable thoughts – it doesn’t fit with how i want to categorize things, and it requires me to think outside my box a little bit.

but i’ve realized how important it is, and how much of a difference it has made in the way i perceive things.

what do we do when someone doesn’t have a “meaningful choice” available to them? does it even matter?

in some cases, i believe it does. fact: a lot of women (and girls) who are trafficked into the sex industry are aware they’re entering the sex industry. they choose it, and then things go terribly, terribly wrong. it’s still trafficking. it’s still exploitation. it’s still evil. does the fact that they were aware they were entering the sex industry make any difference? i say no.

it’s disgusting that we live in a world where poverty and hunger are so real, a woman resorts to selling her body just to feed herself/her children/her family. no matter how young (and precious) she is. this shouldn’t exist, it just shouldn’t happen. full stop. we have enough money over here that we can spend thousands to get a post-secondary education and we can buy things we simply enjoy (whether it be books or coffee or food that suits our mood).

in my opinion, that isn’t a meaningful choice to choose between starvation (or watching those you love starve) and selling your body.

it isn’t a meaningful choice – it’s a power imbalance, and that takes away from the choosing.

that’s easy for me to accept. but i was reading some anti-abortion posts recently, and i saw the phrase “abortion is MURDER” and it made me pause. after studying the legal definition of murder for a while, here’s what i know: abortion ISN’T murder. murder is an unlawful, culpable homicide. abortion doesn’t fit in that definition. and it’s dangerous to apply that label, because of the stigma murderer carries.

i’m as pro-life as they come. i hate abortion, i do. but i’ve also struggled with what that means. and i used to believe that we had to get rid of it, because it’s so evil but now i feel differently.

outlawing abortion wouldn’t do anything besides make people angry and bitter, and make abortions more dangerous. women would be at risk. and contrary to what many pro-choicers have said to me, i don’t hate women or stand against women’s rights either. (hello? do you even KNOW me? i’m a feminist, that’s all there is to it. try not to put words in my mouth next time.)

and frankly? i think that would be throwing a band-aid on a gunshot wound. the problem isn’t that abortion exists in the first place, it’s that people feel it’s their best/only option. in my ideal world, women shouldn’t have to choose between carrying the pregnancy to term that began with her rape and violation. that shouldn’t be a choice they have to make (yet, 1 in 3 women will be sexually abused at some point in her life. that’s NOT okay.) but it is. i’m not convinced that’s a “meaningful choice” when we do so little to actually fight against the causes?

maybe this means rethinking the struggles a young/single/poor/fill-in-the-blank mother can go through. ask ourselves WHY women choose this. i don’t believe for a second that they find it easy to make this decision. can we do more to address the root problems instead of the reaction?

for me, this really comes down to trying to put myself in other peoples’ shoes. it means trying to relate, and acknowledge that i can’t understand everyone’s perspective. that maybe i’m not always going to be right about things. that there is real pain and difficult decisions, and i don’t have the moral high ground. and that doesn’t matter, because that isn’t what Jesus and the gospel is about in the end.

and this applies to so many things we consider controversial these days. i think the Church, our Church, and its body has a lot of work to do. i don’t think we get bonus brownie heaven points for sharing a facebook photo that shares “abortion is MURDER” without ever trying to relate to a woman making that decision. or when we shake our head in disappointment over the strippers and prostitutes in North America, when we pray and bless those women in Asia (because apparently it’s different based off of geography somehow). i believe it applies to how we view same-sex marriage and gay rights, and we’re just missing the point. we’re missing so much because we’re so darn stubborn.

and i’m just sick of it. we need change, we need to do something, we just need to act.

fear to make your heart POUND

if law school has taught me one thing so far, it’s that i’m terribly afraid. i’m not exaggerating – it’s at the point where it’s basically crippling.

it’s funny (as in bizarre) how hard it is to let words roll off you. i started law school being told by a member of the school’s alumni that if they were me, they wouldn’t go. because i wouldn’t be able to compete and i’d fail.

i thought i brushed it off, only to hear those words buzzing in my ears when i get cold-called in class while i’m still flipping the pages over to the case and can’t answer the question because i still don’t know where we are.

it’s in the moment when i completely blank during an audition to the point where i still don’t understand what happened.

i thought – for the longest time – that if i could just get accepted, i’d be okay. that i could make it. i prayed that over and over and you know what?

the joke’s on me.

you never get to the point where it’s easy. it’s always going to be hard. there’s always a struggle, one way or another.

and this fear has become so real, it’s like my own Eeyore-esque cloud hanging over my head (/heart).

i am so ashamed and afraid of failing, feeling like i must be MORE like i have to do better that it’s tempting to just give up.

i said that to a friend who was shocked i’d admit that. she asked me if i still felt the way i did before, if i still wanted this life at all.

and i knew right away that i do want that still.

i’ve never been so sure, so passionate about something. it took me a long time to figure out what a divine calling might feel like, but this must be it.

because i can see this huge whole, this piece missing. and each day goes by convinces me more and more that i must be there to fill it. that i’ve been blessed and there just aren’t many people who see it the way i do.

and i know that deep down, somewhere in all of this mess there is God and i’m just waiting to see.

until then, i mutter prayers under my breath at all hours and keep my eyes on the Word.

things i’ve learned as an “adult”

i had a dear, dear friend (and cousin) mention to me how much she’s seen me grow and change in the past year or so.

this past year has been big. i have been stretched further than i ever imagined possible only to shrink smaller than ever before. it’s incredible how that changes your attitude, your heart, your mind, & your soul.

21 seems to be the age where you’re considered an adult anywhere – it seems fairly adult-like. and i just celebrated my 22nd birthday. (which is young, don’t get me wrong, but it’s also old and now i need to take a few things seriously but not too seriously. you know? there’s something about being past 21 and being in law school that means people expect certain things from you, like responsibility and whatnot.)

i feel stirrings like never before and a desire that was previously only flickering – a barely lit candle fading fast.

today i just want to share some of the things that have touched me to the core in the past year (and a half. ish.) ~

i can’t remember if anyone ever told me how MESSY growing up is. that life is hard and it hardens you up, and struggles beat you down into submission until you finally crack. but underneath that rough exterior is fresh, new skin waiting to be reborn and it leaves you softer than ever. fragility is a blessing and feeling is a gift and so much has changed, both good and bad, but i wouldn’t have it any other way.

because at the end of the day, if i can say this in a very small voice, i like who i am. i like who God has made me, and the good days make the bad ones worthwhile. 

community & freedom

the past year (or two..) i’ve become increasingly aware of what community is and what it is not.

it’s odd, but the further you drift away from it the more aware of it you are it seems.

i can’t pinpoint the exact time when i realized this, but i now see how desperately lonely i have been. my answer, of course, is to distance myself even further and convince myself it’s for the best because then it will all hurt less.

this really isn’t surprising when i consider my past and how i grew up, but you would think that once this crossed my mind and i had a professional opinion confirm it that i would make effort to change things. nope. not i. 

okay, truth? yes, people will let you down and it will hurt. but it is far, far more painful to suffer alone. we were DESIGNED for community, and to have relationships with others. ignoring this fact doesn’t make you any stronger or better off (i’m talking to myself here, but you might relate).

my friends and family know that i don’t like people touching me. eye contact makes me nervous, and i have a terrible handshake. but i’ll let you in on a little secret - i don’t hate it the way i say i do. what i hate about it is how intimate touch feels, and the reality is that i am simply scared of letting anyone get too close to really see me. which is why i shy away from holding eye contact or hugs.

i’m that person who suddenly wonders what i’m supposed to do with my hands while i’m talking to you, and where on earth are they supposed to go?!

(all of this makes me sound far more socially awkward than i think i actually am. but i could be wrong.)

step one is admission – here i am admitting my fear.

but you know what? when i walked into a friend’s house one night, to have her ask how i am only to have me respond with sobbing breaths and runaway tears – and she asks if she can hug me – i realized something.

my friend held me and handed me kleenex and sat and listened to all my feelings just pour out of me within minutes. i wasn’t rejected. i was lovingly brought closer without any judgment. and for a few minutes i stopped wondering who might think i was weaker for it.

and that, my friends, is real. real to know that i could have driven to any number of homes of friends and they would have welcomed me with open arms, and i would not feel so alone.

God blesses us with many people in our lives, and i have been so utterly wrong to avoid it. the cost of fear is simply too high for me to keep paying it.

(on a related note: i’m reading What Women Fear: Walking in Faith that Transforms by Angie Smith right now and it is so, so lovely. Angie is so honest and real and I love the way she uses biblical stories to point out the truth about our relationship with God.)

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“it’s just not fair.”

my Bible reading for the day is Exodus 14. it’s a chapter i read a couple months back when I was going through the Pentateuch on my own, and i read it again for my daily #SheReadsTruth devotional (which is a fantastic resource by the way- i’ve been following their reading plans for months and i appreciate the short plans that change often, and delightful community)

it struck me today how this story (this historical account) of the Israelites escaping from Egypt is to my life-

this is what happens when i feel in my heart how unfair life is (to me).

perhaps you are like me (i hope there are some of you out there)

ever find yourself asking God, why?

i do. i have had some shockingly honest times with God, where i beg and plead and i even dare complain that it just isn’t fair. (do you need any other proof than this?)

just like those Israelites in Exodus, i grumble. i (selectively) forget the promises God has made to me, and that my God is a faithful God who keeps His word. He will not abandon me nor forget me. even when i forget Him.

but mostly, i forget that this isn’t about ME.

it’s about God and God’s glory. see verse 4 in chapter 14:

 “I have planned this in order to display my glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. After this the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord!”

could i stop for one minute and remember how this is truly important? skip ahead to the end of the chapter and you will find this miraculous account of the Israelites escaping through the sea. they are free!

and everyone was in awe of God’s power. if God had not led the Israelites through this difficult period of encampment (and waiting) and hardened Pharaoh’s heart, the story just wouldn’t have the same sort of impact. every last detail was there to give glory to God in the highest.

how often do i pray to God, isn’t this enough yet? can we move on already? why can’t you just FIX this? 

i feel abandoned (a lie)

i am weary (a truth)

but God has not left me here.

Another New Year

2013 is my 23rd new year. new beginning. fresh start.

call it what you will.

like many others, i make resolutions for myself. they’re fairly quiet – i don’t like to breathe them into life with words. it’s too public.

(i just don’t want the public shame of failing.)

but i do it, anyways, every year.

i tell myself that i will cook twice a week (because really, twice a week isn’t that often is it?)

i promise to exercise regularly, for nearly every day in a week (because life will only get busier, and what’s my excuse anyways?)

i will read more in my free time, and get caught up on my book reviews (because i love it, and there has to be something for me to do for fun)

i must stay caught up on school work, ideally a week ahead (because it’s either now or later, so it might as well get done now)

i need to spend more time with God, a given (because there is no such thing as too much in this area)

i parcel out hours in days, dedicating them to my tyrannical to-do lists and, thankfully, find myself exhausted come night time. (this is actually a good thing, as i’ve had issues sleeping properly my whole life. regular exercise and law school has been an answer to prayer in this regard.)

i am ambitious at best, obsessive at worst. i don’t mind.

because here’s the thing – i set goals. i will grow. i may not reach all of them, but i strive and work hard and i hope that one year later i can look back and call it a success. to know that i gave God and others my very best, and allowed Him to work in me.

that’s all i can hope for. and really, that’s all i need.