Sunday, August 19, 2007

raise your hopeful voice

sigh. that's how i'm feel right now... just... sigh. not a sigh of happiness or sadness, i think mainly a sigh of contentment. what a good (and foreign) thing that is to me. for the past couple of weeks i have felt unusually peaceful. but it's also kind of a weird numb feeling... it's just strange, really.

i think last time i updated i'd recently seen precious courtney. the following weekend i got to see my other precious, jill. i think seeing those two back to back really aided in my contentment. just talks we had and realizations i came to and encouragement i received and insights we shared... they kinda reshaped the way i've been seeing this time in my life. i was listening to "these friends of mine" by rosie thomas on my way to see jill... the chorus says, "maybe i needed this time to remind myself," it just kinda clicked with me, that maybe this time is partly for me to remind myself, to be reminded of the friendships i am blessed by and to see the importance of those. i was having coffee with some old friends from high school and one of them was talking about how he wouldn't want to be married right now- he said, "if i was married, i couldn't do this." he was so matter of fact. and i think in a lot of ways, he's right. somehow my friends who are married don't seem as young as my single friends. and it reminded me how thankful i really am for my independence, for my friendships, for feeling young and for being free to do what i want when i want. how cool is that? and i have a handful of girls in my life, that when i imagined us all marrying off and assuming those new roles, it made me so sad. hopefully it won't be that way, but in the meantime i appreciate so much those relationships and times together.

and since seeing jill... hmm. well, i turned 25, and it was a decent day. i got to talk to some people i really love, celebrate with friends and family.... and then friday two of my friends threw a surprise party for me, and i was so surprised! i was kind of overwhelmed by the kindness of it all, and how i didn't really deserve any of it, but those feelings didn't take away from having an amazing time and feeling so loved and loving people in my life so much.

and i've had some rest this weekend, too. and i saw Once with my apartment-mate :) that movie left me kind of speechless. and now i'm wallowing in the soundtrack and reliving all of the emotions it evoked in me. it was so beautiful, and emotional, and realistic. it was wonderful.

i just registered for my first marathon. i can't decide if i'm crazy or not. i think i'll be alright... the half marathon was thoroughly enjoyable for me, so i thought maybe a full marathon would be, perhaps slightly less enjoyable, but more challenging, which i consider a good thing. keeps me on my toes. :)

welp i've got some things to do before heading back to work tomorrow. i'm sure i'll have more thoughts soon. i rarely run out.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

it's that heat...

another hot one. i didn't think i was someone to hide in air conditioning- when people began complaining about how hot it was in may i just laughed and questioned them, saying it's gonna get hotter. but there's something supremely unpleasant about walking out your door at near 8a.m. and it already being so uncomfortably thick in the air. i love the fresh cool of morning, and lately, it's just not.

i've got three clients right now with apartments waiting for them. i think i get as excited as them sometimes. it's things like that, and like this afternoon when we drove around looking for any and everyone homeless, on the street, in the woods, under bridges, and giving them water. we all had a sense of urgency about it, too. it's so dangerous for them, and a lot of them just don't take care of themselves, so they stay out in it. we lost a client, potentially to the heat, over the weekend. i was one of the last people to try and engage him. i actually drove him from a respite home back down to the river after and hour and a half of tearful begging for him to stay where he was. my pleading only resulted in him lying next to my car on the sidewalk next to a bush while he waited for me to get his medicines. it's hard; they're adults, and they have the right to make decisions, even if we know better.

i was thinking about that today, and what it might be like to be a parent, and to experience anger at someone you care about only because they're making poor decisions for themselves. but being angry at them won't help them. so i made sure to let go of my anger before meeting up with the one who had incited it.

last weekend i met up with one of my bestest friends. we had such a good weekend. it was a nice mix of doing and not doing, of conversation, coffee and cheeseburgers. i love her so much, and she encouraged me. sometimes just having a really cool friend is encouraging in itself, like, hey, this person is cool and they'll be friends with me! hehe. but i am so thankful for her- and not just because she's cool (and she's the coolest.) and this weekend i'll get to see another friend i cherish, another encouragement in my life. it's friends like these that remind me i am not alone in the way my heart beats, my passions and desires, the things that i want to invest my life and i am convinced of.

lately i've felt very much like, here in this city, there aren't too many who see things the way i do. like i don't see the point of a nice church building, or nice equipment, or a good, aesthetically and experientially pleasing service. i think the church's concern should be God and His people- each generation discipling the generation after it, and all of them working together to reach and love in their communities, and the surrounding ones. i think the church should be seeking God's face, studying scripture, and talking about hard things, and bringing in broken people. i think we should evaluate, together, how we spend our money, where we live, what cars we drive, how we use our resources. i think we should meet and talk about the depth of life- the hard, sometimes sad, sometimes embarrassing things that people don't like to talk about. i am so tired. i don't like feeling like i stay in a church only because i need to be a voice for change, an advocate for the poor, and encouragement to the handful of young people who want something more than comfortable, arm's length from suffering religion. i want more than that. i want to get my hands dirty, to take up my cross, to enter into life and suffering with people, and to share the hope of Jesus with all. i am tired of feeling like i am alone in those desires here in this city. or that i'm distanced from others who feel the same but also feel powerless and discouraged by the predominant comfort gospel that is taught and modeled.

all that not to say that others are wrong or right. or that i'm wrong or right. it's just how i feel. and i know that a lot of why i think things i do is because others have been the voice of change and advocate for the poor in my life, and many of them i've encountered through the church. but i just question how dirty hands can get, or even want to, when they're a good 15 miles from the dirt.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

silence is loud, humility is so proud

it's hot. as blazes, perhaps. the heat made me, in a strange way want to hibernate today. i wanted to avoid the penetrating sun and stay very very still in an effort to not sweat anymore. i spent some time this evening in my roommate's room, where the air conditioning unit is stationed and blasting cool air.

i was thinking today how i wanted to get a new journal, and do some thinking on paper. recently my beloved friend court asked if the blog was a wash, and i thought it was, but then when considering buying a journal, i thought, why not just start blogging again? so i think i will supplement my no-journal-having-time with the blog. it may continue, it may not. where it stops, no one knows. ha.

so, life. i'll be another year older in a couple of weeks. i'm not terribly excited about it. i suppose i should be thankful for another year of life, which i am. and there are lots of things to be thankful for, but just the thought of getting older and not necessarily being quite where i'd hoped are butting heads in my mind. but maybe that will always be a possibility, and maybe i just need to learn to take life as it comes and to be content in all circumstances.

anyway, enough with trying to explain something i can't. i'm reading Under the Overpass right now, about a guy who'd been raised comfortably in a Christian environment, and one day at church wondered what he was doing at church when he'd driven by all of these suffering lost people on his way there. so he decided to put his faith to the test and see if he really did believe God when he had nothing as well as when he was comfortable. it's been really interesting, reading his accounts of the streets- his realizations, questions, struggles and blessings. i decided to read it because of my job, i thought it'd be food for thought, and it has been. he's made me again consider the perspective of the homeless, and also the role of the church. i think i was on a thought path that Christ followers couldn't just come down to the inner city once a year and feed the homeless and share the gospel, or come down once and pick up a homeless person, take them to church and drop them back off in the hood; that their "remembering the poor" needed to be consistent, a lifestyle. otherwise it was just a limp attempt at checking it off a list. i do think that that's true, in part. i think churches should be a presence in the poor parts of town the way social services are- that they should actually be doing (and hopefully better) what the social services are doing. but the guy who wrote the book talks about how blessed he is by random meals given to him, usually by Christian individuals or church groups, and most of those aren't by consistent people. usually it's a one time deal. so i think i can't say people shouldn't just come down once and share food and Christ, but i think it's safe to say it would be better if it wasn't just a one time thing.

i think i've had a hard time balancing compassion/professionalism, trying to figure out how to represent Jesus and still do my job.... how do you empower and not enable people, how do you have compassion for people while still telling them hard things, like "i can't really do anything, you just need a job"? some people that i encounter are really difficult because they've spent their lives working the social service system. they know the right words to get connected to services, to an extent. their fraud will eventually be exposed, and they'll be back in the same spot, but it's hard. it makes me skeptical of a lot of individuals who come through the doors seeking assistance, and i think it makes me frustrated at them, and the system, because of resources being wasted on people who are just looking for an easy way out- a housing voucher and a disability check- no bills and no work. so, in some ways i've become a little hardened to homelessness in the U.S. because of these things.

i think seeing and being aware of poverty around the world makes me feel less sad here. which maybe is a good thing, because just being sad all the time wouldn't help anyone. and i do tell people, "i can't do anything, you just need to get a job," and i continue to see them in the shelter and on the streets for months following. sometimes we have to take responsibility for ourselves. some people really can't do that- whether it's a substance abuse issue that goes back years and years or a mental illness that disables, these things require assistance in recovery. these people my heart does go out to more, but i still can't help but think of other countries, where poverty has nothing to do with drugs or alcohol or laziness, that it is oppressive not just by the welfare state and lack of funding, but by corrupt governments and systems that won't even allow people to get out of their poverty, no matter how hard they may work.

i think throughout my time at this new job i've just been seeing more and more how desperate out need is for redemption in the world. sometimes i want so bad for Jesus to come back, to declare loud and clear his hope, to replace the ashes with beauty, the shackles with diamonds. i would love to see some of my clients' faces when they hear it coming from His mouth. i guess i just have to continue to seek and serve and love God the best way i know how, and to beg for revolution and redemption in this world and in his church.