Carolina, oh carolina. I wish you could see what I see from all the way across the pond in the home state we have shared and will continue to share. You are growing and are possibly the most trusting in the Father that I have ever seen you. I cannot wait to hug your neck and sit and laugh and share stories upon your return. You are such a women of grace and charm and the most sincere and pure of beauties. How cool that you woke up thinking about me on Tuesday. That was a day in which I had to have a hard conversation with some one I hated to disappoint. Some one who has treated me so special and thinks far too highly of me. Oh how the Lord was present in that conversation though. I was honest and he was honest and I have never been more thankful for effective communication than in that hour and a half, sitting outside in the beautiful weather in one of my most frequented spots on campus. The Lord reminded me of how chosen I really am, even when I’m not chosen by who I want and when I want. I sure do have a long path ahead of me of healing, but I am blessed by being sought after. I am trusting that the Lord will the rest, in repairing this boy’s expectations and hopes, as he works on my heart to repair mine for some one else.
I am so so glad I came home this weekend. I will suffer the consequences in the classroom this week, but for now I am content. I have marveled in the weather, sipped on a lot of tea, and spent time with people who mean so much to me. All that’s missing is you of course!
Kaka Ray came to speak to the RUF girls last week and it was eye opening as usual. I don’t know if you remember her speaking to us last year, but she completely healed and renovated a friendship that had been festering and this year she shed a lot of light on other areas. It’s funny how our generation and era looks at trauma. She encouraged us that we all have experienced trauma in some regards, and that can be normalized. We are to really digest and process through our reactions to things that are more heightened than others and perceive what she likes to call “the good, the bad, and the ugly” in our stories. the good refers to how we were nurtured, the bad is where we lacked, and the ugly is the traumatic events that have shaped every one of us. I’m anxious to tell you more about her perspective on relationships too.
As you can see, I am a tree of thought processes…each branch leading to a new state of mind, awareness, and emotion. Right before Court and I hopped in Jordan’s car on Friday, we had a conversation in which I’m excited and nervous to explore. I realized to the degree that I try and take care of other people’s emotions. I wouldn’t really peg myself as some one who does that, but I really do. And a lot of times it keeps me from taking care of myself. I think this is where I form quick attachment and deep feeling. It comes out in small forms such as obsessing over a guest’s stay in knoxville, doing everything in my power in order for them to have a wonderful time, or in forms such as relationships. I’m realizing how big a part of my story it holds, and what I need to do to surrender and not hold on so tight. No wonder I can’t seem to grapple with others’ misunderstandings of me.
Thank goodness for friends and mentors who allow me to wrestle with my sin and shame and brokenness. You are right about that my girl. I’ll be praying for this week for you with all of your midterms in between arrivals from friends and family. While you are posted up at the Gucci exhibit in Florence, I will be posted up in the stacks of Knoxville.
I woke up this morning thinking about you and for some reason, it felt a little heavy hearted—not sure why. Maybe you can explain that better than I can. Last night may have been a struggle or super joyous, I’m not sure, but I am thinking and praying for ya. My rainy morning began early as I took charge of trying to sort out Erin’s baggage troubles. Happy to do it, I spent the first hour (7-8am) trying to find someone that spoke English amongst all the operators at British Airways, and then the last 3 awaiting a phone call of when they will bring her bag. You can only imagine how stressed out she is getting!
Alas, my friends are in Italy…I repeat, in ITALY! We have spent our luxurious time thus far making meals (because of the bag drama), shopping, drinking cappuccinos, hiking around Cinque Terre, one too many train rides, and learning more and more about the sweet friends that traveled so far to see me. Natalie is just about one of the coolest, funniest girls I know—I am so sad that we didn’t mesh sooner. I know she will change, once again, my TCU experience for the better. Their visit only makes me crave your company, ache to show you this city that I am getting so accustom too, and longing to adventure with my truly adventurous spirit. They brought a new joy to my heart about living this far away, an unexplainable joy that I believe only comes through completely removing yourself from your comfort zone and forcing yourself to adapt.
Erin began to ask me what it was really like studying abroad, what I really have been feeling through it all and for the first time I felt like I could give her somewhat of substantial answer. I responded with saying that one of the best things I have gleaned thus far is flexibility and a relaxed demeanor towards my plans, my every day, and my future. I have come out with bigger ambitions, loftier goals, and a greater hope than ever before. Yes, I am still afraid of the unknown, but I am now a firm believer that everything works out in the hand of God Almighty, and worrying does absolutely nothing. I am still unsure of my future, of what the path in front of me will be, but I walk with such confidence that I am right where the Lord wants me to be. I read a quiet time about surrender talking about how the minute we surrender ourselves to the Lord, He begins to meet the needs around us (whether it be of others or ourselves) because of our surrender. I reread the sentence multiple times, but I loved how it describes how if we can let everything go, doing it out of a desire to be closer with the Lord not to make us holier, the Lord actually has the chance to meet the needs of everything going on around us—His desire the whole time.
There are some things that I have surrendered, and I’d like to think that I have surrendered more to Him in this time, but I don’t believe this is the case. In fact, I have slowly crept away from Him in a lot of ways. I am disappointed in the ways that I have come to treat my roommates, and adding two new friends to the mix, it has been revealed to me just how ruthless I can be. Praise the Lord for forgiveness, grace, and mercy because I am in desperate need of all three. Community sticks out more than anything to me now and my eagerness to be a part of one once again.
The Lord is opening and closing doors, but sometimes I think He requires us to break through them. I am learning that The Lord has called me somewhere else this summer, other than camp, and I am not entirely sure what He is up too, but I know that is one thing I have surrendered to His hand. What are you going to start surrendering today? I am going to surrender the arrogance I have built up behind my time. It is a small surrender, but a necessary one that must happen before I can hope to move out of the dark shadow I am casting. Again, PTL for sweet friends revealing crud and gunk. It surely sucks, but that’s what they are for!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MY MAIN SQUEEZE MAMIE CRAIG!
You are 20 years old. I am 20 years old. What the HECK?! Why and how are we getting so old. Absolutely ridiculous.
Time literally is flying by. This time last year I was sitting in my janky Colby dorm room, preparing a birthday package for you, and writing another one of my long, drawn out birthday letters that basically says the same thing over and over. Now, I sit in my bed across the ocean and a few countries, typing on my laptop all the things I love about you, hoping that my small attempt at snail mail at least makes it to you, and excitedly gathering little gifts along the way to bring home :D
Let’s do a time line shall we….?
high school homecoming…
days at the lake…
memories upon memories made in Santa Rosa…
so many pretty dresses and cute dates…
S and B at their finest…
snow days and skiing…
road trips and escapades…
proms and the drama of it all…
graduation and the daunting college search…
our most adventurous selves…
visiting each other’s new life…
spending summers learning to love each other and others well…
with all the goofiness in between…
obsessed with our friendship…
…that started 20 years ago.
you are my second sister, my deepest most truest friend. you are a kindred spirit that i will love no matter what. I don’t quite know where I would be without ya…you really have gotten me through most of my days. don’t ever change from who you are, or steer away from who you are becoming. I am awed by the Lord’s work in you and look up to your poise, confidence, and genuine self. Know that I love you more than I can express…and once again cannot wait to be reunited…drinking coffee, laughing hysterically, and walking our most favorite road.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAMIE CRAIG!
…note, this time line only touched the past 5 years…imagine the real one…we’ve gotta make it!
I am a bit astonished at your steady words in the midst of discomfort and deep emotion. Funny that you feel like a dry well right now, because it sounds like you are quite the opposite for those around you. It seems as though the Lord is ever-present in those two instances you described, very aware of the situation and revealing some of His promise to remain close to the heart, even if it doesn’t feel like it. My heart grows a little heavy knowing that you have been dealing with a constant feeling of loneliness even in Knoxville. I find it interesting that the Lord sometimes brings us to that place—He is obviously trying to teach us something.
After I blogged last, later that evening I sat on Liz’s bed telling her about a conversation sharing some great news about Chris and what all is going on with his career at this point. He has a very exciting, but rocky road ahead of him that I am so eager to be a part of in whatever form that means. What eventually surfaced were the feelings I described on our blog, the lack of the depth, the loneliness, the disconnect, and almost immaturity that I have been feeling here. Liz chuckled a little bit, and no shocker, expressed some of the very same feelings. I stupidly forgot that she is likely feeling the same way. We talked about how we are both beings of connection. I feed off of deeply connecting with people, and here it’s close to impossible. Living with Kimber and Liz all the time, the intentionality dissolves into stagnant motions of moving out of each other’s way.
The Lord patiently waits for me to take action. I’ve been sitting here for a long time unsure of what to do with my feelings, desires, cravings, and needs. There is still a lot of unfamiliarity to be found, but there are also glimpses of familiarity that I am letting slip by when that is exactly what I’m craving. Uprooting and moving into a different culture requires adaption and flexibility, completely and utterly breaking every value down. No one here is keeping me accountable for anything, no one in this city knows who I am or, for that matter, can really communicate with me. It’s a true test of everything I stand for, my relationships, and my faith. What do I really choose to do with my time, how I act, and what I say…and how am I choosing to hold myself accountable, or am I at all. Texas broke me down and I developed stronger opinions. And now Italy is breaking down even deeper, but I am better prepared and well aware of my tendencies. It’s a scary thing to have so many flaws, imperfections, and complexities revealed one after the other. I am thankful for the bluntness of it all, allowing me to pick up the pieces and slowly put them back together as best I can. Liz, Kimber, and I are all seeing each other at our rawest state. It’s incredible to see each other growing one day at a time, and figuring out what voices we listen too. I have tried my best to find my stimulants here…hearing your thoughts and you asking for mine in return is one of them. So thank you.
it’s funny how the lord works. he tends to tie lessons together. from florence to knoxville, from your heart to mine. i’ve felt like a dry well this week. i was so enriched and moved by the spirit the last couple of weeks and now it’s gone in a flash. ruf conference was so splendid and full of friends and fellowship. i had amazing conversations and saw some amazing scenery, and when i returned my senses weren’t quite satisfied. i’ve been in the middle of making a lot of decisions about my summer- as you know. trying with all my might to listen to a call. today, i unclenched my fists and things began coming together. again, mamie learns the lesson the lord is so patient to continue reteaching her. again and again. a lesson that proves that nothing is up to me. and how good that is.
i’ve been hearing a lot of lessons on loneliness as of recent. i have a friend who shared some pretty heavy things with me last night. things that felt shameful and dark that she finally brought into the light. she sat and we ate popcorn and she cried tears that had been brimming for what seemed like years. and i didn’t have words. thank goodness the lord transforms our loneliness by his grace. after we talked, we stood up and we went to our date party, with two fun senior boys, and we danced. and that was such a picture of life here on earth. we cry and then we dance. and the whole time we are sad and happy all strangely at the same time. if i’ve learned anything this year, i think it is just that.
on an additional note, another friend shared something with me at conference that his good friend was going through. a big brave secret that he brought into the light to his brothers. a life-style choice that is arguably the most socially-unacceptable in our sort of community. and, in my opinion, a brutally lonely struggle. i was overwhelmed with love for this boy who has such a dreary secret. i was so proud of him for being brave and so proud of his friends for accepting him just as he was, as beat up and battered as the rest of us. this world is fallen, and we try our best to pick up the pieces the lord has left in the dust with intentions to redeem and heal in his own timing, which is eternity. so…as you close your morning routine with a cup of earl grey, i am beginning my evenings with a cup of coffee. in hopes of waking up to the loneliness that is here, and the grace that hides behind glass doors. desperate to be opened. desperate for the light.
I have found my morning routine and it ends with a cup of earl gray tea. This weekend was unbelievable holding one adventure after another, risks that I dare say I could never do again, and silly memories that will run through my mind long after I return. I invested in a new friend, one that you know well, and saw her goofy side, her exhausted side, her mindless side, her willingness to try, her laughy side, and her scared senseless side. She too has wedged into a spot in my heart that needs familiarity in this uncomfortable place, and now I consider her a part of my week. The Lord blessed me in that way and has provided safe havens as I go…I am somewhat baffled at my own faith and how feeble it seems right now.
I am consistently learning so much that I can’t quite articulate it all yet. A friend asked me that very question, and after thinking of a quite a few answers that I could reply with, honestly, I sat stunted unable to verbalize anything that I felt. It’s a funny thing. I feel like myself and I think I’m acting like myself, but I’m not doing what my normal self would do. I’m caught in a limbo of trying to “culturally fit in” and then feeling a resistance to that very thing. It makes me sad because I feel as though all my depth is gone…I can’t think deeply anymore and figure out my emotions, I can’t seem to conjure up what I’m truly feeling and stifling it is the only way to deal with it, at least that’s doing something right? The days feel like we are waiting for the next big adventure, so worn out by the last one, and then trying to figure out our current state. That in itself is exhausting.
In the midst of all of that, comfort is slow to be found, but I am finding it. It comes with communicating with friends and family back home, with eating cereal and my favorite nuts, with finding The Diner (an American diner located 5 blocks over) that feeds me burgers and oreo milkshakes, with talking with Liz and Kimber, with slowly figuring out this maze of a city, and with drinking my earl gray tea every morning. It may not be much of a routine, but it’s a start!
Tonight at RUF, our new campus minister (who will be moving to Knoxville with his family this summer!) came in to speak to us and give us a picture of what next year will look like. I was so encouraged and stirred by what he had to share with us tonight. brent left some very big shoes to fill—but I think we are all ready for the transition to close and some consistency to form our community again.
We looked at Matthew 5:21-26 which comes from the Sermon on the Mount. Matt specifically spoke on anger and the “old law”, or old testament. He compared the old law to a handheld mirror. It shows you what you like and dislike about yourself, but can only point you to what you need, not cover the blemishes or highlight the blessings. He explained that the Sermon on the Mount dissects the old testament in a nauseating manner that exposes our sin and sickness in ways we are not ready for. We looked into 1) what the law reveals about us 2) what the law requires from us and 3) what the law remedies in us. As sinful humans, we have the ability and power to contain an anger that is represented by “decided bitterness”. When we allow this anger towards others to root and grow, we are essentially fantasizing about said person or people’s suffering. This constitutes as murder. Not only does the law show us our self-righteousness, but it reveals to us our sickness and the measures we reach to build ourselves up.
*note: at this point I was convicted.
Next Matt spoke about what the law requires from us. I dealt with this in a very raw and literal sense last semester, which will makes sense to you if I can relay his words adequately. He warned us that if we come into church, or community wanting to connect and build relationship, while having unresolved tension with a fellow foe, we are living a life of hypocrisy. just like that? why yes. While we are not only responsible to root out the anger in our own hearts, we are equally responsible to seek to root out the anger in our foe’s heart, despite the reasoning behind the situation. It would be easy to retreat from our communities or from certain relationships while tension or anger is present, but unless we bring life into those relationships, we are bringing death, again constituting as murder. We are to go and resolve, and go quickly with the spirit close by!
But it does not end there. God is a god of anger. The difference in the Father’s anger and our anger is that the Lord’s is just anger while ours is unjust. If the Lord doesn’t hold his anger that is justified against us, than how can we hold our hypocritical and murderous anger over the heads of those also made in the image of Him?
So, the question is- What are you going to do with your anger today?
Traveling will change you like little else can.
Deeply encouraged by his words, I am grateful for the small adventurer in me. I am more aware than ever of the parts of me that long to explore, to feel the newness of discovering beautiful places, to get the rush of excitement and empowerment feeling sunbeams heat my back. I have had glimpses of this perfection, these moments of closeness with the Lord and his ultimate love for me, these moments of pure joy uninhibited by the worldly things around me. I am in the midst of experiencing the greatest joys and hardships that come with uprooting and settling somewhere far away. Having done it once before, I imagine I am getting much better at this transition, but to say that I have mastered the art is far from the truth.
I’ve realized that traveling, in a sense, shows my true self in the most vulnerable, transparent light. This transparency shows my sensitivity, my paranoia, my shyness, my anxiety, my dependency, my delirium, my desire to be needed, my passiveness, my bitterness. It also shows my compassion, my true joy, my innocence, my wide-eyed wonder, my confidence, my independency, my love, my thankfulness, my gratitude, my desire to be myself. Traveling does, has, and will change me. I’m ready for those train rides that show the terrain of countryside Italy and the disappointment of sitting by the coolest Italian women but unable to communicate with one another, so sitting in each other’s presence has to be enough.
So, I’m going to put on my tennis shoes and once again venture out to find a new grassy area on this beautiful day to feel the warmth of the sun beams and relax in the quiet of the countryside Italy.