the key to learning

I think it’s safe to say that for most of us repetition is the key to learning. For myself especially I know that learning anything looks a lot like processing any single thing multiple times with multiple perspectives and generally the same outcome. I find that even if I believe something, there inevitably has to be a point where I question and analyze that thing a few times before the belief becomes real to me.

For the past few months I’ve been learning a lot about what it looks like to be faithful in the mundane. What obedience means when you’re just…normal. Where the beauty lies when you’re not doing anything big or seemingly significant. I’ve been learning about true freedom and what that means for my expectations. Of both myself and others. (A lesson I don’t feel like there will ever be an end to my learning)

It’s been interesting to say the least. And even the very first time I was confronted with idea of beauty being present in mundane boring things, I believed in its existence, its truth, its importance. And so I began saying it. I began telling people about how that’s what I was seeking and that’s what I was investing in. I found myself changing the way I viewed and explained my job, my hobbies, my stuff in general. Some people got it and some people didn’t. And honestly some days I get it and some days I don’t.

But there’s another principle I firmly believe in, and that is “if you say something often enough, you will start to believe it”. We see it in culture all the time–body image, societal motivations, even religious organizations thrive by the practicality of that statement. Now this can be a dangerous thing, totally, absolutely, without a doubt, but it also can be a really helpful thing when your heart and your head just can’t seem to play nice.

Recently I found myself talking to a new person—explaining these things and my focus and my passion and my belief in what the unknown future holds. I realized as I was saying—repeating really—things I’ve been saying for a while now, that I meant them. And not just believed them, but I felt them. And I said them with absolutely no hesitation and only felt satisfaction and confidence and joy resting in my chest. Somewhere along the way something transformed and became not just something external that I believed or said, but rather a part of me.

I don’t really know how it happened, and I don’t really know how to explain it even. But I do know that it’s made a world of difference. And I guess the whole point of this is just to say, Don’t Give Up. (Never Quit, Never Surrender) If you know you believe something and can’t quite feel it, keep digging deep and allow yourself to rest and become comfortable in the tension because eventually that tension becomes a beautiful place of support and strength that you likely don’t even realize you’re cultivating for yourself.

you do you.

PS i got a new job which i guess is the real culmination of this experience in my life, but i’m going to save that for another post.

as always, thanks for reading.

-j

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the great gamble.

Recently I was asked to contribute my voice and skill-set to a publication and in doing so I got to join in on some really cool stories happening at and through the church I’ve been serving at for the past few years. One of the experiences was especially touching to me, so I decided to share it here. This is only place it can be read in entirety too, so win-win!

Obviously you can read the article below and figure out what was happening that night. But since you likely don’t go there, it probably won’t mean as much to you. That’s cool. Because what I really want to talk about is the things I learned through the experience of collecting these glimpses into people’s stories, and I feel pretty confident you’ll relate to those much more easily. Somewhere in this creative process I gambled a bit of my soul, poured it all in to digging deep alongside others, but as is (potentially necessary?) apt to happen, the cards were eventually stacked against me and I saw unappealing, hurtful consequences of making yourself completely defenseless and trusting. Time will heal all wounds and all that gooey cliche goodness, but until then, here’s what I’m walking away with.

First I learned that sometimes it’s important to work on a good thing just because it’s a good thing. I “learned” that by reading it in a book my friend KB just got me; it has lots of awesome, inspiring quotes in it and one was “Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed”. Really hard lesson, really good truth. Read it again.

Next I learned that you can only speak where you can speak. If your platform is taken away, build another one. What’s that? It’s lower? No one can hear you because your new platform is actually the one at Grand Central Terminal? No matter, the homeless guy sitting nearby can no doubt hear just fine. That’s two ears, and sheesh, how many do you really need? (That whole thing is a metaphor for me writing/sharing this stuff on my blog…don’t you wish your English professors in college would have spelled things out like that when you were reading Homer?)

Another lesson, that is still totally in progress, is to keep trusting. I believe that’s important. I believe that to be kingdom people, we have to live in the kingdom…not in our heads. But I really want to live in my head right now. And I really want to clinch my fist and smirk because my cynicism knew it all along. I don’t believe I should. And I don’t believe I will, but it’s taking a lot to remember, to relearn, the importance of unrestrained, unmerited trust. I’ll get there. We all will.

(And to help paint a picture of the story below, here are some actual pictures)

Luke

father/daughter

 

Lucas Zegelien began a personal relationship with Jesus just this last summer. Although his faith walk has just begun, his parents are excited about leading the way and setting examples for him. His mom, Traci, says “We’re excited about My First Communion tonight because it’s one more step in making his faith real for him.” The Zegeliens see the importance in teaching their son about this tradition, and as Paul puts it, “Experiencing it is more impacting than just telling him about it; and what better way is there than with our church family?”

The night began with Children’s Minister Nic Allen addressing the families and explaining to them the thought behind this parent-requested event. “This family communion experience is really important. It elevates two of our primary values.

The first of course, is communion itself. It’s a vital expression of our faith story. The second is family. Parents are the primary spiritual developers of their kids, and having moms and dads lead their kids through this experience is incredible!” From there the kids and their parents made a craft representing a spiritual truth that they as believers can claim with confidence, and then they moved into a time of learning the history behind as well as leading up to “The Lord’s Supper”. After the group watched a clip from the movie The Prince of Egypt, Nic discussed the tradition of remembering and celebrating God’s power in what he has done for his people throughout the ages.

Although Nic taught in a way that tied together traditions and elements the kids were familiar with, the truth in his teaching is relevant for us all. When we approach the table, do we remember the beauty and fear associated with the God we serve? Do we remember the protection he’s given his people century after century; do we celebrate his matchless grace? The kids at this First Communion Experience were led to celebrate all these things, and furthermore, they were encouraged to celebrate together. They passed the cup among their family; they broke bread together; they got to not only hear, but see the bond of Christ in action among their families—both physical and spiritual.

As Nic encouraged those in attendance that night, taking communion together isn’t something we have to wait to do until we are lead in a church service. We can and should be remembering Christ together all the time. But for those who are new believers, especially kids, this quarterly gathering to learn and grow together is a great place to start.

the roaring twenties.

Sometimes I get really confused by those of us fortunate enough to be in our 20s. All the time I feel like I find myself encountering situations where someone I feel like I know pretty well does something that doesn’t at all seem consistent with who they are or what they’re about. And I get it, we’re trying to find out where we belong and what we’re good at, and if others are like me, we’re afraid of settling into wherever we happen to be right now just in case it’s wrong. …Ok, so maybe now I’m projecting onto the rest of my people, but I feel like I can’t possibly be the only one who feels that.

What if what we’re passionate about isn’t worthwhile? And what if our goals just aren’t attainable? What if the quirks of our personalities that we think are endearing are actually offensive?
So the doubt begins to drive decisions. It makes self proclaimed homebodies decide that they want to leave the house at 9:00 to go hang out with friends at a loud get together. People who have lived and learned about themselves start putting themselves back in situations that even the 8th grade version of themselves knows will not end well. We’re so afraid of being wrong.
And worse, being wrong without getting the chance to make it right. Because now suddenly, the stakes are higher, and everyone’s current favorite thing to do is dissect millennials and their choices and faults and impossibilities. The margin for error seems slim.
So how do we cope?  By experimenting? By selling out?
I’d like to believe that those two things aren’t synonymous. I want to push myself; I want to grow; I don’t want routine for routine’s sake. But I want to be confident in who I am. I don’t want to constantly doubt all the things I’ve come to know. I don’t think true wisdom is mutable; the applications of it, sure, but not wisdom itself, and I don’t want to act as if it is.
So take that, twenties! (I don’t know how to end this post) But this seems fitting.

J-O-B

Whelp. (Because that is the only appropriate semi-real word I can think to interject here.) I have a new job. Lots of new things actually. And to really do the picture justice, we should probably start with the new thing that came to my attention this summer. APPARENTLY (read that with all the teenage drama queen you can muster) I have a new spiritual gift. I feel like I need to preface this revelation with the strong assertion that I am NOT making this up; I actually took the test again per the request of RHCC; this is real life, otherwise those of you who know me in real life will doubt that I’m being a truth-teller. Two of my top three are unmoved and unshaken, but the third has gone rogue. ROGUE. I’m telling you, you age like 2 years, pay your own rent and ALL OF A SUDDEN you’re just SOOO gifted in administration, or as it’s known on the streets, “the boring gift”.

I say all of this tongue in cheek, however, because I kind of love that it’s now a “gift” I get to claim. And also, if I take inventory of recent seasons and events, I totally see its legitimacy. So, piggy-backing off that comes the newest, new thing (or the original, afore-mentioned new thing), my job. I’m now the front office manager at the Advanced Institute for Oral Health, and with only one afternoon of training under my belt, AM LOoooVING IT (sing that like Jim Carey, as any character he ever played). Details, and self-propelled tasks, and smiling all day long. Besides the mere fact that I just love my teeth so much more than the average person would ever dream of doing, this job fits.

It’s not really exactly like anything I’ve done before (neither was the thing before it or the thing before that), but I just really already see Providence at work. It never ceases to amaze me just how well I am provided for, mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, it’s so amazing. It’s a small office, with people who truly care about each other and about being happy. People who understand that if your job doesn’t stress you out, you’re ahead of the curve.

It took a while, but I think I’m getting to a place now where not only am I ok with not thinking linearly, but I’m also coming to an understanding where I can see that you’re not just exclusively allowed to/supposed to/should be encouraged to work somewhere doing what you’re most passionate about. I’m starting to think that’s just the most unfair lie us millennials have been fed. Culture has created so much misplaced pressure on not having any pressure at all that an entire generation is floundering in new ways the generation before them seemed to navigate fine.

I think it’s presumptuous to think you have to identify your passions, search out the perfect, socially conscious, politically correct, job that encapsulates them, and commit your everything to being successful there. I started feeling presumptuous just searching for that job. All I’m saying is, people in that position, great! Power  to you, congrats, but people who aren’t shouldn’t feel any…less. I was reading once, and of course found an article that perfectly worded these things I’m attempting to share now, but I took a picture of this one paragraph (click for article):

Picture 1

That’s it, friends. It’s ok to be somewhere that isn’t fighting for social justice moment-by-moment or floundering to pay bills because all their pennies are going to buy food for homeless people. It’s ok if you’re somewhere where you just stamp papers all day. Because at the end of the day, if what you’re Most Passionate  about is God’s glory, then you’ll be living that satisfied, fulfilled life no matter what you’re doing. And magically (if you will let me use that word) (and you have to, because, obviously.) you’ll start to see that you have more energy and gumption with which to engage in your passions.

That’s where I am, and I can’t wait to serve faithfully where He’s placed me as well as faithfully where I’ve chosen.

alright, already. we’ll all float on.

20120723-154132.jpg

remember parachutes? remember how they were the coolest things ever? i’ve always been intrigued by them.

firstly because they seem so flimsy, so thin, so unreliable, but then people are so dependent on them and in action you realize they’re expansive, and sturdy, and maybe even the difference between life and death.

secondly, they’re whimsical; you fling one in the air and it’s a roof, a fort, a castle; it’s whatever you want it to be.

i think right now my life is at that place where you’ve got one hand on the parachute and half a mind to test it out. you’re not completely sure you believe it will do what you think it will do, but you’re pretty ready to be right or wrong…or just surprised.

i’m so excited for the new things coming this fall. new roommate, new apartment, new ministry opportunities, new (second) job, new Bible studies [clearly lots of material to rededicate my blog life with]. but there’s also a slight emotion somewhere there that i can’t quite place. i think it’s the unknown. [the “unknown” emotion to describe how i feel about the Unknown…ADJECTIVES, WHY YOU NO BE MY FRIEND?!]

i’m ready to throw the parachute up, but i’m curious to see if it’s going to float down majestically or crumple mid-air and slide to the ground faster than i can catch it. not that i mean that pessimistically, because i expect Phase Next in my life to be phenomenal, but i wonder how fast it will fly by or how smooth it will float.

guess we’ll see. together. thanks for reading, dearest.

kids still love a parachute today, by the way. if you want to see mile-wide grins and giggles galore, toss one of those gems in the air.

skilled. like @TheSkillery

File this one under, things I want to be part of. And by “want to” I mean, I’m probably going to become a professional salsa dancer AND a professional photographer. Recently I’ve stumbled upon this up and coming wonder called The Skillery and because this is my blog because I love y’all, just haaaad to share.

click this picture for their twitter page

And holy cow, it’s like the jackpot of all jackpots for learners everywhere. (I’m a learner) (I’m ecstatic) Basically they’re out to provide opportunities for the creative and talented in a community to teach the ready and willing. The subject matter varies profoundly, but the outcome is the same. You enter as old, regular you, but you leave with a new skill, understanding, or passion-you, but better! What?! The coolest. In fact, in case you decide not to visit their site (stupidly because you’re busy) read them explain what they’re trying to do here (because goodness, they’re good with words):

Visit their site, follow them on twitter, then tell me when they offer a cooking class, just in case I miss it. (yeah right, like that’s going to happen. I’m waiting for that cooking class like nerds are waiting for the premier of The Avengers movie)

Oh, and on a completely unrelated note, I need a date to the midnight premier of The Avengers. Takers?