The Burden is Light

After a couple months of wondering around in fuzzy-mindedness towards the God I had previously decided to give my life to – glossily sliding around spiritual conversations with skillfully placed B-school cliches, always readily available, and without much effort, at my fingertips – this is their nature, these cliches, verses and phrases – they take little effort, they are designed to get one out of a tough spot. No need for empathy towards a needy soul or somewhat reckless wisdom inspired by the Spirit, kneading you in and out of tough places. This is the most fragile procedure you could decide to endeavor upon; choosing to feel a depression that isn’t your own, weeping with tears that belong to someone else, mourning for grief that you never had to choose to feel. Being with them, souls side-by-side, feeling the same despair, together. Bearing burdens. The incredible healing comfort of the messy meshing of people. Together.

This type of interaction is hard. It takes work. It involves self-sacrifice of simple comforts to engage fully with a struggle that someone else is inching through. It’s not comfortable, and it shouldn’t be – if it is, you can doubt whether you’re giving the other much comfort at all. And while I used to feel pretty passionate about this, the place I have been in for the last several months has been one of utter selfishness and disregard for the souls of the immortals walking with me.

I remember days where I would, for lack of a better word… Swim – through people’s backstories, frontstories, dreams, wonders, imaginations, journeys, hopes and fears like a marathon. This was God. I am naturally selfish beyond what I could ever describe. Anyone who really knows me knows this. Any ex-boyfriend would tell you this and so would probably most of my friends from high school. But for the joy of relating to another human – what I believe we were designed to do, even when the relating is over soul-crushing heartache, alive and well in this world – I was sometimes able to put my selfishness aside and enter into another’s heart. Stand side by side, holding hands, and walk deeper into sad places. And people did the same with me.

Others have given cliches and scriptures with no knowledge of my heart. And I have done the same to others. I have absent-mindedly looked over another’s soul, seen the bruises, the wear and tear – I’ve looked into their worn out eyes, and just panicked. I’ve panicked and thought, “How can I make it out alive?” And so I have thought of the best Bible School cliche I could think of, sometimes in the form of a Scripture, sometimes an encouraging line, something about God, something about hope, something about trust, something about the future and about life being short and about Heaven. I gloss over. I have no idea where their bruises have come from, whether or not they need surgery, and where – and yet, I hand them a band-aid. They smile, say thanks, eyes still dead, conversation over. I made it out alive.

“Hey, I did my part,” I justify. “I reminded them about God. I talked to them. I did all I could.” But of course, a very real doubt lingers.

I came back to God today. It wasn’t anything spectacular. I wrote in my journal for the first time in months, scribbling away a mess of thoughts that were taking up spots in my brain where good things are supposed to exist. I asked Him to prove that His burden is light. That was my main prayer. Because up until now, it hasn’t felt light.

After getting this off of my chest, though, I’ve realized – what is more heavy, really – entering into fellowship with another person’s soul, bonding together through tormented experiences, relating to one another in the cesspits of life, crying, maybe screaming, maybe feeling uncomfortable, but eventually reaping the rewards of a shared understanding, hearts that are connected, the experience heaven kissing earth in relational goodness that must be as pretty damn close to the Trinity as we can become, or..

Spouting out shallow cliches without ever knowing the other person. Feeling something missing in relationships but never knowing what, exactly. Feeling no freedom to be ourselves, to be broken, to be depressed, in anguish, confused – because we will only be shut down with the particularly heinous brand of Christian-esque positive thinking, being told “God is still good,” when a relative dies and “you need to trust Him,” when you are sinking helplessly into a particularly dark cavern of gut-crushing depression. Hearing Bible verses to meet your supposed needs, although they miss the mark every time – and being made to feel unspiritual because quoting Scriptures, playing worship songs on repeat and repeating mantras like “Keep your eyes on Heaven!” and “Jesus loves you, just keep your eyes on Him,” just aren’t doing it for you.

Jesus never asked us to randomly quote Scripture and cliches at each other to make each other feel better. Not that there is no place for Scripture – obviously, I would never, ever argue that. Conversation can be dictated by Scripture, and by the Spirit. But sometimes, the Spirit may lead you to have an entire conversation with someone without ever quoting Scripture. Sometimes, the Spirit may lead you to simply cry and ask questions with someone in need. Sometimes, the Spirit may just ask you to simply shut up and listen.

This principle is shown most clearly in Galatians 6:2 – we can’t ignore this! “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” I love the Greek Commentary on biblehub: “The mutual bearing of moral burdens is the mutual, loving participation in another’s feeling of guilt, a weeping with those that weep in a moral point of view, by means of which moral sympathy the pressure of the feeling of guilt is reciprocally lightened.” This is fulfilling of the law of Christ! To be sympathetic, empathetic, compassionate, loving, understanding! To pursue, and to care, deeply – and to ask questions sincerely! This is healing for us as Christians, and absolutely essential for life!

There is a rule of thumb throughout the book of Proverbs, which basically demands we speak good words in season. This must be taken to include Scipture, encouragement, etc. But how will we know which season someone is in if we do not hear their hearts? If we do not ask questions and learn about them? If we act haphazardly, more often than not, we will quote something at them that will make them feel even more alone.

I understand that this is not something that people usually do purposefully. It is a high calling to engage in the hearts of others. It takes time – much more time than quoting Scripture – and effort – much more effort than a Bible Study.

But I want to rededicate myself to this practice, because without it, I really think life is empty. Human relationships will not work without empathy. And we cannot accomplish this task without Christ – it is an other-centered type of love we are talking about here, one where we put all positive thinking and self-preservation to rest, and choose to feel bad in order to help someone else survive.

This is a high calling. But it is one that is absolutely essential.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15

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It’s Really Hard To Write

It’s really hard to write when you have nothing to write about. Artists, poets, creators – I feel like we’re all reliant on these vital incredible awakenings: hits of inspiration.

They usually come in the form of bursts of brain activity right as mind is slipping into dream. A little bug buzzing around your ear makes your heart beat faster – I know this is a good idea – so a long time’s spent planning and plotting the details of creative goodness as the insect climbs into your ear and knocks the walls around a little bit. He tends to keep people up late. Sometime’s it’s worth it. Inspiration also comes in the car. When the mind is finally too zoned out to be completely safe on the road, it opens. The bug climbs in. Flies around before you can even notice and before you know it you’re unconsciously writing your next great article.

I’ve relied on these little insect givers of creative clarity throughout my life, jumping on whatever idea they had decided to concoct in my brain that day. That is what the majority of my blog posts have been. Sudden strikes of little ideas waiting to be formed at my fingertips when I decide to say yes to the buzzing bee of artistic stimulation. And that’s been amazing. Lighthearted, almost, and fun and otherworldly to see what things I’d be given next and when.

These ideas came freely for a while. They’d pop into my head, beckoning to me about the subject of being written down. I’m not sure if they would have cared if I wrote them in a notebook, or a journal or whatever. But I knew that once these ideas were dropped they would want out of my head quickly, or else they’d get annoying. So I drew from them and it felt very sanctifying as I clicked at the alphabet on my keyboard. Even more so when I shared these tiny flickering firefly ideas with the people on my facebook.

I loved sharing my heart with people. The problem is, that the cute little ideas haven’t really visited me lately. As much as I’ve tried, as much as I’ve asked, nothing has penetrated through my head to my brain except small little “what-if?” ideas that are so boring and dull that I’m sad that I’m even thinking of them, when I used to think of things so much better.

So, with this dilemma in my heart, I wonder – are artists truly reliant on hits of inspiration? Many people say they have written great songs in one go because the idea just slaps them across the face – but others spend years and years composing. Could art school really be possible if what was expected to make great art were those bursts of inspiration that make things so much easier?

Is the real test of an artist to draw, paint and create without the help of a buzzing bug planting magic ideas that come with a blueprint for you to follow? Can I write, even when I have nothing to write about?

All I know is that I’ll always enjoy those little hits of inspiration. But I think I learned at Bible School that while feeling God is amazing, you can still walk along with him when it doesn’t feel too pleasant or inspiring. Well, maybe the same with art. Maybe the same. But how when my whole existence is wrapped up in feeling and emotion? Maybe it goes hand in hand with a drab but consistent walk with God.

Consistency, dammit. Says the girl who has made 7 different Tumblrs. We got a long road ahead of us, little insects.

Don’t be so needy

Just a quick thought late Thursday night: why do we get so frustrated when people put personal shit about their lives on Facebook? God forbid anyone is honest about themselves on the interwebs. Dog died – lost my house – boyfriend crushed me – aka a poor lonely soul trying to get attention. Needs to make some friends and stop being so needy. But a whole other host of people are dumping their college degrees, promotions and newborn babies for all to marvel at and gaze upon. Is this not also a cry for attention and validation? However the latter seems a little more humble. A little more authentic. But we hate that. Show your best self on Facebook to make people jealous and get a lot of likes That’s more mature, eh? More mature than being real and having no where else to go than the internet? We really devalue the broken in this culture. We try to make everyone look good, shiny and new. BS man.

I could walk in

I could just go over and walk in. The banging on my door at 8 this morning, I don’t know what that was about. I didn’t check. But those people I see across the street as I strum on my guitar – one man with no arm, two plain looking gents and a girl in tight Nike pants  walking across the lawn. Those people are sure interesting. A little unsettling – what are they doing?

Strumming, strumming, observing. I poke my head to the window and hope they don’t see me. What if they see me and get angry and come over and shoot me? Maybe that’s what that banging on my door was at 8 this morning. Maybe they’re collecting cans, going from house to house, because they’re homeless, and found a way to get into my complex and were knocking on all our doors. That’s silly, isn’t it? They’re coming up to a house… Spread out like girl scouts ready to sell. I expect them to knock, but the man with one arm opens the door. The two men walk in after. One has his arm on the Nike girl’s back. What are they doing? Should I call the police?

Hey, the door’s open. I could just walk in. I never think about it because it seems impossible. Like, that’s a restricted zone. It has a force-field.I’ll get zapped. But for all intents and purposes, there is no reason I couldn’t approach that old brown beautiful house with all it’s mysteries hidden inside. All these wild thoughts that rattle in my brain could be answered. How do you get that brave? I watched Batman last night. I bet Batman would walk in. He’d just walk right in and look around and take no shit. And I’m just left here wondering.

Police officers are brave. To just go in to a place like that and look around. Although, they do have guns. Could I ever handle a gun? I probably wouldn’t be too welcoming if I had a gun. Could I bring them cookies? Even if they are dangerous people, are they really going to shoot me if I bring them cookies?

The door’s still open. What would happen if I walked in? Maybe they’d just look at me, confused. Maybe I’d be killed. Maybe they’d be happy for company. I know a lot of people live there, I’ve seen so many different people go in and out. I’m not sure if it’s several apartments or one big house. It’s brown and pretty. The windows are white. There’s a huge, obstructing tree right in front, with no branches until over half way up. White people walk by casually, wearing clothes that are familiar and comforting. I would be scared to walk by casually. My upbringing has made me scared, my town white-washed and perfectly safe. It has made me curious, suspicious of houses across the street. I have no idea if I should be.

Maybe they are a loving household, but my gut disagrees. I feel as though I am wasting time with these thoughts. But this is the nature of my brain daily. Scattered and confused. Wondering some of the most impossible things to ever make conclusions about.

Unless, of course, I walked across the street and knocked on the door. (It’s closed now.) I could ask how they are, what they’re up to. If they want to go get breakfast at McDonalds or something.

But of course, that would be foolish, because people are dangerous.

And I’m a woman. And it’s true, people really are dangerous.

Why can’t life be a little more welcoming, a little less threatening? And if the world actually is not as threatening as I think it is, I wish I could know. But I guess I’ll never know unless I go and walk into the neighbor’s house, but of course that would be foolish and dangerous and scary. So I’ll all just sit here wondering about the private lives of everyone else, behind closed doors. We all will. At least, I’m hoping I’m not the only one who does this. I’m hoping that this isn’t isolated experience.

I assume we all yearn for relationship with other human beings, crave to know their stories. Sometimes, especially, those who are so different from us. Craving to know what goes on behind closed doors, to know the story of the dog-walker wandering down the street, the gas station employee with the nose ring, the 4.0 MIT graduate. But whatever, we won’t, because the world is scary and we’re insecure. And the world really is scary. And we really are insecure. And it’s no one’s fault. This place is just broken and rotting, behind closed doors of middle-class neighborhoods and from where I sit in run-down Jackson, Michigan. And hidden behind cellphones and averting glances on subways and blanked hardened stares forward so that no one will talk to you. To me.

I’m just saying, okay, I’m just saying. I wish I could go over and walk in, sit down and be offered a drink and hang out. I wish I could know their stories. But I never will. Cause this world is too scary and things are so dangerous, especially since I’m a woman. But here’s the thing. Aren’t you so excited for a world where there is no fear? Where we can knock and enter stranger’s houses, because no one is truly a stranger?

This world I crave.

Dreaming

I’m 22 and I’m clawing around for life. Seesawing between here or there, this thing or that thing, this dream or that dream. I’m 22! I want to scale down and run around and let sun beams soak into my skin on spontaneous road trips. I know it sounds cliche, to go round and round all day spending precious few resources on travel. It’s what everyone who is 22 wants to do – overextend your money with your best friends on adventure and recklessness and sudden whim. Take in the blue sky and blue lakes and cleanse your soul with romance. Of course that’s what we want to do! We’re 22. But more than that, I want to go to shows – I want to dance. I want to sing and dance in tune with the motion of my multi-colored necklaces and the beaded strings hanging off of my crop top cotton. I want to learn to flow, to swing, to groove with my hands. I want baptized in art; use clouds of Panama Red to immerse me. Use the clashing cymbals and banging beats of bands to pound it into my soul. Use campfire to make it pure. Use fungi and make tea. Rock and roll to make me whole. I want fire to start in my core and bleed into my heart, with fierce orange waves of smoke and scattering ember. I don’t care if I’m deep and lost in the middle of one more what-for binge, as long as I’m not a bored and sore for all the things I didn’t do done did. The adventures I never hid have had. For all the dreams I never said saw seen. And all the other lucky people who lived all of my dreams.

20 joints for a month. 20 bucks for a show. 20 hours in a day if you don’t sleep, let’s go.

I want to take art classes. I want to refine my skills. I want to buy a fancy camera and start snapping away. I want to paint, draw, create. I want to dance. I want to go. I want to buy beautiful clothes and nice products to make me happy. I want friends. I want my own group of friends, where I belong and where I’m loved. I want bars, I want alcohol, I want marijuana. I want fun, memorable nights out with friends. I want to feel good, look good, all the time. I want to spend money on expensive organic food from farmers markets and feed my body what it wants. I want to binge watch whole seasons of anime. I want to read what I want to read, when I want to read it. I want to think and analyze life, the way I want to. I want to ponder. I want mystery and adventure. I want kids. I want love. I want to paint my toenails. I want to go to nice restaurants. I want to eat out. I want to eat out, in London. In Paris. In Tokyo. I want to get out of here. I want to move to Cali. I want to serve myself and take care of myself. I want to sleep in. I want to learn. I want to listen to music. I want to be myself. Find myself. Explore the world and find pieces of myself as I go.

…God?

If I choose to follow you, what does that mean? How much do I have to give up? How much can I keep? Can I even know? Is it even worth it? How do I know? Can you show me? Can you help me? Can I please do both, keep the fun but follow you, too? Can I spend my money how I want? Or do I always need to be thinking about other people? Do you know how hard that is? Do you understand how much you require? Do you know how hard that is? Do you? Do you even expect that to be possible for us? Do you expect me to choose, and how? How do you expect me to make such a significant decision? How do all these people decide so quickly that you’re the best thing to follow? How do I set everything aside?

This is ridiculous.

Grace, face, this place, faith, grace, repeat.

I’ve never listened to a Christian worship song and felt inspired. Never. I’ve felt sad, I’ve cried, I’ve let the Bible words churn my soul around a little. But I’ve never been inspired because of quality. Ever.

Now, I have been inspired by the song Like a Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan. And lets just be clear that this was because of the quality of his music. I was driving passenger seat in the car and listening to the joy that is that song with Nate, and I broke down and just wept. Purely because of beauty. Purely because there is beautiful music to help people like me survive existing on this planet.

There are people I run to to reignite my desire to be creative. I’ve been inspired by a man called Levi the Poet and by a woman named Emily Joy. They’re making art, grinding. I’ve been compelled to write because of these people. When I’m feeling like there isn’t a creative bone in my body I run to them. To Propaganda. To Kimya Dawson. To Hopsin. And I regain strength. The way I’d listen to DMX before a Track Meet and then go kill it. But never has Christian Worship song helped my artistic drive come above water. Ever.

Worship music is the opposite of this kind of inspiring music. Worship music lulls you into a false reality, tricking you into believing that real art – real art – REAL. ART. Looks like worship music. I’ve never been inspired by a Christian Worship song. I’ve been anti-inspired. I’ve been, for lack of a better phrase – and this is blunt – artistically dumbed down. And I think a lot of us have.

It’s sad because if we really do know the God of the Universe, who created everything – like, everything, shouldn’t our music be just a little bit more impressive? Why do we suck so much, at like, everything? Why are we so embarrassing? Our movies, our music, everything. Christian culture feels like thick dark slime. It’s gross.

And the thing is, we’re not authentic. David was so radically throwing it all out there in the Psalms, lets take a hint from him, shall we? He’s constantly like, “oh my gosh, my life sucks, everything sucks, just kill me.” We’re all David. We’ve all got our shit. Unlike David, we hide it under false identities and catchy phrases and “it’s okay” and “God is good.” But I thought it might be fun to write out some of the lyrics to the most popular worship songs on praisecharts. (ugh)

“Who breaks the power of sin and darkness
Whose love is mighty and so much stronger
The King of Glory, the King above all kings

Who shakes the whole earth with holy thunder
And leaves us breathless in awe and wonder
The King of Glory, the King above all kings.”

“Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay.”

You are good, You are good
When there’s nothing good in me
You are love, You are love
On display for all to see
You are light, You are light
When the darkness closes in
You are hope, You are hope
You have covered all my sin.

The rhymes are as follows – “thunder, wonder – more, are – free, me – you, you – way, stay – me, see – in, sin.” Ugh. This isn’t deep or poetic. This is… elementary at best.

I have not loved Jesus for most of my life. The Christian music station did not help. Because it was just, well, bad as a fact of life. When I became a Christian I remember telling my friend that I was super excited about God and stuff, but that I could not do the whole Christian music thing. And that I was sorry. But I just couldn’t do it.

I’m sad that there are so many Christian artists out there – writers, painters, musicians – who don’t get a platform for their art because the platform is filled with bullshit. They’ll probably have to create a whole new, separate platform and do combat. This is not a very appealing pull towards God. And we do not value art as Christians. Although art for God should be the most beautiful of all.

He is good, He is good, when there’s nothing good in me. Then let’s be honest about it. If there’s nothing good in you, just be honest about it. Don’t think lack of authenticity is noble. When you enter a Christian circle and don’t know what to expect, and look around and that’s a lot of what everyone’s doing – spitting lyrics and cliches, you can’t help but follow suit and put away your hurts. You’re just going to burden everyone’s happy mood if you bring them down with your negativity. Send the depressed people to the front of the stage to get healed. And push the doubter’s doubts to the bottom of their stomach, silently lurching and churning for the rest of their owner’s life.

I feel like Hopsin (who made this… “Man everything is “what if,” why is it always “what if?” Planet Earth, “what if?” The universe “what if?” My sacrifice “what if?” My afterlife, “what if?” Every fucking thing that deals with you is fucking suspect!), doubting God, more than I feel like Chris Tomlin. I doubt a LOT. And I wish I could make it all go away, but I honestly can’t. So I’m gonna try to confront those fears and listen to Hopsin to get inspired and talk about it as much as I can. Because hopefully someone feels me and feels a little comfort in knowing that I feel them, too. And hopefully that means more than a Bible verse being spoken out of season.

Word.

 

 

GIANT WRITERS BLOCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :(

I’m in a block!!!!
This is all coming from a place of massive anxiety!!
Which explains the exclamation points!!!!!!!
I wrote about my depression and now I have massive anxiety!
I can’t write anything down without feeling like everyone is going to judge it!
Before making my writing public on facebook, I was able to write when I felt like it, however much I felt like it!!!1
Now, I feel like I can’t write anything because it’s not real and authentic enough!
Or brutal enough!!!
I don’t like that everyone can see my blog!
I don’t know if I’m going to be able to write anymore!
I don’t understand how (OR IF)famous Christians stay humble!
I got a tiny amount of attention for my blog post about Depression and now I’m obsessing over to write next so that people will like it!
I can’t write at all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
How can you be famous and not be obsessed with yourself???
I’m obsessed with myself!!!
I WANT TO PLEASE EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I’m completely blocked from writing because approval is at stake!
I can’t write raw and real and authentic all the time!
Sorry!!
Not that anyone was probably asking, but sometimes I just have to write whatever!!!!!!
And it’s not all gonna be good!!!!!!!
I’m just gonna keep writing, like I said I would!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
BECAUSE I WROTE MUCH BETTER BEFORE I LET ANYONE SEE MY WRITING.
BECAUSE IT WAS FOR ME.
I’M GONNA TRY TO KEEP WRITING FOR ME AND HOPEFULLY OTHERS WILL LIKE IT.
THAT IS ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

PHEW THAT FELT GOOD. OK. Hopefully I said everything I needed to to get over this issue. I can’t let myself get stuck just because people know what my blog URL is now. I still want to write from my heart because there are good things in my heart. And writing is my passion. But after getting compliments about my post on depression I got really cocky and obsessed with producing more writing that would be complimented. Because I’m fuckkkking obsessed with myself. I needed to confess that to the world because it feels good to just get it out there. I’m not some great writer. I’m not famous. I just got a few compliments and my ego/people-pleasing mechanism shot up to Jupiter. So I’m sorry for that. Sorry for using your compliments as a fuel for my BS. Really. I’m just gonna try to keep writing and slowly, hopefully learn humility along the way. Because I clearly do not have any.

On New York, Strawberry Fields and H&M

So, I went to New York this past weekend!

Man, everything was so overwhelming. I love cities. I beg Nate all the time to move me the heck to Detroit. I’ve rocked Chicago, powered through D.C., and live in the glorious mini-city of Jackson. Okay, it’s Jackson, so what? It has buildings.

But like, New York, right? It made me want to crawl into a manhole and hide with the sewer rats. It felt like a thousand hammers were repetitively hitting me in the head with millions of multi-colored stimuli. So many people live in NYC. Millions. I felt like my eyes and brain were going to explode into graffiti all over the concrete. I can’t even explain if you haven’t been there.

That’s how I felt for a while, at least. You kind of ease into it. I’m a pro now, after being there two days. And after going somewhere, I compulsively have to think through everything to figure out what I learned. Or else it was meaningless.

So here’s what I learned.

1.) There is a sad, beautiful and small remnant of John Lennon, and it is living in Strawberry Fields in Central Park. I’ve known for a while and for many reasons that I needed to go to the Imagine memorial in New York. One obvious one is that Imagine is the most influential and life-shaping song I have ever had bleed into my heart. So much so that I had it tattooed on my hip. Do I need to list more reasons, or?…

As soon as I walked up, I couldn’t. I broke down and just fell apart on the bench. Musicians take shifts playing Beatles songs around this small circle in the ground that has the word Imagine engraved in the middle. I saw two couples get engaged. I heard Imagine three different times, in between other classics, accompanied by different groups of tourists singing along quietly. We were sitting by the man who was playing the current shift. He was young, friendly and stoney with a cool story. And he had met Yoko Ono multiple times.

A young man who looked like the kid from Almost Famous come up to the current guitarist. He had a haircut like an early Beatle and he said what I already knew – that he was a “big Beatles fan” and that this “means a lot to him.” But he didn’t need to say that. You could tell. He belonged to the 70’s. A group of people gathered around the guitarist and sang Imagine – it was glorious – and he looked so happy.

It might sound silly, but I felt a connection with that guy. He was also from Michigan. He loved the Beatles, too. He understood the meaning of this tourist attraction in a deeper way, too. We both are from the 70’s and are walking around now for some reason. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he was feeling sad, like me, because this was the closest to the spirit of the beautiful music from times past that I would probably ever be. Singing in unison with strangers while I cried and wished that music was still good.

I took a picture with my tattoo out in front of the circle and that was that. I learned that I’m very sad about this generation and music. I learned how to cry better in public. And I really think I need to go to festivals.

2.) Cities are scary. Being away from home is scary. But vacation is very refreshing and worthwhile.

3.) Sleeping in a tiny hostel with your husband and 2 guy friends is fine, but not ideal.

4.) There’s just something about climbing on a roof.

5.) Advertising will suck your soul dry. Around the end of the first day, I was so exhausted that I wasn’t speaking and my legs were moving only by the sheer knowledge that a bed was waiting for me at the hotel. But Derek and Nate wanted to stop and watch some dance battle.

I was too short to see. What I could see, though, was an H&M advertisement in the reflection of the window in front of the dance routine. So I watched that on loop. Oh my gosh.

Basically, impossibly attractive, skinny – skinny – skinny girls (all white), tan, with long hair and beautiful clothes and big boobs. They’re running around in bikinis, eating expensive dinners, being physically picked up and swung around by boys, riding on dune buggies, and swimming late at night. The way these ads zoom in – on girls butt and breasts – and perpetuate this ideal, like – look at this, this is beautiful, look how much fun these girls are having, don’t you wish… It’s disgusting.

I could tell from the onset of this disease that if I did not treat quickly – if I did not have severe, acute, balls out on point discernment that I would leave from watching that ad feeling completely insecure and ugly. And feeling like some girls have reached an elite level of sexy that I will never ever obtain, so I will never have the spontaneous, fun lifestyle that these women have.

Although really, these girls are probably just as insecure as I am. And yea, I’m sure they have way more fun than I do (given their profession), but I’m willing to bet that they have a whole other slew of issues I can’t even imagine from being in the industry and having to keep up incredible standards. Unless they’re robots.

So, that made me sick all over. I’m glad I made it out of that one without (more) severe body hatred and self-shaming issues, but what about the cringe-worthy reality of all the girls who eat that stuff up and don’t sift through it realistically? It’s awful, and it’s playing on repeat on a big screen in New York City. I know for a fact that 13 year old Sam would have thought about that ad for days, and probably wouldn’t have eaten much for days, and would have tried her darndest to change into someone who could have a life like that – the glorious life of an H&M model – for days, weeks, years. And even my current self isn’t completely unaffected by any stretch of the imagination.

I learned that advertising sucks and I have to stay aware. And that I get to add H&M to the list of brands that I hate. (Victoria’s Secret, lookin @ u)

6.) I don’t know where I stand on everything concerning self-sacrifice, except that I know you should.. you know.. do it. Often. But NYC (and a wise psychiatrist) helped me realize that I want to live a good life. (Why does it feel so scandalous to say that? Seriously…) I want to know what happy feels like. I do want to travel, I do want to enjoy, I do want to fall more in love with my husband in fun places. I do know that I’m allowed to live life based on what I want sometimes, because there is actually good inside of me. And I don’t have to feel so damn guilty. So, no, I’m not flying overseas to a dangerous remote location anytime soon to sacrifice my entire life. I’m spending my money to go to NYC and drink beer and see new things with my best friends. Because that’s what I want to do. And that’s where I’m at. So sue me.

I’m in a place right now that looks like this: I am in the midst of a deep soul-rocking depression that I am learning to treat, with medication. I am hoping it helps me to feel happy again. I am learning to be married to someone who is as messed up and worthwhile as I am. I am finding myself, is that okay? I’m 22 years old. I was an Atheist for 18 years, believing in nothing. And I am not learning to walk with a God that I cannot see, while working through every lie that my demolished spirit has believed, and rebuilding my brokenness with the truth of who I actually am. Also, did I mention I’m 22?

Demons telling me I’m going too fast or not going fast enough. Demons telling me I have no freedom to watch a good TV show and drink chocolate beer. Demons telling me that I’ll never amount to anything if I don’t figure out my ministry soon enough. Telling me pressure and guilt and shame.

Lucky for me, I have gracious people in my life who tell me it’s okay to do what I want. It’s okay to be gentle with myself. It’s okay to take care of myself. It’s okay to learn to love myself, and slowly learn who I am. It’s okay to take baby steps. It’s okay to travel. It’s okay to go to New York City.

It’s okay. Like, really.

Grace, man. I’m swimmin’ in it.

Music is my only company and it is a cruel accomplice. We team up to destroy any remnant of faith in anything I might have been holding onto. When I fall here the only comfort I can find are in those songs that are most dangerous to the weak glue holding my soul together.

My life is limited, my days are numbered, and I’m laying on the floor
Listening to the music that washed the same shallow comfort over me 5 years ago, when I lay in my room, devastated by everything that existed.
This is a cycle. It is pitiful and dumb.
And I’m numb.

Where is my Creator? I can’t find him.