The Twin Cities Rainbow Chaser

moving across the country…to discover what God has in store

Being Still

I went on an excursion yesterday.  There’s a local “mountain” that I enjoy climbing.  There is a steep path that leads to the base of a pile of rocks.  Multiple crevices between the rocks make summiting an easy task.  It is a climb that I have done several times, each time enjoying it just as much as the last.  Sometimes I have someone to go with me, but more recently I’ve been hitting the trail solo…which I love.

A place to focus

When I am sitting on top of that little mountain all alone, the world tends to fade away.  It becomes easy to focus on things.  Yesterday, I focused on my life.  I talked to God about the overwhelming pressure that I am feeling from every side.  My parents are pressuring me to get a job, completely natural.  The problem is that they are pressuring me to get ANY job.  I don’t want any job…I want a job that will allow me to tap into my passion…go beyond myself…do something worthwhile!  It’s not just my parents, though.  My friends are starting to drop hints that maybe I should focus on the “now”…what can I do right now to better myself?  One friend said that I should just look at it as “just detouring” and another, after mentioning an opening in accounting (blah!) at her husband’s company, said she was “just letting [me] know there are options.”

With all of this, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.  I want to do what is right by God…not my parents, not my friends, not even me.  God’s plan is the only one that concerns me right now…and that’s what I could focus on while I was sitting on top of the mountain.

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Not the (second) bubble!

Okay, so this bubble, right?

I like to think that the bubble protects me.  It keeps people away.  It prevents hugs and pats and…other yucky things.

The bubble protects me from letting other people share in my burdens.  It keeps people from learning about my faults and fears.  It prevents love.

Oh, crap.  This bubble is a problem, it seems.  The very thing that I have “created” to protect me, as it turns out, is hurting me.  I have seen and felt it over and over again.  When I meet new people, I keep them out.  Sure, I’ll talk to them, joke around.  But it rarely goes beyond the surface.

Time and time again, I have been challenged to go beyond this.  College, the basic atmosphere, has forced me outside of my bubble.  Friends weren’t included with the check I turned over to the business office when I started.  They were something that I had to find on my own.  I have discovered two people that I would define as “best” friends and then there are a pile of other people.

A lot of these people have brushed up against my bubble in a Christian organization on campus.  There really are some great people in there.  And, to tell the truth, that is where I have been most challenged to get out of my bubble.  People have looked at me and told me that I must get out of my comfort zone.  They have not minced words.  They have fit into the Biblical description of a friend: Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17).

That is what I need, right now.  I need someone to take a sharp, iron sword and slice through this bubble.  Free me from myself.  Maybe, just maybe, I’m ready to do it myself.

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Not the bubble!

I have a bubble.  Yes, a bubble.  This bubble surrounds my body, extending out by approximately two feet on every side.  It protects me from unwanted physical contact with people.  When I say people, I mean “all people”.  Unfortunately, people do not always respect the bubble.

Strangers sometimes bump into me.  In crowded places, I sometimes begin to get, ummm, stressed.  Holiday shopping is torture, to say the least.  And visiting a theme park that specializes in Christmas lights a mere week before Christmas–I thought I was going to start foaming at the mouth.  That is not unusual.

And then there’s family–my parents know about my “issues” and typically respect the bubble.  We hug in greeting and in farewell…but in between, there’s not a whole lot of physical contact unless I initiate it (or, unless they decide to be ornery).  My extended family hug only in farewell, as a part of our social norm.  But my grandmother…she smothers me with physical “affection”, or as I see it physical “assault”.  Patting, rubbing, hugging, tapping…argh.  There is no other way to respond.  I have to bite my tongue to stay on my best behavior!

Finally, there are friends.  My oldest friend is one with whom I have never shared much physical interaction.  Hugging is weird for us…we just never did it very much.  So, physical affection isn’t a big deal there.  Newer friends, though (and by “newer”, I mean that we’ve been friends for two and a half years to three years), have their own ideas about physical affection.  The two girls that I have lived with over the past couple of years love giving hugs.  But, this relationship could not have survived this long if they had not been familiarized with my bubble.  Most of the time, they respect the bubble.  We hug in greeting & farewell…and when I get a little drunk.  Beyond these three close friends, there are a few people who are aware of the bubble and abuse the knowledge.  Most others, though, have never approached me for a hug…

Until last night.  I met up with a friend of mine for dinner.  He graduated last year and I hadn’t seen him in a while.  We met up, chatted, ate.  And then, we were walking out to our cars.  We got to his.  I said “bye” and he started walking towards me like he was going to give me a hug.  I started to panic and backed away.  There was an awkward pause and he approached me again saying “Yeah, let’s give this a shot.”  And, he gave me a hug.  Oh.  Man.

I don’t know where my aversion to physical contact came from.  It has been there for years.  Supposedly when I was very young, I loved snuggling and hugging and cuddling.  So, what happened?  The bubble.

Ah man…there is a lot more to say about this bubble.  But, I think that it’s too much for one post.  I’m going to end this post right now and continue my thoughts about the bubble later.  It will all come together under the idea of “Lukewarm Waters”…I promise.

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So, I’m sitting at my computer…trying to think of something to write.  It has been quite a while and I have a nice little chunk of time before I need to start chopping up some fruit.  And, if I’m typing, then I will stop stuffing chocolate chips in my mouth.  Yes, semi-sweet chocolate chips.  Unfortunately my mind is blank.  I can’t think of anything deep or complex or even just slightly amusing to share.  My life is surprisingly mellow right now.  I don’t have any big exams or assignments in the next few days.  I didn’t work this morning…I don’t work again until Saturday.

So, instead of just leaving my computer to read or do something productive, I start browsing the internet…trying desperately to find something to spark an idea for words.  I’m wandering…wandering…whoa!  Steve Jobs died.  That’s pretty big news.  The next big news items, right below that headline, deals with Amanda Knox’s recent release.

I realize that these two news items are a pretty big deal but…why?  Why are we, as humans, so obsessed with the lives of people who have no direct relation to us?  I have never met Amanda Knox.  Nothing that happens to her actually affects me.  Now, the same can’t really be said for Jobs (I am currently typing on a snazzy MacBook Pro and, tucked into my backpack, there is an iPod touch…and iPhone is on my Christmas list).  But, is his death really newsworthy enough for the whole nation?  Okay, sure.  Make the argument that his death will drop Apple stock value.  But in the long run, what is his significance?

What is anyone’s significance?

When you stop and think about this great space we live in called “the world”, can you really find any true purpose for your presence here?  Are you doing anything to help anyone?  Will your actions prove to be beneficial in the long run?

If I was to answer these questions about myself…just off the top of my head…NO.  Right now, I am a college student with no career plans to speak of and only vague post-graduation plans (that happens in May…too soon).  My focus is on getting good grades and keeping my apartment clean while my roommate scurries around freaking out about her anatomy test and physics assignment.  Nothing that I do now is impacting the world on a broader, deeper level.  My existence is, when you boil it down, purposeless.  But, then again, that is just from my perspective.

When my roommate got home from a study session last night, we sat (actually, I sat and she stood) in the kitchen talking for a while.  We do things like that often (I like to plop down in our hallway…or a floor anywhere, really).  She came to the conclusion that she is most fulfilled and driven by relationships.  Having a great career is important to her, but it will not be fulfilling in and of itself.  She wants to have someone with whom she can share that success.  I, on the other hand, am terrified of sharing my success/life/house/kitchen/thoughts/fears/loves/desires/bed/etc.  So when I reflect on my purpose, I don’t really look at the people close to me.  I look further out–how do I matter in the world?

Maybe, just maybe though, I should consider my purpose in this apartment and in my family.  I could make the argument that certain members of my extended family couldn’t care less about my existence…but we won’t go there.  I’ll think about my parents and my nana and one of my cousins…I matter to them.  They miss me when I am gone.  And, when my roommate left a little while ago, we bid adieu for 24+ hours due to our hectic/conflicting schedules (I’ll go to bed before she gets home….and leave before she gets up…and get home around 5 pm tomorrow when she leaves to study again…).  That was sad for both of us.  We enjoy one another’s company (most of the time…I don’t always like sharing, remember?).  If I hadn’t been around the past couple of nights, she would have had cereal for dinner.

As I said last night, I am not a relationship-oriented person.  I have to work to make relationships matter to me.  But in the end, once I figure all of that out, relationships are what will give me a purpose.  They are where I will find fulfillment and joy…maybe.

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Not a “People Person”

You remember those two “new”er best friends that I talked about in my last post?  Well, I’m living with them now.  For the sake of simplicity, I will refer to them as E and M.  E, M, and I (haha, that’s kind-of funny) have been getting along pretty well in our house.  Sure, there have been a few small issues but…everything has just smoothed itself out naturally.

Then again, maybe we’ve all been trying not to rock the boat.  While we all come from two-parent, middle-class households, all of our home lives have been incredibly different.  We all have our own ideas about how to make spaghetti sauce and what type of noodles to use.  And, cleaning is kind-of hit and miss in the bathroom.  In our living room…yikes.  They leave shoes, backpacks, sunglasses…just let it land and leave it there.  That bugs me.  I like to have everything neat and tidy before I go to bed.  Why?  Too much clutter sends me into this “tidying coma”…I literally cannot function until I straighten things up.  Not fun.

But, ya know, I’m trying to let go of some of my “control freak” nature.  Not that I’m a really bad “control freak”…actually, I’ve never considered myself a “control freak” at all.  In a house, though, I just want things done the right way, i.e. my way (in my mind, at least).  This weekend, both of my roommates went home to be with their families over our three-day weekend (yay, Labor Day!).  While I did get a little creeped out going to bed with a creepy house creaking and moaning around me (not to mention some loud neighbors), I really loved the time that I had alone.  I made myself spaghetti and meat sauce…my way.  I cleaned the kitchen…my way.  I watched TV…my way.  I had a blast!

So, now…they’re back–at least E is back.  I’m not going to say that I dislike having them home.  It’s nice to have some human interaction (I guess…maybe I’m saying that just to sound normal).  But, when she rolled back in, her family rolled back in with her.  You see, she didn’t exactly go home this weekend.  Her family swung through town and picked her up on their way to their cabin.  That’s cool and all…but, they swung back through and all crashed in our living room.  Not cool!

At the moment that they walked in the door, I was looking forward to getting my last pan of cookies out of the oven and sitting down with a few and a cup of delicious French-bought coffee.  Did I get to do that?  No.  E’s brother and sister crashed on the couch (although her brother offered to move when I came through from the kitchen) and her mom crashed in this really comfy chair that is awkwardly sitting in our awkwardly large dining room.  Her dad headed to the basement to do…something.  Set up a dehumidifier?  Fix her flat bike tire?  I dunno.  But, seriously, I’m pretty sure we could have handled some of that stuff.

Mom, brother, and sister are still hunkered downstairs and dad’s running up and down the stairs doing…something.  I’ve seen E come up a few times, but for the most part I’m just hiding in my bedroom.  Why?  What would be wrong with going downstairs and having a little conversation with them?

#1: I had a little conversation with all of them when they picked E up Saturday morning.  How much could have really changed or happened since then?

#2: I need to do homework.  I was on a roll, proofreading in between pans of cookies.  But, my roll was disrupted and got tossed on the floor the minute they walked in.

#3: I do not like participating in awkward and unnecessary conversations.

#4: This is MY house too and I do not like having a bunch of unnecessary people in it!  I should be able to sit down and enjoy a cup of delicious coffee and semi-delicious (I was missing a few key ingredients) cookies without concern for the comfort of other people…who shouldn’t be on my “Concern Radar” in the first place!

I don’t like unnecessary people invading my space.  Is that really so hard to understand?

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