Wednesday, December 30, 2009

paint me perfect

because we humans love our analogies, and because it's difficult to understand our relationship with God, the bible is full of helpful analogous descriptions of how we are regarded and how we, in turn, should regard God. our God is our shepherd, our rock, our foundation, our shelter, our strong tower, our provider, our groom. i could go on and on. interestingly, the parent-child (usually father-child) relationship is probably the most popular. i say this is interesting because, looking at the state of many parent-child relationships around us, i don't know that we, as a species, really have that one down. all of the others can be more easily understood. a provider, for instance, is, by definition, one who provides. a father, on the other hand and as sad as it is, is not necessarily one who fathers.

i have recently come to fancy a different analogy. God is my artist. if we think about it, the artist chooses everything about his or her creation (not the same can be said for parents and children). the colors, the shapes, the mediums - it's all intentional and meant to work together to accomplish something - the expression of the artist, the glorification of the artist, the connection between the artist and the spectator. i like this. i like to think of myself as a piece of art, crafted for a purpose - an expression of my creator, something to bring glory to my creator, something that can help others connect with my creator, who they might come to know as their creator.

i like this, too, because it helps me celebrate myself. parents are often trying to shape their children - curb things that may prove problematic and encourage things that will be helpful. artists are different. if there is something in art that appears to some to be errant, it is not. the artist put it there and it will serve a purpose at some point. i fear that some christians of a more legalistic persuasion miss out on this. if dancing brings joy to my soul, i can be confident that i was created that way - it's a gift, not a blemish. it is not something shameful, it is something put in me for my own good, at least, if not for something greater (in my case, it's probably just for me).

let me push the analogy to include the human condition and human error. i acknowledge that everything in me is not good. i do have a capacity for evil. perhaps that capacity is an imperfection in my canvass that the great artist manages to work into the piece. it is said that God does not waste pain and i believe that. i can think about some of the most painful things that have happened in my short life and not wish them away. they are so much a part of me that i can't imagine myself without them - without the things they taught le. how's that for efficiency? no waste. God is so green.

in light of all of this, let me say that as pieces of art, we have certain responsibilities.
  • we cannot mute ourselves, or each other. imagine, if you painted two pictures and they came to life and decided that they were ashamed of and needed to hide the very pieces of themselves that you loved best - the parts that made them special (adam and eve?). i realize it's a weird hypothetical situation, but it would be rather heartbreaking.
  • we cannot mar ourselves or others. same situation - if one of the paintings set itself on fire while the other attacked it with a knife. even a little weirder and definitely more heartbreaking.
  • we must embrace ourselves and each other so much that we nearly explode. i don't really know what that would look like for our live-painting analogy, but you get where i'm going with this.

in short, you are beautiful people, and i'm not so bad either, so we should act like it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


i don't even know what to write. it's all embarrassing. i missed the unc english graduate program application deadline. it was today and my application was 90% complete the minute the red text appeared that said "application deadline past" in the exact place where the "submit" button once was. obviously, i should have seen it coming - the deadline now, technically, being yesterday.

i was recently advised against applying to the MTS program at duke because it's competitive and i have no plan.

the only other graduate school option i have considered is a program in london. how can i possibly afford to go to graduate school in london? i don't know either.

basically, i'm tired of my wonderful, better-than-average-but-still-entry-level job, but i don't know what else to do.

now, i completely understand that i may write next week about how i want to grow old and retire at this job, but for the time being, i'm frustrated with it. i know that i'm really very blessed to have a job that i enjoy in such a precarious economic climate (two, even!), but does that mean that i need to be satisfied as i head into a second year of working two jobs, neither of which do i believe are really developing me as a person, or allowing me to use my gifts and talents in a truly fulfilling way? i feel likd a brat just typing this. it certainly IS so much to ask for these things in a job, especially now.

so, i will be quiet, go to work(s) and finish my application for the program in london, just in case they feel like awarding me some sort of fantastic scholarship - one that will make it only a slight impossibility, as opposed to a laughability (made up).

i actually feel somewhat better now that i've officially missed the deadline. at least there's nothing i can do about it - feeling bad doesn't help anything. today at work, when i was working on my application and thinking about how i wasn't even really that interested in getting an MA in english, i started to get truly stressed out. the 1/4 life crisis feeling was growing in my throat, as it often does these days, while i watched the clock crawl from 4:50 to 5:00. it took so long. when it was over, i went home and piled my entire wardrobe on my bed. item by item, i put everything back, neatly, with the exception of he things that didn't make he cut. a small mound of clothing in the hallway outside my door slowly grew into a sizable pile. the process did not complete my application, but it was therapeutic. a clean closet helps to achieve a clean brain. when i was done, it was time to go to courtney's (my lovely sister-in-law) birthday party. next thing i knew, it was 11pm. i worked on my essay until 12:13, at which time, i discovered the application expiration. i guess i see now where my priorities are - clean closets and birthday parties, not graduate school.

i am disappointed not because it was the option that i loved, but because it was an option. sometimes potential options are all that get me through a bad day of checking indexes and 12% tips. as they dwindle, my patience dwindles, my tolerance dwindles, my grace dwindles. i don't like it. i feel myself becoming a person who is slightly less happy. i don't know how to help it.

like i said, who knows how i will feel 5 days or even 5 minutes from now, hopefully better and full of optimism. i pray now that i can be less consumed by my desire to have my desires met and maybe be more consumed by a desire to see the desires of others met. who knows, maybe it will become a two birds with one stone situation.