“Te he preparado.”

I just got to talk to someone here who is struggling through her 6-month relationship in a cross-cultural way as well as human brokenness, physical attraction, disparate communication…
And oh my gosh I don’t care if nothing else happens this week I came to chapter camp for a reason.

– text I sent Bry yesterday

It was so good. Like everything she was wrestling with I had an experience with Bry that I could speak with, to say that this is my story and how I have learned to approach it and love through it.

I think previously I had wondered why I was at chapter camp. I came, but for what? That conversation was it. At the end of talking and laughing and sharing and crying and praying together, she looked visibly—physically—different from the fearful, confused hesitation she had begun our time almost shrouded in. It was as if a weight has sloughed off her shoulders and a gentle hand soothed the furrows on her brow…

In speaking of things that I, a physically-insecure woman who has loved and known love in Latino cultures, have learned about dating—and specifically dating an Asian-American man—I spoke aloud deep truths that God has blessed richly. As I declared these, they gave her stepping stones on which she could rise from what felt like floundering in rough waters. And I saw for myself the convictions this relationship has grown and shown me:

  1. Vision is so important. Asking and hearing from each other how we both see our relationship, our roles in each other’s lives, our roles in the relationship, and our future together is at once frightening, healing, surprising, challenging, redeeming, and uplifting. But so important. Because after that, knowing that, we created in those conversations a language of our own: when we have conflicts or connections, jokes and journeys, troubles or triumphs, couched in English words we have a language to speak of them to each other. So I can rejoice when we partner in ministry and lament when there is a barrier to walking hand-in-hand. So I can say how I feel in lexicon we have already adopted together.
  2. Growing apart is beautiful and possible if we grow toward our common vision. Having a language for my relationship makes the difficult communication over distance more comprehensible and personal to each: though I have many experiences in Berkeley apart from him, and he in SoCal, we can yet interpret them in our context and love and hope for our future. So in having a common lens to also view our separate lives, we can, while apart, still journey together.
  3. It is entirely okay to initiate awkwardness, ask for affirmation, and admit anxieties—especially in the physical, carnal, and attraction realms. This is the nature of the relationship we both committed to; we signed up for this: to be life partners, to love ourselves and each other wholly as creations and reflections of the God of beauty and wonder. I acknowledge that within myself I seek to know that Bryan finds me attractive, what Bryan thinks of my self-perceived shortcomings, if he is also jealous over my body. (I use the word in the sense of a jealous, proprietary God. Not implying that my boyfriend wants to look like me.) In this society then I also see that as the woman, I have the place of vulnerability to open the conversation and affirm that I seek to know how he loves me, not how he owns or objectifies me. And because he is no Herculean hulk that I also seek to love and affirm his own physicality piecewise, one part, one pain at a time.

It’s been five months, and see these my growing pains.

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Turn the page to our final chapter.

Woodleaf.

You can keep me, swallow me in your silence
in the ache between the trees.

I walk among giants stretching ever upward to heaven.

I didn’t realize until I got here and stepped outside the dining hall after dinner that I have craved silence. That I could dive into this forest and revel in how it would just soak me and my noise and life’s bustle until only majesty remains.

This is why we call these retreats.

This is why we find places to tuck ourselves into something far greater than ourselves. This is why we seek sometimes to become insignificant.

Here I have so little import. After a week of commencements, of commemorating, of celebrating us–seniors, graduates, people–I treasure you even more, Woodleaf. We who have achieved and accomplished and survived much need to be reminded that we are still so small.

Still
so
small.

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Urbana – Sunday morning offering

Greatest of givers,

I know you love me for me already, and ever.

The Lord loves a cheerful giver, and I don’t hear you speaking about my offering–but why? Why is it that I don’t even think about my giving? Every month money automatically goes to support a child and relief work that I have never troubled myself to connect with. So easy. So affordable. I have not suffered a whit because of it.

And that’s just it; that’s just exactly the problem: I am not troubled by my financial giving. I struggle with giving of my time, giving of myself, giving of my heart, giving of my energies… but not once does it trouble me to struggle with giving the monies I have been gifted and given.

Whence have I everything? Whence comes all the abundance in my bank accounts and lifestyle? Whence my ability to not bat even an eyelash to write a $242 check for a new iDevice? How am I so blessed?

It is not of me that my abundance comes. It is not that I have created this providence for myself. Far from me be the thought that I am entitled to any of this for myself. Far, far from me be the idea that I can hold on to this.

And I feel even less responsible that I didn’t tell people about my coming to Urbana, that I just cruised through life, through the year, to this point. That I never even recapped Mexico for those who love me and you, too. That I in my selfishness kept not only my finances but also my experiences–given me graciously and plentifully and livingly by you!–to myself.

I have $200 sitting in a bank account that I have kept there for no reason other than not wanting to squander the money. I have $200 given me for free, and intact still by the love and grace of my own blood, earthly father.

I have no purpose for that $200. Are you asking me for it now?

Have I “saved” it for this moment?

Is this why you set me up for that small sum of abundance?

Can I do it? Can I open my heart and will and checking account in your priceless name? Can I be cheerful and willing and ecstatic about truly offering that which is entirely not even mine to you? To you and your work? To you and your people? To you and that which you love? Those whom you love?

Can I go? Will I go?

=====

I will go, Lord. Send me.

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Urbana – Thursday evening

I’m feeling–I don’t know–I guess, strange right now. Can one be both extroverted AND introverted? I feel as if I am simultaneously expressing both desires.

People. There are so. Many. People. Here. Twenty thousand Christians have descended on this city and I don’t know how I want to approach their here-ness.

Initially, as we walked into the America’s Center tonight before session, the thrumming undercurrent and humming clumped groups brought me back to my days in ASB camps & conferences–and inside me began a little buzz as well: a bouncing WANT to meet people and hear their stories and know their passions and learn their callings. So many of us here! So many hearts and souls turning yearning burning for one Man and one Love and one Redemption!

Then also came the thought that within this flood a contingent of more than sixty that I in some sense know, if only by affiliation, are here. This was inerrantly exciting: a time away from the Berkeley grind to rejoice and learn and grow and commiserate with my people! That this week of discovery and change and vision would be shared with six of my heart’s dearly beloved: how beautiful & wonderful!

Yet as I walked the halls past a sea of faces, as wave after wave broke toward me, though I strode in hand with love, beside friends, I began to ache for familiarity in their eyes and recognition on their lips.

“This is what life after college will be like,” I managed: “going to & being in places with people but knowing none of them.”

Not knowing them.

Even now, as worship and teaching and living word swell around me, I can feel myself reaching–my heart seeking its own, its pillars, its known lands.

This is me–this is how my presence-oriented, people-treasuring heart does. And I am not looking forward to uprooting it again.

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my inner poet often surprises the rest of myself.

amanecerá

and again, i am alone–
but i am never
alone.
just as you are never asleep or away or not
thinking about me, so i am never
gone from your heart.
just as you are never not in love with me or
giving up on me, so i am never
dejada por ti.

and though as yet the ink isn’t pricked in my skin, Daddy
Father, Abba, Counselor, Healer, i know
you have tattooed it on my soul–
you have inscribed it in your word–
you have buried it deep, deep in my world in my all
so the roots of your truth would be long, long and strong:
so the lies that arise would be strangled, starve and die;
so my disquiet demons se dejarían.

(04 October 2012)

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Mindful

from Saturday’s reflection time at Fall Con ’12:

I was gonna say that there’s a lot on my mind right now, but then it gave me pause & I don’t think that’s exactly how I’d want to put or imply it.

There’s a lot in my mind right now.

I guess there always is, but normally I just dash through life from one obligation to the next necessary thing until I crash out circadianly. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Retreats are both awesome & fearsome because I am given deliberately-created time to just THINK on myself and my life and omg I never do this do there is a lot of junk to wade through before I am refreshed and at peace and listening.

Anyway time to small group.

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