“We all have our own borders.
One side is what’s easy, what’s known, what we’ve been told is true and have taken for granted; it’s comfortable here, it’s familiar.
But the other side is wider than possibility, it’s brilliant with potential, and it looks like our dreams, whatever they are.
Maybe for you that means having a family or taking up sailing; maybe it’s poetry in Prague or solitude in Barcelona; maybe it’s learning how to really be close to someone.
Big or small, these are not the “dreams” we had handed to us: good job/big house/new car.
These are real dreams, real fragile fledgling dreams, which is why they are often so frightening. But if they’re ours, if we can find them and hold them, if we can catapult ourselves across whatever border of fear or doubt or tiredness that seems to keep us from them.
In the end, the only thing standing between each of us and what we want most is ourselves. We’re our own border guards.
And sometimes the crossing is easier than expected.”
(Off the Map, Hib & Kika)
I have four other documents open on my computer right now…papers I need to write, research I need to finish, blog posts for work I need to edit. So much to do, always.
But right now, I need to write for me.
It’s been too long since I wrote…really wrote. I spend most of my days surrounded by words. Reading textbooks, legal briefs, academic journal articles. Writing about human trafficking, immigration policy, human rights.
Sometimes I get lost in the influx of words around me. I read this, hear a professor’s opinion about that, talk to my classmates about something else. I hear their words, absorb them into my ever-filling mind, and try to let them spin into coherence with everything else I’m learning.
I haven’t written on my blog for a month and a half. I’ve tried to start a post for weeks, but the words haven’t come. They seem to be all used up in all the other arenas of my life. I try to write, but nothing seems worth disseminating. Nothing is particularly new. My life is just barreling along, like it always is. And I’m just running, trying to keep up.
But as I was driving through Denver on I-25 this afternoon, mesmerized by those snowy peaks to the west and soaking in a rare moment of absolute peace, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the goodness of life right now. Somewhere between Belleview and Yale avenues I realized despite the craziness of working two part-time jobs and going to grad school full-time, I love my life. I really do. And I think there’s a shift that happens when you decide (and it is a decision) to love your life. When you decide to forget about the things that you don’t have and focus on the things you do have. When you decide to forget about what you can’t do right now and focus on what you can do. When you embrace the crazy and just start running with the flow. And in that moment when you decide to love your life, suddenly the semi-controlled chaos feels more manageable. Suddenly the uphill battle seems to flatten out.
And sure, there will always be less-than-stellar aspects of life. I’m sure some of you reading this are scoffing right now, thinking I should come walk in your shoes for a day and then talk about loving life. I get it. I really do. I’ve been there. But I think happiness and joy and contentment are often choices. I know for me, when I decided to love my life and invest in where I am at right now, there was a shift – a perhaps imperceptible shift to an outside observer, but a massive shift within my spirit.
How did I start loving my life? I refocused on the things that made me happy, and made sure I prioritized them amid work and school. That means more people and more church, because that’s where I get encouraged. It means more time at coffee shops, because research is always more bearable with a latte. It means running and rock climbing, because those are the only times I can really forget about everything else. And you know what? When I make time for the things I love, everything else still seems to fall into place. Everything else still gets done.
I love my life and I am blessed. Denver has been beyond good to me in the past seven months. I am well aware that the mere fact that I get to go to graduate school should not be taken for granted. Whenever I talk to people about what I’m studying, they inevitably say something along the lines of, “That’s so noble.” And I respond with, “Maybe, but I mostly just feel lucky to get to study and work in the field I’m most passionate about.” I think that’s rare, and I truly do feel blessed.
As one of my dearest friends likes to say, “my love tank is filled to overflowing.”
(…and now back to the books)
As a Christian, I’ve done my fair share of short-term mission work…local community projects, hurricane relief in New Orleans, half a year spent in Thailand. And I never once questioned whether I should go.
But now I’m also a student of International Human Rights. And as I research and read and consider the needs that exist in the world and the ways that have proven effective for addressing those needs, I’m not convinced the Church’s current model of short-term missions is the best way to solve the issues. Continue reading
I’m typing this with nine fingers.
It’s pretty difficult.
You see, I took a knife to my left index finger last week. Completely by accident, I assure you. But it resulted in a chunk of flesh missing and a late night trip to the emergency room. Continue reading
Well, I’m in Denver. Said goodbye to the farmland and hello to the mountains.
People, I am so loved. So taken care of. So protected.
I’ve been running myself ragged the past few weeks, trying to cram as much goodness as possible into my last weeks at home. I’ve visited dear friends, worked lots of (early morning) hours at the coffeeshop, drank too much coffee, stayed up late for Tuesday game nights, and watched my way too-adorable-for-her-own-good niece on my days off. Continue reading
I haven’t been writing much lately. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that I can count the number of weeks I have left at home on one hand, and there are so many other things I’d rather spend my time doing.
Like making coffee at 6 a.m. for all my favorite regulars.
Or making monkey noises and singing the “E, F, Gs” with my niece. Continue reading
I say it multiple times a week:
Life’s too short to be crabby. Or rude. Or mean.
I say it in response to crabby people in my cash register line. To rude people who cut in front of me in traffic. To mean people who snatch money from our tip jar at work (yes, that does happen).
I say it again and again and again (too often saying it without grace in my voice). Continue reading