Category Archives: Philosophy

Out of Heartbreak Valley

Something everyone should know about me is that I am an absolute sap for romantic movies. Movies that can make you laugh, make you cry, make you do the stereotypical sigh of bliss when the hero finally wins his lady (or the heroine lands her man!). When I have nothing better to do, I stay curled up in bed or on the couch with my huge fleece blanket, make myself a cup of tea, and pop in one of these wonderful movies. Movies like Pride and Prejudice, Return to Me, While You Were Sleeping, You’ve Got Mail

The list could go on forever. There’s something about these movies that appeal to women like me. Perhaps it’s our natural desire to feel loved and cherished that sends us flocking to the theaters to see Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly fall into each other’s arms, or Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s romance blossom, or Lucy and Jack ride away on that train together for their honeymoon in Florence. Something about these movies appeal to sentimental little hearts like mine. What can I say? I love love.

I never really equated this kind of longing and heart-fluttering to my relationship with God. I suppose it’s because God is so intangible most of the time – I mean, all He’s really given me that I can touch is a huge book full of rules, poetry, and prophecy, right? Verses like “All flying insects that walk on all fours are to be regarded as unclean by you.” Really? What on earth is that supposed to mean? Who would want to eat insects, anyway?

So here I am, a big dusty book in my hands full of ridiculous rules, staring at it with that disbelieving look that I often get when I’m confronted with difficult theory homework, and praying that I honestly don’t have to read this book. It’s going to be boring, that little voice in my ear tells me. Don’t read it. But God told me to. So I suppose I probably should read it. So I crack the thing open and try not to fall asleep.

It’s hard sometimes. Getting through Leviticus? Not so easy. In fact, to this day (after reading through the Bible TWICE) I still have yet to completely read books like Leviticus and Deuteronomy. There are so many rules and regulations, and – ugh. I just can’t do it yet. But I will! Before I turn 21, I promise that I will read them. Promise.

But then I hit Psalms, and beautiful language pours over me. David’s songs of old are refreshing and new even over 2,000 years later. I find new meaning in them, things that stick out in my mind. They bring me comfort, make me weep, even make me angry sometimes. I get angry that David could pray to God to destroy and kill and curse –

And then realize I do the same things sometimes. David was human, just like I am. He was a man with thoughts and feelings and flaws. A man who loved God completely, but got angry sometimes when things didn’t go his way. He sinned once – it’s one of the things people remember about him. He defeated Goliath with a single stone … oh, and he also got a woman pregnant and killed her husband just so he didn’t have to face the consequences. But he still loved God.

David screwed up, just like all of us. I screw up more times on a daily basis than I can count. I’ve turned my back on God before, convinced I could do it on my own. My way’s better, I’ve told Him. I know best. And like a loving Father, He’s stepped back and let me make my own choices, let me walk into destruction because He’s warned me, and He knows that sometimes, I have to fall and cry for a little while before I’ll submit to being picked up and healed again.

Over the course of walking away and falling down and being picked up and dusted off and holding His hand for awhile before repeating the entire process again, my favorite book in the Good Book has become Hosea. The language in it is, at times, a little graphic and disturbing. I mean, God’s letting this woman ruin her life, watching as the entire thing unfolds. He allows her to go and be a whore and be unfaithful and use His gifts to live off of while she sells herself to anything willing. Why would God do something like that? And why is it in the Bible?

But then comes Hosea 2:14 (The Message) and beyond:

And now, here’s what I’m going to do:
I’m going to start all over again.
I’m taking her back out into the wilderness
where we had our first date, and I’ll court her.
I’ll give her bouquets of roses.
I’ll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope.
She’ll respond like she did as a young girl,
those days when she was fresh out of Egypt.

Roses? Courting? Dates? Please, sign me up. If that’s the kind of treatment I get after ripping out My Father’s heart and stomping on it awhile, then by all means am I in. What did I ever do to deserve such fabulous treatment? The answer?

Nothing.

That’s right. I did absolutely nothing. At least, nothing good. I walked away, I threw away everything He was offering me. But when I was done trying to do things by myself, He met me where I was and romanced me again. He caters to the sappy, romantic heart that He formed in me and woos me to His own heart. He takes my hands marred by mud with jagged fingernails and scrapes from digging in the dirt and calls me His. I can’t imagine a great love than the one that My Father shows me on a daily basis.

Someone once told me that my relationship with God was a journey. That each day, I had a choice to make: I could choose to roll over in bed and ask for five more minutes before dragging my feet up and refusing His help; or I could take His hand and let him take me on a whirlwind adventure through the unknown. But the unknown doesn’t scare me . When I screw up like David and millions of other people do, I know that He’ll be there holding my hand and hiding the next bouquet of flowers behind His back to woo me back to Him again.

And that makes the journey worth it.

Living beautifully,
Sophie

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Childhood

Life was so much simpler when I wasn’t in charge of making my own decisions.

The other day in the mail, I received an American Girl Doll Catalog. I looked at it in shock – it’s been at least eight years since I’ve gotten one, and I sort of wondered why I was getting one. So, being curious, I flipped through it and settled in to marvel over the new dolls, the pretty clothes, and the wonders that is childhood. I found myself marveling about all those years I spent playing with my sister, and finally got into my closet to pull out my old Molly doll. She still has the same smile, the same hair style she did when I put her away eight years ago, and the same little mark on her neck from when I dropped her.

Legally, I am an adult. Childhood, the days of messing around and giggling at sleepovers and having Mom and Dad to bail me out, is gone. While I will always be somewhat of a child (I like laughing and creating far too much to leave it behind), it’s strange to think that soon, I will be completely responsible for myself. It’s a frightening future, because I don’t want to disappoint anyone. I would much rather make someone mad than disappoint them. And I fear that once I step out from the shelter of my parents, I will disappoint them completely when I make a wrong decision.

I suppose this is why I want to be a teacher so much. I want a way to hold on to my childhood and creativity while still maintaining my maturity. I get to hang out with teenagers all day (yes, they’re angsty, but you have to love them) and help them figure out their transition between childhood and adulthood. It’s such a scary time for everyone, and I think having someone with you that’s been through it is essential to becoming an adult.

Still, it terrifies me. How am I going to make a budget? How am I going to find a reasonably priced apartment? What happens if I can’t find a roommate? How am I going to pay for food every week? What happens if I forget to pay my electricity bill? The questions are endless, and I add more to them every day. I’m a naturally anxious person, so when I think about things like this, I get anxious and worried and start pulling my hair out and –

It’s not pretty.

But then I realize that I don’t have to have all the answers. I will always have a part of my childhood buried somewhere within me to pull out and ponder on. I have a great network of friends and family that will be there to tell me when I’m being just plain stupid or when I need to get my act together, or even just to tell me I’m doing a great job and to not stress out. Strange, how easy you can forget something like that. :)

Food for thought: What did/do you do when you got/get stressed out about the future?

Listening in the Silence.

Have you ever listened to silence?

I’m not talking about being quiet. Being quiet is something that you want little kids to do when they’re being naughty, or when they’re aggravating your headache. Being quiet is something you want the jackhammer outside your apartment window to be when you’re trying to study. Being quiet is what you want the party two doors down from you to do when you’re trying to get some sleep for your exam tomorrow. Listening to silence is not being quiet. No, listening to silence is a physical thing. You don’t shut your brain off while you’re listening. You are actively involved in listening to absolutely nothing.

This is a really strange concept for most Americans. We so often surround ourselves by noise. Even while I type this, I can hear my sister in her room, the television in my mother’s room, the music coming from my own computer. We are not accustomed to being without sound. We’re on sound overload, and we’ve forgotten what real silence actually is.

In my choir at school, we have this really interesting exercise where my director just tells us to close our eyes and not make sounds. We’re just supposed to listen. Sometimes it’s thirty seconds, sometimes it’s a minute. We close our eyes like dutiful students, take a collective breath, and then –

There’s silence. The hold-your-breath-and-don’t-move kind of silence. The kind of silence that makes your brain go, “Thank you, thank you!” The kind of silence that is just so still that no one disturbs it.

That is, until someone decides they aren’t comfortable and shifts around on the creaky risers. Or they cough. Or they sneeze. Or they take a drink of their water. Or they sigh. Or they scratch their head. Or they cross their legs. Or they tap their pencil on their black choir folder …

Do you see what I’m getting at now?

Silence is so rare in our culture. That’s why I’ve started driving to and from school in silence. I’m a commuter student, so I get a good 40 minutes a day of silence. I use this time to think about my day, to organize my thoughts, and to talk to God. Sometimes I’ll speak out loud, but mostly I use my personal thoughts and drive in silence.

Silence is needed for my sanity. If I didn’t have silence, I think I’d go absolutely crazy! That’s what I’m not a fan of huge parties or super loud music (other than the fact that too much noise gives me a massive headache). But there’s just something about silence that is a soothing balm on my day-weary brain.

I often lay in bed at night and listen to the sounds around me. Mostly, they are the tiny little sounds of my breathing, of my legs shifting under the sheets, and of a car or two driving past on the street. However, a majority of what I listen to isn’t sound at all. It’s silence. And it’s one of the most beautiful sounds ever. It’s that moment where everything seems to stand still. I love those moments. I feel like I’ve achieved something in those moments.

I challenge you this week to find some silence in your life. Find a place to get away from everything and open your ears. I promise that you won’t regret it.

Living beautifully, Sophie