Thursday, February 9, 2017

One Whole Year Ago

I had intended to write this yesterday, but Wednesday is pretty much my hardest and longest day of the week. Also, I had a STATS quiz that I was super anxious about. But it's over and I feel confident about my work on it!

One full year ago, yesterday, I first met Dan Wahlgren, and his daughter Emmie. They would eventually become my employer, and dear friend, respectively.

When my big brother said "Let's go to Bible Study", I had no clue that night would completely change my planned trajectory for my life. I had figured I would hear some cool stuff about the Christian walk from a couple of learned men, and I was looking forward to meeting some of my brother's friends.
I had no idea that those people would become my friends too, one day.

At the beginning of the two Bible studies we attended that night, Dan presented Table in the Wilderness. He was recruiting Summer Staff and "looking for students who can give a Summer to God". I remember him advertising the opportunity and thinking "This sounds cool, but I'm not a student." After the first intro I knew I had to, at least, go to their little table and get information, I made sure the interaction was brief. I didn't want to commit to anything yet. Throughout the Bible Study something weighed heavier and heavier on me, until I got up, got an application, and filled it out during the second Bible Study. Hearing Dan's spiel a second time was pretty convincing as well.
When I brought the application back, we had a brief conversation about who I was. He invited me to come up to Camp the next day and meet with him and his wife.

So, a year ago today I went to Table in the Wilderness for the first time. My jaw basically became unhinged as I made my way up the now-familiar Highway 130, and into the Snowies. I kept taking pictures and nearly wrecking while doing so. I was ELATED. I was nearly in tears it was so beautiful. I was enchanted by the quaintness of Centennial (still am, actually).

I believe I met Nate first, as I tried to find my way around the Lodge. He took me to the Office and I met Sandra for the first time. She would eventually become one of the most vital pieces in my growth process of this Summer, and I would end up referring to her as our Camp-Mom.
Over the next hour we had my "interview". Technically it was an interview, but really it felt like a conversation about life, faith, and Christ with old friends.
They would offer me the position on the spot, with the wise words of "Do not give us an answer yet. Go home, pray about it, talk it over with your boyfriend and your family, and give us an answer in a week. Just let us know that you made it home safely."

A week later I would give them my answer.

I am struggling to put into words just how surreal it is to think about my life and where I was one full year ago.
When I think about all the relationships I am establishing and cultivating here in Laramie...I am staggered to think of a life without these people. A life not here. A life back in Ohio, doing whatever it is I'd be doing now. It's almost entertaining to try and imagine myself back in Ohio, because, well, I CAN'T. I can barely even picture it.
I could sit here and list the dozens of people I've met since I moved here, but it would be a little pointless. Those names would mean little to most of you. But each and every one means something significant to me, because each one is like a constellation pointing to Polaris - and Polaris is the reason I'm here.
Each connection I've established is the reason I'm here.
Every opportunity to love someone and share life with them is the reason I moved to Laramie.
Every chance to serve and lay down my life is the point of me moving here.

Now, this isn't to say that God wouldn't be using if I'd never come here. But for whatever unknown millions of reasons, He sees it best for me to serve here.
This also isn't to say that any of relationships back in Ohio were or are pointless or fruitless. I do my best to stay in contact with people from home, whether it's through this blog, or social media, or texting, or occasional phone calls.

Sure. I get home sick sometimes. There are Sunday mornings that I wake up and want nothing more than to be reunited with my family at Indianola Church of Christ. But day by day, bit by bit, God is continuing to open my heart to become a family member here. He's holding my hand and guiding me through the process of being here, and making my home here. I don't know how long my home will be here. I don't know for how much of our lives Kitty and I will reside here.
For right now, we are here and we do our best to make the very most of it.

Thank you, to each and everyone of you who has ever loved me, believed in me, and supported me. I wouldn't be here without YOU.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Fully Content, Fully Present

My sister recently shared a blog post with me that a young girl, about my age, wrote. It was about her "word" for the year being engaged, and how she wants to focus on engagement this year.

No, not that kind of engagement. It's a bit click-baity in that you read it expecting that she's betting her year on becoming engaged to be married. Instead, she wants to honestly and intimately engage with the people around her. To be fully present in the moment, not living in a day dream or a social media lie.

It struck a weird chord inside of me. A personal one that has been carefully and deeply buried under layers of pain, growth, and experience. Because, in one particular year, I did bet my life on becoming engaged to man. I had been told by a man who claimed to be speaking by the power of God, that I would be engaged that year. Life more or less crumbled around me as that prophecy became less and less likely to be true.
I hinged a lot of decisions that year on the hope that I would finally not be alone. That I would finally have a man to come home to and go through life with. Surprisingly, it as rather liberating when I finally let that dream die and be buried in that year. I received a greater measure of liberty and freedom when I stopped treating it like a fortune cookie.

All of that to say:
I am as single as the broken Pringle at the bottom of the can that you just can't quite reach, and I'm becoming OK with it.

So this year I am making a conscious effort to focus on being completely content with where I am and who I am, and not spend energy in looking for a man. I've wasted a lot of time obsessing over this boy, or that boy, or regretting poor relationship decisions, or fretting over whether or not a certain someone would notice me. And I am just 100% done with it. It's exhausting, and it leaves me stressed, and frustrated. I get angry when a guy I notice doesn't notice me back. I want to scream and ask why I'm not __enough for him.
I can't always help it when my emotions are basically flying out the window, and I'm trying to bring them all back inside with a strong "CONTROL YOURSELVES, CHILDREN". But. I am in complete control of the decisions I make. I choose whether or not I am going to act on impulse towards a guy I'm attracted to. I decided whether or not to feed the anger, or the jealousy that says "you deserve what SHE got, she doesn't deserve it". It's my responsibility to make the right choice every time, in spite of how I feel.
In 2017 I am going to make a conscious effort to complain about my relationship status less, and less, and take more joy in the daily relationships that I build and experience at work, school, and in the Church community. Instead of being mindful of, and obsessed with, what I don't have, I am going to be thankful for all the wonderful things and people that I do have.

Please, if you ever hear me whining about my singleness feel free to remind me of this very blog post.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

New Year, New...everything.

As I went out to enjoy the last hours of 2016 I had high hopes of making the night fun, and enjoyable.

The first couple of hours were spent in a bar I'd never been in before, proudly decked out in scarlet and grey clinging to my Buckeyes for dear life, and watched as The Ohio State fell very, very hard straight onto their faces. The end was a sweet relief. I didn't have to watch them flop and fumble anymore, or think of my friends who had driven across the country just to watch our team lose.

But I was determined to shake it off and have a great night anyways.

I spent a little while at The Tap, talking to people and waiting for Elk Tongue's show to begin at 8Bytes Cafe. I was excited to finally go to a show, it had been far too long. Plus, the band consists of two of my coworkers so mostly everyone I've ever met in Laramie was going to be there. And we all had plans to head back to Tap at Midnight for the champaigne toast. What about this night could go wrong?

Well. For me, a lot.

It took all of about 10 minutes for a very unexpected bout of rather intense anxiety and introversion to punch me in the face. Very hard. I could not keep still, and I lost all desire to dance and experience the band. I couldn't even stand still long enough to wait in the bar line and order a drink. I tried very hard to participate in the festivities, but these unwelcome memories kept coming over me like a flood. I knew it was time for me to go when a coworker asked if I had a sad face on. I had no desire to bum anyone's night, so I left. I went back to CoalCreek. I sat at the coffee bar for awhile, fighting tears. I tried to go to Tap a few times, but every time I did my brain just started screaming "Too many people! No! Go back! Get out!" I wanted nothing more than to just leave completely, and stand on the bridge staring at the stars at midnight.

Another coworker asked me if I was ok, and I just cried more. I didn't want to talk about it. I just wanted to cry more.

Eventually we went to Tap, to get ready for the toast. And that's when I couldn't fight the tears anymore.
That's when the memories I'd been struggling to bury resurfaced like the undead from the grave.

And I completely broke down.Cried into my flute and everything.


My first hours of 2016 were spent in the arms of the one I used to love. I bet my life and my future on him. I put all of my eggs into his basket.
We started our year on some uncertainty. That uncertainty grew, and grew until it became a canyon between us that pushed us further and further apart.
The plans that we had begun to build and work towards slowly began to crumble and fall apart. He began changing his mind on things that used to be steadfast. The more he became unsure, the more i fought, kicked, and screamed to make sure I got what I wanted out of the relationship.
The harder I fought, the more he pulled away.

And then one day, after weeks of tears and arguments, he went back to Cleveland. I cried a lot more. I think a part of me, deep down lost somewhere inside of me, the voice I had quit listening to when my heart became so set on getting married that I wanted nothing else in life, It knew we were over. I knew we were coming to an end. But I fought, hard. Because I knew what I wanted, and I thought I knew what I needed.

I had no clue where God was sending him, or what he was being called to. He barely knew himself. But I knew that I was being sent West.

And then. Less than two weeks after I had arrived at Table in the Wilderness, all of my dreams, hopes, and plans that I carried into the year were completely shattered.
In a short couple of texts, and a long phone call or two, everything was just...over.

It took five days for me to fall apart. It took five days for the shock to wear off. Five days for the tears to come, and then not stop for an entire day.
It took a Summer of conversations. Love. Hugs. Prayers. Leaning on shoulders. An amount of reliance on other people that I've never experienced before.

If you've read my past blogs, you know that my Summer was pure adventure, experience, and healing. I'm not going to bother reiterating all of it. I short: it was exactly what I needed. It was a time that God began to rebuild my hopes, dreams, and plans. He killed the ones that I had thought were what I needed, and He showed me little glimpses of His hopes, plans, and dreams for me.

As Summer turned to Fall, I found myself back in school, working as a barista, and living alone with my precious little The Frog Princess Buttercup.
Sometimes I wake up and the crushing sense of loneliness is like a weight on my whole body that won't let me out of bed. Just sitting there glaring at me, reminding me that I'm not married, I'm not dating anyone, and I am very, very alone.
The loneliness reminds me that there is a wedding dress sitting in a closet as good as rotting.
The loneliness makes sure that I remember that so many of my friends got married, while my relationship completely fell apart.

But then.
On January 1st. I went to work hating the world. Pissed off. Frustrated. Cranky as all get out. Snapping at my coworkers. Trying very hard not to glare at customers. Failing at lying when people said "How was your New Years Eve?" I wanted to tell people I was fine, but I could not lie. Instead I was almost bluntly honest with them, and then hurriedly apologizing for being a cynic.

Before I knew it, my coworkers were surrounding me with love and some really powerful advice about embracing being alone.

 "The world is your oyster. The world is my oyster. The world is OUR oyster. We're not married! We're out here on our own, for the first time! And we can do ANYTHING. You are not broken because you're not married. Your story is not your friend's story. Your friend's stories are not your story. Your story is your story. Embrace it. Love yourself. Don't wait for a man to give you purpose. Because a man can't give you purpose. A man can't complete you. You have to be complete on your own before you're ready to share the REST of your life with a boy!"

Thank you, Abbey. I love you. I'm thankful beyond words that we work together.

All of this to say:
It's a New Year and I've got pretty much new everything going for me. Except, my faithful books and art...but, well, you get the point. Everything is new. My life looks nothing like it did 365 days ago. It frightens and excites me at the same time. But in all honesty, I hope my life doesn't change THAT much all over again this year.
And no. I am not making a resolution this year. I haven't done one since I was like ten or twelve. And I am also no longer doing the projections, either. I'm tired of being disappointed in what I hope to happen in a year. I'm just letting it all go, and am going to be content in whatever this year contains.