Lead, Kindly Light

Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see The distant scene; One step enough for me.

Because He Lives

Filed under: Uncategorized — graingergirl at 8:41 pm on Sunday, April 4, 2010

Recently when I went to church, one of the things that the minister said right before prayer time was, “Now take some time to reflect on and thank God for the ways in which He is showing Himself to you today.”

And that got me thinking – of all the many ways in which God shows Himself to me every day.  To name a few, because of Jesus:

  • I wake up in the morning and give thanks for the day He has given.
  • I see the new leaves coming out of tree branches and praise God for His beautiful work in creation.  My dear mom likes to say, “God is so rich that He can make all the leaves disappear every fall, because He’ll just make new ones grow back in the spring.”
  • I can confess to a forgiving God when my selfishness and pride take over (which happens many times a day, sadly)
  • There is freedom in my work because I know that my identity is not synonymous with my performance on the job, and the praise of my bosses–while nice–do not speak to my inherent self-worth.  In a strange way, I think that knowledge actually frees me to perform better than I otherwise would.
  • When I feel icky (as I had for the last three days due to severe seasonal allergies) I can always pray for help, and know that God is sovereign over everything — even my hypersensitive sinuses.  (I also stop and wonder sometimes whether Jesus had allergies)
  • I am reminded that every person has inherent worth, not because I say so, but because God says so.  So when I find it difficult to love someone, because of Jesus I am more inclined to remind myself, or ask God to kick me in the butt and remind me, that He loves them infinitely, so I should too (although admittedly, and sadly, sometimes it takes a long while for me to get to the asking part)
  • When I see bad things happen, I can mourn to a God who knows already and is also grieving the suffering and injustices of the world. And I can pray for Him to make things better, and trust that one day — for certain, in His good time — He will.
  • I know my future is secure in the hands of a mighty God.  I confess that I don’t always “feel” this, but deep down, I know it’s true, and it is comforting.

Those are just some of the thoughts that came to mind…

Monday, December 14, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — graingergirl at 10:26 pm on Monday, December 14, 2009

I’ve been calling you again.

You probably didn’t even perceive my pause, because your life continues as it ever did.  You skip along just fine, not knowing that I, at the other end of the line, struggle every day to make this decision:  to call, or not to call?

It has been getting easier and easier to make the decision, but not that much easier to converse.  Have you noticed that we’re not easily laughing together the way we used to?  Does my voice seem a bit more stiff?  Do I seem more distant, animated only when talking about third-party subjects like work, which have come to feel much more “safe” than topics closer to my heart?  Have you noticed?

Probably not.

You have no idea that right now, the reason why I continue to call is out of guilt and out of insurance.  I call you out of guilt because I know that all the trouble you have caused me and are causing me is out of love.  Your big, fat, overflowing, gushing, invasive love.  I’m lucky to have it, yes.  But it is also causing me much pain.

I also call you out of what I call insurance.  Because I remember that just two years ago, I agonized for a different reason:  because I thought you might die very soon, you might leave me, and then I didn’t know what I would do.  And I also remember that three years ago, I resolved to call you as often as possible, because you were taken away in an ambulance and I only found out after receiving 7 missed calls, the scariest thing I have ever seen on my cell phone.  I vowed then not to let you live without knowing how much I cared.

And so now, even though I don’t “want” to, I call.

But it’s still hard.  And I wish you would understand my point of view.  I wish you would learn how to help me while trying to help me, rather than hurting me while trying to help me.  I know, somewhere, that you do it because you care.  But in the moment, I sometimes feel like you do it because you’re afraid of losing me.  And that’s not a way to love me.

Tomorrow I won’t call you.  I’m okay with skipping a day or two here or there, or an entire weekend, since you apparently can’t stand to hear what I’ve been doing or who I’ve been spending time with anyway.  But don’t you worry:  I won’t carry out what I sometimes am tempted to do – to punish you, by distancing myself for real.  I wouldn’t be able to handle that myself – not only because of me, but also because of what it would do to you, how it would hurt you.

So, instead, I will continue as I have been:  carrying this load by myself, battling my own battles by myself, and letting you go on as you have been… skipping along.

Now.

Filed under: Uncategorized — graingergirl at 7:46 pm on Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Daring to peer into the glazed and rippled reflection pool of the foreseeable future, everything feels so uncertain.

Still walking on that long and creaky, unstable bridge between the two very different worlds of “young adulthood” and “real adulthood.”  Not fearing a fall from the bridge so much as worrying that when my feet reach the other side, they will unprepared for what they find.  Simply not being ready:  financially, mentally, emotionally.

Looking up to heaven, gazing into the sky that has changed its wardrobe every day as long as this earth has turned.  Pleading with God.

From the Notebook: God Stepped In

Filed under: Uncategorized — graingergirl at 9:35 pm on Friday, July 10, 2009

The day started out grey.  And as the morning rolled into the afternoon, the skies grew darker and darker.  The clouds loomed, threatening and glaring.

I lokoed at at the skies with heaviness in my heart.  I felt abandoned, cold, and sad.  I whispered a plea for God to walk with me in the downpour, half-expecting Him to ignore me.  Then, grasping my tiny, flimsy, pathetic umbrella of “courage,” I stepped out to brave the storm.

And just as I did, God stepped in.  He covered my hand with His and guided it to lower the umbrella.  With His other hand, He reached up to the sky and parted the clouds.

The soft glow of sun warmed my now-upturned face.  I smiled, relieved.

Then God pointed, again with His free hand (His other was still wrapped around mine) toward the rainbow He had set in the sky.  I gazed at the magical arc, and I laughed, humbled.

From the Notebook: Sunrise to Sunrise

Filed under: Uncategorized — graingergirl at 10:05 pm on Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I am a creature of habit, someone who finds security and solace in steady, stable, rhythmic patterns of life.  Some people call that monotony.  Others call it boredom.  I call it a haven.

Every day, I get up at the same time, go (more of less) to the same places, see the same faces, and end my day by speaking to the same three people.  Sure, there are variations in the details, but the skeleton of each cycle from sunrise to sunrise is mostly unchanging.  I like it that way.

I wonder what — if anything — that says about me.  Maybe it says I’m not adventurous.  Maybe it suggests that I crave control.  Maybe it means that I find joy enough in the substance of life, such that I don’t need whimsical scheduling to bring excitement to my day.

Or maybe it’s because I have already learned that no news is often good news.

From the Notebook: The Paradoxical Truth

Filed under: Uncategorized — graingergirl at 10:39 pm on Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I have a strange mental vascillation that changes with the winds from one extreme to the other, and back again, but rarely settles in the vacuous expanse inbetween.

Some days, I sense my smallness in this world acutely, and truly comprehend on a very deep level the Bible verse that reminds us that we are “a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”  On those days, I understand that my significance is like one grain of sand in the vast Saharan Desert.

On other days, I am struck with an awe that is quickly tempered with humility as I reflect on the evidence of God’s special and particular attention in my life.  In those moments, I am freshly aware that God chose me twice:  once, before I was born, He chose me to live.  Then again, when He claimed my soul, He chose me to Live.

So it is between these two poles that I vascillate, and wonder at the paradoxical truth therein.

From the Notebook: Pass Me By.

Filed under: Uncategorized — graingergirl at 10:17 pm on Monday, July 6, 2009

I have an addiction to Facebook, like many people born in the decade before and after the mid-1980s.

One function I frequent in particular is the photo function.  I love seeing recently-updated albums featuring any of the 765 friends/acquaintances who are connected to me in that virtual space.

I’ve noticed recently, however, that I gravitate toward engagement, wedding, and occasionally pregnancy, photos.  Maybe it’s all the beautiful smiles and proud grins, the gathering of friends and family, the flow of love that pours out of each image so profoundly that you could almost swear you heard a contented sigh.

But even as my eyes feed on those images and snapshots of bliss, the pictures always seem to leave me feeling a bit empty, a little bit hollow.  My heart feels a slight frown, a perceptible sinking.  Deep down, I think I fear that the “happy girl who has it all” in the pictures will never be me, and that while God has blessed me greatly with manythings, He may just pass me by on those things.

I hate to admit it, but it’s a fact.

From the Notebook: Flying Back “Home.”

Filed under: Uncategorized — graingergirl at 10:03 pm on Sunday, July 5, 2009

I’m flying back “home” now — away from one home and back to another.  LittleTown is home because it’s where Mom and Dad are, and wherever they are will always automatically qualify as “home.”  LittleTown is also home because it’s where I spent the first eighteen years of my life — it’s the place that knew me before I ever went to college, law school, or became a  BigLaw attorney in the City.  So much of who I am, and why I am the way that I am, comes from growing up in that blue-collar, industrial, Danish-heavy LittleTown on the Lake.

At the same time, the City has in the last nine months become another type of home.  It is the place where I sleep, work, see friends, and go to church as an “adultling,” my newly-coined term for someone who is in that nether-zone between student and “real grown-up.”  Adultlings like me may pull in bigger salaries than we’d ever imagined to pay off debt that is greater than what we’d ever wish on anyone — but we’re still playing pretend when it comes to being actual adults.  We’re not there yet; we are, and will for the near future remain, adultlings.

The City is my day-to-day home, the place where I maintain a small adultling nest as I wait to grow up into a real adult with real responsibilities, like a mortgage or children.  The City is like a set of training wheels.  I don’t know when I’ll be ready for a real two-wheeler.

What I realized most acutely during this visit home is that neither home is fully “home.”  The longer I am away from LittleTown, the harder it is to relate to the people there, especially at church.  I’m trying to figure out why that is true.  But when I hear them talk about “the Lord” and “the Word,” it sounds just as foreign to me as I probably sound to my co-workers when I talk about “going to church” and “reading the Bible.”

I guess it’s all relative.  But the people at LittleTown Church seem so holy, in one sense — so alike in that way — all speaking the same holy language and urging each other to clearly and courageously share the Gospel as Paul urged the Ephesians.  I definitely relate to that desire, but I guess living in the City just gives me a different starting point.  Especially since I work at a place like my law firm, where people face many barriers when it comes to meeting God:  time, realizing their need, cultural resistance, etc.  So it’s not so simple as just outright sharing the Gospel.  This is something I have trouble getting across to people back in LittleTown home.

Likewise, though, in the same way that the zeal of LittleTown people weirds me out a little, the utter indifference of City-dwellers is foreign to me too.  How can so many people live their lives without the love of GOd in their lives?  How can they survive even a day with the eternal uncertainties of their lives hanging there, unanswered?  This perplexes me greatly.

So neither place is home — or, more accurately, neither place is entirely home.  I keep telling myself that God-willing, when I cease to be an adultling, and have a family and kids of my own, then I will finally settle down and have a true home.  But I’m a little skeptical.  God is probably more complicated than that.  And maybe He is keeping me in this perpetual state of discomfort so I long for my eternal Home.

From the Notebook: High Time.

Filed under: Uncategorized — graingergirl at 10:00 pm on Saturday, July 4, 2009

It’s the Fourth of July and my last night at home before going back to the City.  It has been an emotional three-day trip back to the Land Flowing With Milk and Cheese.  I’ve had to reflect on and confront the ever-shifting tectonic plates of familial (dis)harmony, walk on eggshells around Dad about Rascal, and start to deal with the reality of doing long-distance with Rascal.

I am about to go to bed but pulled two things from the shelf in my bedroom just now as a challenge to myself.  First, I picked up “Black’s Law.”  I want to devote more of my free time to reading.  Second, I took this notebook.  I haven’t written in a while, and it’s high time I started again.

Lots of emotions are swimming around inside, and rightly so:  I’m in a period of great transition, uncertainty, and in some ways, instability.  Hopefully writing will help me sort through — or at least recognize — these feelings.

Lying beside me is my Bible.  I am grateful that once again I feel the great need to cling to God, and that deep down, I know His hand will be enough to sustain and carry me.

A Random Thursday

Filed under: Uncategorized — graingergirl at 7:46 pm on Thursday, June 18, 2009

She pauses, and leans back fully into her seat.   The back of the black leather chair is so high that from the rear, no one can tell that she’s sitting in it.   She presses her left foot against the stool on the ground, then bends her right knee and rests her right foot on top, in a completely casual and slouchy manner that hardly befits the corporate setting.   But with the big wooden desk to hide it all, she enjoys great freedom to even go barefoot under that desk.  No one knows.  And therefore, one cares.

Wrapped around her hips and partially covering her legs is a fuzzy blue blanket, the one she bought down in Union Square when she realized — soon after starting work — that the office was way too cold, all the time.  She has since discovered that between the space heater and cups of hot tea, she can stay reasonably warm through the day — but at night, the blanket is key.  And the softness provides a sense of comfort.  She likes soft things.  And she likes cute things.  She keeps a koala bear, a ladybug professing love, and a stuffed animal on her desk every day — because she is a completely sucker for inanimate objects with cartoony-looking eyes.  They give her comfort too.

Her eyes wander to nowhere in particular, flitting around and resting on random objects, seeing but never really looking. Finally she focuses on the crane-mobile hanging from the ceiling in front of her.  It brings back good memories of the friend who passed it on to her, after he left.  The eight rainbow-colored paper cranes gently float through the air, drifting and turning ever-so-subtly — providing evidence that the ventilation system is actually working.

Then her eyes, as if by default, glance back to the two glowing rectangles upon which her attention is fixed for the majority of her waking hours, five to seven days a week.  The cursor blinks steadily, expectantly.  Blink.  Blink.  Blink.  Still leaning back against the chair, she takes in the silence of this not-so-late, but late-enough hour.  All she hears is the steady hum of white noise.

The world is silent, and she’s all by herself — and she can hear herself think:

This is it.

And she decides that when her world changes drastically in exactly two weeks, she will take that opportunity to discover this world for herself, to build an independent life, to create meaning to fill the gap.

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