The Choice to Wait

Recently, I’ve come to an existential comprehension of why “long-suffering” and “patience” are synonyms…
It takes a distinct determination, a fortitude and resilience to wait patiently for something so deeply desired.

Patience isn’t just about letting time pass.
It’s got to do with the attitude adopted while the necessary time lapses.

It is, by no means, a passive virtue.
It’s active. It acts with dignity, with decorum.
It resists the urge to rush things. It waits.

To choose to love is to choose first to wait…

Reflections on the Accident

I finished re-doing my hair this past weekend – putting in new braids in preparation for a friend’s wedding. Hopefully, that is the last I will see of pieces of my shattered windshield. My car was officially totaled, by the way. I’ll be needing more than a new windshield now.

There’s so much I could say about the accident, but I’ll try to summarize as I itemize…

Lesson 1: Accidents happen

It was snowing on my way to work two days ago. Traffic was slow. The roads were slick. Reminding myself that my accident happened the day after the snowfall, not the day of, didn’t help. And the fact that I was driving a borrowed car made it worse. The only other time I experienced that kind of anxiety on the road was when I was first learning to drive on the highway. No matter how good of a driver I consider myself to be, and in spite of my defensive driving, accidents happen.

My accident happened. I can’t change that. But I can choose how I respond to the fact. Will I quit driving in the snow altogether? No, I refuse to let fear rule me. There is something to be learnt from accidents and mistakes of the past, and they are a part of who we are, but they do not define us.  I am more than the sum total of the unfortunate accidental incidents in my life that result from the mistakes of others. And I am more than the sum total of my own mistakes. Accidents happen, but by God’s grace, neither my mistakes nor the mistakes of others will define me.

Lesson 2: Accidents take time

Even though I had the good sense to know that the aftershocks of the accident would come slowly, stepping out of that car last month, with not a scratch, I actually thought it’d be over in a matter of days. All I had to do was file the police report, contact the insurance agency and get my new car, right? Right! But, that takes time.

My accident was probably over in under 5 minutes but here I am, a month later, still dealing with the ramifications: No car; Glass in my hair; Psychologically affected. All of this stuff is part of the accident experience. There’s no way I could have posted thoughtful reflections on the accident before letting it play itself out.

Lesson 3: Accidents take unexpected things

My GPS, my favorite hand lotion, my car phone charger, a new bottle of windshield wiper fluid…These are some of the things that remained in my car when it was towed and I didn’t have the means to go and collect them in time.

The first one I missed was my hand lotion. It’s a scent that’s no longer on the market and I was using it sparingly to make it last. It’s gone now. Irreplaceable. The wiper fluid I thought about as I was riding in a friend’s car and her windshield got all dirty “Argh, I had a whole bottle in my trunk…” But that’s replaceable. Phone charger…? Well, I won’t need one until I have a car again. GPS 🙁

Even though these items were not ‘involved’, per se, in the accident, losing my car meant losing them as well. Some of them replaceable. Some not. The extent of collateral damage manifests itself in time.

Lesson 4: Accidents remind you that you’re alive

The thought of dying never crossed my mind while the accident was happening. Even now, I really don’t think dying was an option. But my friends’ comments after the fact brought an awareness of the fragility of life. I guess, I could have died. I mean, anytime you get into a car to go on a trip you risk death. In fact, just living itself is risking death. haha. But an accident reminds you how thin the line is and which side of it you’re on.

The shower gel I’d been using ran out a couple of days after my accident and I had to pick a new one from the stack in my bathroom (I love showering and if I indulge in anything, it’s shower gel 🙂 ). I remember thinking to myself, “If I die today, who will get to use my favorite shower gel? Not me! So I might as well use it today.” Yes, there are things that are only for special occasions, like my Sabbath shower gel, but that doesn’t mean my regular shower gel should be whack. I’ll use shower gel I like for every day and extra special shower gel for the Sabbath!  Seeing as we’re alive, why not live!?

Lesson 5: There is life after the accident

Inasmuch as I am not defined by my accident, I want to talk, think, write about something other than the accident. On the day of the accident, some friends came to hang out at my apartment in the evening. They hadn’t heard what had happened earlier in the day. I didn’t tell them. I wanted to talk about something else. Let them read it on my blog 😉

Of course my friends should know so that they don’t think I’m just avoiding them when I don’t show up at events because I “don’t have a car” but retelling a story gets old for the narrator or the hearer. I’m obviously still ruminating on the effects of the accident, but I’m done telling that story. I’ve accepted that it happened, I’ve given it a place in my being, now on to living my life.

Conclusion

These are my reflections on a vehicular accident that took place a month ago. There are more traumatizing accidents dating a little farther back that I have yet to parse with the same clarity. But, as I said, accidents take time. And the bigger the accident, the longer the time it takes. Perhaps someday soon I’ll be ready to reflect on those in a blog post.

Happy Valentine’s Day

The big question for a blogger today: Do I acknowledge the day? or do I not?

Thing is, I’ve been meaning to write something concerning Whitney Houston. She was so gifted! A friend introduced me to her performance of The Star Spangled Banner at the 1991 Superbowl – sent chills down my spine; so seamlessly, artfully, executed: made me proud to be American! Wait a minute, I’m not American…That’s just how good it was – made me want to be American so I could be proud to be American haha. Nothing else does that to me!

There’s the fact that she started out singing gospel then gradually veered from that. The fact her Mom traveled with every tour. Her marriage to Bobby Brown. Her struggle with drug addiction. So many thinking points from her life…

But as I thought about thinking about Whitney Houston’s life, you know what really struck me? It was the question of what people would say of me when I die. Placed under the celebrity’s scrutiny, how would my life fare?

Then I was listening to a discussion, on npr, concerning the pentagon’s announcement of frontline positions opening up for women in the military. What do I think about that? I’m all for equal opportunity in the work force, but the frontline is no place for a woman. Hold on, the frontline is no place for anybody! What lies at the root of this gender discrimination in warfare? And is it ok?

And what about military intervention in Syria? Being from a small politically-troubled country in Africa, I have, in the past, found myself wishing America would do something to help the victimized people of my nation. It wouldn’t take much, I don’t think…

But I’ve come to realize that nations should have sovereignty, which means that they have the freedom and responsibility of solving their own problems.

It’s like a married couple, right. They’ve got to work through their own squabbles and disagreements by themselves. Something’s got to be terribly, terribly wrong for outside intervention to be made necessary. But where do you draw the lines? It’s tricky. Where would I, as a Christian, draw the line?

But before I could blog about these things, Valentines’ Day rolled around and it seems every status update on facebook has to do with it.

So do I ignore it, or do I blog it?

Well, this is my most earnest attempt to blog it…

Happy Valentines’ Day people 🙂

womanity…

My friend got me reading this article that got me thinking about womanhood.

I’m no feminist, but as the Bible teaches, I believe that men and women were created equal though different. Somewhere along the line, the woman came to be defined by her child-bearing capacity. Then, the counter-swing so emphasizes everything but that capability.

What defines me as a woman? I mean, in a perfect world, what would a perfect woman look like? And I’m thinking beyond the Proverbs 31 woman because not every woman will have the privilege of a family of her own. God leads godly women to lives of singleness too.

There are so many dimensions to this intellectual exercise in definitions of womanhood that I’m thinking about considering this the introduction to a series of reflections on the topic. Hmm.

My conclusion for today, on this topic, is that I, as a woman, am not defined by my womb. Neither am I defined by my brain. My ultimate goal is not to achieve worldly praise in my career. Nor is my single aspiration to marry and be fruitful in multiplication.

What, or rather, Who defines me, is God. He may choose to give me a family…He may choose to give me a prosperous career…He may choose not to give me either…Whatever He chooses for me, is who I will be. And it is only in living to the fullness of His calling that I will find fulfillment.

More thoughts on womanity forthcoming 😉

they’re shrinking!

I promise, I was a 7.5/8 shoe size! But I go shoe shopping today and I’m comfortably a 7…sometimes, even a 6.5! There are two theories to explain this:

Theory One

My feet are shrinking. There are multiple sub-theories to this one. Two of my favorites go as follows:

  • It could be a degenerative condition associated with ageing…
  • It could be that running in vibrams has increased the use of muscles in my feet leading to a leaner look… (see “Born to Run“)

Theory Two

Shoe companies are switching the standard for shoe size in a conspiracy to make me self-conscious. This happened to me with clothes sizes before. I went from a 4 to a 0 without losing a pound! I mean, I really don’t have that much to lose 🙁 . Express probably told Nine West it was their turn to pull a fast one on me.

Irrespective of the cause, the effect is incontrovertible  – my shoe size is decreasing!

When answers aren’t enough…

You have faced the mountains of desperation;
You have climbed…you have fought…you have won…
But this valley that lies, cold, before you
Cast a shadow you cannot overcome…

And just when you thought you had it all together…
You knew every verse to get you through;
But this time all the sorrow broke more than just your heart
And reciting all those verses just won’t do.

When answers aren’t enough, there is Jesus!
He is more than just an answer to your prayer.
And your heart will find a safe and peaceful refuge.
When answers aren’t enough, He’s there!

Instead of asking, “Why did it happen?”
Think of where it can lead you from here.
And as your pain is slowly easing
You can find a better reason
To live your life triumphant through the tears.

When answers aren’t enough, there is Jesus!
He is more than just an answer to your prayer.
And your heart will find a safe and peaceful refuge.
When answers aren’t enough, He’s there!

I’m on Pinterest… :)

After several friends from intersecting friend groups pestered me for months, I finally joined Pinterest last week. Granted, it wasn’t to appease them that I succumbed…rather, it was because I’m helping a friend with a project and he, being out of the country, directed me to his Pinterest for guidance on what to do.

There’s no way I’d ever get into this, was my first impression after joining. (Oh, for those learning about Pinterest for the first time, I’d summarize it as a personal wall where you pin pictures of interest to you.) I wondered where anyone would ever find anything to pin here. Do you go online to browse the internet for things to pin? And how could you ever figure out whose accounts to follow other than your friends’?

In the four days since I joined, I’ve received an average of four emails per day, informing me of a new follower to my pins. All from friends, of course, who are probably just doing the courteous thing to welcome me to another procrastination device. What has struck me, though, is the response those email notifications evoked in me…

Seemingly out of nowhere, I found myself thinking about my audience. How shall I portray myself to them? What impression would I like for them to have of me based on my pins? Before I was even aware of it, I got caught up in fabricating an image of myself for a pass-time I’m not even certain I’ll keep up with!

This realization has spurred many, many thoughts that I’ll probably come back to flesh out at some point here…How to find the balance between decorum and authenticity…Self-image versus projected persona…My blogging philosophy…Leadership when you actually have followers…The wall versus the timeline on facebook…etc etc etc…

So anyway, I’m on Pinterest…for now 🙂 Let me know if you’d like an invitation!

favorite time of the week

I love Sabbath! It’s not so much the “not working” aspect of it. And, as much as I love the fellowship with fellow believers, that’s not what I love most either. Sabbath school time is up there for what makes Sabbath awesome, but that’s not it. And choir is so much fun, but not the best part.

My favorite time of the week, and the best part of Sabbath is Friday evening, after vespers. When I come home (or the guests leave); I bid my roommate goodnight; and then just spend time alone with Jesus. There’s nothing like it! It’s my absolute favorite time of the week 🙂

can I ask this…?

There’s a song by Chris Rice titled “Big Enough” that asks a lot of questions. It’s on one of my work-music playlists so sometimes, I’ll hear it several times in one day. As it played yesterday, the lyrics finally became audible.

“God, if You’re there, I wish You’d show me
And God if You care then I need You to know me
I hope You don’t mind me askin’ the questions…”

My brother (whom I love and adore!) used to torment me as a child. He slapped me around to make me tougher. Made me sing while running to increase my lung capacity. Threatened to make me read the book of Revelation, which, back then, I thought was just full of scary monsters! All of these things made me a stronger person. One of the greatest gifts he gave me, though, was permission to question my faith.

You’ll understand, that for a young girl who grew up in the church, questions like, “Does God even really exist?” can be traumatizing. So, when he would bring up like topics, I’d fight really hard to dismiss them from my mind. “How do you know that what you believe is the truth?” “What if the Bible isn’t actually God’s Word?”

The scariest thing about these questions was the possibility that my answers would contradict the faith I had been raised in. What if I came to the conclusion that God didn’t exist? What if my church wasn’t God’s true church? Or what if the Bible wasn’t the inspired Word of God? I was afraid to ask the questions…

Memory fails me for the timeline, but I remember, at some point during my early teens, my parents told me that if ever I found that the church I grew up in did not follow the Bible, I should leave and join a church that does. They were both converts to the faith. They raised me in the church they believed to be true to the Word of God, but my allegiance was not to be to this church. Rather, I was to be true to God’s Word, even if it led me out of the faith I’d been raised in.

Who knows how serious they were with that liberty? But at least it gave me a freedom that engendered security. You’d have to be confident in what you believe to allow your child to question it. Ooh, or maybe it was reverse psychology…so I wouldn’t actually ask the questions? I started asking them anyway. With a lot of fear at first…hoping I’d end up where I’d started; then with greater confidence that asking was the right thing to do.

The God I believe in is the kind of God who wants to be known – hence, the Bible. He does everything He can to disclose Himself to humanity (Hebrews 1:1-3). Assuming He exists and that this is true of Him, then why wouldn’t He answer my sincere questions?

Rather than spending my life afraid to look into legitimate matters that present themselves to my thoughts for consideration, I’ve embraced the questions. So far, I still believe that God exists. I still believe in the Bible as His inspired Word. And I am still a part of the faith I was brought up in. I hope to remain intellectually honest as time progresses, to remain true to myself and to the things I believe to be true.

The refrain to Chris Rice’s song ends:

“I hope You don’t mind me askin’ the questions
But I figure You’re big enough
I figure You’re big enough…”

we are one

When the weather started turning chilly, I took the air out of my bike tires and brought it inside. But having experienced the joy of exercise, I actually couldn’t bear the idea of a sedentary life all winter long. So I laced my running shoes…haha, actually, more like, strapped my vibrams, and ran off in search of runners’ high.

Along with runners’ high, though, I found runners’ knee. You see, when I first started running, I could only go so far before my heart was beating so hard I thought it’d pop out of my chest. But after several weeks, I was doing 2miles, easy. My goal was a 5k for Thanksgiving.

That didn’t happen, because I was too busy spending time with friends on Thanksgiving, so I went out to make up for it the next day. It was a beautiful day. Sun shining, uncharacteristically for so near December. Cool enough to feel thoroughly invigorating. Warm enough for just a t-shirt. I’d done about 3miles but I felt like I could just keep on going!

So, I did. I kept running. That was my longest run yet. Pathetic, I know, for those marathoners out there, but an accomplishment for little me! I wondered how far I could go before getting tired. And the little pain in my left knee…it’d go away once I stopped, right?

I upped the distance too drastically…probably didn’t even realize my form disintegrating the longer I ran. So, here I am, 2months later…that pain in my left knee…not gone!

It was so beautiful yesterday, I took a break in the middle of the day to go for a run. I almost completed a mile before my knee started complaining again. Argh. It’s so frustrating! Now that my heart can do it, my body won’t.

As I limped home, upset with my body, I realized something. My knee is as much a part of my body, as is my heart. When my heart was too weak to go the distance, I worked with it. I took the time to condition it, to strengthen it, so that it could endure. Why then, was I so short fused when it came to my knee? It was my neglect, in the first place, that led to its pain.

Reminded me of the sermon at church 2weeks ago “The Same Spirit.”

You know what else? When my heart was too weak, I would say that, “I cannot run more than a quarter mile.” But now that it’s my knee limiting me, I say, “My knee won’t let me run more than a mile.” It’s as if I’d embraced a certain dualism with regards to my being. A flawed dualism! Or is dualism, in essence flawed?

So it’s nice outside again today. But I won’t be going for a run. I finally acquiesced and bought a knee brace. If my knee can’t do it, then I can’t do it because my knee and me, we are one.