Oh, the oddity that is humanity.
Here’s hoping Love wins out among all the things we think we need!
Artist. Author. Kinda Funny.
Oh, the oddity that is humanity.
Here’s hoping Love wins out among all the things we think we need!
I remember being in the 7th grade and someone pointing out a Roxy model in a Seventeen magazine. There was a group of us eating breakfast at Hardee’s before school… I think it was someone’s attempt to start a “Bible study” before school started, but I don’t remember it lasting past that one early morning. When the Bible study was over and the breakfast sandwiches had been eaten, one of the girls pulled out her Seventeen magazine. “Jennie, this looks like you when you get older,” she said. The girl she pointed at was a short-haired brunette who was clearly a tomboy. She didn’t look like the other models, but she was still a model and she was cute in a tomboy-kind-of-way. It was the first compliment I remember getting as a middle schooler. Like most middle schoolers, I was awkward and underdeveloped, but without the obvious potential that other girls had to be high-school heartthrobs.
For example, I didn’t make the cheerleading team, so I borrowed a cheerleading uniform from a girl who did and I had my mom take cheerleading photos in our front yard, as evidenced by the mud-pit behind me…
I was approached by boys, but only to talk to my friends for them. Advice to middle school boys, or boys in general who are interested in girls: talk to the girl yourself, it will score you mad points not only with the girl, but also her friends, who you will more than likely have to impress more than the girl.
That being said, in 7th grade I got my first compliment regarding my looks, or my potential looks… one day, just maybe one day, way after high-school, I might look like a 90s tomboy model.
I was excited at the thought and wondered how long I would have to wait. One of the boys who overheard the comment being made about my future self walked over and asked if he could see the picture. “Wow, yea, I could see that,” he said, and my excitement grew… until he kept talking, “if that’s true, call me then, but not before.”
Excitement dwindled and the reality of my present self came crashing down on my two-minute long dream of becoming a 90s tomboy model. Everyone laughed, so naturally I laughed too, because that’s what you do when you’re in middle school and you don’t want to let on that you’ve been hurt. Except that it’s not what you should do. Never on your behalf or the behalf of others should you silence your voice and laugh with the crowd for the sake of fitting in. But in middle school I didn’t know that, and truth be told, sometimes I still forget it… because it feels good to fit in, even when it hurts. While it was clear I wasn’t going to be “asked out” anytime soon, I made peace with it by falling in love with the brothers that are Hanson and swearing my love, life and devotion to them. I think most middle school girls devoted themselves to Hanson in the 90s, and those who didn’t were clearly delusional… or so I thought until much too late in life (ahem, last week).
I MMMBopped my way through ninth grade when my five-year relationship with braces ended. I remember the day I got my braces off. I couldn’t stop licking my teeth, they felt so slimy and perfect. It was the first time something on me ever felt perfect. I went to youth group that night and a boy pointed out that I had gotten my braces off. The sun was setting and there was a chill in the springtime air. Everyone was outside scattered on the field in front of the church for that week’s game of dodgeball. Huffing and puffing while trying to dodge a big red rubber ball, a boy ran up to me, “you… you… you got your braces off!” followed by deep breaths. “Yea,” I smiled, not moving so as not to mess up my smile or get slime on my mouth. “It looks good,” he said, followed by the loud smack of being hit in the head with a big red rubber ball. “YOU’RE OUT!” a kid yelled at the boy who was distracted by my smile, and I wanted to attack the kid for interrupting my first compliment from a boy.
“Thank you,” I said to the boy as he walked off the field. “Are you cold?” he asked as he started to take off his puffy yellow jacket and walk back towards me. “A little bit,” I lied given the slightest possibility that a boy might offer me his jacket. “GET OFF THE FEILD, YOU’RE OUT!” the kid yelled again at the boy with the puffy yellow jacket who liked my slimy smile. “HE IS!” I turned and yelled, “HE’S GIVING ME HIS JACKET! I’M COLD!” I lied with confidence and a death stare seemingly from satan because the kid looked terrified. Don’t mess with an awkward girl on the outskirts of middle school when she is getting her first compliment and clothing offer from a boy. She may not be good at using her voice, but when you try to short her on her first interaction with a boy who might like her, she’ll find her voice real quick and verbally rip your head off.
He handed me his jacket, me still uncertain of why he offered it, but mostly certain it was because of my teeth. I went home that night and wrote a thank you card to my orthodontist. Seriously. I have believed in thank you cards for as long as I can remember. Dr. Ross Orthodontics knows what I’m talking about.
All of this to say, to my present self (because I’m forgetful) and anyone willing to listen, be nice to people. With love as the lenses with which you look through, speak truth over people about who they will become, but also speak truth to them about who they are now. Tell people they don’t have to wait to be great one day, tell them they are great now, growing into someone greater. Life is hard and middle school is harder. Kids need to be told they are smart and funny and beautiful and brilliant and fully capable of thinking for themselves and of voicing their truths.
Kids grow up, all of them, even the awkward ones, and they remember. They remember who picked on them and they remember who was nice to them. They remember the boy who wanted the girl to call him one day if she grew up pretty and they remember the boy who risked getting smacked in the head by a big red rubber ball so he could tell the girl he liked her smile. Nine times out of ten the girl never calls the first boy, but she still smiles and licks her slimy teeth when she sees puffy yellow jackets.
Take risks, not by jumping off cliffs or out of airplanes (though sure, do that too), take risks by being nice to people, even if you get nothing in return. Live a story worth telling by breathing life into other people and be amazed by the life it will breathe back into you. There are plenty of mean words out there to stereotype any sort of person you dislike or feel threatened by, but challenge yourself to look for something good, and say something even better. Where I live I always hear people say “send good vibes,” and yes do that, but don’t just leave it at sending good vibes in thought, speak them out. There is power in the spoken word and I think we would all stand a little more amazed at the end of each day if we spoke kind words to even just one person who might not even know how badly they need it.
Kindness matters. It is the fruit of love and it will nourish not only the recipient of it but also the giver. It’s not always easy… kindness, or love for that matter, but it’s worth it. If you don’t know where to start, start with a thank you card. There is always something for which you can be thankful… always… even if it’s your orthodontist from your entire middle school career, start there, and keep going!
Well, today is supposed to be the day I get my Vanagon out of the shop. Perhaps I am writing about it a bit prematurely because I’d like to say “I got my van out of the shop,” as opposed to “I’m supposed to get it out of the shop,” but I’m trying this whole naming and claiming thing. I’m speaking out in faith that even if I don’t get what I hope for in my time frame, my God isn’t neglecting me, but in fact being so, so good to me in His better timing of things.
I tend to be afraid to speak out what I hope for, in fear that if it doesn’t happen, I won’t know how to handle my disappointment, or even how to approach God with disappointment. Maybe I fear God can’t handle my disappointment, and I don’t want Him to be disappointed in me for being disappointed in Him, and so I avoid the whole disappointment fiasco by not expressing any sort of desire, just incase said desire can’t or won’t be met.
I’m tired of living as if God can’t handle my emotions and I’m tired of playing it safe. I’m tired of being fearful to speak out a hope because of what other people might think if it doesn’t happen.
God doesn’t need me or my van getting fixed to prove that He is God and that He is listening to His people and that He is in fact in charge. My plan is to get my van back and head out of Portland tomorrow. I’m learning to hold my plans loosely because He may change them, and to not think He’s brushing me aside if He does.
I’m also learning to speak out in faith without all the answers or the facts, knowing that God can handle my disappointment and plan an adventure and write a story better than I could ever hope to.
This whole process has become one of having to trust the Lord, not just with the van, but with my life. I NEVER would have thought that buying a VW van would so challenge my view of God and reveal so much of my character that needs to be worked on.
For starters, I’m pretty selfish. I want what I want when I want it. God is continuously good to me and many times over He has given me a glimpse of a something or a someone He wants to bless me with, and often times He has said something along the lines of “hold on, don’t reach for it yet, let me make it better.” God wants to not only give me something, but wants to make it better before He gives it to me and I say, “no, I want it now.” I settle for a watered-down version of what God wants for me simply because I want the world and I want it now.
Which leads to my next character defect, I am incredibly impatient. I want the finger-snap answer to prayer as opposed to the long process. Who doesn’t want the finger-snap? It’s much easier and feels much better than a long, tiring and gruesome process of becoming a better version of ourselves. I want to be patient, I want to be selfless, I want to be kind, but I want God to zap me with those things so that it will be easy to be those things. I don’t want to be put in a place of having to practice patience, having to share when I don’t want to, and having to extend kindness when it’s hard. Being kind to someone who is kind to me doesn’t mean I possess kindness and have that to offer people, it just means I am capable of responding to kindness.
And perhaps that is another character defect, I am good at responding to people, but I don’t know how good I am at being good to people. I respond to a hand that asks for help, but I rarely offer my hand first. I respond to someone who shows or tells me they love me, but I rarely offer my love first. I would make a great paramedic, responding to calls all over the place, but I would make a horrible search and rescue, in part because I don’t seek, I just hope to find.
Man, ugly spades are flying all over the place.
I am not very good at seeking the Lord, and yet by some bizarre twist of my makeup, I am just as bad, if not worse, at waiting on the Lord. I find myself in a constant state of Limbo, neither seeking nor waiting, just keeping busy to pass the time and hoping the Lord shows up.
I don’t want to be busy for the sake of not being still, I want to be busy because I’m working hard, which is yet another character defect, I don’t work very hard. I work hard enough to say I worked, but not hard enough to endure when things get hard. I give up easily. When something comes up, I give up and I say I tried. Starting something is not trying, starting something is just that… starting. Trying is continuing what you started, even if you don’t feel as amped about it as you did when you started.
And while maybe I have taken note of these things before, all of these character defects have come to the surface and exposed their ugly roots in my life as a result of going through this whole van process. Yes, I wish it was as simple as being gifted a VW van in perfect condition for crazy cheap and hitting the road as soon as I was ready, but the process has exposed more work that needs to be done, not just in and on the van, but in and on me, that if not worked on could lead to more damage further down the road.
An un-restored me is just as dangerous to the lives of others on the road as an un-restored VW van. We were both born in the eighties, my van and I, we’ve both been through a lot, hold a lot of stories and have a lot of wear and tear as a result of. We both need work. And just as getting the work done on my van couldn’t be done without the helping hands of community, neither could I get through some of life’s obstacles without the helping hands of community.
As much as I hated the list of things the mechanics told me they were working on, I was glad the problems were found. Only in exposing the problems can we get to working on them and function at our best. While the waiting process is long and the work is tough, I know it is for the best. I know that just as those mechanics are getting that van in great shape for me to start a long journey, so the Lord is getting me in great shape to continue on in life’s journey, only making me better with each defect He picks apart and works on.
Lord willing, I get my van back today.
In fact, I’m claiming it now… I get my van back today! I’m writing about it on the unsafe side of the phone call, the side without the answers or the guarantees.
One thing I know for sure, God has been working on my attitude. For someone like me who is easily discouraged, I have found so much hope and joy in the simplest of things, as I have realized that worry really doesn’t add a single hour to my day or a single day to my life.
I have taken hard things, like moving out of my “perfect” home, and instead of avoiding the process or complaining about it, I have learned to enjoy it…
I have let go of hands I didn’t want to let go of with a grateful heart that I ever got to hold those hands in the first place, instead of whining that I couldn’t keep holding on… okay, maybe I whined a little, but I let go with the faith that it was for my good.
Leaps and bounds, my friends, leaps and bounds from where I was.
The road ahead is a long one, I don’t doubt that, but I know I am equipped to take it… it’s just going to be a matter of remembering that I am equipped to take it even when I don’t feel like I am, even when the road gets tougher and possibly longer.
While He may change things up on me from time to time, I know that God Himself does not change, and so I am removing my hope in the external circumstances and placing it in Him who is constantly and consistently Him.
I know He is for me, restoring the damage that has been done and refusing to give on me in the process.
My God handles the restoration business like a boss! In fact, I think I can hear Him now…
“GO VAN GO!”