Monday, October 22, 2012

Grasping Hope

I am a self-proclaimed "optimist".

Philosophers call me an "idealist". The church tells me I am full of "hope".
The world calls me a "dreamer". 
Is my best quality now my biggest downfall?

I was raised by two wonderfully beautiful people. My mother was somewhat of a hippie when I was a child. She had a pottery wheel in the garage, and blank canvases scattered throughout the house. I would fingerpaint with ketchup at the dinner table, and I wore halloween costumes almost year-round. Coloring inside the lines was for schmucks; and learning "realism" paintings in art would always include tie-dye and glitter. I could be anything I dreamt of being. It wasn't until the 7th grade when I realized I probably wasn't going to be flown out to England to become Baby Spice because of my talent show performance. 
We never failed as kids. Our punishments were never to inflict guilt or shame on us. They were always to encourage us that we could do and be better. Her main mode of "punishment" was writing essays and reading them at the dinner table. This way, we learned to express our feelings, AND, reflect on the possibility that we chose the lesser of the right decisions. She instilled AUTHENTIC manners in her kids, allowing them to learn for themselves and be grateful for the little things in life. 

My dad was (and is) one of the most hard-working men I know. He blessed me radically growing up (and to this day still does). (Now, I really am not trying to boast or brag through this post. I am honestly trying to explain WHY I think the way I do, and why my mind IS the way it is.) My mom and dad had similar strategies in raising their kids. Both TRULY believed we could be whatever we wanted. Nothing would stand in the way of that. They never led onto the possibility that we couldn't. I wanted to be the President of the United States? My dad would give me Ivy League school names. An Olympic Gold Medalist?… I am now in swim lessons. The next Carrie Underwood?.. You are now singing the National Anthem in front of 9,000 people as an 11 year old. There was ALWAYS a way to attain what you wanted.

Birthdays were never celebrated lightly with my dad. I got my first dream car on my 15th birthday. My 18th was celebrated being flown to Chicago for an almost unlimited shopping spree. My 19th was a 4 bedroom house so all my friends and I could live together. My 20th was a 2010 Hummer H3. Getting the picture? I was never without. And each gift was with radical outpourings of love and words of encouragement. I was told every year how proud he was of me. How he wished he could do even more for me. Some say he spoiled me as a child. I honestly think he raised me like Jesus would. Doing everything he could for his kid. Unlimited blessing and outpouring and favor. I knew I could go to my dad for anything. I had no concept for the word 'no'. I only knew that my dad radically loved me and would do anything for me.

Now, think of these two worlds colliding. A nurturing mother who encourages your dreams of being a princess. Says you can do no wrong when it comes to creativity and expression. You hope for the best, because you've heard only that since birth. A dad who has resource and power. Who gives good gifts, and never laughs when you express your dreams of stardom at the dinner table. I had no thought that I could fail or be made a mockery of. Dreams were always reachable, and ration and reason were no acquaintance of mine.

This meant, I had no shame as a 6 year old grabbing the mic from the stewardess hand during plane flights. I wanted to be a spice girl, and damnit, there were 200 people trapped in a plane who MIGHT have connections, so I will start singing. This meant, I KNEW Disney was going to hire me as their next disney princess voiceover when I made a demo in the bathroom as a 10 year old. They would call as soon as they opened the envelope. 

Now think of all of this colliding with adult life. Someone forgetting your birthday is World War 2 because you have no grid for not being lavished on. Responding to your first 'no' really is the hardest thing you have ever had to do. Having a conversation with someone who gives reasons why something isn't able to happen feels like your entire world is coming down. Things that shouldn't be that big of deal, cause you the most grief and sorrow

You see, growing up, it didn't matter that I always hoped in something greater. It didn't matter that I had no option of failure, or even considered things wouldn't work out for the best. Because, looking back, there was no other option. My lot in life allowed for the best outcome. I was blessed to have been born into a wealthy family of dreamers. I was blessed enough to be surrounded my family members who not only encouraged my dreams and pursuits, but gave me no other option that to believe it would happen. Dreams always came true in our house. And if they didn't right away, you could be distracted by glitter and Disney princesses until they did.

Now that I am grown, I am faced with serious tension in my heart. Do I disown my idealism and quit hoping for the best to face life's realistic fate? Disney princesses don't have electricity bills and doctor visits to pay, and grabbing the stewardess' mic is now accredited as mentally insane. My fairy-tale marriage with prince charming actually takes time and effort, and apparently you can't wear your wedding dress every day. Dreams may take years, and believe it or not, music executives actually use the word 'no' after auditions. You have to daily fight the battle that giving up a college education to pursue your dreams and see the world, means having nothing to 'financially' show for it. Meanwhile, your childhood playmates have become engineers and now pass you on the streets with their Mercedes.

You see, I have had 23 years to create an idealist, perfect life for myself in my head. I had it all planned out and there was never failure or disappointment. You know what that does to a person who is all of the sudden faced with real life, big girl situations? Shit hits the fan

Because, there is a difference in hoping in perfection and hoping in someone who is the perfecter. One causes division and learns to place blame. The other holds you close and allows room for mistakes. One leaves you on the floor wondering how in the hell your life got to the point it is. There other sits on the floor with you and reminds you of the inspiring times you have had. 

So, when reality hits me square in the face, and all of my idealist views come crashing down, the Perfecter sees my 5 year old princess heart, and is proud I am the way I am. Because, He is hope. He is a dreamer. So, I'll try and put my hope in that for awhile. 
I will allow life to have it's ups and downs. I will allow myself to fail occasionally. I will allow life to look different than the movie I made in my head. I will allow myself to become a realist. Because, realism isn't expecting the worst. It's seeing life accurately, with hope being a perspective, and knowing perfection will never satisfy.

Friday, June 15, 2012

For those who feel they are in the midst of a storm...

Everyone has these seasons of life. Seasons of struggle. Seasons that seem to never end. Seasons that make you feel at the very bottom, starving for light and some air to your lungs.

I know for my family, it has been like that. Wishing that something would break. Wishing you could finally start coming to the surface for oxygen and hope. But, somehow, you get pushed back under before you can fully fill your lungs.

I don't have an epic pep talk for those who feel like this. Those cliche christian messages of hope never work for me in my seasons of darkness. The "wandering in the wilderness", about to reach your "promised land, just hold on a little longer" speeches just don't do it for me. 

I want raw God in those moments. I want him to show up in the flesh and pick me up off the floor. I want to open my eyes, in the darkness of my bedroom, and see a Jewish man stretching out his arms,  offering some kind of tangible hope. I want seraphim and living creatures of the book of Acts flying around my house. A supernatural occurrence that offers hope to my heart that God is alive and real.

Looking back on "seasons" of my life, I can see light at the end. From experience, I know it gets better. If only I could grasp perspective and tell my now-self that there too will be light in this one.

I wrote this song a few months ago, while feeling like I was in the midst of a storm. It's only a little snippet of it, but the part at the end always brings me hope that there is an out. The revelation that these seasons are here to strengthen your soul. Holding on for dear life, that the storms will bring life instead of drown us. Believing that rain is a good thing. And hoping the winds are on our side.

So, take a listen. And do it with grace, for my piano is probably older than you.

I've never done this, so excuse me for asking you to say it again.
Could you tell me you love me?
I've never been there, so my heart is unaware of the way to respond,
when you say things like your scared.

These storms are drowning me out.
These winds are taking the words right out of my mouth,
Can you hear me? I said that I love you.

I know the lightning can hurt.
The pain of my words is gridded through my doubts and fears.
But, believe me.

I promise you one day
I'll respond in a new way

Cause the rain only comes for a drought
I'm convinced more than ever now
The rains will bring life
the winds will subside
and baby we'll make it.

If we face it.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Mess

I've lost my words,
my thoughts have disappeared.
My pen no longer knows it's old friend, paper.

It's the end of the day,
and I am alone.

Alone with the thoughts in my head, that no longer make sense.
Alone with the tension in my heart.
Fighting for love. Fighting for life.

Distance greets me.
Trust leaves me.
My inner self meets me.

Pride and humility clash like fond warriors.
My opinions are chaos, blinding me from selfless love.
Pride sure makes a mess when it clothes itself for dignity and honor.

What do I want the most?

My Jesus met soul says, "humility, and all things good."
My pain stained past says "your habitual responses create familiar protection".

So, I build new walls,
form new callouses.

Because, sometimes, it feels better to want to healed,
than actually healed itself.