|In other news
||[Oct. 24th, 2006|05:21 am]
|||||Be the Center||]|
And for those really interested, here are some of the other random struggles and events of my life, in no particular order:
I got LASIK Surgery a month ago. The time I walked into the operating room to the time I walked out was less than half an hour. How’s that for speed surgery? It’s neat not to have to bother with contacts or glasses anymore. Still, while I’m safe enough to drive, my vision isn’t 20/20 right now, and I have a little double vision, even when I just have one eye open. The doctors assure me that it takes several months for eyes to heal, though everyone I’ve talked to said their vision stopped changing after a month. So, even though I don’t feel that great about it, I’ll wait a while longer. After all, with the plan I got, any further surgeries, if necessary, are free for the next two years. That will be enough time to really know what my vision will be like. And it is still cool to see pretty well without any correction. For the first two weeks, every time I went to bed, I felt like I was forgetting to take my contacts out. Shouldn’t everything always be blurry when you go to bed?
I participated in two weddings in the last half of September. My older brother Cory got married, and my friend Christy got married. My brother’s wedding was great. It was only about twenty minutes long, but everything went perfectly. I’ve never seen a wedding that went off without any small problems before, but I can’t think of a thing that didn’t go perfectly here. The reception was beautiful, and a lot of fun. I’m really happy for Cory and his new wife Angie. I do think they’re great together.
My friend Christy’s wedding was a blast. She married a great guy named Doug. Christy was so nervous/excited when she walked down the aisle that she actually started bouncing in place once she got to Doug. And I don’t mean a little – she was intentionally jumping just high enough for her feet to leave the floor. It was everything I and the other groomsmen could do not to burst out laughing hysterically. The wedding was one of those Catholic masses/weddings, and it went well. Afterwards, we went outside and had some pictures, then went into the reception, which was a lot of fun. While we knew both of them were going to do their best to get cake on one another’s faces, I was impressed with Doug’s ability to smear cake across Christy’s entire face. I think her mouth was the only area that didn’t have cake on it. Ironic, isn’t it?
There were a few things that happened at Christy’s wedding that were really pretty minor, but stuck strongly in my mind because they were so different for me. First, twenty minutes before the wedding started, Christy sent one of her bridesmaids to fetch me. I went with her into the bride’s room, and suddenly felt a strong feeling of displacement. Men aren’t normally supposed to be in the bride’s room, right? It was akin to walking into the women’s restroom. Even when you know there’s no one in there, and it’s perfectly okay to be there, it still just feels… strange. As soon as I got in, Christy looked at me and said, “Oh good, you’re here. Read this; I can’t figure out how to finish this.” She stuck a notepad in my hands, and I started reading it. It was her vows. With such little time to spare, I quickly threw out a few suggestions for good ways to finish. I don’t think she even really took any of my suggestions, but they gave her enough ideas of her own that the wrote a couple more sentences, and we both pronounced it good. And it was.
The second thing that happened is something that you can’t fully appreciate unless you grew up in a very traditional church. I gave a Bible reading during the ceremony, just like at my brother’s. But here I did it in the Catholic manner. That means, before reading the passage itself, I said, “A letter from Saint Paul to the Romans.” Then I read the passage. Then I said, “The word of the Lord,” and everyone else said, “Thanks be to God.” Now, growing up in the church, someone else was always the one to say, “The word of the Lord,” and I always said “Thanks be to God.” Every Sunday, for years and years when I grew up, that’s the way it worked. Now, it was the exact opposite. I can’t describe the feeling, but it just seemed so strange, and very fun.
Good-bye to Frank
Late in September our pastor, Frank, announced suddenly that he was leaving professional ministry. We were all surprised – it had come out of nowhere. After everything that happened with Steve in Amsterdam, I feared the worst. As it turns out, however, he just feels that this is where God is leading him. He was the one who initiated the idea that he should leave after a time of prayer. He didn’t like the idea, so he talked to the elders about it. He had them pray - twice – and each time they confirmed what Frank heard from God. So now, my church is looking for a new pastor. It seems like a strange process to me, but I can see the benefit of it as well. I was almost on the team to find the new pastor, but things didn’t work out. It’s just as well. After all, as I’ll explain later, I’m not sure I’m in the right church anymore.
The smallest group that ever was
I agreed to start a small group at my church recently. Here, a small group lasts for a year, then disbands. It may well reform a few weeks later when things start again, or it may not; it allows for small groups to focus on a particular topic for a while, and not need to keep focusing on it year after year. We had a day at church where we announced all the new small groups for the year. All of the small group facilitators/leaders stood to one side of the doors just outside the church, so people could come up to us, ask us questions, and decide whether they wanted to be on our small group or not.
Almost no one talked to any of us.
We think it was just too intimidating to most people. We were all standing in a big crowd, holding clipboards, and so they would have to come up to the entire group just to talk with one of us. That was over a month ago, and so far, my entire small group is… me. I’m far from being the only person without anyone on their group. I don’t know what will happen with this next.
I’m not sure why, but I have had the hardest time making friends here. I just don’t have anyone who I see on a regular basis, or who really seeks me out that often. When I was in Amsterdam, I would ask my friends what we were going to do that weekend. Here, I know none of the people I know will do anything, at least with me. Every weekend is spent at home. I’ve tried to get people to go out and do things, or to come to my place and do things, and it never seems to happen. I’ve tried to spend time with people, and for the most part, no one seems to want to. They either have their own thing that they’re doing or just aren’t interested in being that social. I haven’t felt this unpopular since middle school. So, I have become very lonely here. I miss my friends in Amsterdam, and in Fort Collins. I miss the deep relationships I had there, and the many friends I had just to hang out with. The past two weddings I’ve gone to, I’ve stayed up late with people who were strangers to me, just goofing around and having fun. For one group, this meant simply standing in a parking lot for hours, talking, making jokes, and laughing the whole time. I can’t remember the last time I did that. Plus, right now, no one is really seeking me out that lives close to me. I have two good friends whom I talk with often, but the closer of the two is an hour away. So I want to meet new people, and make good friends. Friends like those I’ve had in the past. People who I can have fun with, who I can connect with, people who share a vision for something in this world.
The only problem is, I’m really not sure how to do that. I believe I’ll figure it out eventually, but right now I’m still trying to start.
My church has changed a lot since I joined it a year ago. We lost a pastor, and many of the people who ran the church are gone now. Greg Grayson, my former small group leader, left recently for her daughter, because they didn’t have any kids who were his her age. And now I find myself feeling out of place there. I know a number of people there, but outside of Sunday mornings, I almost never see any of them. Even when I try to connect with people on other days, it very rarely happens. And I no longer feel like I know anyone there who is truly passionate for Christ. I want to live a radical, almost reckless life. I want to do big things, take big risks, and trust God will carry me through. I want to live life to the full, all the time. I want to dedicate myself to knowing and loving God and knowing and loving people. I just don’t see a lot of people with that same attitude in my church. There are a lot of people there who are certainly saved, but they don’t live that differently from most of the people around them. I almost never have conversations with them about spiritual topics, even when I try to bring them up. So, I am considering trying to find a new church. I don’t like the idea, honestly, but I can’t seem to escape it. I don’t want to be someone who leaves a church at the first sign of trouble. I don’t want to abandon the people I know there. Still, I have to admit I think I would be a lot more effective somewhere else, where I was with people who have the same heart I do. But then, where is that? If I left, where would I go? These are all questions which still remain unanswered.
Most of the people who read this will know that I have never been on a date in my life. It is a choice I have made for many good reasons. If anyone wants to know just what they are, let me know and I’ll write up a new post for them. Now, I have always wanted a girlfriend, and more, and I’ve found lately that desire is stronger. It doesn’t help that I don’t have many friends, and have been lonely. It doesn’t help that I am surrounded by people who don’t see any reason not to date someone based on their faith, or their long-term compatibility. Even my (now former) therapist suggested that I should find someone and date them, even if I didn’t think it would go anywhere. I honestly don’t know who I would date, even if I agreed with him.
Now, I know several godly, faithful women in Denver, but they all love Colorado, and don’t want to leave it. I, on the other hand, still feel called to be a missionary. This means I have a choice: pursue one of these women, or pursue God’s call. I choose God’s call, of course, and that won’t change. Still, I have to admit this is the hardest part of being a missionary in the middle of America. I don’t know a woman in all of Colorado I could see myself dating. Oh, I’m sure there are women I could, but I don’t know who they are. Some of my friends have suggested looking at e-harmony. The idea has some appeal… but I remain doubtful. I’ve heard a lot of bad stories about these dating services. Besides, I don’t want to date someone before I have a chance to know them well. That’s a slow process. I doubt e-harmony or other such services really facilitate that kind of relationship.
Sometimes contentment is hard. It’s made harder when you’re the only one around really trying to do that. I draw lots of strength from God, and also from several of my friends who live far away. I should read some Joshua Harris again. I want to be content with my life, and I know I can. For now, it’s just a struggle. And of my struggles right now, this is the easiest one, really, because here I feel I have the most direction. And maybe now God wants me to focus on learning more about contentment in every area of my life. And I think I am starting to do just that.
In two months, I will go to Urbana, an enormous missions convention held every three years, and put on by Intervarsity. I can’t wait to go. My hope is that God will speak to me there, and let me know what his next step is for me. I am going to go with a new friend, Rodney, who just moved to Denver from Amsterdam. I don’t know a lot about it, and I’m trying to keep from having any expectations, other than that God will speak to me. I wish it were sooner, but I can wait two months. If anyone wants to know more about it, feel free to click this link.
Finally, there’s Greg. Greg is an incredible man of God. He is probably the single most grateful man I’ve ever known. Every time you get him talking about his wife, or his daughter, or his salvation, tears well up in his eyes. Every time. It never gets old to him. He was my small group leader last year, and he’s been a friend and mentor to me. I haven’t seen him in a while, though, because I learned a month ago that he has a tumor in his brain. Since then, his life has been a whirlwind. We don’t know a lot yet, but it looks like they’re going to try an operation to learn more about the tumor and possibly remove it. Please, if you read this, pray for him. We’re all fearing the worst and hoping the best, and praying a lot. As for him, he’s taking it very well. He’s been in good spirits and is very positive about things. He knows God is with him.
And that’s what is going on in my life. It’s been a crazy couple of months, full of pain, hope, joy and promise. I’m really grateful for so much, and I can’t wait to see what God does now.
Wow. I write nothing serious for half a year, and then ten pages in less than ten days?