Today

Today is a Thursday.

Beep. Beep. Beep. I rise early. My door knob, the shower faucets, and the kettle are the first things I touch. Somehow, I feel awake, even at 6 AM.

I arrive at school ahead of schedule. I wait, sort of do some homework. My scene partner comes. We work with another friend. We sit knee-to-knee in the theatre, she whispers us our lines. You see, we’re not allowed to look at them just yet. Not today, anyway. Our Acting prof calls it Meisner or one of his techniques, at least. So our friend feeds our ears words and we go back and forth with them, reciting, strangely, beautifully.

Today, I go to chapel. I sit in the front row of the balcony for an easy get-away. I sing with the others and it is lovely and I listen to the speaker. But I leave 5 minutes early for class, to beat the rush.

Today, I arrive at class early. I change my clothes. Chat with a friend before class starts and eat jello for lunch. Today, other friends arrive and we ask each other questions about our Christmases and compliment new hair cuts.

Today, is the first Thursday of the semester. We have Voice & Movement. There are thirteen of us and one brilliant teacher. We all sit in a circle on the floor.

Today, we breathe, we learn, we discover. We write a bit, reflect, and then we talk. There’s a sweet intimacy that pervades the room and I’m happy and comforted by the time I leave.

Later today, I finish my homework in the collegium. Playwriting homework. It’s easy, but I’m distracted.

Today, I grab a mug and attempt to open a package of hot chocolate mix. A friend I hardly know is making tea, and then he offers to bring me a mug full of milk for my hot chocolate.

Today, I see many people. Many friends. I help lead youth group and we talk about evil and lies. I’m reminded of my thoughts in Voice & Movement and I smile.

Today, I drink from cups that others have filled. There are many because my life is very full. And I am so grateful for today.

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What was your today like? I’d love to hear about it!

If you haven’t done so yet, please take my short survey here and help me improve The Journey Home in the new year!

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Chapter Two

A year ago today, I embarked on what I called a “new era.” I drank up the new so hungrily, basking in its greatness. I could only wonder then what this new era would really bring.

I’ve shared many of my experiences of what really did happen in that first year of university. And now, I’ve come to know the many people who were once strangers and the classes that were just expectations and the success that was only all a dream. It seems so different now, going into it, knowing, sure of myself, only wondering what one prof will be like instead of six, excited to see friends instead of imagining who those people were.

It should be easy. It seems like it would be by the Facebook statuses and the opening week events and even from the way my own face lights up when I hear the word school. I’m excited for year two. Its going to be great.

But to be honest, its not easy. As much as I am looking forward to today, this week, this first semester, and my whole second year, I am dreading it.

I have expectations. For other people, for myself, for this year. As much as I do know, there is much I do not know.

I finished first year, happy in my success but disappointed in myself. I didn’t make many relationships. I hid. I fled from meaningful connections. I didn’t love people. And I regret that about first year.

So now, as I go into year two, its like I have a second chance. And its brimming with possibility, hope, and life. I want to make the best of it. I really do. I have dreams and plans and expectations — almost more than I had last year.

But sometimes, I want to hide again. I’m not sure if I can do it. The dark overcomes me. The light is hard to find. The friendly smiles disappear and I am alone and I just don’t know where to look or even how to say hello.

Rejection is my greatest fear and to be honest, failure is still really hard for me.

But this is a second chapter. The first is gone, in all its glory and regret. This is a new time, a second portion of the era I began one year ago.

I like to talk about grace for others yet can I have grace for myself? I know that God has grace for me, but can I accept that? I believe I am loved but can I open up and live that?

This year will not be as easy as it is to buy books or find my way to classes as a second year. It will be hard, I’m sure. I’ll get sweaty and messy and cry a bit, too. I’ll be rejected and I’m going to fail. There are unknowns and who knows what kind of trouble they will bring.

But in the unknowns, the challenges, the mess, and the failure, comes joy. This is life. The life that God has given me and the life that He will provide for, even when I forget to ask. And for that life I am thankful. Its a second chance to love other people and learn and become.

So here’s to second year!

Learn To Walk Again

I don’t remember what it was like to learn how to walk. I don’t recall the crawling, falling, tears, or tumbles.

There are many things we forget, in life. Unimportant, unnecessary, needless, little, things, as we say. Memories that would be impossible to remember.

And other memories we push away, toss to the side, try to remove the hurt. Forget. Forget. Forget.

 

I started university last fall, signed up for a Theatre major. I thought I knew. I thought I’d be ‘safe.’ Safe from memories, hurt, too much thinking, and tears. I figured I’d be happy, doing what I love, and that I knew what it’d be about because I knew what theatre was.

But theatre, I learned is an exploration. An exploration of others, of course, but also, of yourself. And that exploration can be scary and strange — a lot like learning how to walk for the very first time.

 

One day, my professor told us to lie on the ground on our backs, feet and legs and arms and hands spread out. And she told us to learn how to walk again.

It was hard and a little strange. But I made myself fall and I got back up and fell again and tumbled to the ground. And I remembered so many things.

You see, we can forget things in our mind, but the body remembers. There are certain things, programmed it would seem for eternity. Your mind may forget, but your body will not.

The body remembers its scars and scrapes and bruises. It remembers each tumble and fall. The body recalls what you’ve done and said to it, the ways you’ve abused it, the times you’ve felt shame, the people who hurt you. It knows how you cried from the nasty words and the blood that you shed and the heart that was broken. And you tried to forget. You tried so hard. But the body remembers what the mind does not.

 

As Christians, sometimes I find there is this stigma attached to our bodies. We’re constantly finding fault with the flesh. They’re impure, passing figures, after all, liable to grevious sins, we’ve been told from the pulpits and in Christian books.

Yet if we truly believe that the Father created us, we know that our bodies are His good and perfect creations.

And if we admit with our tongues that He sent His only son, in flesh and bone, through the body of a woman, we cannot deny that our bodies must be for His glory.

 

So learn to walk again. Today, tomorrow, this week, this year. Learn to love yourself, to know yourself, and the body you’ve been given. Learn to be whole and know that God made you. And He made all of you.

For this is what I learned from going back and learning to walk again, tumbling a bit and getting up.

To Be Transparent

Yesterday, a word stuck out at me: transparent. I was reading unChristian by David McKinnon and Gabe Lyons.

That word has followed me throughout this year — each time I meet up with it, pounding at my heart’s doors to get me to submit to it’s meaning.

Transparency; to be seen right through your skin. That’s how I see it.

Letting your guard down. Flinging your arms out and not caring what other people see. Allowing others into your lives and letting them see your heart. Not hiding anything, not staying back. So easy to describe, yet so very hard to actually do.

I often live in a world of masks and make-up. I like to hide behind a thousand layers and pretend that is me. I forge relationships and I try to hide when people walk by, hoping they won’t see my soul, yet praying that they will.

It is strange, the way this works — this transparency business. I hate to let go yet I love the feeling when I finally do. I loathe to be transparent, but I’m so unsatisfied in this daily grind of pretending, lying, and losing.

 

I remember a conversation I had with a professor back in February. We were talking about acting; I wasn’t sure why it had suddenly become so hard, dissatisfying, and just not enjoyable.

She pointed out that maybe getting on stage and baring my soul, standing naked, was what I didn’t like. Because acting isn’t pretending to be someone else or hiding behind a character. In theatre, we must use our self, from the very depths of our soul, without holding anything back.

I think she was right. I didn’t want to do that. Or I was scared to. And that was keeping me from what I loved.

But I don’t want to be kept back any longer. I want to let go, to be free, to be transparent.

I did it a few times. For audiences even. For my professors on the night I decided that I wanted theatre and there was nothing else and that I was going to give everything I had to get what I loved. And though transparency was harder than anything, it felt better than every pretense I’ve tried.

 

Transparency is Biblical, too, I think. In that book I was talking about — unChristian — the authors talk about being transparent in our Christian lives. All too often, as Christians, we hide our sins with good works and pray that even God won’t see our short-comings. It’s a crazy double standard yet we do it. It’s hypocrisy and it doesn’t help anyone, including our selves.  And Jesus wants our hearts. He wants our whole hearts — not just half or a quarter. I think, after all,  that Jesus calls for transparency, too.

So let us be transparent. And let us start today.

I Am An Artist

He referred to it as “your art.” And I always smiled.

He meant theatre, really. Theatre was what I did. I was an actor. And he, the man with the thick Dutch accent who sat in front of our pew, got to know me because of it.

It started with some advent monologues that I did at church one year. He commented on them and we began to talk. He came to my plays. We continued to talk. About theatre, church, opera, God, and…art.

~~~

When I first entered university last September, I heard the word ‘art’ again and again.

The art department had their pictures in the hallways. And my friend was an Art major. She was taking Art 181.

But I was in theatre. And I took Acting and Theatre classes and went to see plays.

Yet I always heard the word ‘art.’ Theatre artist. We are theatre artists.

Art must be specific,” one particular prof repeated, again and again.

I had to take a history of music, dance, visual art, and theatre class. And we were all there because somehow, we — freshly emerged from high school, recently uprooted from the only familiarity we’d ever known as we were — were considered artists.

Next semester, we discussed what art was, whether it was subjective or not, what good art and bad art was, how art could be considered kitsch and so on. We even had to do projects, in place of essays, in which we created our own art.

I didn’t understand it all at first. I’d never considered myself an ‘artist’ before. I was just someone who liked acting a lot. Art was for people who painted pictures and created masterpieces — not little old me.

And time and time again, the question came up… what is art?

And to be completely honest with you, I still don’t know.

~~~

My Voice and Movement professor had us make short scenes in which we did things from our daily lives: getting up in the morning and talking on the phone. We presented them to the class.

I worked and worked and worked on a monologue. Night after night and day after day. I wept over it. I laughed and learnt. I tried to hide and then let myself go, I brought people in to watch and give me suggestions. I rehearsed. I auditioned with it one night in late March and gave it all that I had and I lost something strange and good and scary and gained something more.

I learned how to move in a Shakespeare monologue. I developed a physical score that scared me to death but gave me new life. I did it for my class and a friend told me that was when he knew that I wanted to be an actress. An artist.

I look back and I think, “Well, maybe I do know what art is after all.”

~~~

I remember the last conversation that we had — it was about art. He leaned against his walker, talking swiftly in the usual way. He spoke of my art. He praised art and  said that it was important and part of God’s purpose.

I smiled. These were both new ideas to me, which I’d come to realize, through tears and aggravation, in my first year of university. Yet this was what my friend had been trying to tell me all the way along.

I don’t think we ever talked again. The man with the thick Dutch accent who talked about ‘my art’ went into the hospital soon after. I always meant to visit him, but I homework piled up and I never did. I regret that.

He died before my final exams began. Before my first year finished. And a few weeks before, as we spoke about art in the fellowship hall, I never would have guessed.

I couldn’t even go to the memorial because of exams. And so, it doesn’t even really seem that he is actually gone.

It makes me sad to confront his loss — so I try to forget sometimes. But when I’m at church, I see his empty spot and the tears creep in and it is hard to sing.

Yet he gave me something that I’ll never forget. He left a precious gift on earth for me to cherish and learn about forever.

The man with the thick Dutch accent, who used to sit in front of us at church, called me an artist. And he said, just like the Lord said when He created the universe, that it was very good. 

Hello, Again

Hello…

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? So much time has passed that I almost feel afraid to write and post again. I’m not really sure if I know what to say or how to say it. I didn’t mean to take a break or disappear–it just sort of happened. So I guess today I’ll just write and not worry too much about the time passed or the words not written. Yes, I shall just write. Write and tell and share my stories.

School ends on Monday and after the ensuing finals, my first year of university will be finished. This year has simply flown by. Sometimes, if I’m home all weekend I feel like a highschool student again. It’s hard to comprehend that I’m living all of the things I was only dreaming of and hoping for last year.

But I have been living my hopes and dreams as well as my worries and nightmares. University hasn’t been everything I imagined or dreamed, I’ll admit. But then, it has also been much more than I could have hoped for, in some ways.

This year has been so full that I feel like it has been years since my highschool graduation. I’ve grown in a thousand ways that when I reflect, I barely recognize my old self anymore. I feel like I’m transformed.

I believed so many lies back when I graduated. So many untruths, so many bad, bad things. And I thought that I didn’t; I thought I was done with all that. I’ve realized we’ll never really be able to comprehend the truth, though there are pieces of hope for it on this earth. And I’ve been blessed to glimspe some of these truths this year.

I’m not the same girl in the purple dress who told people she wanted to be a teacher at her graduation.

I am not the same person who plotted a map of perfection for university–planning to wear dresses to school at least twice a week, be the friendliest person in the world, always, always care about every assignment, and go to chapel everyday.

I’m not the one who cried after the second day of classes and wanted to change her major every other day for months.

I don’t believe the lie that a Christian cannot also be an actor anymore and I do believe in God’s love for me even more.

And all that is so good.

I’m learning to open myself up to people and to God. I’m learning to be myself, as cliche as it sounds. And I’m learning, perhaps very slowly but ever so, to be more like Christ.

This is me now–after almost eight months of early mornings and late nights, exams, papers, and readings, scenes, auditions, and monologues, missing the bus and walking across campus, seeing shows and hanging lights, crying and hating theatre and then falling back in love with it again and again, meeting new people and learning to love and trusting in God and learning to fail boldly. I can only imagine what the next three years will bring.

What has happened to you over these last few months?

A New Era

Today, I started something new. I began a four-year study. I started on what I believe will be one of the most amazing journies of my life. With the first day of university classes, I embarked into a new era in my young life.

It’s strange. Everything seems the same at home. My parents started work and my sister went back to highschool. Another year just like the last. But for me it was all different. A different place, different people, different topics. A new life.

I passed kids on my way to the bus stop. They were talking about teachers and classes and carried princess lunch kits and paper bags. Some boys chattered about jumping into the gutter and exploring it. They were headed to the elementary school. I was going to university. But I felt just as young as they were. It didn’t seem possible that I could have passed all the grades that they would soon take. Even so, I passed them in the opposite direction.

I was more excited than nervous for my classes. Art History was first followed by English. Then, I went to chapel and had lunch, “Hello my name is” chats, and English readings in my student lounge. Intro to Theatre was a blast and my theatre discussion group was amazing. It all went by so quickly and will be remembered as the first day of my university career.

I honestly don’t have a lot to say about today. I’m tired, feeling a bit sick, quite overwhelmed, but very happy. I’ve been at university since Saturday, getting to know people and learning about the university. I already have friends and have fallen in love with the place I will be spending the next few years. Although God hasn’t shown me even a quarter of what he has in store for me yet, He is giving me an idea of the person He wants me to be. And I already know without a doubt that this is the place that I will accomplish it. In this new era of the wonderful life He has blessed me with.

Posts and comments may be few and far between from now on, but I do hope to try write on a (new) regular schedule. May the Lord bless you all in your new semesters and lives!

My Calling Is Christ

My final year of highschool is coming to a close and everyday, I wonder what is next. Technically, its various jobs, university, and a career of some kind. But at the moment these are just muddy ideas and foggy dreams. I don’t know what my calling is yet.

Constantly, people ask me what my plan for next year is and what I want to do with my life. Easily, I can answer the first. The second is a lot harder. How could I even guess my calling at seventeen?

When I think about it, there are so many things I could be and do. The trouble is, finding the one that is right. The calling isn’t just any random thing.

When I’m at school, helping my Spanish teacher, I think of having a classroom of my own. I imagine how fun it would be and I walk home thinking that education is my calling.

At a totally different time, I watch a mom with her child at the park and think of how wonderful kids are. I remember my early days of being homeschooled and how much fun we had. For a moment, I wonder if staying at home with my future children could be my calling.

Every time I think about Mexico, I miss it. I dream of going back there or traveling to some other place. I wonder…am I called to the mission field?

And then there is acting. Somehow, even though I know it isn’t the kind of life style I want, I cannot let go of that dream that I have. I insist on getting my degree in acting and won’t make any other plans because of the possibility of fame. Is acting my calling?

Each day, I think about all of these things and pray that God will reveal Himself to me. Sometimes I even get angry about it. I cry out to Him and ask, God why won’t you just give me your calling?!?!”

And then I realize that He already has. No, it’s not a secret and it never has been. My calling has come already. It is to live as Jesus did. It is to love with the love of God. I am here to serve, to encourage, to display Jesus. My calling is Christ.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not men.

Colossians 3:23