Saturday, August 22, 2015

"Please list all previous addresses"

That is what I expect to be told as I fill out the paperwork in order to start moving into my new address. This whole process since I've arrived in North Carolina has been hectic: finding out two of our roommates didn't like the lease, which was admittedly pretty sketchy...hearing they would both refuse to sign the lease...trying, on my own, to find two more roommates while our fourth was out of the country...hearing from people, and finding one who agreed to move in....finding out our fourth got a sweet gig house-sitting for two years...needing to find an additional two people...then finding out the person who had agreed to move in changed her plans...and then coming to the obvious conclusion that I would need to find a new place to live.

Let me take a breath...okay...so to shorten the story, God has blessed me with a great new place to live. I actually ended up with 5 options, and this new place was my top choice location-wise, people-wise, and even money-wise. The house itself is pretty great, too. Maybe you saw the picture of the front that I posted a while back. I took that picture the day I found out the other girls would love to have me live and do life with them. I'll be sure to post more pictures soon.

I haven't really been too stressed out by all this. Maybe I've just gotten to a place in my life where I realize I can only do what I can in some situations. I've discovered that I worry more about things that I have done directly. If there's a problem that is clearly my fault, then I might freak out, but if it's out of my hands? I let it go. At least, usually. Going through, ahem, stuff, really prepares you for all the future shenanigans life will dish out. Sometimes I'm afraid all the, again, stuff I've been through makes me a worse person. A messed up person. A scarred, tarnished, weak person. But what if going through it all has actually made me a better person?

Today I was just thinking about how the request "Please list all previous addresses" will change over the years. I was lucky growing up. From the time I was three until I was 18, and then for a few years after that, I was in the same house. But now, I have lived at my university, at a house near my university, and now my current house. How many more places will I live at in the years to come? How will I answer that request in five years? I will have been in Romania by then. How many more experiences will I go through? How much will I change? So many questions.

Some people who go through a lot in life are great people. And some are horrible people. And some fall somewhere in between. If we really want to split hairs, we could say everyone goes through a lot in life. Many people have illnesses, daddy issues, go through crappy relationships. How do we truly point out differences without necessarily making unfair distinctions?

Basically, what I am trying to say is, how should I think about all that has happened to me? Not just this flimsy housing issue necessarily, but all the other, yes, stuff. The rubbish that sometimes threatens to define my life. Bipolar disorder is one example. Once I was overwhelmed by this disease; now, I'm distanced from it, thanks to my p-doc and some great medicine. But I still wrestle with how to classify that part of my life. How do we come to terms with things we hate but that nevertheless shape us in some respects? We list the various setbacks, complications, and defeats in our minds like past addresses. I have been here, and there, and I spent two months depressed back then, and then in the spring, I was manic for about a month.

Thank God for new mornings full of mercy. Thank the Lord for forgetting, for moving on, for new strength in our bones. May there be one day for all of us when all that we have been through, whether for better or worse, will be to us as simple as a list of our past addresses.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

"Words of Affirmation"

I love compliments. I'm chagrined to admit it, but when people tell me something nice about myself, especially about my personality, it makes me feel so, well, affirmed. It tells me, in a little way, that I am appreciated. That I am a person worth complimenting. Some may say compliments are often empty, and I'm sure some may be. I can't argue with anyone else's experience. But when someone tells me of the impact I've made on their life, however small, or that they are proud of me, or that they noticed something about me that I had thought was invisible...that means something to me.

I love connecting with people in meaningful ways. I'm an INFP, which means I am introverted (the "I") but it also means I am a people person. I prefer using intuition rather than my senses, I feel things more strongly than I think them, and I perceive more than I judge. Hopefully I am not mistaken in believing that these make me more inclined to rely on other people rather than on other sources.

The challenge for me is not to be a sponge but to be a well. I shouldn't soak up all the positivity around me without giving it back. Sometimes I don't give as much as I take. I use being an introvert as an excuse to not pour into other people as much as I should. That is a mistake.

Maybe my life experiences make me afraid of giving. Maybe I'm timid, not wanting to sound like a busybody. Maybe I've grown so much quiet strength I haven't spent enough time growing my exuberant strength. Maybe I'm afraid doing something foreign to my character will look fake, or turn me into someone I don't recognize. Maybe I'm afraid of being two-faced, or becoming exhausted, or giving more than I receive. There is so much I could be afraid of.

There are other ways to show love, as anyone familiar with the love languages will attest. I am good at listening, at least. I try not to be too busy to get to know people. But I think I can use words of affirmation more often. I think I can give something back to people, the kind of thing I'd like to receive, without necessarily expecting it in return.

I know Romania will test me, and require more of me. I will be helping young people get on their feet, and even though that seems so strange, because as I write this I still have yet to get a second job...Maybe I will learn how to help people who I can relate to. And I hope to help people who may not appear to relate to me. I don't want to be getting ahead of myself, thinking I can do all this right off the bat. I have room to grow. But I'd rather be confident than afraid. I'd rather feel hopeful than unsure. I will always be who I am. But I think there is even more to me than I am yet aware of.

Thanks for reading this blog. If you liked it, let me know! If you have any questions, ask away. Blogging is my way of connecting with people I love, so by all means, respond if you like.

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