When Rest Works

An afternoon of just rest is rare to come by. Not because I can’t make the time to just stop everything and chill out (I do try, often), but because most of the time even when I do that it doesn’t really work out for me. I don’t know if any of you out there who struggle with anxiety also deal with this, but most often when my body stops, my mind just won’t. I find myself lying down at night to sleep, and that elusive feeling of “aahh…” is just that – elusive. It often manifests as an almost-physical sensation of lying on a spinning plane of nothingness, suspended by some invisible force, and hanging out in limbo. That will only make sense to you if you’re like me and find it hard to relax. So I battle that, nightly, just lying there wondering “have I done enough today?” until exhaustion inevitably takes over and knocks me out.

But today, this afternoon, we got into bed at 2 PM and slept. Daniel for quite a while (he’s still sleeping now), me just for an hour but lying immobile in the soft comforter, held down by solid gravity. Not spinning, not full of worry-adrenaline, just resting. I have a paper to read and a presentation to write, but I rebelled against my mental schedule and clung to that quiet bit of rest and refused to feel guilty about it. I walk the limbo of responsible adulthood, which often straddles the things we must do and the things we should do, with no pattern of which choices matter more. And maybe that’s the struggle?

Either way. Right now, I am grateful.

Elevens

A few weeks ago we received a notice in the mail giving us the date of our immigration interview – the response to four months of anxious waiting on the paperwork we’d submitted for Daniel’s green card (for those of you who don’t know, he’s a Korean citizen). We’d opted to save on lawyer fees and done the paperwork ourselves as meticulously as we knew how (now I understand why we pay lawyers to do this for us), but I still worried that we’d missed something. A friend of mine who was filing the same application had received her interview notice several weeks earlier than we had, which spun me off into another nerve-wracking swirl of panicked thoughts. Why was ours taking so long? If you’ve dealt with the USCIS you know how notoriously slow and seemingly arbitrary the wait times are, not improved by the complete opacity of the process and slow updates. Some people wait nine months or more to hear back, or one spouse gets approved in a month and the other is still waiting six months later.

I was so thankful to receive that letter, because I know it could have been worse.

I think I started doing this in college, but every time I see 11:11 on the clock, it reminds me of Hebrews 11:11: “and by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.” I don’t want to commit any exegetical crimes here, but I have always been so encouraged by that verse. It’s a reminder to me that God makes promises, and then he keeps those promises – even when it seems we’ve passed the point where it’s reasonable to keep hoping.

I started pointing out 11:11 to Daniel too, and now he does it back to me as well. It’s silly but kind of fun, and the number has become a little reminder throughout the days that our God is faithful and caring, and he sees us.

Our interview is scheduled for January 27, the day of our eleven-month wedding anniversary. When I realized that, it made me smile inside. Now understand.. God hasn’t specifically promised us that Daniel will become a citizen, and certainly not that everything in our lives will line up and be smooth. I don’t believe we have a right to assume that we know how things ought to go, or that God has some obligation to fulfill our wishes to prove his faithfulness. In the midst of my worrying these past four months, I’ve come to terms with the fact that whether we are able to get what we want, or whether God decides to supplant us and take us somewhere from which we can’t return, our lives belong to him. This process, so out of our control, belongs to him. But for his own mysterious reasons he’s been forging this path for us. There are implications to the success or failure of our application that will apply further than just us, and though Daniel seems pretty relaxed about the whole thing, my heart has been burdened, hoping and praying that this goes well.

But however it turns out: our God is faithful and he is with us. And I’m glad to know it.

 

On Changing Professions

Day 4 of being sick at home. Some way to ring in the new year, huh? Though I have to admit, bulging sinuses and hacking cough aside, it’s been quite nice to get an extra bit of rest worked into the tail end of this holiday season. Getting sick is always a big blessing in disguise (as long as I’m not sitting up at night battling nausea, which this time thankfully I wasn’t).

Surprisingly, I have very few significant thoughts going through my head this week, so this will be a bit of a stream of consciousness. But it’s been nice to get a head start on the year by starting a fresh Bible reading plan with Daniel (though I vaguely remember falling asleep during our second chapter last night) and working on less blue screen before bed, and more thinking/reading/writing. Incidentally, I start school tomorrow, which I’m VERY excited about. For anyone who cares to know, I’ve decided to switch seminary tracks and get a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy.

Casey Neistat says that his years spent doing miserable jobs that he hated was a blessing because it gave him motivation to dream about what kind of job he actually would love to do. I think that’s where I’m at as well, right now. I don’t hate my job at all, but I do know that I cannot picture myself doing what I do now up through my fifties and sixties. I know jobs morph and change, and I would morph and change and develop as well, but in the grand picture of things, I know that if I have a choice I don’t choose corporate America. And I do have a choice. For whatever reason, God has given me the ability and resources to choose my path of profession, at least for now. So I’m choosing to go into therapy, in hopes that I can help someone else the way therapy has helped me. How, when, where are still blank spaces for now because I’m going to continue to work my way through school, but I’m thankful for the opportunity and ability to go and learn.

What a slow, slow change this will be!

Today I’m thankful for Friday, for warm winter coats, and for bosses that let me work from home in my fuzzy pink pajama bottoms.

Sick

Nothing like a sick day to unravel your pretensions on the third day of the new year. But I am very thankful for another day of rest, even if it was just messy hair and pajamas and all of that.

That’s all I have to say tonight.

On Aspiring To Be More

This is the time of year when everyone asks you what your new years’ resolutions are. I don’t think people actually make resolutions anymore – the narrative of “it will only last two weeks so why try” has really sunk in and most of us are altogether too jaded now. I think that might be a bit of a tragedy, actually, because resolving to make good on a new year could probably do a whole lot of people a whole lot of good.

Though, I did see a fair few number of people today at the gym at 10 AM. All is not lost 😛

I’ve whittled down my resolution for this year to one thing: to consume less junk – mentally and physically. That will mean..To learn to enjoy silence again, and leave room for ruminating thoughts to solidify into meditation, conviction, and action. To distance myself from that enticing world of “I bought this and you need it, too.” To turn down the loud voices of media and culture and nourish my soul with quiet satisfaction. Which means less YouTube, more reading. Less podcasts, more quiet. And finally, less hot cheetos, more things that come from the ground.

Aspiring to be more… in tune to the voice of my Father. There are enough people who want to be more successful, more popular, more wealthy, more well-traveled. I admit, that appeals to me, too. But the way I see it, there are two competing narratives in my life: the one in which I work hard to be more beautiful, more successful, and more well-known and well-liked; and the one in which I learn to live with less, give thanks for deeper things, and live with my sights fixed on more than what I see here. The former often trumps the latter, because well, I’m human and I like shiny new things and fitting in with cool people. But I’m going to fight for the latter. That’s my battle this year.

Bring it on.

 

 

Lala Land and A New Year

“What IS this?” he burst out, suddenly. I shushed him, glancing around apologetically to the people around us, most still seated in the darkened theater, recovering. He slid down in his seat, clutching his heart, whimpering. I hit him on the arm.

We filed out with the crowd, parting ways to respective restrooms. I emerged from the ladies’, wiping my hands on my jeans. I caught sight of him, slowly pacing the entrance of the mens’, hands behind his back, face downcast. I couldn’t help laughing.

That movie was magic. It touched something in both of us, something nostalgic, hopeful, and painfully sweet. It made me feel sad about unfinished business with forgotten loves (I don’t have any, but still), and made him think about the imperfect beauty of a life in which dreams come true but you still can’t have everything.

We went home, talking all the way, trying to put our thoughts into words. We plopped onto the carpet, listening to that beautiful soundtrack, then ate ice cream and waltzed around our living room. The end of a really good day.


Today is the first day of 2017. At church we were given time to reflect, and think about the things we’d learned and the ways we’d come to understand God this past year. We both agreed that being married has moved the faithfulness and steadfastness of God from a concept into a concrete reality. We remembered His goodness in our times of need, His wisdom in our times of conflict, and His provision in abundance. Remembering all of the times that He had come through for us brought tears that felt like balm to my restless heart. I spent a lot of time this year feeling too harried to connect, too restless to sit still, and then guilty for not giving God my time and attention like I knew I ought. And yet today, I felt the gentle reminder that He is still there, still speaking, still listening. I am so thankful.

Looking forward to 2017… whew! What will it hold?

 

 

Marriage: 9 Months In

If we had had a honeymoon baby, it would be alive and well by now, blinking and breathing and being. That’s how much time has passed, since you and I tied our knot. So short, and yet so long!

I’ve contemplated every month about writing a “from where we stand” but every month am so intimidated, or too busy, or too tired, or just plain forgetful. And yet there’s this quiet undergirding sense of mounting panic, that the days are slipping by and I won’t remember them later. Already it’s a blur – what was it like, at 3 months? 6 months? What were those silly things we fought about that felt so real at the time, but seem so dinky and inconsequential now?

It’s so hard to put into words what this past 9 months has been. People ask, and I struggle to answer. It’s complex. It’s been difficult, oh yes! But it’s been so wonderful too, hasn’t it? We’ve grown. Up, out, in. I’m more like you, now. You’re rubbing off on me – your humor, your warmth, that deep sense of relaxation – the maddening, incomprehensible, and perfect antidote to the ceaseless worry and anxious hurry that’s always been my world. You are so good at letting things be what they are, something that my lifetime of striving has never allowed me to do. I used to think I wanted a partner in my restless wandering. But Abba saw fit to give me an anchor to hold me home.

I fought that, a lot. I still do, when my mind starts spinning and I start worrying about ifs and one days and how abouts. But you remind me every day that Christ gave himself for us, so that we can give ourselves to him. So I give myself (and my anxieties) to him, through blind trust because I can no longer take comfort from predicting what will come of my life, because it is our life now. Marriage is a loss of independence, it is. But it’s been the gaining of a new kind of freedom, because when you are known and loved, you are freer than you ever imagined you could be.

These past 9 months have included:

  • learning each others’ home habits (I did not know I would be so vigilant about having a clean kitchen)
  • slowly getting to know each others’ families
  • finding out each others’ pet peeves, hot topics, and limits
  • some fights, some tearful nights, but always new mercies every morning
  • me learning how to cook for and feed you (thank you for being such a gracious and un-picky eater)
  • you learning my unpredictable food cravings
  • laughing at each others’ lame jokes
  • figuring out how we socialize and have community as a couple
  • moving churches and figuring out what we want and need in a church
  • me losing my job and starting a new one (God’s provision!)
  • exploring and enjoying our creative hobbies together
  • you getting in a car accident (thank God for protecting you!)
  • short trips to San Francisco, San Diego, and camping in Humboldt County
  • NETFLIX: Fixer Upper, The Crown, and Chef’s Table!
  • learning how to disagree on things without rejecting each other (this is so hard for me, but I’m learning from you)
  • reading the Word out loud to each other at night (when we remember – we’ll get better at this!)
  • hanging out with new friends and deepening relationships with some old ones
  • starting to serve at our new church

Life is mundane, isn’t it? But it’s been beautifully so. I am thankful for all of the ways God has shown me these past 9 months that He knows me A LOT better than I know myself. I find that I’m surprised at the contentment, satisfaction, and pure enjoyment that we have on a day to day basis. I was terrified of marriage before I entered into it. I expected constant strain and fear and frustration, but I’ve found it to be more often security, with freedom, and simple joy. I’ve never been more acutely aware of the fact that I’m so undeserving of it than I am now, but I’ve never been more aware that every day we have is filled with God’s grace.

Happy nine months, my husband. I love you!

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