That Time I Bought a Condo

At the beginning of this year, I picked one word I was supposed to focus on, one word to to provide a sort of framing and direction for the year. I attended an event at my church where we painted or decorated little canvases showcasing our word, meant to be a reminder we could hang somewhere we’d see it often so we would look for it and be aware of the way that theme was playing out in our lives. For the first few weeks, I did look back at it often and tried to seek it out in my daily life, but I never found a great place to put that little canvas in my room. After a while, I mostly forgot about it. It sat on my desk, more and more layers of papers and receipts and random paraphernalia collecting on top of it.

Until, finally, I unearthed it. I hadn’t forgotten my word, not in a large sense, but I had forgotten to let it soak into my everyday–which is a bit funny, considering my word is dwell. When I chose it, I wrote:All at once a command, a reminder, and a promise. It feels gentle though, and kind. Something I can manage.”

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And while in one sense it felt manageable, in another sense it felt so very, very far off. The spiritual component, of seeking to do more dwelling with God while also more fully internalizing the mysterious beauty of him already dwelling in me, seemed doable. That was a space I had been before, and while it had been a while, I could see there being a path back. In the physical sense though, I had no idea what dwell would mean for me in 2016. As a young, unmarried adult, housing had been complicated for years and there seemed to be no end to that in sight. Since graduating from high school, I hadn’t lived in the same place for longer than 14 months. For someone who often struggles with change and doesn’t do well with uncertainty, it had become incredibly taxing. To dwell in a physical sense seemed nearly impossible.

Yet, when I finally found my little canvas again, I did so with a sigh of deep, deep gratefulness. Because I found it when I was starting to pack to move into a place of my condo, a condo I bought, a home that will be mine for the next while and hopefully won’t cease to be mine until I decide otherwise. A place where I am throwing away the boxes because I likely won’t need them again in a year, a place where I am thinking of affixing shelves to walls instead of decorations hung up with poster putty. For the first time, I changed my permanent address to something other than my parent’s house. I’ve been in my new place for a few weeks now, and it is slowly beginning to feel real, to feel like mine.

It also feels like such an immense gift.

Through the whole process of looking at condos, making an offer, getting finances squared away once my offer had been accepted, having the inspection done, and waiting to hear that everything had gone as it was supposed to, I kept expecting something to go wrong. Being the largest decision of my life, and one I both had and got to make completely on my own, I prayed furiously through the whole process, begging God for something to go wrong if this was not supposed to be my place. People talk about the excitement of buying a house, but they rarely talk about the sheer terror that accompanies it. But everything fell into place. I signed a stack of papers, and suddenly, I owned a condo.

Dwell had come true in the way I least expected it to.

Now, my little dwell canvas lives on my fridge (I have a fridge) in my kitchen (I have a kitchen) in my condo (I have a condo). 2016 is far from over, and that word may take on depths of more meaning in the coming months. But already, it’s a reminder to not only look forward to what is to come, but also to know that God is at work even when we forget he is.  

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. If you have a one word for 2016, how have you seen it shape your year so far?

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2012: This Was The Year

2012.

This was the year I…

  • Interned at the place I’d been wanting to intern at since, oh, ever (or at least high school). And then they liked me, so they kept me part time after that. January 24 will be a year since it all began.
  • Graduated from college, with rather mixed emotions. Homework I was glad to be done with, but much of the rest of my college experience I was sad to leave behind.
  • Went on a trip. I fell in love with London, Oxford, and Edinburgh. I met some great people, saw gorgeous buildings and views, toured a castle, and had some mishaps along the way (such as throwing up in the South Kensington tube station, spending my time walking around Westminster Abbey fighting the urge to lay down on a tombstone because I felt so ill, and having nearly every single flight on my way home get cancelled or delayed). It was fun, it was fascinating, it was…illuminating.
  • Ran a 5k. Then, a few months later, I ran another 5k. For someone who has been known to say, “I only run when I’m being chased, and even then it has to be by something big enough and scary enough,” this was an accomplishment.
  • Rediscovered Twitter, and tweeted my 1000th tweet (and very nearly my 2000th).
  • Moved back home with my parents, and also shared that same house with my sister, brother-in-law, 2 young nieces, and their dog. Though it was nice to be greeted by my nieces running across the house when I got home, it was certainly…an interesting experience.
  • Graded papers (lots of them) and became even more of a grammar stickler.
  • Said “Yes” to at least 2 things I didn’t feel qualified for. Even as I continue to do them, I can’t say with total confidence I do them well all the time, or even some of the time. Perhaps it’s the way of some endeavors.
  • Posted a blog every day for a month. It was exhausting, but good.
  • Grappled with, and attempted to begin to embrace, the uncertainty that has been weaved in with nearly everything I’ve done in 2012, and will continue, in varying degrees, for the rest of my life.

And in all, and through all, God. Even when it didn’t feel like it, even when I didn’t take the time to notice, even when I doubted his plan for me and the way he is working things out in ways I cannot see. There was God, there is God, and there he will always be.

Today I found this meditation from St. Teresa of Avila in a book I’m reading. It is fitting for a year ending, for a year beginning, and for everywhere in between.

Let nothing upset you,
Let nothing startle you.
All things pass;
God does not change.
Patience wins all it seeks.
Whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone is enough.

Happy New Year, and til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. What has this past year brought for you? What have you learned or done?

Thoughts from Dietrich

In June, I signed up for an email devotional that ran for 40 days, taken from the works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I missed the original sign up period, so I jumped in partway through.

After it finished, they offered it again. The exact same thing. Having missed part the first time through, I figured I might as well sign up again. Reading some of the posts for the second time, I picked up on things I had skimmed the first time. Consider Bonhoeffer’s words on worry (emphasis mine):

Abuse of earthly goods consists of using them as a security for the next day. Worry is always directed toward tomorrow. But the goods are intended only for today in the strictest sense. It is our securing things for tomorrow which makes us so insecure today. It is enough that each day should have its own troubles. Only those who put tomorrow completely into God’s hand and receive fully today what they need for their lives are really secure. Receiving daily liberates me from tomorrow.

Worry is always directed toward tomorrow.”

I’ve seen this in my own life; usually when I flip into hyper-worrisome mode, it’s not about something happening that same day. Even if it is, I’ve probably already worried about it for quite some time before the day arrived. Which is why he continues,“It is securing things for tomorrow which makes us so insecure today.” 

This is where the idea of not worrying and the actuality of it get so tricky for me. It doesn’t work to not plan ahead; if I didn’t plan, I’d rarely get anything done. If I hadn’t planned ahead, I wouldn’t have filled out my application, applied for loans, packed, and shown up at college to move into the dorms and start my education. There’s an element of “securing things for tomorrow” that comes with planning. I don’t think God wants us to never plan anything, because that doesn’t seem like a very responsible way to live and to take care of the things God has entrusted me with.

So how do I make sure I plan, but don’t worry?

Fortunately for me, Bonhoeffer told me that too: “Only those who put tomorrow completely into God’s hand and receive fully today what they need for their lives are really secure.”

There’s so much in those words it’s hard to even take it all in. Not only do I need to completely trust that God has tomorrow in control, I need to receive fully today what I need for my life. I’m not really sure what that looks like in regular life–going to work, eating supper, going to church, hanging out with friends, doing the dishes. Somehow, in that, to receive fully what I need for life.

Dietrich, you’ve certainly given me lots to think about.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

 

Heavenward Tantrums

God and I had a little chat last night.

Though, to be more accurate, as sometimes happens in my conversations both with people and with God, I didn’t do so well with listening.

If you’re a frequenter of my little blog, you may have noticed that for the last few posts, God’s been…a little absent. Not in actuality, as He never goes anywhere; but absent from these posts, at least in name.

We don’t seem to be seeing eye to eye right now, is the thing.

Or perhaps, more accurately, He’s got a plan that He hasn’t clued me into yet, and I might occasionally be throwing little fits about it. Big fits at times, even. With sharp, frustrated words thrown at Him as I rage against my right now, my everyday reality that I have selfishly, childishly, deemed as inferior.

Heavenward tantrums.

Because the reality that there is something larger at work here is currently lost on me.

Getting angry at Him, capital H Him, is not entirely new for me. Several years ago I wrote in a Facebook note:

So I was rather frustrated…I kinda wanted to throw a shoe at Him. I was mad at Him, really…but I think that a God who can’t handle the infantile anger of His people wouldn’t really be much of a God at all.

Circumstances have changed many times since then, but my thought that He can handle my anger—nay, my confidence that he can—that has not changed. My anger is not the type that doubts His existence, omnipotence, or love; instead, it fails to see how those things are working in my life right now.

Christian Wiman, in his poem And I Said to My Soul, Be Loud, states this so eloquently:

For I am come a whirlwind of wasted things

and I will ride this tantrum back to God

And He is there, and will be.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~