On Reading Again

Reading has been hard over the last few months. I love reading, and I missed it, but I just couldn’t find a book that either sounded interesting or kept me interested. 

The amount of TV I’ve been watching didn’t help. For me, watching TV and reading a book are two entirely different experience: a book invites you in, to imagination and experiences and emotions. TV is, for the most part, a much more passive experience: there is nothing to imagine, no connections to make. There is only what is, playing out on the screen in front of you. And I know that’s not entirely fair: TV invites us into fully imagined worlds and visceral experiences that aren’t possible in books. But I find books far more participatory and inspiring.

Over the past few weeks, I have finally begun to read again. On a day when I was being kind to myself, I went to a public library and checked out a few books that sounded interesting. I did the same a few days ago, leaving with an impossibly large stack of books. There’s no way I’ll read them all before they’re due. But I had a few books in mind, and I had a lovely conversation with two librarians who recommended several more. It all made me feel generous. I may as well! And then I went home and read until midnight because one book was just so incredibly wonderful. I could have put it down, but I didn’t have any plans for the night, and it was such a fun book: I did a lot of laughing, and a lot of moaning and whisper-screaming at the characters. I still haven’t returned it; I finished it, but I enjoyed it so much that I don’t quite want to let it go just yet. 

Trying new books has felt too risky. I’m giving up time and emotions to something that might be awful. It might have a message that I hate. It might be just mediocre. 

But right now that risk feels OK. 

Laundry and Brainstorming

The stories we tell are a window into our souls.

The stories I choose to tell reveal what I believe, what I hold dear, and what I find important. 

And I keep trying to tell stories of everyday life. All of my sermons over the past two months have ended with a celebration of the work of faith in the midst of dishes and traffic jams and people that annoy us. I’ve been drawn to the books that lay out the details of life, what the character had for breakfast and every step of solving the mystery or completing the quest. My favorite blog posts have been about repaying loans and creating habits and the still small work of change. 

I’ve been struggling to find that in my own life. Dishes have been piling up, right next to the piles of books and papers and craft supplies that I don’t feel like organizing right now. Being on time has been a constant struggle, along with finishing tasks more than two seconds before they’re due. Writing feels like a monumentally difficult task, just like praying and reading the Bible feel unimportant. The small stuff feels unimportant, and the big stuff feels impossible. 

I miss the rhythm of working and living well, of taking care of dishes and emails and work to do lists. I miss finding the beauty in habits and repetition, finding the space to think and pray in doing something worth doing. I miss knowing I’d done good things with my day. I miss feeling the freedom to stop at look at the flowers, to take ten minutes and read a chapter of a new book or jot down a story idea. 


I’m trying to rediscover the beauty in the everyday, in folding laundry and praying every morning and submitting poetry, in taking the time to walk to the store and answering the phone and ending the day with journaling. I’m trying to rediscover the beauty of routine and needed tasks, of to do lists and goals, without allowing any of them to become strait jackets. I’m trying to rediscover the beauty in duties and necessities.


That’s what I want to write about. Writing is a part of that; writing forces me to slow down, to listen to myself and others. But there are so many other parts: praying and reading, attention and self-care, grace and reminders. That’s what I want to write about, all of that. That’s why I changed the blog title to Ordinary Adventures. I want to rediscover the new and exciting in my ordinary days, amidst routine and duty and repetition. I want to discover God working in the ordinary.

It won’t always feel like an adventure, but it will be a glorious story.

So…

It’s been a while, embarrassingly so. 

I have all sorts of excuses, but it boils down to the fact that writing has been hard lately. I haven’t felt motivated, and I kept pushing it off until “later.” I’ve had some difficult news on the job search front, and the whole thing has been really discouraging, and it’s been hard to be optimistic and feel like much is worth doing in the midst of that. I haven’t felt like I could listen well enough to write.

I’ve always felt like writing is all about listening–to myself, to others, to God, to the story or article I’m writing. And I’ve been bad at listening lately, whether it’s to God or myself or the people around me. Discouragement makes it hard. Discouragement makes me narrow my focus to myself, to whatever’s gone wrong and whatever I’ve done wrong. Narrowing doesn’t lead to listening. 

I’m trying to listen again, to write again. Both give me hope.

I need some hope.

Vulnerable

I linked to my blog on my resume. 

It seemed like a brilliant idea at the time–look, all of my writings and sermon clips, all in one place!–but the first time I sat down to write a post after that, I blanched. Somehow the idea of sending out words into the anonymous internet is WAY different than sending out words into the internet that is now full of people who are considering you for a job. A job as a pastor, no less. What should I post now? What if they didn’t like it? What if I revealed something about myself, and they decided I was too imperfect for their church? What if they saw the flaws I struggle with and talk about here, and decided to take themselves far away from that?

So I posted something, so no one would think I wasn’t regular about posting (although anyone who scrolled to the next blog post would notice that there was a gap of a month and a half), but it wasn’t too revealing. Big news, but nothing too personal. And after that, every time I sat down to write a post, I would freeze up. What could I write that wouldn’t show churches that I’m a human being with flaws and problems??

Then I had the brilliant idea to ask Off the Page if I could write a hugely personal piece for them, and they said yes. Whoops

Yeah.

So, I’m being personal and vulnerable. To the Internet. Including all those people who might end up here because they’re considering hiring me as their pastor. Here it is: my problems, my human-ness, my sinfulness and struggles. And I know I just spent a while saying I don’t like being vulnerable, but please go check it out. Being vulnerable is important. I wrote something true and something that I love–and even if it’s also the scariest piece I’ve ever written for the Internet, I’d love if you went and checked it out. Please join me in my vulnerability.

Writing

Writing has been hard lately–so, so difficult, like pulling weeds, like coming up against a stone wall repeatedly and unexpectedly. 

Finding words has been like looking for needles in the dark, like looking for a landmark in a thick, suffocating fog.

Nurturing ideas has been like the most delicate work with a micropipette or tweezers or a scalpel–tricky, dangerous work that’s easily destroyed by one wrong choice.

Mustering up the courage to write has been like searching for the mythic white whale or white stag or unicorn. I forget, sometimes, how very much courage it takes to write well and honestly and truly. 

I hate that writing has become a battle, with myself and with the words. 

I miss trusting the words and trusting God so effortlessly that the words flowed without stopping up, with barely a ripple.

Now I’m just glorifying the past. Writing has always been difficult. 

I expected it to become practiced, habitual, easy. I had visions of sitting in a beautiful room, at a wonderful, tidy desk, writing steadily and well for hours at a time. Someday.

Funny, the things I find when I really look at myself. I would have always said that, Of course writing will always be hard work. Of course writing well and honestly will always be difficult, because the tasks worth doing are always difficult. Of course. Funny how I expected older me to somehow have perfected the art of writing into a science. 

Update

It’s been a long time since I’ve been on here. Partly I’ve been reveling in not having anything to do, taking advantage of it to read and check out new shows; partly I’ve been figuring out how to work and live without deadlines looming. It’s essentially the first time in conscious memory that I haven’t been in school. I’m not quite sure what to do with myself.

So, yes. My internship is all done. I’m officially able to look for a church to pastor. I moved into more permanent rooms. I’ve been preaching in local churches, since I finished my church job.

And I still don’t quite know what to do with myself. 

I know what I’d like to do: Find a church. Write, and publish. Clean and organize. Craft. Pray. Read. Figure myself out some more. Just use this time. Instead, I’ve been in a funk. I haven’t been using time so much as finding ways to fill it. 

So, this is another step in using time and living well. I’m writing again, at least here. It’s good to be back!

Sick of Scared

I’m sick of being too scared to go after my dreams.

I’ve been scared since I started my internship–of the time commitment, of my cohort, of being honest, of the emotions being stirred up, of the emotions I face every day. 

And I’ve been scared of my dreams–of writing, of becoming a pastor. They both seem too huge and impossible and overwhelming that I don’t even know where to start. There are so many places I could submit my work. Where do I choose? How do I choose? What kind of writer am I? How do I gather up the courage to keep submitting and keep writing and keep submitting and keep writing when I get rejection notices, when I am exhausted after work, when there’s too much to write about and not enough  time? How do I gather the courage to write my final sermon and write my pastor resume and write my statement of faith when, the longer I’m away from seminary, the more I wonder if I could ever actually be a pastor? How do I convince people that I’d be a good pastor when I’m not sure?

I don’t know. But I’m sick of giving in to my fear. I’m sick of avoiding my love of writing and my love of pastoring because I’m afraid. I’m sick of avoiding, period. I’m sick of being too scared to go after my dreams.

Here I go again, then. Chasing my dreams, one step at a time. One step isn’t overwhelming: one blog post, one poem, researching one magazine, writing one pitch. One step isn’t overwhelming: looking up one Hebrew word, answering one question, writing one sentence of my statement of faith.

I refuse to give up on my dreams.