Some people talk.
Some people listen.
The talker thinks out loud
Her inner monologue
becomes an outer monologue,
The gears of her mind slowly
Then quickly form her conclusion.
And point raised.
the listener listens.
He observes her facial movements; the outer reverberation of
Caused by a collision and creation
of a new idea that is now his as much as it is hers.
Ideas are born,
All the while,
the seismic process continues.
And together, they learn.
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
2 Peter 1:3-4
Humanity; infinite shades of one color, all bound together through the fabric of space and time. Each shade at once unique yet irrevocably tied to her fellow shade of the same color.
The palate of humanity comes together to come alive. Humanity is beautiful. Each shade bears her own scars, her insecurities, her shame. Each shade is imperfect. Each shade tells a story; allowing humans to empathize with others’ experiences and emotions.
But humanity is most beautiful because it bears the divine mark of godly love. Our Creator’s omnipotent stroke of love shines through every smile and every tear. Through every hug and kiss of forgiveness, of admiration, and of hope, God shares His heart with humanity.
Christians believe that God shared His heart with humanity most powerfully through sacrificing His only son.
1 Peter 1:20 says “He (Jesus) was chosen before the creation of the World.”
God created humans knowing they would sin; knowing His son must die in love. God created us knowing that we would fall and flaw and be faced with constant trial and tribulation; that we would we cry out together, “Why is life so hard?”
Humans find comfort in complaining together. We dwell on our past, our present, and our future. We learn from others’ mistakes. But while one shade may contain more complexity than another, it is still just a tiny brushstroke on the infinite canvas of humanity.
Life’s biggest questions may never be answered. But life’s greatest joys have been given to us through God’s love.
He’s invited us to participate in the divine nature; to experience the same love that created the world.
The colors of humanity become most beautiful when seen and experienced through the lens of godly love.
Complaining turns into worshipping, gossiping turns into praying, sadness turns into joy.
And all the shades begin to sing.
“Destructive to marriage is the self-fulfillment ethic that assumes marriage and the family are primarily institutions of personal fulfillment, necessary for us to become ‘whole’ and happy. The assumption is that there is someone just right for us to marry and that if we look closely enough we will find the right person. This moral assumption overlooks a crucial aspect to marriage. It fails to appreciate the fact that we always marry the wrong person.
“We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary challenge of marriage is learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.”
– Stanley Hauerwas
To a Christian, worship is a selfless, spirit-led act of pure exaltation. It’s not a performance, it’s a gift to God – for it is only because of Him that we have a voice at all.
I lead the worship music in church, and I’ve been told that my voice blesses people. A close friend of no particular religious faith once told me, “Gina, when I hear you sing, I know that God exists.”
My Mom had asked that when Thursday night Bible Study started, I come downstairs and lead worship with my brother John. I said yes, only to defy her later and instead, just stay in my bedroom.
Because of this, I know my family isn’t happy with me. But Ricky, before you say it – let me do some explaining.
My brother leaves for good (more or less) in two days. He’s beginning his journey of internship, senior year, grad school, you know. Life.
When he’s away, I miss him. I regretfully wonder of all the Johnisms that I will never know. But in the past 4 years of semesters away and summers home, the thing I’ve come to miss most about living with him is our impromptu brother-sister living room piano-playing worship leading sessions. He calls it “CunDuo”.
You’d think I would’ve jumped at one last opportunity for CunDuo to unite. But I thought about it, and I realized that leading worship with John two days before he leaves for a group of 12 members of our church friends that have become family would most likely end in me riding the border between crying and sobbing.
First, my eyes would fall upon Aunt Rose and Uncle Joe’s brightly smiling, tear-stained light brown faces. Then, I’d turn towards Teri, thanking God once more for healing her body and her soul. Finally, the sobering sadness in realizing that I miss John already.
I would have been a wreck.
I’m usually all for public displays of emotion, but tonight I just wasn’t up to dealing with the repercussions of exposing my naked soul to a large group of people. I also really wanted to finish my book, The Warmth of Other Suns. So I stayed in my room and pretended not to hear them, all the while singing along to every line.
I knew I’d have to deal with all those emotions at some point. So, I did.
I prayed and worshipped later that night, and God showed up. He revealed truth to me that no random collision of chemicals could ever create.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17
In my sadness, I had completely forgotten my faith which frees me from sadness – that John and I share a worship-filled future of eternity in Heaven.
In order “find myself”, I need to shine a flashlight into the deep recesses of the cave of my personality. Then, I need to unabashedly share my various talents and abilities on every brand of social media.
As the sometimes-sharp-soprano-singing older sister of a perfect pitch prodigy, I’ve always doubted myself as a “musican”. But, I’ve recently come to declare myself as a “writer”, and a “singer”. So I tried to write music.
This is my first attempt at a freestyle.
If you listen, listen til the end.
Social media’s post- modern chicken/egg dilemma:
Which came first; the scene or the iPhone camera to shoot it? Did the photographer earnestly capture that goop-covered-fist-raised ending pose of some dumb chump with a cheesy grin crossing the finish line of a Tough Mudder race, or did he or she have to fake it for the sake of a cool Instagram post? More bluntly, did he or she merely “Do it for the Vine”?
Our Facebook friends tell us that if we didn’t share a particular priceless moment on any social media outlet, it didn’t happen – for the entire limitless invisible universe we call “The Internet” is interested in knowing exactly what we are doing at all times.
This is why we find ourselves staring at pictures of that random guy’s Chinese food takeout. The owner of this Instagram account actually believes that you, as the “follower”, care about what he had for lunch. His day is made better with every “like”. Your “like” is validating his existence.
It’s ultimately a monstrous waste of time, for snapping photos of everything one sees, eats, and wears requires one’s smartphone to eternally live in his or her back pocket. The constant tweet crafting and Facebook Profile Pic planning, while helping the human prove that his or her life is meaningful, actually distracts away an unhealthy portion of the human’s life – especially the teenager’s.
A teacher named Tracie Schroeder recently tweeted, “In 16 years of teaching, I can’t think of anything that has ever disrupted my classroom more than today’s @snapchat update.” (@bravesearth)
It isn’t news that a group of young people raised in a world of instant messaging and instant gratification have limited attention spans. But the introduction of SnapChat has only multiplied the distractions for kids who are already distracted by their phones.
Teenagers who would’ve once spent their evenings with their heads down ingesting the contents of a book have been replaced by students with heads and hands extended upwards to catch the perfect Snap Chat studying selfie – only to then religiously monitor who has opened it.
Lost in the only cyber world they’ve known, adolescents are slowly subconsciously placing more value on the sharing of an event than the actual participation of the event. Just go to any concert and you’ll find an entire floor crowd of brace-faced 18 year olds, standing still; brightly colored rectangles held high over their heads.
I recently told a young female coworker that instead of “liking” her Instagram post as she asked me to, I would instead march up to her face and tell her in person, “I like your photo.”
She just rolled her eyes.
So, to all guys; just a fair warning.
This ambiguous statement really messes with her. It sparks a cataclysmic explosion of highs and lows that won’t relent until her mind has digested every last syllable.
In order to understand why it elicits such chaos of the mind, just try to put yourself in a pair of black wedges and listen to the Greek chorus in your brain.
Those five words dart into her inner ear, echoing up and down her mind like a skateboarder gliding back and forth on her ramp. When the skateboarder finally lands, the board pops up and the eyebrows raise. “Me? You think you know me?”
But before Rosie the Riveting skateboarder takes the first punch, the Greek chorus intervenes, screeching a staccato symphony of sobering realization, “But wait! He’s right! You are not in the slightest like other girls.”
The intervention calms the mind of our tragic heroine long enough for her brain to argue for itself – for although you’re right, she has only recently decided that you are worthy of knowing her. The hour long interactions at work or at the bar have unveiled barely the slightest glimpse of all she is. You’ve maybe, maybe, grasped two of the shallowest rings of her personality.
Ask anyone who loves her – she is not like other girls, or other humans, for that matter. She thinks more thoughts a day than you do. She eats more food a day than you do. She sings more songs a day than you do. She talks to her cat and dog in their respective languages, choreographs Zumba alone in the mirror of her room, reads, writes, and argues more than you do. She prays and worships, she listens and cries. She learns, she loves, she lives.
So, young man, you’re right. In this girl, you see truth. But, to quote Socrates, the wisest man knows that he knows nothing.
You must realize how little you know. You’re only at the cusp of something far greater than you can ever hope for or imagine – the opportunity to know a young woman layered with eternal fibers of contradictions and harmonies. You’ve only pulled back a tiny corner of the plastic glued to a slice of cheese made to melt on the cheeseburger of a damn good life. In the words of “Ol Blue Eyes”, “we’ve only tasted the wine.”
And so, the hurricane in her mind now loses its sight. Cool breezes blow. “If he means it,” the Greek chorus’ balladry bellows, “then his actions should reflect it.” It will logically follow that he will dwell no more with “other girls”, and instead, place all his time and energy into discovering the keys that will unlock the mysteries of her mind.
But if he doesn’t mean it?
And the choir sang, in full force,
“Find a guy who’s not like other guys!”