Well I was feeling bad reading through my last few posts because pretty much since I moved here it's been all about community and challenges and such...but I've accepted that it is the chapter that I am in right now...so why not fill it full? (more on this subject can be found in the book Soul Cravings by Erwin McManus..highly suggest you read it....and here...our pastor and his wife giving their testimony http://www.journeyfranklin.com/podcasts.php Feb 28, marriage.)
I just got off the phone with a dear friend and after having a very real, very honest conversation I just had some things on my heart. I was sharing with her some of things that I have been learning from our church, music, and a book that I am currently reading and how it has all been so intertwined, so impacting and challenging. Not just for me but I have talked with my roommate about, several friends and now this other dear friend....it started hitting me...these are things that the human race needs to be talking about, working through, striving for. This thing called love and the difference between God's ability to give unconditional love, and our longing to receive unconditional love from those around us...yet our inability to offer that to anyone. Communication, we don't communicate. Oh we think we do, we talk, we tell our stories, we vent....but we don't put up boundaries, we don't talk about our emotional needs or others needs, and what happens is we get so overwhelmed expecting to be loved unconditionally and wanting to love unconditionally that after weeks or months of constantly striving to be there to listen no matter what and trying to fix your friends problems and trying to......hmmm see that word trying? God doesn't try..he does. we try and try and try and get more exhausted after every attempt. Yeah, we are human, eventually we hit a wall, we get overwhelmed, and we have nothing left to give. But then you say...wait you have been talking all about our human need for community and walking alongside each other etc etc....yes. Something that I am slowly learning is the need for boundaries within community. This does not mean not sharing our stories and struggles, but being able to love enough to clue into other's needs. To know when maybe we need to stop talking and just know that we are loved, know that those people are there, and know that right now...there is nothing more they can say or do to fix your problem...in the end God is the only one who can fully satisfy, fully be there, and fully know what His will is for you. Sometimes I find myself feeling horrible if I can't be there for everyone and feel like the worst friend because they think that I won't love them or that I don't care...when really I just don't have the strength and if I tried to listen it would do more harm to them than good. We are constantly living in a cycle of selfishness and we don't know it. We are constantly living with these built up expectations and we have no idea we've created them, we are constantly coming up with excuses for everything that happens to us, we are constantly running away....yet we are hurt and angry with God when our friends walk away because they have become overwhelmed by our problems and struggles...we play the victim and think that they consider us a burden, that they obviously don't know what it means to love, that they obviously aren't true friends......and we don't talk to them about it...we run away...hmmm wait a minute...we...run...away......isn't that why we were upset in the first place....someone ran away.... We as humans are doing a whole lot of running...mostly running in circles... We don't want to be hurt, we don't know how to give anymore, we don't understand how to help someone, someone doesn't understand how to help us.....we all run. We don't always know we are running but we all do it in our own ways. Our pastor and his wife got up and gave their testimony because we are talking about marriage these days...I never thought I would get so much out of something and be able to apply so much to my own life....from hearing a marriage story. But wow....it was the perfect picture of this running, expectations, longing to be there but not knowing how, wanting someone to be there but not knowing how we want someone to be there.....no matter what end you are on it's all the same. It came down to them needing to accept each others' limits. After a long day of giving and giving...having a conversation and venting or arguing sometimes needs to just be let go. Not because you don't love each other, but because we are full of limits. We cannot give if we are not full and we cannot expect to be given to. It's amazing how sitting down and talking about something with a dear friend, a spouse, fiance, family member, can give you a new perspective on the situation. Hey I love you and I want to be there with all that I am, but, I am tired, I'm empty and I have nothing to give you right now...can we do this later? Know that I love you, know that I am here I just can't listen right now. Whoaaaaaa but we are supposed to listen, that's what good friends do. Yes. But. we need to understand that we cannot expect our friends or spouses to be God. We cannot expect a constant, ever flowing strength that is always over-flowing. See God never has to "re-fill" we do. I'm leaving it at that......I have so much more on my mind but don't feel like writing a book and not expecting everyone to listen to it :) Hmm maybe my next topic will be the other side of this conversation that me and this friend had.....love...what is it? what is the different between our love and God's love? and....why does God allow hurt.......how about this....can we fully know what love is without hurt and long and pain?
The learning process never stops does it? Ever since college I get these moments where I find myself in a learning situation and sometimes...just sometimes...I want to close it all off, plug my ears and shut my eyes tight. Sometimes, I just get tired and my brain can't take it. BUT, God is teaching me a lot these days. As usual. So I'm trying to keep my eyes open and pry my hands off my ears....... which leads me into how doing this 40 day water campaign has been tough, not going to lie, but I do find that somedays I just don't think about...I just drink my water, sometimes sigh to myself when I look at a coffee maker and then go about my day....never asking God what is going to be taught today, never opening my eyes to what may be revealed, never thinking about the "why" and the reason I am doing this. It shouldn't be that way. Now somedays it's constantly there, constantly making me aware of so many things. I am praying that I would continue to have more of the latter. Not only has this whole thing reiterated how important community is but it's also shown me how important awareness and intentional thinking is. First community: You can go at something alone, seek God's strength to get through, etc....but there is something about doing something, knowing that there are other people standing alongside doing the same thing, for the same cause, giving each other encouragement along the way. My brother is here visiting and has also committed to doing this water campaign with me. Usually Connor and I go on our traditional little coffee shop dates, we sorta started this after I went off to college and would come back to visit. Well it's been awesome to instead go at this together and find other ways to spend time together and put that money towards a greater need. Then on my really hard days when all I want is a big huge mug of coffee I head over to a certain facebook, the guy who spread the word about this and the person who inspired me to step forward in taking on this challenge. He is constantly putting up his motivation for the day or an encouragement for those doing the 40 day water campaign. It's through community that we are pushed, challenged and encouraged to make a difference in our world. Then there is awareness: You become so much more aware of what you spend your money on or how you spend your time when you take something as simple as buying a beverage out of your daily routine. A sacrifice that, in the end, doesn't earn you more success or help you up the totem pole but that brings awareness into your life. You spend more time thinking about what you have and what you take for granted and you have a simple chance to take that and turn it around to bring good to someone else who is in much greater need. I had done the whole 30 hour fast thing with youth groups growing up but I remember being so busy doing things during it and making it fun that I don't know if I ever understood the point. I've read about fasts in the Bible, heard about people going on media fasts etc and always thought that was great but just never thought about why. Now this is in no way a major fast (although I'm realizing just how much I depended on coffee) but it's enough to make me take a few steps back and really learn, be taught, look closer. It's a time to take something that I "need" (or think I need) to survive my busy American style, stessful day away and instead turn to God. It's a time when you are constantly being reminded of something missing and through that being reminded of these bigger issues in our world. I find myself praying more, seeking God more passionately, and aching to make more of a difference with my life. Now I also find myself praying to God that he would give me a shot of holy caffeine and espresso so I can face my day with the energy needed, but so far He has just answered with a "wait and see" see what He has in store. So lots of awareness, lots of prayer, lots of learning...like I said before, I am trying to pry my hands of my ears and open my eyes so I don't miss a thing. I also just want to say that I only am sharing this because I do with all my heart believe that this is such a good cause and because God has been peeling at some layers in my life and teaching me and I love to share that, I love to get other's thoughts and I am in the process of learning to put myself out there. I am not writing about this to brag about what I am doing, but it is a situation that is my life right now and why not write about it like I would any other situation? I'm gonna go drink some water and go to bed. :)