Posted in Christianity, Life, Thoughts

Sounds

Last week I spent a few days working at church camp as a counselor.

I work the middle school age week. This year I had the weird realization that I’ve been doing this long enough that all the kids I worked with the first year I did it are now college age, so that was interesting.

Anyway. Late Friday morning, I walked down to the girls’ village to inspect cabins for cleanest and dirtiest (which earn you first and last place, respectively, in the lunch line). Since I wasn’t needed for other duties at the moment, I hung around for a little while to have some quiet time, sitting on the porch of the lodge where I was staying.

It wasn’t raining, but it had rained all night, and so much water dripped off the trees that it sounded like rain. I could hear at least two different kinds of birds tweeting. Occasionally I could hear kids shouting from up the hill. That was all.

But the sounds were so pretty.

God didn’t need to make the sounds so pretty. But I’m very glad he did and that we get to enjoy them.

Posted in Christianity, Life, Thoughts

An “I Just Need to Write Something” Post

I have a headache. I need to do yoga and take a shower, and I would like to have time to watch a movie and do some fiction writing tonight. So overall I don’t feel like putting much thought into a blog post today. So have some random quotes I like.

 

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read. – Groucho Marx

We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be. – C.S. Lewis

The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them – words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear. – Stephen King

If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito. – Dalai Lama XIV

Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry. – W.B. Yeats

The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words. – William H. Gass

Everybody has a secret world inside of them. I mean everybody. All of the people in the whole world, I mean everybody – no matter how dull and boring they are on the outside. Inside them they’ve all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds… Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands, maybe. – Neil Gaiman

Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously. – G.K. Chesterton

There must be those among whom we can sit down and weep and still be counted as warriors. – Adrienne Rich

There is greatness in doing something you hate for the sake of someone you love. – Shmuley Boteach

Good writers are monotonous, like good composers. They keep trying to perfect the one problem they were born to understand. – Alberto Moravia

We’d get sick on too many cookies, but ever so much sicker on no cookies at all. – Sinclair Lewis

The only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him. – Henry Stimson

Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten. – G.K. Chesterton

Hope does not leave without being given permission. – Rick Riordan

God has not baptized us into the drama of Christ’s Body only to forsake us when we stumble over some of our lines. – Mark McIntosh

There is no thought, feeling,  yearning, or desire, however low, trifling, or vulgar we may deem it, which, if it affects our real interest or happiness, we may not lay before God and be sure of sympathy. – Henry Ward Beecher

So long as we love we serve; so long as we are loved by others, I would almost say that we are indispensable; and no man is useless while he has a friend. – Robert Louis Stevenson

Posted in Thoughts, Writings

Writing Relationships

I recently finished rewatching the TV show Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. It’s a spin-off of the show Once Upon a Time, but I don’t think you would need to be familiar with that show to enjoy the Wonderland version. It only lasted a season, but they gave it a nice ending, so it’s pretty satisfying.

Unsurprisingly, it’s inspired by Alice in Wonderland, but it happens when Alice is grown up, going back to Wonderland and searching for the man she loves, a genie named Cyrus who has been wrongfully imprisoned.

Now. Cyrus is exactly the sort of character I should have a fictional crush on. He’s kind and sweet and thoughtful and has a tragic backstory that has helped him grow and has the tall, dark, and handsome thing going on. (Actually, I guess he’s not all that tall. But the vibe is there.) He’s just adorable and regularly makes me feel all melty.

But… the fictional crush isn’t there. Or it’s minuscule. He and Alice are just so happy together and so cute that it didn’t develop.

The lesson to be learned from this (you know, for the many TV show writers who read my blog…): Stable relationships are interesting, too.

Many TV shows (and movies and books and what have you) seem to think that relationships need constant fights, on-again/off-again, will they/won’t they to keep the audience interested. Personally, I find it obnoxious. It’s much more satisfying to watch a couple loving each other and working together and supporting each other as they deal with problems.

Not that the relationships have to be perfect. But they can be stable without being perfect.

So, all you TV show writers, go watch Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. And take notes on how they handle the relationship. Copious notes.

Posted in Christianity, Life, Thoughts

Life Never Quits

The world never really sleeps.

No matter what time it is, there are animals up and about living their lives. Some of them like the day time. Some the night. Some dawn. Some twilight. Different experiences, but all interesting.

And no matter what time it is, there are people up and about living their lives. Some early birds might be waking up when some night owls are going to sleep. Different experiences, but all interesting.

It didn’t have to be this way, I’m sure. God could have designed it so that for a specific 8 hours, everyone and everything stopped and slept in darkness and silence. But instead, life never quits; there’s always something fascinating going on.

Always.

Always.

How cool is that?

Posted in Christianity, Life, Thoughts

Communication

Confession: As soon as someone starts complaining about social media, I start tuning them out.

This is a problem. I realize that. They could still have valuable insights and wisdom that I could learn from (maybe on this topic, maybe on other topics). And discounting everything they have to say is unkind on my part. I’m trying to work on it. At times more successfully than at other times…

Still. Allow me to explain a bit.

My close friends all live at least somewhat far away. Most of them do not even live in the same state as I do. I can’t randomly drop by for an hour to chat. I can’t give – and receive – regular hugs. I can’t help out when they’re sick.

But chatting on Facebook (and texting, though that’s not the focus of this post) lets me communicate regularly anyway. I can at least listen when a friend has a bad day. I can hear about the everyday sorts of events that happen in their lives. I can share things that I think will make them laugh.

These are all ways of reminding each other, “Hey. I love you. I care about what’s happening in your life. I want to spend time and energy on you even though I’m not around.”

And if you think these ways of communicating are inherently shallow, I will fight you. You will win, because I am not skilled at any sort of fighting, but you will not change my mind. Some of the most intimate conversations I have had with friends have happened over the internet.

So you see, when someone starts talking about how social media is useless, or only ever drives people apart, or is always harmful, I don’t simply disagree; they are discounting an incredibly important portion of my life. And since they are not taking my treasured relationships – and, by extension, me – seriously, it becomes difficult to take them seriously.

This mostly (not exclusively, but mostly) seems to happen with people older than I am talking to younger generations about the dangers of social media. The thing is, I would venture to guess that almost every one of those younger people who use social media regularly would agree that it has its problems and dangers (as does every other method of communication; it’s like all the people communicating are flawed human beings who sin and make mistakes in every area of their lives, imagine that…).

So here is my point: Disparaging social media is likely to simply alienate a large portion of the younger generations instead of creating an atmosphere where they might listen to what you have to say. That’s a problem on their part, yes, but the failure to respect a valuable part of their lives is also a problem. So, no matter your age, if you wish to successfully communicate with those in the younger generations, this is an unwise – and unkind – way to go about it.

Posted in Christianity, Thoughts

God Tried

I’ve been reading the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was a prophet who lived during the days of the last kings of Judah. The Babylonians were going around conquering other countries, and Judah felt threatened – for good reason, since God repeatedly warned them through Jeremiah that they would be defeated. But God kept trying to offer them ways to make it not so bad. “Repent, surrender to the Babylonians, and you will live. And don’t worry too much; I’m going to eventually bring you back to the land of Israel.”

God tried. Over and over. Every time someone asked Jeremiah what would happen, he repeated himself. The Babylonians are going to win, so just surrender.

They didn’t listen. Sad, but perhaps not surprising. Also not surprising: The Babylonians conquered the land of Judah. Many people died. Many more were taken into captivity.

And then, in Jeremiah 42, a bunch of important people came to talk to Jeremiah:

Then all the commanders of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest, came near and said to Jeremiah the prophet, “Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the Lord your God for us, for all this remnant—because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us—that the Lord your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do.”

Jeremiah agrees to pray and tell the people what God wants them to do, and they say, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to all the word with which the Lord your God sends you to us. Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.”

Ten days later, God gives Jeremiah an answer for them:

“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your plea for mercy before him: If you will remain in this land, then I will build you up and not pull you down; I will plant you, and not pluck you up; for I relent of the disaster that I did to you. Do not fear the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid. Do not fear him, declares the Lord, for I am with you, to save you and to deliver you from his hand. I will grant you mercy, that he may have mercy on you and let you remain in your own land. But if you say, ‘We will not remain in this land,’ disobeying the voice of the Lord your God and saying, ‘No, we will go to the land of Egypt, where we shall not see war or hear the sound of the trumpet or be hungry for bread, and we will dwell there,’ then hear the word of the Lord, O remnant of Judah. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: If you set your faces to enter Egypt and go to live there, then the sword that you fear shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine of which you are afraid shall follow close after you to Egypt, and there you shall die. All the men who set their faces to go to Egypt to live there shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. They shall have no remnant or survivor from the disaster that I will bring upon them.”

Basically: Stay here. Trust me. I’ll take care of you. Don’t try to run somewhere that seems safer, because it won’t work.

The Israelites had been so disobedient that the ultimate disaster had happened: the Promised Land, which was supposed to belong to them, had been conquered. That’s how much they had sinned. I’m sure life seemed basically hopeless at that point.

And God still gave them another chance when they asked him what to do.

Sadly, they still did not obey. But God tried.

Posted in Life, Thoughts

Introverts Need People, Too

“I think it fascinating that the introverted one needs people more than the extroverted ones, in a way.”

This is a comment a friend recently made on a story I wrote. It made me think about how rarely an introvert’s need for people is portrayed in literature. As I said last week, the general internet likes to talk about how introverts need alone time. This is true, and important. But it means many people have forgotten that introverts do also need people. And sure, there are lots of stories where the awkward loner does something cool and gains a bunch of friends, but that is not at all what an introvert needing people looks like.

It looks like a not-usually-chatty person coming home from college for the weekend and talking and talking and talking because they don’t have close enough friends at college to make them feel heard.

It looks like still wanting to spend hours talking to a close friend after a long day making small talk at work.

It looks like debating about whether to go to a social gathering, because yeah, you’re kind of lonely and you know it would do you good, but you’re also so exhausted…

Socializing does use up an introvert’s energy. But not all socializing uses the same amount of energy, and not all socializing equally satisfies the need for people.

For example, socializing with strangers or slight acquaintances uses a lot of energy and provides little satisfaction, so while it’s very often necessary, it’s not particularly helpful.

Socializing with close friends, on the other hands, uses little energy and provides lots of satisfaction, so it can potentially go on for hours or days with little need for breaks.

Then there’s the middle, people who use a moderate amount of energy and provide a moderate amount of satisfaction. The introvert likely considers these people friends, but not their closest friends. Whether they’re helpful to be around depends on what the introvert needs at the moment.

(Disclaimers:
1. There are probably some introverts who could pull off being a hermit long term. I am not one of them. And while I don’t know statistics, I doubt it’s the norm.
2. All descriptions are from personal experience. Take them with a grain of salt. Your introvert may function differently than I do.
3. Not every decision on whether or not to spend time with a person is made based on amount of available energy and need for people. Nor should every decision be made this way. But it is often a factor.)

In conclusion: Don’t forget that introverts need people, too.