Saturday, October 29, 2011

Talk the Talk, Walk the Walk

"Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me - put it into practice." -Philippians 4:9

Though the draft for this post is a few weeks old, I wholeheartedly believe that it is applicable to every single day. For whatever reason the day of this idea's inception, I struggled with "practicing what I preach", as the saying goes.

As you may well know, if you've been reading long enough, I tend to suffer from foot-in-mouth disease. Usually it's over silly little things that cause me embarrassment. There are those times though when my behaviors and actions and words don't reflect those of Christ. I am not being who God wants me to be.

The other day in Spanish we worked on translating proverbs, and one of them was something along the lines of, don't say anything if you can't say something good. Or whatever. But you get the idea.

Really, St. Ignatius of Antioch hit the nail on the head when he said, "It is better to say nothing and be a Christian than to speak and not be one. It is good to teach, if we practice what we preach." Rather than make a fool of myself, or worse yet make a mockery of the faith that I love so much, I should keep my mouth shut. In the same breath, I should apply the same thought to my actions.

I think we could all heed his words. Instead of just talking about things, why don't we actually do what we say we're gonna do? Instead of saying, "I love Jesus for x, y, and should you!"...let's actually LOVE Jesus for being x, y, and z by ourselves being x, y, and z.

As I've heard often, be the face of Jesus to all you meet.

Then try using your words.

Monday, October 24, 2011

That Question...

Lately I keep having this recurring conversation about my life. You know, hey, what do you want to do after college?

I used to know the answer. But now, I'm not so sure.

It's a little terrifying.

I came into college with some semblance of a plan. First I was a history interest because that's just what my summer advisor put me as. It wasn't a lie, but the first thing that came out of my mouth was something about being interested in being a teacher. There was no dialogue or exploratory conversation about other avenues.

Then I officially switched to geology a semester-ish later because being a volcanologist had always been a dream of mine. Plus, unlike my first advisor who cared nada, my professor actually conversed with me. Was encouraging.

Then I discovered that as much as I loved learning about volcanoes and the processes of the earth, geology just wasn't for me. It didn't feel right. But when I was a geology major, answering the question of "What do you want to do after college?" was much easier to answer.

Now I'm a communications major with a minor in Spanish. For some reason, this isn't clear cut for most. I know this is just a huge perceptive and attributional error, but I feel like some people think I'm not doing anything worthwhile because of my major. People, like always, ask me what I want to do. Rather than freak out and have a meltdown in front of them, I just say that I don't know. I tell them the truth. This answer seems to pacify some, but does it really?

I don't know. The point is, I HAVE NO FREAKING IDEA WHAT I WANT TO DO. Anymore. And it sucks. A lot of my friends have really great and wonderful ideas and plans that are already set in motion. Social work here, clinical psychologist there, accountant here. Grad school after undergrad. I'm so happy and proud of each of them.

And then there's Ashley. The comm studies major who likes to learn Spanish but complains about it a lot. I have no plans for grad school right now because frankly, it doesn't make one lick of sense to go to grad school if I don't know what for. In the back of my mind, I also think that part of my problem is that I feel some sick, weird urge to fulfill my high school superlative of being voted "Most Likely to Succeed." But success is measured differently by everybody...I feel that maybe my definition might not be the same as most.

Really, all I want to do is help people. That answer seems easy enough for me, at the moment. It isn't specific enough for most though. Why should I have to apologize for that? Or rather, why do I feel the need to apologize?

It's just mildly terrifying that I can't answer the question people ask me a lot these days.

...but perhaps I'm not supposed to know the answer quite yet.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Finally, A Hike

I went hiking today.

It was an absolutely beautiful day. It was incredible. I can't even begin to describe just how awesome it was to be outside.

Initially the hike was rough due to an older hiking injury rearing its obnoxious head, but with the right companions, you can safely put your pain and discomfort behind you so that you can enjoy the journey. Though it did serve as a sobering wake up call that:
1) Need to do more hiking, stat. The last time I went on a hike was April 21, 2011. That's disgusting. Today is October 14.
2) Seriously should start exercising and take better care of myself.
Today was an amazingly wonderful day.

Thanks be to God for a fall that is actually behaving like fall should, for making new friends, and for the countless other blessings in my life.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Never Gonna Give You Up...

It was more than fitting that the reading I was given to proclaim this weekend was this letter from Paul to the Philippians,
Brothers and sisters:
I know how to live in humble circumstances;
I know also how to live with abundance.
In every circumstance and in all things
I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry,
of living in abundance and of being in need.
I can do all things in him who strengthens me.
Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress.

My God will fully supply whatever you need,
in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
To our God and Father, glory forever and ever. Amen.
Normally, I spend a little time each day (the week before I read) going over the reading...not just practicing but also listening to what God may be saying to me.

This time, however, I needed only to read it to myself a few times and say it aloud once before the gravity of His message took root.

I didn't need a lot of time to understand this message, this lesson, because I have experienced it. I have lived and still live it and most likely will again in the future.

My understanding isn't just because I'm a college undergrad who supplements living off-campus with a mostly part-time, minimum wage job with the occasional babysitting gig. It isn't because I do not come from wealth. It just, is.

And I'm okay with that, strangely enough. Some days it's a hard pill to swallow, these humbling circumstances and going hungry days and being in need moments. Some days these things aren't mine, but sometimes they're close enough to me that they in effect become mine.

I take comfort in knowing that I am not alone. Yes, others share in my distress, but even more beautiful than that is the fact that with Christ, all things are possible. I am not alone. You are not alone, no matter how much you want to believe that you are. Because the riches given to us by Christ are not of this world, and those are the ones that really matter.

In addition to Sunday's reading, this tweet from @UnvirtuousAbbey really put it all in perspective, with a little help from Rick Astley of course:

"Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around and desert you," saith the Lord.


If you've been reading and following long enough, you'll know that I love the joy of finding God in all things. Even in the timeless words of Rick Astley...hahahahaha. But seriously, this Sunday's reading spoke to me in a way that I haven't been spoken to in a long time. I guess there are just those days and those readings where God puts up a big, "HELLO I'M HERE" sign and you actually see it. Sometimes I feel that I don't do a good job of proclaiming the readings so that God can speak through me. This time though, I felt that I did because I realized that God was talking to me and through me simultaneously. If no one else but me was reached, well, at least God found the missing sheep. I miss a lot of obvious things you know.

God's never going to give you up, let you down, or desert you. Really.

Hasta luego.

p.s. I honestly am not trying to Rick-roll you. Promise...but if you have no idea who Rick Astley is or where the reference comes from, here you go.