what? sorry no, I'm an avoider…

I’m kind of a failure.
The month of January is not yet over, but it’s almost there, and I have not finished my challenge. More so I should say I will not finish my challenge. But I’m okay with it. I blame this fact on the current events of my life. I spent the end of last week helping in the set up of the Covenant event that is currently going on in downtown Denver. And then I spent a good majority (like all of) Friday shuttling people back and forth from DIA and the hotel. And the whole weekend downtown at Connection (the part of event for youth pastors and worship pastors). So I have been non-stop going and therefore have not read much. So yea, I’ve failed at my January challenge of reading a ton of books. I basically only finished Lovely Bones.
But that’s neither here nor there as far as this post goes. Just a random general update.
So as I mentioned, I spent the whole weekend downtown at Connection. This was my 4th Connection (not consecutive, I missed last year) in my “ministry career” and usually, if I’m honest with myself, I find that I am mostly there for the community and fellowship of seeing past 4Cs interns that knew me in my high school years and other church people I’ve worked with and met over the years. This year, going into Connection, was no different. However, now that I’m on the other side, I find that God had a bigger purpose for me this year.
I went to more Seminars this year than in years past (2!). And I of course attended all the main sessions with all the great speakers. This year the theme was “The Beautiful Struggle.” The first session was all about how we as pastors (I use “we” lightly bc I’m not currently a pastor but you get my point) often minister out of places where we ourselves struggle personally, globally and in ministry. We were encouraged to turn in with a few people around us and share some personal struggles with each other. Now I have a problem sharing my struggles with my friends, nevermind complete strangers that I met five minutes ago. So I turned to those around me and let a couple of them share while avoiding eye contact with anyone directly in hopes to not have to share myself. Luckily I was in a large group and we didn’t make it to everyone before drawn back into the large group. I escaped that situation.
Then the rest of the day I got to spend time with my friends from KC. I got some much needed girl time when I agreed to go shopping with my friend Brooke. While wondering around Forever 21 Brooke started to ask me questions. Deep questions. Hard questions. Probing questions. So here I am, walking around, absently minding picking up sweatshirts and skirts, commenting on cuteness or not cuteness…. and attempting to sum up my feelings, emotions, general life going-ons. And it was hard. But at the same time I was glad she was asking…
The thing is, about 80% of the time I don’t want to be treated like the “dead dad” girl. Just like for most of my college life I didn’t want to be the “from a broken home” girl. So for that 80% of the time I don’t want anyone to ask how it’s going for me – grieving wise – and when in that mood when I am asked “How are you?”….”Great” rolls of my tongue. but then there’s that 20% of the time that I DO want someone to ask. I want people to remember that I’m hurting and that behind this mask of “I’m okay” is the pain of regret, guilt, anger, sadness and about 100 other unidentifiable emotions.
Then that night, in worship, I realized something pretty huge for me. God gave me this gift of being able to not be working or in a full-time ministry setting right now in order to give me the space/time/whatever to grieve and try and heal from my relationship with my dad and this sudden loss. Only the thing is, I’m an avoider. Meaning I run from my emotions in order to not feel like a victim. I’ve been this way my whole life, I know that I have, and honestly I’m okay with it. However, God is not okay with it. and He let me know that on Saturday night.
So Sunday morning found me in my best friend’s hotel room being open and raw with how my life is going. which has also sent me into a whirlwind of emotions and raw honesty. So that’s where I’m at. I am no longer allowing myself to answer questions on a surfacey level as long as the person asking is willing to hear the truth.
I tend to rant about being real. I have these high expections of the church being a place to be real and that friends should be able to handle your realness… but in that respect I am a HUGE hypocrite. I do not like being real. or vulnerable. or any other catch words we use for community. However I do believe that we should be more vulnerable and not shy away from struggles.
So here’s me trying to be real. Be prepared if you are my friend that I am going to be more real and if you can’t handle that, it’s okay to tell me. But be prepared if you ask me what’s going on in my head… you may not like the answer.

you may tire of me, as our december sun is setting, cause I'm not who I used to be

Is it bad that I had to just go back to my last entry to remember my clever(less) little nickname for this January experiment? I’m going to take your silence as “no”… or maybe you responded “yes” in your head as to not hurt my feelings. Either way, that’s how my brain works (er, doesn’t work).
I added to the list the book The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold lended to me by my friend Jill. For those of you who don’t know (read: living under a rock) it’s the book that’s being released as a movie with the same title. It’s told from the point of view of Susie Salmon who is a jr high girl who died and is now in heaven looking down on her family as they cope/try to find answers about her death. I’m already about halfway through.
I’ve also completed 2 other books that are in a series of 4 books that I refuse to mention or discuss on this blog because of the fact that I KNOW I will be mocked my many people. I’m only saying this to feel accomplished to have finished two books already this month.
Which brings me to today. I got back from bible study and immediately sat down in the very oversized LazyBoy chair that has taken residence in my house for a long time. This chair is made of a black leather that has been worn soft and cushy over the years. I call it very oversize because it’s pretty big, it used to easily fit me and my puppy Zoe who we got when I was a senior in HS and who my mom gave up for adoption after I left for MI. boo. (Joey, our new dog, has no desire to cuddle with me). It also fits very comfortably my goddaughter and I when we like to snuggle up and watch TV together. But this afternoon it held just me, all curled up, with a book. I should not neglect to add that this chair was picked out and purchased by my dad and became known as “Dad’s Chair,” meaning we were not allowed to sit in it unless he was not home.
On the end table next to me is my little travel iHome holding my iPod playing mellow music starting with the Swell Season and followed by Snow Patrol.
All afternoon I’ve been curled up alternating between The Lovely Bones and Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven but Nobody Wants to Die (EWHNWD). It’s been a particularly rough day today in my attempts to grieve and not shut myself down. Which makes me think I shouldn’t sitting here reading these two books but alas, here I am.
As I read the Crowder/Hogan book, I came across a passage I’d like to share on here, as it has been running through my mind and needs out. This book is split into various sections that they go back and forth between. One of the sections is called “Conversations” where they put in a IM exchange between the two authors as kind of a running commentary on the parts that immediately proceed it. They also put in italics what they are thinking as they write to each other. It’s fascinating and sometimes hilarious to see where their minds go.
In most of the parts David Crowders thoughts are on his pastor Kyle’s death and the days following. In today’s part (4) he talks about going out for milkshakes with friends after the funeral and being in chilis and hearing a Death Cab song. He reflects on music first, then on this specific song and how he felt in that moment. He says:

How music now invades our
experiences withough permission. How it has
become unavoidable. There is always music
playing. When did this happen? When did we
decide that we need music everywhere?
Didn’t we realize what impact this
would have?Arbitrarily shaping what we feel
and what we will forever associate with this or that
experience? We are hopeless.
I couldn’t believe Death Cab was coming through the
Chili’s speakers. Then. Why then?!
That moment was too volatile. It is reckless to
have this kind of music playing in such a public
space. And it wasn’t the sound of
“settling.” Ben was getting this moment all
wrong. Settling is a quiet and floating thing.
This was the sound of something too terrifically
loud and damaged and crumpled, and it was
rolling over me, and i simply could not believe
what I was having to listen to.
That night. After carrying my
friend in his coffin. After putting him in the
back of a hearse. A hearse! I put my friend in a
hearse!! After taking him back out and setting
him over his grave, Ben freaking Gibbard was
singing in his whiny little voice, and my heart
was tugged ffrom where it hung in my chest
and was suddenly sitting in front of me on the
table at Chili’s. And nothing was settling!
No. There was nothing settling in that
moment, yet the music played on, and Ben
kept singing and singing, and there I was,
forced to listen. But part of me loved
the sad, whiny song, even though
he wasn’t playing fair. Why was his voice
pulling my heart out of my chest?
Why would he do this to me? I wanted to cry.
I wanted to cry a cry that wouldn’t contort my
face and scare everyone. I didn’t believe what
Ben was singing. If it was “settling” I could’ve
cried a cry that was less fierce and horric.
The thing that came in waves left me hunched
and caused my body to shake and my mouth
to stretch out and out to the point it looked
almost like I was smiling. You would think
it was a smile except for the ridiculous wail coming
from my gut and out my throat with enough
force to throw wide my mouth. I understand now
the word gutteral. I was tired of this crying.
And Ben freaking Gibbard was doing this on
purpose. He was taking advantage of the
situation. I didn’t want this kind of crying. I
wanted to cry a quiet, settling cry.
I’ve been there all too recently and all too frequently. It’s funny how music is constantly shaping our experiences. I remember the song playing in the ambulance after our accident last February. I remember the song playing when I decided to move to MI in uncertaintly. My friend remembers the song playing just before she gave birth to her only daughter.
Music is everywhere and as someone who loves music, I don’t oppose. But there are moments and songs that seem to rip into our being and we’ll always remember that moment and how that song perfectly fit or how it made us almost fall apart in public.