I remember when we were driving, driving in your car

I just finished this book called Angry Conversations with God by Susan E. Isaacs. I remember seeing this book in the HCC bookstore a couple times and thinking the cover was cute but never felt like reading it. Then on a whim I put a hold on it at the library (my new favorite thing btw, the library) and last week I got an e-mail saying it was in. So I picked it up. I was excited to read it, but I had no idea how amazing it was going to be.
Basically, without getting too far into it, Susan chronicles her journey including (but not limited to) finding a church, trying to be an actress, finding her “calling in life,” and finding a man. It is an unbelievably honest story of faith and struggling to figure out what it all means. I found it refreshing that she was really open about the fact that through most of her story she didn’t have the answers. It was great, seriously… go pick it up and read it.
But this isn’t a book review, so I’ll get to my point. Last night I was reading the last couple chapters when I came across a passage that kind of knocked the wind out of me …. metaphorically speaking that is. She had just had coffee (or was it lunch?) with an ex-boyfriend and had finally getting the “closure” that she had longed for with him. But for some reason she found herself in her car, crying. We’ve all been there right? (I’m not just talking about relationships here). Something happens and it sucks. But we say that it’s for the best, but we can’t help but second guess it all. Whether it’s good or bad, we are hurt and it sucks. Then I read this passage:
“I thought I was over him! So why did my heart still rip? Why did I still feel this sorrow? I got this strange sensation that God was with me. And he was angry. He was very angry–not at me and not at Jack. God was angry at the pain I was going through. I wondered if that was why God hated sin, because of the destruction it caused. For a moment I felt awe for a God who loved me enough to hate the things that hurt me without hating me for causing them. “
I know that God hurts when we are hurt by others for no good reason. He cries for us in our pain because he’s a loving Father. But does he really hate the pain even when we may have caused it ourselves? When we have backed ourselves into the corner and we are looking at the mess we’ve made, is God still angry that we’re going through that pain? Does God have the capability to hate the things that hurt us without hating us for causing them?
The answer is a resounding yes. God hates sin – true. God hates it because of the destruction it causes in our lives – true. But does God watch us screw up our lives and then sit back as we cry and say, “well Alicia, I told you so. I told you that if you did that, it would hurt.” No. He leans in and holds us in that pain, even when we did it to ourselves.
That blows me away, because even the best people in my life get frustrated when I screw up. There is no perfect person who doesn’t feel a twinge of desire to do an “I told you so” dance when someone messes up. Parents don’t watch you wreck a car and say, “I’m sorry you feel bad that you were texting and didn’t see that the traffic stop ahead of you” … at least not at first.
So this concept is foreign to us. The thought that Our God, creator of the universe, would have the ability to hate the pain we are in without hating us for putting ourselves in that place. I think that is pretty freaking amazing, if you ask me. And quite a revelation in my life at that.
You see I have plenty experience with the unfair kind of hurt. The kind that I didn’t bring upon myself but rather was ‘dealt’ to me. I know that God hates that kind of hurt in my life. No question. But I’ve always thought that when I’m mess up, when I invite that kind of pain into my life, that God just kind of sits back and lets me work it out on my own. I mean He’s not totally hands off, I know God is always present, he’s always with me. But I kind of have that feeling that when I have made a mess that God is … well, less than pleased because I knew it was going to end badly and I did it anyway. I spat in his face, I allowed myself to go there and now I have to clean up the mess. That’s why this revelation is so beautiful.
I’m not here confessing some sinful life that I’ve fallen into. In fact it’s quite the opposite. Even though I do struggle with the fact that I have been unemployed for a grand total of 7 weeks, I am really enjoying my Old testament class. I am having a blast diving deep into the scriptures and learning. I miss my friends in KC, but I am loving reconnecting with my old friends.
No matter what though, we all have our doubts about the way that things have come about. The decisions we’ve made and the consequences we’re experiencing because of those decisions. It’s nice to know though, when you’re feeling alone because you’ve backed yourself into that corner, that you’re not alone.

how can you just walk away from me

Tonight I had to take my niece to her dance class. Now I don’t know how many of you guys know that I used to dance and I used to teach dance. So there is a little soft spot in my heart for dance and for dancers.
So I’m in this studio tonight watching Benny’s dance class and my eyes keep wandering around to the other studios where there are other classes going on, older classes. Then I see this girl come out of the other studio. She’s probably about 14 or 15, wearing her black leotard and pink tights. She stepped out of the studio and is standing over her dance bag. I went back to my book but glanced back at her when I realized she was just standing there. She was facing a window that to a room that was dark so she could see her reflection. She wasn’t going back into class, she wasn’t getting anything out of her bag, she was just standing there looking at herself.
So I looked a little closer. I could tell she was trying not to cry. She adjusted her leotard, smoothed her hair all while biting her lip and trying so hard not to cry. I knew that look. Then she reached down and pulled a knee brace out of her bag and slipped on over her tights. She stood there for a minute longer, still looking into her own reflection, avoiding eye contact with anyone else in the lobby although we were all looking at her. She took a deep breath and walked back into her class, ballet.
The thing about dancers (and really any athlete) is that they push through the hardships. If their dream is big enough and strong enough they will overcome. It’s a beautiful thing, and also can be a dangerous thing. Dancers in particular put their bodies through hell. Most end up having joints of 80 year olds at the age of 20. They go through lots of pain, as well as financial strife. The dedication is insane to any other person, but sometimes it can pay off.

thanks for the memories

Nine days ago my internship ended. It was a bittersweet moment as I said goodbye to students and handed in my keys, knowing though that I still had three weeks in Kansas City to look forward to.
I had spent the last 6 months fretting over the question that I literally got asked about every 10 minutes …. “So Alicia, What’s next?” I thought for sure I’d have something figured out before I left Hillcrest. But with a week to go, I had gotten used to the fact that I didn’t know and it was okay to tell people that I didn’t know. Although I was getting sick of saying “I don’t know” and having people give me this look of terror like I was about to jump out of an airplane with no parachute. I was confident that God was going to work it out like He so beautifully has in the past 2 years with all the internship stuff.
And I was right. (insert the I told you so dance here). On Wednesday morning before I was done at Hillcrest it all fell into place. It started with a phone call I received from North Park Theological Seminary. I was accepted! (yes I was actually concerned I wouldn’t be). I called home immediatly to tell my mom my great news. After a ton of calls that day she informed me of a great “in the meantime” job in Colorado which cemented my move home.
So on August 23rd I will be moving back to the CO to live in my mom’s basement, start my Seminary classes online and hopefully start a job there while I look for more perminant work. I am applying to jobs in Youth Ministry but as I am realistic with myself, this process could take months (or more) to really get the right fit at the right church.
So for the past nine days I’ve been setting up my North Park stuff, enjoying some great alone time, house sitting to keep the funds coming and dreading the fact that I’m about to say good bye to Kansas City and some of my favorite people who have made living here so much fun. I haven’t really thought about it until today, sitting here writing this blog. I’ve had some great times here over the last year and a half. I’m a little wary of going home because I am not the same girl that left there two years ago.
But to quote my new fav She & Him song… Change is hard…I should know.
Change is hard, but it’s also the thing that keeps you moving forward. The next chapter in my life can and will be as good as the last chapter. So for now, I’m going to enjoy my last 12 days in Kansas City. And look forward to the newness of moving back home.