The Third Round

“Hi. I’m Cameron. I’m from Georgia.”

When I lived in Louisiana, it’s how I introduced myself. I immediately wanted people to know that I was not from there, I did not understand all the things they said. I would need someone to explain things.

So hi. I’m Cameron. I’m from Georgia.

I’m not telling you this to get some explanation-I’m telling you this because the weather here, particularly where I live, has been awful. The National Weather Service is calling it a Particularly Dangerous Situation. The Walmart 12 miles away from my house had its roof ripped off yesterday. Things are kind of scary. I’m sitting in my house and all I know is things are bad (and also that the Falcons are winning, which is exciting even though I don’t care about the NFL).

I also know I’m terrified. People around me have luckily survived, but there is damage. It’s bad. And I’m thankful I live at home with my parents, and I’m not stuck in a dorm for this. I think I’d cry.

But this morning, in a brief reprieve from the weather, we took the opportunity to go to church. My mom didn’t want to. My sister didn’t want to. But I was determined. I’m glad I was, because during the service I was reminded today that He truly is a good, good Father. That He’s taking care of us, even through all of the uncertainty happening. That no person will ever be in control, only Him. What a comfort. He alone is in control here. And because He is a good Father, He will take care of us.

As the third round of tornado weather sweeps through, it’s a thought I’ll be repeating in my head. I’m scared right now, but I am so blessed. My family is alive. Our house and cars have sustained no damage. We still have power and water.

To quote the great Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, “Happiness (and hope) can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

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Loving This City

I see a really broken city around me, even though it’s not a city you’ll hear about on the news that much. See, I live in Macon. And around here, it’s got a nasty reputation.

You might be wondering how a city can have a reputation for being bad but not make national news. I don’t know. In the past year alone, some of the major news stories include:

  • a woman stabbing her boyfriend with a dog food bowl shard at the Waffle House (where’s @floridaman when you need him)
  • several police officers shot and killed
  • at least one person dying almost every single day
  • several house fires, many of which are suspected arson

That’s not even all of them. Or very many specifics (but if you google this place, it’s got a “very high” crime rate). And that’s just crime. It’s not really taking into account all the homelessness, the poverty rates, the unemployment rates. Macon is what you might call a broken city, and people hate it.

Honestly, I used to be one of those people. I moved 540 miles away from it and tried to shake away my past. “I’m from Georgia,” I’d say, but I’d never speak about Macon except with my closest friends. But I’ve been learning something since I’ve been put back in this broken city: the only way we will ever fix Macon is if we start loving it. How did Jesus heal people and places and situations and even my heart? With love. Undying, unfailing, would do anything for it love. Not running away. Not getting out. And even though money would certainly help improve some of the situations, money is not going to heal this city. Just love.

And to love a city, you’ve got to really feel a burden for it. You’ve got to hurt in your heart about how broken it is. You’ve got to feel passion and compassion. Loving is not passive. Loving is active. Loving a whole city is real active. You’ve got to really feel for it.

I’m not perfect at this yet. I’m not even good, really. But I’m trying my absolute hardest, and every day my love for Macon is growing. Even the other day, when my dad said “What could you expect, he’s from Macon?” I got a little offended.

I’m from Macon. It’s my home. And I think I’m turning out okay.

I’m from Macon. I used to cringe when I said that. But now I’m a little proud.

I’m from Macon. I’m learning to love it. And I think if we all could, maybe Macon would be the shining jewel it used to be.

Doing My Best

We have a new youth pastor at church. Nobody really told me. Or introduced us. I volunteer with the student ministry, which means working closely with the youth pastor. So this is mildly problematic.

The other lady I volunteer with asked me to help make 12 cards pretty last minute (by this I mean this Tuesday) in the middle of finals week for some goody bags they planned to give out. That nobody told me we were giving out. But I agreed, because I love the girls and I love painting and it was very good stress relief.

Then the lady asked me to have them done by Thursday instead of Sunday morning. And I said no. I had two finals yesterday. I of course explained this. She asked if I could have them done by today. I said no. I have a 10 question homework assignment and a final tomorrow morning to study for. I’m not going to see Christmas lights with my family tonight because I have so much going on. And, a little unrelated, earlier this semester I finally realized it’s okay to say no to people. That I have to quit bending over every which way to make everyone else happy. I’m not that flexible, probably because I don’t work out.

Anyways. She texted me back a little miffed. And maybe I’m taking it too personally. Because I do that sometimes. But she said to just quit worrying about it, she’d just get the new youth pastor’s wife to help her. Don’t worry about it. She’ll take care of it. And maybe I’m imagining her tone a little off, but she seemed upset with me. As if I, as always, had let her down. As if she was picking up slack not just on my end, but for eighty people.

I had already painted the cards, I just had to letter around five more of them. And I wanted to scream, and I wanted to cry. Don’t you see me, trying my hardest? Don’t you see me, doing my best? I don’t get to go to work and read or watch videos all day. I don’t get to take breaks just to make cards sometimes because my grades, my finals, are important to me. I don’t get to change my schedule at command–between work and school, my schedule is full and dominated by other people. My classes and my job and my homework all require my full attention.

I didn’t say any of that. But her words, her tone, the way the sentences came together, it all still stings a little. It makes me sad. Because here I am, trying my hardest. And my hardest was not good enough for her. And I’m actively dedicating the free time I have to the student ministry. But the student ministry does not even bother to tell me of a pastor change. It all stings a little.

And I wish I could honestly say that I turned to God and prayed and realized that I’m not here to please all of these people. That I’m just here to do His work. I didn’t. I mean, I know all that. But I didn’t remember it in the moment. I just cried a little and kept doing my homework. Looked at the cards I had made. I still have them. (If anyone wants a fun Christmas card from a stranger let me know, I have stamps, envelopes, and a surplus of them.)

And ya know, I don’t know why any of this is happening. I don’t know why I constantly feel left out or let down or like a lost puppy that these people just have to deal with. I don’t. But I do know this. Every time something like this happens, I’m growing in my faith. I can feel God using it to push me higher. Because, okay, maybe I didn’t immediately pray this time. Maybe I just cried. And maybe it still stings a little. But I’m not letting this series of events, these things, define me. I’m not pushing myself to be better for these people. I’m just meditating. And knowing that it’s okay, because God knows I’m doing my best. And if He knows that, it doesn’t matter if anyone else does.

Ruining Christmas

First, I apologize. I’m very stressed because tests and papers and so much to do. This will not be a good post to read, there will be many grammar mistakes, but that’s my life. I feel dead inside.

I think, that at one point, everyone will feel like they’ve ruined Christmas. And this Christmas, for (probably only the first time) it was me that ruined Christmas.

Not like the whole thing. Go back to Cyber Monday-ing, shopping, and listening to Christmas music. And I promise, this isn’t a sad story.

My mom was planning on getting me an X-Box for Christmas. She’s a cool mom. The problem is, I don’t play video games. I did in Louisiana, but mostly because some of my friends did. They wanted to play video games. I don’t dislike playing them. That’s what we did, so that’s what I told my parents. My parents thought I loved it. They were gonna get me an X-Box.

But it’s not that I loved the games. I sucked at them. I’m terrible at all video games. So bad there were rules that nobody could kill me. I just enjoyed the time I spent with my friends. We laughed. We joked. We played scary video games at 3 in the morning. It was the camaraderie that pulled me in, and I think my parents mistook my excitement for friendship with excitement for games.

Obviously if I know I was getting one, my mom has changed her mind. But she sounded sad. Disappointed. It was clear she had put a lot of effort into this. And I felt like I had ruined Christmas. And sure, even if she says I didn’t, and I know I didn’t really, I know when I open my present on Christmas there will still be a twinge of sadness on her part, and guilt on mine.

I’m writing this because I’ve learned a lot this semester. About who I am and what being truly lonely is like. I’ve always had friends. But something about moving back home, to a small school, has made it hard for me to make friends. Maybe it’s because I don’t stay on campus, maybe because I’m not involved. Whatever it is, I’m alone, truly alone, for the first time in my life. And it’s weird, and I’m weird. I’m a mix of all of my friends and more. I’m a mix of their words, their habits, their interests, and then some extra that is all me. It’s fun. It’s cool. And being lonely sucks, but it’s been kind of good.

And that extra, that extra little bit that is just me, well. That bit isn’t ruining Christmas. That bit is just making an appearance for probably the first time in a long time. And that little extra is happy.

“When Does a Hill Become a Mountain?”

Ahh yes. Titling a blog post a Nick Miller quote.

But this question. I’ve been thinking about it. Mostly because one of my best friends sent me a big list of Nick Miller quotes this morning. Anyways.

We tell people not to make mountains out of molehills, but when does the hill actually become a mountain? When do we admit that it might be hard? I know the expression just means to not make a big deal out of something that is actually nothing. I’m not questioning that. Just, when do we let ourselves feel? When do we accept the gravity of the situation?

I transferred schools, from my dream school to one that I do like, love actually, but was never my dream. And I’m okay with what happened, ya know? I’ve had six months to become okay with it. But I never let myself feel sad. And now, sad is a lot of what I feel. Not regret. Not upset. Just sad. I miss it. A little bit every day, but especially on game days (I was raised on football, it’s one of the most important parts of my life).

So when do I admit that this “hill” was actually a mountain all along?

I think I finally have. And I think accepting what a big deal it was to me is finally what will let me heal. That, and time.

Let yourself feel. Let yourself feel all the feelings. Don’t think they’re extreme. Don’t think it’s excessive. Just feel. Grow and heal and feel.

Kiddos. And a Servant’s Heart

I think, if you look at my life, it would be fair to say I like kids. Like might actually be an understatement. I tutor high schoolers for work, and at church I volunteer in the student ministry and in children’s church. So I think I might like kids.

Sometimes, though, I wonder if I’m actually good at any of this. I mean, I haven’t been fired. The kids I tutor say hello and seem excited to work with me (and my coworkers). The kids at church like to say hello and talk to me. The students text me and seem to enjoy coming to group.

But am I good?

Do I do good enough?

Am I liked?

Recently I realized my questions were all wrong. It was really layed on my heart that maybe I would be much happier if I reconsidered why I do all these things.

Do I like tutoring?

Do I like hanging out with fifth graders?

Do I like meeting with students week in and week out and teaching them about God when they’re at a confusing time in life?

Yes. Yes I do. I love the kids faces when they realize they can do a problem on their own now. I love the babies at church who tell me all about their injuries and then scream Bible verses at me to prove they memorized them. I love the students who make me cry in prayer.

Friend, I hope you enjoy what you do. I hope you have a servant’s heart, where you see it’s about the things you do and not getting famous doing them. I hope you remember, even when praises don’t come, that the work you do is praise-worthy. And if you don’t, please ask yourself: is it just my perspective? If it’s not, move. Because if your perspective is right and you still aren’t satisfied, I feel like you’re being called to move into something new. But maybe, just maybe, all that’s wrong is that your servant’s hear needs some tuning.

Talent. And Also I Can’t Feel My Knee

I have a fake yeti cup. It works just as well and it was only $10. If you’ve never seen one, they have an awesome lid with a hole just big enough for a straw.

Today I spilled roughly a fourth of my coffee (>7 ounces) on my shirt and my sleeve from that teeny tiny hole while I was just walking, not even trying to drink. Talk about some talent, y’all.

So that’s how Monday started. And now, five flights of stairs later, I can’t feel my knee. I had surgery six years ago and now, like a true teenage grandma, I have mild arthritis. Except it doesn’t hurt right now. No. I just can’t feel that part of my body.

Also I missed a week of writing.

If you’re wondering what point I could possibly be making, it’s that I’m clearly a mess. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. But last night at Life Group (I help lead the student ministry at church, and I lead the girl’s life group), my heart was overflowing. In prayer, the girls were thanking God for me and my co-leader being positive examples and coming in to work with them week in and week out. I cried like a baby. These girls reminded me that it doesn’t matter how messy I am. God uses us all, despite the mess. God actually uses the mess to His advantage!

I don’t know what mess you’re in. I don’t know where you are in life. But hang on, friend, because you and your mess serve a purpose. How awesome is that.