Passivity vs. Proclamation: An Experiment of Sorts

Hi friends!  Just a warning, this blog post is kind of just going to be me “thinking out loud” about a new strategy for fighting the darkness that too frequently wells up in me.  I struggle a lot with apathy, which leads to hopelessness, anger, fear, etc.  Really fun stuff.  And I’ve never been too good at fighting it.  I tend to be a “woe is me, why is this my life?” pity-party drama queen, and it’s not a good way to be.  The sermon series at a church I’ve been attending the last few weeks has been both convicting and encouraging, and I think that the truth I’ve gotten to hear is maybe the Lord’s wake-up call to me on a better way to fight my demons.

We’ve been going through Psalms, which I love for the intensity of all kinds of emotion.  Anyway, a few weeks ago the lesson was that we should “elevate our praises over our problems.”  Well, butts, that hit home.  Then this morning was about how God will never forsake us, but will hold us up despite anything and everything.  Duh, right?  That’s all over the Bible.  The thing I’ve been missing, however, is that we are to actively seek God, and proclaim His promises in the midst of our crap.  Butts again.

I don’t do that.  When I start falling into the “depths of despair” as Anne Shirley would say, I know in my mind that God will rescue me, but the words on my lips are not confident proclamations of His salvation.  No, rather they are word of hopelessness, and begging God to take away my suffering.  This isn’t wrong in itself, but my approach has always been one of passivity.  I just tend to lay in bed wallowing in my pain until God decides to lift it from me.  I want Him to do all the work, without me having to do anything but whine.  Being honest with God is extremely important, and complaining to Him is more than acceptable when that’s how I feel, it’s just that I can’t stop at that.  It’s been pointed out at church that David, in the midst of his hopelessness, sadness, and fear always still proclaimed that Lord’s promises.  He would be in the darkest hole, crying out to God in anguish, but he never neglected to acknowledge God’s promises and faithfulness.  Wow.  That ain’t me.

Now here’s what I’ve been thinking:

The Lord promises us peace and joy through Jesus, and he promise to never leave us, and He tells us that we are more than conquerors.  More than conquerors.  I can’t even comprehend the power that comes along with that, and yet, through the Holy Spirit, I have access to this power.  But I have to act.  And that’s what I’m not so good at.

Today I’ve come to the realization that when Jesus rose from the grave, He defeated not just sin, but all of the evil that comes along with it.  The apathy, blues, fear, anger, and pain that plague me were all defeated the instant that the stone was rolled away! (That’s a nice, tent-revival-y sentence, huh?)  But wow!  What power!  Though I myself still have to stand and fight, these things have already been defeated by the One who calls me His daughter.  So long as I call on Him and His truth, I can stand and fight.

So, my resolution as of today is to do just that, call upon the Lord for the deliverance that I know He will provide with faith and a willingness to act.  I’m going to try to put off my passive attitude of “Lord save me while I do nothing” and take on one of confidence in Him, and in His ability to work in me for the coming of His kingdom on Earth.  The Lord is indeed quick to deliver me, but I am not exempt from actively seeking Him, as I wait for deliverance.  Instead of passively waiting for things to get better, I’m going to try instead to boldly proclaim God’s peace, joy, and salvation into my life, and run to Him, because I know that He is right by my side, fulfilling His promises and empowering me to rise above the darkness that He has already defeated.  I’m excited for this new outlook and course of action, because it already seems to be a more righteous path than that which I have taken before.

Come at me apathy, I’m more ready for you than I’ve ever been before!

Readers, if you care, stay tuned for the next oh-so-exciting update on my life (sarcasm).  Thanks for letting me “think out loud” as it were, and I hope that there is something of truth or encouragement here for you as well.

 

Rachel Pozzo

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Perfect Freedom of Single Necessity–Megan Helbling

Our group therapist tells us that there’s really no such thing as a plethora of emotions; only four base emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, and anger. I think that my story of moving to Colorado might be summed up by how I experience all four of those emotions in regards to this crazy thing called Christianity. I used to feel great joy, and excitement, and hope at the promises of the epiphany and the reality of the resurrection. But that happiness is often dwarfed by fear: fear that none of it is real, after all, and fear that I’m wasting my Sunday mornings on church instead of bottomless mimosas or a later alarm, or fear that maybe I wasted a fancy liberal arts education on an ancient thing that is silly and unhelpful. These doubts then evoke a great sadness, because I want to rejoice in the richness of the Christian tradition and belief: I just fear I might not be able to. Coupled with that sadness is a deep anger, at the exclusion and oppression and evil that the Church has created, perpetuated, and remained complicit in since its conception.

 

My faith hasn’t always been so conflicted. An evolution occured since my whole journey with Christianity began sweetly and joyfully, full of healing and hope, at a summer camp in high school. Since then, and especially during my senior year of college, I realized how much each emotion had grown in conflict with another, and felt myself becoming someone who was curious about Christianity intellectually, but too bitter and antagonizing to embrace ideals like grace and forgiveness and compassion towards my enemies or the oppressive structures of this world. I chose the Episcopal Service Corps because I wanted to give this whole Jesus thing one last shot: to see if I could find people who still joined Jesus in overturning the money lenders tables in the temple, while also stooping in humility, kissing the white supremacist, homophobic, and patriarchal pharisees’ feet.

 

Annie Dillard writes, “I would like to learn, or remember, to live…. We could, you know. We can live any way we want. People take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience–even of silence–by choice. The thing is to stalk your calling in a certain skilled and supple way, to locate the most tender and live spot and plug into that pulse. This is yielding, not fighting…yielding at every moment to the perfect freedom of single necessity (Living Like Weasels, Dillard).” As much as I sometimes want to fight it, I reluctantly admit that Christianity might be that most live spot in my life, the most tender and vulnerable pulse that evokes in me the deepest and most carnal emotions of joy, fear, sadness and anger. Like Dillard says, I want to learn to live life alive: yielding to the instincts that enliven me to serve and enact change. My callings should make me feel alive: a calling should not lampse into a boring or tedious part of my weekly schedule. My hope is that this year will be a journey towards finding out whether or not Christianity is my single necessity: and if so, yielding to that impulse as though it’s the only thing that will keep me alive.

Framing My Future -Faith Bessette

2 months

in Denver, Colorado.

6 months

ago that idea seemed too far away to comprehend.

12 months

earlier I was sitting in my room, listless and unsure of where I was supposed to be.

 

The more days I can cross off the calendar,

the more I’m sure that I was brought to this place with a purpose.

 

A once clouded and hidden picture is revealing itself,

slowly and surely as time passes by.

 

(Which is happening way too quickly, might I add)

((I’ve lived here two. whole. months. That is absolutely wILD))

 

With every shift at Urban Peak,

every community night dinner we host at the house,

every FaceTime call with Weston Morris.

 

I am grounded in the fact that I made the right choice.

 

There is light peaking through many parts of the frame now.

What was once an ominous, almost hazy looking canvas,

is now splattered with sections of bright color.

 

Small slivers of clarity.

 

12 months

ago I had no vision of the foreseeable future.

I knew what tomorrow would bring,

maybe even next week.

But further than that was a somewhat terrifying thought.

 

6 months

after that, I had a plan.

A plan where I was flying by the seat of my pants,

but a plan no less.

 

2 months

in Colorado, and I’m starting to see fragmented pieces of the life

I think I want to have when this year is through.

 

I’m not certain I can see anything tangible right now,

but it’s a relief to know that my eyesight is improving.

 

(Only metaphorically though, my real life eyesight is for sure getting worse.)

((Growing up is cool.))

A Poem That I Like (and a blog title that I don’t)-Rachel Pozzo

 

A Psalm of Life

BY HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

What The Heart Of The Young Man Said To The Psalmist.

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,

Life is but an empty dream!

For the soul is dead that slumbers,

And things are not what they seem.

 

Life is real! Life is earnest!

And the grave is not its goal;

Dust thou art, to dust returnest,

Was not spoken of the soul.

 

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,

Is our destined end or way;

But to act, that each to-morrow

Find us farther than to-day.

 

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,

And our hearts, though stout and brave,

Still, like muffled drums, are beating

Funeral marches to the grave.

 

In the world’s broad field of battle,

In the bivouac of Life,

Be not like dumb, driven cattle!

Be a hero in the strife!

 

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!

Let the dead Past bury its dead!

Act,— act in the living Present!

Heart within, and God o’erhead!

 

Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sands of time;

 

Footprints, that perhaps another,

Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,

A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,

Seeing, shall take heart again.

 

Let us, then, be up and doing,

With a heart for any fate;

Still achieving, still pursuing,

Learn to labor and to wait.

 

As someone who is constantly struggling with apathy, yet striving to be an active part of God’s kingdom here on Earth, I love this poem.  There’s lots of truth here.  I was going to highlight parts I particularly love, but that’s pretty much the whole thing.  Friends, I fail daily.  I know what the Lord requires, and yet I follow my own feelings.  That is not the way to “be a hero in the strife.”  That won’t leave footprints that point to God.  I chase so many things that really don’t matter, and ignore those things that do.

I am thankful that God chooses to look upon me as His precious child.  Someone worthy of love, sacrifice, and redemption.  That He allows me to be a part of His righteous and glorious works on Earth.  I don’t deserve this, yet by the grace that God willingly and abundantly pours out, He uses broken sinners in divine ways.  He took the consequences of our actions upon His own body and spirit to enable us “to act, that each to-morrow/Find us farther than to-day.”

I hope that tomorrow I will better honor that sacrifice and cling to hope as a slave to righteousness in Christ.

Integrity (an acrostic poem) – Weston Morris

I have been really pleased about the snow in Steamboat so far.

Northwest Colorado Center for Independence (NWCCI) went to Denver this past weekend for a national independent living conference. I had my first American Sign Language conversation and learned about diversity in the disabled community.

The last few weeks have been hectic and have certainly had their ups and downs, but whenever it snows, even for a few minutes, I am reminded that time is passing and

Everything is beautiful.

Great friendships have been getting me through. Friendships with people here are growing steadily, and my friends in far away places have been showing up for me as if they knew I needed them.

Rituals of living have been put on hold since I’ve been out of town, but I am excited to get back into the swing of things.

Independent living is one of the most radical movements of community support that I have ever been a part of. Every person has a right to live independently with dignity, regardless of disability.

This weekend I am planning on spending some quality time with my roommates, who I’ve missed over the last two weeks. We will go costume shopping and watch Star Wars.

Y’all, friendship is the key to happiness.

Community, Take 2 – Emily Eldridge

As you may or may not know, this is my second year with ESC in Steamboat Springs. As you may or may not also know, I was the only ESC member in Steamboat Springs last year from mid-January on. For a program based around community, it was tough.
After making the decision to stay for another year, I spent several months bouncing between looking forward to having roommates to have adventures with and worrying about how it was going to feel to have to share what had come to feel like my space again. As time ran out last year, seeming to go faster and faster as July approached, I didn’t want to let go of how things were. Maybe I wanted roommates, but I didn’t feel ready to give up the routines I had finally settled into at work and in monthly and weekly formation. But before I knew it, I was headed home for two weeks, and Weston and Rachel were both here when I returned.
The kitchen is full of music and laughter and homemade chocolate. The living room is all rearranged, now perfectly cozy for movie nights and binge watching the shows we want to share with each other. I have a team for weekly Geeks Who Drink trivia again, and I even roped one of my new roomies into going to a genealogy club meeting with me.
Going grocery shopping went from “ride the bus by myself/don’t make detours because I have nowhere to leave my stuff and it takes awhile as is” to “let’s wander around the farmer’s market and stick our heads in that store you’ve always wondered about and spend an hour at the costume shop we noticed a sign for by the side of the road before we actually make it to the grocery store – in a car!”
My new roommates both love to laugh, are open to trying new things, and have things in common with me and with each other. Spending time together and creating a new little community of three has felt natural to me – which is saying something, if you’ve read my other posts about how hard it is for me to make friends. Tough as it was the first time around, and scary as it is to try again, I am glad to be here for another year.
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We have been named Remily (Rachel and Emily combined, because apparently we’re “the same person”) and the Church Nerd (Weston, because he’s a church nerd).