Mar 10, 2009

Happy Post 1-0-5.

This is my talk for my SEARCH weekend. I don't know how to explain to you what exactly it is.. so just click the link.
Anyway, I was invited to be a leader, and along with that amazing opportunity to listen to people and learn, you are required to write a talk with assigned subject matter.

I was assigned the Christian Person talk.

I realized almost immediately that it wasn't a coincidence that I was given this talk. I struggled so much with it. I constantly made notes all over my paper with prompt questions on it, but I never really gained any headway on the talk itself. It was due on Monday, well, rough drafts were, but I definitely didn't want to embarrass myself. I worked all day at Starbucks on Sunday and only did a lot of free writing. That night, I was flipping out. My talk was so incoherent and scatter-brained. I felt my ideas were good, but I just couldn't break the surface or find a good story.

I almost told in detail how I never felt reconciliation did me any good, besides pleasing God that I always have faith it may help each time.. Man, am I glad I didn't do that. It was midnight on Sunday and I was struggling for anything. Crying, fumbling, and complaining to a lot of people, I went to my parents' room and asked my dad if I could stay home the next day to finish it. I had to be in Brentwood by 3:30 the next day, so, no time for writing on Monday. Long story short, Dad said yes.

I stayed home all day the next day and wrote this talk. I felt it funny that I ended up talking about Carl. How typical. But I felt pretty confident my paper was good, partly because I worked on it right up until I had to leave.

When I read it on Monday to the other leaders like me, and the adult leaders, everyone listened.. and had nothing negative to say about it. I almost cried with joy and I was so.. almost like.. amused at myself and the fact that I can whip out something life-changing in only a few hours. I felt fully confident in my writing after reading it and getting good critiques. The only bad thing anyone had to say about it was that I talked too fast, and he didn't want anyone to miss the "nuggets of goodness" that were tucked inside. Ah, Kevin Edwards. They also said I was refreshingly humble and honest... and that's what I strive for. Er, well, actually, that's what comes out when I write.
My voice.

I cannot stop thanking God for what's been given to me, and for my transformation from Sunday night to Monday afternoon. Only He could have done that.


Umm.. Here it is:

Since I was little, I was always told that we are Christians because we love each other. Of course, that’s probably the most true characteristic of Christianity besides believing in Jesus Christ, but being a Christian to me is something more than that. As a Christian I feel that I should be able to change and adapt to God’s plan; Who he wants me to be and what he would like me to accomplish.

Tragedy has never really been a fixture in my life, but I feel like things are always crumbling around me, in my friends’ lives, and the lives of their families. Throughout the last few years I’ve been a witness to deaths, divorces, losing houses, and losing jobs, all while I’ve been sitting fine in my cushy chair, comforting them. They’ve been forced and able to change. To adhere to God’s plan.. And away they went, growing and changing.

A year ago I dated this guy, and his name was Carl. When I was dating Carl, I had a plan. This plan involved the word “forever,” because when some girls get excited, they make plans like that. These kinds of plans sound ridiculous to adults, I’m sure, but they don’t sound ridiculous to a 17 year old with an amazing boyfriend. Something about Carl always had me kind of thrown off and I didn’t really like that about him, but it was who he was, I guess, and I accepted it. He didn’t believe in God. He used to go to church and believe, but lost it somewhere along the way and really had no intention of gaining it back. It didn’t stop me from going to church, but he would never go with me, even when I asked him. We dated for awhile, and then, like all things in God’s plan, as a complete surprise, he dumped me out of the blue. Naturally, I was crushed and I stayed really low for too long. I did a lot of crying in my bathtub and late night internet stalking. I even took my lonesome self to prom that year with a friend, but it just wasn’t the same. It took way too long for me to get a grip on the whole thing, and until then for me to realize that he wasn’t in God’s master plan for me at all. There are bigger things in the works for me, and my relationship with God was going anywhere at that point. I changed a lot after that. I wanted to do something with my life. I wanted to create more of a purpose and challenge for myself.

I took my Search in November, which was a couple months after the break up, and it came at the perfect time. A few weeks prior to it, I couldn’t find God in anything. I was lonely and when I spent time by myself, or with my friends, or during worship, I couldn’t feel God like I used to. I knew God was there, but he just didn’t feel there for me. I was so confused why now, of all times, I was feeling this. Right when I started to come back and get in a better place. What was God doing? I thought about it for days and at the end of it I decided that maybe God wanted me advance to a different level in my faith. To take on more responsibility and I wasn’t sure if I could handle it. After my Search, I didn’t feel different, to be honest with you. It was fun and a great experience, but I sunk back into feeling the way I did before. My feeling faded too quickly, I guess.

I’m not sure what finally boosted me up to feeling God’s presence again in my life. I don’t remember the exact moment, but I just started doing what I was supposed to at church. Going through the motions of singing at youth mass, leading small groups, going to mass on Sundays. I think what made me see God was people. Through all the acts inside the church I was doing, I kept meeting people and little by little, feeling whole again. I saw God in people. In the good that they showed me. The God that they showed me. People are just people, and everyone deserves to be spoken to and appreciated, and there are so many people in this world, in my high school, that aren’t. Everyone deserves to be looked in the eyes and for that reason, I kept my head up, instead of down. Search, for me, was something that didn’t hit me until almost a month after. All I wanted to do was come back, get involved, help those people who were like me. My purpose, now I found, is for others, but beyond that, I do it for the myself and trying to be as Christ-like as possible. St. Therese of Lessieux once said, “My vocation, at last I have found it.. My vocation is love!” and those words have always inspired me to find the good in people. And to really be what I felt a Christian person should be.

I’m not saying with this talk that I couldn't have been happy and a great Christian while also having a boyfriend. I’m saying that it just took that event for me to realize that my heart wasn’t in the right place, and God just couldn’t reach it. It took that heart-ache in my life to change my relationship with God completely.

I would be kidding you if I said this talk was really easy for me to write. You would think that I would know a lot about being a Christian person, since I am one. Throughout my whole life, whether I was aware of it or not, I’ve been a living, breathing creature of God’s unfailing love. I thought at first, maybe this talk would be simple… but I was wrong. I haven’t been the same person my entire life, but God has still found me and loved me in each and every way I’ve presented myself to him. I pray differently now and different events have shaped and worn down my heart. I now keep God as one of the discerning voices in my head. After all of this, the way I saw and communicated with God was different. Being a Christian isn’t all about knowing the Bible front to back and reciting it to every non-believer. Being a Christian, I’ve decided, is about love and change. My Christian identity has shifted. Being a Christian is all about being imperfect and trying to listen for what God wants from you, and having the courage to follow through.

When you change as a person and life forces you one way or another, your relationship with God changes. And all the times I knew God was around, but not around me, the relationship had changed. I realized that I needed to stop waiting around for God to reach out to me before I acted or felt anything. He was waiting for me to reach out to Him, and by the time I figured that out I couldn’t wait to. It was my turn to be active.

My song is called Change and it’s by a band from the 90’s called Blind Melon. The lyrics sing, “When life is hard you have to change..”

And, so it is.
Change LYRICS:

I don’t feel the sun’s coming out today,
It’s staying in, it’s gonna find another way, yeah.
As I sit here in this misery,
I don’t think I’ll ever, no Lord, see the sun from here.

And, oh as I fade away,
They’ll all look at me and say, and they’ll say,
Hey look at him! I’ll never live that way.
But that’s okay…
They’re just afraid to change.

And when you feel life ain’t worth living,
You’ve got to stand up and
Take a look around you, then a look way up to the sky.
And when your deepest thoughts are broken,
Keep on dreaming boy,
cause when you stop dreaming its time to die.
And as we all play parts of tomorrow,
Some ways will work and other ways we’ll play.
Yeah, but I know we can’t all stay here forever,
So, I wanna write my words on the face of today.
And then they’ll paint it.

And, oh as I fade away,
They’ll all look at me and say, and they’ll say,
Hey look at him and where he is these days.
When life is hard, you have to change.

When life is hard, you have to change.

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