Monday, September 27, 2010

This is For Those Who Wait

This theme has been heavy on my mind for a while now and seems to be constantly coming up, and I figure that if that is the case, I should really probably write it out. I am a little surprised I haven’t written this post earlier.

The last morning I was in Colorado last month, we went to church. It was a gray morning, only 62 degrees-- the perfect morning for letting the wind rush in from an open car window as we drove. Pike’s Peak was obscured by fog, but I could see enough of the mountains to be content, and we had the radio playing. Colorado Springs actually has a variety of radio stations, unlike East Texas, including a good Christian rock station. As we were driving, the song For Those Who Wait by Fireflight came on.

I know the song very well, and it felt right for that moment. As the title implies, the song speaks of waiting, of feeling stuck and trapped in a moment that doesn’t seem to end. It also speaks of purpose, of the promise of movement and change. That promise was a part of what I had been given in Colorado, and it was echoed now as I prepared to go back to waiting.

Because that is where I am, and where I have been for two years, and where I will be for another two years: waiting for a change. Waiting for a choice. Waiting for a moment when I can take steps I’ve wanted for so long.

And this is a different sort of theme than what I usually write about. I like to talk about movement and change and passion and courage. Those are the things that are starting to make sense. But it is undeniable that there are moments in life when, for whatever reason, we want to step out and we believe we are ready, but instead we are asked to wait. Whether it’s enduring a long and seemingly endless search for a job, or longing to get out of high school or college, or wanting to move away from home and find independence, or waiting for God to change that one impossible situation that has never seemed to be resolved... I think we all find places where we are waiting. We are not always given an answer for why, not right away at least. We might pray and beg and plead and feel sure that we have done everything we need to, but still God says “wait.”

I have developed a theory on how I should respond to these times. Usually the reaction I have is either anger or hopelessness. Which is a little odd, because if God has put me in a place where I am waiting, and that is really where I have to be, then I know He has a purpose and thus it’s not hopeless. I can have hope that now is not forever. Hope that things will change.

And more than that, there are things that can be accomplished during the silent times. There is time then to grow stronger and learn to burn brighter. There is time to hear new songs and listen to new stories-- songs and stories that never would have been heard if not for the time of standing still to listen.

I think it is worthwhile to reach and to learn and to try to accomplish things, even if we are trapped in a place we wouldn’t have chosen. I believe this because I think those times are when we are equipped for the things that will come after, when movement comes again. I don’t know what God will do with my life. But I know that for now, I am striving to learn and to grow so that when the time comes, I will be ready for whatever I am asked to do. Just because we are waiting now does not mean that waiting has to be the total of who we are. There is so much to learn. We are not defined by our cages.

At least, I have come to understand that I am not defined by college. I may be waiting for two more years... that’s two more years to learn everything I can from my classes, from the people around me, and even from the act of enduring. And that’s two years where I have the time to do things like go to dozens of concerts and travel all over to see friends... things I won’t be able to do as easily once I am no longer stationary.

The courage and strength of a soldier are not built in battle, but rather in the years of training beforehand. The battle is the testing point of things built in silence... and the fight could not be won without the wearying days and months and years that come beforehand.

And of course I’m not advocating complacency with this post, or suggesting that it is right to sit back and settle into where we are. If you want my opinion on apathy, see pretty much every other post on this blog. My point is that when life falls silent around you, it’s the perfect time to learn how to sing. How else will your voice be strong enough to be heard even once the noise kicks in again?

I want to open up my eyes, I know that all I need is time. I'm growing stronger every single day... The pressure makes us stronger, the struggle makes us hunger. The hard lessons make the difference. - Fireflight

(Oh, and by the way? It’s 586 days until I graduate from college. The goal is to be alive, rather than just living, for every single one of them. That’s part of a concept I’ve come to call thriving... something I learned somewhere between touching down in Denver and listening to For Those Who Wait in the car on a foggy Sunday morning.)

- Elraen, Wandering Star -

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Semester 5: 3 Weeks In

This is perhaps a post more about my life in general right now than about something specific. And maybe that’s OK-- I had a lot of posts like that in the beginning of this blog. I really don’t feel particularly like letting this blog stay as quiet as it did last semester.

The past three weeks have been very interesting. This semester started off rougher than perhaps any of the past semesters have, but things have leveled out (which is to say that I have learned how to handle it better). There have been countless adventures in the past three weeks... for example, I got to make my first 911 call when a patron had a seizure in the library. That was an interesting experience. The primary thing I remember about it is standing there talking with the 911 operator and finding myself wondering “do I sound too calm? Do I need to sound panicked? Will she think I’m uncaring?”

Then of course there is the adventure of the new cleaning contract I have picked up with my dad. Which is made more exciting by a few circumstances.

My father left on Monday for China. He is there with my grandfather, who is dying of stomach cancer. My grandfather will be doing a lot of teaching while he is there... he is one of those brave men who is willing to continue giving to other people even as the end of his life becomes a very close reality.

While they are gone, my father obviously cannot work the side contracts he usually carries in addition to his full-time job. And so my brother, my sister, and I are taking on all the contracts while he is gone, one of them being the new one that we’d been doing for less than a week when he left. This provides a challenge for me as I try to get the routine in place, try to remember the right keys and combinations for the alarm system, and try to operate efficiently without his instruction and without the ability to even ask him any questions. This extra work while he is gone brings me up to working close to 30 hours a week, in addition to my classes and my usual family responsibilities.

And I am sick. Which really goes without saying, since I am in school-- that’s just the way it works. It’s been a little over a week since I got sick, which means I have probably at least one more week to go before I actually get better.

Things will not be slowing down any time soon. Before my father gets back, my mother leaves for a writing conference, which will mean extra time will need to be invested in looking after my four younger siblings. They’re good kids, and I know that they’ll listen to me when necessary, but my primary concern is simply finding time...

One of the interesting things about all this has been the simple fact that somehow, in spite of all of this chaos, I am still moving. Quite honestly, I am kind of a coward, and when I first saw all this approaching I wasn’t sure I could face it. But strength comes from the most unexpected sources when I need it most... and thus my ability to keep moving has very little to do with me. Kind words from friends, unexpected homework breaks, new songs, the promise of concerts to come that are going to be more incredible than I could ever ask for... God seems to delight in helping me stand. And more than just moving, I am accomplishing more than perhaps ever before. Somehow I am getting all this work done and all my school done and still finding more time than ever before to invest in my younger siblings.

During one of the workshop settings at the gathering of my writer friends last month, a good friend of mine said “you will find as much beauty as you look for.” I am finding that to be true about more than just writing or art in general. And that’s a double-edged sword. When we stop looking for beauty, when we look at the circumstances and accept them as impossible to overcome, there is a hopelessness that sets in. But when we look for beauty (or hope), when we accept it as not just a possibility but a reality... there are so many colors that come alive, even in the grayest world. And I have found that to be true. Somewhere in the blur of cold medicine and cough drops and too much caffeine... I am still singing.

Greek calls, and so I’ll have to leave you with this for now. I haven’t been keeping up with people very well over the past two weeks, which is basically why I wrote this post. So, now that I’ve updated you, I get to leave you with a question: what has your week been like? And you can answer that any way you like, whether it’s just factual information or something more serious. Feel free to find me on chat too-- I think the most important thing for me to do this semester is to actually keep up with people.

- Elraen -