Saturday, April 30, 2011


I’ve been thinking a lot about how we react when something doesn’t turn out the way we planned it.

Last weekend was kind of a study in that. I had spent the past few months putting together a flawless plan that would have been absolutely fantastic had it worked out right. My dear friend Joy would be coming up on Friday. That night we would celebrate my birthday. The next day my brother Flynn, my sister Mercy, Joy, and I would go to Sixflags for the whole day. That evening Family Force 5 was playing, a band we all love. I had managed to get incredibly good tickets.

The first kink ended up being that we had far too much to do for Friday. I recognize now that I had been overly ambitious in thinking it was a good time to celebrate my birthday, but I basically wanted that out of the way as fast as possible. Regardless, celebrating my birthday ended up being allotted about 30 minutes of eating pizza with my family before Joy and I went to see Eisley in another city.

The Eisley show was good, but also not as planned, because the lead singer got sick so last-minute the band had to pull together a set that did not rely on her. They did an amazing job anyway, but it definitely wasn’t how they’d planned it.

The next day we headed to Sixflags. The day itself was pretty good. We rode a few of my favorite rides, and even in the long lines we had a good time talking. When evening came, we went to the big stadium where I’ve seen Skillet the past two years. The sky was cloudy, but everyone was hoping the rain would hold off.

We got to see Lecrae perform, which was excellent, and then we sat through Hawk Nelson impatiently. Right as Hawk Nelson was nearing the end of their set so Family Force 5 could play, someone came out and announced that due to lightning we had to evacuate (major flashbacks to two years ago).

We all shuffled out of the huge stadium. Joy, Mercy, and I sat down on an open area of cement and talked and waited and watched the lightning. Eventually they let us back in, and we sat down for a few minutes before they came back out and said we had to leave again. This time, Soul Glow (of Family Force 5) got up to apologize. They said that we would get to come back, but by this point I knew better. A few minutes after we got out this time, they announced that the show was entirely cancelled.

This was somewhat dispiriting. It is a three hour drive to Sixflags, and it is very expensive to get in, and all of us had made serious sacrifices to be able to afford it. I had managed to get such good seats. And we didn’t get to see them.

So we went and found a random Denny’s. We ordered pancakes and a bacon sundae and talked and laughed and greatly amused and confused our waiter. Then we started the long, long drive home.

The next day was Easter. This year our celebration was incredibly low-key. The rest of Sunday was a sort of steady downhill, enough so that I won’t go into it.

Suffice it to say that by the end of Sunday, so many things were going wrong that it didn’t bother me anymore. A friend of mine summed it up well: “Not problems, hilarious twists!” And that is sort of what it became for me. I simply decided not to take it too seriously. They evacuate us from the venue? OK, we’ll sit here in the rain and drink soda and make fun of the ridiculous country music they’re playing. They cancel the show? OK, we’ll go and eat bacon and pancakes and drink coffee at Denny’s at midnight. A sibling drops my birthday cake upside down on the dining room floor? Alright, I’ll pick it up, scrape it off, and stick it back together the best I can.

But there are other twists that are a lot harder to do that with. Sometimes some of the twists steal my breath for a while.

For years now, I have considered this upcoming summer to be very significant. I had planned for it to be the summer that I already had a car, that I went out of state to do an internship, that I started moving away from the prison of my college. That is so, so far from how reality is turning out.

I pursued three internships, all of which I was passionate about. Every single one fell through. I will spend all summer working at the library. I will not get to go spend time with all my friends in Colorado-- I’m missing the moot for the first time since 2007. My sister, who is one of my best friends, is going to be in Japan all summer, and though I’m ridiculously proud of her, I’m going to miss her terribly. This is also the first summer with my older brother moved out. All my friends from school are going home, and the two local friends who I spend the most time with are leaving for most of the summer too.

When I actually find time to think about these things, it proves incredibly discouraging. I have had a growing feeling for the past two years (especially as I approach graduation with absolutely no plan and no hope) that my future is sort of a lost cause.

But in the midst of this I am trying to remember again to look at all this, take a deep breath, and welcome the adventure. This summer I will do the only thing that still makes sense to me-- I will work as much and as hard as possible, and on weekends I will drive all over the state and indeed all over the country, chasing music. Two festivals and three individual shows are lined up so far. And if all of this is taken from me too, I will still be able to curl up in my room with my guitar... there will still be places for joy.

This is a blog post of questions, not answers. But I think maybe things I've said before apply here too. Maybe sometimes things have to be taken from us just so that we can learn that we never needed them. Maybe sometimes God has to black out every other light so we can see His light better. Maybe sometimes I just need the terribly painful lesson that I can’t make things work, and I wasn’t ever meant to (since when was it my right to order a world I did not create?). And maybe instead of letting all these hilarious twists trip me, I need to learn how to dance with them...

Peace to you.
- Elraen -

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cure For Pain

Oh my God, can I complain? You take away my firm belief and graft my soul upon Your grief.”
- Jars of Clay

Every blog post I have written over the past 6 months has been born out of an intense struggle. This one is no different. It is my attempt at honesty over something that keeps me awake at night.

One of the things that frustrates me most is seeing people I love struggle and hurt. I know part of it is because I feel like I should be able to stop it (which is usually a foolish idea, as previously discussed). Part of it is simply that there is something in me that feels pain from the people around me the way other people hear their voices. It’s like a scent I can’t avoid. Another factor is that I have spent so much time focused on the hurt in people that I have simply forgotten that happiness and ordinary life exist.

There is a popular prayer in the Christian culture right now. It is a prayer that says “God, break my heart for the things that break Yours.” I think that if we actually realized what that would actually feel like, we wouldn’t throw it around so much. I am often terrified to pray that, because when He answers, it feels like more than I can bear. One of the hard things about understanding that there is only One thing that can make you whole is that you become acutely aware of how broken everything else is. And sometimes I spend so much time mourning that I lose focus. It’s not hard. There is a lot to mourn about.

The age-old problem of pain is one that I think we will wrestle with all our lives. For me, I see it everywhere. I see it in the painfully awkward family trying to keep their arguments down to whispers in a store. I see it in my friends who do not understand yet how much their lives are worth. I see it in my own family. I see it in Japan, in Libya, in Egypt. I see it in the dim-lit clubs, screaming with the electric guitars. It pounds against the walls of my heart day after day.

I would do anything to drown it out. I write words, I pray countless prayers through sleepless nights, I listen to songs and play songs, I give money, but I know that I am barely making any kind of dent. Even in the times when I feel like God has used me most, I know that there are so many places I will never, ever be able to go. Sometimes it overwhelms me until I can barely breathe.

The world is broken.

Heaven knows, heaven knows— I tried to find a cure for the pain. Oh my Lord! To suffer like You do— it would be a lie to run away.

- Jon Foreman

Over the past several months, my faith has often felt like a burden because of this. I can’t stand seeing how broken the world is, knowing we are called to shine into that brokenness, and knowing that still some will see that light and not understand. I can’t stand breaking over the things that break God’s heart. It’s hard.

I can’t pretend to offer many answers for this. I am still fighting. If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them. For myself though, there are a few things I have been learning (however slowly).

First is the simple fact that God is not just a God who says “look how broken My world is.” He is also a Comforter. He might allow my heart to break, but He will meet me in the midst of that. Jesus asks us to lay down our lives, but He has already given us hope, comfort, and peace through laying down His. I am prone to forget this, to pretend it doesn’t exist and thus to shut Him out.

Another thing I am learning is that I absolutely cannot function when I spend every moment of every day focused on the things that hurt. Yes, I am called to love, even in (especially in) the dark. But I have a tendency to focus on the darkness to the point where I lose perspective. Reality fades out. I have been reminded of how good I am at deceiving myself in this way over the past few weeks. When my family drove to Atlanta, there were some very hard situations I was dealing with. But in the midst of that, I had friends there who provided a safe place for me to come back to every day, friends who are like light and water when I am blind and thirsty. It amazed me.

This was echoed again this past weekend. A friend was visiting from out of state, and over the few days that we had with her we had some incredibly good conversations that were hopeful and brave. We also spent time just talking about movies and stories, watching music videos, and laughing. It was incredible. It was like being reminded of an entire half of existence that I had completely forgotten about.

We are broken, we are worn so thin. But somehow there is Light that fills these shells and glows through our broken skin.

There is a reminder I was given that I have had to repeat over and over again in the past few months-- the joy of the Lord is your strength.

I am fighting, I am struggling, I am so very tired. But I am learning that I will never get anywhere until I understand that strength to face this terrible darkness has to come from something outside of my own resolve. It has to come from Light. It has to come from Joy.

And when I am resting in that, then I have the strength to keep going. Then I can consider it an honor and a privilege to stand in the darkness, throwing handfuls of stars at the vast expanse of black night sky, praying that a few of them will stick.

There will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears. And love will not break your heart but erase your fears...”
- Mumford & Sons

Peace to you.
- Elraen -

Monday, April 4, 2011

Refrain: A Poem


I am the shine beneath your eyes,
the blooming spark that never dies.
This shadow at your windowpane
will never silence my refrain.

When all the blood within you dries
I am the shine beneath your eyes.
With dark tangled around the sun,
your skin’s color might bleed and run.

But when starlight drowns in the shame
and when you quench the candleflame,
I am the shine beneath your eyes,
the call that bids you still to rise.

When nightfall sets in like a doubt
the bottom of your heart falls out.
I’m the hope that flutters and flies,
I am the shine beneath your eyes.


My "reject poetry" (the stuff I don't necessarily want to post on the writing forum I'm on) sometimes gets put on either my blog or facebook. I hadn't put one here in a while. This is a quatern, and it is written from the point of view of faith.