The Struggle between Love and Power

Is a great life always a struggle between love and power?

I just got home from watching “Jobs”.

I just want to be upfront about that.

Good movie – great subject – and I notice I feel the same way leaving that theater as I do when I watched Star Trek, the Marvel movies, and when I read Harry Potter, “Three Cups of Tea”,  and Terry Pratchett’s “Nation”.

There is some variation in subject matter, genre, and even media type in these – but the common thread – I think – is that they are all stories of great vision.

The thing about vision, is that there is never an instruction manual that comes with it.

There have been millions of innovators and millions of visionaries – but none of them are the same.  None of them go about it the same way.

Their wins, their failures, their obstacles, and the casualties they leave in their wake – the only common thread is that they all seem to have some of all of them.

 

I have a vision myself, and what scares me – is not the failures, not the obstacles, but something I saw over and over in Jobs, and something that the form of fantasy can ignore in the world of Hogwarts – the casualties of following that vision.

I know people died in Harry Potter – but I am not talking about death – I am talking about ruined relationships.   Harry got to keep all his friends.  All that survived the battles, anyway.

It seems that in reality, that choice is not available.

And that sucks.

I want to innovate.  I want my vision to come true.

I am just not sure I could ever feel proud if it came at the price I watched Steve Jobs pay.  

And I am not confident that putting relationships first, over a project that could change and better the entire world, wouldn’t also make me a coward.

It’s probably not as black and white as all that – but it’s what I am thinking about tonight.  

Is a great life always a struggle between love and power?

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33 reasons to abstain from porn are not enough

So I stumbled across this [http://russellkorets.com/2013/06/02/33-reasons-to-abstain-from-porn/] while wrestling with the British Airways STUPID WEBSITE trying to book Christmas tickets. I took a deep breath and decided to check twitter instead of hurling my laptop across the room.
One link led to another, and I came upon this.

It’s an article in which the author creates a list of 33 reasons to abstain from porn for himself which include things like:

For the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31

God is always watching me.

Angels and demons are often watching me.

It causes anxiety, paranoia, fear, irritability, anger, and depression.

Every female is someone’s daughter.

Every female is someone whom Christ loved enough to suffer and die for.

There are a lot of others in the list (27 others) but on the whole, it just seemed so glaringly “not enough” I had to respond.  It just seemed so shaming, so guilt-inducing, and so vaguely sexist….

I left a long comment, but I’m not done talking about it —- there is something fundamentally wrong with this list – something missing that is really bugging me. And I am not quite sure exactly what it is.

So – wanna explore my thoughts on the world of porn? Then I guess, read on:

My original comment contained the following:

“What about the – and I think this is really why it’s likely to be unholy – fact that it objectifies people to mere sexual objects – and that impact of meditating on that distortion of humanity can have on your mind and heart?

It doesn’t just objectify women, men are objectified too.
You may find it a more meaningful motivation to actively try to see humanity as God, our creator, sees us – as opposed to vaguely fighting sin with the goal of holiness.
I mean, props on fighting it anyway you can – but if you are working on material to help with this situation, I am just not sure if coming at it from a shame or negative response is the most healthy or helpful.
People who are interested in the products already feel shame, and are actively repenting – perhaps what they need more of is help laying out a healthier mindset about what is going on.
If you shouldn’t view porn because it is wrong – what is right?
I don’t think many people applying anti-porn filter software need to know more about why it is wrong, or how it can negatively impact their lives, or the lives of those around them.
I guess I am just frustrated that I only seem to see people being guilted and shamed out of something that like 90% of us see or use with varying frequency.
Surely we can now move on to see that we need to do more than just quit. It’s not enough. The mindset that allows porn to be compelling itself surely must change.
Maybe shame and guilt has to be the first step?
But wouldn’t the more powerful way be to see all life, as best we can, for what it is, and what it should be?
Seeing all people, in whatever area of life we are struggling, as real people – instead of as objects – or a uniform for all that matter.
Isn’t that the real idea behind loving your neighbor as yourself? You can’t do that until you see them as equal, and try to understand them – and it is presumably (this is yet untested) difficult to become aroused at the idea of a loved one preforming derogatory sexual acts.
I haven’t thought about this much before I read your list and…
…. this is too long of a comment – but it has me inspired to blog.”

So let us continue in this thought —

someone please comment to tell me when and if Jesus ever addressed a problem with the heart, or how someone was dealing with humanity like this —– I am guessing he may have at some point?  But it just doesn’t seem to me that his go-to tool for helpingus deal with sin was shame or guilt – but I need to really think about it.

Okay… so what example can I think of when Jesus some someone sin and confronted them about it – specifically on their view of humanity, or mis-treating other people….(sunday school memories, don’t fail me now!)

Well the story of the people trading at the temple, might be an example?  If an argument could be made for the traders treating their customers as less-than people by extorting money out of them for their sacrifices…. but that doesn’t seem strong enough.

What about the people wanting to stone the woman caught in adultery?  That seems like a good one!

Okay, so the story goes that when Jesus was in town in an afternoon-ish sort of setting I imagine (as people were all out and about) some professionally holy people just “happen” to find a woman “in the act” of committing adultery and they drag her before Jesus, presumably wanting him to condemn her and affirm their right to violently kill her publicly for this crime.

Ha! And the irony of remembering this story is that Jesus sits and writes something in the sand which none of us will ever know — and then directs people to look at her as they do themselves “Which of you has not sinned?  Let him cast the first stone”
A genius response – wouldn’t expect anything less.

I am not going to sit here and pretend like I can pull apart that incredible scene to be able to tell you exactly how Christ would have us respond to sexual deprivation, peeping toms, or self-righteous snobs — but I do think it is key that he doesn’t say anything about the sin brought before him – but rather addresses the true sin – the ultimate sin – degrading his creation to anything less than the beautiful soul he corrected.  They had no love for their neighbor; it is easily concluded that this woman was set-up in some form or fashion.  They were condemning too.

And Jesus didn’t shame them for presumably watching this woman engage in a sexual act – but for objectifying her in a way the man she was with was not.

Okay so I’m off subject and out of my depth – but tell me your thoughts.
Is there something we are missing when we address the issue of pornography????

It feels like it to me.

But what…?!!

A note about married life w/o kids

When you look in your fridge and in your cupboards to find them noticeably lacking in food options — it’s your fault.

I kinda miss being able to blame the food stock issues on my mom.  Or my brother and sister.

Okay – that is all – I need to go shopping for food things now.

Food: the only stuff we buy with the literal intention of it turning to crap.

June: Magic and Failure

I am frustrated today.

And I should probably lay off Pintrest for a while.

I think it is a bit too full of “how to be perfect” for me at the moment.

I was just about to list off things I am unhappy with – but I am thinking better of it.
… and I really want to vent about all my first world problems that are driving me up the wall at the moment (can’t connect to Starbucks wi-fi, it’s too loud here, my coffee tastes a bit bitter…) but I should count my blessings and try desperately to tune out the screaming infant behind me.
seriously – feed it or something.
oh man…

 It’s been longer than I would like since I have last put fingers to keyboard with the intent to write.  
So, fun warm-up:
If given the opportunity, would you choose to live in a world with magic, but no internet or cell phones, cars, ect (think Harry Potter’s wizarding world) or here now, with all the gadgets and stuff?
I choose this version of reality.  I think the magic wouldn’t feel nearly as magical as my iphone with wifi.  Moving pictures?  I have youtube and skype.  And all the knowledge the internet contains. ( a lot more of humanity’s collection of information contains kittens and porn than you might first think)
Well – that was easier than I expected.

So.. June has been rough on me.
It began amazingly with my grandparent’s visiting us for a few days. We had the best time I have EVER had with them – and they took me to Disney World as a kid.

To be fair, I have always been jaded and suspicious of theme parks, so it wasn’t hard to beat (When they say this will be the most fun of my life, am I deciding to peak at age 9? and that part of this fun involves a LOT of people being paid to be perky?)

It really was amazing to have them over – 

Image

I felt so loved, and their pride in who I am becoming (just me) was palpable. And that has to be one of the best blessings out there.  My heart fills with so much joy thinking of it that I can almost relax a bit about the shrieking child and noise and bitterness of beverage.Okay, I may be taking out my frustration with the rest of June out on the current Starbucks atmosphere.  I’ll explain.

See after my grands departed, it was difficult to get back into the swing of things.  My husband took a week off work to be with them (such a gem!) and it was strangely disorienting to have him leave again for 9 hours a day.
We have spent most of our marriage together – and we like it best that way.  Having him away for so long is annoying.  My not having any official thing to occupy my time is more so.  
It was probably the jolt of having so much of what I really really want for almost a week (family, husband, travel, chatter, teaching ect) and then seemingly slam back into my current reality of *waiting*.

 And I didn’t handle it spectacularly.  
I went total zombie.  Again.  

Which pisses me off exponentially.
I can’t seem to slap myself out of it either.

Remember how I was excited about cooking and I was going to the gym three times a week, and writing ect?
Yeah, I haven’t this month hardly at all.

We bought a food processor, because I told Chris we needed it (I kept seeing all the recipes that needed one!)

 Haven’t touched it.

At least I made a few things with the crock pot.
But that’s the thing. 

I don’t want to think and plan out what I have to eat three times a day.
Seriously, I’ve started skipping breakfast or lunch, just because I can’t be fussed.

And yesterday was a great day!   I saw almost everyone I know in the Leamington Spa area – Oasis Bible Study was really lovely, and I had offers to meet up for coffee today, or next week – and then went to lunch with the two ladies I met at Starbucks in our first week here – invited to a 4th of July BBQ, came home, talked to my mother-in-law for a bit, picked out furniture for our next place – bought a different dress I like a smidgeon better than the first one I chose for my sister’s wedding – brought Chris his rain coat down to the station, and bumped into my friend Dani at the station and we discussed the book I lent her – came home, ordered curry and watched Serenity, The Colbert Report, and the Daily Show, and went to bed.

That should be enough to shake me back awake, into the land of the living, the land of the here and now, right?????
Nope.

Didn’t get dressed until 1.  Finally, out of desperation, I ate a left-over roll, brushed my teeth, threw on a hoodie and jeans, brushed my teeth, and came to Starbucks.  Being out in public usually at least gets me going enough to accomplish SOMETHING I can tell Chris I did while he was at work.

I have fallen back into waiting.

And truth be told – be it a depressing one perhaps – I am not sure if this isn’t actually what is really going on, and when I don’t feel the numbing pressure of waiting, I am only successfully distracting myself.
But that can’t be true.  Surely time is what we make of it.  Why does this have to be waiting?  Why can’t it be a vacation?  Or a time of crafts and cooking?

 Just because my current life makes me think of the cringe-inducing lifestyle some choose to live like this all the time, doesn’t mean I have to…!
(It’s a legitimate lifestyle, just not for me!!)

 I really want to do something big. Something awesome.  I need to make something better.  Fix something….and I recall my Myer-Briggs personality profile includes the idea that I have a “strong desire to influence the world”

But I don’t believe in doing something big, awesome, or influential merely for the sake of being big, awesome, or influential.  

 So where is my muse?  Where is my mission?  Where are my people?

 And please – am I failing because I am not doing this now?  

 I feel like I am failing.
It might not be technically true, but today I feel like a failure.
And I have little confidence things will change next monday.

 And that feels yucky.

 Welp.  Thanks for reading.
Magic or Internet?  Your response please 🙂

Seasons (of life?)

Here I sit, snug and warm – I sought reprieve from the icy “spring” wind and drizzle here in my new hometown at an italian cafe nearby.  It is supposed to be warm and sunny tomorrow, but from where I sit, I can’t really see how.
I am used to dramatic weather after growing up in Oklahoma – however, after the devastating twister that took out the town of Moore and left the town, and many people, flattened – I am thankful for just a bit of chill!
My husband’s home town is Hong Kong, and even they had absurd weather this week – 1,500 lightning strikes in 3 hours!
This has me thinking about seasons in life.
The scriptures about time and season’s in life come to mind – but not so clearly as to offer up exact quotes and reference numbers.  When Christ speaks about those who plant, and those who harvest – I don’t think he was likely lining out the idea that some people only plant, and other’s only harvest – but I would expect that there are times in life when you are mostly “planting” and others where is seems the fruit is just plopping off the trees and right into your basket as you wander along the grove of life.
I am letting these ideas simmer around in my mind as I wonder what season my life is currently in.
There are certainly days when I feel deeply guilty that I am not accomplishing more, or “doing enough”, and other days when I have achieved nothing, and didn’t get out of my pj’s until after 4pm and I find that I can’t drum up any shame.  There are also beautiful days of fruitful productivity – often accompanied by some social time.
I have this idea that if I were able to label this season, perhaps I could let go and relax in my life and this time better – but even as I type that, I can see how I am trying to hard in my not trying!
However, I will try anyway  – perhaps foolish, but let’s see how it goes.
In keeping with the farming seasons metaphor – it would seem the best fit to me to label this time as a winter.  The last crop has been harvested, sold or preserved to last until the next season, and the ground is not yet ready to be tilled and plowed and seeded yet.  The fields lie fallow.
Now I stopped to look up “fallow” to be sure I was using it correctly – and discovered that I had – AND that it rings more true than I first expected. I love it when that happens!
I may need to completely re-write this whole thing.  I am really excited!

“Farmers let fields lie fallow because it is one of the best ways to allow the land to replenish its nutrients and regain its fertility without resorting  to the application of fertilizers.  It also helps prevent erosion as the roots of the plants left to grow on the land help to hold the soil in place against the ravages of wind and rain.” (Ken Chitwood, thelatticegroup.org)

This. This is what is happening in my life.  My life is lying fallow.  I feel nutrients being stored up in my soul, and my roots spreading deeper and stronger – reaching through the soil to get a firm grip on the land.
And what is really great about this season, is the peace in the understanding that in order for this process to succeed – I am not to do anything else.  No planting, no harvesting, not even tilling the land.  No weeding, no fertilizers, no additives.  Just sit back and grow, and rest.  Soak up the sunshine, settle into my place, rest.
There will be time for everything to be cut down, plowed over, planted, grow, fruit, harvest, prune, and begin again – but this is not that time.
In both the American, and from what I can tell so far – the British culture is one that glorifies busy.  And our spirituality is of course affected and influenced by our surrounding culture.  It is hard to feel comfortable with allowing a season to lie fallow.
When others, and even myself look at me with all the free time I have right now, and all the blessings I have in resources, talent, and security – it is hard to be okay with lying fallow.  I feel I have a responsibility to do things with everything I have.  How dare I not give of all that I have??
It is even difficult to write that and not accept guilt.  I feel a bit nervous about this, and pressure!
But I think this is very true for me, at this time.  It is a time for me to lie fallow, and draw strength for this next season (which I presume will begin in the fall when I return to the UK with my spousal visa.)  Then it will be a time for me to give of myself the way I love to do – the way I feel destined and designed to do.  I have this sense of expectation and anticipation of something big coming – but I don’t have a clue what it will be.
So I will be faithful and obey in this time of rest – and trust that when the time comes for the next season, this time will enable me to give more and better than I would otherwise have been able to do.

Yes.  I feel better now – clarity of direction, even if it is simply to stay where I am – brings a sense of peace with it, and a touch of authority.  It’s okay to do this – this is what I am supposed to do.

 

Feeling Bright

Since my last few posts have been rather needy and whiny (I am afraid they were justifiably so) I am happy to share that things are looking up!

I bit the bullet, and showed up to St. Paul’s women’s bible study that happens on Thursday mornings – alone.  It is an embarrassingly terrifying experience showing up some place without connection to anyone else out of sheer desperation for kinship.

But I did it.

And the women were wonderful!  I was immediately introduced to another American ex-pat who showed me the ropes, adopted me into her group, and introduced me to everyone, AND let me in on the places I could volunteer at legally!  Generous hospitality – and it was so great to meet other people who could empathize with some of the things I have been going through which made me feel so much more *sane*.

For example:  I was sharing how this past weekend I finished setting up the house, decor and organization, and hosted my brother and sister-in-law, and that night, after they left – suddenly was filled with panic!  I thought I must be losing it, but the women practically finished my sentiment saying “Now what do I do??”

It was so great to know that I was feeling completely normal and appropriately for a newly minted housewife in a new place!  

Other than OASIS (the Thursday morning bible study) I also made new acquaintances at my definitely-not-a-strip-club gym called PINX, was invited to join the embroiderer’s guild (maybe?), made plans to meet up with a fun geeky girl at a toy/game shop who reccommended we buy a board game called “BATMAN: GOTHAM CITY” to show us how to actually play it.

I also bought more washi tape (I may be over doing it…) and found out abouta cute and cool crafty shop that has craft evenings where people come to meet other people and there is tea and cake – so I think I will try that out too. 

With the sun out and my husband home all day – I am feeling most relieved and rejuvenated.  I am really glad we moved to this beautiful little town, and can’t wait to begin building what I hope will be a strong and long lasting community.

On a side note, my husband and I both had the thought yesterday that we think perhaps two years from now would be a good time to start a family.

That can change regularly, but I thought I would start recording the thought process – it could prove interesting… maybe.  

Star Trek movie tonight, and a new episode of Doctor Who too!  I am loving the geek life.

I hope your week fares well, and that something you have been dreading proves benign.

Sorry about the fortune cookie wishes without a cookie.

Freak out / Faith

So I had a bit of a freak out night before last.  Couldn’t sleep, and didn’t want to keep the bear up as he had work in the morning, so I quietly panicked in the living room and the bath.  Then at about 5am I finally woke him up by crying, and then hyperventilating, and sniveling, and generally freaking out with a whole load of incredibly painful fears that I don’t think I was quite conscious of… not a strong point in my life…

 

Someone once said, “I don’t know what I think until I write it” and unfortunately I can’t remember who, and can’t be bothered to look it up – but this is my attempt at making a similar discovery.

 

I found within me a quiet, unnamed desperation, that seemed to have woken up screaming.  Disappointedly, it did not scream it’s name – just a long, howl of anguish.

 

Now, as I have said before, everything I have going on in my life in wonderful – seriously, I am living so much more than I have ever dreamed.  I love my husband, and this town I live in, my material goods are all above and beyond, and I am learning new skills (shout out to pintrest!) so nothing is going wrong – which leads me to conclude that  as opposed to something be “wrong” in my life, it is instead a case of something simply not being there.

 

I would assume this is tied to my lack of “community” – I am, perhaps, in need of a “bosom friend” as Anne Shirley liked to say.  

 

Thing is – I have no idea how to help this along!  It is simple enough to meet people if you are in school, or at work, have a church you love, or even someone else to make introductions for you.  I don’t know how to do it now.  And as my departure date for the states becomes closer and closer, and as the duration of that trip still remains unknown – I add to this the fear that I will just get things started and then I will have to leave – and then the bond will weaken.

 

But that is an absurd fear.  Because I know that in order for relationships to grow, both sides need to be able to offer something.  At the moment I feel I don’t have anything to offer – now this isn’t a “I’m not good enough” downer low self esteem thing – I know I am awesome!  But I don’t have a car, or much space to entertain people at my place, or much spare cash… I feel really needy, and I realllly don’t want to be!

 

I also had a bit of a pregnancy scare last week – only a little scary as my visa isn’t sorted yet, and that would be *quite* the hassle to organize with a baby on the way too!

I think that the idea that I could very seriously be pregnant also was a bit of a wake-up  call as to how isolated I really do feel here.  If that happened, my mother and grandma, and aunts, and best friends, are all over an ocean.  With jobs.  They can’t come over and live life with me day-to-day!  And while I have met some very nice people here, they aren’t relationships you really want to put this kind of a strain on.  

 

I think that is probably it.  Nothing all that complex after all.  Just something I need, and don’t know how to get.

So…. now what?  I turn to my religion at times like this, and I suppose this is that walking by faith (the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen Heb 11:1) and relying on grace.

 

And that feels cool and nerve-wracking.  Like repelling down a cliff face – something I love to do, AND terrifies me too.  But I never want it to stop.  The climb is nerve wracking, but the view on the way down, as you are suspended in the air, hundreds of feet up – is amazing.  

 

So that is what I will do.  Keep pressing on, and walking with that faith that God loves me and has a plan for me and my life, and that he won’t let me drop.  So as I stand with shaking knees, about to lower myself horizontally backwards off the cliff edge, I will take a deep breath, and enjoy the view.

 

I’ll keep you updated as to what I see along the way.