The Lost Ones

Standard

A few moments ago, I lost something. I lost a necklace that was a graduation gift from my parents. It’s very precious to me on many levels, and I wear it often and plan on wearing it for special events in the future.

And for a while, I couldn’t find it.

I had seen it earlier today. It was in a pocket in my duffel bag that I reserve for my jewelry. I put necklaces and rings there when I take them off to go running after work. I’d looked in that pocket earlier today on purpose to make sure the necklace was still where I left it.

When I looked a few minutes ago, it was gone.

I tore the apartment apart. Well, I tore all my pockets apart. I dumped out the contents of my purses. I searched jacket pockets and pants pockets, looking everywhere, berating myself for my carelessness and stupidity.

And then, there it was. On my bed, hidden among a pile of toiletries that I’d emptied out of that same duffle bag a few minutes ago.

All that worrying for naught.

Then I remembered the parable of the woman and the coins. She had a stash of money—a small stash, but a coin went missing. She tore her house to shred looking for that one little coin, but she found it.

Then I remember the parable of the lost sheep. The Shepherd had tons of sheep, and one little lamb went missing. He was no worse off without the sheep, but he clambered up and down rocky hillsides until he found that little sheep and brought it home. He threw a party to celebrate the return of this stupid little lamb.

Then I remember the story of God and me. I was lost. I was wandering. I was wrapped up in my own sense of self and blinded by my foolishness. But God turned death backwards just to save little, insignificant me.

And now I’ll wear that necklace with a new appreciation for it. For the reminder it serves—I was bought with a price, and the High King of Heaven flipped the universe on its head just to bring me home. 

1

Standard

Lastly but not leastly, life is a journey.

None of us ever stays in one place. Not really. Our souls march over hills and through valleys. We grow and change inside, no matter where our outsides take us.

What’s surprising to me is how crucial this blog has been in my journey. When I started it, I didn’t expect to have followers or subscribers. I didn’t even expect that I’d keep up with it. Definitely not for three long years. I didn’t think it would be all that important to me.

Nor did I expect to change so much. I am not the same person I was three years ago. I am a deeper person now. I have experienced more than I ever had before. I have learned more than I thought I could ever learn. I have traveled more miles than I ever dreamed I’d travel. I’ve met people I never thought I’d learn to love.

And I have written many, many miles of words.

My soul’s gotten a lot of mileage in the last three years. It’s been all over Creation. And I wrote it down. All of it. Not all of it’s on the blog, naturally. There are some things the internet just doesn’t need to know. But in journals and on scraps of paper and in the margins of my class notes and stuffed in little boxes are pieces of this journey.

Life is not static. It is dynamic. If it weren’t dynamic, then we wouldn’t be made in God’s image—we’d be trees or birds or rocks. No…He made our lives to be rich and full and steeped in Him. And that takes a journey.

To think…I’ve just started. 

2

Standard

Happy endings are real.

I didn’t believe in them three years ago. I figured that life is just one hard knock after another. Then you die. And that’s it.

Nope. Not true.

Here’s where the happy endings are hiding: in the center of God’s will.

God’s plan for us is perfect. It doesn’t all make sense—not on this side of heaven, anyway. But it’s perfect. He’s not a malicious God. He aches when we are miserable. He wants us to experience all the joys He is capable of giving. And that’s a lot.

Does that mean life will always be a bed of roses? Yup. Hear me out: roses are lovely and all, but they’ve got thorns. There will be hardships. I know enough now that I can smell them coming.

But I also know that after hardship comes blessing. We learn from struggles. God knows this, and that’s why He allows us to walk through the dark places. He knows that we’ll come out stronger if we let Him make us stronger. He knows that unless we face difficulty, we won’t learn to lean on Him.

God is the Great Author. Each of our lives is a carefully constructed and beautiful story. No, that doesn’t mean everything will always be perfect, that nothing will ever go wrong, and that we won’t find ourselves heartbroken at least once in our lives. What it does mean is that God has wonderful things in mind for us. Gifts more priceless and more beautiful than we could imagine.

And when we walk hand in hand with Him, the happy endings will come. In the right time. In the right place.

I know this is true for me. And because God does not change, I know that this will continue to be true.

You see, happy endings aren’t endings at all.

They’re beginnings. 

3

Standard

I am capable of love.

I’ll skip the details, here. I will add a caveat: I know that the only reason anyone can possess love is because we are made in the image of God, and without Him love would be impossible. Yes, I know. But from a human standpoint, it seems that some people have a greater capacity for love than others.

For the longest while, I felt incapable of loving anyone. Read into that as you choose. Words are weightier weapons than fists or swords or bludgeons, and when you’re told lies about yourself,  it’s easy to believe them if they come from someone you think is trustworthy.

But lies are lies, solid in the dark but melting in the light.

Turns out, I can. By the grace of God only, I can love. And by His grace, I hope to grow in love to where I can even love the liars in the world.

A broken heart doesn’t have to stay that way. 

4

Standard

I am not alone.

It may be a little hard to believe that someone like me ever feels alone. After all, I tend to be pretty upbeat (except when I’m tired and stressed) and I’m surrounded by the best family and friends a human could ask for. But an odd fish surrounded by other really cool fish, even really cool fish who love the odd fish, is still an odd fish.

Often I’m tempted to think that my struggles are unique. I tell myself I’m the only one who feels such and such a way to such and such an extreme. No one else has felt the pain I’ve felt in the way I’ve felt it. I can’t talk to anyone about, because how could anyone possibly understand?

It’s simply not true. Different kinds of pain can feel equally intense. Different struggles resonate the same way. Others may not know exactly what I’m going through, but they’ve probably faced something similar. Or something worse.

How do I know this? I put my worries on the blog (a select few, mind you, compared to everything that rattles around in my head), and people comment. “I know how you feel.” “Been there, too.” “Thanks for that—it’s good to know I’m not alone.” “Hang in there. I got through and so will you.”

Still, there are moments when I cannot find anyone else. No one who empathizes. Plenty of people care and care a lot about me, but that does not mean they can understand my dark places completely.

And in those moments—and all other moments—God knows. He knows better than I do. He’s walked that way before, in and out of the dark places. He comes and scatters light into mine. He is the Day in my night, and under His wings I am never, ever alone. 

5

Standard

I did, in fact, survive college.

The Risible Rambler was a college blog. The ramblings of a college student living in a state of perpetual panic. I strung myself between days. I worried. A lot. Hilarity ensued, which was what made the blog…the blog.

But I learned. I’m not sure what else I’ll remember from college, but I’ll remember this: no matter how scary life gets, God is still good.

Look. I’m done. I crossed the finish line. Four years older, four years wiser. I didn’t die in an avalanche of paper like I thought I would. I lived long enough to cross the stage and get my diploma, and I’m still going strong.

Why? Because I’m a tough cookie? No. Because God is good, and He got me through.

That doesn’t come as a surprise at all.

6

Standard

I can write poems.

Perhaps this shouldn’t have been so big of a surprise. After all, I’d been writing poems on and off since I was nine. Bad poems with forced rhymes and overly emotional language, but poems none the less. A baby’s first steps are hardly those of a ballerina, but they’re still steps.

Words are always bouncing around in my head. They’re the screensaver when my brain shuts down for the night. I’m always trying to think of the cleverest way of putting things. I like to rhyme. I also like not to rhyme. I like to string images together to spell a word. I like to string words together to make a thought. Glue the thoughts together to make an image, and start the cycle over again.

I love making poems. I haven’t made on in a very long time. Not one I’m proud of, anyway.

Things happened last year that made me want to poem. I poemed a lot. They’re all over the blog—nonsense poems, ballads, sonnets, free verse, villanelles, sestinas, a whole poem zoo. I took a poetry writing class—the only one the university offers—and I was hooked. I couldn’t stop. I wrote barrels of them, many of which didn’t end up online or anywhere, just in little notebooks that traveled with me everywhere.

I’ll say nothing about their quality because I’m not a very good judge. Enthusiasts don’t always make the best judges of their own creations. But I will say that there are several poems that I’m proud of. They give me a sense of personal satisfaction. Now, personal satisfaction does not a paycheck make, so I will have to improve if I’m going to make this poeming thing a source of turkey bacon.

Still. Anywhere is a start. 

7

Standard

I have wanderlust.

This came as a complete surprise. Until recently I’d spent my whole life as a homebody. I liked going to the same places and eating the same food over and over. I couldn’t imagine leaving home. I couldn’t cope with change.

I’m not sure where it started, this passion for travel and trying new things. Maybe it started with the blog, which was a bit of a leap of faith for me, a girl who didn’t even have a Facebook. But maybe it started before then, years ago when I fell asleep on a bus in Anytown and woke up in New York. Maybe it started with that flight to Germany when I was a little girl. Who knows? I won’t ask questions.

But this wanderlust blossomed when I went to Croatia for the first time. It got stronger when I went again, that time alone. The third time made it stronger still, although this time I didn’t go alone. Never alone.

Now I can’t stay still. The older I get, the clearer it is that this world is not my home. As a little one I was very attached to this planet and to my own little corner inside of it. Now I see the world as just a road. A long road with lovely scenery and rocky, rough pavement. No one can live on a road. You can’t settle down, you just keep moving. Sure, you stop along the way, smell the roses, take some pictures, but Christians aren’t exactly called to settle down. Not yet. Not now. The day for settling into perfect peace is coming, but it’s not today.

I have a long road ahead of me. It’s rather exciting.

8

Standard

I can cook.

If you had asked me three years ago if I could cook, my answer would be a resounding “no.” I can bake. I make a mean peanut butter and jelly sandwich. My guacamole is pretty awesome. But I would have told you that no, under no circumstances can I cook. I will burn things. I will break things. I will create a royal and unspeakable mess. But produce something edible? Nope.

But after the first year, I thought, hey, this writing a post every day thing seems to be working out. I wonder what else I can do?

Once upon a time, I knitted things constantly. I had time. I was in high school. College destroyed my creativity. That’s just the name of the game. I still have drawers full of yarn waiting to be knit together with love, and I mean to pick it up and maybe get one project done before September.

I taught myself to knit. One lady showed me the two basic stiches that make knitting what it is. The rest of the stuff—color knitting, cables, knitting in the round, turning heels, gussets, intarsia, slip stitches, yarn overs—that I taught myself with the help of library books. I made fantastic things. Every summer I cranked out an absurd amount of knitwear. Socks were my favorite things to make.

So twenty-two-year-old me figured, hey, if I taught myself how to knit and if I can discipline myself to write a blog post every day, I can teach myself how to cook.

This time I had help. My mother’s a wizard in the kitchen. She comes from a long line of excellent cooks, cooks who didn’t bother with measuring cups or even recipes. A lot of my “teaching myself how to cook” is me hollering from the kitchen: “Mom, does this look done?” “Mom, does this taste right?” “Mom, how do you do so and so?”

And according to my dinner guests on Wednesday (parents and AB included), I finally know how to cook, cook wholesomely, and cook well.

I now can make a mean stir fry. 

9

Standard

Turns out, I can write non-fiction.

I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was very young…maybe nine or ten. I wanted to write mystery novels. A whole long series of them. Then I discovered The Lord of the Rings, and ever since I’ve wanted to build a world the way Tolkien did. And I did, sort of, but I don’t have the cleverness to create a language or a clear linear history with rich cultural depth. Which is part of why I’m afraid to touch that fantasy novel I’ve gotten myself into.

But I definitely know how to write non-fiction. Research papers. Essays. A devotional thought here and there. Mildly hyperbolized humorous anecdotes filled with self-depreciating humor. I didn’t know I could write non-fiction. I always thought non-fiction was boring until I found myself writing it.

Now I find myself reading it, too. I’ve read autobiographies, biographies, scientific studies, psychology books, collections of essays, books and books about the craft of writing, books about poetry (not just books of poems), history books, books about cooking, books about movies, memoirs, counseling books, devotional books, any and every kind of non-fiction book. The funny thing is, I liked them all. Me, the girl who couldn’t abide books without pictures in them.

If only one could write a non-fictional novel.

Maybe I’ll try. 

10

Standard

In ten days, I will have written a blog post every day for three years.

My faithful followers will know that this can only mean one thing: there must be a countdown.

So over the next ten days, I will list, in no particular order, thing’s I’ve learned from blogging (and while blogging) that I did not expect to learn.

One of them is that I can stick with something. I was always the girl who bought a ton of journals and never filled them. Started crafts and never finished them. Started books and never got to the final chapter.

In many ways I’m still that girl. Mostly because there’s not enough hours in the day to do everything that I want to do.

But here’s what I can do: I can write something. Anything. Every day. Even if it’s crud. Sometimes I write something I’m really proud of. Sometimes I write something I hate, yet everyone on the internet likes it. And I’m okay with that.

The point is, The Risible Rambler went beyond finishing something. My goal was to write every day for a year. Now it’s been three.

I didn’t think I could do that.

What a pleasant surprise.

Shopping

Standard

I’m in a dangerous line of work for a book worm. I work in a library.

I’m not sure if that makes me a librarian. I think you need a degree to earn that title, which is a degree I’m not planning on getting, at least for the time being. Just for fun, let’s call me a librarian. Yes, let’s.

My job is to find all the things. The missing things. The found things that got lost and wandered into the wrong place. The things that decided to be tricksy and stand in the wrong order in line.

I also make lists of things. I make lists of the things that are really, really lost and don’t seem to want to come home. I give this list to my supervisor at some point.

At some point.

But in the process of looking for the little lost books, I get…distracted. Perhaps this is a rookie mistake. But especially when I’m wandering through the section of kid’s books or health books or cook books or psychology books or knitting books I…well I have trouble. Their covers are so enticing. Their back-cover information so fascinating. Their tables of contents so juicy, I want to take a bite.

But I can’t. I have to persevere and ignore my hyperactive imagination, rubbing my hands together to ward off the frostbite in those meat-locker temperatures. I think about call numbers and barcodes. Nothing shuts my imagination down like a number.  

Nevertheless, I came home with a huge stack of books yesterday. One of the job’s perks is that we get first pick. If we see something we like, we get to take it with us and check it out to ourselves, stamp it ourselves, and wish ourselves a nice day without having to go through a mediator. It’s like shopping, but everything is free. You just have to bring it back when you’re done with it.

But the stack will grow. And that’s what I’m worried about.