Failure to vote.


I so badly wanted to vote. It’s one of those activities that makes me feel productive, democratic, free, and adult at the same time. But with all the other adult responsibilities in my life lately (like trying to get this youtube video to go viral so I can be Taylor Swift’s friend and managing my new job for which I am vastly under-qualified), I forgot to request my absentee ballot til last week.

Then I couldn’t find a witness. Darn misplaced Minnesotans, all going abroad.

But then I found a witness but had forgotten that Minnesota needs those absentee ballots back by election day. That’s kind of a “duh”. But I just wasn’t thinking because November is sneaky, and election day sneaks right up since it’s at the beginning of the month.

So now I have no voice. I’ve got political laryngitis. And I can’t complain if Minnesota elects somebody I don’t like.

I suppose I can still write letters and make phone calls, but it’s so much nicer to just put the people you want in office.

So, I’ve failed in my democratic duty.

But I’ve succeeded in buying my first pair of sweatpants since high school today, in being responsible with a group project, in keeping up with my emails, and I even washed some of the dishes (Liesel and I can dirty dishes like nobody’s business).

I hereby pledge to never do this stupid forgetting to vote thing again. I will plan better next time to avoid political laryngitis. You are all my witnesses.

Regular Sunday.


Man on the street yells at the three passing girls something unintelligible with an intense stare. Three passing girls half smile and keep walking. Other man with a McDonald’s coffee cup that may not contain coffee says, “All right. Pull over. Let’s see some ID,” but three passing girls aren’t driving and have no reason to oblige.

It’s a regular day in Chicago, walking home from church and encountering real people.

It’s a regular day, and I’m realizing again that Jesus didn’t die so that I could be a good person. The gap between me and God, created by me and my sinful nature and my inability to make myself whole, isn’t bridged by my strivings. If that’s the gospel I’m living, then I’m chasing the wind, and I’ll get tired.

I’ll get tired if the lamp I’m burning doesn’t have any oil. I’ll get frustrated if I think that I have to fix myself and fight to be good. Because, try as I might, I can’t fix myself, and the gospel doesn’t say, “For it is by your best attempt to live a holy life that you are saved, through works, so that you can boast about how hard you tried.”

I’m washed clean because I can’t wash myself. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. It’s a message of inability, seemingly not empowering. You can’t save yourself. You can’t be good enough. You can’t. You can’t. You can’t. All my good grades and nice smiles and kind words don’t make me whole. All these little things I do because I think I’m making up the difference between me, a sinner who is saved by grace, and God, who has never needed anyone to make Him look good.

I am a failure. And as long as I think I’m succeeding at cleaning up my life, I’m going to continue to fail. Because it is by grace that I have been saved. It is God’s work, His holy transformation inside of me that I get to watch and be a part of but not control so that I can’t boast about how hard I tried.

I sit in the passenger side, along for the mission but not the driver. And definitely not the engine. Just a humble companion that gets to help and be healed. I’m healed by letting go of my need to make myself acceptable and letting Jesus make me more than acceptable.

This is why I need to give up. Because I can’t, but He can. And He will. And He wants to.

just a little different, I guess


I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m going to say it again.  One of the few things I don’t like about Audrey (besides the lack of seat heaters) is her lack of CD player or auxiliary port.  This means that I’m condemned to either 1) silence in the car – sometimes a good option, or 2) radio.  (I don’t consider the tape player a viable option.)

So I have four radio stations that I flip between.  There are three Christian stations – and I use all three because much of the time I’m disappointed by the shallowness or lack of talent displayed in Christian music.  But, because I’m not a music critic and this isn’t a blog about that, I won’t name names – and one indie/fringe music/up-and-coming artists station.  I just flip between the four til I find one that is playing a song that I want to sing along with.

Along that train of thought, I’ve been trying to relate to some of the songs better.  Trying to understand where the artist is coming from when they wrote it, trying to get past bad music to the heart of it.  I figure I could learn something, or at least have something to chew on – or blog about.  And I keep hearing this theme: I’m hurt because of other people or just how my life has turned out.  I don’t know how to fix it.  You’re my last and only hope.  This is what is going to finally turn me around. I’m here, open heart and all.

Okay, so maybe I can relate to that a bit.  I’ve had my share of pain (which may be considerably smaller or more/less intense than your share… we won’t compare since pain isn’t pleasant no matter what), things that have made me need to turn to God for healing and guidance.  And I also know that it is so effective in bringing us to Jesus, that brokenness and the inability to remedy our situations shows us our need.

But I don’t relate to it that well.  This is a personal thing, guys.  You can disagree, as always.

But the thing that drives me to Jesus primarily is how much of a failure I am without Him.  It’s the fact that I cannot succeed at even lowing my family for one day without being filled with His spirit.  It’s the fact that I’ve tried to patch myself up, tried to offer myself forgiveness and newness of life, but all I ended up with was some bad stitches and a band-aid that wouldn’t stick on the skin.

It’s good for me to remember that though Jesus doesn’t change and is the same, no matter who you are, sometimes we come to Him from different places, thinking that we’re there for different reasons.

I guess the point of all of this is that I would like more people who are failures to write songs.  like this one, it’s good.

 

Forgetting failure.


This morning, I forgot.  And it wasn’t just a “shoot, I forgot that.”  It was one of those moments where you bolt upright in bed and get wide eyes and slap yourself for being so stupid.  And it would have been so, so easy to remember.

This is the part where I let myself off of the hook and re-commit to putting every little thing on my calendar.

I have further reason to be disappointed with myself because in my dream last night, I had a “call me maybe” moment with a 7th grade boy.  Why?  I do not know.  I don’t think about 7th grade boys much, unless there’s good reason, and I certainly don’t listen to call me maybe… unless someone does a really good spoof.  Then I watch it.

This is a learning experience for me.  The lesson learned is: don’t forget things.  Easy enough, right?  Other lesson learned: always think  twice about what time you’re setting your alarm for.  You might just need to search your brain a little harder.

Days that start like this, with failure, aren’t always the best.  In high school (so funny to say that like it’s in the past…), I often had those mornings where I pressed snooze, then 45 minutes later flew out of bed because I only had half an hour before the departure time of my car.  I usually got to school with that harried, frizzy-ponytail look and a story that explains it.  Well, you see, I slept through my alarm… it’s really not loud enough… And that’s why I look so scary. 

I have determined – even though I missed coffee with my dear friends, whom I only have a week left with before one departs for college – that I’m not going to let my failure set a bad tone for my day.  I’m going to put it behind me.  The past doesn’t have to define the present – even if the past is part of the same day – kind of like I was talking about in this post.

And in order to put that part of the day away, I’m going to spend time with Jesus and go rollerblading.  I’m going to set aside failure and make room in my mind for success.  Just like I forgot coffee, I’m going to forget my failures.

Maybe I should put those on my calendar.

Fail.


I was going to have a mouthwatering picture of the cookies my mother has been tempting me with this afternoon, but, due to circumstances that are too dumb to recount, the picture is not here.  So, I want you to use your imagination with me.  You know those puffy sugar cookies with the thick frosting (usually colored in a bright color according to what holiday is coming up) that are sold at Target and Cub?  They’re the ones that kids love to bring in for their birthday treats, the ones that leave you feeling happy and fat.

Well.  My mom made those.  Out of a white cake mix.

I just polished off three of them, and I’m still waiting for the regret to sink in.

Waiting.

Waiting.

Okay, so maybe I just regret that I’ve already eaten my allotted amount of the top triangle of the food pyramid for the day and can’t indulge again later.

And now, in an effort to get my mind off of the container full of those delicious tempters, let’s reflect on failure.  It really isn’t a “nice” topic, per se, but I’ve been realizing how much of a failure I am the past couple days.  Now, don’t go feeling bad for me; don’t start thinking that I have no self-esteem and am going to go around hanging my head and always be on the verge of tears.  Healthy people are the ones who know that they are inadequate.  Even healthier people are the ones who see those inadequacies as ways for God to show how good He is.  To show that He redeems us in the places where we fall short.

Here’s an effort at being relatable: does anyone else have days where they feel like 90% of what they said was

a) pointless

b) seen as random by the person to whom it was spoken

c) incoherent or just not well though out

d) all of the above

That has been my week.  I’m sure that my late bedtimes and early wake ups weren’t helping me either.  I look back on how many things I said that were either a,b,c, or a combo of the three and just want to take a nap, to take a break from being conscious for a little bit.  If I’m not conscious, I can’t say stupid things.

And though the thought of just wanting to escape is enticing, the thought that God can redeem my speech to make it useful and powerful and glorifying to Him is much more inspiring.  That gets my heart pumping blood faster.  It makes me want to take care of my brain better to enable it function on a higher level, to go to sleep when my eyes plead with me to make a day of it.  My calculus teacher has the philosophy that “you can sleep with you’re dead!” — as an exhortation to us to stay up late doing our homework instead of skipping the extra problems for extra hours of sleep — but I think that if you don’t sleep, you’ll die sooner.  Which is, perhaps, the objective of those who refuse to sleep.  It isn’t mine though.

I feel like I’m sitting here, holding out my worthless or inappropriate words in my cupped hands, waiting for God to put His words in my mouth.