Monday, July 25, 2011

And that whole naming their sons after themselves thing!

We went to a baby shower today. Those always send my brain to crazy places. In between sticking to the chairs from the humidity, and missing the badminton birdie by yards, I thought about the names all my little cousins have been amassing. Interesting, trendy names. Not sure how I feel about that.

Even though it's boundlessly embarrassing, I have to share this because I'm so tickled by the idea. Obviously if I have a girl, her name is going to be Marianne Amagi (the French allegory of liberty and the Sumerian character for freedom from enslavement, respectively -- see what I did there?), and her nickname is going to be Maggie. This is pretty exciting, because I'm terrible with girls names, they are so cripplingly tied to vogue. But now my sister can never say I never loved her!

For a boy, ah, this is much harder, because there are so many interesting names for boys. I will definitely settle on the name Walter, of course, partly for my daddy and partly as homage to Anne Shirley's dearly beloved son. (Leagues better than the name Gilbert, at least. Ugh. Gill. Bert. Just terrible.) Perhaps Laurie, too. Part a nod to the most adorable literary character of all time, part an acknowledgment of that special lady who impacted my formative years. Ah, but still, too many options.

(I don't know, are you allowed to name your son after a woman? Would your mom be offended if someone named their little boy after her? With dudes it's an ego trip, but with ladies, I don't know.)

My kids are not going to be allowed to work out the percentages of their heritage. They are Americans! This 7% Irish and 20% English and 0.2% Native American business is rubbish. My parents' genealogy is traced out, but my kids will not have access to it until they promise to not get into these "how many ethnicities can I lay claim to" contests. Then, and only then, will I brag to them how we descended from a Huran princess. Yeah, Bruce Colburn wrote a song about "my" people.

All this is totally futile, of course. That's the awesome and terrible thing about kids: they're never all yours, you have to share them with the other person who contributes the other half of their DNA. Someone who won't insist on having a say with his own children isn't worth having anyway, I suppose.

My cousin was married a few years ago, I remember his wedding well, and just as clearly I remember his wife's baby shower. Their second child is already a year old, and it's so funny to see them standing all together, my cousin and his wife looking decidedly middle aged. So comfortable. Remember when he was just fresh from college? Remember when she was new to the family functions and we wondered if she'd last? Just look at them. Time rolls right on by.

Ugh, what is the rest of my life going to be like?! I feel sick to my stomach over it all. My only coping mechanism is to just not think about it, but the execution of this strategy is abysmally difficult. That's all I've got, really. I continue to get older without quite knowing how to age well.

Oh, but you silly girl, get over yourself! You're nearly twenty. Not forty-two. (Relief sets in.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Connecting the dots

So as part of a crazy random happenstance last week, I found myself in a stranger's living room, having a conversation with another stranger, and of all things the things strangers usually make small talk on, well, we ended up talking about, yeah, Islam. And you know what, apparently everyone except me knows what a stronghold Islam is! I feel late to the party, and not fashionably so.

But anyway.

In the course of the conversation, the articulated gentleman made some remark in response to my comment about how Islam is all-inclusive: a sociological, religious, economic, and judicial ideology. What he said was, "Obviously, Christianity is the same way, except it's of the light."

And I didn't say anything at the time, partly because I was already the controversial one in the room, since I was wearing shorts, sporting black nail polish, and decked in a t-shirt with words across the front . . . but when he said that a part of me went "Wait, what?"

I don't know. I was never aware that Christianity was an all-encompassing system. Partly because I've grown up hearing that Jesus wasn't a white middle class Republican, and that His kingdom is in our hearts, not in our society. So, blame it on how I was raised.

But his comment's stuck like a Philip Glass song in my mind. Especially now that I'm at this libertarian camp, being taught how to think about social choice and institutions and markets and equality and Wal-Mart. I can't help but wonder how Jesus fits into it all. According to one of the lecturers, he doesn't.

Josiah asked me once how I could be a Christian and a libertarian at the same time. He argued that libertarian thinking exalts man has the highest authority and the arbiter of his own life, prima facie two ideas that are decidedly in conflict with living under Jesus's lordship. My response to him was muddled and undeveloped at the time, but basically what I told him is this: I love freedom, and it's the liberty He gave me that wooed me to Christ. We were created to be free! I wouldn't go as far to say that practicing libertarianism as a form of government is biblical, but, due to its basis in natural law I would definitely say that libertarianism supports many, many biblical principles. And there are few systems of government that understand the depravity of human nature like libertarianism does.

But then, I don't really know what to do with all that Old Testament stuff.

As a sidenote, I love when skeptics throw down about how crazy town some parts in the Old Testament are. Part of me wants to start gushing about covenants and symbolism and God's justice and holiness and righteousness, and the other part of me is like, "Well, yeah, when you put it like that it does sound weird." I don't want my coworkers to think I'm making light of my faith, and that it's something I practice in spite of the bits that "don't make sense", but I also wanto demonstrate that it's not about what they think it's about. How do you tell someone politely that they just don't get it at all? I have this problem literally every day at work. I have to stop myself from rolling my eyes and muttering just that, "You don't get it at all."

Not that I 100% get "it" either, but, you know what I mean.

So I can't help but wonder to what extent the political condition of our state, our nation, our world is actually even relevant to the plans God has. While I'm assured he's definitely sovereign over the decisions of rulers, and I'm confident we're supposed to care about governments and the decisions they make, I still can't help but wonder at the relationship between Jesus and governments. Politics are everything to some people, but I feel like politics are kind of irrelevant to His kingdom coming. Like they're just one small piece of the puzzle, not even a corner piece or anything, kind of just a random piece that you work around.

I don't know. It's easy for me to say, safe and well-fed in my ivory tower.

I want to live rightly. And I don't want my libertarian leavings to be a stumbling block in my pursuit of Jesus. I don't want to be romanced by economic models and philosophical definitions, and I don't want to devote myself to a cause that will distract me from the ultimate call on my heart. Which, actually, is the greatest thing about this seminar: prime opportunities to explain why I'm a libertarian. Jesus freed me.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I feel like I'm at summer camp.

So I'm in Bryn Mawr. Yay! When I arrived yesterday, a serious case of campus envy set in; there's a fireplace in my dorm room. I mean, enough said! There are giant chess sets all over campus, as well as brightly colored patio furniture, and brilliant stonework everywhere. It's much smaller than my school, and has such a homey feel to it, with potted plants and bulletin boards everywhere, just quintessential college dorm life. Also, since it's an all women's school, I can't help but speculate that the campus both smells better and is less trashed, like, no dents in the walls and things. Though the pool table is admittedly a mess, cos, when have you ever met a woman who was adequate at pool?!

The weather is a challenge. It's hot outside, probably because it's July, but the classrooms are terribly cold, so a lot of the students are walking around in sweaters, which is a hilarious sight to behold.

The food is all right. Better than I expected, or at least, better than it is at my school! Still, I was not impressed with breakfast. Or the "fruit juice" that is actually florescent sugar water. And while they score points in the french fries and packaged ice cream novelties department, the vegetable side of things leaves a little to be desired. But no need to get nit-picky.

The material . . . I'm in heaven. This morning one of the speakers threw down about Wal-Mart, and he was an economist, so he had numbers and data to support what he was saying. [The interesting thing about him, too, was that in the 45 minutes that he spoke he threw down no less than four Bible verses, and three comments on the sinful nature of man. According to his Twitter feed he reads Jon Acuff. I think we have a winner.] So yeah, Wal-mart does bully suppliers and does destroy jobs, but it's also responsible for 5% of the US's GDP, so, that's serious buying power. And the average American saves $177 a year from Wal-Mart. On a cost/benefit analysis, there's more good than bad in Wal-Mart's power index. So that was really, really interesting!

That's the other thing. We've heard four speakers thus far; two philosopher historians and two economists. Ordinarily not the most riveting of subjects, but somehow IHS managed to get the most dynamic and interesting speakers around. I'm not glazing over when the talk wanders into discussion of the rational expectations theory and the Chicago school . . . partly because I'm struggling to keep up with what exactly these things even are, but also because the lecturers are skilled at staying simple while going deep.

It's a good balance, too, of the history of classical liberal ideas, of the economics behind classical liberalism, of the politics of libertarianism, of the philosophy motivating classical liberal thought. Well-rounded, the lecturers are. Which is excellent, because that had been one of my worries coming in, that my libertarian training hadn't been well-rounded and I was going to be lost the whole time. But the speakers manage to break everything down in such a way that it's simple enough to follow, but you still have to work to understand.

What I also really like is how they've set up the question and answer part of each lecture. When the speaker concludes, they send us off into discussion groups for twenty minutes, where we draft our questions. Which is good because we get to share our reactions to the talk, as well as flesh out some of the things touched upon, and figure out what we want clarified. And because the questions are written out, they're most concise and easy to answer than in an oral Q&A session. You get to see all the questions the other groups came up with, and the questions stay on the wall for the whole week.

Socially, the anxiety still ripples over me from time to time. It's nice that the Cobbs and Schuyler are here, but I'm worried that I'm leaning too much on former acquaintances and not striking out on my own enough. Of course, I analyze here too much anyway, finding myself measuring people and their reactions to situations and what they do and where they sit and what they say and who they talk to. Mostly everyone here is super fascinating: if they're not international students, then they're anarchists or radicals in some vein, or hyper-intellectuals, or hipsters in full ironic pretension.

I'm slowly being wooed to go join the Free State movement in New Hampshire. I also fleetingly considered investing in Bitcoin. [You know, so I can securely purchase all my illicit substances. NBD.]

Yeah. First impressions. I hate how self-indulgently diary-ish this is. Oh well!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Build, Break

I messed up at work today.

The store had scarcely been open for half an hour when the phone rang and the caller ID flashed "BOOKSTORE AR OFFICE". I knew it was accounting on the other end, probably calling for the manager, and I answered chipperly enough. But boy was I off!

"Hayley? Can you come see me for a bit?"

I rushed down the hall, but still didn't feel anxious, partly because the accounting woman is so kind and partly because I couldn't imagine a worst-case scenario. And so, I was surprised in a bad way when she held up a few sheets of paper and began quizzing me.

When she finished her explanation, my anxiety dissipated, it was only a check I had rung out wrong, and while it was indeed a terrible mistake, it could be corrected easily enough.

That is, corrected easily enough if I didn't make the problem worse before I made it better. And you know me . . . !

I scrolled through our records to figure out why I had rung the check through the register for less than it had been posted for. It was puzzling when the record referenced on the check itself revealed no payment information at all. Very strange. I searched by the customer's name, and when the record flashed on the screen my stomach turned cold.

I had posted the check to the wrong order. The order had been build. The order had been shipped. The wrong computer had been sent out. In short, I had created an even bigger problem that a few hundred dollar surplus in the store account.

I swallowed and shuffled into the back room, endlessly thankful that the manager had taken the day off, and unsure of whom to direct my discover to. "I made a big mistake--" I announced to the room. The purchasing manager looked up slowly. "Well, what'd you do?"

"I billed and built the wrong computer. It already got shipped out."

The Apple tech shrugged from in front of his laptop. "So we'll send the kid a return label and build him the right computer. He can just send the wrong one back. It's not a big deal. Problem solved."

I sighed miserably, not knowing how to make a return label and not imbued with confidence in my ability to make this solution happen. What if the customer was mad? What if he didn't want to send the other computer back? We'd have to wipe it when it arrived, anyway, and reorder the registry to make sure all the serial numbers matched the right people . . . I really had created a bit of a mess. Further, I turned back to the original problem: correcting the surplus created by under-ringing the check. Mindlessly I rang out the correct order, following the accountant's instructions, writing little notes and reconciling all the records. I skipped down the hall back to her office.

"You've figured it out then?" -- "I think so, I just wanted to check with you that I've done it right?" -- "Oh, I'm sure that . . ." -- "Well, I rang out the whole order . . ." And she made a face. Of course, in retrospect, what I did makes no mathematical sense, and most of my conscious mind knew this as I went through the motions, but the part of my brain that was on autopilot was too afraid to consider that there might be a flaw in my process.

I was sent back to the store with more explicit instructions, and I sheepishly pulled the Apple tech from his morning tasks. "Um, can you do a post-void?" He didn't even ask any questions, knowing I'd messed something up, and left with his register manager functions I finally balanced accounts on our end. (Which, I'm still not certain I did correctly, but I was too afraid to ask. I'll find out tomorrow, I suppose!)

I left a voicemail with the unfortunate customer, and wrote him up a nice letter to accompany the computer and the return label, explaining the situation. I built a computer and with the help of the Apple tech got it registered properly, and I even convinced the guy in charge of shipping to make sure it got sent out that very day. I sat down in relief when the situation had wrapped itself up, and the Apple tech walked by with a stack of the day's mail.

"More checks for you! I have every confidence you'll ring them out properly this time." When I groaned he smiled and patted me on the back. "You know I'm just teasing you," he grinned.

And so I feel very much like Anne Shirley: "I may make mistakes, oh, of course, but I never make the same mistake twice, that's what's good about me!"

Friday, July 8, 2011

Just thinking outloud, that's all.

I'm not good with my hands. That is to say, my fingers aren't quick, my motions are generally clumsy, and I can't coordinate my arms to save my life. I'm not really crafty. Like, I'm not good at needlepoint and I'm awful at fixing children's toys. I was breaking down cardboard today and it took me two minutes to collapse one box while my boss totaled six. I played keyboard accompaniment at our last worship sesh and it was a trainwreck. I can type, but my brain switches the order of the letters and numbers a lot, so I usually sacrifice speed for accuracy. You know, I'm not good with my hands.

I'm not super athletic either. I played soccer last week and three times I kicked past the ball. I can't shoot baskets. I can't throw a spiral. I can't field a ground ball. I've never been skiing, but I probably wouldn't be very good at that, either. My friend is teaching me to longboard and I keep wiping out all over the place. We went to the gun range today, and despite five years of training, I missed half my targets. I can't even remember the last time I went for a run! My lack of hand-eye coordination limits my ability to pick up most team sports without intense disciplined training, and I mentally have trouble wrapping my mind around the notion of repetitive, cemented technique. Fading and prompting? I need monster doses.

I'm also not terribly sharp. One of my potentially most embarrassing moments was playing Scrabble in the Mullaneys' kitchen, like, I don't know, this is partly my skewed self-perception that few like I ought to have been good at that game, but I could only think of three-letter words, and, there aren't words for the relief I felt when that game ended. It's the same story with most reasoning-heavy games, specially spacial ones. Tetris? Forget it. I'm just not sharp at connecting the dots, whether that's mapping information my boss gives me or connecting letters to form words in Scrabble, it seems that my brain's processing power stalls frequently from lack of theoretical RAM or something, and the gears in my mind are constantly grinding.

So, what I'm leading up to in light of all of this is, you know those people, those people you just have endless pity for because they just aren't competent? Like, they try really hard, and they give a good effort, but they just don't get the results normal people do. I kind of relate to those people. Like Ramona Quimby. No matter what she did and how well-intentioned she was, she could never do anything right. And sometimes she made a bigger mess than the problem she was trying to fix. I get that. And I know a few people like that. I feel bad for them; sometimes I feel bad for me, because it's just so much harder to go through the motions of what other people appear to do effortlessly, and the weigh of their/my incompetence is embarrassing or guilt-inducing.

I'm thinking about this because I read that novel, Nineteen Minutes, and I kept thinking about how Peter wouldn't have been picked on or an outcast if he had been a competent person. Instead he stuck out because he was sensitive and effeminate and just not really useful at anything. And so he became a victim. A murderous victim who shot up an entire school, but still, a victim nevertheless. Which, sidenote, is another reason while utilitarianism is so poisonous when it comes to human beings: when a person's humanity is measured by their usefulness, you get a person that is decidedly detrimental to society, people like Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. Well, I mean, humanistically speaking, anyway. Jesus covered this territory before any secular ideology did, but there it is.

So why does God make some people more competent than others? You understand what I mean by competent, of course? Useful? Good at general things? Thinking, doing, acting? There are only a handful of people out there who are good at everything (I have difficulty loving those people sometimes!) but there are a few standards of performance for the rest of us normal people, and if you don't meet those standard, you're incompetent. You know: clumsy, careless, an idiot. Incompetent. Sorry to keep repeating myself on this definition. I just think it's so interesting that such a thing exists, but I just don't know quite how to put it into words . . . is there a term for what I mean already? There probably is, it's probably jotted down in the depths of my psychology notes, something from the self-efficacy chapter. Oh! And that's the worst, right, this sort of incompetence paired with high self-efficacy? Awkward for everyone.

Anyway. Why are some people more competent than others? We all have our special giftings; I'm not referring to that. But maybe they're one and the same? Perhaps some people are gifted with every day coping mechanisms, equipped to be generally useful? And those that are more specifically gifted in other areas, they lack this ability to be general useful and competent? Peter was skilled at computer coding and designing video games; perhaps what he lacked in social sensitivity and athletic ability he made up for us technologial aptitude? I don't know, the more I mull this over the more I wonder if this dichotomy is only in my head and not in real life. I'm just trying to sort out what about all human beings is the same and what about us is different.

This is where I stop.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Because this is what young adults do, right?

So now that my two week introduction to Muslim outreach has come to a close, I find myself looking toward the next big thing on the docket for my summer. In two weeks I'm headed on a solo roadtrip to Bryn Marr University for one of the Institute for Humane Studies' summer seminars. Kind of a weird story. Not sure how I ended up on the guest list. But I'm not about to pass up a free week of libertarian indoctrination, no sir!

Anyway. This trip is freaking me out for several reasons.

1) I'm 100% shocked my parents are letting me make the drive! In my own car! All by myself! I thought for sure they would insist on me flying, or taking the train, or carpooling with someone, but no, they readily consented. Is this the Twilight Zone?! Or is this what it feels like to be almost twenty and treated somewhat like a young adult? Even though the route is a straight line, and one I've traveled many times as my mother's copilot, there's still the anticipation of the what ifs. As in, what if my car breaks down? [A distinct possibility!] What if I get an accident? [Not outside the realm of possibility either!] My head is swimming with visions of rest stops and toll booths. I'm excited. Bring it on.

2) Despite my careful grooming in libertarianism by TeenPact and the Foundation for Economic Education and the countless books Mr. Rehmke and Mr. Luke have passed along to me, I still feel woefully ignorant on the topic at large. The survey we had to fill out sought to reveal the knowledge base of the attendants, and I found myself answering "I don't know" too often for the health of my pride. The knowledge problem, spontaneous order, John Rawls' philosophy . . . two words for you guys: woeful. ignorance. Part of me says that I have two weeks to cram libertarian political history and theory into my head so I can be prepared, and the other part of me says, "Forget that, just show up and see what you get out of it." Maybe a balance of the two is the best.

3) To make matters worse, the Facebook group is lit up with names of woefully intelligent individuals. People who have studied economics, political philosophy, sociology, neuroscience. People who are coming from Argentina, German, Switzerland, Turkey, England. Not to mention the gobs of people coming from Washington, DC. Movers and shakers, go-getters, these people are. Even if I can get over how intimidating everyone is, I still face my typical idiosyncrasies when it comes to meeting new people. And even though a few of the Cobbs will be there, there's still a knot in my stomach when I think about how much I hate these week-long affairs. What's the point of making friends with someone you'll never see again, anyway?! I can't spent a week in silence, my psyche just can't handle it!

On the other hand, there are plenty of things to be happy about. Roadtrip to PA! A week out of work! Learning about libertarianism, and hopefully making some connections! Opportunities to talk about why I'm a libertarian! Read: Jesus, yo. For each anxiety, my sick masochistic side is thinking, "Oh yes, this is going to be so character-building!" Worst comes to worst, I'll pack that massive tome Witness and make a dent in my reading list. Solitude makes for efficient reading.

Ugh. Can I just be thirty years old already?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Dearborn Recap

The really funny thing is, I got into an argument over the internet with some kid on this very topic. He posted a link to an article about Muslims who threw rocks at elderly Jewish men attending prayers. He added a small remark identifying the violence latent in one of the top world religions. And I in all my foolish could not stand by and let an opportunity for argument be lost! I told him that the Qur'an says that Christians, Jews, and Muslims are cousins in faith. That Islam was a religion of peace. That radicals and extremists are not representative of the religion holistically. I snubbed his findings and essentially called him a liar.

And when I said I, I felt like I had the authority to say it with accuracy. That's the ridiculous part. I thought because I had read a lot of the Qur'an and completed an intro to Islam course and was all packed to spend a two-week immersion amongst Yemeni Muslims, that in light of all this, I was qualified to make an assessment of his assertion.

That's what I get for letting myself get all puffed up with an empty superiority!

When I arrived in Dearborn, all of this came crashing down. Was it the bars on the windows and the locks on the doors of all the Muslim homes we passed, homes where wives were caged all day while their husbands were at work? Was it the documentaries about the three jihads and the ground zero mega-mosque and the child brides and the wife stonings and the terrorism training camps and the birth rates and the fear communities? Was it the talk on Shari'ah law (supreme over all laws) and taquiyya (doctrine of deception) and abrogation (what comes after erases what comes before) and jihad (holy struggle) and tribal intimidation? Was it the countless stories of spiritual warfare, of naive conversion? Or was it when my heart started fluttering faster than I'd ever felt, as the imam lost his temper and condemned our Christian intolerance, wrapping up with an "I'm sorry" and "just kidding!"

I sat in the cushioned half desks of the women's ESL classrooms and thought to myself: everyone has to know. Everyone ought to know.

Hearing the stories of spiritual warfare sent chills to the very pit of my stomach. Every night before falling asleep I rolled over on to my side, and breathed deeply, able to dispel the fear because of the intercession from people back home. On every side we were protected: spiritually, physically, emotionally. I sat on the floor in the front of the mosque listening to three little girls whom I'd grown to love, listening to them sing "We are Muslims" to the tune of Frere Jacques. Fear washed over me, thinking of their expert brainwashing, the poisonous lies flowing from the imam's mouth as he encouraged the children in their Islamic studies. Our host explained the glass box of Islam: no matter how nominally you practiced, as a Muslim you must believe the Qur'an. And it teaches some scary things . . .

There were innumerable blessings on every turn. We were just a short-term missions team, with little to no opportunity to form relationships ourselves, only with the focus of supporting the work of our hosts. And yet, our night at the park left us with dozens of new friends. The next night at the BBQ they came back. An Egyptian woman invited us to her house. An ESL student took my hands in hers and murmured "I love you." Our host beamed with approval as the ladies drew with henna on our skin, and as we played worship songs for their entertainment. Never have I met women so warm and friendly, so desperate for relationships, so thirsty for a sympathetic ear.

Western culture at large has it so backwards, you know? Islam is an innocuous religion, but Muslims are weirdos to be feared. Who'd've thought it was the other way around? That Islam is the very darkest and pervasive stronghold, and that Muslims are precious people in dire need of freedom. I know, I know. Duh. But there's something so precious about learning it first-hand, in feeling how difficult the cultivation, but also tasting how sweet the fruit. And so in two weeks I progressed: from naive to angry, from angry to heart-broken, from heart-broken to hopeful. In Christ is the victory. Amen!

If you don't yet know what to do with your life, get ESL certified. The barred door into the Muslim community all of a sudden cracks open just a little bit . . .

Saturday, July 2, 2011

2 Corinthians 3:5

I'm having a panic attack. Kind of. Every single summer I take stock of everything that's changed in my little world and in the people I love and in the opinions I hold and the things upon which I stand. And mostly I don't see very many changes in me. I'm still 5'9". I still live in Rhode Island. I still love my parents. I still love Jesus.

But what sends my heart beating madly is the changes outside of me. My brother has a faint shadow on his upper lip and has started talking back to his mother. My friends are leaving their homes and moving into tiny cinder block rooms. My state is putting a tax on soda and textbooks and heating oil and car repairs. My country has unemployment that rises with minimum wage, and a general public that doesn't recycle like it used to in the 80's.

The end of the world is two steps away. The end of my world is too far away.

The future is so unknown. Not just the nebulous cosmic future, but the next week, next month, next year future of my own little speck of a life. Who? What? Where? When? Dear God Almighty, when I prayed for struggles and sufferings and a sanctifying break, did you think to yourself, "Just wait"? Because the fireworks outside sound so normal, and the taste of Nutella in my mouth is so delicious, and the breeze of the air conditioning is so comforting. Isn't that just it, though? All this comfortable happiness can't be real.

But dear God, I don't think I can do this. Continue in normalcy with only a fractured little heart to keep me afloat. I don't even know what I want, really. I just know that once again, I'm sickened by the changes that have creeped up on me, and the maladjusted little girl who sees behind my eyes doesn't know how to cope or keep up. Couldn't everything just stay the same? Or couldn't I change to keep pace with it all?

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.

I guess I'm just panicking because everything else is moving so fast that, it feels like I'm standing still. I guess I should stop reading those Jodi Picoult novels, hm?