Monday, September 29, 2014

Little Gidding

With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this

In its own way, teaching gives me joy. Often I'm a good teacher. Sometimes I'm abysmal, and sometimes I'm just okay, but I am good at my job the majority of the time. And that is satisfying. But despite this success, I still feel empty. I am so awkward about seeing my students outside of class, or talking with them about things unrelated to class. I want them to know I care about them, I want to love them, but . . . wanting something isn't the same as doing something.

I'm reading through Acts and it is part of the reason for the heaviness that feels perpetually on my heart. I want what they have. Their singular devotion to building the Church by spreading the gospel. When all that time they spent with Jesus just clicks and the Holy Spirit kicks them into gear, and they are helping people and healing people and introducing people to Truth. 

A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)

It is an unending ache on my heart these days that I am not made of stern enough stuff to follow Jesus. I have tried to give everything, and I have failed. I give lip service to loving others but I just can't do it. Sometimes I don't even want to. I wonder if I am a bit like Simon the sorcerer, who believed, but to whom Peter says, "I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin."

But what can I do? Though I am much afraid of living by "cheap grace" and even more fearful of the challenges of following Jesus, I am terrified of life without Him. What can I do but clench the few strands of assurance I have with all my might, whispering, "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful."

And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Flu Season

There was this one time my sister got proposed to on the train. That's a great story.

I'll give you the Cliff Notes. We were in Kazakhstan, traveling from our city to the capital, and we took the afternoon train, which is always pretty crowded. We ended up sitting with a former student of one of our friends who heard us speaking English. So he had three hours to figure out my sister is as sweet as she is adorable! But it only took him one hour. The remaining two hours I spent trying to alleviate some of her discomfort and make awkward conversation.

So naturally the topic I chose was death. The poor guy was baffled by my reasoning. He thought I was crazy to prefer a place I'd never been to (that might not even be real or might not let me in!) life on earth. For him it was a morbid way to live, embracing mortality and not living in active avoidance of the things that could do you in.

But the way I see it, when I'm lying there waiting to die, I'm not going to be thinking, "If only I hadn't sat on that concrete, if only I'd worn warmer clothes." Or, to contextualize the example for the western perspective, I'm not going to blame my demise on all the times I microwaved my meals in plastic or ate GMOs or got a vaccine with who knows what kind of preservatives. I won't be regretting the foods I should have avoided or the treatments I shouldn't have gotten. I'll be regretting watching TV instead of investing in people. I'll be regretting the times I closed in when I should have reached out.

You can try and duck the things that are bad for you: smoking, red meat, carcinogens and free radicals. You can eat clean and go homeopathic, and yeah, you might even be healthier for it. But death is still going to come.

I'm not saying it's silly to care about the industrialization of food or the ingredients in our medications, cos it's not. I'm glad people care about that. And I'm not saying you shouldn't care about your health and your safety, because you should. Honor Him with your body.

What I am saying is that we try to stay healthy not to health's own end, but to be of service. You can't visit shut-ins if you're home with a fever. You can't mow your neighbor's lawn if you're heaving over the toilet. Our priority is people. And if we live to serve people in Jesus's name, does it matter what kills us?

For me, admittedly speaking with the naiveté of a relatively healthy youth, I don't care what's going to kill me. Risk a little.

All this to say, it's time to get your flu vaccine, folks.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

But a sojourner

I've been a law student for a week now, so I know just enough law to start obnoxiously analyzing the law's application to my personal life. One question that's been keeping me up most nights is the haunting inquiry of my domicile. Am I domiciled here? In Rhode Island? In Kazakhstan?

What I gather from the Gordon case is that in order to change one's domicile one must be 1) physically present in that place, and 2) intending to stay in that place indefinitely. Given that Gordon  was currently present in Idaho and had no immediate plans to leave, it was ruled that she could be considered a citizen of Idaho.

If you can't prove you're a domiciliary in the place where you currently are, your domicile is the last place you did satisfy conditions for domiciliary, even if you're not living there anymore. 

So what about me? I am currently present in Massachusetts the majority of the time. I have an apartment here. I work here. (So I have MA tax withheld from my paycheck!) I go to school here. But most of my belongings are at my parents' home in RI. My doctors are in RI. My church is in RI. My physical presence seems somewhat split between the two states. Hm.

And then there's the issue of intent to stay in definitely. I will definitely be staying here for the next three years, all year round. But after graduation, who's to say what will happen! It is my hope that I will stay "in the area," but as to whether that constitutes Rhode Island or Boston remains to be seen. I'd be happy with either. Further, I'm conscious of the reality that the future is indeterminable, and faith may draw me back abroad or to the most unexpected of places state-side.So would it really be accurate to say I plan to stay in Massachusetts indefinitely? I may stay, but then, I may not.

Mostly this just makes me feel very insecure and out of control of my future. When I was in Karaganda, anything was fair game. Even before I left Pasadena I was considering the possibility of staying in KZ for an additional year, with the potential for staying maybe longer, if the Spirit led, as they say. Would KZ count as my last domicile, given that I was physically present (no trips home!) and was intending to stay indefinitely, up until my decision to attend law school? The law deals mostly with intent, but the issue here is that, by grace, my intent is not bent towards staying or going, but rather towards following. My intent is definite devotion. Anywhere I domicile, I am but a sojourner.

An (amusing?) addendum:

The class wherein this issue was discussed left me in stitches due to an interesting lexical choice made by our professor and followed by the students, which revealed their unfamiliarity with missiological terminology. The appellate from our case was a Mormon, and considering embarking on some cross-cultural faith work upon graduation. Her intent to go or stay was thus discussed:

"Her goal was to get married or do a missionary." -- "Potentially she could do a missionary in Idaho." -- "But what if all the missionaries are in Africa? She would have to go there to do a missionary." 

It's okay, judge me, I'm immature.