Monday, June 16, 2008

a light burnt out

Yep. That's just what happened. In real life and in my mind. I am sitting here in this room with half an overhead light and a half-hearted smile on my face. In general I like my life, although right now I do not. Maybe I just get depressed easily, but I do feel pretty unhappy. I wonder how much of emotions should be tolerated and how much should be dealt with. Today... or right now, more correctly, I feel jealous and inadequate. Some days, it's because I realize how pretty and perfect my friends look and are and how average I look and am. Other days, I feel it's impossible to say what needs to be said at a public presentation, especially since I know other could do it better. Yet other days, I watch movie and read books and get reminded that my life is not a romantic fairy tale. And, yes, that means I feel jealous of people who don't even exist. Today, I feel outclassed by my sister. I love her dearly, but, oh, she seems endowed with all the social graces one could ask for. Sometimes, I convince myself that nobody would ever want to talk to me with her around, nobody would ever like me just for who I am.

I know these feelings, besides being untrue, are wrong. But they keep resurfacing. I used to want to beat her in school subjects, but now it's a bit different. I want people to see me and think what a cool person I am and want to hang out with me. I am not asking my sister to change, because she is wonderful as is. It is I who need to turn my worries over to God. It's one of those things that I must keep battling with, a fight never over, yet a fight not my own. I don't just struggle against myself and my sin nature. It is also God vs. Satan. Satan wants me to hate my sister in my heart, but I don't and I won't.

But what God says is so much more freeing than the knowledge that I love my sister. He's telling me I don't need to measure up to my sister. We each have our own gifts, and even if not, who cares? He loves me just the way I am. He promises. What else could I possibly ask for? He will be true to me forever. Unlike friends, he will never go back on his word and will always be there for me. In fact I have no right to feel jealous. What is it to me what God does with my sister? I am following Him. He's the one I need to take after. I'm looking to his image, not to what the world would like to see. I don't need to be anything special for God to use me.

Knowing me, I have now thought of a song (Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns) to go along with my thoughts:

But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. "Boy, you'll never win!"
"You'll never win!"

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, "Do not be afraid!"
The voice of truth says, "This is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.

(Ah, this song brings back many fond memories of MASTERS.)

They say writing is therapeutic and I think I believe them. All my self-pity is melting quite away, with special thanks to two dear friends and some well-timed encouragement. I have to admit I feel a a great deal silly about my thoughts listed above. But I won't delete them. I know the fear of inadequacy and the beast of jealousy will return. I will keep this post to remind me that the battle to look good to others is not a cause for sighs, but is a chance to glorify God and get to know Him better. The bar which I must try to attain is higher than that of humans and far more lasting and rewarding.

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. --Romans 5:3 - 5

Thus, God's helped me see the light; I've worked through my issues with myself for today and I feel much more light-hearted then before (although I haven't done anything about the light bulb yet.)

post nats

I know the title is confusing. it can mean "after nationals" or "a post about nationals." Either way you take it is fine with me. I'm not sure where to begin. First off, it was awesome to see my friends. I also loved being there and competing. But after all that, what did I come away from Nationals with?

I wonder what makes an acquaintance a friend... God brought me so many friends at this tournament, despite one of my best friends not coming. He knew I needed friends and provided for me. He is so good! I got to know some people in my region a whole ton better. I also met some of my out-of-region friends' friends. In addition, I reconnected with some people who I thought I'd never see again. Because Nats was so huge, I didn't hang out with the same people the whole time. It was actually fun talking to people I had seen at numerous tournaments but had never talked to before. So many little moments showed me just how much God loves me and how many friends I really do have.

The competition was so awesome. I loved all of our rounds. I am so thankful we were able to debate at Nationals! I know of some people who qualified, but then got sick and couldn't compete. That would be sad. :^( I watched a ton a speeches and outrounds. I was really sad how few of us broke. Nonetheless I was happy for those who did. In fact, when one of my friends broke in impromptu (and really tough event!), I screamed really really loud and hugged her tight, even though she was on the phone. I quite surprised myself.

I don't know, but after all that, it's hard to go back to "normal life." I feel like singing "the call." There are so many things I want to do here at home, but I know I need to work on my school first. I must give my "fun life" a break. I know, I know... it's work first, then play. What I really want to know now is: did I just have a fun week or did I actually learn something?

I think the biggest thing I learned last week was just big and sovereign God is and how little I matter. During the tournament I was thinking praying things like, "help me to communicate you" and "help us to remember all that we've learned." While that's not wrong, I think now I have a bigger picture. It's God makes everything happen. On the first day, Mr. Larimer was speaking to us about how it's not our skills, but God's goodness that brought us to nats. That is just so good to remember. Where is there room for pride if it's all God? Mr. Larimer also told us we need to trust God for the outcome of the rounds, maintain our focus on God, and be thankful in all things. I wrote all that on the back of my name tag as I usually do, but it didn't really start to sink in until later. Thinking through the whole nats experience is helping me put my thoughts together into some sort of organized fashion. We had some pretty awesome rounds. I kinda of assumed that because we were such good debaters we didn't get totally creamed at nats, but that is not necessarily the truth. I really like the song from Casting Crowns (and it was so stuck in my head at Nats):

Giver of every breath I breathe
Author of all eternity
Giver of every perfect thing
To You be the glory
Maker of Heaven and of Earth
No one can comprehend Your worth
King over all the universe
To You be the glory

And I am alive because I’m alive in You

And it’s all because of Jesus I’m alive
And it’s all because the blood of Jesus Christ
That covers me and raised this dead man’s life
It’s all because of Jesus I’m alive
I’m alive, I’m alive

So, while it would have been really cool to do well at nats, in addition to have alot of fun, I'm figuring out that it doesn't matter that much. God's plans are so much better than any of my ideas. On the last day, Mrs. Moon (she is so amazing!) was speaking about people want to have success. Sometimes people say, "Oh, I'm not very good, that's why I didn't break" or "Well, we broke partly because we worked so hard." But both of those are wrong. People don't make either success or failure: It's God. Her words were, "You are not enough." I had to ponder over those words for a long time and only now am I coming to some idea of what she means. No matter how much I think I'm on top of running my life or winning the round... I am not enough.

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. -- Col 1:16

Since I am not enough and God, not I, rules the world, what is it to me if my will isn't fulfilled? My job is to serve God. If I'm faithful in that, God will take care of the outcome of any of my actions. It is so tough to live as a communicator for Christ though. When I was at our ENOCH convention, I realized how much I just wanted to do all the communicating about debate and speech. Sometimes I felt like I wasn't even giving God a chance to work in people's hearts. I walked away from the convention very disheartened, not because of a lack of interest, but because I wasn't sure if I had said anything worthwhile. I have to make the most of the time (for the days are evil) and I know in at least one instance I didn't because I was relying on myself. It shouldn't be like that. My primary focus needs to be on Him. I, in myself, cannot accomplish anything. That is something that is hard for me to take. Unless I understand that I am not enough, I am still "preaching myself" and little can come from it.

So, all this is what I've taken away from Nationals. Of course all this is making me wonder what goals I have that I need to turn over to God. I now understand better that it is He who makes goals happen, but do I really have any goals worth striving for right now? Such big questions I will have to think over and blog about later. I will leave you with three things to do (thanks to Mr. Larimer again!):

  1. Walk in love - be immitators of Christ
  2. Walk in light - do what God says
  3. Walk in wisdom - redeem the the time and set appropriate goals, but leave the rest to God.

And thus, nationals is over. I still have to press on.
{and hope does not put us to shame}