Thursday, March 22, 2012


"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."   ~Matthew 11:28-29
Man, I am just sapped of energy lately.  As I look back over the last several weeks and months, it occurs to me that pretty much since the middle of December, it's just been one gigantic emotional thing after another - whether in my life, or the life of somebody I care about. 

Mid-December - not getting approved, because "I don't know how to articulate the gospel."  Geez, if that doesn't drive a knife right through your heart, I don't know what will.

Late-December - Christmas + New Year's, overall good, but reminding me how separated I feel from my family.

Early-January - Cross-Cultural in SW Minnesota - same thing with the family - wishing I lived closer to them and was more a part of their lives

Mid-January - sister gets engaged - I'm really happy for her, but so, so, so, so, sad that I'm not really there to be part of it.  Also suppressing an acute case of Leah Syndrome.

Late-January - surgery.  Grades from classes at SPS come in.  Comment on my paper: "____ is a huge problem with Luther's position, you should have mentioned it."  I'm sorry, I'm trying, I really am.  But I'm Lutheran, and I don't believe it to be a huge problem with Luther's position, and so I'm not going to say that it is and pretend that I believe something I don't.  Do I get any credit with the prof (or God) for sitting in that class all semester and trying to get there?

Early-February - weird friend things start happening - basically, I miss them all

Mid-February - realize that all of this is creating a giant emotional roller coaster, Lent starts (which terrifies me), all my friends go through assignment, realize that all of my friends will be gone next year, and I will have to start over from scratch, again

Late-February - get rejected by Duke - didn't really expect to get in, but still, it stings

Early-March - find out how bad the cancer is that my uncle's fighting.  Still trying to figure out how to repair my relationship with him.  All of my friends have major emotional junk they are trying to sort through; I hurt because they're hurting.

Mid-March - friend's mom passes away - never met her, but the friend is someone I care about deeply.  Her death was pretty much expected for some time, but I took it harder than I thought I would, partly, I guess, because of how much I know my friend must be hurting, and that makes me sad.

Late-March - I guess that's where we are - get rejected from Marquette.  This one hurts.  A lot.  A lot lot lot.  For some reason, I just thought Marquette was it.  I get along well with the Jesuits, I like the challenge of ecumenical playgrounds, and it seemed like Marquette just suited me - everything about their program.  That letter of intent was the easiest to write, because I didn't feel like I was begging them to take me, I just felt like I was honestly explaining why we "belong together."  I thought it was perfect.  And it's not, and it sucks. 

Of course, there have been good things too.  New friends made, and old friendships revived.  Relationships strengthened by working through tough times, a good "spring break weekend" with the fam, getting accepted by TST (albeit w/ no money), writing an amazing Holy Spirit paper (for an amazing Holy Spirit class), laughing at hideously inappropriate things, gentle spring rains, a fun New Year's, a fantastic Ash Wednesday (that, strangely enough, had the effect of taking away all my fear of Lent), getting a great MOH dress, friends visiting me here, super supportive profs and supervisors, fun times (what?) on Cross-Cultural, and more. 

But it just feels like the last few months I've really been through the wringer, and every time I manage to pick myself back up again, something else comes along - whether it's specifically about me, or having to do with people I really care about.  It's leaving me absolutely exhausted, and I just need a place and time to rest, really rest.  I want a full night's sleep, for once.  I want to not hurt, and I want everybody I care about to not hurt.  I want somebody to rub my back and hold my hand and tell me that I don't have to do it all on my own.  I want to know what's going to happen to me six months from now - hell, six days from now.  I want it to be Easter so I can drink coffee again.  I want something to happen that will inject some energy into me, instead of constantly draining it from me. 

Geez.  I'm such a writer.  Even just writing all this makes me feel (a little) better.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Matthew 16:18b

The gates of hell will not prevail.  The gates of hell will not prevail.  The gates of hell will not prevail.

Jesus, help me to remember this promise today.  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Age to Come

Yeah.  I'm pinning my hopes on Christ, in the age to come, because I gotta tell you, there's a lot about the current age that I don't like.  Like death.  A good friend's mom passed away recently, and to be perfectly honest, the whole thing just sucks.  I don't like that people die, and leave grieving loved ones behind.  I don't like that it leaves kids without mothers and husbands without wives and the world with fewer good people to help make it a better place.  These are the times where I'm just completely, 100% ready for God to fix it already.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Things About Today

Today was a superly-productive day, and I'm closing it by just feeling generally really good about things.  So, here's a list of what happened today - actually, in the last couple days, I guess...
  • Finished and turned in a kick-ass paper on the Holy Spirit.  Well, at least the intro and conclusion were kick-ass.  The middle part might not be so much.  Also, the whole thing was 6400 words.  It's been a long time since I wrote something that long.
  • Finished and turned in a final project for my Ministry with the Mentally Ill and Their Families class. 
  • Showered. (Trust me: Today, that counts as an accomplishment.)
  • Got several emails I'd been meaning to send, sent.
  • Organized a whole stack of mail and bills.
  • Bought a freaking adorable Creighton t-shirt.
  • Bought textbooks for the class I'm picking up the 2nd half of this semester.
  • Got something for myself off my Amazon Wishlist, since I was there anyway.  (The Guys and Dolls DVD.  Love, love, love that movie.  What girl wouldn't run off to Cuba with Marlon Brando?)
  • Got rejected from St. Louis U.  Well, that's the Jesuits for you, I guess.  Actually, it's ok.  It really wasn't my first choice.  Probably 2nd from the bottom, actually.
  • Got a letter from my Compassion daughter.  She's so adorable - I just love little kids!  
  • Realized that my insurance was being more reasonable than I first thought about my surgery.  
  • Drank a lot of tea. 
  • Started my annual ritual application of Jergens Natural Glow (which they have now added SPF to!).
  • Created a to-do list for the rest of the week.  
  • Had a couple really good conversations with friends.  
  • Skipped German class.  (I really had to get those papers done!)
  • Cleaned my room
  • Made hard-boiled eggs for breakfast
  • Remembered how much I like "reading for fun".  
So...that.  Yes.  Yay.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

HO-ly Hannah!


Well thanks to all the friends who have sent me love and hugs in emails, phone calls, text messages, and in person the last few days.  Apparently my last post made me sound like I'm about to jump off a cliff.  I'm really not.

Looking back over the last few things I've written about my own personal life, I realize that they all seem really dark and depressing.  And yes, I've been on a giant emotional roller coaster for much of this year, and especially this semester.  But things are actually good, too.

It's so "CPE" to say that I've been doing a lot of "hard emotional work", but the truth is, I have.  This semester I'm taking a class on the Holy Spirit, which I think is going to qualify as the best class I have taken in seminary.  Over and above Genesis to Revelation, and Gospel and Epistles of John.  And they were awesome.

But one of the primary themes of this Holy Spirit class is just how freeing the Holy Spirit is.  For better or worse, I'm one of the good girls, and I can recite "live not by the letter but by the Spirit" and "for freedom Christ has set you free" and "you have been saved by grace through faith, and this is not your own doing" backwards and forwards blah blah blah.  But apparently I forgot that it applies to me.  I am realizing just how much I have let "the flesh" - the things of this world - determine who I am and what I want and what I need and what I "should" be doing, rather than living in the freedom of the Holy Spirit.

So I think part of my darkness and depression probably stems from remorse over that, and processing how to fix it now that I know it's a problem.  It's sort of like doing a deep-clean on a closet, or something: it might actually get worse before it gets better, even though you're on the right track.  And honestly, even as I write this, and try to live into that freedom that I have in Christ to be who I am, I can almost feel the spiritual warfare going on inside my brain.  The collision of the old age and new age, duking it out for my concentration and allegiance.  But no more!

The ruler of this world can take a hike!

(But I might need my friends to remind of this from time to time...)  

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Smart One

 ATTENTION: CPE-ish post ahead...need to do some self-clarification, or whatever it's called...

Every once in a while, I get tired of being "the smart one."

I am smart, and I know that. My intelligence and ability to think and learn and understand and make connections are gifts from God, for which I am so grateful.

But for so much of my life, I've been labelled "the smart one."  Whatever else I think I lack - beauty, popularity, musical ability, a leg, whatever - has been countered with, "oh, but you're so smart."

But the thing of it is, there's so much more to me than the fact that I'm smart.  I like baseball and college basketball and football.  I like music and movies.  I'd like to learn how to sing.  I like stargazing on a crisp, clear night.  I like cooking and baking and playing board games.  I'd like to be more of a wine connoisseur - I already am a pretty decent coffee connoisseur.

And I feel like people don't know that about me.  I feel like my whole life, I've been pigeonholed as "the smart one" to such a degree that nobody knows anything else about me, except that I'm smart.  I feel like people think about me when they need help with their homework or understanding tough theology, or translating German, but not when they need somebody to watch a movie or take a walk or play cards or cook dinner with.  I'm not the one whose hand you want to hold or who you just want to sit back with and drink a beer and talk about your day.  But...I want to be. 

And I don't know how to communicate all this.  Because people who already know me, already have this image of me.  It's hard to be friends with people when you know that you're the "smart friend" but not the "fun friend."  It's hard to be part of a family that doesn't ever ask if I want to toss the ball around outside.  It's hard to admit that, even to people I care about and who (presumably) care about me, I am an unknown.  It's hard to be a one-trick pony.

And I don't know if it's my fault - have I just not told people who I am?  Have I just found it easier to get all introverted-up and be "the smart one" instead of trusting people with my whole self?  Have I let other people set expectations for me, and I just lived into those expectations that were all about everybody else? 

How am I thirty years old, and just now figuring all this stuff out?  (And without the benefit of therapy - I'm doing this all on my own!)  All this self-assessment stuff is really hard work, and while it's good to come to the conclusions about myself, it's even harder to know what to do with it all. 


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Missional Thoughts, part deux

Here's my other thing(s) about "missional", and then I'm going to be done.

It occurred to me while reading Missional: Joining God in the Neighborhood that what the "missional church" movement seems to lack is any sense of The Church.  For "missionalists" (or whatever we are to call them), "the church" seems not to exist beyond the bounds of one's own neighborhood.  "the church" is dying, therefore all must be changed.  "the church" is dying, so God must not be worried about "the church" and He is clearly instead worried about neighborhoods.  (Because he wasn't worried about neighborhoods before?)  "the church" is necessarily inward-looking and obsessed with its own self-importance, meanwhile people out in the neighborhoods are encountering God in ways we can't even imagine.

No.  "the church" is more than just "the church".  Any neighborhood "church" is part of The Church, the Bride of Christ, against which the gates of hell shall never prevail.  Alan Roxburgh wants to compare the church to dying coral reefs, but the problem with that comparison is that Jesus never made any promises about coral reefs vis a vis the gates of hell.  The churches in the West might have Coral Reef Syndrome, but The Church is growing like crazy in the Global South.  Maybe if we had a better sense of what God was doing in The Church, we'd be a little more apt to pay attention to what He's doing in "the church."

Also, "missionalists" seem to act like it's a bad thing to want people to come to church on Sunday morning.  Like, as soon as you say that you want people sitting there listening and paying attention, it's become all about you and your power and your self-importance.  Which might be true, if, you know, it were.  But for a lot of us (and this should be all Lutherans, along with the RC's, EO's, and the rest of the first-generation Protestants), we want people to come to church on Sunday morning because the Word of God will be preached and the Body and Blood of Christ will be given.  We want people to come to church on Sunday because it's an issue of the First and Third Commandments.  We want people to come to church on Sunday because we are told to "not give up meeting together."   We want people to come to church on Sunday because, darn it, it's good for them. 

Finally, I think that "missional" - discerning "what God is up to, out there" - fails to respect the Two Kingdoms doctrine.  Absolutely God is at work in the world, in ways and means outside the institutional church.  Without a doubt.  But He is also at work in and through the Church.  His work in the world, and His work in the Church are sometimes two very different things, and one cannot be elevated above the other.  They naturally intertwine at times, but they are not the same thing.  Carl Braaten says it best in a 2007 article titled "The Two Kingdoms Principle" published in Principles of Lutheran Theology:
“Historical liberation and eternal salvation are not one and the same thing. They should not be equated. The gospel is not one of the truths we hold to be self-evident; it is not an inalienable right which the best government in the world can do anything about. There are many people fighting valiantly on the frontline of legitimate liberation movements who are not in the least animated by the gospel. The hope for liberation is burning in the hearts of millions of little people struggling to free themselves from the conditions of poverty and tyranny. When they win this freedom, should they be so fortunate, they have not automatically therewith gained the freedom for which Christ has set us free (Gal. 5:1.) This is the barest minimum of what we intend to convey by the two-kingdoms perspective."
Could a more robust understanding of the Two Kingdoms somehow "save" "the church" from from her own self-indictment of irrelevance?

I'm not sure, but I think perhaps.

And now I'm all out of ranting about "missional."  Yay.  What's next?

Friday, March 2, 2012


...or something...

Besides "relevance", the other big word in preppy church circles these days is "missional" or "missionality", or any other cognate thereof.  So far as I can tell, what is meant by these preppy theologians is that to "be missional" is to realize that the Church participates in God's mission, rather than the Church having a mission of its own.

On the one hand, I get this.  We always want to preserve God's agency, and we always want to recognize that the Church is to do God's mission, not just run off willy-nilly working her own pet projects.  Absolutely.

But unfortunately, the way "missional" often gets described ends up making it sound like "God is at work in the world, and the Church is just one more tool He uses to do whatever he wants to do."  Certainly God is at work in the world outside the institutional church.  Left-hand kingdom, and all.  But the Church is the Bride of Christ, and as such, has a special relationship with him that goes beyond "just one more thing God wants to use."

Everybody's got their favorite Bible verse that they claim is "the mission of the Church."  There's the "Great Commission" from Matthew 28: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit."  There's the "Great Commandment" from Matthew 22: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself."  There's the "New Commandment" from John 13: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."  These are all good.  My personal favorites these days are from Matthew 10:

"And proclaim as you go, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand'.  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons.  You received without paying, give without pay."
 and from Luke 7:
"Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.  And blessed is the one who is not offended by me."

Regardless though, which of these (or something else) is your favorite, these are all things that we, the Church, are supposed to be doing.  We don't have to sit around navel-gazing, trying to figure out "what God is up to" that we might be supposed to be participating in.  We know what we are supposed to be doing.  We are the Church, we are the Bride of Christ, and we have a role in this world, a commission that comes to us from our "husband", Jesus.  We are not supposed to be twiddling our thumbs, waiting to find out "what God wants to do" and we are not just one other tool at His disposal.  We are the "pillar and bulwark of the truth" (1 Tim 3:15) and we submit to Christ's headship (Ephesians 3:24). 

This, in a nutshell, is my problem with "missionality" (or whatever that word is).  In an (I think) sincere but overzealous attempt to correct for the misdeeds of colonialism and ward against the tendency we have to make it all about ourselves and our pet projects, those who advocate for being "missional" have, to my mind, devalued the Church and the place that it holds in relationship to Christ.  When we do that, we end up devaluing ourselves, losing self-confidence, and watering down our actual mission. 

And who wants to do that?

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I am tired.  I am really, really tired. 

Part of what's going on, I suppose, is just the general "being a senior" thing.  Every time I've "been a senior" (high school and college), I've clung like crazy to everything and everybody - all the lasts, and the never agains.  All the perfect memories and ridiculous drama.  All the best friends and favorite teachers.  What can I say?  I'm an emotional sucker. 

And I'm there again now.  It's making me crabby - I want to spend every free moment with my friends, experiencing our life together, and alternately, I want to not see them at all, thinking, I think, that I can protect myself from hurting by guarding my heart and my life.

So I think some of my "tiredness" is really my own typical senioritis.  Part of it, also, is not knowing what's next for me.  I don't know if I got into any grad schools.  I have to wait until April to try to get approved, and if that works, then I'll do assignment in the fall.  So there's the knowledge that all of this is ending, but that there's no new beginning to look forward to.  Who knows what will happen?  It could all come together, or I could fall flat on my face. 

Some of it is the spinster factor.  I thought by now I would have my life together - career, husband, kids.  I have none of that.  None.  I hate it, it's scary, it's depressing, and it's embarrassing.  What is wrong with me?  Why can everyone else get it together, except for me?  Why can every other girl find a boy who loves her, except for me?  Why can everyone else be normal, except for me?  

So there's that.  And tied in with that, I think, and a big, big part of it is just being tired of saying goodbye.  I have never lived more than three years in one location.  I have always said that I loved growing up in the Army, and the opportunities it afforded me to see the world, to learn and grow in ways that so many others didn't, to be open to new things and new people, and so on.  But I'm in a place right now where I don't like it.  Where I realize that for the last thirty years, all I've done is say goodbye.  Over, and over, and over again.  I'm tired of the fact that I have no home, that going to my parents' house is like going to a hotel, that I have no childhood friends, that I have no roots. 

I am tired of making friends only to see them (or me) leave.  I'm tired of everyone I love eventually not being around anymore.  I'm tired of having to work so hard to maintain the relationships I care about.  I'm tired of being at least a four-hour drive away from anybody I've known more than four years.  I'm tired of knowing that in 80...79...78...days I'm going to graduate and the same thing will happen that's been happening all my life: all of the people I love and care about will be gone. 

And I hate this because it's keeping me from enjoying the things that are good - the time I do have with everyone.  Because every time I laugh, I think to myself, "I'm never going to get to do this with this person again".  I'm tired of being afraid to be anywhere in public for fear that anything - everything - God only knows what - might cause me to start crying. 

And I'm tired of it not being okay to feel these things.  I'm tired of the voice inside my head that keeps saying, "Come on now, get it together."  I'm tired of feeling so pathetic every time I go through this stuff in my head, and I'm tired of feeling like the only acceptable answer to the question, "How are you?" is "Fine", even though I'm clearly anything but. 

Ugh.  I'm sorry for letting all the not-fine-ness and depression leak out all over the interwebs.  Ah well, it's my blog.  Don't like it?  Don't read it.