My birthday anniversary; the 22nd

I turned 22 last Tuesday. Unless we’ve been friends for a long while, you probably didn’t know. My birthday is not on Facebook and I might mention it once or twice throughout the year.

A few years ago when I was in that teenage (a euphemism for stupid) state of my mind when you want to learn who truly cares about you, I deleted my birthday from my Facebook profile. I have not put it back since.

I should probably put it back. I don’t know why as a teenager I expected people to know my birthday; now, I’m sure I don’t expect you to. You have way more important stuff to store in your brain, like elevating lyrics coming from the genius of Kanye West and Nicki Minaj.

Many people want to offer you their best wishes sincerely. Am I taking that chance away from them? It’s probably not a big deal. If it is to you because you’ll have to consistently interact with me in the near future, don’t worry; there is another chance next year.

The week before my birthday I went through all the cards I have people have written for graduations, birthdays, Valentine’s Day, and other less important occurrences. In one of them my dad said I should never say my birthday doesn’t matter, that it is just like any other day. I guess he thought I didn’t care much about it; perhaps that was the time when I wanted to believe I didn’t care.

This year, I cared. I wanted to have a special day, even if it was spent by myself. So, from the night before I decided it would be a great day and I would eat brunch at Bagels & Joe. That much I knew.

From the time I woke up, I felt happy. It was a great day even though nothing had happened yet. And by nothing, I mean nothing (I didn’t wake up to any 12:01 a.m. messages).

After brunch I returned a DVD of Le Nozze di Figaro to the library and tried to figure whether my student account from college had the right figures. I then paid a short visit to the office where I was a student worker for three years. I walked around the Haymarket, spent some time looking at books at Indigo Bridge Books, used my birthday reward from Starbucks to get a flat white (after basically only consuming drip coffee from The Mill for a month), finished reading Jane Glover’s Mozart’s Women (excellent!), and watch The Lobster.

An honorable mention goes to a conversation I had with my friend Stella, who happened to be at Starbucks studying (nerd!) when I got there. If there is something that energizes my soul and takes my mind off self-hatred (an exaggeration perhaps), it is a conversation with an extremely talented person who just needs a little push.

I experienced the daily doses of loneliness, confusion, and fear, but I also experienced beauty as I hadn’t in a while. And I experienced love that felt so present while being far away. The people closest to me (and yet away from me) called and wrote me. They reassured me I am loved, and I love them.

#013 – After Graduation with Slade Lane

Listen on iTunes!                         Listen on Stitcher!                         Download

podcastimageAfter a while, a new episode of the podcast is here.This time, Slade is back to talk about life after graduation. We both recently joined the ranks of the unemployed and this change has resulted in many a fearful look at the future. We hereby present our musings on these matters.

Those plans are not yours

If we have talked recently, you know things have not turned out as I expected, or at least hoped. Even then, I felt confident I was heading in the right direction and it was only a matter of time for things to come together. Little by little, as the reality of the situation settles, that confidence wanes. Those plans I was so sure about, even when interrupted as they are now, now seem a bit unclear.

Were my plans ever clear then? No, they really weren’t. I just knew the general direction. But the problem doesn’t lie there—I can deal, even thrive, with some uncertainty.

The thing is that those plans were not mine. I liked and internalized them, but they still didn’t belong to me.

It was at a moment when my devotional life, although not great, it was stronger than at many other points in my life. God helped me to constantly remind myself of who was in control and what I was really after (or wanted to be after)—Him. Surrendering my fears and dreams, I began to experience His promise from Jeremiah 29:11.

As my connection with Him grew stronger, so did my confidence in His plans, regardless of things not heading in such a hopeful direction. I knew my way, because it was His revealed way.

Just recently, I can’t even point out when, I seemed to have forgotten about God, being preoccupied with graduating, figuring out a way to afford grad school, staying in Lincoln, moving out of the dorm, finding work—becoming an adult.

I don’t even know what happened. Without realizing it, I soon found myself lost again. My plans didn’t work. Without Him, they meant nothing and directed me nowhere. They only mattered because they were His. He had shown them to me and I took them away trying to make them mine. I took them away from He who had designed them, and without Him I couldn’t understand them.

Perhaps this is a bit unrelated, but I want to show you what brought about this epiphany.

I just finished reading C. S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” where he writes:

The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self—all your wishes and precautions—to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead.

For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call ‘ourselves’, to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be ‘good’. We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way—centred on money or pleasure or ambition—and hoping, in spite of this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly. And that is exactly what Christ warned us you could not do.

Commit Your Way. Entrust Your Way.

I was having one of those moments when you are reading your Bible without really reading it. It’s one of those times you are only looking for encouragement, and either you open your Bible to a random verse (hoping to get some insight from the Holy Spirit) or search on Google for some citations. I didn’t need to read Jeremiah 29:11 because I knew from memory. Besides, I was looking for something else. So I came upon Psalm 37:5.

Commit your way to the LORD, trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. (NIV)

I got stuck in the first six words. Commit your way to the Lord. Usually I see the word commit to mean do. Interestingly, it’s more often than not, something bad. You commit a crime, for example. I’ve never heard something like, “I committed a kind act” (whatever that is). The other meaning to the word commit I know is used to describe a responsibility. I commit to do something.

In this verse, however, commit is used as an imperative, and although I do not know the meaning in this case I know what to do. But I wanted to know what it means, so I looked it up and found out it also means entrust. Entrust your way to the Lord. I think that works.

Entrust might give the verse another meaning, at least for me. Many times I hear people “committing” their plans to God. But all that means, and has meant for me for quite some time, is that you pray to God so He can bless your plans. I tell God, “These are my plans. They are good. If things go this way, I’ll be so happy. It’s okay if some things don’t go as planned. It will still be fine. Please bless my efforts and help me achieve these goals.”

The more I though about it, the more I saw what was wrong. I did let God have a say in my plans, but not too much. See, I have my plans and I want God to bless them. So, I ask Him. But that is not the way I feel it should be. What if my goals are not God’s goals for my life? Remember Jeremiah 29:11? He knows the plans He has for us. Committing our way goes beyond praying for blessing.

We should entrust our way to Him. Then, He will bless us. We should go beyond just praying for our plans, we should entrust our lives to Him. He will shape our lives while we delight in Him.

We must allow him to take the position of Planner. He knows what our hearts desire better than we do. We know how we want to feel. He knows the way, and He will guide us. “He will make [our] righteous reward shine like the dawn, [our] vindication like the noonday sun.”