brigitte kathleen

rediscovering my heart


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If Jesus Didn’t Think Peter was an Idiot, You’re Probably in the Clear, too.

I’m writing to you from the midst of this journey, so don’t be surprised if I come back with a rebuttal or “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I was right!” in a couple of weeks. Right now, my life is in a season of change. Everything in my life can be boiled down to seasons: Seasons of good, seasons of bad. Seasons of life, seasons of death. Seasons of growth, seasons of transformation, or seasons that are completely stagnant.
Many of my more recent seasons have been seasons of waiting. I’ve basically been living an Advent life for the last six years- constantly waiting and preparing for what happens next, and I think I’ve finally reached the time when the “what comes next” is actually coming next! It’s not coming without a price, though. With any and every season change comes the inevitable death of the season before it. When we change from Winter to Spring, the cold and the snow die with the come of the warm and the sun. When the Autumn comes, with it comes a death of the life that the Summer brought us in new life through the creation that has bloomed. The death is necessary because it brings to us a birth of something new (which might be confusing because Winter actually kills things, but the winter is born- a time for snow, holidays…. you get it, right?). Change is almost always painful because we are being forced to let go of something that we’ve become so familiar with, but change brings joy because we’re able to look at a birth of possibilities as we move into the future.

I’ll be honest with you- I’m ready for the change that I know is coming, even though I don’t know what it is. In the last 12 months, I’ve finished and turned in a Master’s thesis, graduated from grad school, have looked endlessly for jobs, moved into a three-bedroom house by myself, ended a very special and close friendship, sparked almost a hundred new friendships, traveled overseas, experienced the death of a grandpa, had another grandpa go through open heart surgery, experienced a number of personal trials within my family, traveled all over the country, and spent a week in Germany. This year has been non-stop emotional instability. It’s been exhausting, at at times, seemingly impossible.

My current situation could be the end of this time that feels like it has little-to-no foundation. It could be the beginning of something huge. And on the other hand, it could be all for nothing. I’m in the middle of a very turbulent hiring process for a job I never thought I’d get right out of grad school. I’m so excited for it, but every other day, there is a new development that changes how the process is playing out. I’ve waited and waited…. and waited some more. Last night, I came to the conclusion that God is doing one of two things: Telling me to move on or press on. It’s amazing how the message for those two VERY different messages can be so similar. And what do I do now? How do I know which message God is trying to send me? At what point do I need to trust myself to make a decision that’s worthy of the faithfulness God has shown me? As much as people like to preach “Let go, and let God,” the material and tangible decision is ultimately left in our hands. As much as my Type-A, control freak loves having that control, the faithful servant who wants to chase God’s will is terrified.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to hang out with some senior high students which was so much fun. I invited them to ask me any questions they wanted to ask me about anything. So, after we got the superhero questions out of the way (my favorite being: Batman: Hero, or Superhero?), one of the boys began asking me questions about the bible. He asked me pretty basic “What’s your favorite ________?” questions, which were fun to answer because who really takes the time to think about that stuff, especially in Seminary when you’re having information shoved down your throat faster than you can swallow? But the one that caught me off guard the most was, “Who’s you’re favorite disciple or apostle?” This was a question I’d honestly never thought about. My go-to would have been “Mary Magdalene, obviously,” for the ‘girl factor,’ but I actually sat and thought about it. And I eventually decided on choosing Peter.

Good ol’ Peter. He get’s a bad rap, you know? He’s our overzealous, outspoken, try-to-hard, knucklehead. I, for the record, think he’s incredibly charming. He’s the most like me of anyone in the Bible. When I think of my current season of change and wanting to allow God to guide me through it, and the internal battle between Type-A and Faithful Servant, Peter’s attempt at water-walking is where I land in an attempt to illustrate it.
Matthew 14:22-33 is where I find my humanity buried in the mess of laws, grace, stories, allegories, and poetry of the Bible. Peter, being the hot-shot he is, begs Jesus to call him out onto the water with him, to which Jesus kindly obliges. Peter thinks he’s got it, and I can only imagine this scene- Peter’s walking on the water, thinking, “Oh, for crying out loud… I’m walking on water! …….. OH, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, I’M WALKING ON WATER!!” When he takes his focus off of Jesus who is there to help him with this feat he’s decided to jump into- when he decides to depend on his own strength, it’s over for him. Yet, Jesus doesn’t call him out and tell him to go back because there’s no hope. Jesus doesn’t tell him to get back into the boat where he can play it safe. Jesus simply confronts Peter’s  lack of faith, reaches out his hand, and continues to accompany Peter on his watery journey.

Peter’s “season change” was his transition of faith in what Jesus could do with and for him. But it didn’t come without becoming overwhelmed. It didn’t come without struggle. It didn’t come without what could have been a very literal death. And Jesus had two options: He could have stood there and said, “You fool…. I didn’t tell you to get out of the boat. Go back or die…. *mumble* idiot *mumble*” Or he could have taken option B- He stood there, accepting Peter’s zealous decision to hop on out of the boat and he he started to sink, reach his hand out and not let him be overwhelmed by the waves. Changing seasons come with hard decisions. Hard decisions are sometimes followed with remorse. When we start to regret or be remorseful about the decisions we make during times of change, we lose focus on the hand that Jesus is extending to us. When we focus on anything other than the hope of something bigger, we get swallowed up in the waves so much easier. It takes strength to get out of the boat, but it takes perseverance to keep going.

Earlier, I said that the two messages I could be getting from God right now are , “Move on!” or “Press on!” And when it comes down to it, whatever we do, we’re pressing on through whatever season we’re in at the moment. Ultimately, giving up is never going to be an option, because giving up means you’ve let the waves overcome you. Giving up means you’ve forgotten about the hand that’s reaching out to you saying, “Why don’t you trust me?” You don’t need to give up. You need to see his hand keeping you from the waves and urging you to press on.

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I’m Just Like Herod… But Cuter

I only ask what I’d ask any superstar.
What is it that you have got that puts you where you are.
I am waiting, yes I’m a captive fan.
I’m dying to be shown that you are not just any man.
So, if you are the Christ, yes the great Jesus Christ
Feed my household with this bread.
You can do it on your head.
Or has something gone wrong. Jesus, why do you take so long?
Oh come on, King of the Jews.

If you’re familiar with the Broadway hit, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” you might recognize these lyrics. King Herod’s Song is probably one of my favorite numbers from the show because of it’s swing feel, and overall fun factor (if you have time, click the link- you won’t be sorry.). Not to mention everyone I’ve ever seen portray Herod has been EXCELLENT in his role. Always hilarious, always tragically creepy, and always, ALWAYS the perfect portrayal of demeaning. I mean, really- If you want lessons how to make other people feel as little as humanly possible, you must do some serious Herod research.

The first time I saw Jesus Christ Superstar was for my 17th birthday and I fell in love. Having a theater background, I was giddy to begin with, but to see the story of Jesus’ life portrayed in such a creative (and relatively accurate) way was inspiring and exciting. I’ve gone on to own the soundtrack (which is the entire show because it’s a rock opera), and I’ve seen it two more times, as well as watched it on TV every time it’s on. I can also sing the whole show from beginning to end because I’m determined to be some production of it someday.

I love stories. I love telling stories, I love hearing stories, and I love reading and watching stories. I don’t know about you, but depending on the day, I can relate to an wide spectrum of characters from real life, fiction, or the bible. I tend to live in different realities depending on my mood. I’ve been Taylor Swift. I’ve been Katniss Everdeen. I’ve been Rachel Green. I’ve been Princess Jasmine. Right now I’m just like Herod (but cuter). And it’s here, in my Herod days, that I come to you with a question.

The story of Herod comes at a heartbreaking and pivotal moment in the Passion narrative. Herod spends his time doing nothing but mocking Jesus and asking for some sign of proof that he is who he says he is. We see this paralleled in the story of Jesus dwelling in the desert and Satan comes to taunt him. But I have to ask you a very serious question: How are we any different?

How many times have you gotten into a jam- any kind of jam- and been desperate enough to ask God to show Godself? How many times have we been through tragedy and said, “God, if only you were there…”? How many times have we used intercessory prayer to question God’s antics? How many times have we used our relationship with God as leverage to measure “how things should be”? What I’m saying is, how many times have we been so lost in our humanity that we wanted to make God prove Godself to us to make sure WE were being taken care of?

The crappy great part about it is there’s NOTHING we can do about it. We’re unfortunate humans, created in the image of God, but pretty pathetic. Our sinful nature cannot be combated. By the Law and Promise dichotomy, Christ comes to us in our sinfulness BECAUSE of our sinfulness. If it weren’t for our sinful nature, we would have no need for the Promise made in Christ’s salvific act. Because of this, we’re going to continue needing proof of God’s active presence. We are going to continue needing something tangible to hold onto so that our selfish, sinful nature can be convinced that he is alive and loves us.

Especially lately, I find my self doing this at my deepest times of need or loss. For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been done with school since December, graduating this past May. I’ve been looking for jobs since September. After applying for 215 jobs, I gave up counting (in February). Job hunting, as it turns out, is the most emotionally taxing, vulnerable, devastating journey you may ever embark on. Never in my life have I felt so small, insignificant, and worthless. In the pit of this valley, I found myself asking God how he could have gotten me here? Why wasn’t he helping me? How could he leave me to flounder so easily? I felt completely deserted by the one thing I knew to be constant.

So what do we do? I’ll tell you want we do– nothing. I mean, something, but let’s start with nothing. By nothing, I mean, let’s sit in quiet. Be embraced by the presence of God that you KNOW is there. Because though your head might feel deserted, your heart knows that’s not true. Settle your mind. When you’ve become calm, remind yourself of the promise of Christ’s love. A promise that could not be broken by death, life, angels, demons… Nothing separates you from that promise. I don’t believe that God has our lives mapped out from beginning to end- I believe that there is free will involved. However, I do believe that as a child of God, I’m offered a promise of love and hope for the future. When I remember this, I no longer need Christ to walk across my swimming pool or turn my water into wine. The thing he’s doing is continually making me a new creation. That’s my proof. That’s my promise.


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Emergency Grocery Store Run Results in Existential Crisis: The Salmon Edition

Tonight started like any other Tuesday night. I got home from work shortly after 4 to catch the last part of Ellen. Then I flipped on the news (insert “SHOCKER” here). After I cleaned up last night’s dinner dishes (left over due to the fact that the Bachelorette was on and that consumed most all of my evening), I decided to start thinking about dinner. I knew I had a salmon fillet left over from grandma’s generous unloading of frozen meats she bought from some Schwan’s rival, and I decided to make a lovely salmon fillet with a lemon-dijon sauce, and a side of broccoli and tortolini. A little fancier than a usual Tuesday night meal, but it was the first thing I thought of, and I stuck to it.

I made my dijon sauce, and started the water boiling for my pasta. When I reached into my freezer, I remembered that the salmon had been in there for quite some time and I started to worry that it wouldn’t be good anymore. I was right. The salmon fillet was severely freezer-burned and had all the markings of “bad fish.”
[As a side-note, I should also tell you the following:
When I got home, I knew I didn’t have plans tonight so I washed my face, and took all my makeup off. At this time, I was reminded that I needed a new toothbrush.]
Continuing on…

I had already made my lemon-dijon sauce, crushed my breadcrumbs, and started my water boiling, so there was no turning back. I decided to halt everything and make an emergency salmon run. I turned off my oven which was fully preheated, I turned off the stove, I grabbed my keys and out the door I ran. I was not even halfway down the first flight of stairs (there are six) when I realized that I wasn’t wearing any makeup. I almost turned around but knew that I just wanted to go and get back so I could continue making dinner. To be sure it “wasn’t that bad,” I pulled up the camera on my phone to take a look at my face to see if I was even close to publicly presentable. I wasn’t. But as they say in the ‘biz,’ “the show must go on,” so I forged down the rest of the stairs, and made my way to Rainbow.

Now is the time when I take a brief moment to be completely honest with you about something I’m sure you don’t care about only because you don’t need to and you’ve probably never thought about it. Ready? I NEVER leave the house without some kind of make-up on my face. Sometimes it’s to actually cover something up. Sometimes it acts as more of a security blanket. And before you start going and blaming my mother saying things like, “Why did she teach her that?” or “Why didn’t she instill more self-confidence in her?” please note that this has absolutely nothing to do with my mom. Actually, my mom has frequently tried to tell me that makeup doesn’t matter. She, herself, doesn’t even wear much. This obsession I have is no one’s fault but my own.

When I got to Rainbow (for you out-of-staters, Rainbow is a grocery store), I knew something was off. The moment I saw someone, I looked down at the ground- and my eyes never left it (except to look at which salmon, toothbrushes, and tupperware containers I was purchasing). I stared at the ground during the entire 7-10 minutes I was in the store. I went through the self-checkout because I didn’t want to have to look anyone in the eyes. Every time I walked by someone I was reminded that I wasn’t in my usually “pretty” state. I wasn’t wearing makeup. I was in a state that is only ever embraced when I’m alone in my apartment. Shame had completely consumed me.

As a woman, I’ve been conditioned to believe that “beautiful” looks a certain way. As someone with terrible self-talk and self-esteem, I’ve conditioned myself to believe that I am not it. As much as this is a problem, I don’t think it’s completely my fault, nor do I believe that it’s completely the world’s fault. Sure, media tells me that “beautiful” comes in pretty much one form- long, beautiful hair, big, beautiful eyes, thin, tan, nice boobs, and a nice ass (for all you ass guys out there). I don’t fit this mold—– AT ALL. For those of you who know me personally, you know that this is true. Yes, some of you will tell me that I am beautiful, however, the key to understanding where I’m coming from is that I don’t fit the beautiful mold. There’s a difference.

I’ve told a guy friend of mine, on at least two occasions, that “guys like him are the reason girls like me are single.” I usually drop this bomb when we discuss how “hot” Carly Rae Jepsen or Kellie Pickler are (I’m only using him as an example because I guarantee you he doesn’t read this). I really don’t mean anything by this when I say it, but then I reflect, and I realize how much I actually believe it. “Girls like me” don’t fit into his or most men’s cookie-cutter mold that the world has come to know as beautiful. And as smart as I am, or funny, or [insert endearing quality here] as I may be, I’ll never be, and other girls who don’t fit into the mold will never feel like we are a complete person because we know that men are looking for something more. Essentially, we’ll never be the complete package.

Now, I’m sure you’re trying to tie this back to the whole “leaving the house without make-up” thing, so let me help. The second I stepped out of my apartment, fresh-faced, and flawed, I felt the pressure of the world on my shoulders. I knew that, as a woman, I was supposed to be something in particular, and by stepping out without make-up on, I was failing to measure up to that standard of excellence. I couldn’t tell if I should be ashamed of myself, or ashamed that the world had conditioned me to feel like this. At that point, it didn’t matter. My reality was that I DID feel like that, and for 7-10 minutes, walking through Rainbow, I felt inferior to everyone around me, and I felt that I had little-to-no worth.

It makes me sad that my 12 year old sister will grow up in a world like this. It’s funny, because she’s starting to dabble in makeup, and worry about fashion while I’m constantly telling her it doesn’t matter, and she’s so beautiful. As much energy as I put into telling her that, I put just as much energy into telling myself that she won’t believe it because I don’t believe it for myself. The world (and I hope you understand that by “world,” I mean “American society”) has put these standards on us as women AND MEN (trust me guys, I know you’re dealing with it too, and women are not totally innocent in that), to live up to expectations that no one can reach. Not even celebrities. Do we need to talk about the significance of airbrushing and retouching photos? THIS is the world we live in- not only are the “realistic” levels of expectations too much for us to handle, we have a whole separate set of unrealistic expectations to live up to.

If you know anything about Brene Brown, you’ll realize that this post goes against everything she teaches and talks about. Brene Brown researches shame and vulnerability and encourages people to live into that vulnerability, and embrace who they are. I love her work and her writing and I will encourage any and everyone to read her books, but tonight was a clear indication that some of her teaching is total and complete idealism. What she talks about is not the reality that you and I live every day. We feel pressure to look right, to have enough money, drive the right car, go on the right vacations, be members of the right church, or country club. It’s hard for me to embrace myself because I’m living in a world that’s constantly trying to take who I am away from me. And guess what? You might not know it, but the world is doing it to you, too.

So, how do we get over it? I have no idea. The problem is systemic, and systemic problems are the hardest to fix. You can love yourself all you want, and embrace who you are as much as possible, but we are all fighting the exact same battle… and we’re fighting it against ourselves and each other. I can promise you that I will probably never leave the house without make-up again because I can’t. It causes me to feel actual pain in dealing with the shame that I experience. Your battle might be something different. I don’t know what it is for you, but the battle is there and the key to fighting it is understanding what it is.

I will never be as beautiful as the FSN Girls (don’t even get me started), I’ll never be as charismatic as Jennifer Lawrence, and I’ll never look like Megan Fox. Don’t be fooled– celebrity women aren’t the only ones my struggle is with. I went to High School with a bunch of girls I STILL wish I could be. But there comes a time when the need to face reality overcomes the need to live up to expectations. If that means that I’m single for a really long time because I’m not pretty enough to date (a guy in high school told me this one time), then so be it. Luckily, life goes on whether you’re a little ugly or not. Life goes one whether you’re a size 2 or a size 20. Life goes on whether you make $30,000 a year, or $300,000 year. The beautiful part in this is that life does, in fact, go on.

Your battle is your battle, and I’m sorry you have to fight it. I’m especially sorry if you’re fighting it alone. If at all possible, find comfort that though we might all be fighting separate battles, we are fighting them together.