Thursday, February 3, 2011

Update: my heart

Ah, friends.

Do you come to those times when you feel so immature and foolish?  I've had a very gentle dose of this feeling.  It's interesting to me that it's been gentle.  My spirits have been pummeled so hard lately, multiple times, and my thoughts and feelings have been mostly in the I-hate-this realm.  When I realized a couple days ago how I wasn't going to my Jesus first for my comfort and joy, my heart started to break with sadness.  I wasn't completely shattered over this, though.  It was gentle and soft.  It was, "Lindsay, don't you know that I want to hold you so tightly right now?  Dear girl, I love you.  Don't forget, ok?"  And I said, "Oh, God, I'm so sorry for forgetting you.  I'm such an idiot."  And He said, "Precious one, you're human.  I don't like it either, but you forget.  But that's why I'm here to remind you.  Don't worry about it, k?  I love you."  Sigh.  I feel relief just writing about it.

I do wish that my soul was pointed to God more.  How awesome would that be?  I know that life would still be hard, but my perspective would be more sure, more grounded, and in the right Thing, too.

Via: Elizabeth Gilbert's official website
I've been reading Eat Pray Love.  It's great.  I came to this part in Bead/Chapter 87 that talks about fighting for your happiness.  I think this section was brought to me a the perfect time.  My heart was fertile soil to these idea seeds.  I think I need to back up and give you just a little back story, first, though.

Since January 31st, work has just sucked.  I wrote out the stories from that first day here.  The next day was hardly any better.  I've refrained from writing those stories so far because they were just upsetting.  I find one of them kind of humorous now, though, so I'd like to tell it to you.  I was working in the Copy and Print department for a few minutes.  I went over to a lady to ask what she needed.  She said, "How are you?"  I should have known not to trust her, who really means that when they ask how are you are?  It's really one of my pet peeves how society allows this question to be a greeting.  People expect you to say something happy and, usually, fake.  I hate it.  I didn't feel like being fake.  That was a mistake.

"Oh, not too cool."

"Aw, well, things will get better.  I can guarantee."  Ok, that's cool.  She didn't ask me to go into detail, which I was glad of.  I asked her what she needed, and I began making copies of two old photos she'd brought in.  She hadn't been very specific with her instructions, so I had to make more than one copy to get the way she wanted.  I showed her the enlarged, finished copies and asked her if they were ok.  She gave me the most wishy-washy, the most skeptical, "It's... ok...."  Mhm.  She told me she wanted the white parts surrounding the pictures cut off, so I cut them and then brought them to the register.  Her order was $3 something.  "$3 something?" she asks.  She eyes the photos suspiciously and immediately deems me as a lying thief.  She had asked how much the copies would be at the beginning of our exchange, and I had given her the quote of the copies on the photo paper: around $1.60.  I did not charge her for the copies on the expensive paper I had to make before she told me she'd wanted the photos enlarged, but I did have to charge her for the last minute cutting.  "Well you didn't tell me that would cost extra!"  Honestly, I'd forgotten, and she hadn't asked, and, heck, it's only a dollar and a half more.  None of that mattered to her, of course, and the words she's told me earlier about hoping that my day would get better certainly didn't matter.  With airs of condescension, distrust, and revenge, she said, "I don't think I want them anymore."

Utterly shocked, I stammered, "You... don't want them at all?"

"No.  I don't want them.  Trash them."  And she walked off.

I.  Was.  Cussin'.  Mad.  I had been almost ready to tell her I'd sell them to her for the original quote before she walked away, but I could barely get my words out.  I'd spent that time getting her photos perfect.  They were perfect.  The calculated enlarging, the precise cutting, the care and the excellence, and she paid no regard for any of this.  It was nothing to her.  And I was nothing to her.  It was shattering.

I won't bore you with more stories of this sort, but there were more.  It's sufficient to say that I hated work.  When I was getting out of the car Wednesday morning to walk up the store, I was thinking about how, if anyone asked how I was today, I'd just tell them that, sorry, that was classified information.  No way was I going to let myself be vulnerable to someone who would surely not care and who would surely treat me unjustly.

Not even a minute later, my head manager, Mark, who I've lost all respect for and who I don't like working with in the least bit, asked me, "How you doin'," as he started unlocking the doors for us.  Crap.

I have this thing with honesty.  I love it.  I adore it.  She and I are so tight, it's awesome.  Transparency hangs out with us all the time, and, yeah, it's funny and awkward sometimes when anyone else joins the party (like Mark), but I'm so close to those two, it's hard to do anything without them.  So, when Mark asked me what was up, I mentally slapped myself in the face and told him things were definitely not cool right now.  Get this.  Mark cared.  What?!  This dude and I have only had one connection moment at our office Christmas party when I asked him about some of his dreams and I told him about some of mine.  We've never been tight.  For all I know, he might not like me kinda of like how I don't like him.  But, really, he cared.

He asked what was wrong, and I said that it was a long story; I didn't really want to tell him what was up.  He said, "Well you could start now."  He asked if there was anything he could do to help.  It sounded like a half-hearted offer, but I know that the intentions behind the words were real.  He said to me, "You know, my life's not too hot, either.  I don't go telling everyone about this, but, my mother's bedridden and cries all night.  I got a call yesterday telling me that my nephew tried to commit suicide.  His parents don't know what to do, and I gotta try to make things better there.  Things are tight, and I've got so many things to hold together.  But, no matter what you're going through, you gotta know that someone else out there's got it worse.  You gotta be thankful for the things that are good in your life.  That's what I do every morning on the way to work.  I think about the things I'm thankful for."

Wow.  I was blown away.  God sure is amazing, and He sure likes to speak in unexpected ways.  He touched my heart with Mark's words.  And it was so gentle.  Just a guiding nudge in the right direction.  A reminder that I'm not always right.  A broadening of perspective.  It was wild.

Later that day, I ended up talking with a customer.  She'd asked me how I was.  I tried evading her question, but somehow we got talking.  I mean for real talking.  We both shared our hearts and our situations.  It was incredible.  Our emotions were similar, and our approaches to our situations were similar.  She asked me if I was a summer baby, and apparently her being born in July and me being born in August was what brought our paths to cross.  It also explained how we shared this matter-of-fact personality.  Not sure how keen I am on this, but I didn't say anything about not believing in horoscopes, and she didn't say anything against me praying for her and her situation when I told her I would.  Really, guys, she and I became something like sisters in the ten minutes we spoke to each other.  I really wish I could meet her for coffee and chat it up again.  We cared about each other, and it was amazing.  Also, I felt really good about knowing that it her heart was more important than pulling down more envelopes from top stock which was the chore I'd stopped doing to talk with her.  I was just good.

I can't remember where I was going with that.  I suppose it gives you a better idea of where I've been lately.  I've had much to be miserable about... (I got lost in Atlanta, in the rain, without a warm coat, and umbrella, or rain boots, finally getting to the right office for my apostille and realizing that, no, you have to go to this other office for apostilles bound for South Korea.  I called this other office and discovered that they'd closed a half hour before.  I'd taken the one-hour-one-way trip to the city in the rain for nothing.  Oh, I wanted to burst into tears.  Also, I am having the worst time acquiring fingerprints for my FBI check.  I will attempt my fifth try tomorrow.) ...but there is also much to be thankful for.

That's why this passage in Eat Pray Love is so poignant.  It talks about working for your happiness.  Not letting the world, your circumstances, nor yourself sap it away.  You've got to keep that drain stopped.  your happiness is, obviously, worth fighting for, but I've never thought about how this fighting is necessary.  It will naturally seep away if you don't do anything to maintain it.  When this happens, you cease being one of those people who has happiness to spare and to share.  When I read this, I remembered this dude who came in recently for a bookshelf.  He was wearing a Life is Good shirt and he seemed like a happy-go-luck, carefree, granola eating Californian, the kind of guy I'd want to be if I were a guy.  When I went to the back to find his bookshelf, he followed me.  I didn't bother to tell him that this was an employees only section.  I accepted his help with moving the heavy bookshelf boxes.  I was blessed by his can-do attitude and his that's-ok-I-got-it and his you're-so-awesome-for-helping-me attitudes.  When he left and we said good bye, he added, "Happy days!"  He had so much happiness, he was able to share some with me.  I loved every minute of him.

This is the kind of person I want to be.  The kind who is so certain in what's good, in what eclipses the wrong and the sad, that my happiness is nearly unshakable.  In fact, here, you can have some of, too!  Your words can't touch me, my joy is higher than that.  What I'm looking at is above those sour attitudes.  Then, as Elizabeth Gilbert says, I won't be "an obstacle."  I won't be the kind of person I'd try to avoid.  Heck, I'd be the kind of person I'd want to be around.  That's what I want to be.

But this takes work.  You must first be grounded in that happiness.  "You must insist upon it."  You must intentionally be about blessings and the good and the beautiful and the happy, I think.  And, Christians, I know that God is the source of the purest joy, the only joy that does not fade.  The base here needs to be Him.  Next comes what I think would be the strong appreciation of what is right and lovely.  I've got that second step down, I really do, but I need that foundation to be so much firmer.  I also need to develop a fighting spirit where this is concerned.

So, God's got a lot of work to do in my heart.  But won't it be wonderful when my heart had been adjusted in this way?  I'll be like my Californian friend.  I'll be a giver and bringer of joy.  I would love that.  I am so in support of love, it's be so awesome to act it out in this way.

How about I let you know how it goes?

I had today off from work.  I went to my sister's school to meet her for lunch and thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with her and her friend Maggie.  After this, I went over to Fayetteville (a city about 45 minutes from my house) because I will be seeing The Taming of the Shrew there in the evening with my boyfriend and his family.  I stopped by the sheriff's office for prints, but they only print people who live in Fayette country, so I'll have to try to get them again tomorrow (which will be attempt #5).  Again discouraged, I headed to the square downtown.  There's a fancy dress shop there, and I wanted to indulge in something beautiful.  First, though, I was headed for a jewelry shop which was closer.  As I walked toward the jewelers, I noticed an art gallery.  An art gallery?!  That would be perfect!

I walked into Artworks on the Square and was immediately greeted by Celia.  She asked if this was my first time in (it was) and how old I was and would I like to come to the wine tasting later this weekend and what was my name and today was "first name Bob" day, so, "Nice to meet you, Lindsay Bob.  I'm Celia Bob."  I love Celia Bob.  I'd told her that I was having a crummy week, and I was just wanting something beautiful.  She told me I had come to the right place, and I agreed.

I soaked it all in.  I reveled in the beauty, the good, the different, the unique, the mixed media, the paint, the fabric, it was lovely.  I had come to solace.  My spirit was allowed to be at ease and to be refreshed.  I loved it.

Celia Bob had made me feel so welcome, too.  I was perfectly at peace, and it felt so good.  I made sure to say good bye and thank you to Celia Bob before I left.  The jewelers wasn't as awesome as the art store, and I didn't even make it to the dress shop.

I have now been at the Fayetteville Starbucks for two hours chatting with a friend who's in Italy, reading up on Joseph Gordon-Levitt's casting in the new Batman film, trying to start this blog post, and reliving the emotions that came with each of the stories I've written.

I do have so much to be thankful for.  I have nothing but support on all sides.  The people at work, they care.  The family, they love.  My friends, they give me truth.  My God, well, I've not been giving Him my problems lately.  This part of me is sick, but I want it to get well soon.  Willing it to be so won't fix it, though, and it's always time to buckle down, man up, and devote that discipline my relationship with Him deserves.  To devote.  I have this idea that we all have the discipline we need inside of us, we just have to use it.  We have to discipline our minds to discipline our habits, and then, voila, you're doing what you've always known you should have been doing.

This post has been somewhat rambley.  It took me a while to get started, and then I just started rolling, but I think I need to stop now before it gets too long for anyone to want to read.  Also, it's rush hour at Starbucks, and I'm starting to feel like I've outworn my welcome here.
I'll keep in touch, and you do the same.  :)

Lastly, please, you have to read what this guy writes: Nobody Said This Was Easy at Make it Mad


  1. Linja, I have to let you know that every time I see you have a new blog post, it makes my day better. Really. It's like all of your posts are letters to me. (So, all of you other readers, appreciate that I'll letting you in on this special girl, okay? She's legit.)

    E-Liz wrote me earlier this week and reminded me that I have to choose joy, not let it fall on my head. Joy must be chosen. I like what you said about fighting for it.

    Thanks for rambling

  2. Wow, thanks for sharing! This post really resonates with me, because I've felt like that a lot too, especially when I get stressed out and bogged down with school and work and life. I have to remind myself too that I have to choose to be thankful and happy. I bought Eat Pray Love, and have yet to read it, but that'll be the first book I pick up after grad =)

  3. This reminds me of being a flight attendant. It's such an unrewarding, and in my opinion, unchallenging job that the personal connections were one of the only benefits. I often felt like I wasting my life, that I was invisible, all the people were rude complainers who sucked - and then I would meet that one person who truly cared, or who I had an opportunity to care for. Or someone who had a great story or life lesson to share. To me, that's what makes life worth living and a job worth doing.

    I'm sorry things have been rough. The five attempts at fingerprints is good preparation for life in Asia. Korea may be different, but nothing goes as expected here in Vietnam. It's frustrating and infuriating. You'll do great :-)

    xo Grace

  4. I almost bought this book at a used bookstore this week.
    Now I wish I had.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts! If there is something you want me to respond to specifically, feel free to send me an email; I'd love to chat.