Balloons

It’s Wednesday. I came home from work today and listened to Christy Nockels’ latest episode of The Glorious and the Mundane and fell asleep halfway through. I woke up at the very end, early enough to hear the new song she played from her upcoming album. Then I started crying. I cried for an hour. In fact, as I’m typing this the tears are still drying on my cheeks and down my neck.

Over the last few weeks I have had great adventures – to Cloudland Canyon, hiking around Berry, a Braves game, some time with my college besties, and tons of late nights in Cedartown talking and laughing with friends. I’ve posted all those cute photos all over social media because they have been such highlights, but if you think I’ve got it all together, here’s the real answer: nope.

I cried tonight because I’m exhausted from repeating the same things over and over again, day in and day out (I’m so bad at repetition), tired of going to small groups alone and wishing I knew more people at my church, (and in that vein) sad that the church I spent seven years at just fell apart, dissolved, and I lost all those relationships. I’m weary from doing life alone sometimes, of not having people who chase Christ around me, reminders and contemporaries. I miss my groups. I miss my women at Connect and the staff. I miss conversations with Drew and Amy in the Valley, Julie’s chili, fall walks with Em, and “stopping by the church” just to see Jeannene or Lindsey or Paul or anyone else who might be there. I miss having a home church. I love this new place I’m at, but I don’t feel like I belong yet. I know it’s growing pains and I know eventually it will be fine, but right now it is miserably bleak and I feel like a lost balloon floating higher and higher, farther from anything anchored. I look around this cute house of mine at all this heavy furniture – rooted, grounded, too heavy to float away or be moved in a hurry – and I still feel unsettled, a nomad, a wanderer. Not quite where I’m supposed to be. Not quite who I’m supposed to be. Unseen at times, maybe even misplaced.

I know life isn’t all about who you’re with and God is my strength and my comfort and my refuge and my anchor and all of the things for the Bible tells me so and I believe them. I know them. I believe them deep down. But I can’t even read through one chapter of scripture, Old Testament or New, and ignore the community and group-feel woven throughout each story and verse. “Brothers and sisters” it says, “flock” and “my people” and themes about unity and the very idea that God is triune- father, spirit, and son in solidarity, in seamless harmony.  This isn’t a new idea or a new concept. This is why my soul craves community and thrives on hospitality. I can’t do this alone and I’d be gravely mistaken if I thought for one second I could.

Some people are introverts, but I am a people person. I am terrified of the Great Room at church, mostly because there is such a large crowd of people (that I barely know) in a small room. I run in, grab coffee, and sprint to the sanctuary where it is cool and quiet and peaceful. (But I love airports. I know, it makes no sense.) And I love having people at my table. I love conversations in groups or one-on-one. I love knowing people. There is something about really knowing a person – knowing their story, knowing their heart, hearing the way they describe their passions and even the “mundane” stories in life. Something in that connection fills my heart, something in the words and the knowing and being known. It is reminiscent of my relationship with Christ – known and knowing. I don’t always have to be with people, in fact I love waking up on Saturday mornings to an empty house in peaceful silence; I enjoy some nights after work making dinner and losing myself in a book, but not always. Not every night. Some nights the silence is deafening and the not knowing, not being known, settles like a dense fog. Imagine how easily a balloon would be lost in a fog.

I know there’s no easy fix – a lot of time, a lot of investment, a lot of one-foot-after-the-other, and a lot of awkward moments, but truth be told, life isn’t always easy, especially as an adult where everyone’s schedule differs. Sometimes life is a mess on a Wednesday night.

(And yes, I did post that cute blog about how being alone isn't always
 everything just last week and I still stand by every word.)
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Alone

Cameron Flaisch Photography

Over the years I’ve become accustomed to doing things on my own. The most notable in the forefront of my mind being Christmas Eve two years ago: After curling my hair, donning red lipstick, heels, and a dress for our Christmas Eve service at church I got halfway down the road and realized both my headlight bulbs were blown. Not only did I miss church that I had tirelessly prepared for, but also stood in the middle of the Walmart parking lot using my phone as a flashlight and figured out how to change out my headlight bulbs on my own.

The list of “milestones” I’ve experienced solo beyond that incident would be exhausting to count, but includes the likes of buying a car on my own, applying for loans on my own, and going on my first flight ever on my own (also to a foreign country, might I add, without a phone or any real bearings). I’ve made large purchases, traveled to foreign lands, and attended many corporate functions without someone by my side to lean on in times of indecision or uncertainty. I’m the poster child for “alone.”

Truth be told, it doesn’t always suck. It can be frustrating at times – when I should have someone to call for some mechanical issue (or light bulb problem) or when I need to move furniture. But in reality, it’s made me hike up my britches and get on with life, to use a very colloquial phrase. Life is too worth living to sit around waiting for someone to walk it with you. Though we live in a patriarchal society that prides itself on marriage and family, my purpose does not wholly depend on the presence of another human being by my side.

I say none of this in the vein of bashing marriage or unity of any sort, but quite the contrary. I think marriage is a beautiful thing – to find someone you love the best and worst of, who loves you just the same, so much so that you desire to bind yourself to that person for the rest of your lives is a rare and monumental thing. There are over 3 billion people on the earth and one person manages to find one other person with which they desire to spend all of their sleeping and waking moments. Love is one of those things I don’t think we’ll ever quite understand. It is deeper, wider, and much more expansive than we could ever anticipate explaining. It is beyond us.

2017 has been such a fun year. I started off working a million twelve hour days in a new position I grew to love. This particular work environment comes with its share of challenges and problems to solve with no day ever a duplicate of another. It is a level of organized chaos that I enjoy more than even I can comprehend by combining stability and instability in a sort of vacuum. Some things are always the same, but many aspects of this position are new and different each day, no matter what. There are enough variables that work is never static. And this altogether excludes the people I work alongside, who in and of themselves provide the best entertainment and challenges.

It almost seems silly to reminisce on days when I could only hope to escape Rome because I can’t imagine being anywhere else now. I don’t negate that somewhere deep down I will always love and cherish and be challenged by international cultures and lifestyles and, perhaps, one day end up on a far off adventure, but for now this is home.

I know people who have been married for decades that still feel alone, still feel isolated, still don’t know what it means to be loved. The privilege I’ve had to experience so much in life, especially the experiences I’ve had, have shown me that life is never truly lived alone.

Here is where I write some cliche about how people have always been around when I needed them and how God showed up in some magical way in the middle of my most alone time. These things are true. I could write you a novel on the number of people who have helped me so much, but I won’t.

What I really want to tell you is this: when you see the world with open eyes, it’s impossible to feel alone. Somehow life always lines up.

 

-April 2017
📷 Cameron Flaisch

2017: Month 7

Hey friends, it’s been quite some time since I’ve settled into this space for a breather. The first six and a half months of 2017 have been full of fun surprises and little moments worth celebrating.

Let’s see.. I have taken yet another position within the company I began working for last October and I love my job. I’m working in a position that requires me to be relational; it has opened the doors to so many great friendships and allowed me to cultivate older ones. No two days are ever the same; some are much more difficult than others, but I get to work with an incredible team of people that I love being around, even on the hard days.

I moved from my little basement to a quaint little home in downtown Rome, complete with a stoop for sunset-viewing or catching the first rays of sunlight on a Saturday, and room enough for a table to seat eight. I’ve been here since late April and I’ve already hung things on the wall. That’s one of my greatest lessons in the last five years: put your artwork up on the walls. Hang your curtains. I have a tendency to leave a space undecorated if it feels transient, in a sense not allowing it to become a home. I remember having coffee with my dear friend, Theta, in January. My deepest desire at that point was for heavy furniture – something to hold me down. A place to put down roots and grow after being uprooted again and again, year after year. Theta told me a story of a transitional time in her adult life where God told her specifically to hang up curtains in her home even though she and her family might not be in that one location for very long because the importance of making a space a home, full of hospitality and rootedness, weighs much more than the time one spends in that space.

So, that’s what I’ve done. I put one piece of art up the day I moved in for this very purpose. Now there are curtains on two windows, floating shelves on a wall, and various artwork hung in each room. Since then, I’ve managed to collect enough heavy furniture to keep me from moving for a long time. I’m thoroughly enjoying this sweet life season, especially in the heat of a Roman summer. I’ve never been more thankful for this little town of mine than I am right now. It is the greatest place to put down roots and grow.

Welcome home.