Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Beautiful Letdown

I can hardly believe that it's been two months since I have last written here. It feels so much longer, yet short. I think I'm living in a time warp right now. Haha.

So much has happened, yet not so much has changed.

I'm sitting here on my second to last day of winter break with my first major migraine of the new year.

It's been a good break. Time to get back in touch with people and catch up on communications. Unfortunately the cleaning didn't happen. We still have tomorrow. Maybe we'll be able to re-arrange the living room to a more comfortable place.

So here's a nutshell update. I'm not moving to Fukushima. I joined a group called BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) and I'm going to try to grow here, and learn to hear God's voice in the circumstances and communities He has graciously given me here. I guess I got a kind of wake up call, that I shouldn't just take the easy way out and that I really need to maintain the things I have here, at least for a while longer. So. That's the plan for now.

I've felt a lot of peace since coming to that conclusion. The future still seems foggy and difficult to see and understand, but I no longer feel like I'm going to be pulled under by hidden currents.

Even though I feel peace about the Fukushima choice, life still has a way of wearing me down. I'm tired a lot, even though I'm not really doing so much, or getting anywhere. There's a nice phrase in one of the songs I listen to that describes it well. It's like "swimming in a sea of peanut butter." You spend a whole lot of effort and don't get very far. Good news is that it's easy to float in peanut butter. ;-)

Today I was able to talk to one of my good friends for a while. It's really good to have friends like that, who support you and can lift you up. I wish it was easier to stay connected. But today we were supposed to be cleaning our house. But I ended up with a headache. After my conversation with my friend, I ended up having to go to bed to try to sleep it off. I'm sitting in the middle of winter, wrapped up in lots of blankets to stay warm, with an ice pack on my neck to help with the headache. The ice packs seem to be the only thing that does any good with these headaches. But really, hot water bottles at my feet and ice packs on my neck? Does this seem insane to anyone else? haha.

After a few hours of abandoning my poor roommate, I come out with my head feeling a little better, but moving and light quickly makes it worse again. :-( It's easy to get discouraged, and wonder, is this all I really have to look forward to? Pain that sends me to bed and keeps me from doing the things I want to do, the things I need to do? It's somewhat depressing. There's also a lot of discouraging news lately. Marriages in trouble, financial problems, things ending... But there's hope too. Other friends getting married, babies on the way, new starts. I guess it balances out.

But a lot of times I feel like a spectator watching other people's lives go by.

so I was thinking about all these things tonight, while waiting for my wonderful roommate to cook our dinner. (Chicken and veggie soup, wonderful!) I put on my music and this song came up.

The Beautiful Letdown by switchfoot.

It was a beautiful letdown,
when I crashed and burned
when I found myself alone
unknown and hurt
it was a beautiful letdown
the day I knew
that all the riches this world had to offer me
would never do

in a world full of bitter pain, and bitter doubts
I was trying so hard to fit in,
fit in, until I found out

I don't belong here, I don't belong
I don't belong here, I don't belong
I will carry a cross and song
where I don't belong
I don't belong

it was a beautiful letdown
When you found me here
yeah, for once in a rare blue moon
I see everything clear
I'll be a beautiful letdown
that's what I'll forever be
and though it may cost my soul
I'll sing for free

We're still chasing our tails
in the rising sun
in our dark water planet still spinning
in a direction no one wins
no one's won

see, I don't belong here, I don't belong
well, I don't belong here, I don't belong
I will carry a cross with a song
where I don't belong
I don't belong here, I don't belong
no I don't belong here, I don't belong
I'm gonna set side and set sail
for the kingdom come, kingdom come
Your kingdom come
won't you let me down?
my foolish pride forever let me down

ah, easy living, you're not much like the name
easy dying, you look just about the same
would you please take me off your list
easy living, please come on and let me down

we are a beautiful letdown
painfully uncool,
the church of the dropouts, the losers, the sinners, the failures and the fools
what a beautiful letdown
are we salt in the wound
hey let us sing one true tune

I don't belong here, I don't belong
it feels like I don't belong here
it goes like I don't belong here
I don't belong, I don't belong
won't you let me down, I don't belong
c'mon and let me down, I don't belong
you always let me down, I don't belong
so glad that I'm let down, I don't belong
c'mon and let me down, I don't belong
'cause I don't belong here
won't you let me down

This song does a good job of expressing the things I'm feeling right now. I think a lot of my discontent lately has been because I've been trying to find my identity. Who am I? What am I doing here? What am I supposed to be doing? But in my search, I try to find my identity in my job, or other people or outside circumstances. But those always leave me frustrated. I was able to meet one of my good friends during the break, and she is famous for her "sermons." She wasn't even actually "sermonizing" at me, but she said something that just cleared up so much for me. She said that we have to find our identity in God. When we search in other places, we will be frustrated. But if we have a firm identity in God, then our circumstances don't matter. I want that. I'm tired of being lost and looking in the wrong places trying to figure out who I am.

So just like the song, I've realized once again that I don't belong here. It's so easy for me to understand this. I'm a foreigner. I don't belong here. But I know now that it doesn't matter where I go, I will never belong here. Because this is not my home. The things of this world can't make me happy. They can't fulfill me. No matter how long I search or how much my circumstances change. I will never be satisfied. That is the beautiful letdown. I will never be perfect. I will never stop disappointing those around me. There will never be the final "click" that makes everything right. Not here anyway.

I don't belong here. But for now, I do belong here. And that's the grace. I can continue swimming in this sea of peanut butter, in this world where I don't belong. But it's not forever. There is always hope. This world is not forever. This world will end. And I will finally be where I belong. And now somehow the peanut butter doesn't seem so bad. :-D


Anonymous said...

I am not a missionary but my long term boyfriend whom I want to marry has completely turned his life around and has given it to Christ and informed me that he wants to be a missionary and for me to join him. This has caused me much pain and confusion. I grew up Catholic and very conservative and I feel like I have been living a lukewarm life in Christ, by not completely stepping in. I know I am rambling on but I really liked your blog. I feel lost and don't know where I belong. I don’t' know if I could be a missionary or if I would ever want to. I can't even imagine moving a couple of hours away from my family. I guess I don’t know how to step out and trust God like you. It sadly terrifies me. I always thought of missionaries as not feeling the feelings you have described and it made me feel connected in hearing what you had to say. I too I am trying to find my identity; I never knew it would be this hard. Anyway, liked you blog. God bless you

Shihu said...

Dear Anonymous,

I don't know if you'll come back and read this again, but just in case I thought I'd reply. :-D

I think a lot of people get freaked out by the word "missionary." I never, ever thought I would be a missionary. Of course in my mind all I could see was someone giving up everything and going to live in the dirt in Africa or something like that.

I came as a missionary in a program that targets people right out of college. The fact is, missionaries are humans, and flawed humans at that. This whole experience of being a "missionary" has been more like graduate school than anything else. I've spent the majority of my time learning more about God and my relationship with Him. This has just been another place for me to grow as a Christian.

But you are right in that growing is scary and painful. For me, I was excited to go to Japan. That wasn't the hard part. But I've had to take many other, different leaps of faith along the way, but more often it's the small steps of faith that get us to where we are going.

"missionary" is just a word. In fact, all Christians are supposed to be missionaries. The Great Commission was given to all Christians, not just those who felt like going around the world to foreign countries. But I do think there is a lot to be said for being a missionary in a foreign country. It really opens your eyes, and changes your life. If you are worried about if you are able to do it, don't. That's God's department. The only thing you should worry about is if God is calling you to do it. If God has called you, follow Him no matter what. (not to be confused with your boyfriend calling you, as important as he is...) If God has called you, God will provide for you. Difficult to trust sometimes, but so wonderful to see. It is such a wonderful way to experience God's love.

You will fall down. You will fail. You will make a big honkin mess. But that's ok. Don't worry, all those things will happen even if you don't become a missionary. :-D But you will also experience God in awesome new ways that will change you forever if you let it. :-D

Well, now I'm rambling. I'm good at that.

I'm glad there are people out there who not only are able to figure out what I'm talking about (I'm not usually sure I'm coherent when I'm typing.) but who can really empathize with it as well. It's always encouraging to know you are not alone. Thank you for reading my blog, and I hope you can find some peace in the midst of your struggles.

Blessings in Christ!

Anonymous said...

You rock...even when there is a big honkin mess.

Shihu said...

Haha! That's good (I think) because there is ALWAYS a big honkin mess around me!! (Just ask my poor roommate! Actually anyone who knows me would do.)