How Much of My Sin Can God Handle?


I first felt the fear in 2014 – there was a major, major sin I wanted, and I truly didn’t have it in me to walk away.

I remember thinking, Is this it? Is this the time when God isn’t going to hold onto me? Is He going to let me go?

By the grace of God, I did eventually walk away, but I toyed with that sin. I fantasized about it. I caressed it and fed into it. I nourished and protected an affection for it in my heart.

 

It happened to me again this semester. I longed for sin. Temptation came in the form of lies, selfishness, betrayal, arrogance, envy…

Even as I see those traits within myself, I long to indulge them. I long to have what other people have. I’ve been so good for so long, right? Don’t I deserve a break? Why doesn’t God love me enough to give me the desires of my heart?

Please, Abba. Stop doing this to me. Just hit me with an effing car the next time I go for a run. End this. Please. Your plans for me are too hard. I’m not enough. I don’t want to do this anymore. I hate this place. It would be better to die now. “To live is Christ. To die is gain.”

No, I’m not suicidal. I promise. I know it sounds like I am, but I’m not. I’m not even sad, really.

After about six weeks of caressing and guarding my sin this semester, the other thoughts hit me again: Is this it? Is God about to give up on me? Was this just a temporary grace, dependent on my ability to be a good girl?

In the Bible, there are sort of paradoxical and, dare I say it… conflicting… passages when it comes to the perseverance of the saints. The question is usually posed in the abstract: can a person really, truly be a Christian and eventually lose her salvation?

It isn’t an abstract question to me at all. It is the question that haunts me. Each time I come up against the broken and blackened parts of my heart, I ask that question.

God, is this the time when I’ve gone too far? Am I beyond Your salvation now? Don’t let me walk away. 

I am not a Christian because I want to be one. If my faith was dependent upon me to maintain it, I would have walked away long before now. I am sure of it.

There are really beautiful things about Christianity. There are parts of the Bible that are so shockingly delicate. So rich. So mysterious. So flowing and soft.

However, the beautiful is often obstructed by Fox News and the 2nd Amendment. Also, there’s that grotesque problem that Christianity is ultimately about the murder of God.

Partnering alongside the beautiful and the hideous that are both ever-present aspects of my faith, the honest truth about Christianity is that it’s the hardest thing in the world. Christianity requires me to entrust everything about who I am to a God I can never fully understand. It requires more than I have. More than I can ever give. It requires so much more than anyone can articulate or imagine. It requires the death of God. Yes, His resurrection too.

 

Coming up to the edge of myself is a humbling reminder that I am not a Christian because I have done anything to be one.

I am a Christian because I need Christ.

I am a Christian because I do not have it in me to walk away from sin.

I am a Christian because Christ intervened and intervenes on my behalf.

“Perseverance of the saints” is a nice, sanitized, and intellectual way of trying to figure out what happens when a Christian isn’t enough, within herself, to save herself… and shouldn’t the answer to that question be self-evident within a faith that’s entire canon seeks to answer that question…

 

 

School update: it’s Spring Break… my blood pressure is 142/73. My resting heart rate is 52. I’ve got a ton of reading to do. I’ve got papers to write. I have secured a summer job with the Office of Children’s Counsel (represents kids in custody battles). I continue to lose weight and have days in which I can’t make myself eat even close to a normal number of calories. I’ve admitted to myself that I can’t do all of the things I want to do, and will thus need to tell people no. Yet, I haven’t yet told anyone no. I found out I made the dean’s list last semester. I love two or three of my classes this semester. I hate one of my classes this semester. I continue to build amazing friendships with my peers. I love being surrounded by people who think about everything and engage their community with the hope of making it better.

 

 

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Surviving 1L Semester 1


There are some really hard things about being in law school.

The level of stress I’ve felt exceeds any I’ve felt in my life. Lots of you are aware of my blood pressure issues. A few are aware of the dry heaving. I’ve had a change appetite and lost weight. My sleep patterns aren’t really a pattern at all. It’s competitive. It’s a lot of reading. It’s terrifying to be cold-called in class.

Honestly, the first semester of law school is a wad of stress that is indescribable to the uninitiated.

However, the most important thing that happened to me this semester has nothing to do with classes or rankings.

Law school has been a beautiful mechanism for reminding me who I am.

And the spirit of Mufasa fills the screen:

I have been blessed to maintain most of the relationships in my life for years if not decades. It is a true joy to have such a shared history with people and to love them as I love family. I was reminded of these enduring relationships when I went to apply for a legal fellowship for the summer, and I listed my references and how long they’ve known me. Personal reference: 17 years. Spiritual reference (it’s a Christian fellowship): 12 years. These relationships are an enormous part of who I am, and it’s lovely to be reminded.

I’m also overwhelmed with how supportive the people in my life have been. Like all of my life decisions, attending law school was abrupt and without much explanation. I was hit with a divine whisper and that was the end of the conversation. I consulted exactly two people before signing up to take the LSAT, and had they told me not to do it, I probably would have done it anyway.

And yet, they’ve been there for me. I did not once consider the amount of support and understanding I would need from the people in my life to get through law school. I have that luxury, because they are there for me even when I don’t ask them to be. No one in my life has guilted me when I’ve canceled plans because I needed to study, and I’ve canceled a lot of plans. They’ve listened to me obsess about my blood pressure. They’ve counseled me. They’ve put up with my constant and inept legal analysis of everyday life. They’ve encouraged and been patient in ways I’m not sure I have ever or will ever reciprocate.

I don’t deserve any of you.

Alongside that, I’ve met so many amazing people in school, and they’ve reminded me of certain things about myself that I’ve forgotten or that I’ve refused to believe.

People at school seem to like me. They tell me that I’m nice, open-minded, stylish (who knew?), and that I’m a good student. They laugh at my jokes and don’t make me feel like an idiot when I do stupid things. They send me encouraging text messages when my crazy is about to overtake me, and they help me celebrate my birthday.

My conception of myself so often fills in the blanks with the worst things people have ever said about me: stubborn, conceited, too busy with tasks to spend time with others, judgmental… it’s so easy to believe.

Thank you to all of my classmates who remind me that I’m okay. I pray that as my weird quirks become more visible to you, you’ll continue to like me anyways.

And let’s all lift a glass to surviving 1L Semester 2! 🙂

 

 

 

 

The LSAT, Moving, and Applying to Law School


Before taking the LSAT, I wrote a post about how stressed I was. And I was really stressed. I wrote about the weight of each and every test question, and how my overall score would be impacted by the questions on which I guessed. I whined and worried. I tried to joke about it, but I really was losing my mind.

In real life (not the interwebs), people would ask me how I was feeling and if I was ready, and I would tell them I was stressed, and they would basically try to persuade me that I shouldn’t be stressed, which made me more stressed. Also, I think there’s something to be said for each person having a process of preparation, and mine happens to involve stress… so it’s possible that my stress helped prepare me and helped improve my score, so eff all of the people who kept trying to talk me out of stressing.

Result of my stress: I actually ended up scoring higher on the LSAT than I had ever scored on any of my practice tests. Basically, my score was good enough that I should have no trouble getting in to any law school that is not Ivy League. Also, it means that I should receive some scholarship money.

________________________________________________

You’d think I’d feel pretty awesome, but I’m actually stressed again.

I am now having all of my info sent to a credential assembly service, which is stressful to me. I am also taking more steps towards selling my house. I am also trying to figure out where I actually want to apply, which impacts when I should sell my house…

All of this is frustrating and, well, stressful to me…

Not having the internet at home or a printer at Starbucks, I end up having about 42 extra steps for each piece of paper I need someone to send to the credential assembly service, because I’ll go to Sbucks to use the internet, only to realize that I have to print something, which requires that I also go to the library. I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it bothers me. It bothers me that I have to ask a ton of people to send a ton of things somewhere for me, and then I have to wait for them to do it. It bother me that I’m not sure how to make decisions about where to apply. Pretty much every step of this process bothers me.

For undergrad, I only applied to U of A, because I knew that’s where I would go. I knew I’d be accepted. I knew I didn’t want to go anywhere else, and I didn’t feel the need to have backups.

Now that I’m all growed up, I feel I should follow the advice of the experts, who think I should apply to something like 25 schools. Now, realistically, I’m definitely not doing that. I might apply to 8 schools, but it seems like a big, stupid waste of time and stress, because I really don’t intend to move. Applying to Boston College might satisfy some part of me that thinks it would be an adventure to move to Boston, but if I received a full-ride from both Boston College and U of A (which isn’t going to happen, but I’m just saying…), then I would stay in Arizona. Still, I feel obligated to think about all of the places I’m applying, just in case it might be a good idea to move, even though I really don’t want to move.

So, for your perusal, here’s the list of places I may apply… or I may only apply to the U of A again. We’ll see.

U of A

ASU

University North Carolina Charlotte

Wake Forest

Duke

Boston College

Baylor

University of Oregon (or perhaps it’s Oregon State? I can never remember … the one in Eugene)

 

I expect I’ll be accepted to all of those except Duke. How do I even consider so many different possibilities? How do I even think about moving to another state, where I would live without Steve and Lori, my church, Victim Services, and basic knowledge of the city? How do I even think about living in the snow? There’s nothing worse than snow. I’m completely open to going somewhere for a few years, if it’s definitely temporary, but everything I’ve read says I should go to law school in the place where I intend to practice law. Moving to Boston for three years would be cool, but for the rest of my life possibly? I don’t know about that. There’s too much pressure on this one decision.

I know… 1st world problems, eh?

 

NaNoWriMo 2015


It’s National Novel Writing Month again… and even though I thought I’d be ready to fully participate this year, I’m not, and I’m sad about it.

Re: the manuscript I’ve been working on for ages…

This manuscript is incredibly personal. Everything about it is wrapped up in who I am and what I’ve seen. That’s not to say that it’s autobiographical. It isn’t. However, it is personal, and there’s a vulnerability in writing what I’ve written.

Also, this may not seem like a big deal, but it’s my first full manuscript. I’ve written tons of first chapters but only one final chapter, and that one final chapter is contained in this manuscript. I’ve written short stories and essays galore, I’ve been starting novels since I was fourteen, but I’ve never put much hope in any of them until my current Work in Progress. I’ve never believed anything would ever come of them.

Additionally, this is the only time I’ve written anything near the realm of Christian Fiction. There’s a weighty responsibility that comes with that. I feel an urgent necessity, that I hate feeling, in writing something that glorifies God. I chose Weston, my character, because I couldn’t imagine a more heart-wrenching conflict than the one I’ve seen in my friends who are both gay and Christians. I thought it was good timing historically for a book about that conflict. I thought it would be easy to sell. Yet, now that it comes down to either publishing it or not, I’ve got a slow-growing fear based in all of the things that drew me to this conflict to begin with. I’m afraid of how the nation is changing, and how my friends are changing. I’m afraid of how difficult it seems to be for people like Weston to hold onto convictions and trust that God has it covered, and even if they don’t get what they want, to refuse to bow down to any claiming the place that belongs only to the Almighty.

Piled on top of that fear is the problem I currently have of perspective. I started out trying to write my manuscript in 3rd person, because it’s an impersonal, analytical way of writing that allowed me to think the story instead of feeling it. There’s this strange thing that happens in the writer’s mind, where characters are real. It would be impossible for me to write a great story without suspending my disbelief at least as much as I want my readers to suspend theirs, so Weston is a real person to me. I have emotions towards him that only find their match in my relationships to real people. I feel affection, disappointment, anger, and hope for him and for the other characters in his life – Madison, Riley, Dave… all of them. That’s super difficult, because it’s my job to push these people through to most difficult parts of their lives.

I would prefer to do that in 3rd person, even though that wasn’t the right choice for this story.

Alongside the emotions of it, writing in 1st person has a ton of complications because the story is not about what happened. Rather, it’s about what one person thought happened. A narrator who is living the story is almost never going to be 100% reliable, and my character is particularly unreliable because she’s young, foolish, and confused. She’s emotionally invested to the extent that she can’t see straight. The result of telling the story this way is hours – nay, HOURS and HOURS and HOURS – of trying to figure out how a person can tell a story exactly as she experienced it without communicating only what she experienced. Ideally, Madison would tell her story honestly and without concern for the reader, but I’d be skilled enough to communicate to the reader through Madison – that I’d show bits and pieces that Madi didn’t see, or saw falsely.

It’s painstaking work.

Also, I decided to rewrite the entire ending of my story. I got one of those epiphanies that hit at the strangest times, when the muse speaks, and what needs to be written becomes clear. And yet, it’s a ton of work rewriting the entire ending – especially because I did my best to weave the ending into every chapter of the book so that readers could look back and be all mind-blown at the clues that were there all along.

So… where I find myself now is at the end again, rewriting and trying to be intentional about the level of satisfaction I bring to readers… or not. It would be easy for me to wrap everything up nicely and tie it with a bow for readers. OR it would be easy for me to wrap nothing up and leave readers bewildered to figure it out for themselves. Probably, the right thing to do is somewhere in the middle of those.

Finally, the actual news of this post is that I’ve recently been put in touch with an editor who may actually be able to help me, without costing me a boatload of cash, which means I need to get myself in gear pretty quickly here and not let this opportunity pass.

BUT…

All I want to do is start a brand-new manuscript that I can write in the detached voice of an omniscient 3rd person narrator. I want it to be an absurd dark comedy/social commentary about public education, and I want to be in the planning stage rather than this editing and perfecting stage that I have to be in with Weston’s story.

AaaaaaaHhhhhhhh!

I love NaNoWriMo… next year, I guess.

The Telling Nightmare


I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately, because of stress. I’ve loaded up on the Benadryl. I’ve run myself to exhaustion. I’ve tried wine. I’ve done yoga. You name it, I’ve tried it. And, while the sleeping more is beginning to happen, I’ve been having some pretty telling nightmares, and I thought I’d share one of them with you:

The entire nightmare goes like this… I’m standing at third base (defensively… not as a runner). And there is a faceless person, who just keeps hitting the ball at me. He’s basically got an endless bucket of balls, and he’s drilling me. This isn’t uncommon in the softball world. Coaches will hit 30, 40, 50 balls at players. They’ll hit them super hard, and they’ll leave the athlete something like one or two seconds between each hit. It’s almost exactly long enough to catch the ball, throw it, and reset.

In my dream, though, I have a glove that goes on my right hand. As a “righty,” that’s the opposite of what you want.

At first, I’m doing okay. My throws are not making it to first base, but I’m at least able to catch the ball, throw it, and reset.

However, the faceless coach starts giving me less and less time between hits, and he’s hitting it so freakin’ hard, all I can do is knock the ball down/keep it from getting past me.

I’m not sure there’s a better metaphor out there for the anxiety of feeling ill-equipped… and I thought it was bad when I dreamt that my teeth were falling out. 😉