I'm tired of resolutions, tired of the focus being on what I will or won't accomplish on my own accord in the new year. So for 2016, instead of resolutions I am focusing on two big prayers, putting the focus on trusting in God for the answers and not on my own understanding.
I think in song lyrics, and my repeated mantras for this year come from the first and last lines of the first verse of the Switchfoot song "Love Alone is Worth the Fight":
I'm trying to find where my place is, I'm looking for my own oasis
So close I can taste this fear that love alone erases
So I'm back to the basics, I figure it's time to face this
Time to take my own advice....love alone is worth the fight.
Looking for My Own Oasis
Big prayer #1: That we might find a house and neighborhood in which to thrive.
Michael and I are really enjoying our jobs and life in Emporia. We are enjoying it so much that we have begun the process of house hunting, hoping to find a place in which to live and thrive and settle down within this community. We've viewed some houses so far and have a list of some of the things that we are searching for in a home. About a month ago we visited a house that I have since described to friends as "the Katie Barbie Dream Home". It was old-fashioned and quirky and beautiful and straight out of a novel--in addition to being possibly structurally unsafe/in danger of electrical problems from 80 year old wiring. The search for home continues. I had never had an idea of a dream home, but now that I've seen a house that embodies the dream home I never knew I wanted, I realized that the things I am most looking forward to about living in a house are not tangible or cosmetic wishes. My greatest desires for that house are more along the lines of what I hope to do and accomplish in that house rather than in what the house looks like or where it might be located.
When I lived in Lawrence on my own for those 6-7 months before getting married, I had an open door policy. Friends would come and go as they wished, family dinners were given connecting people on a spiritual level. Acquaintances became friends around my table, and even though I was living on my own, I was rarely alone during my evenings. My apartment was a safe landing for those in my life, and that sense of community was a beautiful and rare thing. One of my favorite authors, Shauna Neiquist, often writes about the importance of the table, the beauty of nourishing others through food and conversations that reach beyond the surface level. One of my favorite singers, Josh Garrels, has a song called "At the Table" that speaks of the redemption and beauty of coming to the table. I truly believe that a sense of deep-seeded community and connecting through food and drink and sharing life together, through the good times and the bitter times, is vital to growth and thriving and blooming where you are planted.
So my first big prayer for this year is not only that Michael and I will find a physical house in which to live, but also that the people who will view our home as a safe landing will be sent our way. I pray that we will not only live in a house but also in a neighborhood where we can know our neighbors, connect with them beyond occasional head nods, and that our hearts will be willing and searching for opportunities in which to bless others with our resources and the sense of coming home to the table.
Love Alone is Worth the Fight
Big prayer #2: That we might find community and build purposeful, deep-rooted friendships here in Emporia
I met my best friend/soul sister/partner in crime/twin, Alyssa (better known in my world as Ron) when we were sophomores in high school. She was new to my school and everyone thought we were sisters. I was determined to be friends with this girl and practically followed her around like a desperate puppy for a year, trying to break through her shyness and into friendship. She was really shy and didn't really respond to my many conversation attempts, so I gave up the friendship attempt, thinking she was a snob. Coincidentally, we accidentally going to junior prom together, and the rest is history.
I met my best friend Gabby during our freshman year of college. I thought we would be quick friends, but then we were awkward around each other and never talked. We made polite conversation for a year before eating Chipotle and watching I Love Lucy one night and becoming fast friends. Even now as she is living in Madagascar with Peace Corps, she is still one of my 4 "people" in this life that I really could not live life without.
During senior year of college when I first met my best friend Gretchen, I immediately judged her as a silly freshman sorority girl and thought she would be the worst until I spent time with her in marching band and realized that in her, I had found a soul mate. When I first met my best friend Libby, I thought she was a weird and obnoxious sophomore with more energy than I could process. Through what can only be described as divine intervention, Libby is now 1 of my 4 "people" and one who knows my soul on the deepest level.
I expected to absolutely dislike my fellow intern, Hannah; we met for chai tea the day before we began internship and realized we both liked Harry Potter and cats. The rest was history, and to this day Hannah is still my favorite music therapy friend and the funniest person I know.
During college, there was this girl named Courtney that I absolutely could not stand during the first 3 years of my schooling. But then one night we were at an SAI campout and ended up in the same tent, and through that experience became excellent colleagues who helped each other survive senior year and internship (and still talk frequently in consultation or news of MT victories).
Through all my first four years of camp, there was this girl named Melissa who really irritated me. I don't know why she did, but she wasn't my favorite. Then one year at camp we ended up being the only two senior counselors and something clicked that connected our hearts in the bond of camp sisterhood. Ever since she has been a dear friend and soul sister in my life.
Jen was my high school's assistant band director, but after graduation, became an older sister figure in my life. During the 8 years that I've known her, she went from being a mentor to a friend to a sister and bridesmaid in my wedding. She has since married my high school band director, so now my two former teachers are also my friends and people of whom I am really fond.
I write all these tiny stories, not only as a tribute to these beautiful people who have surprisingly made their way into the inner circle of my life and have remained strong influences therein, but also to remind myself of the beauty and insanity that must take place before forming deep-rooted friendships. I've been in Emporia for almost 10 months now, and even though I have met really awesome people, I have yet to form friendships in a deep and meaningful plane of living life together in community and walking side by side. I realize that I already have more deep and meaningful friendships than any one person deserves, and for that I am so very grateful. But I believe that even though I have already met so many beautiful souls, there are always more amazing people to meet and to let into my heart. I truly believe that Michael and I are here in Emporia for a reason. I do not believe that we would be led to live in Emporia only to live life as hermits. I believe we are meant to make deep connections with others, to live life with those around us, to live in community and purposeful conversation and life around the table. And I cannot wait to see what awkward stories we will look back on as bizarre introductions to future friendships, much as I look back incredulously at the beginnings of the friendships I have with those who I love the most.
So I pray. I pray that doors will open for friendships, that conversations will be made with ease, that love will abound. Love alone is worth the awkwardness of getting to know others and being vulnerable. Love alone is worth taking chances and trusting God with these bigger prayers of mine for 2016. Love alone is worth the fight.