A Spiritual Identity Crisis

I was that kid in high school.  

You know, the one who always took on leadership roles in youth group and memorized scripture in my spare time and brought my Bible to school and got into theological arguments at the lunch table over pizza slices and curly fries.  Needless to say, I wasn’t invited to many parties.  After graduation, I fell out of touch with most of my friends, and honestly, I don’t wonder why. Instead of inspiring me to love and accept others and form deeper relationships, my interpretation of Christianity pushed me away from authentic connection.

Later, I became angry.

I took issue with those Christians who see other humans simply as “outreach opportunities.”  I’ve distanced myself from the evangelism mentality to the point where I go out of my way not to bring up my beliefs in conversation.  Instead of singing “I once was lost, and now I’m found”, I sometimes joke that “I once was found, and now I’m lost.”

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Until the Son of God Appear

emmanuel

The season of Advent is one of my favorite times of the year, though for me it’s also one of the busiest. But it seems that all of the wishing and hoping and praying and waiting I do during the other eleven months of the year is more meaningful during this season. In more modern language, we could probably re-name this season as “The season of waiting”.

As Christmas is approaching this year, I’ve been thinking a lot about what Christmas is supposed to be. Every Christmas special and TV commercial you see shows happy families and smiling shoppers and romance and Christmas cheer. After all, Christmas is supposed to be the happiest time of year. But then I look at my own family that’s dealing with unemployment and sickness and broken relationships and a lot of other baggage. I go Christmas shopping and just see a bunch of stressed-out people pushing each other around to the tune of “All I Want for Christmas is You” playing over the loudspeakers at Sears. And trying to maintain friendships and other relationships during this incredibly busy time of year is just a losing battle.

It’s so easy to look at our lives and think that we’re missing something. The fact is: we’ve been missing something since the garden of Eden. Most of us are still waiting, hoping, wishing, dreaming, and praying, expecting that one of these days it will all get better. If you think about it, though, this is what Christmas is all about. Expectation. The hope of deliverance. A wish for something better. We hear it in wistful Christmas songs and hymns and advent prayers.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel.

This song has always been deeply meaningful for me during this time of year, because in the midst of our busyness and our troubles and our doubts, we are asking God to come and be with us. We are asking him to come and dwell with us, no longer in human form, but as a spirit inside of us.

For most people, the joy of Christmas doesn’t come from living lives that resemble a made-for-TV Christmas movie. For me at least, the most meaningful part of Christmas is the expectation of advent. It’s the hope that someday God will heal us in a very tangible way. Someday we won’t have to work so hard every day trying to change the world on our own. Someday our hearts will be made whole. Someday we will no longer mourn. Someday everything will be made right.

Until that day, I hope that I never lose the joy of expectation every day. I hope I never lose the wonder of every blessing I receive. Though I will probably listen to many more melancholy Christmas songs this year, I hope that I will never despair. Along with the rest of the world, I will be hoping for everything to be made right.

If you haven’t done this yet, I would recommend downloading Sleeping at Last’s 2014 Christmas Collection from Noisetrade!

To be Quiet

Here in Guatemala, it’s a Sunday of rest. My life has suddenly gotten monumentally busy in the past couple of weeks, which is a good thing. It’s good that I’m working, accomplishing things, learning Spanish, spending time with friends, re-vamping my website, but there hasn’t been much time for quiet.  But today, there’s soup on the stove and my relaxing music playlist on my iPod, and there’s quiet.

I would like to share something with you that I’ve been working on, and I’d love to hear some feedback. For the past couple of months, I’ve been working on a collection of essays, which I hope to release all together in December. Here are the first two chapters, let me know what you think! [Read more…]

Finding Joy in Right Now

My senior year of high school, I started a countdown on my wall. I tired of high school—tired of my friends, tired of my mediocre public school, tired of my $6/hour job scooping ice cream, tired of my life in the town where I had lived for the past seventeen and a half years. I dreamed about what kind of person I would be in college and somehow imagined myself being better looking, having a magnetic personality, dating attractive college guys, and going on lots of exciting adventures.

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The Great Experiment: Post for The Rising

A couple months ago, I watched a documentary about the Tiny House movement.

It featured several people who are simplifying their lives by building tiny houses.  In addition the many advantages of living in a tiny house, such as designing your own space and avoiding a costly mortgage, one tiny house owner talks about “treating life as an experiment, rather than a series of dead-end decisions.”  When I heard that, something clicked for me.

Over the past few years, I have run into plenty of dead-ends.  Dead-end jobs, dead-end ambitions, dead-end relationships.  As hard as I’ve tried to make wise decisions, I keep coming back to “What did I do wrong?”  I assumed if I was really following “God’s will for my life”, it would be working out better.

But what if I wasn’t wrong?  What if I was supposed to try and fail?  Continue Reading

On Finding Your Calling

Hi, I’m Becca, and I’ve had ten jobs in five years.

From teaching to church ministry to floral arranging to sports retail—I’ve done it all. I spent a semester as an art student. I’ve moved six times, most recently to Central America. Clearly, I am not one to give career advice. In fact, I could probably write a book about how not to succeed in life. 

continue reading at single roots

Thoughts on Community

I live in a community.  Literally, as in I share a kitchen and two bathrooms with six other people.  Seven people, sharing space, food, and a shower that you have to light with a match.  (That’s what “gas heated water” means in Guatemala). 

Community has meant lots of different things to me over the years.  Community has meant and summer cookouts and movie nights and Goodwill shopping.  Community has meant church. Community has meant shared meals and $3 bottles of wine.  

Last week in my little church in Guatemala, the lesson was from Romans chapter 12, and it reminded me of some thoughts on community I wrote a few years ago while I was living in Indiana.  [Read more…]

When Everything Goes Wrong

“What are you afraid of?” he said. “Don’t you trust that God has a plan?” I had this conversation with a pastor in the beginning of my junior year of college.  I had spent the summer selling over-priced vegetable plants for minimum wage while my many of my friends had landed great internships, gone on exciting trips, or gotten engaged to the love of their life. The recession was in full swing, and I was terrified of what would happen when I was no longer living my life by a course catalog. God was at work in everyone else’s life, but was he going to take care of me?  [Read more…]

What’s So Amazing About Grace?

This is the second time I’ve read this book.

The first time was in the summer before my senior year of college when I was taking a summer school class about the New Testament. This book was on my required reading list, but my library didn’t have it, and I didn’t feel like buying it on Amazon. So I drove to the library in the next town to get it, circled around the parking lot looking for a place to park, and suddenly this pole appeared out of nowhere, and I crashed my parents’ car into a pole. This could probably go down in history as my most brilliant move ever.

In that moment, I remember pounding my head on the steering wheel and groaning, “God… I didn’t need an object lesson.”  [Read more…]

Sacred Places

Sometimes, I imagine people praying with their hands.  Building expectations and wishes and questions into brick and mortar and stone.

There’s something about great loss that makes us want to build something—we build war memorials and monuments and churches that symbolize what we’ve lost.  Maybe there’s something about stacking bricks and pouring concrete and carving wood that makes us feel like we’re doing something when life seems meaningless.  When we’re faced with a void, we fill the empty space with something tangible.  [Read more…]