December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas Chaos

It is Christmas Eve.

I am sitting in a cafe a block away from my fiance's church, where he is now prepping three (count 'em, THREE) Christmas Eve services. I will attend two - the first, where he is preaching, and the late one, after which we will drive out of the city and all the way to his childhood home. In the meantime, I'm going back to our new home to pack for the holidays with our families, wrap gifts for his family, and maybe unpack another box of my things.

For the first time in 2.5 months, I feel like I can breathe without panic seeping in. For the first time in over 3 months, I feel a strong urge to write a little blog post. And for the first time in almost 4 months, I really truly believe that I'm getting married on Sunday.

It has been a bizarre and often difficult fall. Our collective goal has been to just make it til Christmas. And now it is Christmas. And we made it. And the last of the Big Things fell into place this morning, literally under the wire.

So here we are.
This is us in October, photo taken by the very talented Aisling.

And in between the last seating shuffle for the reception, the fear that I've forgotten to buy a stocking stuffer for at least one new-family member, and the deep desire for it to be Monday morning, when I wake up and all the fuss is done - somewhere in between there, I've managed a thought or two about Jesus.

To be honest, I've spent a lot of time angry at Jesus this fall. I've had to be a lot more vulnerable than I'm comfortable with, and trust others with a whole lot of important details that were completely out of my control. God has been doing things in all kinds of ways that I distinctly told him I did not want him to.

But God is like any other being - a being with a will that is not my own, and no matter how strongly I wish I could, I cannot control God's choices. For me, it is difficult to stay engaged and present in a relationship where the other person is acting in ways I don't understand or like. It's been a struggle not to simply check out and say, "We can talk when you come around to see things the way I do."

A few weeks ago, someone asked a group of us if we thought Mary knew what she was getting herself into, what was going to happen with this itty bitty baby boy.

I don't think she did. I think she had an inkling, a sense that something was afoot, and a memory of one very strange conversation with an angel - but she was human, and like the rest of us, she just had to watch her life unfold and wonder at it all.

When I think of Christmas this year, and the belief I have that God became a tiny baby, I am blown away. I'm blown away by the unpredictability of it, by the mystery of it, and mostly, by the unresolved-ness of it.

The Christian faith is not a brown paper package tied up with string. While it is one of my favourite things, the Christian faith is a messy beast of journey, one in which I join with Mary, staring at a baby and wondering what it all means. What will happen next? How will this change my life? Where do we go from here?

I don't have answers, but I am convinced of this: the birth of this tiny little baby changed everything for Mary. And he's changed everything for me. And we're in this together - even when I don't know what he's doing, exactly, or how it's going to turn out. I'm convinced he does, and that he loves me. Which is enough to fill me with wonder, even in the midst of chaos.

December 5, 2014

Critical White Studies - Sign Me Up

I think the time has come for white men and women to reflect critically and honestly on how their whiteness makes them different. How their whiteness accords them privilege and access to resources that they withhold from those who are "not their kind." How their whiteness has been made the unacknowledged norm of what it means to be human. How their whiteness has brought hardship and misery to millions.

- Asian-American theologian Gayle Yee.

Mea culpa.

I try to avoid being publicly political, but the past few weeks have been beyond outrageous when it comes to race relations, crime, and oppression of non-caucasians.

I didn't feel like I had much of anything to add to the conversation, as a caucasian Canadian female - we need to hear voices from within marginalized communities. At the same time, silence leaves me seated on the side of the oppressors, the majority who are not aware of the roles we often complicitly play in maintaining the unhealthy status-quos. A place I do not want to be, though God knows I am guilty.

Guilty of assuming my life is no easier, guilty of failing to use the voice and the power I have to elevate and encourage people whose voices deserve to be heard, whose stories need to be told. If I'm not using my power for change, I'm defaulting towards oppression.
Change has to start with me. With self-examination and honesty and humility.

Yee goes on to say:

"Critical "White Studies" is a field in its infancy, but we Asian Americans, who live and work in the belly of the beast, should keep tabs on the developments in this field..."

Now there's a PhD field.

And even for those of us whiteys who aren't so academically oriented, let's take a good long look at ourselves. And let's start working for change.

December 3, 2014

Difficult Days & Difficult Conversations


This semester has been a bit unreal. I know we talk a lot about whirlwinds and busyness and time flying by, but this has been a new height of chaos for me.

Maybe chaos isn't the right word.

Stress and fullness and struggle. There have been a lot of those things.

There have also been a lot of good things - laughter and someone to hold me when I cry and learning new ways to be.

So that's good.

There are two huge-life-things in process these days: a condo purchase and a wedding. They require a lot of energy, have near-unending details, and are gateways to goodness. So I'm hoping I come out alive on the other side.

(I'm mostly kidding.)

But here's something exciting I want to tell you all about! A book that is quite literally changing my life. It's called Difficult Conversations.

If you're anything like me (that is, human), there are difficult conversations in your life that you either actively avoid or brashly plow through.

This book is one of the most practical, applicable reads I've had in a very long time. Possibly ever. I've seen it help several of my key relationships, and enabled me to navigate not a few stressful conversations this semester. I give it the highest possible rating that I can give to a book that might fall in the self-help/psychology section of the bookstore.

Go read it. Or borrow my copy. Because the more of us who learn how to hear and share our thoughts and feelings in healthy ways, the better our world will be. No joke. (The news headlines in the past few weeks certainly show that we could learn a lot about how to talk and interact with respect for one another...)

I'm not saying that it will fix all our problems, but it definitely has information that goes a long way in helping equip us to do the hard work life demands of us.