Monthly Archives: April 2015

A Girl’s Best Friend

DW 13

Once upon a time it occurred to seven-year-old Amy that a purge was coming. These happened at regular intervals, when Amy’s wise mother went through the tiny house and got rid of the toys that weren’t being played with, so there would be room for new toys. Amy, however, was something of a packrat. She hated getting rid of things.

Now, Amy had realized that if the toy resided in her bed, Mom would not get rid of it. (Simple logic here is that this kind woman had no interest in getting rid of toys her children really treasured, and dolls you sleep with are the most treasured of them all. However, this sort of sense did not interfere with young Amy’s logic.) Casting her eyes about she realized that maybe she hadn’t played with her D.W. doll enough lately. D.W. had been a present for her fifth birthday from Mom and Dad. What if D.W. was given away?! This called for an emergency response.

Not wanting to risk anything, she brought D.W. to bed that night and D.W. has never left since.

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Growing up, I had many treasured dolls and each one developed their own personality in my mind. My American Girl doll Felicity was bookish, and Addy was a tomboy. Ruth and Rachel had survived since babyhood and rested in wise old age. Pinkie was… well, Pinkie.

D.W. however was particularly special. She was very different from her TV personality on Arthur. If you had asked me what she liked, I would have told you ballet and sandwiches. Ballet because her gray shoes were obviously made for dancing (though I did often wish they were pink instead of gray). Sandwiches because her triangular hands just looked like they could hold dainty, tea-time sandwiches. (I know you don’t see it, but believe me, I did!)

When I fell asleep at night, I secretly believed that if I squeezed her tight, D.W.released a glitter-like sleeping potion that would help me fall asleep faster. It felt like magic, and I loved it.

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DW 2

The Lord only knows how many times D.W. made the trip under the bathroom sink. As a kid, I liked to think she had her own little D.W.-sized restroom under there. I would open the cupboard door and fling her in, retrieving her later when I remembered. Unfortunately I did not always remember. One particularly memorable day I was headed to my cousin’s house for a sleepover. We turned my house upside down to find D.W. and send her along with me, but D.W. was nowhere to be found! I was finally shipped off, sad and alarmed at not having my trusted friend by my side. Mom called me the next morning after she went to clean the bathroom. Why was my doll with the cleaning supplies….?

Moments like those are very difficult to explain, even if you are a kid.

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After 16 years, it is easy to forget what a favorite doll looked like “new.” Discovering the almost untouched twin of D.W. at the library came as a shock to me. Had D.W. really been that fluffy and pink once upon a time? By now even the hair colors were different shades! As I began taking pictures of them side by side, the differences became that much more evident. The one is squashed and worn, the other bright and new. I almost felt sad for my D.W. When I looked into their eyes, though, I saw the real difference.

MY D.W.’s eyes are chipped. They’ve practically developed their own pupils. The new D.W.’s eyes were perfectly round…and covered in dust.

When I looked at those two faces side by side, I saw the face of a friend and that of a stranger. Chipped, pilled, and cracked as she is, my D.W. has been a constant companion for 16 years. She joined me on all my adventures as a kid and suffered all sorts of random abuses (like the bathroom cupboard.) She provided the magic sleeping dust to make me fall asleep faster and helped guard me from monsters in the closet. She came with me to Tennessee and remained a tangible link with home when I was homesick. My D.W. is well cherished and shows it.

The library’s D.W., the “new” one, has presumably sat untouched a shelf for 16 years. Although she remains as beautiful as her first day from the factory, she is unknown to any child. Few people even see her as she sits in her swing over the children’s books. I think the librarians forgot about her.

Seeing those two D.W. dolls, I’m reminded of how much my dolls meant to me growing up. Dolls are a girl’s first playmates. They stay constant and true, no matter how many years pass. Signs of wear and tear mark them as yours. My D.W. is mine. “New” D.W. … well, she’s anyone’s. And no one’s. Her eyes may be perfectly round, but they are blind and covered in dust. Those eyes have never helped a little girl look into herself as she grows up. And that is a tragedy for a doll.

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To the Church Hopping College Student

Get over yourself.

It’s true this congregation is small and elderly. That doesn’t mean they are blind. We see your expressions of disgust. Your body language radiates contempt. You shuffle in late and rush out immediately afterwards. You roll your eyes at the liturgy. Smirk at the greeter.

I would say maybe you are uncomfortable, but the truth is you are downright rude. Don’t you think we have ears? We hear your nails clack against the screen as you text during service. Your whispered mockery carries to the pews around you. Yes, we stand and sit and stand again. Yes, we have an altar and stain glass windows. Yes, there is actual wine used in communion. What did you expect visiting a traditional Lutheran church?

Perhaps you are visiting for a class.  If that is the case, all the more shame on you. How can you take other denominations seriously if you do nothing but look for differences? You alienate your own family and in doing so cause more pain to this sweet, loving congregation than you know.

Do you feel more comfortable, surrounding yourself with your friends and barely speaking to anyone else? You come in packs. I understand it might feel awkward showing up alone. There is security in likeminded friends but also complacency. You circle in on yourselves like a wagon train afraid of attack. These older Christians may wear hearing aids and take a few minutes to stand up, but the truth is they have more wisdom and life experience to offer than a whole room full of college students.

We heard you grumbling about filling out the Guest Card. Something about spam in your inbox and receiving enough e-mails already. The truth is the older gentleman who asked you to do that will take those cards and pray over them all week. By Wednesday you will get a card in the mail, not an impersonal thanks, but a hand-written note of gratitude that you came. The lady sitting behind you will text you on Friday and ask how your week went. The pastor’s wife will make sure you know when the next fellowship meal is, and she’ll probably send you home with food. The whole congregation will remember your name and greet you with joy the next time you come.

If you come back.

Few do, much to their loss.

I know it is hard to be a college student away from home and without a church. Congregations rarely treat you like an actual member. They expect you to move on and you either get ignored or become a short term project. So you seek a new church, one “meeting your needs.” And when that one fails to do it, yet another. Especially here in the South, you have limitless choices. That cycle leads to burnout. By your senior year, I guarantee you will think the church is overrated. Out of touch. Unconnected with your faith.

I’m not saying my church is the answer to your problems. All I know is that it was the answer to mine. You barge in, full of arrogance and self-supposed superiority, and you miss the earnest sweetness of this Body. You miss the power of gathering together and repeating the Confession and Absolution, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Apostle’s Creed. You miss the beauty of these old hymns. You miss the wisdom of the sermon. Today the pastor preached on believing the fullness of God’s promises. It spoke to me, but did you even hear it? We all heard your phone. Could you hear our love?

Because this congregation does love you. It is not just because you are young.  It is not because you are a new face. They love you because you stepped through those doors. It is something I still cannot fully grasp. It refreshes my soul every time I come Sunday morning. I wish you could experience it.

But you rushed, you eye-rolled, and finally you rejected. What you didn’t see was the wistful glances sent your way as you hurried to your car. You missed the questions directed at Rina and me, the only two college students who remained. “Do you know them? Couldn’t they stay for lunch? Will they be back?”

I don’t know if my words will reach you. I pray they do. I hope you will enter that next congregation more respectfully, that you will listen and befriend those around you. I pray God will lead you to a place you will grow. If you go to church for warm fuzzies and an emotional high, your faith will falter. I know because mine did. A good church body keeps you grounded. Fellowship, communal reading of God’s word, prayer with other believers, and submission to one another develop a stronger Christian walk. In our individualistic culture, I challenge you to recognize that the church was not designed for your personal pleasure or pure edification. It is give and take. It’s a family and in some ways all the clichés about family apply. Family can be embarrassing, confusing, and painful. Yet in the end, no one is more committed to you. We need fellow believers in all our messiness and pain because together we grow. Together we encourage, admonish, strengthen, and testify to God’s faithfulness in our lives every single day. Faith doesn’t take place in a vacuum.

Find a church and instead of thinking about what you can get, find ways you can give. It starts, though, with grace and understanding. I do encourage you to get over yourself. Set aside your pride. Turn off your phone. Listen, really listen, to those around you. I hope you can hear the love they are trying to send your way. This family wants to embrace you. Please, let them bless you.


Thinking It Through: Life as a verbal processor

“Verbal processors speak to clarify thoughts.

Non-verbal processors think before they speak.”

(http://www.scottreyes.com/different-types-of-thought-processors/)

Do you ever have a moment where you hear something new and suddenly everything clicks? That is how I felt when I read the above words. I am a verbal processor. Even basic concepts feel slightly intangible to me until I can say them out loud. I now understand why I need to tell people about random, trivial moments in my day; why I feel a pressure to tell all my new ideas to someone immediately; why I have an obsession with sharing every new interest that comes my way; even why I like writing. When I write, I mouth the words, often repeating them out loud. Doing this helps me make sense of my world.

I fully grasp things only when I can get them outside of my head. Some people have this amazing superpower where they can have an idea, leave it their head, and magically it develops into a full-grown understanding. That amazes me. If I leave something in my head, it feels like an itch that can’t be scratched. Something eternally, intangibly out of reach. However, if I can pull it out of my head, and throw it at someone (even if that someone is myself), it makes perfect sense. I just need to get it out.

Verbal processors are infamous for thinking out loud and confusing all the non-verbal processors around them. I realize I am immensely guilty of this. I may say, “I want to learn Korean” but what I am also actually saying is, “What are the implications of studying this language? What steps would I need to take? Will I actually have time?” Chances are, I will decide I don’t actually have the resources at the moment to do so, and I will move on. However, to the non-verbal processor who heard me say that, I just went back on my word. I failed to follow-through. This can be aggravating to them as the process repeats itself, and I jump to a new idea, or a new problem. This perception is something I need to be more aware of, though I also ask for grace in the future. It’s how I think!

It also means that when I have a problem, I am not necessarily looking for an answer. An obvious decision might be right before me, but I need to talk my way through the problem to find it. I might appear to be rambling, or “random,” but in a very real sense the puzzle comes together in my head with each seemingly unconnected train of thought. To a non-verbal processor the puzzle fits together inside their mind. To me, the pieces remain dim and fuzzy until I can express them verbally.

If you have ever been in the room with me while I tried to write a paper, you’ve definitely seen me do this. I’ll run into the room and read a sentence out loud, then go back to my corner and promptly delete it. Or I will switch words around. Or I will leave it and then pester you with the next sentence. It isn’t so much that I want an opinion, though affirmation certainly helps, as I need to get the words out of my head, off the paper, and into my brain. Hence, this is why I’m a terror to be around while I write.

My hope in writing this is to provide a better grasp of how I look at the world, and maybe connect with others who struggle to have their need for rambling understood. If I barrage you with a series of seemingly meaningless stories or appear to inconsistently throw ideas around, I don’t mean to confuse you. I genuinely am trying to figure out how it all fits together. Thank you to every single introvert who has unknowingly functioned as my “sounding wall” over the past 21 years. (Especially my immediate family, Claire, and Kris. Y’all rock)

I strongly recommend going up to the top and following the link to Scott Reyes’s article. His entire blog is helpful!