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Heathen Love

Hi all, I want to begin approaching this sensitive topic by establishing that I seek to characterize my writing by loving-kindness, openness, and reciprocity. As a Religion and Philosophy major, incoming Princeton Theological Seminary student, and co-captain of my relationship’s ship, the issue I am about to raise is one that I have handled with careful reflection and prayer. I am a seeker, however, and it is with this acknowledgment that I continue to strive to remain open to the idea of being wrong, please feel free to question, comment, or even challenge me in regards to the contents of this post.

   Over the last year, I have engaged in an ever-evolving relationship with an agnostic. Growing up in a Christian community, I have received a variety of responses to my dating decision. Many people, including my parents, disapprove of my romantic relationship even asserting that my boyfriend will never be “worthy of their acceptance.” Still, others, primarily existing outside of the conservative evangelical church sphere, remain surprised by the negative reactions I experience regularly. I am sure that the individuals reading my post might react in similar manners- some of you might feel that my decision places me in spiritual jeopardy, while others might remain convinced that this issue is archaic and perhaps not even worthy of discussion.

Whatever you might think- these are reflections and tips that I have gathered based on my limited experience:

  1. When a relationship works, it is built on love and friendship

   I think I need to clarify by stating that Jeremy and I became best friends long before ever dating or even considering the possibility of such an interaction. We became friends as we interacted together in class, fiercely competing in our academic studies and as we took long walks on the cross country trails of our shared college falling in love with each other’s incessant questions. We discussed everything from literature, history and political science to the horrors of our high school experiences.

   We became boyfriend and girlfriend when we both agreed that “We were the closest people to each other besides our immediately family and we wanted it to remain it that way.” Perhaps biblically there are a series of implications when it comes to our situations, but philosophically our relationship is one that does not deserve questioning.

  1. Wrestle, keep wrestling!

I think there is an underlying assumption that romantic relationships with the “believer” and the “non-believer” result in the loss of Christian faith. This conclusion is reasonable as frequently in the Old Testament God’s chosen people, the Jewish people lose their faith as they intermarry with those from heathen nations. Often when these romantic relationships inhibit someone in their walk with Jesus Christ, it is because they become increasingly disinterested in their religious faith trading prayer and spiritual discipline for less conflict between their partners. The truth is when Christianity is not just an interest or a hobby, but your entire worldview conflicts will inevitably occur. It ‘s okay to ask yourself whether you could marry, perhaps the even a parent, with someone that couldn’t make Yahweh Lord of their lives. The only way these relationships work is when you seek God’s will when you pray earnestly and are even willing to sacrifice your relationship with your partner if that is what was asked of you. God promises to remain faithful and responsive to us when we approach His throne of grace. Eventually, you will need to receive an answer, or else you might be married and still continue to struggle to explain whether or not your marriage is even “right.”

  1. Don’t expect you, partner, to change.

I think every Christian individual has heard the hopeful stories of unbelieving husbands and wives that convert or become baptized fifteen years into the marriage. While these are compelling testimonies and one to rejoice in they can never be an expectation or even an ardent desire. Dating is a time to test whether or not you could live with the traits of another for a lifetime, but marriage is a covenant that makes the simple and radical claim: “I choose you.” I pick you when you’re smelly when we argue when you act selfishly, and on that rare occasion when I just find you gross overall. I choose you wholeheartedly, the entirety of you, and if a different worldview makes this promise impossible it is not fair for either of you to remain together.

  1. Your partner needs to seek at least to understand your faith.

I resisted openly discussing my faith with Jeremy for months, I wanted to resist conflict, and I never wanted him to feel uncomfortable. I was preparing to attend seminary, and still, I refrained from bringing up topics connected to God. After a while, Jeremy came to me and told me, “Brooke I love you so much, but you claim that the most important thing to you is Christianity and, yet, you rarely talk about it. I have a lot of baggage when it comes to religious faith, I have been a victim of spiritual abuse, but if I love you at all I need to appreciate this part of you, I need to understand your worldview.” Since this discussion, we regularly listen to Science Mike a progressive Christian that discusses questions of religious faith and the hard sciences. Jeremy prays with me, although he uses this time as a meditation exercise and he daily encourages me to dig deeper in my faith rather than separate from this part of myself.

  1. Equally Yoked

In 2 Corinthians 6 Paul advocates for the necessity of remaining equally yoked. While these verses are often employed to warn against Christian and non-Christian romantic relationships, I think it is important to recognize that one should seek to remain spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, physically, intellectually and sexually yoked together. If in a broken world you find a partner that even fits most of these categories I think you should consider yourself blessed.

  1. Fruits of the Spirit

Jesus Christ once stated that “we will know a disciple of Christ by the fruit that they bear.”  According to Galatians 6:14 the fruits of the Spirit are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” If you are Christian in a romantic relationship with a non-Christian ask yourself, “does this connection bring me peace?” Does my partner bring me joy? Does my boyfriend/ girlfriend love me authentically or treat me kindly? If the answers to these questions is a resounding yes, thank God for your relationship.

  1. A Loving Response

It is tough to listen to the people you love tell you that your flourishing relationship is dishonorable to God, that they will always disapprove of your relationship provided your partner does not convert, and that you are “living in sin” but, truthfully, these responses are most frequently ones of misguided love. Many people that declare these kinds of relationship “evil” are afraid of you losing your faith or, worse, worried that if you lose your faith, you will receive “eternal damnation.” Clearly, these responses are ones of sincere concern, not hatred.

On the other hand, if your partner is a kind person he will want to be involved in your family’s life. Jeremy, for instance, envies my relationship with his family- he wishes he could attend my siblings’ sports’ games and go on double dates with my parents. When I began dating Jeremy I sympathized with my parents’ rejection and, in doing so, forgot to offer Jeremy proper support in response to their outwardly callous words and actions. Your partner will hurt because of these replies, and you need to respond with love, affection, and empathy.

  1. Love is love.

   As terrible cliche as it is I believe that the most important biblical commandment is love, that is the highest order. Life, for a lot of the time, is sad, difficult, and complicated, and you have received the blessing of finding radical, sincere love, a love that encourages you to be better every day, it may be that the only response it requires is heartfelt gratitude.

I hope these thoughts and reflections are helpful to you either to offer insight into your relationship or to help clarify an incredibly practical theological concern.

Jeremy is my boyfriend, co-adventurer, partner in crime, and, most importantly best friend, I want so desperately you to experience the same radical, earth-shattering, soul-awakening love regardless of your background!

IMG_0039

~Brooke

HeathenLove

Hi all, I want to begin approaching this sensitive topic by establishing that I seek to characterize my writing by loving-kindness, openness, and reciprocity. As a Religion and Philosophy major, incoming Princeton Theological Seminary student, and co-captain of my relationship’s ship, the issue I am about to raise is one that I have handled with careful reflection and prayer. I am a seeker, however, and it is with this acknowledgment that I continue to strive to remain open to the idea of being wrong, please feel free to question, comment, or even challenge me in regards to the contents of this post.

   Over the last year, I have engaged in an ever-evolving relationship with an agnostic. Growing up in a Christian community, I have received a variety of responses to my dating decision. Many people, including my parents, disapprove of my romantic relationship even asserting that my boyfriend will never be “worthy of their acceptance.” Still, others, primarily existing outside of the conservative evangelical church sphere, remain surprised by the negative reactions I experience regularly. I am sure that the individuals reading my post might react in similar manners- some of you might feel that my decision places me in spiritual jeopardy, while others might remain convinced that this issue is archaic and perhaps not even worthy of discussion.

Whatever you might think- these are reflections and tips that I have gathered based on my limited experience:

  1. When a relationship works, it is built on love and friendship

   I think I need to clarify by stating that Jeremy and I became best friends long before ever dating or even considering the possibility of such an interaction. We became friends as we interacted together in class, fiercely competing in our academic studies and as we took long walks on the cross country trails of our shared college falling in love with each other’s incessant questions. We discussed everything from literature, history and political science to the horrors of our high school experiences.

   We became boyfriend and girlfriend when we both agreed that “We were the closest people to each other besides our immediately family and we wanted it to remain it that way.” Perhaps biblically there are a series of implications when it comes to our situations, but philosophically our relationship is one that does not deserve questioning.

  1. Wrestle, keep wrestling!

I think there is an underlying assumption that romantic relationships with the “believer” and the “non-believer” result in the loss of Christian faith. This conclusion is reasonable as frequently in the Old Testament God’s chosen people, the Jewish people lose their faith as they intermarry with those from heathen nations. Often when these romantic relationships inhibit someone in their walk with Jesus Christ, it is because they become increasingly disinterested in their religious faith trading prayer and spiritual discipline for less conflict between their partners. The truth is when Christianity is not just an interest or a hobby, but your entire worldview conflicts will inevitably occur. It ‘s okay to ask yourself whether you could marry, perhaps the even a parent, with someone that couldn’t make Yahweh Lord of their lives. The only way these relationships work is when you seek God’s will when you pray earnestly and are even willing to sacrifice your relationship with your partner if that is what was asked of you. God promises to remain faithful and responsive to us when we approach His throne of grace. Eventually, you will need to receive an answer, or else you might be married and still continue to struggle to explain whether or not your marriage is even “right.”

  1. Don’t expect you, partner, to change.

I think every Christian individual has heard the hopeful stories of unbelieving husbands and wives that convert or become baptized fifteen years into the marriage. While these are compelling testimonies and one to rejoice in they can never be an expectation or even an ardent desire. Dating is a time to test whether or not you could live with the traits of another for a lifetime, but marriage is a covenant that makes the simple and radical claim: “I choose you.” I pick you when you’re smelly when we argue when you act selfishly, and on that rare occasion when I just find you gross overall. I choose you wholeheartedly, the entirety of you, and if a different worldview makes this promise impossible it is not fair for either of you to remain together.

  1. Your partner needs to seek at least to understand your faith.

I resisted openly discussing my faith with Jeremy for months, I wanted to resist conflict, and I never wanted him to feel uncomfortable. I was preparing to attend seminary, and still, I refrained from bringing up topics connected to God. After a while, Jeremy came to me and told me, “Brooke I love you so much, but you claim that the most important thing to you is Christianity and, yet, you rarely talk about it. I have a lot of baggage when it comes to religious faith, I have been a victim of spiritual abuse, but if I love you at all I need to appreciate this part of you, I need to understand your worldview.” Since this discussion, we regularly listen to Science Mike a progressive Christian that discusses questions of religious faith and the hard sciences. Jeremy prays with me, although he uses this time as a meditation exercise and he daily encourages me to dig deeper in my faith rather than separate from this part of myself.

  1. Equally Yoked

In 2 Corinthians 6 Paul advocates for the necessity of remaining equally yoked. While these verses are often employed to warn against Christian and non-Christian romantic relationships, I think it is important to recognize that one should seek to remain spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, physically, intellectually and sexually yoked together. If in a broken world you find a partner that even fits most of these categories I think you should consider yourself blessed.

  1. Fruits of the Spirit

Jesus Christ once stated that “we will know a disciple of Christ by the fruit that they bear.”  According to Galatians 6:14 the fruits of the Spirit are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” If you are Christian in a romantic relationship with a non-Christian ask yourself, “does this connection bring me peace?” Does my partner bring me joy? Does my boyfriend/ girlfriend love me authentically or treat me kindly? If the answers to these questions is a resounding yes, thank God for your relationship.

  1. A Loving Response

It is tough to listen to the people you love tell you that your flourishing relationship is dishonorable to God, that they will always disapprove of your relationship provided your partner does not convert, and that you are “living in sin” but, truthfully, these responses are most frequently ones of misguided love. Many people that declare these kinds of relationship “evil” are afraid of you losing your faith or, worse, worried that if you lose your faith, you will receive “eternal damnation.” Clearly, these responses are ones of sincere concern, not hatred.

On the other hand, if your partner is a kind person he will want to be involved in your family’s life. Jeremy, for instance, envies my relationship with his family- he wishes he could attend my siblings’ sports’ games and go on double dates with my parents. When I began dating Jeremy I sympathized with my parents’ rejection and, in doing so, forgot to offer Jeremy proper support in response to their outwardly callous words and actions. Your partner will hurt because of these replies, and you need to respond with love, affection, and empathy.

  1. Love is love.

   As terrible cliche as it is I believe that the most important biblical commandment is love, that is the highest order. Life, for a lot of the time, is sad, difficult, and complicated, and you have received the blessing of finding radical, sincere love, a love that encourages you to be better every day, it may be that the only response it requires is heartfelt gratitude.

I hope these thoughts and reflections are helpful to you either to offer insight into your relationship or to help clarify an incredibly practical theological concern.

Jeremy is my boyfriend, co-adventurer, partner in crime, and, most importantly best friend, I want so desperately you to experience the same radical, earth-shattering, soul-awakening love regardless of your background!

IMG_0039

~Brooke

 

 

A Solo Adventure

As this blog is one riddled with adventures I decided that for this post I would discuss my last adventure, While this journey sorely lacks the majestic strength of the mountains and the whispers in the trees I believe that it is an essential one to write. These past two days I have spent my time at Princeton Theological Seminary. I entered this time with what felt like necessary trepidation. Princeton Seminary, after all, was my dream school. I felt so insecure as if I were the traditional small town girl with too big of dreams…and perhaps I am.

Upon entering Princeton, however, I instantly remembered why I loved it- the atmosphere, the people, the opportunity to witness scholars you admired and envied jotting across campus, and the buildings covered in brick and ivy that make you feel as though everything you study and dream of studying must be incredibly important.

This experience ended in me feeling as though I had just received a homecoming, I felt my soul at peace in this environment, that somehow I belonged in a way that I could not have predicted. Now I have no formal offer as of yet (I will know in the next few weeks) but I realize that regardless of the outcomes this time was invaluable. There were a few things that I did during this time that made it such a success and I hope to share them with you. Searching for graduate schools is stressful, but I hope my tips will demonstrate that it does not have to be this way.

 

  • Listen and I mean REALLY  listen

 

My host, a good friend of my father’s, loathed his experience at Princeton Seminary. Now one could speculate that his hatred stemmed from his natural tendency toward cynicism, or his lack of engagement in academic studies, and perhaps they would not be wrong, but these conclusions would be nothing more than mere speculation. All I do know with certainty is that he told me perhaps a dozen times, “do not go to graduate school”, that the night before my interview he told me that I was wasting my time. He related stories of people that could not attain the vocations they hungered after, the overwhelming stress of the academy, and its elitist faults. Initially, I was discouraged and angry with his words, “how could he tell me the night before my interview, after a ten hour train ride that my hopes and dreams were a waste?” Rather than talking, than arguing, or rebuking, though, I listened… intently.I recognized that perhaps he was right, perhaps everyone I trusted was blind, and he was the only one realistic enough to know. The truth of the matter is that I could go through years of careful study and never receive a job, I cannot argue that, but when I departed I realized that I was all the more sure that this was the life that I wanted. I recognized  that under no uncertain terms will my dreams unfold the way that they have been given to me but I will be damned if I surrender without one hell of a journey.

  1. Do not look at your interview as a formal process, it is a conversation.

If you are even considering graduate school my guess is that you’re interested, really intellectually curious about something…or maybe everything. You carefully study politics, you read Tolstoy in the bathroom because let’s be honest who has time to read Anna Karenina otherwise, you’re deeply fascinated in the stories the trees tell, you care about social justice, and you long to discuss philosophy and theology with others. Essentially, all your friends at home think you’re a freak, they tell you that your questions and ardent desire to explore drains them. Well chances are your admissions’ counselor attended the same school where you are currently interviewing, and depending on where you go it is probable that she is just as much of a “freak” as you are.

So when your interviewer asks you about your passions, this is your moment, not because it will help you to get accepted, although that would be nice, but because for the first time you can tell someone about the books you love, the questions you have asked, the interests that you revel in, and the experiences you have had that brought you to that school at such a time as this and they are interested, clinging to every word you say, maybe because they are judging you but within that lies another secret…

  Let them judge you, welcome it because at the end of the day you’re really reading them as well. The interview is like a dance that helps you to see if this school could really be a place where you could thrive, not the impendent day of judgment.

   And if you are so fortunate as I was you can ask questions too, this is your time to discover if you could commit to years of study in this institution, it is a time where you can listen to another’s experience and ask yourself the fundamental question, “Is this too what I long for?”  

  1. Ask, ask, ask!!!

Ask so many questions of everybody!! Be bold, really! Engage in discussion with professors you are visiting, ask the guy on the tour guide about his tastes in philosophy and why he calls himself a Presbyterian, because the reality is if the school that you are considering attending does not value asking hard questions, it probably is not the right place for you.

  1. Drink good coffee because, honestly, who wants to spend long hours studying with a shitty cup of coffee? 😛
  1. Enjoy sitting in on classes, find ones that interest you, and fully commit. If you can find out ahead of time what the reading selection is for that day, read it!!!
  1. Ensure that your school has an excellent library and spend hours basking in the wonder of a new library.
  1. Make as many connections as you can- While I was in Princeton I went to an Episcopalian church service and I felt compelled to introduce myself to the priest after the service was dismissed. It turns out that he went to Duke (the other school I am seriously considering) and is now a student at Oxford, he was delighted to talk to me and offered me his contact information.I never would have received this incredible opportunity had it not been for my willingness to just randomly meet others.
  1. Explore the town

This was advice that Nate gave me that I was particularly hesitant to take as I wanted to absorb myself into a tight academic schedule, but he asked me to consider touring the town. I took his advice and found a cute restaurant and treated myself, it was a really necessary and tangible reminder that it was okay to live, to explore outside of the realms of the academy.

  1. Discover and learn to love the graduate school’s town’s bookstore.

During my journey around town I stumbled across a bookshop that I dearly loved, it was filled with liberal thought, thoughtful novels, and innovative ideas- it taught me that I had found a home here.

Do not think that taking this precious time for yourself is selfish or impractical. Coincidentally,the owner of the shop also offered me a business card and told me that in the Fall they were always looking for new employers and would love for me to apply if I decided to attend Princeton Theological Seminary.

  1. So cliche and so incredibly true- just be yourself, you’ve made it this far!!!

 

An Unexpected Journey

As this blog attempts to capture my adventures, particularly with my traveling companion Jeremy I felt it necessary to include a narrative of our last journey.

This past weekend Jeremy and I left for the Catskill Mountains with my dear friends Theresa and Gannon. What was planned as a quick hiking expedition in the Kaaterskill Falls, however, quickly turned into a journey that forced us to depend on mere strangers and intimately trust one another.

The walk to the end of the falls was not a difficult one, a few miles- nothing more, so although it was late afternoon Jeremy and I were not worried. We cheerfully hiked, simply enjoying the beauty of the fall day, soon we reached the observation deck. Once we arrived at ou destination we found a quiet sitting place and held each other lost in the beauty of the falls and lost in one another.

We did not take notice of the darkness beginning to loom ahead of us, certain that we could navigate our way back to our friends, after all the climb itself was not too much of a stretch.

One moment too late, though, we realized that our phones had both died and we had both forgotten to bring our flashlights. Clearly displaying my fear, Jeremy convinced me of his exemplary sensory skills in the dark and I clung to his vote of confidence, ever aware that it was all I could tangibly grasp.

Needless to say, it did not take long until we were lost in the woods, two wanderers walking aimlessly in unknown territory, uncertain as to our next maneuver. Fortunately, we stumbled quite accidentally across a remote campsite where we found a middle-aged couple. Moved by either our youth, our fear, or our inarguable stupidity and concerned for our safety this couple graciously offered us a light for the rest of our journey and a new set of directions. This was the first moment that I felt an overwhelming sense of an ease.

Their directions did not lead us back to the falls, but they did help us find an empty parking lot. As we pored over the maps placed there we noticed that a truck had pulled into the empty parking lot, cautious of absolute strangers but determined to find clarity Jeremy and I decided to ask its driver for concise directions. Instead of just offering directions, however, these kind individuals offered to drive us as far as Stewart’s where we could call our friends who were certainly anxious by now  for our safety, acutely aware of our absence.

The driver told us to ride in the back trunk of his truck and despite my ever-growing fears I instinctively agreed to this arrangement, knowing that the options for return were limited.

As Jeremy and I rode in the back of that truck, chilled by the wind, hair blowing wildly and abrasively something extraordinary happened. I looked at  Jeremy and noticed the absolute ease in his eyes. I listened to him tell me that this is all we had ever wanted, a real adventure, a real moment to bask in uncertainty, an opportunity, and as I listened to him I realized a simple truth. I want  to spend every day lost with this wild, beautiful boy.

After arriving at Stewart’s a man was kind enough to drive us to the main roads. It was there that we found and greeted our frightened friends, that now breathed sighs of relief. Eventually, Jeremy and I stepped into the car and snuggled together in the backseat. When  I asked him if he had remorse he told me definitively that he would cherish those moments. He explained  that in our mistakes we had gleaned from the kindness of others, those that demographically we once would have been bitterly divided against because of their political ideologies were the ones that had helped us. These were people that we could not pay back, we could not even write a thank you card to, we would not remember their names, and, yet, they helped us. He reminded me that our adventure would remain unforgettable. It with his optimism, his youthful vigor that I now walk boldly forward more ready than ever for our next unexpected journey…..

 

Life Lessons and Pocket Journals

In Chapter 10 of David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done, David Allen discusses the need to utilize equipment that seeks to capture our strongest critical thoughts. For most individuals our brains operate in such a way that there is a discernable pattern for when we have our most formative thoughts. For some our best thoughts are in the morning as we sit in silence before the rush of the day and sip our coffee and still for others the best creative thoughts occur late into the night when the world is hushed but our keyboards are busy, punching out the thoughts we hope will endure. No matter what, when this time comes the trick is to capture our sacred thoughts, experience them, but write them, cherish ourselves enough to consider our observations, our dreams, and our hopes worthy of recording.

I work the best into the late chapters of the night, I find myself overwhelmed with the conviction that in those times the only two consequential entities are my sturdy, all too eager pen and myself.

I have realized, however, that the wisest thoughts, the most transformative moments are not found within my own mind, nor are they found within the quotations of formal writers or notable scholars. These moments are encapsulated in my English professor’s insistence that when one grows old it becomes realized that love is sharing a cup of tea at the end of the day with a spouse and discussing life, even in the midst of its busyness. These moments are identifiable in my father’s voice in those long nights when he would impart wisdom to me as we stared into the campfire. These valuable times are discoverable when my first real love convinces me that doubt is beautiful, offering me permission for the first time to bask in uncertainty, I don’t want to miss or forget the kernels of truth spread across my wonderful life.

It is for this reason that a few years ago my father gave me a small pocket journal. I attempt to bring this journal everywhere I go and, consequently, find practical wisdom everywhere I travel, often from the most unlikely of places. This journal allows for me to grasp onto these memories, it also instills confidence in others as those around me understand in a tangible manner just how valuable their words are, how life-giving they can be. 

Eun Ji

Although this is a reflective piece, I hope that this reflects my profound relationship with a foreign exchange student that inspired me to travel, to live bravely.

 

The air is crisp today- fragranced with the scents of autumn, the trees are a radiant amber and scarlet, it is a season of renewal, a time when life is beginning and also ending. The atmosphere is filled with tear-stained parents attempting to form heartfelt goodbyes, the youth imbued with anticipation as well as anxiety, too consumed by their own ambitious hopes, their all too present fears to take notice of the way their parents waiver, hesitant to drive away just yet.

It is odd- the culmination of such emotional intensities interspersed with the boisterousness of the day’s activities- the booths advertising practically every extracurricular activity, the blaring worship music reminding all too cautious parents assuredly that their children are indeed attending a Christian school.

And somewhere amongst the swarms of parents and children there sit two girls holding hands- one is obviously beautiful- ebony hair spills over her delicate shoulders, the other ordinary- ivory skin, mouse-brown hair, one a foreign exchange student, 3,000 miles away from home, the other has lived in this provincial town all her life, they are unknown to one another and, yet, somehow… are still intimately connected. Peer into them, look closely. They are crying, the beautiful one speaks fervently, desperately in a foreign tongue, the other listens intently and then echoes a response in English. It is a whisper, a song, a prayer, a hope, a wish….. They do not understand the other’s words and still… in this moment they are intimately discovering one another. Their words, though indiscernible, convey an overture of love, of sisterhood.

Look again at the crowds of people, the children unable to muster the humility required to fully express to their parents how much those eighteen years have meant, the parents afraid to relinquish control, but even more fearful of confessing their own anxiousness, instead constructing excuses to stay only a moment more.

How odd it is that the greatest vulnerabilities, the rawest sincerity can be found in two girls, two strangers, what an enigma to realize how little language, culture, and background inhibit and how enormous the constrictions of familiarity are.

Purposeful Living

In David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done, he strongly advocates for purposeful living. This principle finds reflection in his questions, “Why are you going to your next meeting? What’s the purpose of your task? Why are you having friends over for dinner? Why are you hiring a marketing director instead of an agency? Why are you putting up with the situation in your service organization? Why do you have a budget?” As Allen points out, “this is nothing but common sense”, however a vast number of people ignore principled living, and the why must be forced out of them. Purpose is crucial to human flourishing because it demands honest striving.

Frankly, although this statement is true about organization it is true about life itself and the way that “tradition” functions in society. There are so many concepts that seemingly exist without a purpose and, yet, are almost universally celebrated and acknowledged.

For instance, a plethora of people get married without really considering its ramifications, as Christians we believe that this action is moral, but I wonder if we really know why. What is the difference between marriage and a faithful relationship between two consenting adults? Or think about the way that we value cars in the United States, attaining a license is considered a rite of passage, perhaps in some ways this is understandable as owning a car is a liberating experience, but to link maturity with the attaining of a driver’s license seems silly and yet….we often do this without clear rationale.

I firmly believe that in life’s quandaries as well as in organizational management the only way to live purposely, in the way that Allen suggests, is to ask careful and thoughtful questions. It is in these questions that we learn to live a meaningful life.

 

 

Boundless

Inarguably, one of the best points that David Allen presents in this book is that the boundaries of work have drastically altered in the twenty-first century. There once was a time when work was difficult, grueling even, but it maintained a clear objective, tasks were evident, and the time when rest was needed and could be taken was obvious.

Emerging technology makes it so employees and employers often have no clear boundaries that separate personal life from professional life.

While David Allen does not offer direct suggestions on how to solve this problem, his statements allowed me to reflect further on my own life and seek solutions that would enhance my times of rest as well as the time that I ought to spend developing meaningful relationships.

 

I once met a psychiatrist who was one of the most influential in the Rochester area. Despite his busy schedule and long list of patients he saw Dr. Rosenfeld refused to use electronics while meeting with his clients and insisted on using paper and pen because he believed it was more personable. He believed in written records, although all of his colleagues used electronic databases and he did not carry a cellphone with him incase that he was tempted to depart from his ritual.

Watching the way that he interacted with others was transformative and inspiring. Although I still often check my e-mail I try my best to check it at prescribed times during the day rather than whenever I receive a new notification and this habit alone has already positively affected my life.

 

 

Personal Someday/ Maybe List

Someday/ Maybe List

Earlier in my blogs, I discussed David Allen’s suggestion to create a “someday/ maybe list”. I explained how this idea is often frustrating to me because I do not understand how to create these “bucket lists” into tangible realities.

   These past few weeks, however, I have decided that recognizing this apparent difficulty inhibited from dreaming,, from actually writing a “someday/ maybe” list in the first place. How can I expect to do anything amazing when I’m afraid of even placing my goals into words? So with this question in mind, I decided to write and publish my “someday/ maybe” list.  

                    Someday/ Maybes

  1. Learn and attempt to walk on hot coals.
  2. Go skydiving.
  3. Ice Skate at Arrowhead, Provincial Park- Ontario, Canada.
  4. Backpack through Europe.
  5. Get a tattoo.
  6. Visit New Zealand/ the places where Lord of the Rings were filmed.
  7. Live among a native tribe and try to adjust/ adapt to their unique customs without judgment.
  8. Receive my PhD.
  9. Teach theology at a liberal arts college, encourage conservative fundamentalists/ evangelicals to critically think and open their hearts up doubts and questions
  10. See the Grand Canyon
  11. Take a long road trip with no prescribed destination in mind
  12. Volunteer at a refugee center
  13. Work on a campaign or closely with a politician
  14. Go and see the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C
  15. Visit Eun Ji in South Korea
  16. Learn a foreign language beyond a high school level
  17. Empower women in developing countries, particularly with offering them safe, reproductive choices.
  18. Publish a book, journal article, essay etc.
  19. Attend theological conferences on a fairly regular basis
  20. Blindfold  my/ my partner’s eyes and point to a place on a map, go and travel there and make the most of it, wherever that might be
  21. Go on an extended camping/ kayaking trip
  22. Go on a cruise
  23. Visit/ perhaps live for a short time in Colorado
  24. Buy an old Volkswagen, use it for adventures
  25. Encourage others to ask questions, to live boldly/ fearlessly
  26. To be the best possible mother I ever could be
  27. Teach my children to be open-minded by exploring a plethora of worldviews and world religions
  28. Go hang gliding at s significant height/ in a park or forest
  29. Do some kind of sustainable care act in a developing country i.e build a well, help improve an education system etc.
  30. Live outside of the States for at least a while

A Traveller’s Guide to Falling in Love

For ever so long I struggled to write a post on this blog of a personal nature. I loathe self-importance and my greatest fear was to sound as if I were a foolish teenager attempting to publish her journal. After some reflection, though,  I realized that you should know a bit about

this journey and my travel companion Jeremy. I do not want my blog to resemble a mere itinerary of adventures, I want to be just as real, authentic, and earthy as the places we hope to see and record.    

Jeremy and my relationship is an unconventional one, which is the only way that a relationship could function for two free-spirited souls like ourselves. We remain purposely free from societal labels and traditional understandings of the word “love” and it is our hesitation to qualify and strictly define that allows me to feel more at peace than ever.

     I am a wanderer- one who wrestles with remaining on the course others have attempted to pave for me, one who lives in riddles and questions, rather than answers.As I often listen to my peers discuss their hopes for home ownership, marriage, and white mini vans I find myself shuddering. I am reminded of Belle’s words in the film Beauty and the Beast, “I want so much more than this provincial life.”

Jeremy is an amazing man that longs for adventure and was denied it for the majority of his life, constantly confined and still yearning for the same freedom that I pray for and anxiously await.

  Until now he never spent time gazing in awe at a map, ever aware that the figures present on it only served as a reminder for all he could never see. But now….we have each other and we are able to hope dangerously and wildly.

Recently, Jeremy looked at a map while talking on Skype with me. He told me of the journeys that he longs to take with me, of the life that we hope to build together. We do not have money, yet he told me to explore without movement, he begged me find the same foci as he did on Google Maps- the same continent, nation, street, and place my marker there.

We allowed our imaginations to fulfill the rest of the task as we gave ourselves the artistic permission to describe “the world” we saw there.

We promised ourselves that we would someday visit,  but for now our dreams are enough, for now our hopes are what keep us alive….