Last Friday, I wrote a post and someone left a comment that gave me pause. It read: “Just because you can no longer be the blogger who has never had a boyfriend doesn’t mean we don’t want to hear from … Continue reading
Sitting on the porch, computer on my lap and a slight chill in the air, I am content. I am happy, actually, which isn’t something I can always say. I tend towards bad days, sad days really. The ones that grab hold of you and weigh you down. The ones that make it hard to smile or laugh. And I love to laugh. It’s my favorite feeling, when something is just so lovely and wonderful that you have to show it, you have to let the happiness and joy bubble forth and ring through the empty space between you and another soul. I want to laugh more. It makes my soul happy and my heart full.
Today I am 25. I expected to come to this milestone of sorts with a heaviness pervading the day. Because my life isn’t exactly what I want it to be. I’m not where I assumed I would be at this age, alive for a quarter of a century. There were plans I had and let go. Dreams I outgrew or outran. People that faded into the horizon as the sun set on different chapters in my life.
And yet, I’m optimistic about this coming year. I think I started 25 off right. I chose to be happy today. To look around at the life I’ve been blessed with and smile at how far I have come, even if it’s not always easy to recognize. I enjoyed the sun, winding roads, and good company. I felt loved, by myself and by those I care for deeply. And I had some Diet Coke, which always makes me sigh with pleasure.
I want to keep the good feelings going through this next year. I want to spend my twenty-fifth year on this earth living life the absolute best I can. I want to take a few chances, make a few mistakes, become stronger and happier. I want to live as though I am worth a good, happy, fulfilled life – because I am. I want to love myself to pieces. I want to experience things and write with fervor. I want good things for myself.
So I made a list of sorts, which isn’t cut and dry or black and white. It’s not exclusive or final. And I won’t call them resolutions, because New Year’s never seems to go well for me. But today, these are the things I want for myself in the coming year; things I want to live out and work towards. Things, I believe, will encourage me towards happiness, joy, and being the best possible me.
1. Read a book a week. – There was a time in my life when I read a book a day. Easily. Locked in my room, I’d delve into the pages of a story and fall in love with it. For a few hours I would be enraptured with the perfect way the author had woven words together into a gorgeous tale. I’ve forgotten how to do that – how to lose myself in a story. I’d like to find my way back by reading something new each week, whether it’s a novel, a short story, an essay, a poem, a biography, or a philosophical treatise. I’d like to rediscover my love of books.
2. Sweat. – Gross, right? Yeah it’s a bit gross sounding. I used to play soccer. For years I was my father’s daughter. I played in the rain, ran through the pain, took out some pent up aggression on an unsuspecting soccer ball. And I loved it. The fresh air, the ache of well-used muscles – it makes you feel alive. I want that feeling back.
3. Embrace the artistic. – I’m not exactly an artist in the truest sense. The only art class I’ve taken is calligraphy. So I don’t have much technical skill, but I have a passion for art. For making beautiful things. There is freedom and healing that comes when you put pencil to paper and create something from nothing at all except a whisper in your imagination. I want to fill notebooks with my moments of inspiration.
4. Publish a book. – I’m a writer. That is who I am and what I was called to do. I’ve finally embraced that over the last year. In this next year, I want to discipline myself and create a book of my own design. I want to finally finish and idea and share it with those who need and want to hear it. I’d like to pour my heart and soul into something and watch as it comes together in a beautiful ending.
5. Know my worth. – I want to finally accept and believe with my entire being that I am worthy. My times is worth something. My friendship is worth something. My words are worth something. My heart is worth something. My love is worth something. I am worth something. And I want to surround myself with people recognize that and encourage me to believe it of myself; with people who look at me and see a lovely woman who is worthy. No more wasted time and tears on those who only take advantage and belittle and degrade my spirit. Because I can finally say I am worth more than that.
6. Love first. – Love, I believe, is the most important thing. The only thing. I want that to be the thing I do first, with myself and with others. I want to love before I criticize, love before I argue, love before I disagree, love before I speak, love before I listen. I want to learn to love completely, with every piece of my heart, no matter the person. And I want to learn to express and share that love with those I care for. I want to find freedom in unconditional love. I think it’s a beautiful thing.
There are other things I want for myself, things that are floating about in my brain. I want to move to a place that fulfills me while challenging me. I want to strengthen my friendships rather than allowing them to fade away. I want to travel everywhere that strikes my fancy. I want to find a job that brings my joy and fulfillment rather than leaving me with a sense of dread. I want to read my Bible more, pray more, and perhaps finally find a church that makes me feel at home.
Mostly, God willing, I want to be happy. That’s my birthday wish for myself.
Thank you for reading! And maybe (definitely) follow me on Twitter >> @cassiclerget.
I’m pretty entertaining.
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. – Dr. Seuss
I believe that we are a generation that feels deeply. We see injustice in the world, and we are wounded by it. It breaks our hearts, makes us cry, gets us angry. We refuse to tolerate it. We demand that something, anything be done. We hope for change with every part of our being. We crave it. We long for it. Some of us even pray for it. We feel the world should be a better place, and we want to be the people who make it happen.
But what do we really do? What demands do we make? What changes have we put in motion? We are a generation with capabilities beyond anything our parents could have imagined. The technology, the information, the opportunities at our fingertips are enviable. But what do we do?
A couple weeks ago the internet was flooded with Invisible Children’s video on Joseph Kony. Everyone was reblogging, retweeting, and posting this video. People were buying the t-shirts. Overnight, everyone with access to any social networking or video website suddenly knew who Joseph Kony was. And they were furious. Beyond angry. They wanted justice. They wanted change. They wanted him to pay for everything he’s done, for the lives he’s taken, for the children he’s forced to fight. They wanted to be responsible for taking him down, and they wanted the satisfaction of knowing they had done their part.
Today, Joseph Kony, while perhaps remembered, is mostly forgotten. The video is no longer being posted or reblogged or liked. “Kony 2012” and “Keep Calm and Stop Kony” are no longer our profile pictures or status updates. He’s fallen through the cracks of a fickle generation. He isn’t the first and won’t be the last.
We get so excited about our chance to do good in this world. We jump on the bandwagon, eager to dedicate time, money, and effort to changing the world and making it the best place it can be. We long for peace and love to be spread to every country. We want an end to the wars, we want to bring children home, we want to feed the hungry and clothe the impoverished. We want so much, but we do so little. We bore so easily.
If ever there was a generation with the power to actually change the world, it would be ours. We have the knowledge, education, money, and drive to do it. We care so much for the less fortunate, truly care. But unless we move our support from the internet to real life, unless we get up and go out into the real world where the real problems are, nothing will change. Unless we can care about something for longer than a week, nothing will change.
In the New Testament, James writes quite clearly (as he often does) about the difference between doing and hearing:
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. (James 1:22-24)
While James is writing about living out one’s faith in Jesus, I feel what he is saying is more than applicable to Christian activism. It is one thing for us to hear and see all the bad things that are going on in the world. In fact, that is the easy part. It is also easy to feel compassion, to sympathize with those who are suffering hardship. It doesn’t really require that we give anything, only that we feel. But as James writes later, “Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (2:17). All that compassion, that care, that heartbreak does nothing for the people who are suffering, if we do nothing about it. Unless we take action, their cause will fall to the wayside, lying there amongst our best intentions.
You have the power to create change. If ever there was one word to describe the hopes of our generations, change would be that word. So I urge you to do something about the causes that you care deeply about. I’m not saying that you have to rescue child soldiers from Kony by yourself (that would be unwise and life-altering, though probably not in a good way). But there is so much more you could be doing besides updating your status to say “Stop Kony.” No matter what cause is close to your heart, you should get involved. Go into the community and raise awareness. Volunteer where you are needed. Write letters to your senators and representatives. Be active in making the change you want to see.
Because unless you can give others a reason to care, to join your cause, to fight the injustice together, nothing is going to change. Its just not.
About a year ago, I wrote the “poem” posted earlier. (I have poem in quotation marks, because poetry and I do not always get along, so my efforts aren’t really worth the name.) I believe that was the lowest point I have ever been in, the worst I have ever left, the loneliest I’ve ever been. I was so hollow that some days I wasn’t entirely sure if I was really there. I didn’t feel as if I was living, merely existing.
That was also the furthest from God I have ever been. And it was a choice I had made intentionally. I had drawn away from Him, not disbelieving, but not having faith. It was a horrid tug of war on my heart between my intuition and my reason. It was draining me slowly. I was pushing away the only thing with the power to bring me back. I was yearning for love that only He could give, but I turned my back to him. I ignored Him, and was so frustrated with the emptiness I felt.
I wrote the poem at the end of my year in Vegas (where I had moved for grad school). A few weeks after I wrote it, I moved back home to Washington. That place had turned me inside out and left me raw, and I needed to leave. I needed somewhere different. I needed a fresh start.
We often find ourselves in places we hate, both physically, mentally, and emotionally. We end up somewhere we hadn’t intended, but we don’t move on. We don’t make a change. We become complacent. We allow ourselves to wallow in our inability to move. The longer we stay, the worse we feel. Those feelings of frustration, confusion, hollowness become a part of us. They enter into our hearts and souls and take up space. They push out the good memories and the things we love, and we let them in our complacency. We welcome any feeling, because that is better than nothing.
I love to be by myself. Growing up in a large family of loud women has done this to me. I want my space, some peace and quiet. Some days, I need it. Too much interaction with people can be tiring, so I need to recharge and the silence gives me that. But some days, that silence is oppressive. The alone-ness is too much, and I want someone to come and take my hand, pulling me away from myself. Sometimes, I can pull myself out of it. On other days, I simply can’t be bothered.
By the end of my time in Vegas, I couldn’t be bothered and there wasn’t anyone around who really cared. I allowed myself to wallow for a time in that self-pity. I felt bad for myself, my situation. I cried in both sadness and anger, but mostly frustration. Even at that moment, I didn’t ask God for comfort. I didn’t let Him in.
But I made a change. I saw how destructive my behavior had become, how useless my actions were. I cannot imagine where I would be now, if I hadn’t left. I wouldn’t be working on my relationship with God, and I wouldn’t be in a place where I can actually say that I am content (not completely happy, but content nonetheless). I was able to pull myself out. I brought myself to place where I saw how desperately I needed God and am now in a place where I feel like I can seek Him without being mocked for it. I can have my beliefs, my faith, my relationship with Him without worrying about anyone else.
We need to take the initiative in making the changes in our life. We need to take those first steps. We need to ask for help. We need to admit that we need something different. If we do nothing, if we cannot take responsibility, then nothing will change and nothing will get better. And everything can always get better. The sadness does not have to live within you always. God will take it away and replace it with something else. But we need to make the first move. We need to dare to want something better. We need to want it.