Sunday, August 24, 2008


I feel the need to write. I can't pin down a particular topic, but we'll just see what comes.

I haven't thought about this in a year-and-a-half, but upon returning to Union it's been smacking me in the face: there sure are a lot of couples walking around on campus. Happy boys and girls holding hands strolling in their bliss. Oh, boy they look happy! And I'm happy for them. Can't you tell?

I am having a hard time taking school seriously. When a teacher tells me I have 100 pages of reading to do and a typed paper to turn it, I just want to say, "! I don't wanna." Basically I feel like a brat who just doesn't want to do anything. But after spending a year teaching in Cambodia, being on the other end as the student, isn't very fun. I was walking across campus last week just thinking, What am I doing here? Why do I need an education? It feels like what I was doing in Cambodia mattered more. So anything here just seems, pointless. I felt needed there, whereas here, all I have to take care of is myself apparently.

I've listened to college students complain about worship credits at Union for as long as I can remember. We call them "Jesus points". You know because it feels like the school is saying that the students need to earn points with Jesus to gain eternal life. I've never really had much of an issue with the idea, until now. I didn't go to vespers. I didn't go to dorm worship. I didn't go to church. I didn't go to V2 (the second vespers). I feel like attending makes me a hypocrit. I don't feel the urge to go and yet I am forced to so I can earn my points. It feels like they are less concerned with a genuine spiritual experience, becuase they assume that vespers somehow guarantees it.

I've started attending the Church of Options. It's a great church just off of Prescott street. We meet in a quaint and cozy house on Saturday mornings at about 11am, or whenever we feel like it. Pajamas are welcome and the music is always acoustic and often sung along with Coldplay. My sister and Ben invited me. They started the church and I am the only member. We get together and listen to a podcast called Speaking of Faith. We pause and discuss what comes to mind. Ben sips his coffee, while I do yoga, and Ashley paints her nails. They interview Buddhists, Jewish rabbis, Catholics, Voodou masters, and game wardens. Afterwards we talk about what resonated the most with us individually. Church is, by definition, an association of people with a common belief system (thankyou Google). This is the best church I have ever been to. I am encouraged to grapple with issues that affect me day to day. I talk about topics that really matter to me. My opinion is welcomed and always heard. My mind is thinking and absorbing and changing. Then sometimes Ben and I play guitar. I love the Church of Options. It is the only church I've attended that feels 100% true.

Saturday afternoon, I went to a student missionary potluck with all the returnees from last year. It's been interesting seeing them and talking with them throughout the week. It feels like the SM's just get this better than other students. We met at a families house and chatted. I listened to other SM stories and looked at their pictures. The longer I sat there, I worse I felt. They all had wonderful stories and experiences. They loved their year away! Pastor Rich was there. He gathered us all together for discussion. As soon as he started talking, I excused myself and started crying. It was just so overwhelming to see the year that I could have had, but didn't. Did I do something wrong? Did I miss the point? I am not saying that I am the only one who struggled. We all did in different ways. But it is hard for me to come up with fun stories and memories. It just makes me want to avoid the topic entirely. The rough stories aren't what most people want to hear. Someone I was talking to this week actually said, "Well aren't you a downer!" after I told them I'd had a rough year. Pastor Rich said, "I know all of you will agree that coming home is harder than going into the mission field." I'm thinking,
"And most of you would go back right now if you could!" Nuh uh!
He continued, "Now that you are back, remember how you learned throughout your struggles to rely on God. Don't lose that! Remember how close you have become to God." That last one didn't fit me either. I left feeling more separate than ever. I left knowing I was unfairly uncomparing myself. But part of me couldn't stop and part of me didn't want to. I'm very envious of what everyone else seemed to have.

My kids in Cambodia seem so far away. Kagna doesn't fully understand the Gmail chat option. So everyday I have a chat that was sent while I was offline that says, "MS.BO???????????????" as if it works like a telephone. I don't want to be there and I don't necessarily want to be here.

In my Drawing for Everyone class last week the teacher told us to introduce ourselves: name, major, and what we were passionate about. Huh? Passionate about? Nothing really came to mind. Maybe that's part of the problem.


Anonymous said...

thanks for just writing and sharing. know that you aren't the only returning sm with those feelings. keep on being honest with yourself and with others. enjoy the good things about being back. and the "jesus points"--i think union hopes that somewhere, amidst the requirements, each student will find a spark for themselves, something that resonates. god knows your heart and he'll find you. i'm glad you've found a spot to just be.