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Elvis

Wedding, work, and willpower

More wedding anxiety dreams the last two nights. It's always about not having the right clothes and running late, which is a pretty small and simple thing for an awake mind to handle. I just don't like waking up feeling stressed.

Really good day at the office yesterday. Threw around some exciting ideas and felt like I was contributing something unique and good. I like that a lot.

Discipline has been spotty, but not discouragingly so. Progress is progress—God is at work in me, and I increasingly have greater will to join Him in His work. While I'm not content with where I am, I'm on the right track and moving mostly forward.

Comments

My contract says that you'll be dressed and on time. ;)
If your contract said I'd be undressed and on time, I'd be concerned!
That usperic is killer.
It's always been my contention that, if you don't get married by an Elvis impersonator, you'll always wonder, "What if we'd gotten married by an Elvis impersonator?" And really, who needs those kinds of lingering questions haunting their marriage?
I could PROBABLY hook you up with my dad, you know. :D
barlow_girl will be so excited to hear that!

Or she'll kill me. Tough to say.
You can choose between the red suit or the white one that has the cape. Either way, you can't go wrong. He'll just need time enough to grow the lambchops back. It's been a while. :D
niiiiice.
Hahahaha. That's an excellent point and a view I've never really heard expressed! ;)
agreed
Oddly enough I didn't have dreams about the wedding before the wedding, but I've been having them this last week.
Go figure. It's kind of nice, though, if the dream was stressful to wake up and realize it all happened AND it was fun.

You'll have fun, I'm sure of it.
I have no doubt, and even if I did, that icon of you and ormopher would be enough to encourage me.
I had dreams about not having my wedding dress ready on time. So did the seamstress who made my dress! It's weird, the stuff that comes up in our dreams when we're anticipating something. I had CRAZY dreams when I was pregnant with Randall!
I think if I get pregnant, my dreams will be crazy, too!
It would definitely be more than your dreams that were crazy! I've heard of a man who got pregnant once. And in extreme circumstances, men have been able to lactate to feed their children. Freaky, huh?
 
I never saw that movie! Too AWKWARD.

(Anonymous)

from steph

perhaps give living in the gray a try. it's not our nature but the only way to really be submissive, i think

Re: from steph

I'm thinking we're talking about different things—when I imagine "living in the gray," it's what all of us are doing all the time. So I may be missing what you're saying or what it's connected to.

Re: from steph

Oh, and I'd like to hear more (I'm not being pissy—sometimes it's hard to tell on teh iNtarw3bz).
Maybe it was really just heinous-website-induced trauma from the tux place. ;o]

(Anonymous)

from steph

I think what most of us (like, 99.9% of us) are doing all the time is the opposite of living in the gray. We badly want black-and-whiteness and we live according to this. It works for things like getting out the door on time and keeping your productivity high at work, but I think it works directly against us when we apply it to the spiritual and emotional part of our lives.
I don't think you can see God at work unless you move yourself into the gray, into the uncomfortable part where you're consciously relinquishing control and relinquishing your conceptions of who God is and how he works and telling him that you need him to show up. Like, the Bible says God is always with me and will never fail me. But sometimes I feel like he isn't here, and he fails me badly. I have always felt guilty about feeling these things about God - but they are the truth. They're my experience. What do I do with this? I've been shoving it away because it's uncomfortable; it's gray. I want to believe he is always here and has a plan. That's the Black/White. And sometimes I do feel he is real and cares about me. Then other times I feel very strongly that if he were real, he would not let the things happen that he does (black/white). Living in the gray, for me, is existing between these two tensions and acknowledging them both. It's just my truth, and it's harder to live this way but I feel like I'm living in a more truthful way, and I feel a lot more freedom. I want so much to be a full-time Christian, or a full-time atheist, or a full-time SOMETHING but I'm not convinced of anything. And I believe that is where faith comes in. If I say "I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if I died I'd go to heaven," there is no faith in that.

Re: from steph

I see. I'm not quite sure how it relates to this entry, but think I'm with you at least 70-80% of the way. Where it sounds like we might differ is in whether full-time Christianity is possible and whether there can be assurance of things unseen. I believe in both, but I don't think that makes the tension go away. Yielding to Someone other than me to be the author final arbiter of truth makes some things that would otherwise be black and white become gray, and vice versa.

Your Diaryland entry today is fantastic.

(Anonymous)

Re: from steph

The tie-in got lost there, didn't it - I think your focus on making progress and moving forward and not being content with where you are is very black/white thinking. So that spurred my dissertation.

Re: from steph

Ah, I see. Part of the disconnect is that I was referring to some simple things (eating healthier, getting up earlier), but you might have thought I was getting at something else. But since you've got me thinking about it—I think there's actually more tension and "gray" to embrace, some of which you may be filing under "very black/white thinking."

In his letters, Paul repeatedly talks about the importance of discipline and perseverance, yet he also says he's learned the secret of being content in all circumstances. How can both be true, from the same author? How can he be content and press on toward a goal at the same time? And yet, there it is, in not-so-black-and-white. So I also see this tension as part of living in the gray—not just living in it, but going so far as to navigate in it and actually express God's image as a creative, alive, and engaged being.

Genesis 1 informs my view of progress: I don't think "formless and void" is as good as full-blown creation. I don't think a bunch of paints and a canvas are as beautiful as a van Gogh (though they are almost certainly better than a Thomas Kinkade). Whether we call it progress (scary word) or creativity (fuzzy word), it's part of God's image to call forth good from chaos. I think His work in my life will involve that, even when it's also painful and messy.

(Anonymous)

Re: from steph

My first thought about this was that Paul hadn't learned the secret of being content in all circumstances - there was nothing to learn - it was a gift, the peace that passes understanding, something God just gave him by no merit of his own and no fanangling was required on his part.

But it's late and I'll have to write more later...

Re: from steph

If that's the case (and it may be—knowing that is learning the secret), it doesn't make the tension go away. If anything, it makes it greater: we still find a man who has contentment, yet also writes about the importance of discipline, self-control, perseverance, and pressing onward.

Either idea by itself is very "black/white." Together, however, we have gray. Paul didn't say, "Hey, now that I have this contentment thing, remember all that discipline stuff? Well, forget it, because you don't need it. Sorry about that." Nor did he say, "Sure, that contentment was nice and all, but it's unrealistic, so everyone get back to work, because God's not happy." We may simply want one idea to eliminate or override the other (it's easier that way), but Scripture only gives us the tension.

That's the gray I'm living in, so I can't agree that discipline, etc. are evidence of "black/white thinking." Without contentment and security in Christ's love, they would be. But since I'm embracing the tension rather than running from it (boy, I'm glad I used to be a counselor and still have my handy bag of Mars Hill terminology), I'd further suggest that rejecting notions of discipline and progress so that one can have contentment is "black/white" thinking. It trusts something much less than the gospel, which tells us that, despite the apparent paradox, they can and do exist together.

And that's a gray we can only live in by faith, which we know is a gift—but we still have to "pick up" what's been given to us. At staff this week, Phil talked about faith and longing (we were discussing the themes of the oratorio) and gave an awesome illustration. He said that when we cry out for God to give us faith, it doesn't make any sense for us to toss it away when He does: "It's like a child asking daddy for a glass of water, then just pouring it out on the ground." That's stuck with me. Paul's tension—indeed, all of Scripture's—includes waiting on that glass to be filled, as well as receiving it well when it is. There's no absence of longing; rather, there's instruction and example on how to keep living with it. We aren't the first to live in the gray, and we aren't alone or directionless in it.

(Anonymous)

Re: from steph

You seem to try to reach a solid place and I don't see you admit to feeling defeated. Do yu ever feel uncertain or defeated?

Re: from steph

Are you sure you're not thinking of someone else and transferring it over to me?

Look at what our church has been through, or the fact that I continue to work a job I'm monstrously overqualified for—you don't know I've felt uncertain? Think of Chris—you don't know I've felt defeated? And that's just what you happen to already know about. So I'm surprised you even ask.

(If you want to see more, click the "struggle" tag in the sidebar or just read back in my journal. And if you want to see more than that, get an LJ account and I can give you access to entries you can't otherwise see.)

What I don't believe, however, is that any of those things is the last word. To claim that there's no certainty just because I experience uncertainty only makes sense if I define reality, if I'm God—I don't, and I'm not. And I'm not about to willingly let go of the faith I've been given, because it's a precious gift bought by a terrible price and I need it to get through the rest of the gray. That also makes it OK not to claim to have any faith I haven't been given, but to ask for it and wait for it, even crying out. But I do have enough faith to do that, and that's a grace I'll cling to.

(Anonymous)

Re: from steph

Remember this is just how it appears to me. Through all these hard things I haven't gotten the impression that you were markedly distressed, but this is only my impression. You seem to wrap things up neatly in conversation and in your journal. Still, this is only my impression.

Re: from steph

Yeah, I think that impression misses a lot of my life, but maybe we just see distress differently—perhaps what you're expecting it to look like is too narrow to include what you've seen in my life. I don't know, but it makes me sad to not be seen by you in that way.

On the other hand, it'd be dishonest for me to respond to distress differently in an effort to be better seen by others. I am who I am, and God is who He is in my life. I can assure you there's been distress. And where there's been any peace or strength for me in these situations, I can assure you it's come by grace, not denial—I simply haven't been in a position to have the luxury of denying any of the realities, even when others have been able to do so.

So I hope you can leave room for something more when you see me. I'll gladly own up to how gracious God's been to me, and I think He's used me to help in some tough times, too. It'd be really, really, really twisted to devalue or disown any of that. But it'd also be dishonest to say there's been no distress. It's just not true.

(Anonymous)

Re: from steph

I'm sure that there's something more than what I've perceived, that's why I wanted to stress that it's only been my impression. You just seem very, very on top of everything. :)

Re: from steph

Yeah, my response to distress is probably informed by my temperament and my counseling training—I try to avoid emotionally vomiting on other people with my stuff except in the context of a more intimate friendship. There isn't always a choice, but often, there is.

Choosing to share some things in only certain contexts doesn't make distress nonexistent (any more than exploding on others ever makes it any better), but it can minimize unnecessary collateral damage to others. There's been more than enough of that (and I no doubt have done and will do it sometimes), so when I have a choice, I try to choose intimacy: it risks less indiscriminate harm to others and honors the gift of friendship more.

Anyway, know that I'm open to you and David seeing more. I'd hate for seeming on top of things to be some kind of liability in our friendship.

(Anonymous)

Re: from steph

I'm trying to be aware of how my response to distress is also informed by my ego. It's hard to be vulnerable, esp. when your home environment had you fighting to just survive and I couldn't really let myself feel my true feelings. And now that we're Living Real Life my survival techniques have been biting me in the ass. Just ask David.