Thursday, March 23, 2017

Lament 3 (How Great Is Our God?)

I've been writing poetry lately. Well, it's more like spoken word, and I wanted to show it to guys. I think I want to do stuff like this more. This is the third "lament" I've written, but the first one I'm officially sharing. This has been on my heart a lot, so I hope it resonates with you. If you don't want to watch the video, the script is on the bottom. 

Let me know what you think.
(Please excuse the bad quality and the stuttering.)


How great is our God?

We say that a lot
we believe He is good 
when He gives us what we want
But how much of that do we believe
when our life gets tough?
our ideas fall to pieces, strangely enough

how great is our God?

In my heartache and hurt I wondered if it was true
why God would send me down the path that lead me to you
the hurt you inflicted caused a serious wound
now my trust is diminished and has become ruined
how great is our God
can I say that with sincerity 
when all He is done is left me without any clarity
He gives and He takes
but lately its been more of the latter
Is He really listening to my prayers?
or is He too busy with other chatter?

how great is our God?

in the Old Testament and the ancient Scriptures 
I see a God who killed and waged wars
and awarded  adulterers 
I see justice by bloodshed and holy wars
I see refugees begging are answered with closed doors
the saints of today are more like the sinners
its hard to tell them apart when they both act so bitter
the world is a mess and looks more like cat litter
in the midst of all that
is our God any better?

how great is our God?

when the world has turned to chaos and violence
and believers cry out and are answered with silence
when good people die and bad people prosper 
and life is unfair 
and things only seem to get harder
how great is our God?

this question keeps me up at night and stops me from sleeping
how great is our God in the midst of my weeping?
is He good, is He loving, is He really omnipotent?
what I compare Him to is His worldly equivalent
my father he left me after years of abuse
so in my mind I see God with this big cup of booze
He's sipping His Jack with His hand in the air
He says "Faith, now really? Did you have to go there?"

so how great is our God?

the problem I see is my own narrow view
I think if hurt touches me it mustn't be true
that God could really love me while I'm feeling so blue 
when He doesn't take away my problems or lead me through
I think God's greatness is the same as my success 
when He never promised me I would always be blessed

how great is our God?

when we stop feeling like God owes us something
can we stop and see Him as all awe inspiring?
can we give credit where credit is due
when we look at Jesus Christ, the son of a Jew?
His death is important, but I want to show His life
how He lived among us and dealt with our strife
He never expected for us to love Him
He came as a servant what we did was shove Him
we pushed Him aside because we wanted something better
but God, Jesus Christ, is the best good that there ever was

in my pain I created a version of God so small
that He could not save me from my vicious brawls
He was indifferent to my suffering, He neglected my hurt
He didn't care about the pain on the Earth
the things that I learned and took as a fact 
were that God could end the world with the drop of a hat
years of reinforcement and false learning 
showed me that God's viscous wrath should be something I'm yearning
I should wait for the day He takes out His rage 
on a world of hurting people who barely make a wage

I believed in a version of the bible that made me suicidal 
because I thought my God was just standing by idle
or on my worse nights, I thought He was angry
I thought today was the day that He would come take me
but that is not my God, the one I created
He was nothing more than a figment of imagination
if I discard all the things I was told
and all of the ideas pain told me to hold
if I look at the Scriptures, pure and untouched,
I see a God who loves me so very much

how great is our God?

I wish someone had told me when I was 16 
that God's word was not written as all that depressing
He never meant for us to live in pain and misery 
He wanted us to find comfort in the shelter of His wing 
Our God is so great He's not just up in heaven
He walked here on earth and had human essence
He experienced suffering, not to tell us it gets better
but to show us its possible to live under pressure
His ways are not our ways, and it sounds like a cop out
a fake reason to ask people to throw all their doubts out 
but I believe in a God who was best friends with sorrow
He came to hurt with me to get me through to tomorrow 
so even if He never takes away my hurt
He says He'll be with me when I'm stuck in the dirt

so I ask again, how great is our God?
I answer it with "He's the greatest of all."
He is not up in heaven, counting days til His judgement 
He's with us on Earth, tending to the wounded
He is loving us, every breath that we take
even though all we do is push Him away 
I cant understand or dare comprehend 
how God continues to love us time and again
I wish I remembered the vastness of His plan
even when it involves my life slipping away like sand
Our God is so great that He allows pain
because at the end of our line is when we can finally say 

how great

how great

is our God

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Dear Faith O'Leary

   Today is going to be a great day. And here's why.

   You're in this amazing production of Coraline, and you've met some of the most fantastic people while doing it. You're remembering that you're in love with theatre. Opening day was yesterday and you killed it. You're really don't care what people think of you. You're brave and crazy enough to go on a stage with a fake mustache and sing in a terrible fake Russian accent. You're having the time of your life.

   You were the happiest you've been in months last night, and I don't want you to forget it.


   Listen Faith, you've come too far to only make it this far. There's so much more for you to do. Yeah life still sucks sometimes but there are so many things to be happy about. I don't want you to sit around feeling sorry for yourself anymore. There are so many bigger, more important things going on. There are people out there with real hurt and real problems. They need someone to help them. They need to see that it gets better. I need you to believe that for them, even if you don't believe it for yourself. Because you can't go around and tell people to push past their hurt and learn to be happy if you can't even do it yourself. You have to be more than just talk. It's so much easier to tell people to choose joy but it's something entirely different to live that out. I think you should though.

   I think you have it in you to choose to be joyful despite everything. Your circumstances are going to change. They're going to get worse and then they'll be okay and then they'll get worse all over again. Maybe at some point they'll be great. But my point is, if you let your situation dictate how you view life, you are going to be unsteady as long as you live. You've been that way for so long. Your emotions have been on a roller coaster because how you feel is purely based on what happened in your day. It's killing you. It's exhausting to be so happy one day and so sad the next. You can't live like that.

   There are a million and one reasons why today is going to be a great day.

   You have a day off of rehearsals and shows. The sun is out. You laughed so hard last night that your stomach hurt. One of your classes was cancelled so now you have some quiet time to relax and clear your head. You saw the best production of Sweeney Todd last night. You have been so blessed to get to know some amazing people at school. Think of all the people you said hi to today. You're graduating in the summer. You're going back to work at Wrigley Field. You're doing some paintings for your church. You're actually doing okay today.


   And listen, even if all that gets taken away, you're still going to be okay.

   Do you need me to say it again?

   Even if everything gets taken away, you're still going to be okay.

   Because life isn't about your circumstances or how you feel. There will always be reasons to be happy and joyful. I want you to appreciate all the wonderful things in your life that you were too blind to see. Open up your eyes. The world is so big and so beautiful. I'm writing this so that you'll learn to hold on even when you don't feel like it. Hold on to joy even when you're sad or stressed or anxious. Even at 2am when your brain won't shut off and you feel so overwhelmed. Choose joy. See beyond the moment. Don't let it trap you.

   Look how far you've made it. There were so many times you wanted to give up. There were a million different situations you never thought would get better. And yeah, some of those terrible things still impact your life, but they've never stopped you from living. Pain has never stopped you before. It's just a little hurt. It's not going to kill you. It's going to make you thrive.

   I know you're not where you want to be, but don't let that scare you. Let it inspire you. let it challenge you. Let it change you.

    You know that you are who you act like when you're under pressure. Pain reveals character. So who are you going to choose to be? Are you going to be the victim or the victorious? Because no one is going to choose it for you. The hardest part is though, no one would blame you for being the victim either. People will say its okay to be defeated, and maybe it is. But don't let rock bottom be the place you take up permanent residence at. You've been down long enough. It's time to get up. I know you; I know who you want to be. So go out and be that person.

   You got this.
   (It gets better, remember?)
      Sincerely,
          Me



Monday, February 27, 2017

The Oscars (Part II)

   People love to hate the Oscars. Everyone always has something to say about a nominee or the host. There is always going to be "too much politics" or "not enough people from x group of people." And of course; the Oscars are the most pointless thing. It's a bunch of overpaid individuals getting praised for being who they are.

   But I love it. I love it.

   I said this last year when I watched my first Oscars and I'm just here to say it again.

   Art is so important. Whoever thinks otherwise can honestly fight me. Movies are art and they matter because they have power. As much as we like to think it's stupid to be an actor, they have the power to make change. Sure, it's kinda shallow that we will listen to actors before we listen to politicians or people of a "real position." But that's the position they're in. Whether or not I agree with every actors political view, I really appreciate how they use their voice to stand up for something they believe in.


   I even love listening to their acceptance speeches that only list a bunch of names because they're naming real people who have real stories. They all worked hard and got a lucky break at some point in order to be up there, and there are people, their family and friends, that helped them and inspired them to get there. I don't know who any of those people are who won awards, but I know they were living a dream. I get secondhand joy watching people. I cried because I'm a sympathetic crier. I feel their happiness like it's my own and I know how much I would be feeling if I was accepting an award for making art.

   Again, I said this last year, but you don't have a right to be mad when politics are brought up in ceremonies that celebrate art. Art and politics are intertwined. Movies are made as a representation or a response to real issues that are happening today. Movies have the ability to make us think and make us act. Art exists for this reason. Movies are the product of someone's story, life, and vision. Movies are made because people wanted to say something. They're not made by robots. They're thought out and planned by people who have dreams and fears and aspirations. They are made by people who have experienced hurt and joy that have contributed to how the film is created. People see a need, and they rise. They create a movie to inspire people to make a change.

   And don't you dare tell me that movies can't create change.

   My sister wouldn't want to study psychology if Short Term 12 had never been made. Movies have helped me become the person I am today: Mad Max: Fury Road, Silence, The Sandlot, The Breakfast Club, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Good Will Hunting, We Need To Talk About Kevin, and honestly so many more that I can't even give credit to. Movies help you feel more empathy. They help you understand. Movies are how I relate to people. I've made so many friends just by discussing movies.

   The movie that changed my life would be Hangman's Curse. A cheesy, terribly done movie about high school and bullying. It has the worst dialogue, corny acting, and a vast array of plot holes. But when I saw it when I was ten years old, I knew I would never be the same. I saw that kids were hurting and there was something bigger than myself. It was the reason why in middle school I always said I wanted to change the world. That movie showed me how to connect to others and really showed me what it was to love.

 
   A documentary that changed my life was The Woodmans; the story of a young photographer who committed suicide in 1981. If I hadn't seen that film, I never would have decided to experiment with black and white photography. I never would have realized that art doesn't have to be pretty. I never would have developed what would eventually become my signature style. I probably would have stuck to pretty portraits and happy themes, which wouldn't have been able to impact me the way black and white photography has.

   I'm sure it's not just me. Everyone has that one movie that changed their life, right? Everyone knows how it feels to walk out of a theater and feel like a character in the movie. Sometimes we feel odd for days after because it reached us on such a profound level.

   Movies make people feel like they're apart of something. It's a sense of community. I suppose one person could theoretically make a movie on their own, but as a general statement, movies are made with hundreds of people doing hundreds of jobs. Thousands of people experience those films once they're made. Each person brings in their own baggage and background and mindset and it shapes the film and shapes how the film is seen. And if that doesn't blown your mind than I don't know what will.

   Watching the Oscars makes me dream. I'm sure I'll never win one in my lifetime, but if I can be a part of something in any way, I will have felt I lived. I want to bring in as much passion into the musical I'm doing at my community college as I would if I were making a movie, because it doesn't matter if I never get anywhere or if not a lot of people will see it; it just matters that some people were impacted. Some people will appreciate it. Not everyone has to see your art, but if you can move one person, you're that much closer to changing the world. We can't change the world all at once, but we can do it one person at a time.

   Please keep creating art. Keep appreciating the existence of art. Keep living and dreaming and being inspired. Keep going to the theater. Keep loving.

   Love. Love. Love.

   Love things. Love people. Love the stupid things that don't matter and will be here today and gone tomorrow. Because all those stupid little things add up to create the human experience. They create life.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

i dont know

   I'm not sure what to say.

   There's been so much going on inside my head. So much that I haven't been able to write. My thoughts just get jumbled together. There are a million topics to discuss and a million ideas to share. But nothing has been working. Words have been betraying me.

   But guys. I'm not okay.

   I haven't been for a very long time.

   It's not like every day is a total mess. I have good days. Actually, most of my days lately have been really good. But this week just hit hard and I'm tired and lost. Today actually, today I'm numb.


   It's weird because I'm the best I've ever been, and the worst I've ever been. Both at the same time. I've grown more recently then I ever have before, but everything still hurts. I can't believe everything still hurts. You know, lately I've written so many pieces about perseverance and faith and everything. But it's hard. I mean, it's easy to say "its going to get better" on good days. But on every other day, I'm seriously contemplating the idea that I might never feel better. I don't know if it will. Van Gogh said it once in his letter. "I fear this sadness will last forever." I fear that too. I don't know how much more I can take. Sometimes I think that I just can't do this anymore. I just wish none of this had ever happened. I just want to forget.

   I don't know. Maybe God wants more for me than to just feel better.

   I don't know. Maybe I'm asking for something small when I pray to not be in pain anymore.

   My philosophy professor said something that I can't stop thinking about. He said "Torture happens to your body; torment happens to your soul." And it reminded me of the verse about Paul's thorn in the flesh. He said it was to torment him. Torment, not torture. I know a lot of scholars say his thorn must have been his physical illnesses or injuries. But I'm wondering if he was plagued with a chronically broken heart. I wonder if I'm going to have a chronically broken heart.


   I might. I might never feel better ever again. But maybe I wasn't meant to feel better. Maybe this life isn't about my feelings.

   Sometimes I think it's better to be in pain. At least when I'm in pain, I don't think I'm better than anyone. At least then I stop relying so much on myself. At least when I'm hurting, I'm more compassionate towards others.

   It's just been a cycle though. Me being okay, and then pain comes and I remember to have faith. I persevere and it gets better. Then more pain until I remember to trust again. It's just a giant circle. I don't think I've ever been this emotionally tired. I don't want to try anymore. I just want it to be over.

   That's the truth, right? I don't want this to make me stronger. I just want it to end. I just want to wake up one morning with my mind wiped of all the terrible things I can't stop remembering. It hurts.

   It's been a nightmare for my family, seeing me like this. It's annoying for my friends. Nothing has been easy. It sucks because I really thought I would feel better by now.

   I just want to take pictures and draw until I have forgotten everything. I want to write until my words run out. I want to stop thinking and overthinking. I don't want to wait. I just want to know how this plays out.

   But I don't know. That's all I can think. I don't know how to make this feeling go away, I don't know how to move on, I don't even know what to pray for or what I need. I don't know what to learn from this. Because sometimes pain just hurts. You know? Sometimes it doesn't make you better or stronger; sometimes it just makes you feel weak. I don't know how to be a good example to my girls in my small group. I don't know how to be a good example to my siblings who don't understand why some nights I can't stop crying. I don't know if I'm a good enough Christian or a good enough leader. I don't know how long this is going to last. I don't know if it was worth it. I don't know anything.

   But I keep holding on to the words in Jon Bellion's song "Maybe IDK."

   "Although I guess if I knew tomorrow, I guess I wouldn't need faith. I guess if I never fell, I guess I wouldn't need grace. I guess if I knew His plans, I guess He wouldn't be God. So maybe I don't know. But maybe that's okay."

   I don't know anything. But maybe I need to stop focusing on the stuff I don't know and think about the stuff I do know.

   Like I know I'm not alone. I know I've gotten through 100% of my worst days. I know I have people that love me. I know art exists and so does music. I know I have you guys; and all of your support makes everything suck so much less.

   I guess I don't need to know it all.

   The truth is, I don't know if I'll be okay. I don't. But that's okay. Because I don't need to feel better. I just need to keep living anyway.

   Sorry I'm just rambling. I just didn't want you guys to think I fell off the face of the world. I just wanted you guys to know what's going on.

   Here, enjoy my spotify playlist. It's been getting me through a lot lately. (The songs at the bottom are the best.)

   Don't worry about me. I'm going to keep making art because that's all I can do. I'm going to breathe even though it hurts. I'm going to survive.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Trust Me

   I have asked that you have faith.

   And listen. I did not ask you to do what was easy. I didn't ask what you had the strength to do. I didn't ask what you had the energy for or what you wanted to do. I asked if you trusted me. I asked if you trusted me as much now as you did this summer.

   I want to know if you trust me in your weaknesses as well as in your strength. I want to know if you trust me even when you don't know the answers.

   I did not ask you how much courage you possess or for how long you wanted this to last.
I did not ask how much it hurt or if you're okay.

   I asked if you trusted me.

   I know how much it hurts. I know you have not been okay for a long time. I know this pain has made you weak and how much you want it to end. I know the exact measure of strength in your bones and how much courage is in your veins. I know the exact amount of bravery needed to get through this. I know how broken you are and that you are ill equipped for this task. I  know you feel like you can't make it another day. But I did not ask that you dig up this courage from the depths of your heart or to summon energy from your weary flesh. I didn't ask you to be brave or to even have strength at all. I know I could not ask that of you. I don't require you to be okay or to smile through the pain. I didn't ask you to stand.

   I asked you to kneel.

   I asked you to trust me.

   I asked you to trust that I am still God when there is no end in sight. And I asked that you believe in me when you have lost the ability to believe in anything at all. I asked you to be still and know that I am God.

   I have asked the impossible thing.

   I have asked that you stop fighting and stop trying to make it through this. I have asked that you not measure the time in between now and then. I have asked that you give up on the idea that you can do this on your own. I have asked you to remain in your pain.

   I have asked that you have faith even when the silence is loud and I asked that you would continue to breathe when your lungs are burning. And I ask that you would trust that I did not bring you this far just to leave you here.

   I have asked that you stop trying to be God.

   I have asked that you let me carry you when your trust has run out and that you would hand over the remnants of your shattered heart. I ask that you would not be anxious and that you would stop trying so hard to fix yourself.

   I want you to let me fix you.

   I want you to trust me.

   I do not need you to have a large amount of faith. You don't need much. You need to simply acknowledge me.

   Turn to me.

   Believe that the God who created your very soul knows damn well what it needs and when it needs it and stop striving to make the pain stop and learn how to live with the pain instead.

   3 times you have come at my feet and you said "Take it away." "Take it away." "Take it away."
   And I'm so sorry love, but to you I have to say that my grace is enough.

   And whether I decide to take this burden from you or not I ask you to trust me. I ask you to believe in the words to claim to believe in. I ask that you would choose to believe that I love you and that my heart breaks along with yours. I ask that you would have faith that my compassions will never fail and that my goodness is enough to carry you through your sea of sorrows. Trust that I know what I'm doing even when you can't find the willpower to take another step. Trust that my faithfulness is greater than the extent of your suffering and that I have not forgotten about you. Not even for a moment.

   My love, I'm asking you to trust me.






   Disclaimer? i have never liked letters from God.  i would never claim to put words in His mouth. but this is something that was on my heart today and i wrote it. And i could re-write it as me saying it to you. because that's all it is. mere words i wish for you to read. things to consider. opinions, really. nothing more. but i hope you were encouraged. see, God never meant for us to have the strength in of ourselves. and im learning that He is made perfect in our weakness. and i just keep thinking of Him saying "my grace is sufficient for you." and i know that sometimes He allows us to be in pain and sometimes when we pray and ask him to take it away he says no. and sometimes you just feel like you're going to die because its too much and i also know that in these times, he is with us. i can't promise that your pain will go away because you might be in pain until you die. but i dont think the length of our trials is the point. that maybe we rush through experiences that were meant to be taken slow. pain is just pain. we can drink it away or numb it or ignore it but its still there and sometimes it doesnt get easier. and if this pain is lasting longer than you thought it would i ask you to consider Christ. and i ask you to trust him. you dont need to find strength in yourself because you and i both know you will find nothing sometimes. i only ask you to have faith. 

thats what im trying to do.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

What Does Christmas Mean? (For People Like Me)

   Christmas. 
The time of joy and carols and of peace. The time where those who are recipients of God's grace rejoice in hallelujah's and songs of praise. 
Christmas is a time of laughter and happiness.
But what does Christmas mean for people like me?
What does it mean for me in the midst of my depression 
and my doubt?
What is it for my heavy heart
that breaks more and more every day?
What is it's significance during my bouts of insomnia
where my tears don't stop falling
and my fears don't stop growing?
What is Christmas about for those who have lost loved ones?
For those who are struggling to keep their head
above the rising waters?
For those who are sick?
For those who are being oppressed and persecuted?
 What is the point of the birth of a baby to those who 's only desire
is death?
Where does Christmas fit in our hearts?
Is it next to the idols?
To the addictions?
To the alcohol?
Would Christmas fit in the space that once held the piece of my heart that I gave away?
We celebrate God incarnate but where is God now?
What the hell does Christmas mean for people like me
whose pain is so significant 
they can barely breathe?
Whose prayers aren't answered
whose trials keep continuing? 
During Christmas we say rejoice! We say hallelujah! 
But what about those whose hurt runs so deep
they can't offer a single utterance
of praise  to the King?
If Christmas is for the joyous, than where do the exhausted fit in the equation?
What does Christmas mean in the midst of suffering?



Saturday, December 17, 2016

5 Things I Learned About Life From Dying My Hair

    I dye my hair therapeutically. I like to dye it when I change seasons in my life or when I need a change. I dye it for a million reasons. I've been doing it since I got purple streaks when I was 11. Ever since that time I just fell in love. I was going to do a post on the evolution of my hair, just as a cool off from all the really heavy posts I've been doing lately, but that wasn't working. I can't find enough pictures of all the hair colors I've had. But today I got my hair dyed again and for the first time I'm feeling uneasy about it. I actually miss my blonde hair. I'm worried that I'll never be blonde again. That my hair won't be able to bounce back the same. But alas, it always does, one way or another. So without further ado, I wanted to tell you some things I've learned about life from dying my hair.

   1. Change is good
   I hate change. Which is weird for someone who is constantly changing how they look. I actually panic right before I dye my hair. Every. Single. Time. I get scared and worried and overthink. But I always love it when it's finished. It's always refreshing and I feel so much better. Change doesn't have to be something we fight against. I'm learning to accept it.


   2. Don't be afraid to be bold
   Cheesy, but true.
   I've done a lot of crazy colors. Teal, pink/purple, red. And it makes me stand out. Sometimes I look weird among "normal" people. But I actually like that now. I'm not scared to be the odd one out. In life I think we should make bold decisions and be comfortable doing the uncomfortable.

   3. You can grow
   I've had haircuts I despised. I have gotten uncomfortable because my hair is too short and I think I look weird. But hair grows back. As a person, I've had setbacks. I've experienced things that knocked me down and hurt me. In so many ways, I've felt like I've regressed backwards. I find myself back in old habits and old ways of thinking, and it's easy to start feeling like I'm never going to grow. But I will. Slowly, but I will and I can. Hair grows back the way people grow back from pain.


   4. Nothing is permanent
   I use semi permanent dye for my hair. And every time I wash it, some of it goes away. That's a silly little reminder that nothing stays the same. Things change. Your circumstances fade out and things get better. Sometimes its painfully slow and other times it goes way faster than you want. But there are seasons for everything. If you're having a hard time and find yourself stuck, just know that it won't always be like this.


   5. You can always start again
   I shaved my head once, and it gave my hair a brand new start. It grew back healthier and stronger and the same color it used to be. In a way, I was giving myself a fresh start too. I can do that. I can start again. I can forget who I used to be. I can get rid of things that are holding me back. It's never too late to begin again. If you don't like who you are; change. I think that's the best advice I can give.



(Wow this post was cheesy but y'all needed a break. I hope everyone is having a great week.)