Wednesday, August 15, 2012

it's a dog-eat-dog world.

it's a dog-eat-dog world... but i'm not a dog.

as we stood at the back of the church on sunday, jokingly jill handed me a booklet entitled, "single and lonely". being the excessive instagramer that i am, i immediately asked for a picture of this funny book and me with a sad face, reflective of the title. when i posted it on instagram and facebook, i received many a "bahahaha", but also a few "aww sweetie..".

to the "aw sweetie..", a statement that was taken to imply that the sentiment of the book was some sort of confession of my emotions, i immediately jumped on the defense train.

"no 'aw sweetie' here! i'm not lonely. may be alone a lot, but i'm not lonely!"

as i reflected on those words though, i wondered if i was lying. am i lonely? i would have many reasons to feel so...

i work 70 hours a week. more than half of that is volunteer, if we get technical. that's all fine and dandy - it comes with the territory of the job, and there are many times when the volunteering is fun and enlightening. but i'm overwhelmed. not with this job alone but with the time i don't have to do the other things that need to get done, like my photography, spending time with the young ladies i mentor or those who mentor me; i don't even have time to do basic things like laundry or grocery shopping [and when i do, i wonder why i buy food at all when i don't have time to make it or eat it...]!

and what gets me most is not the absence of time, but the fact that this excuse which i try to never use or complain about has become my reality.

i get up earlier than i have to so that i can spend a few hours getting ready slowly while watching old episodes of the office or, the new show, bunheads. i just try to move slowly from 7am-8:30, because i know i won't be able to do my own thing until... 9pm or later. and by that point, i just walk into the empty apartment, wash my face, brush my teeth, get in bed and attempt to get through a page or two of pride & prejudice.

and then i'm alone. and for a while, when people would ask, i would tell them that's all it was - being alone - but after last night, i realize i'm lonely. maybe all my efforts to justify or defend my "aloneness" are really just an effort to convince myself i'm not lonely. but when you're 22 stories up, scared of the dark, and engulfed in a sea of someone else's blue walls, at some point the loneliness is bound to sink in.

because it's lonely going home to no one.
and it's lonely when you're home and no one is around to plan anything.
and it's lonely just going through the motions.
and it's lonely feeling accountable to many but only able to be responsive to a few.
and mostly it's lonely when you can't - maybe shouldn't - really trust people.
and it's lonely realizing you're not like everybody else.

i don't want to compromise my integrity or reputation in order to get one up on someone else. i want to earn my accomplishments, i want to be liked for the right reasons. i want to act respectfully, and honourably, and i want to be properly commended for my efforts. i don't want to be lazy. i don't want to play the victim. i want to make the most of the opportunities and i want to ask questions and i want to know people.

but it's a selfish world. and some people don't share these same sentiments and are more willing to walk over others in order to reach the goal. but, hey, go ahead and walk on by and have it. i won't be your doormat. others are fine taking the credit for someone else's work. or, when many are obliged to do the same less-than-appealing thing, one person decides they're above that... there are many examples.

i've been fortunate that this hasn't been my personal experience, but i can see it happening. and nor is this exclusive to my work by any means, i think it exists in all industries and situations, whether they're political, retail, or even religious. this is not a comment on my job, but on people, all people. and i am one of them, but i'm just trying to not be after or about these same things. that's the struggle. that's the comment i'm making.

and that's not to say i'm not selfish, but from the beginning i have not wanted this job or season of life to be about me, i want it to be about Him, but i feel like i'm failing. i gossip, i complain, i have a bad attitude, i get into pointless conversations with the one who used to be my favourite part of this job that never resolve and only bring each of us down. and as i deal with the internal conflict of wanting to work for His good and glory, and wanting to fit in or do well or be included, i am easily sucked into this pity party or rant fest that i know is not who i am, nor who i'm made to be.

and that leads to identity issues. for the past four months that is what i have been pondering again and again: identity. and while i feel secure in who i am, and Who's i am, and don't feel i need to prove myself to anyone or get their approval, i still want it sometimes, you know? that would be so much easier.

i think the greatest lesson of these past few months has been just that: a test of my identity. the greatest piece of advice my small group leaders gave me is to "root your identity in Christ" and i always question if it is - check yourself before you wreck yourself, right!? - but now how do i navigate that? what does that look like in the "real world"? i haven't figured it out yet [will i ever!?] but feeling empty and excluded and lonely, well, it doesn't really help with my cause, you know?

in this whirlwind of life, quiet time with God has been completely sacrificed. for a good month, i haven't opened my bible. and it's wild how much of a difference that time and intentionality makes in my daily life.

but last night was rough, so i decided to stop making excuses and to crack open the Good Book again. and, as He does, i was directed right to where i needed to be: romans 14. [i'd encourage you to read it all..]

Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written:

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.’”

So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

maybe this is far out, but i was totally struck by this passage, convicting me for my bad or "holier-than-thou" attitude, and even for my insecurities and struggles learning how to be - just be - in this different season. and even though i think this Scripture is talking about different kinds of christians, i take it to mean, in a way, not to bother with the concerns of others. we're all dealing with our own convictions and some have stronger, and weaker, ones than others. that's just the way it is.

plus i believe getting wrapped up in these "worldy" concerns, only distances me from His purpose, and that is not the objective!

the point is, that, no, i don't have to apologize for who i am: i don't need to compromise, i don't need to facilitate for the desires of others. i have my thing going on and i have my values. and just because someone else conducts themselves in another way doesn't make them wrong against me. it may be disagreeable, but i cannot assume they're wrong. i can discern, i can appropriately judge, but i also have control over my own actions. not over theirs, but over mine. and i must make decisions wisely and accordingly.

and this isn't to wash my hands of this dog-eat-dog world sentiment. because i exist in this world and i need to learn how to be a light for His glory without being consumed!

i'm called to be set-apart. that is part of my [our] identity. and as the word suggests itself, we are outsiders. and it's gonna be lonely. but without sounding "christianeesy", in that loneliness, we [mostly 'i' here] must find our friendship and satisfaction in God. and my goal is to not be wrapped up in the nuances of my workplace, or empty, self-pitying apartment, or whatever environment, but to take comfort that in all seasons and situations for who He is and because He is, i am too.

it is pretty comforting.

"I'll live in them, move into them;
I'll be their God and they'll be my people.
So leave the corruption and compromise;
leave it for good," says God.
"Don't link up with those who will pollute you.
I want you all for myself.
I'll be a Father to you;
you'll be sons and daughters to me."
The Word of the Master, God.
- 2 corinthians 6:17

it may be a dog-eat-dog world, but - thankfully - we're not dogs.



5 comments:

  1. i am so glad you wrote this. i feel this way all the time...i have every intention of being a light and i find myself getting sucked in. not that ive attained it, but i want to be so intimate with Christ that worldly loneliness is nothing but a light affliction. dont be discouraged if you feel like youre failing...God isnt mad at your weakness...its just a chance from Him to prove Himself strong in your life.

    ReplyDelete
  2. walking here with a smile. take care.. have a nice day ~ =)

    Regards,
    http://www.lonelyreload.com (A Growing Teenager Diary) ..

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh I totally get this. Praying for you during this time!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for writing this - it was exactly what I needed! I'll pray for you!

    ReplyDelete
  5. what a challenge.. to be a light without being consumed.
    one thing for sure... Christ lives in you Allie so there is no way any kind of darkness can try to overcome you!

    thank you for sharing!! i understand... sounds like my life in Korea!

    ReplyDelete

thanks for reading! leave sweet comments here! i appreciate them so so much!