May 12, 2013
I finished a course last week on death.
I reflected on death a lot. On the theology of heaven and hell (ultimately somewhat uninteresting).
I don’t often dwell honestly with death. It’s a bit unreal when you shoot zombies for fun, watch the Walking Dead (with knowledge of the production and critics in the back of your head). Death is always 2D. And of course, there’s the fact that death is always this thing I want but don’t want. This answer but not an answer. An impossible possibility. I don’t want death, I want the end of my suffering. I want happiness and friends.
I write suicide notes on a regular basis. I just wrote one now, but felt like it was too long and boring. I can’t really entrust myself into anyone’s hands. It’s too bad honesty is so ugly and unpleasant. I avoid unpleasantness chronically. Hence the desire for suicide. So I assume everyone else does too, and has no desire for me, in all my unpleasantness.
Death is unpleasant. Life is unpleasant. Hence the dilemma when one has become chronically avoidant of unpleasantness.
And I don’t believe in purgatory.
April 6, 2013
Tonight I was browsing through Facebook when I saw a friend from university had commented on a post about how Rick Warren’s son had died. He was 27, and had succumbed to mental illness. He had taken his own life.
I read the article. It was sad. It was familiar (dealing with mental illness myself, I’m drawn to the stories, and they seem to be drawn to me). It felt familiar. But it was in a new context. It was in Christendom, Evangelical Christendom. The mainstream. America.
I am sad for Kay and Rick. Parents of three adult children. This child of theirs, twenty-seven, had been sensitive. Had benefitted (they mention) from medication, doctors, counselors, prayers. But…had nevertheless chosen to take his own life.
It’ll sound like words I shouldn’t say. Another language. Foreign. misplaced. But I say them anyway: “I get it.”
I get why.
I get that pain of mental illness. I get the suicidal thoughts that seem to set up camp in the brain and come back, time and again. Sometimes I feel like I look at my life and think, “Will I become a statistic?” Nothing keeps my friends and family – my husband – from experiencing tragedy. And I see this son, who just so happened to have the mental illness, and the stars aligned in a sad array and his end was tragic. “Suicide.” The stories of such an end stand out in memory. I know of a friend of a friend. Someone’s cousin. The brother of a T.A. I’ve read articles, books, blogs. Maybe you haven’t read stories like this but I read them. My eye and heart are drawn to them and I read.
Battlestar Galactica Do you remember the character who killed herself? She had a night of fun…and then there was the quick, unexpected pulling of a trigger. And as much as you didn’t like the character (as a selfish consumer audience member), you realized… she was loved in her world. She was missed. It didn’t make sense to those she left behind and they didn’t want life to be without her. You felt the void she created by dying. Credit goes to their performance. I felt it. It was awful.
Suicide marks the lives of all those who know the self-killed.
There is a part of me glad…
That the statistics worked out that someone famous would have a son who died. Not because I have anything against Rick, or the rich and famous. Not because I want anyone to reach that point of despair where they’re pushed beyond the brink. But because I know that because it’s Rick’s son, more people will feel less alone when it happens to their son, father, brother, sister, wife, child. Perhaps the conversation will happen, about mental illness, about suicide, before it’s too late. Maybe lives will be made better due to better understanding, familiarity. Because it happened to the son of a famous, influential pastor, perhaps guilt will have less of a foothold on those left behind.
This young man, although life became too much for him, through his death can bring others awareness of suicide and the dangers of mental illness. How amazing that even in our greatest weakness, God can shine light in darkness, heal, restore, redeem. But we shouldn’t be too surprised, after all, God’s greatest victory involved bringing salvation out of death.
Come, Lord Jesus.
& Thanks. For being here with us.
March 10, 2013
Walking down the street tonight with my dog, I thought, not for the first time, “life is good, I can see that now. But I am not.”
And it wasn’t a moral judgement passed – I think I’m wise and mature enough to recognize that we all do our best, which is full of missteps and mistakes but there is forgiveness.
No. I meant that the world is good because it is ordered, it works, it functions the way it was designed to. I am a part of this created world, but I am a broken piece. I do not function as I should or work the way I was designed to work. It’s my mind. It does not fit in this grand creation.
As I walked I saw that yes, this feeling, of a milder – yet still cold – March night, was good. Walking felt good in my legs. The air was fresh, the neighbourhood trees were “upside-down lungs,” like lace across the sky, and the dirty snow was still a reprieve from the dirtier mud underneath – and spring was coming. My dog was sniffing everything and being a cute, furry, curly- tailed, slightly-overweight dog on a walk. And I am ready to die.
Life is good. But I am tired. I have experienced so much goodness, I am ready. I am satisfied. I don’t need more. I’m not greedy. I have been tremendously blessed and even in my sufferings I’ve appreciated and witnessed kindness and friendship. But it’s enough now. Keeping on keeping on feels like too much. I don’t know what comes next, and I am not the all-seeing, all-knowing, Wisdom of God, but perhaps this soul can go to that eternal place now and this broken body can cease its suffering? Before it hurts anyone else. It can only get worse.
There. That is what I could put my finger on. Hopelessness. It sounds like such a severe word, how could I ever claim such a thing? The second it shows up in my mind I should stamp it out and cling to hope. A red flag waves and tells me, “this is a lie, this is depression talking, this is never true.”
So I talk around it.
Hopelessness just means that I don’t think things are going to get better. That’s realism. That’s taking what I have before me and behind me and saying, “Now, here is enough.”
The saddest part about being hopeless and being ready to die and feeling like giving up …is when you are completely at the mercy of God and God doesn’t want to kill you. I feel like there is a noose tied around my neck with the other end going up into heaven and all God has to do is a little tug and there I’d go. It wouldn’t be suicide, it would be God saying, “Yes, I concur. It is the best time for you to die.”
But death is rarely painless, is it.
It’s slow. And sad.
And so I look forward and walk slowly but there are bright and colourful full lives around here and it’s painful not being one of them. It’s painful in this solitude and isolation even with love close by. Can’t we turn the lights off? Close the blinds and closed my eyes but I can only sleep so much and I would like to dream forever now.
That’s how I know I’m done. I see happiness and colour before me but I can’t move to grab it for myself. The brain is broken, it’s a cruel cage. To see life passing by when you know you belong in that stream, swimming with the other colourful fish. Instead I’m stuck. I want to get out. I miss my friends, and miss having friends, I miss being strong, and doing hard things.
Now. Now is enough.
I’m ready to go.
Please pull me out, up, God.
February 16, 2013
[I've reread this at least twice in its entirety and I'm not sure if it is coherent but I'm going to tag it as "babbling brook" and then no one can judge me]
I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately. I guess you could call it meditating.
One of the things I like about the Anglican church is the liturgy (you read prayers from a book). It’s like guided meditation in some ways. I don’t come from a liturgical church background, so reciting the creed on a weekly basis, lighting candles in a certain order because they symbolize things (which is part of my job if I’m a greeter at the Eucharist service – the service where you eat the bread and drink the wine), and praying aloud the Psalms, or confession… there’s just so much meaning behind it all. So much to think about. Even confessing our sins (something I must admit I did not do on a regular basis) has added so much depth and meaning to my worship experience.
I got ashes “imposed” (rubbed/smeared) on my forehead for the first time on Wednesday. It’s a symbol of the ashes we come from (dust!) and the dust to which we will return. It’s a symbol of mortality, and a reflection on our sin, which has caused death. And since I’m also studying Romans, I’ve been reflecting on that new life that is to come… that resurrected life (which I have never really thought about or been taught about, and kinda considered irrelevant).
I’ve started to be a bit more content with the “now and not yet” reality of the Kingdom of God. I’ve started to realize that the Kingdom of God is not the church (thank God), but the church is a sign that points to it (to the best of its ability). And that uneasy feeling I have, that sickness I get in my stomach when there is such injustice and REALLY NEEDY people are ignored by the EXCEPTIONALLY RICH (a.k.a. Torontonians)… is an appropriate uneasy feeling… and a feeling that shouldn’t get resolved, and won’t get resolved, in this pre-Christ’s-return world.
One of the really important things I’m learning is to look at Christ for affirmation. So basic, and not profound, eh? My friend Jon just wrote a blog about it, sort of, about how people will hate you if you follow Christ. I mean, people hate everyone, and even if you close yourself off into a teeny tiny community of people who only think and believe the same things you do (it would have to be an exceptionally small community) you’d still have haters. How incredibly awful and discouraging… but anyway…
One of the reasons I never wanted to be a teacher (despite going to Brock, land of the teachers, and getting an English degree, which has few uses except as proof that you know how to read and write, and probably are well-read enough to teach others how to read and write) was because growing up I kinda hated my teachers. Not all of them, but I had some livid hatred for a good handful of them. Never was one for authority. Didn’t like them making me be quiet, didn’t like them imposing their will on me. RAR! I am ONLY CHILD, HEAR ME TALK TO MY FRIENDS ALWAYS!!!
And I never wanted to be hated by a child as much as I hated some of my teachers.
I guess I looked at my emotional response and thought, “They are awful people, because I felt this way about them. I never want to become awful like them.” I think I’ve reached the age where I’m recognizing that perhaps my hatred wasn’t the truth about them. I’m learning to doubt emotional responses. Emotions are real, but they shouldn’t be the foundation to our decision-making process. They are transitory, and not how we should judge truth.
I’ve slowly… slowly… slowly… started changing my mind about teaching. It’s surprised me. I’ve come to acknowledge I most likely will teach one day. Not as a teacher who has gone to teacher’s college, but in some shape or form. Especially if you view preaching as a form of teaching. And I want to preach.
And preachers are not 100% liked ever.
If you stand up to say something, people won’t like you.
Some will, some won’t.
And there’s no way, no matter how much you tell people what they want to hear, that you will get people to like everything you say.
…to a people pleaser.
But if you look beyond your audience, if you look beyond your detractors, and if you look – dare I say – beyond your loved ones’ opinion, and look to Christ, then you will find love.
Christ, when you say what he wants you to say, will be like, “Holy high five!” (Hah!) You can be assured that in this world of people who are not in line with Christ’s will, you have spoken a truth that needed to be said, and your ultimate refuge, after the critical attacks, is the love of Christ. You are doing the Father’s will. Christ did that too, and his closest friends left him at the point of his greatest success/failure (salvation for all/death). It’s a painful road, but it leads to the salvation of souls… it is worth travelling.
Christ, when you say something wrong, is gunna be like, “Whoa, no. No. Repent.” And then you can humbly admit to your audience you were wrong, and that you hurt people, but you are STILL LOVED. Maybe they can’t forgive you. Maybe they’ll never agree with you. But it’s not ultimately their forgiveness or approval that will provide for you the courage to get up and keep going. It’s Christ’s.
Looking to Christ. That’s where you will find love, and encouragement, and correction, and through it all, love. Both for yourself, and for those who hate you. Keep looking to Christ.
Those are my thoughts.
February 5, 2013
My comment on this blog. The “Evilest App Ever”.
This is a bit sensationalist, don’t you think? “Never before?” Is there anything new under the sun? Especially the technological sun? It’s been a while since I’ve browsed the internet without AdBlock plus on, but I’m pretty sure those ads that sell “Hook-up with singles in your area” are still showing up in the sidebars and banner ads of email accounts everywhere. The internet has been making sexual immorality easier since the beginning.
I really find the “never before”s problematic, too. Sin starts in our mind … and it’s never been hard to lust. All sorts of screwed up perceptions of sexuality have to be in place before an app like this can be successful. And claiming that casual sex “wrecks your life” without really qualifying what that means, and suggesting you’ll never be really sexually satisfied (what about forgiveness, healing, new creation, a transformed mind?), and waving the “prude” flag, isn’t really communicating what Jesus wants for us – which isn’t right behaviour because of self-righteousness or fear – he wants our love (which happens to result in obedience).
And “just imagine,” “consider,” “reflect on,” … you’re implying your audience would never sin like this. As though all good Christians understand why God calls us to sexual fidelity and there’s nothing to explain. But wouldn’t it be more edifying if this blog was for human being who are tempted? You’re making it an “us vs. them,” “Christian vs. heathen sinners!” thing. Instead of thinking about all the sin those sinners might do why not develop an argument about why Bang With Friends is NOT giving what it promises, that casual sex isn’t the good we (humans) (can) think it is. That might equip the InterVarsity student to talk with their friends at college who are curious about it, to help them make right choices, that point them towards what (Who) will truly satisfy, who will truly give them the connection, the self-worth, whatever it is they are mistakenly seeking through casual sex.
Let’s redeem this as a news item and use it as an opportunity to imagine ways we can discuss this with friends that shows them Christ’s love, instead of an opportunity to shun the nonbeliever, and act like sin is this shocking thing (it shouldn’t be surprising to Christians who understand the Gospel).
January 5, 2013
Because of this app I am now growing some respect for piano music.
Like many kids, I took piano lessons as a child. My mom had her grade 10. I would dance behind the piano bench as she played when I was a five or six year old. When someone is playing the theme music to The Little Mermaid on piano, of course you want to follow in their footsteps. So I started with the same piano teacher she had had. An amazing, kind, beautiful woman who I am still friends with (on Facebook).
But despite some natural talent, I did not like being told to practice every day.
(I may still have some issues with authority.)
As a young girl, I was a good kid. A people pleaser, I didn’t get into much trouble. I didn’t experience a lot of discipline, and I suspect my issues with piano spawned from the fact it was the only area where I was expected to do what I was told, always, without exception, everyday, or no fun, etc. etc.. I wouldn’t have said I hated piano. I knew the line: I hated practising. But I also hated what it did to my relationship with my mom.
I still have issues hearing piano played live; it stirs up a mixture of jealousy, bitterness, and general discomfort from hearing it (my complete disinterest in concerts, and music in general may stem from this).
When I had the chance to quit I faced too much guilt to go through with it. Don’t disappoint the piano teacher who is kind and whom you love. After I did my grade 8 exam (and grade 2 theory), I didn’t touch the piano for years.
When I was 12, I could do this:
(probably not as well, but this was the sort of stuff I was doing at the end)
Now? I can sight read… slowly. From a hymnal. If there aren’t too many sharps and flats in the key. *sigh*
But the history of piano DOES give me a leg up for making the songs sound nice on Magic Piano. And playing them (it takes one or two tries to get the hang of a hard song), allows me to gain that sense of accomplishment and joy from hearing a complete piece.
So here are some songs I like to play on Magic Piano, or Smule.
- A mighty fortress, Martin Luther
- Adagio (From Winter), Antonio Vivaldi
- Air in G (BWV 1068), J. S. Bach
- Ave Maria, Bach/Gounod
- Clair de Lune, Claude Debussy
- Dope Zebra, Rhett and Link (seriously, this is a great tune)
- First Kiss, Dave Days (fun on piano, painful to watch on YouTube)
- Fur Elise, Beethoven (I can actually still play this on piano, with music)
- Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring
- March in E flat Major, J. S. Bach (beautiful!)
- Moonlight Sonata, Beethoven
- Princess Charming, Megan & Liz (fun on piano, painful to watch on YouTube)
- Shine, Jimmy Wong (love this!)
January 3, 2013
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
Hebrews is a great book. You should read it. (Here’s a link.)
But it’s also hard to interpret. Apparently. I had to preach on it last semester. I didn’t. Had a bit of an anxiety attack that morning. Whoops.
But when you read that chapter, Hebrews 6, you start to see that hope is an anchor, and that sturdy bedrock, that foundation you hook into, that keeps you grounded, and safe from the rushing waters and roaring waves…well, that’s Jesus.
Jesus isn’t the anchor, he’s the bottom of the sea. Your choice to hope in him – to have faith, to trust, rely – is the anchor.
At least, that’s my understanding of this verse.
The concept of choosing to believe is something I’ve reflected on quite a bit since my husband left the faith. In his words, he “discovered Christianity wasn’t true.” He can’t choose to believe in God because he sees no evidence. Everything – to him – is explainable, and a god of the gaps is no god anyway (I’d have to agree).
Perhaps life is the boat-in-the-ocean metaphor for all of us. But we throw our anchors in to different things.
January 3, 2013
Via Jamie the very worst missionary.
Why does the universe work? Love.
And when it doesn’t? Hate. Sin.
January 1, 2013
I reread some of my other blog’s posts recently. The ones about personal finance and the Christian life. They’re pretty good. I worked hard on those. It was clear I was fresh out of my depression at the time. Vulnerable. A little volatile.
It’s been a year. Over a year. With one minor relapse when I tried to quit gluten (yes, I got depressed because of the constant, nagging awareness that I may never eat a croissant again, and life ceased to have meaning).
I’ve been depression-free for over a year.
My meds work. Praise God.
And I’m doing a master’s of divinity at Wycliffe College, at the University of Toronto.
But it’s been slow going. I’m relearning life.
Figuring out what I want, what I love, and living that life, instead of the life I think I should.
I have a dog now. It makes me very, very happy. Her name is Sweet Pea. Because she’s really sweet, and has a little pea head (it’s small compared to her broad shoulders).
I’m on Twitter. It gest most of my online thoughts: www.twitter.com/weeChristine
I have a few life goals, now.
(Other than owning a cabin in the woods, and directing/filming a documentary, and being a mother, and owning a hobby farm with chickens, goats, and an enormous vegetable garden. And kayaking whenever I get the chance.)
I want to be a doula.
And get my Master’s of Divinity!
That’s the current life goal. Do the M.Div. Then I will be a master of all things divine (which is… ironic, because if I was the master of the divine, I would be divine, and it would not be divine.) If you can wrap your head around it, it’s not God. Isn’t that amazing? Knowledge of God includes the acceptance that we can’t know it all. Knowledge contains mystery. Chyea.
I know I just started blogging again, so writing these things down might be crazy, but here are some things I want to blog about, maybe:
- Urbana 12 (didn’t go, but there are videos online of the plenary sessions I’d like to watch, and I’d also like to reflect on where I am now, since Urbana 09 kicked off 2 years of intense depression for me)
- why I want to be a doula
- Anglicanism (I’m taking an intro. to Anglican theology this semester, and trying to attend faithfully Little Trinity Church in Toronto, an Anglican church)
- living with a husband who isn’t a Christian, but who is still the best most awesome amazing wonderful God-given gift to me
- some of my crazy, drug-induced dreams (literally drug-induced: my anti-depression meds give me nightmares)
- my dad’s pre-dementia
- movies to see, because I still love movies and there are some good movies out there I’d like to see.
Until next time, whoever you are!
July 13, 2012
I’m not pregnant, but I do think about this regularly (I am a woman and this is fun :P). HuffPost just did an article on this and I thought I’d post my own.
Peyton seems to be a unique spelling. Peighton looks British and I’m all for that. I’ve read studies before that show misspellings or “unique” spellings are associated with lower IQ. I think it probably has more to do with the fact that whoever named you has a low IQ, but … anyway.
2. No made-up names. Translating a meaningful place or word into a name is all right, but don’t manufacture a name from whole cloth. Jaunel and Calton, we’re looking at you.
I don’t like location names. Hudson is ok, London, a little ok (if you actually have a connection to London, and don’t live there). I always felt like “Cadence” was a made-up name because I feel like I had never heard it before 2003.
3. A first name should ideally embody some kind of meaning. That might be family or ethnic significance, literal meaning, or even that you’ve loved it since you were 7. A name with meaning is going to have more staying power than one you choose simply because it’s attractive.
Meh. It can just be pretty. Just make sure it isn’t stupid.
4. A middle name should definitely embody meaning. Otherwise, why have one at all?
Because if you don’t have a middle name you’re weird :P
5. You should at least know what the meaning is before you make a final choice, even though literal meaning shouldn’t rule your name decision. (Who knows or cares anymore that a name means “spear ruler”?)
My name means “anointed one” or “Christian”. I don’t think my mother knew that. Now that the internet exists, I assume I will google any name for its meaning before I go naming my kid.
6. Family or other personal significance trumps popularity concern. If you want to name your baby after grandmother Isabella, it doesn’t matter that it’s the No. 1 name.
I agree. But it’s no fair that Liam is such a popular name right now :(
7. If your kids’ names have a theme, make it subtle. Giving all your children botanical middle names or names with uplifting meanings is preferable to Duggar-style devotion to one first initial.
8. Initials shouldn’t spell anything negative. We figure you know enough not to use initials like A.S.S., but if possible, avoid initials like S.A.D. or B.O.O. too.
What if your initials are B.R.A.? Is that bad?
9. If you hate the obvious nickname, think twice about using the name. Do you want Edward to be called Ed?
This is why my mother was named Catherine Elizabeth, and not Elizabeth Catherine, because my Grandmother thought Cathy was ok, but Lizzie was not. I’ve always enforced the full pronounciation of my name, because as a child I thought “Chris” was a boys name.
10. Don’t let anyone pressure you into or out of a name. It’s the No. 1 reason for baby-name regret.
I learned this lesson when I named my dog “Sweet Pea.” I loved the name. It’s a dog, it can have a stupid name. It’s just what I call her. Sasha and Selah and all the pretentious names I invented to please others just didn’t go with my dog. MY DOG. My kid, however, I recognize, is not a pet, and not my possession, but in fact a human being who will become conscious and have an opinion on their name. So my kid will not be named anything “cute.”
11. Each child’s name should sound distinct. If you want all your children’s names to start with C and all have two syllables, okay, but Christian, Clifford, and Cara are better than overlapping choices likeCarter, Carson, and Carly.
I think this one will be especially difficult. No matter what I name my kids, I imagine I’ll get their names wrong a lot. Like my mother-in-law who perpetually calls her husband Will and son Bill (despite them going by the opposite), and me Christina and her daughter Christine.
12. The first name should not end with the same letter that starts the last name. The sounds run together and lead to confusion about where one name ends and the other begins: Is Silas Smith really Sila Smith or Silas Mith?
I’m not too worried about this one…
13. Ideally, first, middle, and last names will be unequal numbers of syllables. So 3-1-2 yes, 2-2-2 no.
My name is 2-3-2.
14. Thou shalt not steal thy best friend’s or thy cousin’s favorite name. But this rule only stands if they announced their favorite name in fourth grade and are pregnant at the same time you are. If you are expecting a child in two weeks and they suddenly pop up with a list of names they like and so are forbidding you to use, no fair.
Meh, you see your cousins so rarely… wouldn’t it be cool to have a cousin with the same name?
15. Don’t name your baby after a pop star or a sitcom character, if for no other reason that it doesn’t give your child enough to live up to.
Amen. And if you do find a great name (like Isabella) in a book or someplace trivial, at least research other famous people with that name, so you can at least say there are more important things out there to do with your life than watch TV and listen to top 40 hits.
16. Something about the name should indicate gender, if only for official papers like passports. So Carter Elizabeth Jones is preferable to Carter Emerson Jones.
Drew Allison Carrey. Lol.
17. Beware extreme ethnic combinations such as Sean Yuki unless you really are Irish and Japanese.
Sean Yuki sounds cool. But there best be a good reason. I know an Andrushka … from Venezuela but named such because her mom liked the sound. It’s a bit weird.
18. A name’s image should encompass many possibilities. Names diverse enough in image to let your child grow up to be a banker or a filmmaker, according to her talents or choice, are preferable to those that scream “corporate lawyer” or “exotic dancer.”
Incredibly good point from the comments on this article:
I fought tooth and nail to NOT name my daughter Katie May, Katie NOT being short for Kathleen or Katherine. I kept asking him if he would take a CEO named Katie May seriously. Hell, it might even hinder any opportunity of her being hired for certain jobs. It took a while, but it finally sunk in, and although neither of us named our daughter our first (or second) choices, I am happy to say that my daughter has a name that is different without being weird, my husband still got his Irish first name to go with his Irish last name (even though I was pushing for a more German name as I lost my German maiden name when I married), and I got to pass on my and my mother’s middle name. Cassidy Anne was born on February 29th, and I think she’ll make a marvelous CEO… or artist, or scientist, or whatever she wants to be!
19. Don’t pick a name that will eternally have to be pronounced and explained to everyone.You’re signing up for a lifetime of name pain, not only for yourself but for your child.
THIS is so true. Seriously. I think the average kid with a unique name like this will get social anxiety because of their name.
20. Reach name consensus with your partner. While the final choice may not be at the top of the list for both you and your baby-having partner, you both have to be fully on board with the choice, even if it’s to let him have total control over naming this child while you get to choose next time.
Nothing worse than naming your kid “Jean” after you father if your father and your husband never got along. See: Mad Men.
21. Choose a name that can grow with your child, from infanthood through childhood to adulthood. If you’re only going to follow one rule, this should be it!
I don’t know what they mean by this but… I think it’s the same idea expressed in point 18.
In summary: Most important to me are numbers 1,2,6,10,15,18,19,20.