Thursday, October 23, 2014

Learning to grow up

          Life often feels like a roller coaster. In the course of a week, I feel like I have so many ups and downs. This last week was no exception but in many ways the ups and downs seemed a lot more intensified. I learned last week about some news that might be life-changing for me. I cannot write about it now, but it was the kind of news that shook me to the core and made me reexamine the meaning of life. Luckily, instead of finding out hard news and then departing for a whole new life in Europe and not having the space or people to process with, I am in a community that deals daily with hard questions.
          My seminary experience so far has been one in which we look at hard questions from both an academic point of view, as well as a deeply personal one. On Friday, after spending some time in personal reflection I talked with my academic adviser about the deep struggles I have with God, especially in light of recent events in my life. My adviser allowed the space for my struggles and encouraged me to keep asking them in spite of there not being many answers. However, he also helped me see the space for where God is at work. He took the time to listen, give me advice both academically and spiritually, and then he prayed for me. I was overcome with thankfulness that I am in the space where I have people like this to walk with me and challenge me; challenge me in my questions, challenge me in my assumptions, and challenge me in my faith, all while walking right there beside me. I feel truly blessed to be in this space. 
          I then had a really terrific weekend. Friday night, I went over to my friend Katie's house and we cooked a delicious meal and just talked for hours. Saturday night, I hosted my first couch surfers! Ever since joining couch surfing back in January, I have looked forward to the time when I would have my own place and could host travelers. When I moved to Elkhart, I was not really expecting people to come, but last week I received a request from a guy and his girlfriend traveling back to Wisconsin after spending time in Massachusetts with friends. They were organic farmers and were so excited to cook and eat real food after time spent on the road. As usual, I have tons of vegetables from work and my friend who works on a local farm, so my couch surfers just took over and cooked a great vegetable, lentil curry. I then took them to a game night at a friend's house and stopped by a birthday party of another friend. On Sunday morning, I made oatmeal and smoothies and sent them on their way. Before they left, they recorded me a song (they had a band together). It was just a really great time of connecting over food, song, and friendship.
          Sunday was another great day as I connected with a new friend, walking and talking, and then Katie came over to my apartment and we cooked another great meal and talked again for hours. I might have gotten no homework accomplished, but I felt accomplished because I did work for 8 hours on Saturday at the food co-op, but I also had three sit-down healthy, amazing dinners with friends. I was able to be a host and take time to deepen relationships in my life. I was able to be fully present in where I was.
          This week has already had more ups and downs. I have been feeling a little sick and have not been sleeping too well, which has made me a bit crabby and unmotivated to work. I have also had some good discussions with my roommate about what we both need in terms of living together. As I have learned in the past, I am a conflict avoider. If I think there is any hint of what could be conflict, I run away and hide within myself. This means that I don't often express my own needs. This was a problem when I was living in Croatia and was one of the reasons that I ended back in the U.S. But yesterday, I forced myself into conversation about my needs and my roommate's needs and it was really good. There was no conflict, and we came to a place of understanding each other better. I felt that I had really made strides in my own development.
          All in all, I think in this past week I have learned a lot more about what it means to be a grown-up. I do not think of myself as grown-up, but I am discovering new ways of how to deal with life as it comes. I am learning to go get help and talk to people instead of carrying my burdens alone. I am learning about how to host people in my own space and allow them to feel welcome. I am learning to cook on my own and share the joy of eating with friends and strangers. I am learning how to recognize my weaknesses, but pushing through uncomfortable places to build more authentic relationships. I am learning to balance my time and energy. I am learning to grow up.

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