Saturday, April 19, 2014

Shaken Foundation

I feel like I should preface this post with a cautionary note... I know some of my readers are closely tied to some of the things I'll be discussing, so I just want to say, I'm sharing my thoughts, and if they offend you, feel free to take it up with me. However, I will not apologize for the personal thoughts I share here.

Last year at this time, I was in turmoil about my true spiritual/religious beliefs. The ground upon which I thought myself to be firmly planted was suddenly shaken, and everything - yes, everything - was uncertain. To help you understand just how much my world was shaken, I'll give some background.

I was raised "in church." Let me be more specific. I was raised in a United Pentecostal Church (UPC). We had church on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. As I got older, I also participated in prayer meetings on Mondays, Bible studies on Tuesdays, youth service on Fridays, and Bible quizzing on Saturdays. Yeah, that's a lot of church. No, I never minded it.

If you don't know about the UPC, let me try to briefly share some... This gets difficult, because I think you see it very differently from the inside out than from the outside in, and I feel like I can see it both ways, at least to some extent. So, let me try to do both... From the outside in, I'm sure it looks pretty strange. They (especially the women) look different because of some physical standards they observe. They act differently in church service and are very open, even "crazy" with their worship. Further, they may tend to seem very exclusive, arrogant even. Now, from the inside out, we are adamant and unwavering in our beliefs. We believe exactly what the Bible says, and we include the whole thing, not just bits and pieces. We want everyone to experience the wonderful truth we know.

That whole thing about including the whole thing, not just bits and pieces... I'm not so sure... Somewhere, it seems like we've forgotten that first and greatest commandment and the second one, which is pretty important too...

Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
But, I never saw that before. I was raised this way, and I didn't see anything else until I was 18 years old and moved away to go to college. Now, in the UPC there is this stigma about going to college and leaving "the church." I didn't do that. I got my pastor's permission, and I moved about 70 miles north to go to the University of Northern Colorado. And when I went, I went to another UPC church out there. So what changed? Nothing at first. But (and this actually goes along with the stigma), the more I learned, the more open minded I became, the more a grew... the less I felt the strong conviction that had tied me to "the church" all along. These were my convictions too, not things which were forced upon me. A lot of the "young people" are in church because their parents make them go. I never had that. My parents were raised in the same church I was raised in, but they never went when I was growing up.

I personally was deeply convinced of everything I believed and was convicted that we had the one true way of salvation. I based my life on this set of beliefs. My entire world view was determined by them. Well, a lot changed for me... You have to see that when this foundation was shaken, it changed everything. I didn't understand anything, and my life was definitely characterized by an atmosphere of dazed, lost confusion.

I'm going to leave it at that for now... I feel like this subject will take several posts, and I know right now with this first one, it doesn't necessarily seem to relate to the topic of the blog. But I'll continue these thoughts with the next post...

Friday, April 18, 2014

Quick Update!

Just some quick news:
  • I got accepted into Sigma Tau Delta (International English Honor Society)
  • I also got accepted into the McNair Scholars Program
  • I'm definitely not going to the Philippines( or I would be there right now)
  • I'm also not going to Lithuania
  • I've been facilitating for Soliya for 6 weeks
I'm really wanting to post about some different "global"/"international"/"intercultural" issues that I've been learning about and researching lately, so I think the focus of this blog might kind of shift in that direction.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Change of Plans

Well, the last three months have brought with them many things...

Here, writing in this blog, I do not intend to put on the facade I have been trying to maintain in almost every other area of my life. Disclaimer: This post might be over-sharing... But to put it simply, without going into unnecessary detail, last year around this time, I went through an incredibly traumatic experience. Unfortunately, this trauma was basically extended, and it continued into December. What to say about this? Frankly, it has changed my life.

Over the last three months, I hit a low of unprecedented proportions in my life. I wasn't even functioning at one point. I wasn't going to my classes, I didn't want to go to work but I did (gotta pay rent somehow, right?), I distanced myself from friends and family, and I started backing out of my activities in the honors program and with the GRC. The trauma I had experienced was taking over my life.

So I made the decision to try to get some help. I reached out to a professor I've had a few times who is also my academic adviser for my English major when I missed his class for about three weeks straight towards the end of last semester. And he recommended that I get in touch with the Dean of Students. I didn't. I thought I could deal with it. I didn't want anyone else to know.

But over the break between semesters, things just got worse. I can't describe with words the way I felt, but it was agonizing. I would've given anything to just disappear forever. But one day, I was driving (I forget where), and I just desperately wanted, needed someone to help. So I went to the Dean of Students office. Why there? Because it was the first place that popped into my head because of my professor's advice. Long story short, they helped. They connected me with the counseling center, and now I'm working through what's happened.

Now that I'm not feeling like the living dead anymore, I feel like I can write about other things that are going on. A lot of things have changed since my last post...

First off, I am still pursuing writing my honors thesis in some sort of ESL curriculum for the Global Refugee Center. However, it seems I probably won't be going to Lithuania with ILP next semester. Nor will I be going to the Philippines. Yeah, to be blunt, that kind of sucks. I was really looking forward to it, but some other things have happened, and it just doesn't look possible financially right now. On the bright side, staying here next semester gives me more time to get the last of my classes in next academic year. Also, I've recently applied for admission into both Sigma Tao Delta (the English honor society) and the McNair Scholars Program, and it'll be good to stay and be active in those programs. Last but not least, I start facilitating with Soliya on Tuesday!! I am very excited for this opportunity.

Ultimately, lots of things have changed... Well, you just gotta roll with the frosting! (inside joke)

“I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they're right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”