living in the liminal

I washed dishes tonight.

This is rare, for me. As a dorm-dwelling, caf-eating college student, the dishes I wash in my small dorm room sink are mostly tea mugs, and then infrequently.

At home, I unload the dishwasher only when prompted, and load it only when forced. On occasion, I remember to clean the frying pan I used for eggs or the bowl I mixed cookie dough in.

But this weekend, my parents are gone, leaving my younger brother and I to fend for ourselves (resulting, obviously, in cereal and ice cream for dinner). So I washed dishes. Rinsed plates, filled the dishwasher with cups and bowls and spoons. Went grocery shopping, put the yogurt in the fridge and the crackers in the cupboard. Fed the dog, took her outside and then locked the doors. Turned off the lights.

Every one of these acts made me feel so old, and yet so young.

I’m twenty. I’m no longer a teenager and can’t get away with teenaged youth, folly, stupidity. But I am no means ready to be an adult. Quite simply, I don’t know how to be an adult. I don’t even know how to use our dishwasher.

Being home for the summer feels so in-between. Spending my nights in the room where I slept all through elementary and middle and high school, a place that I should know and own and feel comfortable in, but I feel almost as if I don’t belong anymore. A college dorm room that has housed hundreds of students before me and will house hundreds of students after me feels like the place where I belong right now.

My adult-but-not-yet-an-adult existence barely makes sense to me. I feel like I’m expected to start doing adult-y, responsible things (finding an internship, studying abroad, thinking about a job, washing dishes) and yet I can barely tackle my four-item long to-do list (sample: mail paycheck). I’m not ready for the future that’s rushing at me headlong, but I can’t stand the past, either.

I’m not really sure what to do about it.

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tea and cookies.

“The thief comes only to steal and destroy and kill, but I come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

I have been letting that thief in. He has snuck in through cracks in my walls, through a sliver of open window. But there have been times when I have thrown my front door open wide, let him in, made him a cup of coffee and asked him to stay awile. Ate up his lies like sugar cookies with my tea.

It’s not stealing if I give it away freely.

But I’m taking it back. Reclaiming my life, claiming life in the fullest.

It’s been promised to me by someone who never breaks a promise, never tells a lie, never goes back on his word. Someone who doesn’t need to sneak in through cracks in my walls. To him, I can open my door safely, invite him in without fear. We’ll drink tea and eat cookies that taste only of sugar and butter, no more insecurity and fear melting on my tongue. I’ll wrap my hands around my mug (three sugars and a spoon of honey) and smile. He’ll fix those cracks and tell me stories of things to come, and I’ll begin to dream again.

And my heart will be full, and the thief will not be able to take it from me.

and the birds sing God’s praises better than I ever could

Yesterday, I attended church outside.

A thunderstorm swept through Virginia, D.C., and Maryland Friday night, leaving many of us stranded with no power, no internet, and no air conditioning in 95+ degree heat. I’m lucky – my grandparents have all three, and so we have been hiding out here, in the cool with our laptops.

But Saturday night, we slept at home, doors and windows open to catch whatever meager breeze existed. Sunday morning, our church services were cancelled. The high school was powerless, and we were left searching for a different service to attend. We Googled the churches that were planted by our church, spearheaded by pastors we listened to for a year or two before being sent off, searching for one that was still going to be worshipping in the morning.

One had no power, but they were still having a service.

So we ended up sitting on picnic benches and folding chairs in the shade of a tree by the baseball field of an elementary school.

We sang by the sounds of two guitars and a djembe, lyrics from the bulletin (or memory) instead of a screen.

My reclining beach chair was more comfortable than any pew I’d sat in, but it was low to the ground, and so I had a view of the preacher only when he happened to be standing between two bodies, instead of behind them.

In the back, I couldn’t hear all of the prayers, but I could recognize the sounds of “Lord, have mercy” and spoke “Hear our prayer” into the heat with everyone else.

I took Communion wearing shorts and sunglasses.

It all felt so wrong, and so, so right. I did not know the people around me, yet I belong. The tradition I am used too – the white-clothed communion table, Bibles in the pews, cross hanging at the front of the sanctuary – were replaced by the breeze and the birds and the gnats sneaking up on my legs.

But the Lord’s Prayer doesn’t change, and the Prayer for the Purity stays the same, and I know that God is here, and suddenly it feels like home.

in which I write a list

I like lists.

Maybe it’s just ┬ámy control freak, type-A, slightly OCD personality coming out, but I’m a fan of lists. Grocery lists, to-do lists, packing lists, bullet-pointed topics for a speech.

Inevitably, the grocery list exists only in my head instead of on paper, and I forget something. The to-do list doesn’t get finished and that one item without a line through it stares back at me defiantly. The packing list is neatly organized into categories of shirts and pants and socks, and yet half of my wardrobe ends up in a jumble on my bed.

But a list gives me something real, something concrete, facts. Food to buy, things to do, clothes to pack. When I feel as though my entire world is quickly spiraling out of control around me, I can look at those items – in my best handwriting, organized by bullets, lined up on the page – and know that this list is something within my control, something I can hold on to.

Last night, I wrote a list.

This list is in my journal, and is headed simply with the words “these are Truths”

(because lately the Truths have been slipping my mind, and the lies have been flooding in, and I’m left grabbing for the Truths but they escape my fingers like bars of soap in a bathtub. and I am left with only the lies to fill my mind, and if I let the lies fill my mind, I will completely lose the Truth. and the Truth is something I cannot live without)

and it goes like this:

  • Jesus loves me, in a way that is perfect and holy and intoxicating, in a way I can never understand or deserve, in a way that is beautiful.
  • Jesus paid for my life with His. Abba, my Father, bought me at the highest price. I am not worth that much, but He has made me worthy.
  • Jesus Christ is the one true and Risen Lord. He died. He endured the torment of hell, and then He defeated death. He was fighting on my behalf. He has defeated death for me.
  • Satan has no power against the Almighty God, and the Almighty God has marked me as His. Therefore – He protects me. Satan may attack, but he has no right to my life.
  • I am beautiful. The perfect God has made me to reflect His beauty, to be part of His love letter to the world, to declare His glory. He has called me beautiful, and so beautiful I am.
  • He has begun a good work in me, and He will see it through. He is making me more like Him, and He will never stop.
  • He has never left me, and He never will. He is always only waiting for me to open my head to Him and invite Him in. And He will come, because He loves me.

these are my Truths. these, I cling to.