six weeks in.

six weeks.

we are six weeks into the semester. halfway. my first semester of divinity school is halfway over.

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it’s hard to believe. six weeks? how did that happen? the days are a blur of lectures and readings and precepts, morning prayer at 7:45 am and hours spent in the library. falling into bed far too late and the alarm going off far too early. names and dates and places and concepts and terms that I’ve never heard before, tumbling over each other in my head until sometimes I forget whether I heard something in church history or in theology, in this book or in that book. we hit the ground running day one. there’s no easing into seminary. there is a stack of books and a packed syllabus.

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six weeks. the drive to school is now routine. the first day, I took the wrong campus shuttle by mistake. total freshman move. but now I stand, bored-faced, at the bus stop, no longer nervous about my ability to get my from car to the divinity school. I have a regular spot in the cafe, a favorite room in the library, a regular seat in each of my lectures. walking into my apartment feels like coming home. the faces in the halls are now classmates, study group members, friends. these people – these brilliant, messy, hilarious, wonderful, beautiful, broken people – sit with me on porches and in class and around the table and in chapel services, and we laugh and joke and complain and tell stories and discuss and I no longer feel so painfully alone.

I no longer feel so painfully lost.

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I still can’t give you directions around Durham and I’ve only been inside five buildings on campus. but still, this place is starting to feel familiar. and it feels right.

halfway in, and I finally feel like I am in exactly the right place.

I’m starting to belong.

the past six weeks have not been easy. there has been a lot of doubt. a lot of questions. a lot of crying. a lot of feeling alone. a lot of confusion. a lot of reading. and then more reading.

but – this is where I’m supposed to be. I questioned that the first few weeks, I’ll admit. why? why am I here? what am I doing?

I still don’t know, not really. I just know that I’m here.

and six weeks in, being here feels right.

new things are scary.

I haven’t been writing much lately.

We can talk about that. Or not. I don’t know if I can explain it. If you’ve read anything around here before, you know I have a tendency to talk (a lot) about my relationship with words. But let’s not, right now.

Let’s just be real about right now.

I am terrified.

You maybe know that things have changed for me. The Fellows Program came to an end; I cried. I left Greensboro; I cried. I spent a summer at home; I cried a little bit. I moved to Durham a week ago (and yes, I cried).

Tomorrow, I begin my first day of classes as a Master of Theological Studies student at Duke Divinity School.

I. am. terrified.

I don’t like change, all that much. And I really, really, don’t like not knowing. I don’t like that I don’t know how to get to Target without a GPS and I don’t like that I don’t know where I’m going to church, much less who I’m going to sit next to. I don’t know where my classes are or how I’ll handle them, I don’t know how I’ll do in school. I don’t know what my research interest is and for the love of all things holy, please do not ask me what I’m doing after grad school. If I start crying when you ask me that question, that’s on you. I warned you.

I am overwhelmed and lost and confused and nervous and scared and lonely and maybe asking myself every thirty minutes why I’m doing this.

I could have stayed. I could have stayed in Greensboro, stayed in the city I loved, at the church I loved, with the people I loved. I could have picked safe.

But I didn’t. I picked scary.

And I know, I know that must have been God. Because I am not a girl who picks scary that easily.

My God doesn’t pick safe, I guess. Jesus didn’t pick safe; instead, He picked me.

I don’t really know why I’m here. I can give you an answers, a few answers, if you ask why divinity school or why Duke or why an MTS but I guess it really comes down to: I think God wanted me here. I guess I need scary for a little while. I guess I need hard and challenging and terrifying. I guess I need not-safe. I guess I need out-of-my-control.

I’m terrified.

But I’m here to learn something – a few somethings, hopefully – and I think one of them might have to do with fear and courage and trust. About doing things when you’re terrified.

Here goes.

#rwanderingaround

We’re all different people – better people, I believe – because of our time as Fellows. And as we say – once a Fellow, always a Fellow. The program is ending, but our friendship isn’t. It’s just going to look a little different next year.

But, sappy emotional endings aside – June means something else. June means we’re all getting on a place and flying to Rwanda.

Little update on my time as a Fellow and our upcoming trip over at the Greensboro Fellows blog. Check it out, maybe?

p.s. Yes, I have officially dubbed that our trip hashtag. Not sure how the rest of the team feels but I’m determined to make it stick.

so where?

you said that you

will never leave or forsake.

i know that.

i’ve memorized it, haven’t i?

i’ve heard it enough times.

so where the hell are you?

i’m here. i’ve been standing here,

walking circles around these same prayers,

i’m wearing holes in the carpet

and still –

nothing.

i believe that you will never leave,

never forsake,

but it’s hard to believe

in the middle of absence.

i’m getting mad.

i’m getting ready to scream and cuss and cry,

all at once,

but no,

a good girl doesn’t do those things.

she waits

and she believes.

i’m tired of waiting

and i’m not sure how long

i can keep

believing

when you keep

not showing up.

maybe if i just knew –

how far?

how long?

are you right outside the door,

or down the road,

or halfway around the world

waiting for a plane flight

that’s been delayed too many times to count?

here i am again,

wrapping you up in metaphor,

painting over it with pretty words

to hide the stark and ugly truth:

i don’t know when you’ll walk back into my heart again.

and i know –

i know, so please don’t tell me again –

that you will never leave

never forsake.

so where the hell are you?

hope springs eternal, they say.

hope springs eternal, they say.
have you somehow found
the Fountain of Youth
and just not shared the coordinates
with me?
I could use a hope-spring
ever-living
because it seems that all I have
is a well
and it has gone dry.
have hope, they say.
how?
how exactly am I supposed
to have hope?
is it an emotion
that I can manufacture
like joy
plaster hope onto my face like a smile?
do I just need
to try a little harder
self-help myself a little more?
could you please
just hand me some hope
to put in my pocket
and carry with me every day?
I don’t understand how hope works, really
no more than I understand love
or faith
or trust
or beauty
or any one of those million intangibles
those words we toss around
til they seem to lose meaning
maybe I don’t know how
to have hope
because I don’t really know what
hope is.
belief in things unseen,
isn’t that the phrase?
or maybe it is the thing with feathers.
I’m not sure.
I think my mind has gotten cluttered
and I need to start over
start new
find and define for myself.
hope.
hope is believing that if
I just take the first step,
the next step will become clear.
hope is trusting that I get
one more breath,
and then another.
hope is foolish, stubborn,
an insistent, persistent clinging
to the promise
that one day,
it will all be okay.
hope springs eternal, they say.
I don’t know if I believe that,
but I chose to believe
that someday,
it will all be okay.
or at least,
some of it will be okay.
I guess that’s kind of the same thing.

beloved.

I got a tattoo in September.

did you know that? you probably do if you follow me on instagram (which, by the way, makes my life look like a flawless stream of sunsets and and tea and poetry and journaling. it’s not. instagram lies. we all know that, right? you probably do, but right now I’m tired of hiding behind pretty filters and just want you to know that my life is not nearly as put-together as instagram makes it seem sometimes. I do love instagram, but sometimes it lies, but I love it anyway, but that’s another post.)

but so, a tattoo.

one Sunday night at 8:45 pm, three of my friends threw me into a car, drove me to a tattoo parlor, and walked me in to get inked. which makes the whole thing sound so much sketchier and reckless than it was, I’d been thinking about getting the tattoo for around three years and they just got tired of hearing me talk about it (in the two and a half weeks that they had known me. so maybe I was a little obsessed) and they said…it’s time.

and so, a tattoo.

it’s simple. one word. my handwriting, with a little help from the tattoo artist to even out the loops on the e’s and the height of the d. just a few inches. left forearm, closer to the elbow, on the inside.

beloved.

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people ask me about it sometimes, the girls that took me or friends from home seeing it for the first time or people noticing it peeking out from a sleeve. sometimes I get asked, do you love it?

yes. yes, I love it.

except when I don’t.

see, that one word on my arm declares, staunchly and boldly and permanently, that I am beloved. that my identity rests in being called beloved – not earning it and not performing for it and not following the rules and not being good – but simply that One has called me beloved.

what a beautiful truth.

and so I love it, except when I don’t believe it, that beautiful and impossible truth.

I hate it when I don’t believe that I am beloved. I hate it when I’ve been struggling and feeling like I am falling oh so short. I hate it when I’m trying to earn love and getting nowhere. I hate it when I’m unhappy, when everything seems grey, when I start to feel that at the core of me I am nothing but a mess. I hate it when I haven’t been talking to that One and I want to yell at him but I feel like there’s no point because he won’t yell back. I hate it when my tidy pieces start to fall apart and I don’t think I deserve it anymore.

on the days when I don’t believe it, I want to scrub that word right off my skin. because it feels like a lie, sitting all pretty in the crook of my elbow, telling the world that I am beloved when I am feeling the furthest from beloved. when I am feeling unlovable.

but that’s why it’s in ink, that’s why I walked into that tattoo shop. because even when I don’t believe beloved, I am still beloved. truth is like that, it’s permanent. and this truth is one that I need to be reminded of, frequently. more frequently than the good church girl in me wants to admit. this truth is one that I want to tie my whole being to: that I am dearly loved. much adored. precious.

that I am beloved.

because I think if I can rest in that, that will be enough.

half way.

It’s almost impossible to believe how quickly the time has gone, how fast this adventure has flown by. It still feels like October in my head, somehow, and I can’t seem to wrap my mind around the fact that no, it’s halfway over. Halfway over? How can it be halfway over? We just started.

I’m back on the Greensboro Fellows blog today, and I’d love it if you’d head over there for a little update on reaching the halfway point of this crazy, ridiculous, beautiful, messy adventure.