Monthly Archives: May 2009

>I wish Liam Neeson were my dad.

>I saw “Taken” last night at the dollar theatre and I loved it! Not only was it a taut thriller that brought the issue of human trafficking to the mainstream, but it was also a potent metaphor of my relationship with God.

Liam Neeson plays Brian, a former government agent whose job was “to prevent bad things from happening.” He is estranged from his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace), a naive seventeen-year-old easily swayed by her stepfather’s material wealth and her best friend Amanda’s rebelliousness. Kim lies to her father about a trip to Paris that is a cover for following U2’s summer tour in Europe. The girls are spotted at the airport and kidnapped by human traffickers for sale into the sex trade. Brian uses all the contacts and skills at his disposal to find his daughter and will stop at nothing until she is recovered.

In so many ways I am just like Kim, and I’d actually been struggling to accept God’s forgiveness Thursday night and Friday. What started as an honestly convicting Hosea-Gomer moment turned into a chorus of “Whore of Babylon,” so to see Brian rescuing his daughter from prostitution hit me particularly hard. It’s always a struggle for me to understand and accept that I am not loved because I am worth redeeming but because it is in God’s nature to love. This movie helped provide a visual of that.

Liam Neeson also played another fiercely devoted father: Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. In that story, Valjean is not even Cosette’s real father. He experienced the transformative forgiveness of the Bishop of Digne and gradually transforms from self-centered to selfless, and as part of that process, he promises to rescue the daughter of Fantine, a prostitute who used to work in his factory. Cosette is staying with the Thenardiers, who abuse and neglect her. When Valjean comes to their inn, Thenardier exploits his wealth and determination to take Cosette away to extort an exorbitant amount of money. Every time I read or see this scene, I am so moved by the father who will do anything for his daughter. Later, after Cosette as grown up and fallen in love with Marius, Valjean risks his life to save the young revolutionary even though he knows Marius will replace him in Cosette’s affections. Now that is love.

And to cap it all off, Liam Neeson voices Aslan in the Narnia movies, yet another analogy for God.
“Safe? Who said anything about safe? Of course He’s not safe! But He is good.” -C.S. Lewis


>Completing the Square



by Peggie Coletti Bohanon

Lord, send me someone sincere and true,
Someone who wholly belongs to you;
And then to me to give a part
Of a very tender and loving heart.
Full of fun yet strong and steady too,
Someone to lean on and who trusts in you.
His life in service to you he’ll give,
And our lives for you we both shall live.
A gracious, exciting, understanding man,
The one for me that you have planned.
The ideal man of my life to be,
Strong of heart and soul, yet gentle with me.
He’ll hold me close and always want me near,
He’ll need my love and often call me dear.
I’ll walk so proudly by his side,
My happiness complete when I’m his bride.
I’ll open my heart to his love evermore.
Where’er he is, Lord,
Send him knocking at my door!

This woman wrote another poem that was prophetic and encouraging for my recovery from eating disorder, so I thought I’d check out the other writings on her website. Once my brain stopped bleeding from the sheer obnoxiousness of the site design, I found this poem. As I read, I agreed with everything until I got to the line I’ve bolded above.

This is something I have always struggled to understand. As I was praying last week, I realized that my previous relationships, actual and attempted, failed in part because I was not whole, and trying to find my wholeness in another person is a recipe for failure. But the Bible says that man had no suitable helper, so woman was created. Was Adam incomplete without Eve? Am I incomplete without a significant other?

I certainly don’t feel that way…in fact I am closer to wholeness now than I ever was even in a relationship. Moreover, I see no reason to potentially jeopardize that by adding anyone else to the equation. To quote Alanis Morissette (not the most biblically aligned source on relationships, granted), I believe that one and one make two, but people (including Christians) are always going on and on about finding “their other half.” The thing is, I’ve tried that. That’s all I’ve ever tried, actually, and it always failed. So how do I reconcile the need to be whole in Christ with what appears to be God’s design for a man and a woman to be together?

Maybe our wholeness comes from Christ but our completeness comes from a spouse. I’m not sure exactly how that works, but maybe it’s like…a two-volume book. Each volume is an entire work but each is also part of a set that tells a complete story. Hmmm. Not sure how well that analogy works for me.

>25 Things I’ve Learned in College (but not necessarily in class)

>I am using the term “college” here to mean the time period of the last four years as well as the circumstances surrounding being a college student.
By the way, if you tagged me for 25 things or 16 things or 38.2189 things…this is my belated response.

  1. For me, numbness is worse than fear or pain or hunger, because feeling those means I’m still alive. I can usually remember this in the midst of suffering…usually.
  2. I process the universe through written words. This means I learn best through reading and writing. I don’t retain well what I hear unless I read it or write it down simultaneously or soon after.
  3. Breakfast is my favorite meal. There have been days (more often than I care to admit) when I have eaten oatmeal or cereal for two out of three square meals a day.
  4. I have a pathological fear of confrontation that I am trying to overcome without becoming a pain in the ass.
  5. I am not nearly as good at multitasking as I imagine myself to be.
  6. Vacations should not be about cramming in as many activities into the space of twelve hours as possible. I learned this traveling with Liz to Cabo San Lucas and Atlanta.
  7. One of my worst habits of action is not putting things where they belong right when I am done using them.
  8. I have a rather severe teacher’s pet complex, which I have fortunately never acted on.
  9. “Mostly harmless” is not a good enough reason to do anything. Life is too short and offers too many choices not to think carefully and choose to do only the things that serve some distinct purpose.
  10. I wish I had kept up my study and practice of music during college. When I have my own place large enough to fit it, I will have my piano shipped to me.
  11. I am not God, but I often try to put myself in His place by judging or condemning myself and others. I am desperately trying to unlearn this tendency.
  12. Whether or not one gets a happy ending depends entirely on where one stops reading.
  13. I am extremely bad at choosing superlatives, so those ubiquitous web memes about your favorite this or that are extremely difficult for me. This is a symptom of my larger inability to make decisions. Unfortunately, I haven’t actually improved much in this area; I get around by avoiding new decisions as much as possible, which is not healthy, and I am trying to turn these things over to God more.
  14. Even though I usually dig in my heels when it comes to change, when things finally do change I can usually adjust pretty quickly to the new “normal.”
  15. I tend to be kind of nearsighted about life; I believe, mistakenly, that the way things are now is the way they have always been. Coupled with my tendency to revise my own history, this is not always wise, but fortunately I have my journals and friends to remind me about things I need to remember but would sometimes rather forget.
  16. Apparently my favorite number is 4. I tell people I am either 4 years old or 84, the average of which is…44.
  17. Even though (or perhaps because) I try to keep my life fairly well planned, I LOVE surprises. (Benign ones, at least.)
  18. I am much more people-oriented than I used to be. I attribute this directly to being part of a community that visibly and intentionally cares after one another.
  19. I am very impressionable, to the point where I have trouble taking True/False tests because I think, “Well, if someone took the time to write this on a sheet of paper, it must be true!” For the most part I regard this as a good thing because it allows me to empathize better with people (see #18) but it can be also bad because I internalize other people’s [misguided] expectations and projected [negative] emotions very easily. I am slowly learning to let certain things roll off me more.
  20. I like hugs. The level of physical affection that I am willing to give or receive is directly correlated to my emotional state.
  21. I also really like making and giving things to people, whether it’s food or cards or letters or furry pink things. (One a side note, when I read Gary Chapman’s book about the five love languages, I almost got a little frustrated because I evince all of them toward various people. Then I realized this is a good thing.)
  22. I love analogies and object lessons and look for them in everything I experience.
  23. I tend to be very trusting of people in general and sometimes need to be clued in on “common sense” wariness. Paradoxically, I sometimes have trouble trusting specific people enough to let them fully into my life.
  24. Everyone has their own cross to bear. I am learning not to compare my trials with others’ and complain that someone else has it easier because they are most likely facing difficulties I simply cannot understand. I can help those whose difficulties I can understand, however, because I went through them myself. I used to grumble, “Why do I have to be hurt so that I can help others?” But the causality is quite the opposite: I can help because I was hurt but then healed.
  25. I used to think the world was all black and white, EITHER/OR, but I’m finding that God is really more a God of BOTH/AND, not in a self-contradictory way but like holding different things in opposite hands. (Chesterton explains this much better in Orthodoxy.) All my life I felt like a walking contradiction and thought something was wrong with me, but realizing this has helped me move toward wholeness.

>More Lessons from the Ceramics Studio

>I just love my ceramics class this quarter. I like to think that I’m not half bad at the wheel and I can’t see why I was terrified of throwing while I was in high school. It’s certainly an example of “Practice makes perfect,” and I’m happy to report that I’ve basically mastered centering the clay, which of course, is the most important step.

I discovered that it helps to sit on a slightly higher stool because the extra inch of elevation helps me better see if my clay is wobbling. In the same way, it’s much easier for God to center us because He is so much higher than we are.

It’s also a lot easier to center soft clay, and I’ve discovered that I much prefer working with reclaimed clay. This is clay that’s already been thrown before, but didn’t quite make the cut. I break it into pieces, water it down if it’s too bone-dry, spread it on a plaster board to dry a little, then throw, pummel, and wedge the heck out of it to get a soft, pliable clay. Some people don’t like using reclaimed clay because they don’t like wedging it to get the air bubbles out, so they just use the ready-made clay available for purchase. (Which I’m pretty sure is also reclaimed from the communal slop buckets, but it’s been pugged and processed so it’s bubble-free.) My problem with the prepared clay is that it’s just too darn hard, and it takes a lot longer and a lot more water to center.

I think you can guess where I’m going with this. The analogy isn’t perfect, because God didn’t make any “mistakes” with me, but I have certainly had the old me broken, thrown, pummeled, and wedged in the past few months, and I’ve been reclaimed. And now I’m ready to be reformed. For the first time in a long time I am reconciled to my body and to God. The Spirit of God is near and I am the closest to whole I have probably ever been. I still have some air bubbles that need to be popped, and I know that things will not always be this smooth, but I have faith in the Potter to make good use of me (Rom. 9:21).

Ezekiel 11:19
I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.