Advent: Day 14

I really wanted to stick to my personal challenge of writing daily blogs for advent. When I missed one last week, I justified, explained it away by saying it was my sabbath. It wasn’t a trickery. It made sense in the moment, and I really liked how that explanation bloomed out of my own mishap.

However, trying to write this week has been hard. My brain feels uninspired. My heart felt uninspired. Maybe I had used up my week’s worth of inspiration creating that 11:11 album. I listened to it on Tuesday and was sobbing myself; it does work having someone cheer you on when you feel like you’re crushed in the dumps. I skipped + missed writing the last two days. I didn’t have much to say. And I already felt like my last post was being phoned in. Why? What am I trying to prove? Who am I trying to prove to? I think it becomes a bit inevitable that you feel responsible to the community that might read these posts, and I guess I didn’t want to let you down. So if some of the last posts were eh, I’m sorry. I’m trying. Why didn’t I just say, I got nothing to say…?

But today I do have something because last night I got rejected from a writing lab I really wanted to be in. I’ve been working on a screenplay for 4 years and for this Sundance fellowship, I pulled 3 all nighters to write 5 personal essays and complete the 2nd draft. That week in October, I worked from 8a-4:30pm, had rehearsal from 6-9pm, and worked on my application from 9-3am. It was hard, and it was glorious. I felt motivated. I felt like this is what my life can be full of — meaningful civic work, acting projects that are important, and creations that could change the world. I was really excited and I sent in my application. And I waited for the last two months.

Before the no, you have not been selected, I felt hope. I felt possibility. I felt excited imagining the people on the other side seeing my story and my heart. I felt excited about a future where I could have collaborators that understood how I saw the world and where I want to take this world. My waiting was full of possibility + hope. And the no came and the flood erupted. Duh. You suck. Of course, it would never happen. The sadness. The frustration. The desire to just stop working on this story because very very honestly I may just not have what it takes. I’m sad. And I’m disappointed in myself. And my mind starts to even wander into places of comparison — why does SHE always get it? why do people like THEM get these? people like me…never…

Sometimes in the waiting, you do get an answer, and it brings up feelings and beliefs. How can these answers, which we want, getting an answer, be more helpful than harmful?

Maybe it’s a sign to take a break. Maybe it is a sign to stop altogether.
However, this I know.
It’s an opportunity to embrace the feelings and question the harmful beliefs that come up.
It’s an opportunity to invite the right people into this heartache or tough moment.
It’s an opportunity to reevaluate the deep deep goal. For me, I wanted the validation that I am good enough of a writer and I wanted a community to collaborate together with.

Every answer in this lifetime of waiting is an opportunity to witness what comes up, what we care about in this world, and who we can share. We can’t do this alone. We can’t. We are made for community.

Reject Me Not

Then seizing [Jesus], they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, ‘This man was with him.’

But he denied it. ‘Woman, I don’t know him,’ he said.

A little later someone else saw him and said, ‘You also are one of them.’

‘Man, I am not!’ Peter replied.

About an hour later another asserted, ‘Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.’

Peter replied, ‘Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!’ Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Luke 22:54-62

Why did Peter stick so close to the friend he kept rejecting? Why did Peter still stick around as he kept denying his affiliations with Jesus? Peter wanted to know what was going to happen to Jesus without experiencing the consequences himself. Peter still felt drawn to the Lord, but seeing what was happening to the Lord, felt it safer to keep a distance. How can we sometimes be so close to someone yet actually be so far away?

Regardless of his overt verbal rejections, Peter was already recognized and labelled as someone who knew Jesus. People saw him frolicking with Jesus. People knew Peter’s background. People knew that there was something between Peter and Jesus regardless of what he was saying in this fearful dark moment. I am both comforted and anxious about this . It gives me comfort because no matter how much I verbally reject God or distance myself from other Christians, I am and will forever be marked as a child of God. The experiences with God, the experiences of God and the experience of God with me are forever mine and continue to shape me. I may reject God in moments, but I am always his and he is mine. This also makes me anxious because no matter how much I try to run and hide, people may see and smell the Jesus on me. There’s a standard and a way of being that I feel an account. There’s a relationship that still takes up room in my heart. I always know when I am deviating from that standard and relationship.

People think much about the person who gets rejected, but there is a pain in being the person who rejects. Psychopaths aside, rejecting someone can come with it guilt, bitterness and brutal self-reflection. If you have been rejected, may God sit with you in that sorrow and wash away any notions of unworthiness. If you have rejected, may God sit with you in that sorrow as well and wash away the grip of guilt.

The Testing of Friendships

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’ Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’ The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’

John 21: 15-17

It doesn’t feel good either to be the recipient or the reason for a broken relationship. A bad conversation. A surprising revelation of one’s character. Two life paths diverge because of exhaustion, unresolved resentment or lack of interest. Relationships build us up and tear us down, and we want the kind that tear down our walls, not our worth.

How often are we like Jesus, the one who was rejected and abandoned, yet also the one who later seeks out reconciliation? How often are we like Peter, set on our timeline of forgiveness and reconciliation and hurt when it doesn’t go as planned?

True friendships are difficult. The ones built to last go through fires, fights and forgiveness. It requires courage and humility to be the first to approach even when you have been wronged. It requires vulnerability to outwardly ask for care and respond with care. The journey of moving through different seasons of relationships often contain hurt, pain, repetition and uncomfortable intimacy. True friendships are worth it because as messy as the relationship between Jesus and Peter is, they exist when two people with the same mission towards humanity find each other. That is rare and testing in these scenarios can only survive if the calling and purpose remain at the core.

If you didn’t hold so dearly to your pride and ego, who would you reach out to? If you didn’t worry so much about your reputation or the sunk cost of friendship building, who would you let go? If you think about your deepest purposes in life, who do you feel safe to share those deepest secrets?