until the dawn appears

mpjdawn

I’ve been listening to Matthew Perryman Jones on repeat for days.  There’s something so soothing about his voice, and his lyrics speak straight to my heart.  This one song resounds in my mind long after I’ve turned the music off.  The first two verses of Until the Dawn Appears reflect the past year or more of my life, but the song reminds me that the struggle isn’t the end result.  There are far better eternal days ahead than the fleeting ones of the past, and that truth brings hope in light of worldly despair.  I mean, how awesome is it to know that we are justified by our faith in Christ and promised life eternal, free of sorrow and tears?  “And my heart will hang on until that dawn appears.”

Check out the song and tell me what you think.  I’m thinking about making another print for the last few lines of the song, but I thought I’d go ahead and put this one out there.

I’ve been turning up the stones in my own discontent,
And I’m finding out where all my hidden sorrows went.
They’ve been laying there for years;
I kept them out of view,
But it’s time I dust you off and take a good look at you.
Oh, how long?
Oh, how long?
Well it’s easier to clench your fists and grind your teeth
Than to look into the sadness that lives underneath.
Well you can kill off all those feelings,
They’ll just turn to ghosts;
They’ll take over your house and become the host.
Oh, how long?
Oh, how long?
Well a man of sorrows walked the shores of Galilee,
And his eyes were cast with joy towards the Crystal Sea.
Well the shadows will be gone and all these bitter tears,
And my heart will hang on that until the dawn appears.
Oh, how long?
Oh, how long?
Oh, you, you won’t let me go….

it’s my choice

pastlikeananchor

As my final semester comes to a close, I have been thinking over the inevitable question, “what’s next?”  Obviously I have pretty solid plans in place for China and graduate school, so I’m not spending a whole lot of time thinking about actual plans for the future.  Instead I’ve been pondering something much less concrete.  Lot’s of questions.  What’s next for me, personally? Who am I going to become? Will I change as much in the next four years as I have in the past four? Will they be changes for the better?

The only thing that is certain is that things will change; I will change.  I think that I’m becoming okay with that.  And as far as the quote above goes, I’m not so sure that I agree anymore.  I see the past more as a foundation for the future; right now, it’s the only thing solid underneath my feet.  Of course, that doesn’t mean that I’m about to sit down right now and cling tight to the past.  But I do think that the past contributes to our future more than we want to give it credit for.  We can either let it hold us back (like an anchor) or propel us forward.  I think it’s easy to think that we have to completely let our past go or bury it in order to move forward, but that’s just not how it works.

For me, this process of moving forward has been about embracing the things I love about my past and tweaking the things that need a little work.  Sure, there are some things that we can let go of, but to completely let go of the past would mean letting go of who you were.  I guess that’s the point that the quote makes, but I don’t think it’s right.  Who you are now and who you will be is based off of who you were in the past, and I just can’t let that go.  I can change certain things I don’t like and build upon certain things that I do like, but I can’t just let go of or ignore any of who I was in the past.  The past itself is not an anchor–it’s all in how we handle it.  We can hold ourselves back by living in the past, or we can embrace it and move forward.  Ultimately, it’s my choice, and I like the sound of that.

graduation announcement

This graduation announcement is one of the many drafts I went through before I finally created one that I absolutely loved.  (The final draft is going out in the mail this week!)  I have used most of my free time the past couple of days playing around with graduation announcements in Photoshop, and now that I am done I am realizing that creating and mailing graduation announcements means that graduation is SO SOON.  It seems strange that there are only 10 class days left and a week of finals.  I’m not so sure that I really understand what it will mean to be a college graduate, yet.  I don’t think it will feel real until January rolls around and everyone is moving back in without me.  I already have days where I get pretty emotional, so I cannot imagine what move-in day is going to feel like when I’m packing for China instead.  Don’t get me wrong–I am stoked about China.  To actually print, “Jessica plans to teach English in Beijing, China…” is thrilling and terrifying all at once.  It makes this a reality.  I am starting down a new path, and I can barely see the road ahead.

For the longest time, I was afraid that not being able to see down the path in front of me was a bad thing.  I have wrongly assumed that having uncertainties in my future meant that I had chosen the wrong path. I know that I’m going to China, but I have no idea what to expect.  I know that I’m applying to grad school, but I have no clue what will happen after that.  Surely that’s a sign that these are the wrong choices for my life, a lack of confirmation from God.  Well, I don’t believe that one bit.  In the past several months, I have learned a lot about Christian liberty, and that has been, well, liberating.  I have come to realize that I have the liberty to make choices in life that lead me down paths that I believe to be beneficial and enjoyable, as long as I seek to glorify the One who has made these paths for me.  When morality and the law do not prohibit an action, God grants us liberty to make life decisions using the wisdom that He has given us.  Even if I chose the RUF Internship or Teach for America, God would still use me.  Knowing that makes it less tempting to question my decisions and ask, ‘what if?’

the opposite of love

Today I requested Dave Matthews tickets from my dad for ‘graduation,’ in December.  The concert is actually during finals week, which I think will be the best option for escaping the madness of studying and testing, at least for an evening.  When I found out The Lumineers are opening for DMB, I instantly opened Spotify and put their album on repeat.  Love them.

The more I listened to the CD–at work with nothing else to do but that and a psychology report–the more I began to recognize the particular songs that felt most familiar.  You know, the songs that you hear and you wonder how in the world someone could know you well enough to write a song about you, especially considering they’ve never even met you.  That is how I define good music.

She’ll tear a hole in you, the one you can’t repair
But I still love her, I don’t really care

Stubborn Love is one of those songs, for me.  Listen to it.  Read the lyrics.  (Trust me, you’ll want to do that or else everything I am about to say won’t make a whole lot of sense.)
The guy is singing about a girl who seems to get love all wrong, but he loves her anyway.  I know that girl, and I’m pretty familiar with that guy.  What I know about that girl is this: something happened to her to make her the way she is.  I believe that the most basic desire of any human being is to love and to be love, and I just don’t think that anyone pushes that away or runs from it without having been burned by a false, incomplete version of ‘love.’  This guy gets that, and he recognizes that to leave her is to confirm her newfound belief that love just doesn’t exist.  He chooses to love her through her pain, and I respect that because I feel like those guys are so hard to find…especially when you think about the fact that there are also guys out there who have been just as burned by ‘love.’  The idea of “stubborn love” is really just committment in a nutshell.  Love is about comitting to a person regardless of their past or the long road ahead.  After all, we all have scars from all the times we have fallen on this path we have been walking.

Also, stubborn love makes me think about how stubborn I am, and there are people who choose to love me anyway.  That’s a blessing I take for granted all too often, and being stubborn makes it even harder to accept the love that people try to give.  Anyway, I like this song.  I like how it sounds.  I like the lyrics.  I like that there are deep underlying meanings and themes.  I like the psychology of it.  I just wanted to share that with you.

It’s better to feel pain than nothing at all
The opposite of love is indifference.

In closing, here’s some other questions I’ve been pondering:
Am I in a ‘stubborn love’ kind of relationship with anyone?
Am I the stubborn one or the loving one?
And what is it that I am indifferent about that I really should be loving more?