Remembering 9/11

Of course, I couldn’t let the ten year anniversary of September 11, 2001 go by unnoticed on my blog. My heart has been processing the events again today, especially as I’ve been looking through the videos, galleries, stories, and memorials online the past few days/weeks. It takes an emotional toll. It is hard to imagine that was ten years ago that I was in high school, heading outside with my ecology class, desperate to call and make sure my dad was OK in Washington, DC. (he was, just stuck in town for awhile). There are thousands of stories much more emotional than mine, but still…

I think: What if it had been me, during a normal sleepy morning at the office, who suddenly went up in a fireball?
What if it had been me, terrified, panting down 80 flights of stairs?
What if it had been me, trapped and unable to escape?
What if it had been me surviving, living with the horror of what I saw every moment?
What if it had been me, at home, waiting for dad to come home? For mom to come home? For brother, sister, fiance, husband, to come home?
What if it had been me, knowing my husband/boyfriend/father/brother had rushed into the flames, to save others, and ended up dead?

And I get a little bit paralyzed, you know? It’s too hard to carry all of those burdens. Like I have to always hold everyone so close that nothing could ever happen to them. I think, for a moment, I’ll never get on a plane again. I’ll never go in a high building again. I’ll never go to a big city again. I think, who gets to decide it was time for those nearly 3,000 people to die? 

But I remember a quote from the (boring, not that great, sort-of-interesting) movie I watched last night, Princess Kaiulani: Make room for the living. And I take a deep breath, and I turn off the horrifying audio and video from 9/11, and I will text my parents, and my boyfriend, and everyone I love and tell them how much I love them and thank God for them. And I will pray for the families of the victims, and I will remember that God is in control.

So, well, I guess I’ll keep on getting on airplanes and going in tall buildings and maybe one day I’ll visit New York City….and I’ll try to make room for the living, as best I can.

Rejection

Grab some chocolate, girl. But the GOOD stuff, none of that drug-store junk, cause we’re gonna need it to read below. I have LOVED Vosges Haut Chocolate since my friend in high school (high school…so long ago…I’m getting old) told me it was her aunt who ran the amazing chocolate shop in Chicago. Unfortunately, I’ve fallen out of touch with that friend (facebook, you’ve failed me and my chocolate-loving ways). Anyway, on my recent trip to Colorado, I flew through Chicago, and was thrilled to find the most gorgeous little Vosges store in my terminal. Of course I bought a few treats. Now….read on….

Lately my life seems to be a bit of a lesson in rejection. Well, maybe not my life in general, but my work-life has been a lesson in rejection. Suddenly, I’ve become a cold-caller. {shudder} If you’ve ever had to cold-call, you know what I mean. The “we’re not interested, hang up” is the norm. They won’t even let you say your name. It’s rather discouraging. Or you do get to talk to someone, and they let you say your whole schpiel (made up how to spell that word), and then say the “we’re not interested.” Harsh blow.

And in other ways in my life, too, I’m sticking my neck out. You know the old saying, “A turtle only makes progress by sticking it’s neck out”? Well, they don’t say that sometimes when you stick your neck out, you move at a turtle’s pace. Yeah, yeah, I know, the turtle wins the race, but watching the rabbits run in circles around you is dizzying in the meantime.


So how to handle rejection?


* Take a deep breath. No, seriously: like, right now, take a deep breath. Feels better already, doesn’t it?

Then, tell yourself this: God has a purpose and a plan for me. And those are perfect purposes and perfect plans. He will get me where He wants me, and He doesn’t reject me.


* Don’t give up. Get right back on the horse. I psyche myself out when making cold-calls between the calls, so as soon as I hang up the phone, I pick it up again and keep on going. But if you need to step away for a bit, that’s fine too. Go for a walk or enjoy a sunset.

*Set realistic, small goals for your next steps, then up the ante. Five calls in the next half hour. Or, write three new cover letters today. Or, send out four more poems to editors this week. Or, better yet, make your realistic, small goal this: do not give in to fear for the next hour. Until lunch time. Today. Tomorrow. This week.

* Remember that now is not forever. It may feel like this is the worst thing ever. Well, you know what? Yes, cold-calling sucks. Rejection sucks. Especially when it isn’t warranted or isn’t coming from something you initiated (been there). But what is happening to you now is not going to last forever. Remember how I said earlier that life changes? Life is fluid. Things come and go. This will end, or dissipate, or lead you on to much better things.

* You are not determined by what other people think of you. You are not your boss’ opinion. You are not your students’ opinion. You are not that fancy-blogger’s opinion. You are not what others label you, unless you let yourself be that person.

* There are many ways to be happy. Okay, so maybe a door of happiness closed. I’m really, really sorry to hear that. But there are so many different versions of happy, as a dear best friend taught me.

* Be thankful and Praise God. There is so much left to be thankful for, I promise. Take a cricitally-grateful eye to your life. Isn’t that an oxymoron? Probably. But you know what I mean–scrutinize your life and find every little thing you can be grateful for–even if it’s (as I read somewhere) that you are horribly ill, but hey, guess what, your elbows don’t hurt. Nor does your earlobe. The skies are always blue above the clouds (don’t check my science on that one, I kinda made it up).

And if you are truly being unfairly rejected? Sleep on it. Don’t react out of fear, anger, or hurt. Write your response on paper, and let it sit for awhile. Take out any emotional phrasing. State your case and let it speak for itself. Pray and trust God.

You want to know a secret? Sometimes God closes doors. These new-fangled spiritualist types want to tell you that you can have ANYTHING and that God wants to give you EVERYTHING. I’ve been hearing a lot about that lately, it seems. Well, I’m not so sure about that. Our God gives and takes away. But never outside of that perfect plan and will. Yes, there is evil in this world, and it will affect you. But God still has your back.

Fear vs. Faith

Decision-making models are practically countless. Just take one business class and you’ll find that out! But we, as Christians, as Good Girls, have really only two options: world-based decision-making, or Heaven-based decision-making. Or, as a more pleasingly alliterative alternative, “Fear vs. Faith.” Have you ever seen someone make a decision based on worldly assumptions, convictions, and desires? I truly believe it comes down to a decision made in fear: I have to do this or I won’t be good/cool/rich/thin enough. Or the worldly decision is based on selfishness, which is really just fear cloaked in self-righteousness.

What does the alternative look like? Well, it looks…scary and humbling, if we’re being honest. It looks….unpredictable. Oh dear. This is really making me want to put on that cloak of self-righteousness and cower under selfishness again. A faith-based decision is based on two things that seem at odds: a knowing and a not-knowing. We may not know why a decision makes sense, we may not know the full details of how it is going to work out or what glory God will be given, but we know with utter certainty that God has our backs. God does not want us to be fearful or selfish. Jesus equates little faith with fear.

26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 
Matthew 8

 A faith-based decision allows God to show us how strong He is, and often allows us to learn a lesson and be refined. “Giving in” to a faith-based decision may mean letting go of long-held ambitions (that whole cool/rich/thin thing?). It may mean de-focusing on the scary 10% of something and focusing on the rewarding 90%. It may mean relying on the kindness of strangers, or taking a pay cut, or riding the city bus next to that not-so-clean looking person. Sounds scary right?

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
Romans 8:14-16

Fear enslaves us. But when we receive the Holy Spirit, we are freed from fear! Embrace that truth. And we can cry, “Daddy, Daddy!” to a Father who blesses our faith.

Dear Abba, 
Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you have not given us a spirit of fear or timidity! Thank you that you allow us the grace of your strength when we step out in faith. When we call to you, when we cry out to you, you answer. Help us to make decisions based on your convictions and promises, Lord, not those of this world. 
Your Daughter, 
Natalie