Saving and Spending Myself

This summer I was talking to a former student about how she wanted to travel the world. I said that I had never really had wanderlust, but that she should follow her dreams and go every place she could and all that jazz. She paused and said, “Well, if you don’t want to travel, what do you want?” I had never been asked that before, or at least not so bluntly. “A house.” I told her quietly. “I want a house.”

I have been drawing blueprints for houses since elementary school. Many of them were for fictional characters to live in, but some were just for me. And in the houses I drew for myself, there was always one central, special haven of a place. There was always a great big round perfect bathroom. It had a domed ceiling, with windows high in the walls. There was a fireplace and bookshelves wrapping all around. A toilet and sink would be tucked away behind some curtain somewhere, and the enormous claw-foot bathtub would sit in the heart of it all, built with ledges wide enough to hold books and papers and snacks and drinks. Most importantly, the door would shut and it would lock. If that bathroom ever actually existed, I would probably never come out.

I love closed doors. I love closing my bedroom door and my classroom door and the door of my car. I even like closing the door of the stall in public bathrooms. It gives me instant relief when I am anxious and it makes me feel safe.

I can blame this on my introversion all day long (and sometimes do,) but the fact is, I am saving myself up. This is my justification. I don’t want to run dry and run out so I conserve energy and patience and self, as if I, a human being, am some allocated amount of precious resources which must be spent judiciously and reasonably at just the right times and in just the right places, then locked away when not in use, away from all those leeches: those other human beings.

I am not a misanthrope, but, though every one of my vices is pretty darn drawing-room appropriate, they are all ways of pulling the latch-string through, retreating, “shutting the door and sitting by the fire.” So many things I run to to heal my soul seem to be just more ways to keep people out. As if the others are the problem. As if my occasional human agony and weariness is not born of the sin in my own heart.

I am not some valuable resource to be scrimped and bartered with. I am a growing, stumbling child on the great communal road to righteousness. I am a created vessel, meant to be filled and poured out, washed and filled again, always open. I am a door for my precious students to walk through and through and through.

A great and dear friend of mine wrote once that we ought not “draw imaginary lines on the seat; let people lean into your space and when the pain comes ask Jesus for the grace to bear it.” I have not been redeemed  from the pit by the God of the universe so that I can spend my time locking myself in bathrooms. I have been redeemed to be an image bearer, to become like Jesus, to take up my cross and give myself away.

I still want to buy a house. But I’d like some other people to live in it with me. Or at least one. We’ll start there.

Letting Her Die

When I was a little girl I had all sorts of plans for the great lady I was going to be when I was grown up. I was going to be elegant and kind and sought-after and I was going to wear the best sort of clothes and have one of those bell-like laughs you read about in less-truthful books. I was going to be infinitely wise and glisteningly beautiful and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Sometimes, when I am having a good day or week or month, I flatter myself that if eight-year-old Alice showed up on my doorstep she would suitably impressed. She would think that I was Her. I get all warm and fuzzy when I think that and then a little voice in the back of my head says, “Of course, she’d be wrong.”

Because little Alice is pretty easily satisfied, really. Give her mascara and some sparkly stuffs and she’s delighted. The goal self, the dream self has grown since then.

She now knows everything worth knowing and has read everything worth reading. Her clothes now are not only good, but are completely singular and they never wear out or need dry cleaning. She never runs out of gas or leaves awkward voicemails and she always knows what to make for dinner. She is impervious to fire, water, poor grades, rejection, and heartbreak. She has a group of friends who are just diverse enough that they all still get along, and just talented enough that their abilities complement Hers. She never has to be brave because she is never afraid.

Her legend in my mind continues to grow. Even comfortable self-deprecation is just another round-about way of reminding myself of who she is and who I am not. And every time someone gives me one of those extravagant compliments—the kind you get from people who don’t know you well enough yet—She absorbs it. A friend says I am well-spoken? Well, I know I’m not, words only occasionally come out of my mouth in the right order, but She will be, along with brilliant, and beautiful, and best-selling (just to dip into the B’s).

During those good times when I’d like to have little Alice round for tea, I almost think She’s real—but then my own feet will trip over themselves and I’m back where I begun. One of the reasons Sophomore year hurt is that I was so clearly not what I should be. I was not Her. It’s not that She never cries, but She doesn’t exactly bust open at the seams and ooze anxiety for months on end.

This panic has been coming back to me in smaller doses this summer. I’ve struggled to write, because nothing I write is good enough—all of my words limp and plod, already weary after five minutes on the page. They do not measure up and neither do I.

So  then I turn to my reading, which is currently very overwhelming (I’m backlogged with four summers’ booklists) with books that I don’t think I’m going to enjoy very much at all, but I know I can’t possibly be Her until I’ve learned to.

And as for the music she is supposed to like I am so intimidated by the thought of it that I avoid listening to anything at all, except alone in my car. Every way I turn right now, She seems to have laid out expectations for me. She’s getting pretty pushy.

It’s time I stopped feeding the tyrant. My dream-self is getting fat with my own expectations for Her, anyway. Bloated. I do not know how to stop except to simply get up and walk away from Her, to spend my summer re-reading favorite children’s books and plugging away at my story, chanting quietly, “I’ll revise later. I’ll revise later.” That will do for a while.

But really, if she is to die, for good and all, like Ozymandias, I’m going to have to come before my God and let her be torn away. And then I will need to be washed and then I will need to begin to learn freedom like the widow bringing her mite, and the fear of the Lord like Paul. It’s a long, arduous process. But He has promised me that it is finished, that He has done it, and that He loves me. So I, like little Alice, will be satisfied.


Summer is a convenient time for losing your mind just a little. Like just now, I decided to count all my t-shirts. I went by twos and covered my bedroom floor with little pairs of “t-shirt buddies!” (exclamation point necessary.) I felt they had to match each other, so that friendships could thrive. There were thirty-nine overall, which meant an odd man out, so I am wearing him to make him feel less lonely. (I think my brain is turning into tumblr, y’all. I can’t even.)

However, I have done some more constructive things today: I helped my little brother clean his room, got a pedicure, and finished applying for a job, but those are less fun to tell the internet about.

So, to return to fleeting eccentricities, the other day I wrote a fan letter of sorts. John Green (of Vlogbrothers fame) just had a daughter and named her Alice. To clear the air, I wrote her the following note. And sent it. With a stamp.

Dear little Alice,

Hello! You were born just the other day. I’ve written lots of letters before, but never to someone so small. I am a little more than twenty-one years older than you, and will probably never meet you. (We live hundreds of miles away.) However, we have something important in common. My name is Alice, too!

A few months ago, (this was before you) I watched a video, which I’m sure you’ve seen, of your parents having a chat with President Obama. You mom and dad asked the president if they should name you Eleanor or Alice. Eleanor was my Grammy’s name. She died about four years ago and I loved her very much. (Almost as much as she loved me.) Eleanor is also the middle name of my big sister, Mary, who is my best friend in the world. And Alice, of course is my name. I share it with a little girl in a blue dress with a big imagination.

Now I’ll tell you something that makes me a little ashamed. When I saw that video, I was very annoyed with your parents. I did not want to share either of those names with you, which was selfish of me. (Particularly because I know my Grammy would have been delighted to share her name with you.) I complained quite a lot.

But now you have been born and you are called Alice! So here I am, learning a valuable lesson about sharing, that I should have known since I was two. (Growing up doesn’t happen all at once—I’m beginning to suspect it takes all our lives. Probably till we’re eighty-five.)

Honey, regardless of how selfish and silly I am, I want you to be sure to wear our name well. It’s a lovely one and I know you can make it lovelier. I don’t usually like labels very much. In fact, though I like a lot of your dad and uncle’s videos, I’ve never even called myself a nerdfighter. I always figured my name, (our name,) was enough. It sounds pretty, it looks pretty, it’s easy to spell and say, and best of all, it means “noble.” So be noble, little Alice. Run with the young and walk slowly beside the old. Give as much as you can. Forgive fully and gracefully. When others talk, listen with your mouth shut. When you are angry, speak as slowly as you can. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Always say what you mean. Say ‘thank you’ when someone gives you a compliment (even if you don’t think it’s true.) Smile at strangers and say ‘hello.’ Also, remember that a handwritten poem is the best birthday present. (I’m sorry I fall short on that front this time.) Don’t forget. (I know you won’t.)

All my love,

another Alice

By the time I finished writing it, I was very much wishing I that it was addressed to little girl who did not already have half the internet fawning over her, in other words, a little girl who might actually read it someday. But then, patient advice like I tried to give above could still be good for another Alice I know—who apparently still has selfish little identity crises spurred by strangers’ unborn babies.

It’s funny really, that we wonder so much about who we are, that I feel the need to broadcast my giddy delight over forcing my clothing into intraspecies friendships, that I feel the need to tell myself to the world. Maybe I’m snobbily adverse to labels as a means of defining myself, but I still go in for stories, and clothes, and words, (and, um, a blog…)

My friend Hopkins wrote a poem called “As Kingfishers Catch Fire.” Here’s a bit:

“Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:

Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;

Selves – goes itself, myself it speaks and spells,

Crying What I do is me: for that I came.”

I love this poem, as I do most Hopkins, and yet these lines make me unsure. I am surrounded by young people like myself, who scrounge for whatever platform they can get hold up their me-ness where everyone else will see it. The internet is crammed with people nonchalantly begging for everyone else to affirm them. “Like it, will you? Like me, will you?”

Hopkins’ poem has a second stanza. (Good poets always do their best to answer the questions they pose, even when they pretend they have been open-ended.)

“I say more, the just man justices;

Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;

Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is –

Christ – for Christ plays in ten thousand places,

Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his

To the Father through the features of men’s faces.”

So here we all sit, playing in mud, knowing in our gut that the self is important and interesting.  We run around and shove ourselves in everyone else’s faces asking, “Oh, is this as good as yours? Or maybe (Oh, please!) even a little better?” As usual, we have got it all wrong. We think that the self is meant to be worshipped, when really it simply is meant to worship. (Dastardly passive voice, y’all…) God intended the self to shout, to jump, to cry Abba Father, to join with all the various and sundry brother and sister selves in singing “O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall show forth your praise!” (That’s from Psalm fifty-one. I don’t really need Hopkins as much as I pretend.)

White Nights

Hello, friend! My blog looks new today. Yesterday, I started going through my posts and giving them semi-helpful tags and then I had to find a new theme and then I had to mess with my menu and then just essentially go down the rabbit hole of the blogosphere, but I am back now, and writing to you.

It is Holy Week and I am home. Many of my readings from the Psalms this week have felt repetitive. In the midst of Jesus’ descent to hell, they have focused on suffering, distress, betrayal, and anguish. They have felt foreign to me. As I have read over old entries I’m realizing that it has been a long time since I have felt that way.

In high school I used to call the bad times “white nights.” I stole the term from the third book in L.M. Montgomery’s Emily series. I’m convinced that Montgomery must have been going through severe depression herself as she was writing it, because her Emily has a lot of white nights, and very few soft, dark, sleepy ones. White nights are the aching ones without rest, nights when everything and nothing is wrong, when it does not seem that “God’s in his heaven and all’s right with the world.”

I do not know what they look like for other people, but for me there’s a solitary light, maybe a pen and paper, always tears a plenty, and a mirror, all the better to facilitate what my parents call “navel-gazing.” I say that lightly, but there is something terrifying about the wilderness of one’s own mind. My friend Hopkins wrote, “O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall / Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap / May who ne’er hung there.” At its most bleak, depression is a consuming beast, a lowering ceiling.

In my experience depression and anxiety are one part chemical (that’s the fact,) one part fear (that’s the temptation,) and one part narcissism (that’s the sin.) I say that not to discount the pain. Our God-given bodies are built out of chemicals, temptation can recolor our world, and sin rips and gnaws. I’ll give you Hopkins again for that. (He does know a great deal about it.)

I am gall, I am heartburn. God’s most deep decree

Bitter would have me taste: my taste was me;

Bones built in me, flesh filled, blood brimmed the curse.

Selfyeast of spirit a dull dough sours. I see

The lost are like this, and their scourge to be

As I am mine, their sweating selves; but worse.

But it has been a long time since my last true white night. Early last fall, perhaps? I seem to have come a long way since this time last year. I still get a sort of generalized anxiety, though.

A few weeks ago, I was anxious so I took a shower to calm down, which is my usual medicine if it is too dark or cold for a walk. I tried to remember the words to “Jesus Loves Me,” and I couldn’t do it. Through shaving my legs, shampooing, and conditioning, I could not remember the third line. I had to get out of the shower and look up “Jesus Loves Me” on the internet (oh, the shame.)

Jesus loves me—this I know,

For the Bible tells me so;

Little ones to Him belong—

They are weak, but He is strong.

I forgot belonging, I forgot that Christ’s perfect love means he is the Keeper of my soul, be it anguished or joyful. In fear, in gladness, in blindness, in sight, in the wilderness, and in Glory we are not our own.

We belong to One who was there first. Christ tasted bitter gall on the cross, and he had a white, sleepless night followed by an anguished, black noonday. He sweated blood. He suffered betrayal, mockery, and the only true loneliness man has ever known. His nail-pierced feet know well the paths of suffering.

He will light us out of the darkness of our sin-mired hearts, casting great stones aside that we may climb further up and further in to His new life.

I Have a Corner

I live on the top bunk this year and that means I have a corner. Two walls and a close ceiling.

On them, I have puttied picture of family, notes from people who love me, dear postcards, and a list of scriptural principles that my grandma typed up for me when I graduated high school. (Quite an ordeal, typing.) I have two teddy bears up here, a stuffed giraffe, pillows, a quilt, a blanket. My bible and day journal live here, but my computer is never invited. I’ll type this entry later.

I have always been a hider, I think, particularly in the past year or so, but I know more each day that “my giant follows me wherever I go.” So this corner is not so much for hiding as for being held. I do not have a literal cleft in the Rock of Ages, but I have a corner. I am exposed—fair game for the devil, but something safe and strong is round about me.

I have only had this corner as I know it since Sunday, but already I have come up multiple times for comfort. I don’t mostly look at the things on the walls—really I mostly look out the window down into the inner quad. I’m still “a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” It’s just that the sea is more peaceful from this particular view. And when I climb down again, it usually stays that way.

Here’s what I mean to say: I want to share my corner. I want to share it with everyone from my roommate, to the lady who cleans our bathroom, to the stranger who doesn’t know me from Adam. (Eve?) Do strangers ever read this blog? I hope so. Just come all the way up the stairs from the cafeteria to 390 West. (The door sticks, but push it open.) Top bunk. It doesn’t matter if I’m here. You can climb up, and cry or pray or laugh or sleep or read or write or just sit. I’ll crawl up and bring you tea if you’d like, or I’ll leave you alone if you think I’m weird. (However, I’m fairly proficient at hugs, if you’re into that sort of thing.) Also, my roommate’s name is Sarah. She’s friendly. So come.

In our first creative writing class of the semester, Dr. Potter read us the parable of the talents and talked about how all God requires of his servants is to do what we can with what He has given us. Well, He’s given me a corner.

Perspective and Going Running

I have spent the past week at Story Book Lodge up in the Iron Range of Minnesota. It’s a Bible camp my uncle directs which is operated entirely on the strength of donations and prayer. It is a wonderful, wonderful place which is very dear to many people who are very dear to me. And yet, I am (rather emphatically) not a camp person. Of course this was just a family camp, so to relieve my bad mood I could do things like drive down to the mall in Duluth with my cousins and let shopping get me even grumpier, or sit in the foyer outside the gym for an hour and a half, waiting for evening volleyball to finish and getting eaten by very large mosquitos. You know.

The fact is I have not been super-pleasant this week. My cousin Hannah put up with me quite well and made me laugh a lot besides.  But I kept having conversations with my parents about a rather tense issue, and also spent an inordinate amount of time dreading being back at my grandparents’ house by myself for another two weeks. It’s not that every sensible cell in my brain does not know that it’s really a wonderful blessing to be there, one which will only be available to me for a few more years, but more that I tend to get panicked about being so alone with myself all over again. A nasty part of me is pouting and saying, “But didn’t you already pay your dues? You shouldn’t have to do this.” Really, I should want to do this, but I don’t, and someone should knock me upside the head. Suck it up, Alice. Learn to mow the lawn, and be patient about seeing Harry Potter.

On Thursday night I stayed with Hannah while she housesat for friends and after she had fallen asleep I had a white night sitting in a stranger’s kitchen and crying while their dog alternately licked my feet and growled menacingly. I had a long careful think, and decided three things. First, I was going to beg my cousin Joe to come back to Grandma’s with me. Second, I was going to have all my hair chopped off into a super-short bob. And third, I was going to start going running regularly, preferably early in the morning. Brilliant. Life-changing. I called my mom and told her my plans, and she told me to go to sleep, it was two a.m.

When we got back to camp the next day, my mom told me that Joseph wasn’t going to be able to come, and I received dubious reactions to the bob idea. But the running idea stuck, which I was pleased about. Still am, actually. Feel free to laugh, but I want to do this, and I can be just as stubborn about wanting to do something as not wanting to. (At least, that’s the theory. I’ve never actually tested it.)

And then God brought something else. Perspective. I got on facebook for the first time in few days, and found out that my freshman RA, Alyssa, had just had an emergency liver transplant. I know very few of the details. Last time I saw her she was perfectly healthy, but as I write this she is in Dallas at the Baylor University Medical Center. She is able to blink and move her eyebrows to communicate, and soon they’ll take out the respiratory tube. While she recovers, inch by agonizing inch, I will be breathing clean lake breezes and pulling weeds. I really have no right to say anything but “Thank You.”

I love you, Lyss. If you can have major organs replaced at the drop of a hat, I can learn a little patience and trust, huh? God really is good.

Growing Up and Life Abundant

I have been home, and I’m not really sure what to say about this week, except that, for the most part, I was very grouchy. Mostly because I could be. I turned nineteen today, and I still have a lot of growing up to do. I’m very good at playing grown-up, for weeks on end sometimes, (especially in writing,) but that doesn’t mean I am. I still throw an all-out fit when my mama tells me to put on shoes for a walk. I guess I don’t know a whole lot about growing up, whatever it is. The few times I have done it have come and passed without my noticing till much later. I don’t know–maybe I matured seven years today, but who’s to know?

I’ll tell you something, though. I need to learn a lot of things about cheerfulness and patience and swallowing my words (including the thought process that led to them,) but today is Easter. Resurrection Sunday. A day for being new. A day of waking up for the first time to the Real World itself. A day, above all, for being ALIVE. Granted, I have not been very alive today. I been more than a little dead in my sins and trespasses. But the great thing about Easter is that , in a wonderful cheesy sort of way, it’s just Life Awareness Day. A day to be assaulted by the fact that Christ came out from death bearing life abundant for you and for me.

On facebook today someone posted the lyrics to an Andrew Peterson song that calls today “high noon in the valley of shadows.” I should not be sulking today. You know what I should do? I should go put on the pretty easter dress I took off a few hours ago out of stubbornness, and I should climb out the window onto my roof. I should scramble all the way up to the highest ridge pole like Anne of Green Gables and after teetering and giggling in the breeze for minute I should spread my arms wide and grinningly begin to scream, “Hey! It’s high noon! Christ is offering grace upon grace! COME AND GET IT, KIDS!!!” And then I should follow my own advice.


I’ve been wanting to write this for weeks, but, in many ways, it’s a really good thing that I haven’t gotten around to it till now. A while back (it was a Thursday, if you were curious) a group of students organized an event at Grove City called “less.” There were vague posters up all over campus about finding freedom, and how a chapel credit was offered, so Crawford was quite full. Familiar faces, even a few whose names I knew, went up on stage and shared what even I consider to be hugely personal–struggles with sin that most of us cannot imagine speaking  into a dark room full of a thousand faceless classmates. These were things which you just don’t talk about at Grove City. Just like we don’t make eye contact, we don’t use a microphone and an auditorium to discuss masturbation, suicidal depression, and addiction to pornography. As awful as it is, we want those things kept miserably behind closed doors, where they will fester and grow. I know there was plenty of uncomfortable squirming, and muffled gasping in the audience that night. All we really wanted was a chapel credit. But we needed to hear this. Sometimes here I think everyone feels like you ought to say that we are all sinners, but not actually be one yourself. It is good to crush that lie. The thing which struck me the most though, was the boldness of these people. I cannot imagine confessing such secrets, not only to the people you already know, and those you will never meet, but to that kid you’ll sit next to in class next semester who may not remember your name, but will remember your greatest weakness.

I think I know where this bravery comes from, though. When I went to this event I was in the middle of reading Lewis’s The Great Divorce, in which those damned to hell are bussed to the outskirts of heaven, met by the spirits of people they knew on earth, and given the chance to stay. None of them do. They are too proud, too insistent on their own way, unwilling to let go of themselves and become Christ’s, adamant that they will not take the “bleeding charity.” Except for one man. He comes to the outskirts of heaven with a lizard on his shoulder which whispers in his ear. The lizard is lust, and the man is afraid to be without him. He knows that if he lets the shining spirit incinerate the lizard it will hurt. It will hurt, in many ways, worse than hell. Finally he agrees, and is knocked to the ground by divine force. But then…that’s it. He is free. He is in Christ, and he is at last himself. The dead body of the lizard has turned into a magnificent stallion, on which he rides up the mountain of heaven. I think that is what each of my fellow students meant when they said, “In Christ, I have found freedom.” Their sin, to which they were once enslaved, has become what it was originally intended to be. All evil is perversion of good. In fact, I think the precise thing you most struggle with is a warped version of what God originally intended, and still does intend, to be your greatest strength, if only you will give yourself up to him. Lust becomes passion, depression compassion, self-love love for one’s neighbor, and pride worship.

But why is it that the people up on that stage, and the man with the lizard all seem to have the shocking, icky, socially unspeakable sins? And they are the ones who get it? They are the prostitutes and the tax collectors–they are the blessed who are constantly confronted with their depravity and crave freedom. Then there’s the rest of us–me in particular. If I had gotten up on that stage, I wouldn’t have needed such bravery. No one would have gasped at my sins. They would have yawned. My sins are creeping, almost invisible at times. I could say them out loud all day long (and I have), and people will just say, “Oh aren’t we all?” or “You’ll grow out of it honey.” But that is dangerous. Confession is important–even when it’s so easy that it almost seems worthless. So here I go.

I am vain–self-obsessed. I am proud. I think I am smarter, prettier, more wonderful and huggable than everyone else. I don’t want them to know I think like that. But I do. Constantly. It’s an epidemic. It’s a sin. It’s a master. I am lazy. I am selfish. I am without question the most ridiculously stubborn person I know. Pay attention to the modifier there: I’m stubborn about the most ridiculous things. I hold onto bitterness like crazy. If you ask me to do something that’s out of my comfort zone, no amount of begging or peer pressure will change my mind. And I take pride in that! I take pride in cowardice! I have this mindset that I only do the things I’ve always done. I’ve put myself in a box, and tried to keep God in it with me. Well, let me tell you: He won’t stay! But neither will he take me out if I’m unwilling. I have manic attachment to who I think I’ve created myself to be. I’m so proud of her. It’s sick. Revolting in a way that nothing said on that stage few weeks ago could ever be.

So this is my beginning. It is not the first and it will not be the last. I want freedom, but I need someone to pry open my fists which still cling to the silly girl who loves her name, her clothes, her family, her life, but so rarely her God. Only Christ is strong enough. He died, He rose, He will set me free. He will.

Me, Myself….and Not Much Else

On the inside of all the stalls in my hall bathroom, there are flyers from the counseling center about “Transitions”, and every time I’m in there I diligently try to make sense of them. There are, apparently, three stages to a transition: Endings, a neutral stage, and New Beginnings. Basically, you feel sad, you transition, you feel happy.

Well, not me. I felt sad, I felt happy, then I was…lonely. And I’ve found  that’s a terrible thing to admit. When a friend asks what’s wrong when I’m crying, (because, of course, I have been crying…) I cannot say, “I’m strangely, desperately lonely late at night. I thought there would be people like me at college, and there aren’t. I miss being around people who I don’t have to explain myself to, and on top of that, two of the people who know me best are overseas, and I can’t call them like I want to every other second! That’s all…”

It sounds like such an accusation, and it’s a little overwhelming. I don’t know exactly how I got it into my head that Grove would be full of little personality twins, but it’s not. It is populated with happy, easily stressed people who like to abbreviate their words and have dance parties. They remind me of the people I’ve known all my life. They are lovely and I should be thankful, but I wonder. Where are the rest of the kids who care more about books than about grades, who don’t mind hard teachers if only they are learning, who only become more stubborn with extra pressure, and who still believe their lives can be a storybook? I thought I would find them here, but I haven’t. They do exist, don’t they? I suppose I am unique, but please, God, not that unique!

Of course, I am being overdramatic. I do have friends here, good friends, even a few dear ones. I think my sudden desire to be a type, to have those like myself, who know my secrets without being told, has just happened to coincide awkwardly with my first semester of college. But that rationalization unfortunately doesn’t really make me feel better. Late at night, I am still just me in my little box of me-ness, which is tiresome and sometimes frightening after eighteen years.

So, anyway, that is how I have been feeling. Yesterday I went to Discipleship Group and had myself a lovely little breakdown. I had a talk with my leader, and told her most all of it, I think, and a few other things about my state of mind which I am too ashamed to share with cyberspace. Not that she was anything less than kind, but I came out of that conversation with the distinct remembrance that I am very, very self-absorbed. Why do I feel that I must find people like myself? Oh…probably because I think I’m pretty great. Ya think, Alice?

And then, last night I had hall bible study, and a friend of my RA’s read a quote from C.S. Lewis’  The Weight of Glory, which I desperately wish I had on me, and cannot find in its entirety anywhere on the dumb internet, but here is part of it: “At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of the morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.” I was momentarily comforted with the thought that on the other side of that door I would be sure to meet legions of people like myself, and the stuffy little box of Alice would be busted up and forgotten. Everyone or most everyone, anyway, would be like me!

Then, for the first time in…well, eras, really, Truth hijacked my thought process. Everyone would be like me, but only in the ways in which I was like Christ. Anything in me which was not a reflection of him would be lost, burned away, drowned in death’s great river. I, in myself, am not worth being. Why am I desiring to find Alice in others when I should be looking for Christ? Lewis again, in The Problem of Pain, each “soul has a curious shape because it is a hollow made to fit a particular swelling in the infinite contours of the Divine substance…” He is there for the finding. Why am I only trying to learn about myself from others, when I am surrounded by those who have the image of the God of the universe painted in relief in their very souls?

So, I am not only self-absorbed, I am self-obsessed. I learned at an early age that the world at large does not revolve around me, but now, at eighteen, I am finally learning that neither can I revolve around myself. Certainly, I was not created to be lonely and miserable, but neither was I created to be the silly, vain creature I am at present. My Lord loves me enough to have bigger plans. He must increase, but I must decrease. Otherwise, when I get to the door Lewis speaks of, I may not even find it appealing, and that would be very truly tragic, for that door, and what lies beyond, are precisely was I was created for.