The Cowardly Lion

I know I’ve been saying it for a long time, but it’s true.

I need to graduate and get a big girl job.

And I’m working towards that.* But then comes the question: WHAT job?

Whatever I can find?

Whatever presents itself and says, “Here I am,” while wildly waving its arms?

Something I’m good at?

Something I like?

I dunno.

But I’m scared that with whatever job I choose I’ll get “stuck” there. Not in an “I hate my job but I just can’t leave it” kinda way but in an “I’m so comfortable here and it’s known and easy and where in the hell did the time go?” kinda way.

I mean, I don’t have any grand schemes to change the world. I’d like to. I just don’t know what that looks like for me yet–if changing the world was ever meant to go on my CV. I think I’m just scared that I’ll lack the courage to move beyond what is known and familiar and…well…easy…ish.

Good thing my word for the year IS “courage.” Because it’s hard work to find it to be able to engage in the not so easy stuff of life.

*Note: I wrote this post while trying to motivate myself to write the Method section…which is the ONE section of a dissertation that kinda sorta actually writes itself. Oy.

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A Fifth

I did my fifth half-marathon this past weekend in Charleston.

And got a new PR.

This was the second ever marathon, half-marathon, and 5K in Charleston for this group of race organizers. And it was evident for many reasons. I’m confident they’ll work out the kinks in a few years. The nice part was that it was small. As in, my chip time was only about a minute off the race clock. And folks, I’ve YET to run a race where that was possible. Also, we got a pretty cool medal. And you know you’re running in a southern coastal town when, at the finish line, they have boiled peanuts, shrimp and grits, and beer waiting for you.

Of course, I had to survive the wind that never stopped and the course that, once you got out of downtown, was so boring I was ready to gouge out my eyeballs. I should have occupied my time by counting warehouses. Then again, I probably would have lost count. Fortunately, I was hovering around a pace group and that kept me focused on different things. Like how likely they were to smoke me by the end.

But I did survive. The pace group did leave me, but I came down the chute with a sh*t eating grin on my face looking up at the race clock and knowing I’d done it. I shaved 7 minutes off my time from my last half in March of last year.

Not too shabby.

The other nice thing was that my legs and hips NEVER hurt. I just got tired. Part of that was, I think, because I didn’t really fuel up well the day before. Or the day of. Or the entire week before this whole nonsense was supposed to go down.

I thought I was going to be able to report that I’d run the race of my life. Because I did…for nine miles. And then that ninth mile was the longest EVER. And there was some walking between 10 and the finish line. What kept me going, however, was the knowledge that two cups of Shock Top awaited me at the finish. Don’t judge me, people. Beer is a GREAT recovery drink.

And then I got in that VERY LONG line for the beer…after I snagged some fruit, a bite of a bagel, some A-MAZING green tea that’s produced locally…and the longer I waited, the crankier I became. Then, FINALLY, I got up to the man with the taps to the sweet nectar and handed over BOTH of my tickets. That’s right. I two-fisted it outta there. And then dove back through the line for a cup of boiled peanuts (because they were warm and I was not). And then I headed over to the shrimp and grits area to see if one of my peeps was there. On the way, I drank beer #1. Quickly. As in, gone in thirty paces.

And lest you judge me for THAT, I would like to point out two things: (1) three cups, two hands–you do the math, and (b) holding two cups of beer when you’re already cold only makes you colder.

Which is why I made my way around to near the entrance of the tent to wait for my friend…and cuddle next to a heater. Meanwhile, I started in on those boiled peanuts and kept refueling my body with liquid. And then my friend showed up. He’d not yet gotten his shrimp and grits and we decided it was time. And then I took a step.

You know how when you’re drinking and not moving you don’t really feel the effects of what you’ve just done? And then you stand up/take a step? Yeeeeeaaaaaaah.

Wowza.

The shrimp and grits were kinda tasty. The boiled peanuts were freaking awesome. And I finally righted myself enough to head back to the finish line to wait for my best friend to finish the marathon.

I have to say…I was UNBELIEVABLY proud of Robin that day. Turns out she’d pulled off the course at mile 2 and debated walking back to the hotel.

Y’all. She does. not. quit.

Ever.

She gutted it out from mile 2 to the finish line. She’d been sick the week before and her stomach was jacked the morning of the race. She was never more proud of earning a medal than that one on Saturday. (And she’s done a half Iron Man). I was proud of her, too. Especially since that course only got more boring in the second half (kinda like the Patriots/Broncos game did later that night).

I’m also proud of her husband who scored a PR in the 5K, having shaved 5 minutes off his time in about 5 weeks. And thankful that he was able to still run support staff for us as well.

I also came away from that race feeling more ready for this full marathon I’m supposed to be doing in March. Of course, I have to register first…

Sacrilege

As most of you know, I periodically review some of the books I read…mostly because I get the book for “free”…with the expectation that a review will be posted here for everyone to read within 30 days of receiving the book. (I think I’m still under the deadline…maybe?)

I gotta tell you. This book was a really good one…in a terrifically awesome and disturbing way. So. Without further adieu…

What does it really mean to be like Jesus?

That is the fundamental question that drives Hugh Halter’s book, Sacrilege.

The conclusions Halter makes, and the suggestions that come from them, are what drive the title.

And maybe Halter’s proclivity for tattoos? Or piercings? Or drinking beer? Or open communion? Or not using the King James Version?

I digress.

Halter starts with the notion that Christians say they follow Jesus and want to be more Christ-like, but when you look at what those well-meaning Christians do and what Jesus did and compare the two…it’s not really working out that way.

So how should it work out?

Halter uses The Beatitudes as a framework for examining what Jesus said we should be about…and how that might actually play out in the 21st century (note the absence of the word “church” after century…chances are, it doesn’t play out there for most of you). Halter provides stories, examples, and challenges of what it might look like to be apprentices of Jesus…to be like Jesus, do what he did, and do it with the kinds of people he liked to hang out with (hint: Jesus was found more often with tax collectors and sinners…you know…not the typical church crowd…and less often with the typical church crowd). That’s not to say Halter thinks we shouldn’t do church because that’s not where Jesus hangs out. (Jesus went to Temple, people.) What Halter does provide, in addition to ways we can be Jesus apprentices as individuals and families, are suggestions for how churches might embody this apprenticeship as a larger community.

And, quite frankly, I love and hate him for it. Because that he proposes–indeed, the life to which Jesus calls us–is awesome and disturbing.

It means moving beyond places in which we find comfort. It means really doing something about the way each one of us allocates our resources of personal time, energy, finances, etc. It means opening ourselves up to the hurt and pain and joys of others–and being present for all of it in the messy, complex, nuanced lives each of us lives. It might mean closing the church doors one Sunday morning a month and the whole community engaging the needs of the community around it. It might mean, on any given evening, that your dinner table looks like an island of misfit toys.

I am thankful for the challenge. I am thankful for the discomfort. I am thankful for the grace that is present as I move…in fits and starts…toward being more like the real Jesus.

If you’ve been looking for a way to rethink family, faith, spirituality, church, scripture, and more, this is the book for you.

But it might ought to come with a warning label. Because you may never be the same after reading it. And that’s a good thing.