Biblical Priorities

I don’t usually post directly about political issues because I don’t want to invite controversy and arguments, but this time, I thought I’d make an exception.

TRIGGER WARNINGS! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK! SOME OF THE FOLLOWING MIGHT BE DISTRESSING FOR SOME READERS! PLEASE BE ADVISED AND USE CAUTION!

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A few minutes ago, I saw an article from The Washington Post about a man whose daughter, a lesbian, committed suicide due to homophobia–homophobia that also came from him; regretting the anti-gay beliefs he’d once had, seeing how they helped cost him his daughter, he is now speaking against Roy Moore’s claims that homosexuality is a perversion. He’s doing so, in part, by pointing out that Roy Moore is, himself, a pervert.

I have been periodically sickened by the idea that there are people who will vote for Roy Moore, moreso when I consider that, in today’s political climate, he will probably win. This is the country that, fairly or not, voted for Trump, after all. Joey Gibson, of Patriot Prayer, is a nominee for “Person of the Year” by The Oregonian.

The rhetoric, I imagine, goes something like this:

“Well, he’s not a Democrat!”

“No, he’s a sex offender.”

“But he doesn’t support gay rights!”

“He’s. A. Sex. Offender. He’s a statutory rapist.”

The people who vote for Roy Moore are saying that it’s worse to be a Democrat, or be gay, than it is to be a sex offender. They are voting for a rapist and a pervert in order to “stop ‘the gays'”.

To them, it is worse to be a woman, an ordinary woman, who wants to walk down the street holding hands with her girlfriend without being in any way attacked, than it is to rape little girls.

To them, it is worse to, as a man, want to be married to the man of your dreams than it is to sexually assault another human being.

To them, it is worse to want to raise a family with your partner, who’s genderqueer, than it is to have no respect for the dignity and bodily autonomy of another person.

To them, it is worse to enter into a consensual relationship between adults, regardless of gender, than it is to force yourself upon a child.

Adults can give consent; children can’t.

And these people who would vote for a pervert, a sex offender, a rapist, in order to stop loving, respectful, consensual relationships, are most likely doing so for the sake of Biblical morality.

I only want to have to say this once, so I’m going to say it in capslock so that it hopefully get people’s attention:

JESUS CHRIST WOULD NOT, AND DOES NOT, WANT YOU TO VOTE FOR A PEDOPHILE! TO SAY, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, ANYTHING OTHERWISE IS RIDICULOUS! YOU SICK CREEPS NEED TO GET YOUR PRIORITIES WORKED OUT! 

There. I hope that worked.

Am I going to get into the morality of homosexuality in this post? No. Frankly, I’m tired of having to explain it. I feel like I’m hitting a brick wall whenever I try. I’m sick of hearing all the cliched, stereotypical rhetoric.

But this post isn’t about whether or not homosexuality is morally right or wrong. This post is about how voting for a pedophile is definitely wrong, and voting for one in Jesus’s name is messed up on a level that shouldn’t exist. This post is not about the morality of LGBT+ people, but about yours, if you vote for Roy Moore, or are the sort of person who would if you lived in Alabama.

This post can even be about how, for all the “#metoo” tweets and posts, for all the Hollywood scandals, Roy Moore is still running for office, Senators are being caught with underage boys left and right (key word being “underage”), and Trump is still president. This post can even be about how it feels, to me, almost like the country doesn’t care about women at all and that it should stop pretending otherwise.

This year has been the deadliest year on record for transgender people, not counting all the people who were misnamed, misgendered, or closeted when they were killed.

This year has seen protections for LGBT+ people get rolled back, or threatened to get rolled back.

If you really want to understand homosexuality and the Bible, here’s a few resources for you. Go ahead and read them, on your own time, with an open mind. Try to drop your own biases and prejudices, and truly listen, like you would want others to do for you. Seek to understand what they are saying on their own terms, in their own language, not your own filters. Be compassionate and empathetic. Open your heart to views that are different than your own, even if you still choose to disagree. Be open to change, for that’s how we grow. It’s okay to have your beliefs challenged; that doesn’t mean you’re under attack. It means that different people believe differently. It’s even okay to have your beliefs changed. You might just become a better person for it. You might just be able to show others the love and acceptance, the grace and the mercy, that Jesus showed you, and called you to show to others. Instead of driving people away from the church, you may be able to invite them back in.

Gay Christian Network

Modern Kinship’s Resource Guide for LGBTQ Christians and Allies

The Reformation Project

AmberCantorna.com

This was interesting, because she’s the daughter of a leading man within Focus on the Family. She was legitimately terrified to come out as a lesbian to her family because she knew that her parents wouldn’t take it well; her father left the house. She hasn’t spoken to them in years, and has been exiled by parts of her family. As she expected, that unconditional love she was told her parents had for her wasn’t real. Still like Focus on the Family, knowing that one of them banished his own daughter for being gay?

TheKevinGarcia.com

Blue Babies Pink: A Southern Coming Out Story In 44 Episodes

Just Because He Breathes: Learning to Truly Love our Gay Son

These are all blogs and websites, but two books to consider are:

God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships by Matthew Vines

Queer Virtue: What LGBTQ People Know About Life and Love and How It Can Revitalize Christianity by Reverend Elizabeth M. Edman

Luke 6.31: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

 

Matthew 22.34-40: “When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to them, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’. In these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

 

Isaiah 1.17 “Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.”

 

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Martin Luther King Jr.

 

“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade the, neither persons nor property will be safe.” Frederick Douglass

 

“Throughout history, is has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.” Haile Selassie

 

“Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained.” Helen Keller

 

“Until we are all free, we are none of us free.” Emma Lazarus

 

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” Desmond Tutu

 

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one

left to speak for me.” Martin Niemöller

 

Homophobia kills.

Transphobia kills.

Bigotry kills.

Never again.

 

 

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Social Justice and the Bible

A friend of mine recently posted a simple question, one with many answers depending on who is responding. One of those people was my Mom, and her response was that we should look to the Bible regarding matters of social justice. I agree(d) with her, but I decided to Google what the Bible has to say about social justice. The Bible has been used to promote social justice, but I wasn’t sure what too many verses actually said about the topic. There were many results, and I read verses I’d never heard of before–many of them. While that fact is sad, I’m glad to know of them, and I thought I’d share some of the ones I found (4 of which I already knew; they’re first). By the way, all of these are the NRSV (New Revised Standard Version); I’m used to using that version for class, because the translation is more accurate and thus better for academic studies than, say, the NIV.
Luke 6.31: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Matthew 25.40-46: “And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Leviticus 19.34: “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”
Matthew 22.34-40: “When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.””
Isaiah 1.17: “Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.”
Psalm 82.3: “Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.”
Proverbs 31.8-9: “Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Proverbs 29.7: “The righteous know the rights of the poor; the wicked have no such understanding.”
Deuteronomy 27.19: “”Cursed be anyone who deprives the alien, the orphan, and the widow of justice.” All the people shall say, “Amen!””
Deuteronomy 16.20: “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, so that you may live and occupy the land that the LORD your God is giving you.”
So, here’s some of the things the Bible says about social justice. There’s several other verses with the same general theme. Basically, stick up for the orphan, the poor, the destitute, the weak, the lowly, and the widow; don’t oppress the alien; rescue the oppressed. Give people what they need–food, water, clothing, visit the sick, visit the people in prison, welcome strangers. Treat people the way you would want them to treat you, and love them like you love yourself. Show others the love, grace, and mercy that God showed you. 
In summary, don’t treat people like dirt. Be a nice human.
Do I do all these things? No. Should I try? Yes. The budget will probably have to be revisited to accommodate.
I’m grateful, though, for the spark of inspiration that led me to do this Google search. Too often, I fall into the trap of thinking that the Bible is silent about social justice, with the idea that social justice is a relatively more modern concept, and/or that the Bible just reflects ideas from a time/place/culture that are now outdated and irrelevant for current usage. For instance, we now understand that the dowry was essentially human trafficking, selling daughters with virginity as a commodity, and that women in general were viewed as property instead of as equal human beings. I’m glad to know that my Bible is not silent about matters of social justice. 
 
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Martin Luther King Jr.
“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” Frederick Douglass
“Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.” Haile Selassie 
“Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained.” Helen Keller
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke
“Until we are all free, we are none of us free.” Emma Lazarus
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” Desmond Tutu
“An injury to one is an injury to all.” IWW
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me–and there was no one
left to speak for me.” Martin Niemöller
I want to fight to defend oppressed communities from the people that would harass, abuse, torture, and kill them for being who they are. I want to protect minorities from another Holocaust. And I see no problem with using violence to do it. Chamberlain, for instance, thought he could reason with the ultimate Nazi, Hitler himself, and what happened? Millions of people were slaughtered, in war, in the Blitz, in the dropping of nuclear bombs, in the Holocaust. Hitler himself said, essentially, that if enough people had just kicked the Nazis’ asses enough in their early days, they would have never risen to the power they did. 
So, by all means, punch a Nazi. Fight for social justice. Do it now, before things get worse, so that maybe things don’t get worse. Trying to reason with them is a dubious tactic at best, because they have no respect for people who aren’t just like them. If you don’t oppose them, they’ll only recruit more people and get bolder in their actions.
If you wait until parts of Portland, of Seattle, of Los Angeles, of San Francisco, of New York City, of Philadelphia, of Washington DC, are walled off, what does that say about you? If you wait until people are forced into cattle cars en mass and then don’t come back, what does that say about you? If you wait until the smoke on the horizon starts looking really strange, what does that say about you?
Remember, Hitler was elected into office, and everything he did was legal. Imagine what would have happened if, when Hitler started blaming Socialists, Jews, etc., for the failings of Germany, more people had said, “No, it’s not their fault. We shouldn’t blame them for our mistakes.” Imagine what would have happened if enough people, when Hitler started keeping Jews from public life, when he started forcing them to wear badges signifying their status as Jews, said, “No, that’s not right. It doesn’t matter what they believe. It doesn’t matter what their heritage is. We will take responsibility for our own choices instead of use them as scapegoats. They are equal to us, and we will not allow discrimination.” Imagine what would have happened if people had fought back during Kristallnacht. Imagine what would have happened if people had then backed up their words of resistance with effective actions. If they did more than just moralize and hand-wring.
Maybe nothing would have happened. Maybe nothing good would have happened. But maybe crisis could have been averted. At the very least, the German people might have gone down in history as people who at least tried, as a majority, to oppose fascism. As people who realized they’d made a mistake and then worked to correct it instead of justify it.
I am afraid for millions of people, not just in this country, but around the world. I don’t know what I can do in this town, but I want to do something. I don’t want to look back and say that I did nothing. I care about social justice because I care about people, because I understand that slurs, while offensive in and of themselves, aren’t the biggest problem; those slurs can lead to actions that are even more harmful. Stop treating other human beings like they’re inferior, please; it only creates a climate in which those people can be horribly, brutally victimized, with the reasoning that inferior beings can be treated less fairly, because they don’t deserve any better. Once you dehumanize someone, you can justify anything. If you want the killing of innocent people to stop, then stop treating those people like they’re lesser than you.
Please.
Stick up for the less fortunate.
Rescue the oppressed.
Give people what they need.
Love.
It’s not about the other person’s morality. It’s about yours. It’s about your faith, if you have one.
To cap it off, here’s a few quotes from the amazing movie, Wonder Woman (where were those costumes in stores? I would’ve loved to be Wonder Woman for Halloween.):
“I guess I gotta try. My father told me once, ‘If you see something wrong happening in the world, you can either do nothing, or you can do something.'”
“I’m willing to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.”
” It’s not about ‘deserve’. It’s about what you believe. And I believe in love. Only love will truly save the world.”

Whirlwind

So, it’s been just over a month since I last posted, and while I have no schedule or obligations to post at a certain time, I do feel bad. I’ve actually been meaning to update a few times in the last two weeks, since I have quite a few things to share.

I want to share how my trip to Vegas with Mom went.

I want to possibly do a quick thing on how nice it was to be back in Depoe Bay again.

I wanted to describe Welcome Weekend at GFU, since I’m now all moved in and am in the middle of my first day of classes.

And, at the end of the week, I’d like to share how my first week here went.

The thing is, though, I’ve been tired. Not just physically, although that’s also often been the case, but mentally, and when I stop to try to figure out how to share what’s happened in the last two to three weeks, I get overwhelmed. Why? I’ve been busyReally busy. The last few weeks, starting around August 12th, have been a whirlwind. I’ve gone from Grants Pass to Las Vegas back to Grants Pass to Depoe Bay to Newberg in just about three weeks; I’ve been to at least one city per week, on average. I’ve been on three planes.

On my birthday, I went to see my first ever Cirque du Soliel show. Exactly one week later, on the following Thursday, I was moving into my room at George Fox University. I went from walking down the Las Vegas strip with a rum and Coke in my hand to carrying a water bottle across campus. Between that, I was looking out the window at the ocean.

So, I’m still determined to update the blog on everything that’s happened in the last few weeks, when I actually feel up to it. Hopefully soon.

Tiny (Minimalist) House Hunter?

Ever since I first saw Tiny House Hunters on HGTV, occasionally, I’ve wondered, “Could I do it?” I’ve daydreamed about living in a trailer, traversing the country in the search of excitement, adventure, and new experiences. I used to wonder about the little beach cottages I’d see on evening walks through Cannon Beach and tried to imagine myself living in something like that.

I’ve seen these people on television look at tiny houses and been inspired. I’ve thought about what it would be like to downsize so dramatically, and I’ve been intrigued by the lives they seek to lead. Lives with less expenses, due to house size, but freer, lives that accommodate travelling. Lives that, due to needing to make less money, could be used to pursue passions instead of paychecks. Lives that are unburdened by clutter. Liberated from most of their material possessions, they are better able to focus on the things that truly matter.

Over the last few months, I’ve gotten to talk with a friend who is interested in joining the tiny house movement. During our (admittedly brief) conversations, I’ve heard more of the things that I’ve heard before. Tiny homes are cheaper, more off the grid. They force you to downsize, which allows you to get your priorities straightened out.

Just this last week, I started looking into minimalism, and not only does it look more doable than I’d previously assumed, but it also seems more appealing. Contrary to what I’d thought, minimalism does not mandate something like, “You can only have two pairs of jeans.” Rather, minimalism is simply a philosophy, a process, a tool, that is used by individuals to figure out the minimum of what each person can live with. A minimalist house, a minimalist lifestyle, for a mother of six looks differently than the same lifestyle does for a man fresh out of college, because their needs are different.

What Is Minimalism?

What is Minimalism?

They’re not links to the same site, I promise.

A minimalist refuses to participate in our materialist, compulsive consumerist society. A minimalist questions the function, intent, and use of each item they own. “How often do I use this?” “Do I really need this?” “Do I have something else just like this?” They trim back on excess. No duplicates, no backups, no “just in case” items. Some of them count and index how many items they have–one person I heard of only owns 100 things, whereas another person owns just 33. Some people possess only that which they can fit into a carry on bag. It all depends on the individual.

The point of a minimalist lifestyle is to cut through all the objects and clutter that get in the way, to render our items unimportant, in order to focus on the things that are truly important. How many times have I heard to beware of making things into idols? A minimalist lifestyle would counter that tendency.

Minimalists have said that, since downsizing, they’ve experienced less stress. Cutting out the physical clutter has decreased their mental clutter. They are happier, with more fulfilling lives.

It’s a very practical lifestyle, too, especially in this economy and as a millennial. Minimalism is actually a growing trend across all generations, but millennials particularly are catching onto it. There are numerous reasons for this, all of them perfectly understandable.

We’re less willing to buy things. This is why we get blamed for businesses failing or suffering financially. I’ve seen numerous newspaper headlines angry that millennials aren’t buying things. We’re the biggest generation since the Baby Boomers, and we’re entering this economy–and it’s showing. It has business owners and marketers concerned, because along with our population size, we have a lot of buying power, which we’re not using.

We’re also poor–and it’s not for lack of working, whatever people say about us being lazy and/or entitled. About half of all hiring managers, according to one statistic I read, said they would refuse to hire someone in my generation. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard of people with serious health problems who can’t afford treatment–with or without insurance–and have to crowdfund money so that they don’t get sick or die. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard of people working 60-80 hours a week–two or three jobs, going to school– only to have more than half of their paycheck go towards rent, for a crappy little studio in a dangerous part of the city. So many of us are deep in student debt, and while I’ve seen a lot of criticism from people who blame us for pursing an “ology degree”, once again showing the rising anti-intellectualism in this country, there’s a good reason for it: we were pushed to go to college, from very early on. We were told to go after that Bachelor’s degree, that we would need it to find a good job and good salaries. So we did–we all did. And now those Bachelor’s degrees are more or less meaningless, because so many of us have them, which means we’re deep in student debt for no good reason (not to mention institutions using us as piggy banks because they know we’ll pay anything to better ourselves, jacking up prices unreasonably high to exploit us), without a good job to help us pay it off quickly. I’m intending to go to grad school–risking even more student debt–for precisely this reason. I want to find a good job to pay off whatever debt I end up with and a Bachelor’s probably won’t get me one.

People say that we’re lazy, that we’re entitled, but that’s not what I see from my generation. Some people in my generation have parroted these claims but I’m not sure they believe them–we just hear it so much. I think the truth is, we’re misunderstood, and people in general aren’t listening. They think our problems are social media, when we’re trying to say that our problems are much different.

Our priorities are simply different. That doesn’t mean we’re lazy. We’ve grown up more aware of social injustices, thanks to more advanced technology–including social media–and that includes the ways that companies and corporations have abused and exploited workers. We don’t want to devote ourselves to the bosses, becoming wage slaves, at the expense of our well-being; we want our bosses to respect us, and to allow us to work in the ways, times, and situations that best suit us. What’s better: having someone sit at a desk for the full eight hours with less productivity because the environment, or some other factor, isn’t ideal for that employee, or allowing the employee to work at least partly from home, or in a coffee shop, or wherever else is better suited, which helps the employee to be more productive? We would say it’s the latter.

We’ve also seen what the pursuit of stuff has done to previous generations. We’ve learned about the Great Depression, and we grew up with the recession. I have memories from before 2008, of course, but most of what I can remember–and most of what I can remember clearly–is from 2008 or later. That means that, for most of my memory, I grew up in a recession. In fact, some economists are saying now that we’re due for another one soon–just as we millennials are getting into this economy, after growing up during the last recession. It could be that, soon, I’ll have lived most of my life in a bad economy.

Growing up in the recession changed my generation. We’ve seen what happens when people pursue objects and possessions–cars, a new house, etc. We’ve grown up with less, with parents tightening wallets–or even belts–because the economy took a bad turn as a consequence of their spending habits, and the spending habits of the generations before them. What we’ve learned to value, therefore, are experiences and relationships. Objects can rot, can rust, can be sold to pay for food for the next week, but relationships can last. Experiences are good in and of themselves, but you learn from them, too, and those lessons are even more important. The intangible, the incorporeal–those are the things we value more.

There’s more reasons why millennials, in particular, are starting to adopt the minimalist lifestyle, and I’ll link to articles below.

I’d also like to say that the minimalist lifestyle–which can include tiny (or at least small) houses–is also more ecologically sustainable, which is very good given the current state of our environment. Tiny (and small) houses have a smaller carbon footprint, and, whether newly built or remodeled (although newer is probably better, starting from scratch), can be built with things like solar panels, composting toilets, recycled or reclaimed materials, and other things that make the home more environmentally-friendly.

In short, minimalism is good for the individual participant, and it’s good for the environment, too.

Why Millennials are Trending Toward Minimalism

Millennials Go Minimal: The Decluttering Lifestyle Trend That Is Taking Over

The Fall Of Materialism: Why More Millennials Aspire To Have Nothing

For some millennials, minimalism is the path to happiness

Millennials Becoming ‘Minimalists’

How Millennials Fell Out Of Love With Their Possessions

We’re Not Easy: The Millennial Minimalism Series

 

Here’s some general reasons to be a minimalist:

10 Reasons Minimalism May Be Right For You

Less Is More: 19 Reasons Being a Minimalist Is The Best Way Of Life

Become a Minimalist for These 12 Reasons

7 Reasons To Become A Minimalist

Less is More: 10 Reasons to Become a Minimalist

Now, as for myself, I do agree with the above. It makes more financial sense for me to not only become a minimalist, but also to one day live in a tiny house, or at least a small one (no bigger than 1,000 sq ft). A tiny house has no strict, completely agreed-upon definition in terms of size; I’ve seen some sites say that a tiny house is only 300 sq ft, while some say 400, and others say 500–so, for me, somewhere between 500 and 1,000 square feet.

I’m just one person; how much space do I (and a cat) need?

Anywhere from a studio to a 2-bedroom would be fine, although, of course, the more rooms there are means that the square footage will get higher, as well as the price. 1-2 bathrooms are a must. It all really comes down to figuring out exactly what I need, and how much I can afford, so long as the house doesn’t go over 1,000 square feet.

For instance, bedrooms are something I need to figure out. Conceivably, as long as my bed area is kept private and discreet enough from the rest of the house, I could live in a studio if that’s what I can best afford (otherwise, I might be willing to go over a little for the sake of privacy). It’s not my preferred choice–I would like to have a dedicated bedroom–but budgets only stretch so far. Given that, I’ve seen some studio designs I really like, and could be quite comfortable. A one-bedroom house would be better, obviously, because then my bed area would be separated from the rest of the (open concept) house by an actual wall and door.

One of the biggest problems with the number of bedrooms is this: where is my office going to be? I don’t want my office in my bedroom–provided that my room is even big enough for that sort of thing–because it would be more stressful; the bedroom is a place to relax, and if I see my laptop, with so much work, waiting for me two feet from my bed, it’ll be that much harder for me to calm down. I’ve seen some small desks put in the great room, or next to the dining table, and those could possibly work–who knows just how much office space I’ll need?–but I don’t want to run the risk of my office overflowing the rest of the space, wherever it is. If I have guests staying over–because, if I have a studio or a one-bedroom, they’ll be sleeping on the pull-out couch–that just compounds the issue. They’ll have less space, their space will be messier, and it won’t be as relaxing for them. I would like to have a second, smaller room, or at least a good-sized nook, for my office.

The other big problem with the number of bedrooms is what to do with guests. If I have a studio, they’ll be on the couch, and we’ll have very little separation. That is definitely far from ideal–I like my guests, but we should have our own spaces. Beds and bedrooms are, in my opinion, supposed to be private. A one bedroom house would make things better, because I’ll be completely closed off from them. They’ll still be sleeping in the middle of the main space, and they’ll have to repack their bags and tear down their bed every morning so that we can get our couch back for the day, and that would be burdensome and annoying–but doable. We could live with that, I suppose, whenever it actually comes up–whenever I don’t have guests, it’ll just be me, and the couch can simply stay a couch. This makes a second bedroom, again, the best choice, in terms of functionality. I could combine my office and the guest room–with an alcove or something to temporarily move my office to whenever I do have guests, perhaps–or I could somehow keep my office and guest room completely separate. That way, I wouldn’t have to move my office anywhere, and they would have a space entirely their own, that would allow the main living space to be utilized they way it was intended. They could have their own calming, comforting retreat while they’re away on vacation.

The number of bathrooms are another problem I need to solve. Obviously, I need at least one, and idealistically, when I’m living on my own, my bathroom would simply be my own, which would mean I’d have either one-and-a-half or two bathrooms. I’ve grown up having guests use my bathroom, and one of my dreams is to finally have a separate master bathroom of my own. Again, though, that’s a problem, potentially, in terms of price–and necessity. It might not be so bad to let guests use my bathroom–but that’s a design issue, then, too. Would the single bathroom be accessible from my bedroom, just from the main area, or both? Would someone have to cut through my room to get to the bathroom–something that I’m quite against? The other option is to have a half bathroom. Small, just fine for people staying for a few minutes, or a few hours. Not as much cleaning to do as if it was a full bathroom. But what about guests staying the night? They would have to use my shower–which means the earlier issues about bathroom accessibility come into play again, as well as a new problem: I’d have to share my own, private shower, something that I’d want another full bathroom to avoid, simply because I’ve done that for most of my life. That leads me to having a second full bathroom–a little more maintenance, more costly, but overnight guests could have their own space that is completely separate.

I think one of the biggest questions I have to ask myself is this, in terms of the number of bedrooms and bathrooms: how many guests will I have over? How often, and how many will be staying the night–and for how many nights? If it’s usually just me, alone with my cat, or even if it’s usually just me and whatever guests are staying for a few hours, one or one-and-a-half bathrooms might not be so bad.

And, of course, I’ll also have to ask myself, once I’m more grounded in my career: what size office do I need?

As far as the main living area is concerned, I’m not a big cook. A kitchenette will do for me just fine. Possibly a small island–one of those rolling ones you get at the store?–and I’m not even sure I’ll need a dishwasher; I don’t intend on having that many dishes. I can sit at the bar (or the island) for most meals; I’ll just have a small, four-person dining set for whenever I’m entertaining friends. In order to cut back on cable, I’m not sure I’ll have more than one television, and I’m not even sure I’ll have one at all; a small sectional and an armchair will do for seating, and if I’m not trying to put a television somewhere, it makes figuring out the seating configuration easier, as well as possibly smaller. I could just have a fireplace instead, something not too big. A coat closet isn’t necessary, although it’d be nice–I could just use a coat rack instead. The main area is, demonstrably, easier so far to plan out. Just a nice, small open space–kitchenette flowing into a dining area, right into a seating area.

A porch or balcony would be nice, to make the space feel larger, especially if I’m entertaining. If I’m living somewhere with a view, it could be nice to sit outside and watch it–drinking coffee in the morning on the balcony, reading a book in the hammock, sipping some sort of drink in the evening. Perhaps I could work out there, listening to the sound of the surf. I’m not outdoorsy right now, as you know, but I’ve been known to sit on the porch and chat sometimes with family and friends, and perhaps, if my house is small enough, I would get out more, to avoid any possible feelings of claustrophobia (another reason to live in a tiny home on the bigger end of the scale).

Looking for a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom tiny home is, so far, challenging–many tiny homes are what’s seen on HGTV: 300-400 sq ft, with a loft for a bedroom, something that could be put on a trailer and transported. While I completely support the idea of being able to take your home with you, and I’m impressed by the people who can live in such a space, I think I would feel too cramped. I would stress too much about hitting my head on the ceiling or falling over the side and cracking my head on the edge of the kitchen sink before I crash on the floor. That is why, for my own peace of mind, I would like a real, dedicated bedroom, or bed area if it’s a studio. As cute as those houses can be, part of me nearly always ends up thinking about the potentially looming hospital bill. For some reason, most of the time, these homes never seem to come with a railing in the loft, or even on the stairs (which are often used for storage, so that’s reasonable, even though it’s still a falling hazard).

I’m looking across the spectrum of 1-2 bedrooms (sometimes seeing tiny homes that somehow have three bedrooms) and 1-2 bathrooms, but I often find that homes with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms aren’t technically tiny homes at all–while they’re certainly still quite small, they’re over 500 square feet, the highest number I’ve seen anyone classify a tiny house at, usually being somewhere around 1,000 square feet. That’s why I think that I might have to not, technically, live in a tiny house, but in a very small house, depending on what decisions I make regarding guests and an office space, in addition to what my budget allows.

What is the least I could live with? What is truly necessary in my life, as far as possessions go?

Will I always try to have a lot of books? Yes. Minimalism doesn’t mean I can only have three books. It doesn’t look like that. Minimalism is a tool, one that manifests differently for each user, because each individual has unique needs. Also, the point of scaling back is to be able to focus on the things we’re passionate about–and I’ve always enjoyed reading so much.

Minimalism and tiny/small living could free me to travel more. It could help me conquer student debt faster, because I’ll have less expenses to pay. It could could help me get out of the rat race for more stuff, and due to needing less money, I could take a job I love, rather than one that will pay me a large paycheck–I’ll be working for enjoyment, not money. I could cut through all the distractions to focus on relationships, on my career, on local activism. I could have more time to volunteer because I wouldn’t have to clean so much.

Of course, this is all thinking far ahead, but it’s useful to have goals to work towards. As daunting as it seems to have to let go of so much, minimalism makes sense to me in so many different ways. I think it could be something my life has been leading me toward for a while. The process could be slow, but that’s fine, so long as it gets done; I won’t have the money or the opportunity to build a tiny house for a while.

But I will be living with at least two roommates at George Fox. The apartments and houses come furnished, which is convenient, but we can’t all have everything we want. It’s a chance for me to start figuring out how much I really need–and I have two and a half years there to do it in.

After that, I want to take time off to work and travel. Once I get into a career, I don’t know how possible travelling would be, so it’d be good to do it before then. I’d also need to work, partly to start paying back loans, but also to better afford grad school. Idealistically, I could find a job that lets me travel; I’ve considered, over the years, going to work for an international hotel chain. Despite my experience at the conference center, I think I could be happy working for a hotel for a while, so long as I have a desk job–or something in the restaurant, if there is one. I could relocate from one branch to another, and in doing so, work while seeing as much of the world as my job will allow in a year or two (I don’t know how often you can transfer locations).

Here’s my goal list/timeline, at least for now. Could it change? Yes. But it’s good for now, something to work towards until I’m led in another direction.

  1. Finish my undergraduate degree in 2.5 years.
  2. Work for a hotel chain for 1-2 years, saving up as much money as possible for grad school while trying to pay off student loans.
  3. Go to grad school. How long that takes depends on the program and the school, so I don’t have an estimate for that.  It may be more difficult to get a Master’s or PhD in film, so I may have to see about getting a Master’s or PhD in whatever minor I chose to take (I’m currently between Sociology and Women’s Studies). This is something I’ll have to talk to my CAP Coach. I really don’t want to change majors (I’m so excited for film, and I really like my advisor).
  4. Co-start a production studio. I could probably do this while getting a Master’s or PhD, so I won’t put this anywhere specific on a timeline, even though it’s #4 on the list. This is something that Marci and I have been discussing for almost a year–I think we started talking about it in November. We’re both people who’ve thought about starting a business, although, between the two of us, she’s the one more interested in things like “how to start an LLC”. I can’t even tell you what an LLC is without a Google search (it stands for “limited liability company”, apparently). She’s definitely interested in the creative aspect, at least as much as I am, but I’ve never had a head for the actual entrepreneurial and marketing side of things. We’re both people with several stories to tell, who really want them told, but don’t want to sell the rights to someone else, and want full control of the process. We’ve worked too hard on these passion projects for too long to let someone else own them,, and possibly ruin them; we understand the stories we’re trying to tell, and we take them very seriously, and so we want to do whatever it takes to make sure they’re told right. Besides, as a punk, starting an indie company is perfect–rather than use mainstream labels, or other forms of media, from the start of the subculture, punks have been creating their own. Minimalism also ties in well with being a punk, in my personal opinion, because punks are against consumerism and materialism as well. If this could be a worker co-op, that’d be even better. Of course, both of us would welcome and encourage Will to join us, and we would’ve had the LLC be for all four of us (I actually had a logo partially drawn up, using my group nickname of the Four Musketeers) if, you know, there was still a four of us (Three Musketeers now? It’s a work in progress.).
  5. Build my tiny/small home. Living on the beach would be nice, although I’d really like to live in the city. I could live in the city before that, of course, and maybe that amount of time of city life would be enough for me. As much as I’ve dreamed about living in a big city, for several reasons, I’ve also dreamed about living on the beach. I’ve done that, already, of course, but this time, I’d have my own house, just the way I want/need it, with no risk of lung cancer from breathing in the black mold growing on the bathroom ceilings because at no point in the last eighty-odd years has the conference center been arsed to put ventilation systems in River House (and that’s all I’ll say because this post is long enough and I don’t feel like getting pissy). The point is, this would be my dream home on the beach, my forever home. Do I have dreams for really big modern mansions? Well, yes, and I have a very not-to scale sketch I drew a few months ago of it, as well as a secret Pinterest board dedicated to it, but it doesn’t fit my lifestyle now, or my projected lifestyle later. Perhaps one day I could justify the big house with a study and a large pool as being minimalist considering my needs at the time (though it’d be quite a stretch, and probably impossible) but not right now.

I’m honestly not sure of anything beyond that. Obviously, at some point, I’d like to get a cat (black, of course, with a spooky-sweet name). I’d like to get involved in activism, since social justice is incredibly important to me, and something I’m happy to become a minimalist partly to support. However, activism and volunteering are both things I can start participating in when I get to GFU, so they don’t have to go on the list. I suppose I’ll get married at some point, though I don’t have a clear idea of when–honestly, I’ve always thought I wouldn’t get married until I’m about 30. Why that number has stuck with me, I don’t really know. I’ve just always thought about finishing my undergrad degree, travelling for a while, and starting my career–of enjoying my single twenties and focusing on self-improvement–before, oh yeah, I’d like to get married, too.

Am I ready to date yet? I don’t think so. For one thing, I’m not sure how long someone is supposed to wait between relationships; I hate the idea of being someone who starts dating right after leaving the ex. I want to take whatever time I need to. The break between my last relationship and the one before it was six years, and at no point during that interval did I ever think I was ready to date anyone, so I have absolutely no idea how much time I’m supposed to take now. Even when I met Jonny, I didn’t think I was ready to date; it just happened so organically, and we clicked so well. I sorta became ready, in a sense–and, of course, I’d realized that if I waited to be ready, I’d never date anyone. I also, admittedly, think I still have a little ways to go, emotionally. I sought closure on my own for so long, for months, but despite my attempts to shut that door, it insists on staying open. It’s actually plaguing me, in a sense, haunting me–it’s difficult to get thoughts of it out of my head. I used to think I still just really, really missed Jonny, but I’ve recently realized it’s that I feel like there’s too much still unresolved, preventing me from putting the past behind me. Do I still miss him? Yes, I’ll be honest about that: I do. But I think that if it was just missing him–and this could be very idealistic of me, I don’t know–I could move on. Those feelings would fade in time. But there’s still so much between us that’s been left unsaid, even before I broke up with him. There’s problems that never got sorted out. And perhaps that’s the root of why I can’t shake my last relationship: it was a bad ending. And I’m not talking about the breakup itself, or how much it hurt. I’m talking as a writer–ending the relationship while there was so much left to it, trying to close it off while there’s still threads dangling. And I’m a writer. I can’t help but see that, while the relationship is over, there’s still so much left to say, and things still to do.

People have asked me if I’ve talked to him. I haven’t, and I’ve had good reasons for it. One was the pain of it. The other was simply wanting the relationship to be done. I’ve always thought it sort of weird when someone breaks up with someone else only to text “what’s up” a week later. Of course, Matt and I were friends after I left him, although it was incredibly awkward for a long time, and the uncertainty of how to do it, plus the feeling that I couldn’t ask anyone for advice, likely contributed to why high school was such hell for me–particularly that year, sophomore year. Eventually, we hashed things out, and we’ve been loose acquaintances ever since. Translated: we text briefly on birthdays. That’s all the relationship we have, and all we seem to want (it’s all I want, and I’m just going to trust that if he wanted more, he’d go ahead and text me, so since he doesn’t, he’s fine, too). However, we were able to do that because, partly, we had to–we went to the same school and had similar friends. Also, while I handled the breakup very poorly and it was still painful, we were determined to still be friends somehow–we both saw it as a sign of maturity, and I don’t like seeming immature, so I had to make the effort. Finally, communication was still open between us.

Communication broke down between Jonny and I before I ever left him–that loss of communication on his side ended up being the reason why I left him. I can’t try to be friends with him, even if I wanted to, because I can’t trust him to, say, text me back.

Anyway, there’s more I can say, but I don’t want to do it publicly. I don’t like talking bad about people publicly, for one thing, and for another, I don’t want to talk badly about Jonny. Do I have my issues with him? Yes, definitely. Is he a perfect person? Nope. Did he really screw up and hurt my feelings? Absolutely. But I don’t think he’s a bad person, and I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I think he is. So I’ll leave it there.

The point of that is simple: while there are things still unresolved between Jonny and I, while I’m kept from completely moving on as a result (although I do, of course, see moving to GFU as an intensive fresh start for me, so maybe it’ll work out without attempting to resolve things), it would be unfair of me to try to date anyone. It would be unfair to that person, and to myself, and I wouldn’t want to treat anyone unfairly.

Am I interested in dating soon? I think so; at least, I think I could be. “Soon” has no specific timeframe. It does not mean, for instance, “in five weeks”–for one thing, I’m not going to date someone I just met. Even Jonny and I waited a few weeks to get to know each other better, despite hitting it off right away. “Soon” could possibly mean “within five months”, but it might not. In a way, I’d like to be dating again within five months–I think that could be long enough for me to get over things, and a long enough interval between relationships (a little over a year). Part of me just doesn’t feel like being single any longer than that, for some reason. I feel like, not only could I be ready by then, but I also should be ready by then.

I want to date again; is that really shallow of me?

So, sometime, eventually, I’ll get married, whenever that works out. Preferably after I graduate with an undergrad, which means another 2.5 years, but people have dated for far longer than that. Then could come travelling, and then grad school, and starting a career. Right after both undergrad school and grad school, I’d/we’d probably be too broke to get married, so that would mean after I’m/we’re set in my/our careers.

I could end up (partly) designing a tiny home for two (with a cat. The cat is a must. I could build that house for me as a single person and there would still be a cat. The husband comes along eventually, but the cat will just be there regardless).

This is probably why I don’t see myself getting married until I’m around 30. There’s just too much I want to do that getting married before then could throw a wrench in. Also, financially, I wouldn’t have the money to help afford it until I’m about 30, if I’m lucky (we’re supposedly due for another recession, after all, and since millennials are only just recently, within the last few years, entering the economy, I think I can safely say that it’s not our fault). 30 is practical.

Of course, there’s about nine years between now and then (my 21st birthday is in a little under a month, I just realized), so who knows? I don’t think I’d mind travelling with my husband–in fact, I want to travel with my husband. I just thought I’d have a little while to travel on my own first, for a year or two, and then fall in love, get married, and then we’d travel more together.

Notice how “having kids” has not come up in any and all discussions of my life goals thus far. There’s a very good reason for that: they’re nowhere on my list of life goals. And there’s at least 100 good reasons for why that is–but that’s, perhaps, a topic for another blog post. This is just about minimalism and tiny/small living, plus my plans about how to get there.

And so, there you have it. There’s my intent to become a minimalist and one day live in my tiny/small dream home.

By the way, while some of the house design ideas I’ve saved (oh, Pinterest) might be under 500 sq ft (they just look so spacious anyway, I’m considering making exceptions for them), I don’t think any of them are quite that small. I just wanted to find an example picture for my featured image. It’s cute, but a little too small for me.

A Year In Review

Today, June 17th, 2017, marks exactly one year since I moved to Cannon Beach. I’ve been very aware, this past week, that the date was approaching. When I realized it was the last week of the school year, I realized that, about a year ago, I was sitting on one of the tables outside North Middle School, watching the Special Ed kids, and telling a coworker that, in a few days, I would be moving to some little town on the beach on the other side of the state to work at a day care. At some point, a year ago this week, I was sitting at Shari’s with a few friends from my Friday night Bible study to say goodbye, showing them where Cannon Beach was on the map, telling them that it had about the same amount of people as our city high school, and showing them pictures of downtown. Wednesday that week, I had Matsukaze for a farewell dinner with my family (I had a stomach ache that lasted almost a week, but the food was tasty). That Thursday, my parents and I had driven up to Salem, staying overnight in a hotel. A year ago today, we were driving through Tillamook, stopping at the McDonald’s, getting closer and closer to our destination, the strange, new place I’d be spending a summer, completely out of my element and away from anyone that I knew. The place I’d have to challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone in, so that I wouldn’t repeat the mistakes of my past and be a hermit.

A year ago, I pulled into town, seeing it in all its picturesque glory for the second time in my life, but the first I could remember, arriving at the conference center. I think it was Jack that showed me over to the dining hall, where people were practicing for the opening performance for the camp, and Ellen took us on a very quick tour on the way to the dorms. Dad wasn’t allowed up, because it was girls only, and so Mom and I carried all my bags up. I found the one bed left, the empty space at the table, the empty drawer, the empty wardrobe. I realized that my roommates had decorations up, things from home, that I never thought to pack–not so last minute, not just for a summer.

I filled out paperwork. I went, that evening, for a girls’ bonding thing, to watch Zootopia, realizing a movie about a city full of anthropomorphic animals could be interesting, insightful, and funny. Realizing that we were all strangers getting to know each other, that these were the girls I’d be spending a summer with.

It was a year ago today. I had no idea just what the following year would bring. None of it was really planned. I applied for the job in order to appease my mother and because, why not? It wasn’t important to me, or desireable–but I didn’t think there was much harm in going for it.

But it was exactly what I needed. God knew it, even though I didn’t. Going to Cannon Beach was the answer to my cries, my defeated pleas. It changed me. I was no longer depressed–I was happy, with no reservations or qualifications. I learned that I was not a failure. I learned that God cared about my happiness, and that happiness was possible. I have more confidence.

I’ve been thinking about this past year a lot, and I’ll likely continue to in the next few days. The things that I thought would work out, didn’t; the things I didn’t think would happen, did. I’ve grown a lot; I can safely say that I am not the person I was before moving to Cannon Beach. I’d like to think I’ve improved, at least in some ways.

This year, I’ve worked two jobs (three, counting the Christmas event at the bank). I have made wonderful friends, both in Cannon Beach and Grants Pass. I’ve learned so much more about myself, about who I am. I’ve had to learn, repeatedly, to trust God’s plan and timing. I’ve lived on my own, more or less. I’ve fallen in love, and lost it. I didn’t get to move into an apartment, but I still hope to. I went back to community college, but not for as long as I’d planned, although I might go back for a few classes. I just found out I couldn’t afford to go to George Fox University, although that might still happen later. I’ve made friends, the kind I once dreamed to have.

And I’m thankful. I’m thankful to God, without whom none of this would have been possible. I’m thankful to all the people who became my friends and acquaintances in Cannon Beach, and I still miss you a lot. You know who you are, I hope. I’m thankful to the people who have become, or are becoming, my friends in Grants Pass. I know I’m not the best at reaching out to you, but I do care. I’m thankful to my family for supporting me, despite the pitfalls we’ve had. I’m thankful to Bailey and Denim, for being the absolute best furry companions one could ever possibly hope for. I’m thankful for my current job, because I’ve gotten to learn more about myself and conquer some of my lack of confidence. And I’m thankful to Jonny, and all the people I got to meet through him, because despite the fact that the relationship ended, despite the pain, I got to meet some really great people, have a lot of good times, and learn–about myself, about others, about the world. And, in a way, I’m thankful that it ended, because I couldn’t have supported him from so far away, but if we’d stayed together, I would’ve kept trying–and that would’ve been bad for both of us; broken up, we are both free to live our own lives, to grow and change and learn, and become who we’re each supposed to be.

There have been ups and downs. I have been incredibly happy and absolutely heartbroken. I’ve gained and lost. This year has been one wild ride. I wouldn’t have asked for a lot of it, and some of what I wouldn’t have asked for, I wouldn’t have wanted, while other things were things I’m grateful for.

I just found out I couldn’t afford to go to university, despite how much I’d planned and dreamed, how far I’d come to making attendance a reality. I’ve spent some of the last two days trying to figure out what to do next. Trying to come to terms with this new loss.

But now, today, on June 17, I’m looking back at how far I’ve come in this last year. I’m still thinking what I did yesterday: that this is a genesis, a new, fresh start. A beginning. I’m going to be okay, even though I don’t know exactly how. Today, I’m reminded that, a year ago, life didn’t turn out the way I wanted, the way I thought was good–and it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Looking back, I can see at least some of how God was taking care of me. Today, a year ago, was the start of a transformation, and so today is a reminder.

I’m going to be all right.

I wonder what I’ll be saying for the 2-year anniversary.

I wonder what’s coming just down the road. Last year, it was Cannon Beach; while I thought that, this year, it would be GFU, what will it really be?

A thanks to those who’ve been on this journey with me, and a thanks to God for leading it.

Genesis Of What?

Genesis. As in, beginning. Carries Biblical connotations, considering it’s the name of the first book of the Bible. Thus often summons the phrase, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” At least, it does for me.

The last few days have been a roller coaster. Let me tell you about my GFU Genesis trip.

When we first got to GFU, a half hour early, we sat in the parking lot and continued to listen to the book on tape we’d been listening to during the drive. I was super excited to be back on campus–it’s so pretty–and excited that my parents were finally there to see it, to see where I’d be living. It was all finally happening, for real. It was the last big step before move-in day. I couldn’t wait to talk to my advisor and register for classes; I had questions for the VA department, financial aid, and housing; I hoped I looked okay for my ID picture.

At about 8, we walked over to the Stevens Center, the administration building, and I was recognized and greeted by name by one of the faculty members. We got signed in, munched on some food, and I got to chat with a friend I hadn’t expected to see there (shout out to Tori and Carly). It was nice, to see another person I knew who’d also be going to George Fox with me. I hoped we could at least be acquaintances; no matter what, it was nice to know I’d know someone from home, that I wouldn’t be completely alone–I intended to make friends and get involved, but it was nice to be able to start out with a familiar face or two.

I sat through the opening speech and then took off to get my ID, chatting with the people around me in line, making more acquaintances, and worried about smiling without showing my braces. My card looked decent.

After that, it was a really long series of lectures from Student Life, Financial Aid, and the IDEA Center (student employment). I was curious about working with the IDEA Center regarding internships, on campus jobs, and how to get set up for a career out of university, and while I was absolutely resistant towards going to the hoedown that more or less concluded Welcome Week, I was wishing it was August 24th, so I could move in and get started with classes and involvement. Me, the socially awkward, introverted hermit. I had a list of clubs already that I wanted to check out. I had a few concerns about financial aid, but I was pretty sure I’d get them resolved later–what other choice did I have? The money stuff would have to get worked out somehow. It just had to.

After all that, I got to meet with Matt Meyer, my advisor, and we got along really well. He’s a nice guy, and he was absolutely willing to work with me and figure out exactly what I needed and what I didn’t, what I was interested in, and tailoring my schedule as well as possible for my needs. We got along really well–I had a list and a chart already prepared, weeks in advance. I kept looking around at the long shelves filled with books on flimmaking, at the posters on the wall. I loved the building his office was in, Minthorn Hall–apparently, it used to be a house; it’s about three or four floors and the oldest building on campus. We took about twenty minutes longer than the schedule ordered to figure out my course schedule for both fall and spring, and while I was nervous about taking as many as five to six classes–18 credits–I decided to see it as a challenge. I would do everything possible to rise to the occasion, and I knew God would help me get through it. I’d survive, somehow, though I wasn’t sure exactly how. It was pretty easy to get registered for classes, and I was just totally hyped. I couldn’t wait to show my parents the classes I’d be taking. It was finally just so official.

I went back to the auditorium and met with my parents for the closing speeches, and after a pretty tasty lunch, we went back to the Stevens Center for the residence hall tour, which I hadn’t actually gone on before (but I’d spent a large amount of hours online doing research for the past few months, so I was pretty well prepared). We saw one of the apartments–my least favorite choice, but upon seeing it in person, I decided it wasn’t so bad. The house we saw was also okay, mostly because it had a lot of historical charm, and despite the fact that it hosted about 10 people, I didn’t think it’d be too crowded. The rooms all seemed to be an okay size, and despite my “been there, done that” attitude toward both group housing and having roommates, I decided I could be okay with it, if I got placed that way. It might not be so bad. We then saw the only dorm building for upperclassmen, so reserved because it’s the newest, and as for the rooms themselves, I decided they were better than I’d expected based off my online searching–I could handle it if I absolutely had to. I still wouldn’t choose to be in that building, though–I wanted a nice, small apartment, something intimate and cozy. Where I wouldn’t have to share a communal bathroom with the few dozen or so people on that floor in that wing.

After the tour, we were back in the Stevens Center, and it was time for me to make my rounds before we’d go to the campus store to see what school-spirited gear we could pick up (and I’m not generally the ‘school spirit’ type). I was anticipating that we’d be in town for dinner, so I’d take them to a nearby burger joint, which I’d gone to before leaving the Bruin Preview. We stopped by Student Life, where I briefly talked with a fellow student about finding a complete club list, and was assured that I’d find out at the end of this month or early next where I’d be living. He was nice, and I was just excited.

While waiting to talk to my financial aid advisor, I got to show my parents the classes I’d be taking for fall and spring.

When we got to talk to the advisor, Janet, is when things started to go downhill. As far as any and all paperwork that she needed from me, I was fine, and she’d have things processed by the end of the day, hopefully. However, there was the question of how I was going to pay the approximately $21,000 left uncovered by financial aid. About $10,000 was due by December, with about $2,000 of it due by August 15th. I said that that was partly what my question was: the VA was going to cover my tuition, as well as paying me to go to school, so obviously, the estimated total cost I was given was going to decrease by a lot–factoring that in, did I need to take out loans after all, or could I just use the other financial aid, with some more money left over? Janet had no idea the VA was going to cover my tuition, but I told her about the checkbox on the Student Rights and Responsibilities form I’d filled out for the school’s VA department. Confused, Janet called Sherri.

She didn’t know anything about that.

Janet said that, as far as financial aid was concerned, I had done what I needed to do, but that I needed to go straighten things out with Sherri, because something had to be done about that $21,000.

We went downstairs and talked to Sherri. And that’s where the dream died.

It turns out that the VA wasn’t going to cover my tuition, and was never going to. That was all a complete miscommunication, a total misunderstanding. People with Chapter 35 benefits, like me, get a monthly stipend; people with Chapter 33 benefits, apparently, get tuition coverage–but the VA uses that same Students Rights and Responsibilities form regardless of what Chapter the student is. And there was no further help for me.

That 21,000 dollars was still unpaid, with no source of money to pay it. I couldn’t come up with $2,000 by August 15th, or $10,000 by December. There was no tuition coverage.

I flat out could not afford to attend George Fox University. Everything ground suddenly to a halt. My heart felt like it had been trampled on by elephants in cleats. I couldn’t recall feeling so bad since February, when I broke up with Jonny, and I realized that, for the second time in six months, another dream of mine, another important dream, had been killed. Another future I had dreamed of, another future self, was gone.

We left campus in relative silence, defeated, and I stared out the window and occasionally gave directions while my parents talked in the front seat, trying to find a way to come up with the money. I was mostly hopeless, not seeing the point in praying for a miracle. The door had been soundly slammed in my face. All the hoping, all the dreaming–dead. All the time, effort, and energy–the money for this trip and the one for the Preview–all for nothing. I felt like I’d dragged my parents to the other side of the state, having them spend the money, for nothing. That slight, nagging fear I’d had in the back of my head that this was all too easy, a pipe dream, had come true. I’d just wanted it to be doubt, and I’d wanted to believe that going to GFU was God’s plan for me–after all, every previous step had worked out just fine. The doors had continued to be opened. I’d met several people from church who were also going to GFU, and I’d gotten a job that would end just in time for me to go.

I knew that God is a God of the impossible. He’d cured the sick, made a man temporarily blind, turned water into wine, and walked on water–he’d come to earth as a baby and came back from the dead. He made the universe. But I just couldn’t bring myself to pray for a miracle. It’s not because I doubted his power, but his willingness.

It always comes back to that, for me. I never have any doubts that he could do something, but I almost never, if ever, actually trust he’d actually do it. I’ve been wrestling with this off and on for years. I think it used to be about my happiness. It used to be, “He could get me out of my depression, but would he?” I thought I had to earn my happy ending, in a sense. I’m a writer. Characters never just suddenly get happy after a difficult time–they’re supposed to struggle, to learn a lesson, and after that growth, then they’re happy. I couldn’t just skip to the end. I couldn’t just be happy. I had to earn it, basically. I had to struggle enough, and by sticking through the mud, grit, and barbs, I’d learn the lesson I was supposed to learn in that struggle. And then I’d be happy.

It didn’t turn out that way. After a period of waiting, wondering why I wasn’t better already, why I was still such a mess, God sent me to the last place on earth I really wanted to be–and I ended up happy. Some part of my brain tried to remind me of that. Tried to remind me that life didn’t turn out the way I’d expected, almost exactly a year ago, and for the first time in a long time, I could say I was happy without reservation or qualification, and I knew that God cared about my happiness.

I just wasn’t in the mood. When we got back to the hotel room, Mom stayed with me in the car for a little while and talked with me, and eventually left me in there to talk with God. I cried a lot. I honestly don’t remember what I said–not much of it, anyway. I know I told God that I struggled to trust him. I apologized to God for focusing so much on my dreams, despite knowing I shouldn’t and trying not to, that I stopped praying for his will. I even apologized for dreaming once again, wondering if dreaming was the problem. Sometimes bad things can seem good, after all–maybe we were never supposed to dream. After all, our dreams aren’t God’s will. How can we dream for something that isn’t God’s will? That isn’t right. Maybe I just needed to try to stop dreaming. Maybe I needed to purge myself of dreaming and just pray a lot–never my will or my goals, but God’s. Less me, more God. Until I only want what God wants, but never anything for myself.

I was unsettled by that idea, not sure if I was right or if I was just being really melodramatic–it’s hard for me to tell sometimes, until I talk to someone–but eventually Mom came and got me and helped me to the hotel room. I changed into my pajamas and dozed in her bed till dinner, and eventually I got a headache, probably from not drinking enough water that day and crying. After watching a little HGTV and some game show, the headache got too bad, so I went downstairs, got some water, took some painkillers, and tried to rest; Mom got me a pillowcaase and a towel to cover my eyes so it’d be dark. Periodically that afternoon, I knew Dad was still talking with Janet–still fighting for me to go to George Fox. He hadn’t given up, though I had, and privately, I hoped it’d work. I hoped, when I woke up from a nap or from sleep, that not affording to go was just a bad dream and everything would be fine. I wanted it to be a technical error, a glitch–I wanted someone to find some deal, some grant or something, that would make up the difference. Even if all this was a cosmic joke, which I wouldn’t have found funny, but once the joke was proven to just be a joke, I could go. I wanted it to just be a test from God, to see if I’d trust him to come through for me.

But I knew it wasn’t any of those things–or, at least, I was reasonably sure. I didn’t want to be too sure that I knew what God wanted for me anymore. After all, I’d been really wrong about that in the last year. I’d thought, or at least hoped, that God wanted me to go to George Fox. I’d thought, or at least hoped, that God wanted me to be with Jonny.

Throughout all this, I’ve been encouraged to not give up, that maybe God does want me at George Fox–just not right now. That if it’s really my dream, I should keep working at it, and maybe next year, it’ll work. I was also encouraged that it’s not bad to dream.

Right now, I’m just trying to recover from this blow and figure out what I really need to do next. I’ve still got a little while before this job is over, I think, so I’ll start looking for work at the end of it. August is busy–two vacations, and I need them. I need some things to look forward to, fun things. I’m hoping to get two part-time jobs, especially if one or both of them have to do with customer service, because–and this is just my theory–if I work less hours, my employers might be more willing to pay me more per hour. Instead of $9.75, I want to make $10.00-$10.30. Getting to save for an apartment with 2-3 other people would be appreciated, too, but my intent is that once September hits, I’ll basically work my ass off to make up the difference at GFU. I don’t know if I can make $21,000 in 11 months, even with (or in spite of) two part-time jobs, but I can do my best; I hope that I don’t earn too much money that the FAFSA won’t give me enough money. I’m concerned that if I work too much, my income will be high enough that the FAFSA people won’t think I need as much help, and then I won’t have enough money, once again, to pay the difference between the cost of going to school and what my financial aid will cover. I especially don;t know if I can make that money while living in an apartment, paying rent, although I hope that I’ll be living with enough people that rent will be relatively cheap.

My goal, more or less, is to do what I originally planned: work my ass off, get an apartment, find a way to be involved in the community, and go to church. I want to resume a Bible study I was doing in CB, because I’ve been concerned about a lack of spiritual growth in my life, and now that it seems like I’ll be in town longer than I’d previously planned, I want to get more involved with people and with groups. Lately, I’ve been holding off a little, because I figured I wouldn’t be here long. There’s things I’ve been putting off to do “later”, once I got to Newberg.

Newberg, as well as Portland, represented my next step, my fresh start. I had reasons to not be in GP (still do). I wanted to go to school and get away from the stress with my parents’ health–things they wanted for me, too. More than that, it also symbolized my moving on from my break-up. I was going to finish up that term at RCC, work at JCPenney’s until it closed or they laid me off due to not needing everybody (whichever happened first), take two weeks off before going to Vegas for my 21st birthday and then Depoe Bay, and then move away. I was going to live relatively on my own, in the safest town in Oregon, right outside Portland. I was going to go to a university, not just community college. I was going to work towards bettering myself through knowledge and education, towards a Bachelor’s degree in film. I was going to work a job on campus, probably get a second job despite my parents’ misgivings (because that’s just the economy these days, and we do what we must to get by), and get involved in local groups and clubs. I was going to make something of myself, make a difference. Get my degree after two years and then–who knew what. Start my career right away? Get plugged in with a company that already exists, through a network made with connections provided by the IDEA Center? Start something with Marci, like we’d talked about before, when it was going to be the four of us–Marci, Will, Jonny, and I–except it’d really be just the three of us? Or would I take a year or two off, wanting to see the world before getting tied up in a career, and wanting to work to save enough money in case I decided on graduate school–would I go working for a hotel, transferring to new locations around the globe, gaining life experience and experience of other cultures, learning new things and meeting new people? Would I go join a civilian group fighting ISIS? Would I help create an off-the-grid tiny home community? I didn’t know what I was going to do after getting my first degree, but I was going to go somewhere, do something, be somebody. I was going to make something of myself, come out of my heartbreak stronger than before.

Honestly, all those thoughts are still options for me–they’re just postponed. All I knew was that I wasn’t going to be stuck spinning my wheels in Grants Pass, not doing anything that amounted to anything, going to some small community college in the woods waiting on science classes and computer science classes, 21 and still living at home without a degree, with a job that has absolutely nothing going for it other than a steady, measly paycheck.

Which, now that I think about it…… I have had exactly two updates about Jonny in the last few months, two more than I ever expected to get. It’s not like I’ve asked. I still care about him, but it’s not my business what he does anymore. I want what’s best for him and I believe he’ll be okay. I believe he’ll go far; one day, I’m going to hear about something impressive that he did. I believe it. He has a huge heart and a great deal of artistic talent, and my sincere hope for him is that somehow, one day, he’ll get over the depression he had (has?) and he’ll learn to use his art for some purpose, for some movement. That he’ll use his storytelling to talk about the things he cares about, that he’ll use his drawing to bring awareness to something, to raise support. He’s got the potential.

But I don’t ask. I was told something once, because somehow it seemed like I needed to know–I needed the encouragement that he was getting better (and I hope he still is). The second time, his stepmom reached out to my mom (or was it vice-versa? I don’t remember). He is out of my life, and I’d like to figure out what I’m supposed to do with mine.

But last I heard, he’s working at McDonald’s, trying to get back into community college (he wasn’t doing well, due to his depression, so the school basically told him to take time off). He’s still living with his mom.

I was so happy for him, and still am. Happy that he was trying to put his life back together, and I hope he still is. Getting another job, trying to get back into school, trying to talk to people more. Getting back on meds. He wants to be okay, it seems; he wants to get better.

But, it just hit me as I’m writing this, writing what I wanted for my life and what I wanted to avoid. It occurred to me that the life I was describing, the one I didn’t want to live and thus hoped George Fox would save me from in the wake of the break-up, is a life just like he’s living (or was). I was thinking about the life I wanted, the life I envisioned for myself at George Fox and after, the life I wanted to get away from. The person I refused to be, as a person with a broken heart wanting to move onto something great, to prove that the loss didn’t keep me down, that I came out better and stronger and wiser, that losing someone so important to me didn’t hurt me in the long run. I think I clung to the idea of George Fox as a coping mechanism, perhaps. “See? I’ve got a new dream. I’ve got something better. Look how far I’ve come, how much I’ve moved on, since losing you. I’ve succeeded.”

I never thought about it that way, never made those connections. I just wanted what I wanted, and hoped for the best for him. I hoped that one day, we’d meet up, and I’d find out he’d moved onto a better job, had gone back to college and done really well, and was looking for the next phase in life. I was hoping to find out that he’d continued to get better–there’d probably be a pitfall or two along the way, because he’s human and that’s life, but the overall trajectory of his life would be improving, positive. He’d wanted to be okay, to get better, and it had worked, after all. He’d gotten his life back on track, straightened out. It hadn’t really occurred to me that, in those little, annoyingly persistent, daydreams, as well as he was doing, I was often doing slightly better. To me, it just made sense–I hadn’t been depressed, and I was farther along in college than him, so I was starting with an advantage or two. Sometimes we were more evenly matched, although I might have been in my career for a year or two longer.

Fast food job, community college, living with my parents: that’s what I wanted to avoid, and that’s what Jonny is (was?) living. It’s also the cliche of the washed-out young adult, aimless in life, not going anywhere, so of course I wanted to avoid it. It’s not the picture of success, of ambition, of dreams and plans and goals. It’s for those, stereotypically speaking, who don’t know where they’re going, and who may not be inclined to figure it out.

I’m realizing that a lot of my perspective–my dependence, even, as everything hinged on George Fox, so I had to go–came from a source of pride, all these months, and I didn’t even know. I don’t know that I would’ve seen it if I’d been able to attend, and if I had, it may have been after I’d screwed something up. Maybe I’m still supposed to go to George Fox, but that veil had to be lifted from my eyes first, and I had to work for it. Maybe I’m still supposed to go, but I’m supposed to stay in Grants Pass and work through some stuff, make some progress, have some growth–such as trusting God and trying to do something about my pride.

I realize that some of what I’ve said could be hurtful; please know that’s not my intention. My intention is to be honest, and thus accountable, about my shortcomings. I wrestle with pride; as with all things we struggle with, I like to hide it however much possible. But I want to be honest that I made that mistake, that I’ve been quite mean-spirited without even knowing it. I want to confess it, and apologize. I want people to know that pride is an issue for me, so that I can get help to overcome it, even if only a little.

In the aftermath of my breakup, I turned to God. I was actually oddly, surprisingly calm about it. I just depended on God. I knew I could live without Jonny, didn’t need him–I had God. I had family and friends who helped me get through it.

And then, when I started trying to figure out where to go from there, how to rebuild my life and what it would look like since my former plans had been derailed, George Fox started to work out. And, all too quickly, I latched onto it. I latched onto pride. And the growth that I’d had in my relationship with God just halted. George Fox was essentially going to be a sort of transformative redemption, saving me from spinning my wheels and transforming me into someone successful. It may be natural, or somewhat normal, for exes to want to outdo each other in order to prove that the other wasn’t necessary for their happiness after all–but it certainly isn’t right. I wanted to be okay. I wanted to prove that I could be okay. I think I used pride to cope with my loss. I didn’t have to look too hard at the past because I was headed toward my future, and it was going to be bright somehow. They say you’re not supposed to look back, only forward, after all, and I was–no matter how much the past kept cropping up in my life, I was just going to keep focusing on the future, waiting for August 24th, the day everything would change. I could officially leave the past behind because I would officially be taking the next step, going into the next chapter, turning the page on the last one. George Fox, Portland, Newberg–it was going to save me. I was going to be better, become better.

And that is very, very wrong.

And I’m sorry for it.

So, now, in the ashes of this dream, wondering if it could be resurrected in a healthier form later on, I’m starting over once again. I had a Genesis this week, after all–two of them, really, one I certainly didn’t expect and wouldn’t have wanted, but am slowly becoming thankful that I got. I had the literal, formal Genesis event–but I had a personal Genesis of my own, and it’s not over yet, I don’t think. I’m getting a new start, a new beginning, in a way I actively worked against. Deprived of what I wanted, I’m being shown what I need. I think I might be in Grants Pass to make it work for a while, to actually put down roots and grow where I’m planted instead of kill time trying to make the best of it while anxious to get out. Not that I’m not still going to plan to get out of here for the next phase of my life at the soonest I’m supposed to, but I’m realizing that, perhaps, this isn’t just a stopover–that I’m actually supposed to be here for a while. And I want to make the best of it, not just temporarily until an escape, but to enrich my life and others while I’m here. I’ll move on when I’m meant to. I’m going to be okay; my life just isn’t turning out the way I expected. It’s going to turn out better.