Aslan’s Country

Narnia-3_Aslan_welcomes

So it’s finals week and we all know what that means; procrastination has once again become my best friend. This particular bout of procrastination has left me watching mystical movies full of fantasy and wonder. The best thing I’ve done so far? Watch one of my favorite movies, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Such a beautiful movie. Along with some serious adventure, there is very real toil and temptation, victory and triumph, and the always welcome presence of Aslan, whom I would just like to ride every time I see him.

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past 60 years, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is the third published book from  the critically acclaimed series The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (read them, you won’t be disappointed, I swear). In short, Aslan represents God and is portrayed in the form of a mighty lion who rules over the mythical land of Narnia. (I met a child named Aslan once. I’ve never wanted to babysit anyone more than that kid in my entire life). I know, if you don’t know about it, this story sounds ridiculous, but it’s one of the greatest stories I have ever read.

Getting to the point of this post, there is a particular scene at the end of the movie that just moves me to tears. And yes, I will spoil the ending for you, so here is your alert *read ahead at your own risk*.

The whole movie, there is talk of “Aslan’s Country.” It lies at the end of the world, the farthest East that you can travel and is said to reside behind the place where “the water meets the sky.” The cusp of the Earth, if you can imagine.  In the movie, it is not shown, but lies behind a great wall of majestic ocean water, as seen in the photo above. It is an obvious analogy for Heaven, just as Aslan is an analogy to Christ.

As the characters meet with Aslan, just outside of his country, it is revealed that three of the characters, Lucy, Edmund, and Eustace, will not be entering Aslan’s Country just yet or returning to Narnia, and will never see Aslan again in their lifetimes. As they leave, Edmund bows before Aslan, and that’s when the water-works start for me. The only thing that I can think of when I was watching the film was, “I want to bow before the Lord at the edge of his everlasting kingdom!” Sappy, right? But still, the deepest desire of my little heart.

I think the real reason that this movie gets me at the end is because throughout the duration of the movie, I think that this particular facet of the Chronicles hits us right in the humanity. That is to say, we can relate to it most, because a very big motif in the movie is temptation. Characters are tempted by beauty and gold, anger and pride, you name it, it’s  there. So when it does get to the end of the movie, and the characters have overcome their temptations-successfully, might I add-they are able to stand before Aslan, with a sense of dignity, and a moral character that has been proven mighty.

This might sound a little arrogant, I assure you, it is not. The point that I am trying to make is that with the good help of our Lord, we can withstand anything that he will set in front of us. And in the end, we can come before Him, at the threshold of his everlasting country, with a sense of dignity, that only proves to be seriously wane in lieu of the majesty of our Father, God.

As I said before, all I want is the chance to bow in the presence of our Lord. Fully, truly, and completely.

But really though, this post would make much more sense if you would just watch the movies. Scratch that. Read the books, they’re minuscule, and you could most likely read the book in the same amount of time it takes you to watch the movie. Or better yet, do both, because this story is one that should be known.

“But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”

– Aslan

In Christ and Mary,

Kate ❤

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The Spirit of Giving

Being very involved as a sophomore in my campus ministry means many things: I am not the youngest anymore, I have to adjust to the idea of change, I must grow in my outreach, ect. But combining those three especially, and wanting to actively participate and grow in them, my campus ministry has invited me to join what is called the F.A.T. program for sophomores.

It stands for Faithful, Available, and Teachable. It is basically a program designed to have those involved grow in their ministry outreach, particularly towards the freshman of the community to make sure they feel welcomed. There is also a weekly small group meeting (we have 3 different small groups) and requirements of reading the New Testament daily, memorizing a verse from scripture every week, and attending the weekly Spirit Night and a weekly bible study. Spitting out all of the requirements right now make the program seem tough and inflexible, but in reality, it probably only takes up less than 10 hours of my week (and that includes weekends).

Joining F.A.T. was a decision that everybody in the program made individually, and of their own free will. The requirements were laid out in front of all of us, and we all decided to give it our best shot. In saying that, towards the end of the first month of the program was when it started to get really hard for me. I was seeing my sisters in Christ, particularly the ones from my small group, not fulfilling their F.A.T. duties, and it made me upset, because I felt like me and handful of people were the only ones really trying in the program.

I came with the mentality that, they knew what they signed up for, so why are they not doing what they are supposed to be doing? This program is also supposed to allow us to grow closer to the women in our small group, and because I didn’t feel like they were putting forth enough effort, I didn’t feel as if I was growing in friendship with them. This lead me to believe that I could not call them out on their actions without coming off as haughty or arrogant. I really wanted to encourage them to involve themselves more fully in the program, but I was angry because I did not feel as if I could do that.

Brother Clinton (a religious brother from the order of The Brotherhood of Hope – look them up, they’re amazing!) is in charge of the F.A.T. program and I brought the way that I was feeling about my fellow “FATties” to his attention. In response to my, for lack of a better word, complaints, he told me several things, but the thing that effected me the most, was to read Luke 10.

At the end of Luke, chapter 10, the Word tells us the story of Martha and Mary. What a great story, Jesus has travelled and come to the house of a woman named Martha, who had a sister named Mary. While Martha was busy cleaning and preparing and taking care of her house guests, Mary was sitting at the foot of the Lord, listening to his word. Martha becomes frustrated and then:

“Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.’ The Lord said to her in reply, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.'” -Luke 10:40-42

In the moment of reading this story, I came to an understanding about myself; I was acting as Martha was. I was frustrated and felt like I was left with the all of the burden of servicing and I desperately wanted my fellow FATties help, but they weren’t helping.

In saying that I was acting as Martha was, that does not mean that my sisters were necessarily acting as Mary was, however, the could have been. The reality of the situation is that I didn’t know what was preventing them from fulfilling their F.A.T. duties, and it could have been something that was leading them, individually, closer to our Lord.

The phrase “…it will not be taken from her.” really stood out to me because regardless of if they were doing something to grow in holiness or not, my sisters had made their decision of where their presence was required most. They made that decision and that should not be taken from them. If it was taken, it would totally defeat the purpose of free will.

Let me be clear, that in being frustrated with them is a personal problem that I am working on, and I want it in no way to reflect a negative image upon these women. I do love them, and we are all busy, and we all fall short sometimes, myself included. I’m not writing this in order to tarnish their reputations, but rather to understand my own ability to grow in the situation that has been given to me.

In saying that, this situation has definitely prompted me to do more in my community, not because I would be “picking up their slack” but rather because I know now that I am needed, and even wanted by this community. I’ve looked at this situation as an opportunity to grow in the Spirit of Giving, and especially giving without complaint (which will take longer than one month, I know…). But hey, what can I say? I’m a work in progress.

In Christ and Mary

Kate ❤

Only Fooling Myself

Now I admit, I’m not boy crazy; ask anyone. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have feeling for certain men that come and go in my life. It just means that I don’t fall all over every man that gives me attention. I’m also not a proud person, but I am happy that I don’t act that way. It’s honestly a pet peeve of mine to see other girls go in and out of feelings for so many men within a certain period of time. I just want to shout to them, “SETTLE DOWN. Just because you’re in college doesn’t mean you have to find a husband by the time you graduate. Diamond Degree’s don’t get most people very far.”

But I would be lying if I said I didn’t have feelings for someone right now; I would also be lying if I told you that I want to feel this way. The truth could not be more opposite. I don’t want to have feelings for this kid, I don’t. But I do.

I should give a background story.

So I meet this kid, and we become friends (we’ve now been friends for about a year). After a while he just spills his whole life story to me, and honestly, when it happened it didn’t phase me because I know I’m a very easy person to talk to and trust. Usually that is a good thing and I don’t mind that I give off that composure, but after he kept telling me everything going on in his life, I started to develop feelings for him. And I know, these feelings aren’t bad. What is bad, is the jealousy that arose from him telling me about his different trials and failures with other women throughout the year.

It really bothered me that he would try and start a relationship with several other women when there was one who knew more about him than two of his three roommates right in front of him who still loved him for who he was [is]. And that’s completely true. I would never want to change him, that would defeat the purpose of having feelings for him.

In the midst of all of this, I have a great guy friend who knows all about the situation. I’m super blessed to have him in my life, because since I’m usually the one people come to for advice, I never go to anyone else but myself. That being stated, it’s really hard for me to hear advice from someone other than myself and to have confidence come from another person. Even harder is for me to hear my own words used against me, and he does that abundantly. I hate it, but like I said, I’m so glad he uses my own words and advice against me.

He began asking me why I’m trying to force this relationship. I responded that I wasn’t, to which he boldly told me, “A relationship always happens when you’re not looking for it.” While I completely agreed with him and like to say that I’m “not looking for a relationship right now,” I must admit that even though my pursuit of this relationship is not active, I am still looking for it, but in a passive way.

I might not be trying to make this boy that I like jealous by going out with a bunch of different guys in front of him, I might not be a huge flirt with him, and I’m definitely not directly stating my feelings to him point blank, but as I take a step back and assess the situation, I am trying to kick-start him having feelings for me. Here and there I’ve been trying to make little changes about my personality so that he might become a little more interested in me: Listing to country music more, tolerating little things that I usually wouldn’t be okay with; I was trying to morph myself into the perfect woman for him. The most disappointing part is that it didn’t really seem to be getting me anywhere.

And those aren’t the only things wrong with the way that I was thinking. This guy I like is a little bit of a partier and that doesn’t bother me at all, but I’m not 21, and I can’t drink or party as freely as he does. That doesn’t bother me either, but after a while I had this feeling that “maybe he didn’t like me because he thinks that I can’t keep up with his lifestyle.” As I was trying to rationalize this in my head, the real concern that formed in my mind was, “What if he thinks I’m too holy to date?”

After I asked myself that question, I was immediately disgusted with myself. Me, the woman who rejoices in knowing that she is Christ’s, and proud to know that she is independent and doesn’t need to change for anyone, especially a man, is trying to cheapen herself? I hate it when girls play stupid to get a guy, and to be quite honest, what I was doing was so much worse than any act of idiocy.

My great guy friend then suggested, “Why don’t you work on your relationship with God?” And I just thought that was about the stupidest question on the face of the planet because I’d like to think I have a good relationship with God, and I know I do. I told him he was missing the point and he asked, “Really? How is your relationship with God?” I told him it was fine, great actually to which he responded with a finger pointed at me and a shout of, “Wrong. Everybody’s relationship with God could use some work.”

He truly left me dumbstruck (which almost never happens). I couldn’t even be mad because of the severity of his accuracy. While my relationship with God is strong and fruitful, that is in no way, shape, or form an excuse for me to not work harder at it.

I honestly have no clue what is going to happen between me and this boy in the future, and while I would like to know, I’m not going to become hung up on it like I admit that I have been recently. I finally realized that I just need to talk a deep breath, and continue on my walk with God and to let him help me become who I am and was meant to be. And then, everything else will just fall into place, as long as I trust Him. I know it.

Holiness is not something that I want to have less of, in any circumstance, and now that I realize that, it’s time to start running back to the Church, as hard and as fast as I can. I’m not saying that I was ever away, but I just need to re-focus, and re-realize God’s love for me, before I can ever realize the love of a mortal man for the first time. I am ready to become the strong woman that I was meant to be.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs at the days to come. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and on her tongue is kindly counsel. She watches the conduct of her household, and eats not her food in idleness. Her children rise up and praise her; her husband, too, extols her: ‘Many are the women of proven worth, but you have excelled them all.’ Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her a reward of her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates.”

-Proverbs: 31:25-31 NAB

In Christ and Mary,

Kate ❤

Friendships and Forgiveness

As a follower of Christ, I try and include Him in all of my decision making. When I don’t know what to do or where to turn, I finally get the courage to look up and surrender myself and ask, “Lord, I need your help. What am I supposed to do?!” (Usually these requests are in a more fervent manner than not, something I’m not quite proud of, but I’m working on it.)

But when somebody has committed a wrong against not only me, but one of my best friends as well, the line between what we are supposed to do and what we want to do can become extremely blurred. And for me, I’m sorry to say that it did and at the moment, still is.

Obviously I’m not going to mention names or even what happened in great detail because that would not be charitable, but here is a glimpse of what has been going on. I have a close guy friend who hurt one of my best friends (who I will also be living with next year). This is not the first time he has hurt her, and after he hurt her the first time, I decided to give him a second chance; not only because I valued our friendship, but because I understand that people are selfish and impulsive and stupid and if God the Almighty Father can forgive the worst that I have done, I can forgive him for the hurtful actions he has committed.

But this time (the second time around), he has done the same thing wrong to my friend and that got me very angry. Uncharacteristically angry, so to speak. While I was trying to evaluate my emotions on the whole situation, I had come to realize that I had never been this angry at someone. I wanted to knock his front teeth out. I would scream in my car and shrilly shout how I really felt, and think up nasty monologues to say to this boy so he could realize how much hurting my best friend had hurt me.

He didn’t see her when she was at her weakest. He didn’t stay up late watching her cry over Skype. He didn’t see her the way that I saw her; and that bothered me. It got under my skin and the only way to get it out was to scream. I saw him hurting my best friend and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I am very protective of my friends, which, in this situation, just added insult to injury.

He later asked me if I hated him and I benightedly said yes. However, I misspoke.

I do not hate my friend. I do not hate him for what he did. I hate what he did. I hate what he did with my whole heart because he hurt my best friend really badly and I know he knows that. But you know what? Everybody makes mistakes, we’re human, and Original Sin catches up to us and that just sucks. But there is something to be said about our mistaken actions and C.S. Lewis said it best, “Every man should keep a fair-sized cemetery in which to bury the faults of his friends.”

There are plenty of times when I questioned my loyalty to my best friend, even though I know that I am always on her side, even if she is wrong. The first time this happened I felt as if he deserved more than being forever hated because of one stupid mistake. And to an extent I feel almost the same way this time. I really try and treat people as I would like to be treated, and if I did what he did, after everything, I would want a friend.

While his actions merit a high disapproval, I feel like I need to give him another chance, just as a person in general. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very mad at what he did. I will be for a long time. But going back to that awesome quote from C.S. Lewis, as hard as it may be, he is my friend and I have to try to bury the wrongs he have committed against my friends and by extension, me. Keep in mind I say “bury” not “forget.” The funny thing about death is that we bury what is dead but we always remember what it was. That’s why we have headstones and monuments erected in honor of what has died, so we never forget.

I will never forget what happened between him and my best friend. For a very long time the only thing that I will be able to think when I look at him will be, “There’s that awful person, who did that terrible thing to my best friend, and I just can’t believe that it even happened and I’m still really pissed at him.” But as the Saint that we are all trying to one day become, I can only try to make my next thought be, “I really hope he learned his lesson. I hope he never does it again.”

After all, we live in Hope.

I know that when things get back into swing around the end of August, my best friend and I will move in together, and my friendship with this boy will have to slowly wane until then. I want to be his friend, I really do, but I don’t think I can. I’m not saying I will ignore him and be rude and uncalled for, we run in the same circle of friends, I will be seeing him often. What I’m saying is that to become more loyal to my best friend, even if I want to be a good friend to this boy, I need to chose a side and stay there. In the end, it will be her side.

What he needs to realize is that his actions are not only pushing away the people he hurts, but even the people who wouldn’t be likely to be hurt by his actions, namely me (and hopefully not too many others). When he changes what he is doing, I will be waiting with open arms. But until then, all I can do, all any of us can do in a situation like this, is pray.

Pray, not fervently, but with passion and gusto, that the ultimately good Lord will shower His love and grace up on us to make the right decisions in the future, and hopefully not hurt anybody in the process. It might take a little time, but I’m confident the Lord will hear my prayers.

In Christ and Mary,

Kate ❤