Thursday, November 4, 2010

journals and journeys

i'm just going to go ahead and add "keeping a blog" to the already ridiculously long list of things i am not good at, including, but not limited to, keeping a straight face in serious situations, not having abnormally large eyes and frizzy hair, not looking like a hobbit, and, as it turns out, speaking spanish.

however, i want you, as my faithful followers and random strangers, to know a little bit about what's been happening here, so i'll just bite the bullet and go for it.

as it turns out, blogging is a lot like journalling (journaling?)...keeping a journal. i have collected countless thoughts in leather-bound notebooks with recycled pages (because, obvs, i love trees and like, the environment) that have continued to haunt me for years on end. my junior high journals are filled with everything from LFO lyrics ("Girl on TV" will always get me, every the way, RIP Rich Cronin) to sad little entries from a heartbroken, 12-year old Claire because the the boy I loved (LOVED!) was too shy to ask me to dance on Valentine's Day.

as i got older, and clearly, more mature (?), the thoughts indelibly scribed on the environmentally-friendly pages evolved as well. i became more concerned with my looks, my friends, if i was cool enough to hang with the in-crowd that sometimes spoke to me and sometimes didn't. there was the boy i loved with the flaming red hair with whom i spent countless hours in a particular fast food restaurant that ended up breaking my heart so badly we didn't speak for almost a year. there was the continual concern for my friends whose hearts became less broken by the things that break God's heart, and more and more broken at the hands of what my dad would call "the bogus world system". and having to decide where to go to college sent me into a whirlwind of despair for almost all of my senior year, causing me to listen to unbelievable amounts of sad indie music such as the songs off of death cab's CD "plans" (the apathy i showed, coincidentally, made me more attractive to the tall indie boy from my stats class, who wrote a poem about me and published it in the yearly CBHS lit-mag. while he had a girlfriend. whom i sat behind at was about as fun as it sounds.)

however, none of the self-deprecating and loathsome thoughts i wrote at age 18 could ever compare to the things i wrote my spring semester of senior year of college. all of a sudden, i was face-to-face with my future, and the thought terrified and paralyzed me to no end. if you were fortunate enough to have witnessed one of my many meltdowns (which came in endless forms, such as panic attacks in my mesoamerican studies class about having to retire my ridiculously colorful wardrobe in favor of the ever-unflattering pencil skirt and button-down duo), you probably heard me say six words, over and over again: "i feel weird about my life." normally, i would follow up that sentiment with a run around the bear trail or a baking party with two of my favorite friends and we would sit and chat and stress would melt away and be replaced by the joy of being 22 and surrounded by my best friends at all times.

as it turns out, may 16th (the day after graduation), the date i feared and maligned for so long, came and went...and the world didn't just end. i woke up the next day, sad but alive, and ventured back into the world in the hopes of finding The Place Where I Belonged and The Job I Was Born to Have. an opportunity presented itself, and i became convinced that all i ever wanted was to live in waco and try to convince high school seniors to choose baylor through copious amounts of phone calls, postcards and free stickers given away at college fairs like candy. life became simple again in those few weeks. i had a plan for my future and it was going to be PERFECT, exactly what i wanted and needed and in a place that was as familiar and cozy as your favorite cardigan on the first crisp day of fall.

obviously, as it turns out, i didn't get that job. i woke up one morning to a phone call that kindly informed me that my application was "no longer being considered, thank you"...6 more words that shaped my new outlook and assured me that i would never find what it was that i was looking for and needed the most. it was in this delicate stage that i heard about the pilot team being assembled for mission year argentina. i immediately knew that THIS was the opportunity i had been waiting for, that it was exactly where i belonged and that nothing in the world could ever make me happier than to return to the land of fine wine and cheese, bustling streets and hardcore dance clubs known as boliches.

i prayed, raised support, packed, met my teammates and got on a 12-hour flight that was sure to take me back to the place where all my wildest dreams would come true. i pictured myself in cute dresses teaching english to packed classrooms of the young elite of buenos aires who were dying to learn english from such a fabulous group. i envisioned running through parks on sunny days and wandering downtown with my new best friends, effortlessly speaking spanish and topping off the day with a nice white mocha and a cute argentine by my side.

i knew almost right off the bat, stepping off the airplane, that my visualizations of life in BA were tragically, overwhelmingly wrong. the church is tiny, with a congregation you can count on two hands some sundays, in a part of town where taxis refuse to go past a certain point at night. i got my a terrible cold and had no money to buy myself medicine, and i found that my main position as a volunteer here involved 3-5 year old children and their continuously running noses, in a dirty villa filled with trash and smoke, deeply entrenched in conflict and injustice perpetuated in every direction...even in the places you would least expect to find it.

needless to say, i am finding more and more that my journal entries here revolve around the same themes as the one from this past spring, insecurity about my purpose in life, fear of what the future will bring and the overwhelming urge to stay away from precipices that threaten to drop me off into an even deeper unknown. i feel weird about my life, again (still), and i'm finding it exhausting to constantly re-evaluate my past and present and future in an effort to reconcile them together and find a sense of harmony between the three.

the good news is...i don't have to fit them together at all. someone else has already done that for me, someone who knows infinitely more about me than i will ever know about myself. someone who wants to reassure me, everyday, that He has already read all my journal entries i will ever write and knows my every thought and has a grand plan for me. plans greater than the redhead i thought i loved and the job i'd have killed for and the pesos i need just to survive in a rough part of town. and the rest will be revealed to me, maybe slowly, maybe years from now when i find my small brown leather notebook filled with sad sentiments and lonely words which i will know formed me a little more into a better me. a version of myself that will remember when i had to trust, and pray, and hope all things, one that will look back at the things i'd written during my year of service in argentina and know that it all worked out the way it should, much better than i could have dreamed.

i know i will look back at all of the trials and tears and know they weren't for naught, with the same confidence and security i know now that i would be miserable if i were still in waco. if i had dated the boys i'd loved that turned out to be jerks. and what a fake and meaningless world i would live in if i were never in want or need, if i never had to lean on someone greater than myself and have faith in something unseen.

i know i will be thankful for all of this one day. and i can't wait to eventually re-read my small, cramped handwriting from this year that speaks of brokenness and heartache and know that it was all just preparing me for something greater than i could even know. and maybe one day i will learn to toss even my present worries into the wind along with all of the others i've felt for the last 23 years of my life, taking them to His throne and leaving them there, for good.

through prayer, and time, and patience i know i will get there. until then, i will continue to write down the things that haunt me so that years from now, i can see them again and laugh, confidently placing my journal filled with insecurity and doubts in its rightful place, buried in a drawer with others much like it, similarly filled with graciously unanswered prayers.


  1. claire, you are a beautiful woman. this post just left me greatly inspired. i miss you and our talks that sound much like this at food for thought, but i know you're doing what you're meant to be doing where you're supposed to be doing it. i love you! let's skype next week sometime, please :)

  2. Love you Claire! Your post was inspiring and beautifully written. I know you are making a difference in the lives of the people around you and I am so happy that you are getting to experience a new (and quite different) place than our beloved home of Houston. Keep writing, I'll be reading.

    I miss you!


  3. i loved it! i love that you are sitting right next to me and sweating through your pants. i love that paul has a texas flag running shorts!!!!! wahhh!!!!!! built-in undies! i love you girlfriend. i am so happy we get to go through this year together. friendss... :))

    gross, paul. just gross.

  4. Caty. I have another pair of built-in undie running shorts drying in the shower. go check em' out :)

    Buen Post Claire. we can run through a park one day. if it is going to be sooon it may have to be the "park" across the street. give me a couple months and I might be able to make it to Chacabuco. Thanks for being an encouragement

  5. "what a fake and meaningless world i would live in if i were never in want or need, if i never had to lean on someone greater than myself and have faith in something unseen."

    Very beautifully said. I'm praying for you and that you are challenged through this experience, (as I can see you already are) because that is where we are most aware of what it means to be dependent on God. Which is what we are made for. I love you! Keep the posts comin'.

  6. claire, you are such a gift to us all. i love you infinitely and pray for you every day.

  7. HAHA. Oh, my. I also thought that teaching would mean cute dresses. Now I pretty much wear bags (to match the bags under my eyes) and my face is broken out almost beyond recognition. Yay!!

    Loved the fourth paragraph from the bottom. You speak the truth, Miss Wisdom. :)