just wanting to live

Sometimes you just reach a breaking point. It’s not that you don’t care anymore or even that it’s not important anymore, but sometimes you just grow weary of the constant tension, the constant sensation of being “always on.” Because why wouldn’t that be exhausting? That’s sort of how I feel right now when it comes to Christian LGBTQ things and LGBTQ things in general, the dialogues, the conversations, the controversies, the debates, the activism, all of it. I feel burned out if I’m being completely honest.

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when you run out of plans

At any given point in life, there’s bound to be quite a bit going on (or maybe that’s just my life, but I have a sneaking suspicion that’s not the case). And I suppose “quite a bit going on” can be taken to mean a myriad of things, but rightfully so. It could be difficult things. It could be wonderful things you’ve been waiting for. Or it could just be things in general that aren’t necessarily good or bad, just things that happen that add another dimension to your daily existence, for better or worse.

Honestly, I was almost hoping that my life would go the route of becoming one of those boring adult lives where nothing really happens over the course of several months and you just go to work, go home, occasionally see friends, and everything remains stable for the foreseeable future. But that hasn’t really happened yet. For the time being, it seems like there’s still a number of random events and “life things” cropping up at every twist and turn, and that’s been a struggle as of late. At the same time, something I’ve been seeing is that with so many new things around every corner, old songs have started taking on new meanings for me. Continue reading “when you run out of plans”

Being Gay at Bethel: Revisited

Being Gay at Bethel: Revisited

Here’s a piece I wrote back in the spring about some good changes and things I see happening back at my alma mater (that sounds weird to say…).

Bethel is one of my favorite places, and I’m thankful for the ways God is moving there, especially in the sense that LGBTQ students are starting to feel safer and that the atmosphere is shifting for the better. Hopefully, this is just the beginning.

The Clarion

Editor’s Note: The following article is a reflection on discussion prompted by the piece, “Being Gay at Bethel,” published May 2015 in the Clarion. Because the article was published in the last month of the year, the Bethel community had no opportunity to discuss and respond to the article, and many in our community left Bethel with more questions than answers regarding Bethel’s policies and attitudes towards the LGBTQ community. In publishing this article, we hope to inspire further conversation. In the first chapel of the year, biblical studies professor Juan Hernandez Jr. challenged the Bethel community to speak up for the poor, the captives, the blind, and the oppressed, imitating Christ in this way. At the Clarion, we strive to speak up on issues that matter most to the Bethel community. Venegas, a junior linguistics major at the time “Being Gay at Bethel” was published, has since graduated and now works at Cyber Village Academy as an office administrator.

There’s…

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setting sail from ephesus

I feel like this is probably a super millennial thing to say, but the transition to the adult world has been pretty jarring over the past few weeks. My college student body isn’t used to getting up at 6am to make it to work at 7:45am and then going to bed early to do it all over again, and my mind isn’t accustomed to all the new routines and mental switches I have to make during the day. All of that being said, it hasn’t been too rough yet, but I think one of the hardest things for me was also one of the more cliche things you could probably say about leaving college and starting to work full time: I honestly miss Bethel so much, and not necessarily specific friends or specific people at Bethel (though I definitely do miss all my friends and everything SO much; don’t get that mixed up, haha). But it’s more the sense that Bethel really did become my second home over the course of my three years there and it was so bittersweet to graduate and leave. I actually applied to a couple jobs at Bethel as graduation was coming up just to see if I could stick around a little longer, and as my job search got longer and more tedious over the summer, I actually started to get upset about the fact that I wouldn’t be going back (now that fall has rolled around, it’s more like tears and a lot of emotions, lol).

 

Currently, I work in the office at a charter school in St. Paul, and even though I do really like it, there’s still a large part of my heart and soul that misses Bethel and aches to be back there this fall, coupled with the fact that so many of my closest friends are still seniors there. At the same time, I wholeheartedly believe that wherever we happen to find ourselves at any given moment is exactly where God wants us to be for that season of life. That’s something that was hard for me to accept, being in a place where I maybe didn’t want to be, and something that I’m still working on and through during this period of so much change and adaptation to a different world, a different schedule, a different mindset, and a different group of people that I find myself spending the majority of my days with now. But I still cling to the promise that God never has us walk through specific corridors of life in vain, and right now, as much as I might not like it, I know that where I am is exactly where He wants me to be.

 

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do you remember? // short story

The past couple days and rest of this week have been and are continuing to be pretty busy, which has been an additional struggle on top of the creative one for this 14 day writing challenge I’ve been putting myself through, trying to write something or publish something every day. I purposefully timed out this writing challenge to end just about the same time as I’m leaving for a trip, since I’m not sure if I’ll have the time to continue publishing work while I’m gone, but hopefully this writing challenge will give me the creative boost I need to at least be storyboarding and brainstorming while I’m gone.

 

In order to keep myself in the fiction mindset, I’ve been outlining and storyboarding a bunch related to an older ongoing project that I’m still hoping to finish at some point in time, but I’ve also been going back to older pieces that I’ve written a while ago when fiction came a little easier to me, looking at the style, voice, and some of the themes I was working with to see what I can continue to channel into my current work and what I’ve grown out of.

 

The piece below is one I recently went back to as I’ve been trying to rediscover and tap into my fiction energy. Originally published in my university’s literary magazine three years ago, this piece deals with several darker themes, something that I’ve oddly always been drawn to in fiction, which is perhaps why I love dystopian and noir works so much. On top of that, it’s still one of the better pieces I think I’ve written, perhaps because it’s partially inspired by real life, though I do see myself having grown out of some of the more dramatic elements as I skim through it a few years later. If you were wondering what kind of fiction I skewed towards writing three or four years ago, this piece would be a prime example, haha.

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have we become the pharisees?

Currently doing some storyboarding for some more fiction I’m working on, but I discovered another piece hidden away in the archives that I had never published (seems like this is a semi-frequent occurrence). As I’m transitioning back to writing some fiction, I’ve been finding that it’s taking me a lot longer to figure out how I want to write things and what kinds of ideas I want to use, but maybe that’s more normal than I’m giving myself credit for.

With this piece, the primary idea behind it was conceived through a series of discussions I had at my Bible study where we talked about what it means to actually be a Christian in the 21st century, in 2016 and how we can sometimes read our own biases into the parables and stories we read in the Bible. Oftentimes, this manifests as us, as mostly privileged, American Christians, identifying more closely with the oppressed people groups described in the Bible rather than with the oppressors. However, something that we realized over the course of our discussion and Bible study was that while the Israelites and the entire nation of Israel have typically been the minority ethnic group and minority religion in the majority of eras, that’s not really the case for most Westernized or American Christians. What we decided is that more often than not, our actual lived realities align more with those of the oppressing Pharisees than with those of the oppressed Israelites. Interesting food for thought for sure.

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the phone call effect

As I’ve been working on a couple short stories based on prompts I’ve been given by friends, I think my mind has also been reflecting back on a lot of the posts I’ve written in the past several days. Specifically, I’ve been pondering the effect technology has on our relationships in this day and age, since so many of us (myself included) practically treat our phones as an extension of our bodies at this point.

 

At the same time, I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts and divert more energy to these short stories so I can actually get them done (beside the fact that I haven’t written fiction in quite a while and those creative muscles are still a little stiff), but going through my old archives, I discovered this piece talking about relationships and technology that I had written several months ago but for some reason or another had just never put up anywhere. Its style is a little different and a bit harsher than some of my more recent pieces, but I think it’s still relevant, and I definitely still resonate with the original point behind it as well.

 

Side note: The next couple days are going to be packed, so I’m really hoping to churn out those short stories in a timely manner, but I suppose we’ll see.

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broken iPhone screens

After a couple days of writing almost strictly poetry, it feels a little strange to be writing in more of a prose style again today, but then again, I think my prose has always skewed a little more flowery and poetic anyway. The process of writing this piece was almost the reverse of when I wrote ‘roses,’ trying to originally put this piece through a poetry filter when it ended up emerging as more of a prose piece.

 

The initial idea for this piece came to me when I accidentally dropped my phone out of my locker while I was at the gym. At first inspection, all seemed to be well, but as I was getting ready to leave, I noticed some light refraction (really no other way to put it, haha) and realized that I had cracked my screen. My heart sank a little, seeing as I had already shattered my screen earlier this year and gotten it replaced, but my fears were quickly assuaged by a closer look that revealed it was only the glass screen protector that had a crack along its width (at least I think…I put it on slightly crooked, so it doesn’t cover the entire right side, and the cracks only extended as far as the border of the glass screen protector, with the actual screen underneath not appearing to have any cracks, fingers crossed).

 

With a sigh of relief, I hurried home and almost immediately ordered another glass screen protector from Amazon to soothe my OCD, which was when I started to think about how much we worry and think about our phones, because any damage is readily visible and because we look at our phones dozens of times every day, while forgetting about so much of the invisible pain and suffering that people around us have gone through that we might never see, especially if it was in their past and they don’t talk about it anymore, either because they’ve overcome it and it’s truly behind them or because they live under the pressure of our American society which stigmatizes mental illness or any severe emotional trauma that people may have experienced. Out of those reflections, this piece was birthed.

 

Final thought: I’ve always been fascinated with pieces of writing, whether entire books, poems, essays, etc. that are titled after one single line or scene from its body, so I played with that a little with this piece.

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how I finally learned what love is

The air was cool for Minnesota summer, and a fire crackled and snapped over wet logs in the fire pit in front of me. I was about to tell a story I had only told once before, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that the words still felt almost fake as they churned inside of me, bringing a new sensation of reality to the term word vomit. It just didn’t feel right. In a way, it felt selfish, what I was about to do. At a cursory glance, everything about my life seemed to be just as it should, if not better, but I was about to confess that for the majority of my life I had felt like I had to earn love and wasn’t quite sure what it actually meant to be loved.

 

I mean, honestly, I’m 19 years old, have a college diploma hanging on my bedroom wall, my family is great to me and always has been, my friends are some of the best you could ask for, and I have everything I need, among other things, but I couldn’t escape the voice of God trying to convince me, for the umpteenth time in however many years, that there was no possible way for anyone to ever earn someone else’s love. But along with that, He also seemed to whisper that the reason was that you didn’t have to. His love, as well as anyone else’s authentic love, doesn’t need to be earned. That seems like such a simple, basic concept, but it’s one I’m honestly still processing and learning to be true.

 

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write like a kid

Every so often, I’ll find myself in a bit of a creative lull (like the one I’m in right now) and think back to when I was younger and the ideas flowed so much more freely, when writer’s block was essentially nonexistent and I actually wrote a substantial amount of material every single day. I wonder to myself where all of that went and why I can’t even manage to put out one 500-word blog post a week anymore, never mind the fact that I literally wrote two entire books in a single year when I was in 5th grade. Granted, both of those books were only about 100 double sided, handwritten pages long and the style needed some major work, but maybe the reason some writers give up or stop putting out work is because they’ve lost the ability to write like a kid.

 

When you’re writing as a kid, nothing else matters other than the story you’re putting down on the page. Literary tropes, archetypes, and rules are all still bland words in a textbook that you haven’t bothered to read. Your characters all talk the same way, and your plot lines are probably tangled and convoluted, with holes everywhere, but none of that even registers on your radar because the story is unfolding all on its own in your head. The clunky, awkward prose that gets carelessly slapped onto paper is hardly for a literary agent or editor’s eyes, but rather for your mind’s, serving as a map for the feature film that’s rolling inside. When you’re writing as a kid, you’re not writing for an agent, a publisher, a literary critic, or anyone else. When you’re writing as a kid, you’re writing solely for the purpose of preserving the story you’ve created and watching it play out in your own head, and maybe that’s why some of us lose the ability and joy of writing as we get older, because we’re constantly editing and critiquing our nascent stories to death before they even have the chance to take their first living breaths.

 

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