fame & fortune

fame & fortune

Want to hear a confession of mine?

There are so many days when I feel like so many of the things I do aren’t worth it anymore, that so much of it doesn’t have a point because it’s not “making an impact,” or maybe just not in the way I might expect it to. There are days when I wonder why I still keep up this blog, why I still write my famously long (and sometimes dramatically pensive) captions on my Instagram account, or why I have my separate Facebook page for my blogging and writing. There are days why I wonder why I still write at all, why I did NaNoWriMo when the chances of actually being a published novelist aren’t always the highest. And these are thoughts that most creatives probably have once in a while. Continue reading “fame & fortune”

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hazy light & thankfulness

hazy light & thankfulness

Something about foggy mornings filled with gray light always seems to pull me out of myself, in the best way possible. Still not sure exactly why. Maybe it’s the way everything seems to stand still and you’re more cognizant of all the little sights, smells, and sounds around you that might normally get lost in the chaos of a typical American day. Or maybe it’s the atmosphere around you that seems to whisper that it’s finally okay to let all your muscles relax and just breathe and be for once, taking a moment to slow down in our world that’s normally always running at a million miles an hour. Whatever it is, these slow, tranquil mornings always seem to return a little more of the perspective I’ve been missing throughout the rest of the week. And maybe we all need a little more of that. Continue reading “hazy light & thankfulness”

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.

Continue reading “just wanting to live”

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.

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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ebb & flow // good people

The tides always seem to change at the most inopportune times, or at least that idea has occupied quite a bit of my mental space as of late. When I first started this writing challenge, it was for the purpose of forcing myself to write something, anything, every day because I found myself running out of ideas. I would sit down to write and comb through my brain for anything to latch onto, anything that could possibly become new material, but after only a few days, I think I’ve successfully stoked my literary fire back to life. Ideas are plentiful again, and I’m now having the opposite of problem of trying to focus my energies on just one topic at a time so that I’ll actually complete a piece over the span of a day or few.

 

Continue reading “ebb & flow // good people”

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.

 

Continue reading “how I finally learned what love is”

The Frailty of That Thing in Your Chest

So I’ve decided to indulge all the literary-ness that’s been bursting at the seams recently in this post. If that’s not your thing, feel free to stop reading now, but otherwise, maybe some of these things will resonate with you. If anything at all, reading something trying to be artsy never hurt anyone.

Humans are many things. They are bipedal. They are intelligent. They have opposable thumbs, and they even have souls. But I think that above all, humans are frail.

What’s the frailest part of a human you might ask? Is it that thing in your head that controls all the other things? Is it that thing in your back that the thing in your head uses to tell all the other things what to do?

No. In my opinion, the frailest part of a human is that thing in your chest. Although, I suppose I don’t mean that in the most literal sense. I mean it in the sense that has probably touched a lot more people than arrhythmia; I mean it in the sense that it can get broken, and pretty easily I would say.

Isn’t it strange that the thing that rhythmically keeps you alive and the thing that causes you to fall in love and cry six times in one day share the same name? I guess it isn’t so strange though, considering that pain in either of them will cause you to feel like you’re dying, regardless of whether the actual imminence of your death is fact or fiction.

I suppose that’s why they share the same name.

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if humans didn’t have the second thing. (Because, obviously, you must have the first thing in order to be alive.) Wouldn’t it make things a lot easier? If that were the case, you would always know what the pain in that thing in your chest meant. There would be no instances of you feeling like you were going to die while being perfectly, completely healthy. Wouldn’t that be so much simpler?

But the thing is, that second thing does so much more than making you feel like you’re going to die when there’s pain in it. Because it also does that thing where it makes you want to spend all of your time with one person. It makes you feel like nothing else matters when you’re with that person.

What does the first thing do when there isn’t any pain in it? It functions. It keeps you alive. But nothing more than that.

And that’s the beauty of the second thing. It’s frail, but it also contains an unpredictable magic.

When the right combination of people, circumstances, and will come together, it creates a magic that can’t quite be described. Humans have a word for that magic, but it gets hijacked a lot to mean lots of different things that aren’t actually it.

But then that frailty comes in again. If you take out just one of those three magic ingredients: chaos. But I think the worst is when only the circumstances are wrong. The people are there and the will is there, but the circumstances don’t fit. When that happens, it just feels like the whole world is pitted against you. No one did anything wrong, so there’s no one to blame and there’s no one to be mad at.

What are you supposed to do then, when there’s no possible way to justify taking out your pain on someone else, when all of your insides feel hollow, when none of it really seems to make sense, and when you don’t know what you’re even supposed to do?

At that point, the only thing left to do is to reflect on all the good memories and be thankful for what was, instead of pining away for what could’ve been. Because all of those hazy, golden memories will always be there, but the future you envisioned might never be. And a lot of the time, you’ll find yourself saying that regardless of the pain that got into that thing in your chest, you still wouldn’t go back and change a thing, because it was all perfect the way it was, even if it ended the way it did.

But that doesn’t mean that you don’t try again. And it certainly doesn’t mean that you should stop creating your visions of the future. C.S. Lewis said something about how letting that thing create its magic is equivalent to being vulnerable, open to being broken, because by letting that magic happen with anyone or anything, there’s always the possibility that thing in your chest will get some pain in it.

But that’s just the frailty of that thing in your chest. Because humans also aren’t many things. They aren’t perfect. They aren’t invincible. They aren’t unbreakable. But most of all, they aren’t always strong, and they aren’t always immune to pain.

Because humans are frail. And the frailest part of a human is that thing in your chest. And even though sometimes pain gets into it, it’s almost always worth it in the end.

Christian Priorities as of May 27, 2015

A better, less angry post will follow, but this is what I have to say regarding all the stories that have come out in the past couple weeks, namely, the recent events surrounding the Duggar Family and The Village Church.

I’m straight up pissed about it, and most people will tell you that I don’t get angry very often.

First of all, who ever said that criticizing the church or church leadership is tantamount to attacking it? That’s ridiculous. The church is an imperfect institution run by imperfect people. There are going to be missteps and there will need to be people who point out those missteps. It’s not un-glorifying to God when people have the guts to do it. They’re not creating tension or division in the church. They’re saying what the heck needs to be said.

Second, someone tell me since when Christians are allowed to be above the law. I don’t care who you are. You could be John Calvin or Charles Spurgeon or C.S. Lewis. If you commit a serious crime, you should be going to prison. The church has no business running damage control or PR for people just because they are a little higher profile than the rest of us. That’s nowhere in the Bible.

Third, along the same lines, grace and repentance do not eliminate the consequences of your actions. Grace should be extended where there is repentance and even when there is not, but that doesn’t magically dissolve the consequences of your actions. Actions. Have. Consequences.

Finally, and this one is a little more personal. Someone better be able to tell me why, in the United States of America, we have situations in which churches are protecting child molesters and child porn addicts while there are LGBT Christians committing suicide because they feel unloved and worthless and have internalized a message from the church that they are dirtier and more sinful than everyone else. Someone give me a valid explanation to this, stat. How is that glorifying to God? How is that reflecting Jesus?

This is unacceptable, disgusting, and makes me sick.

But evidently, these are Christian priorities as of May 27, 2015, a time when we prioritize the well-being of people who are in sticky situations, as a result of their own actions, and defend them when there are far bigger problems in the world.

I mean, someone give me a halfway decent reason that child porn is any different than sex trafficking, seeing as most of those girls are only children.

This is part of the reason that young people (myself included) are growing increasingly skeptical of the formal church. Because it seems to be more interested in outward appearances and damage control than actual people.

After all, it hurts when child porn users are granted asylum in the church while people like us are given an ultimatum. Because it implies that we’re beneath even that. Where’s our grace? Where’s our unconditional acceptance?

And people wonder why we’re on our way out.

sometimes christians surprise me…and i’m a christian too

So I’m not even really sure how I’m supposed to categorize today’s post/reflection. It’s a weird jumble of feelings that are currently swirling around in my head, mostly related to some of the interactions that I’ve had with people the last few weeks, and those interactions have been extremely positive. So, I’m conflicted. Also minor confession: I wrote this post a few weeks ago and forgot to post it. So…I don’t know why I just told you that.

Okay, none of that probably made any sense. That’s just sort of how my brain works, so apologies in advance (…retrospect?). These are some of the things that have been churning around in my head the past few days: since coming out, I’ve gotten basically only positive responses from the people in my life. People have been so supportive, and I’m so thankful for that. Even with the things that I’ve written on here and in the real talk conversations I’ve had with people the responses have been so encouraging. And the weird thing is that I’ve been surprised by all of it. Continue reading “sometimes christians surprise me…and i’m a christian too”

when the church talks about celibacy

I’m going to be really honest. It’s gotten increasingly difficult for me to listen to almost any pastor on the issue of homosexuality in regards to faith, which is just another reason that I’m so thankful for people like John Pavlovitz who are willing to go out on a limb on things like this and say things that are encouraging for people like us (see previous post). That’s just my shameless plug for this post. But anyway, I say all of that, because I was at church just this past weekend and at the end of a sermon that seemed to have absolutely nothing to do with homosexuality or gay issues at all (it was focused on the interaction between Paul and one of the churches he planted), the pastor decided to start talking about it. Continue reading “when the church talks about celibacy”