Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Befriend Faithfulness

Today at the Bucks I'm working second bar pouring milk and prepping the usual long line of cups for my co-worker Mark. I remember him mentioning being part of a play at his church and ask if that's still going on. It is.
"Yup. I've been an actor for 10 years now." says he as he finishes off a grande nonfat, no foam, with whip, caramel macchiato. Oh the lingo that is now a daily part of my life.

 I do some math in my head not counting elementary days of locking myself in my room and singing at the top of my lungs to The Commitments or Sister Act soundtracks, not counting when I was four and my aunts or Mom would hold my nose and tell me to say "Hello Max" like Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard ( I knew to lift my chin and look down my plugged nose too sending them into peals of laughter), not counting Christmas pageants and chicken out auditions and summer theatre camps. Choosing to count from my first real production at the Old Opera House, aka my second home and local community theatre growing up, I total the math while pouring 2%.

"16 years for me." I say not a little proudly and with a happy smirk, not necessarily because I've chronologically one upped him- I am after all older than he is, but because I'm proud to say it's been that long that I've been an actor. Which makes the next part sting more.

"You're an actor?"

Oi. When I first learned Mark was an actor I didn't even throw in 'me too' because in most other settings of my life that's just been a given. It's what I did. Not so in this season of my life it seems. "You're an actor?"
It isn't the first time though that what I have considered such a substantial part of my identity hasn't even been known about me. I've waded through patronizing comments and outright laughter and confused looks while waiting tables on the boat. Sometimes I just wanted to scream out 'You don't understand! This is what I'm GOOD at!'

 But I don't understand either really. I don't understand that it is something I"m good at and yet...
yet it's really hard for me to think of it in terms of an actual career. For myself at any rate. And after being in New York for a short time I feel I've stalled out somehow. And I question myself where it fits in my life. But while the question is still there withdrawal is setting in, it always does, and I want to do what I'm good at again. And I get really kooky.

And so while I take over for Mark whose shift is over I daydream about running away to LA. Watching clips of the Golden Globes and going to the movies with my roommate I crave to be in films. I am a goof and I love watching things like the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. Seriously, it's like my Super bowl. And I do get excitedly involved as if touchdowns are happening for my home team. I like seeing all these actors familiar from the screen together in one room. It's just exciting.
So I daydream about LA. And I wonder what I'm doing with my life and what I'm supposed to be doing with my life and what God wants me to do with my life. And while making espresso drinks in Cleveland Clinic I remember this verse I stumbled on when I first moved here. It's in the Psalms and the part that comes to my mind is 'dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.'
Befriend faithfulness.
Earlier in this Psalm it also talks about delighting yourself in the Lord and Him giving you the desires of your heart. The desires of our heart are refined too and even changed sometimes as we do learn to delight ourselves in Him.
In these things I am encouraged even in the midst of work, in the midst of being really unsure. And when I get anxious and restless during the afternoon of coffee and customers and 'you're an actor?', wondering where I can best pursue what I'm good at, this answer comes back.
Befriend faithfulness.
 Be faithful.
Right now, in this season, be faithful to what is before you.
And I'm not always. Actually, I'm not often.
Be faithful in the small things first.

This helps. A lot. And the other things I've been reading and learning support this. That He works all things together for the good of those who love Him. That He works in us to will and to act according to His good purpose. That what seems like random threads He has purpose for & in. That these desires of my heart He has set there for a reason and that I need to trust and follow Him.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


December 24th~2012

"Any special requests for Christmas? I'm guessing travelable?" read a text from my Mom a couple of weeks ago. In truth my answer was that all I wanted for Christmas was my a-fixed-up-tooth but I decided not to send a worrying response.
During an already emotionally down week I'd bit down wrong & felt a tooth give way and crack. The insurance I'm so happy to be getting soon would kick in in a month, but not sooner. So a cracked tooth was scary and not something I particularly wanted to deal with,  but there it was.

 This particular problem tooth had been giving me troubles since the year before. As an uninsured, acting student with a barely part time job in NYC, I went to a school of dentistry hoping for a quickish fix. Instead, after a long time and painful xrays that I needed much more work than I wanted or could afford or had to do with the immediate problem. I'd dealt with it since that time looking forward to when I could actually get the problem solved well.

 And now this. Being so close to insurance and having the break was frustrating. The thought of dealing with a break uninsured was emotionally obnoxious and scary. Yet there was a feeling of resignation too. That this or worse hadn't already happened was a remarkable provision and so was the fact that there was no real pain in loosing half a tooth.

 An email to my church community group leaders, David and Mary Bright, resulted in lots of prayers and a referral to their family dentist. Quick texts to co-workers meant a last minute shift switch that I was most grateful for and enabled me to make an appointment. The lack of pain was encouraging and I hoped and prayed that the dentist would be gracious and just do the bare minimum to keep that tooth healthy until it could be properly taken care of.

 My friend Chiara gave me a ride two days later and conversation with her encouraged me. A break of another kind had made the week before the cracked tooth an emotionally difficult one. Her words and the time with her were encouraging and helpful and I felt calmer when we arrived at the dentist. Prayers for provision and graciousness were abundantly answered and I left the dentists office beyond calm, I left joyful.
Considering this was an initial appointment I had anticipated being rescheduled for a later point to actually get down to business. Instead, to my surprise, a Novocaine shot and less than an hour later this capable dentist had my tooth entirely taken care of. Even better was learning that dentistry school had been wrong in saying a root canal and crown were necessary. And EVEN better the bill for being made all better was the same I'd paid for the consultation last year that had resulted in this apparently fictional burden. All this made my weird Novocaine smile even more lopsided as my grin grew.

 Breaks, of all kinds, suck. They're scary and no fun. But sometimes God uses them to get our attention and bring a wholeness or healing in a way we didn't expect. If my tooth hadn't cracked before I had insurance I would have chosen a dentist close by and not gone to such a helpful one further away. And would have missed the encouraging conversation with my friend.
 I would have felt in control but I'm not at all sure the provision would have been nearly like this.

 I'm not saying anything new here, I realize that, but though the principle may seem obvious, for me it's easy to forget the obvious. Sometimes the obvious thing eludes me exactly when I need it most.  So when the Lord lets me experience 'the obvious' in my own story and not just as a truth or principle, it's so good.  One of my favorite things is that while this recent provision itself was beautiful to experience it didn't stop there. God used it as a picture for an area of my life where it was more applicable, more necessary to remember, but less tangible to see.


Yesterday I found the seat saved for me by my friend Abbey in the Centrum Theatre where we go to church and happily sang with her and the rest of the congregation that hadn't yet gone away for the holidays. It occurred to me as we stood worshiping our Savior that while my initial reason for moving to Cleveland hadn't worked out that there were still beautiful things about being here for which I was grateful. And worshiping and learning and growing with the people at Gateway Heights church is high on that list. I don't plan to stay in Cleveland for very, very long and in many ways that makes my life feel very patchworky. However, God is sovereign and He uses all things to shape and place us. He uses all things to His glory and for the good of those who love Him. Lately I'm reminded of this and in this, in Him, there is peace.

' Praise the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever. '