Sunday, September 28, 2014

Find a Way


My temptation is the temptation of Moses, who, when God called him to speak and gave him words to speak, claimed that speech was too difficult for him.  He asked, begged, God to use someone else.

Sometimes it seems that there's no place in this loud world for quiet people.

It seems the only choices for quiet people are to remain quiet and unheard, or to become as loud as everyone else.  Some are able to do this, but not me.  Not me.  So I ask for an "Aaron," one who can speak on my behalf.

Except I've learned that it doesn't work.  People who want to speak for me are not people who listen well.  The loud, too often, misrepresent the quiet.  They assume instead of questioning, or when they do question, they question without listening.  It's not their fault so much as it's just my ever-present struggle--I'm misunderstood.

The quiet are often misunderstood.

So I'm tempted to fade into the background, to let someone else go in my place.  I'm not strong enough.  I'm not talented enough.  I'm not brave enough.  I'm not capable enough.  I'm not LOUD enough.  And no one would listen to a quiet person like me anyway.

And since I'm often misunderstood, some might see me naming my flaws and think that I'm just being humble.  But the truth is that the line between humility and pride is so thin that it's hard to tell the difference between them.  Sometimes, I don't even know if I'm being humble or proud.  But when I focus more on what I CAN'T do than on what God CAN do, I really don't think I'm being humble.  Not at all.

So my temptation is the temptation of Moses, the pride to remain silent when God has given me something to say, to ask for Him to use someone else.   I'm not worthy or capable of speaking His words.  And who would listen to me anyway?


The world is loud, and I am quiet.  That's a fact.  But that fact does not excuse me.

A prophet doesn't get to choose to be a prophet.  And why would anyone choose such a task?  To speak truth to a world that doesn't want to hear it?  That's asking for a heap of trouble, and more importantly, that's asking for incredible pain.  Because a prophet doesn't weep because people hate him or her.  A prophet weeps because people would rather believe lies than truth.

And lies are extremely, extremely loud.

And I am quiet.

But I have something to say.

And so the conviction is very simple.  The conviction is very complex.

Find a way.

Find a way to speak.

The prophet's job is to speak the truth, both in love and power.

The prophet's job is not to make people listen.

In a loud world where so few have ears to hear, a prophet must find a way to speak.

Even the quiet ones.

Because Love demands action, and faith demands obedience.

And He commands me to be strong and courageous, to not be afraid.

All my insecurities must fade in the light of who He is.

It's not easy, and no one ever said it would be.  And my path isn't the same as other's paths.  I can't speak for anyone besides myself.

But as for me, it's time I found a way.

I am quiet.  I will always be quiet.

I will find a way to speak.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

On Not Being Afraid

It occurred to me just this morning that it's over halfway through September.  The year is ever so gradually coming to a close.  If you've been keeping up with my blogs for a while, you might know that I have a theme for each year that I choose from the Biblical Christmas story.  This year's theme: "Do Not Be Afraid."

And what an interesting year it has been.

I had no idea how many lessons God would teach me, nor did I have an idea of how He would teach them.  At the beginning of the year, I figured God would teach me how to be less fearful or something.  I really didn't know what to expect.  It's been a journey.

This year, I learned to let go of things I didn't know I could let go of, and I learned to embrace things I didn't know I could embrace.  I've learned to say yes, and I've learned to say no.  I've learned how to follow, and I've learned how to lead.

I've learned that sometimes you have to gather in faith.  I've learned that sometimes God calls you to scatter in faith what He once had you gather.  And it's good.

I've learned that when I am weak, He is strong.  And you'd think I'd know that one by now.  It's funny how we think we have things figured out all right, and then God shows us our pride in a completely different light.  He is so faithful to show us our need, as well as His provision, and it's good.

I could list all of the various lessons, the various trials.  I could list my victories and my failures and my insecurities.  But, honestly, it's been done.  If you've ever read my blog before, you should know I'm weak.  You should know I'm insecure.  You should know I'm fearful.

And maybe the most important thing I've learned this year, this year with the theme of "Do Not Be Afraid," is that it's okay.  It's okay to be afraid.

Because all my life people have told me that it's not okay to be afraid.  Because people say "don't be afraid," like it's something we actively have some minute amount of control over.  They say, "If you fear, then the Bible says you haven't been perfected in love."  They say, "Well, in the Bible God and His angels tell us over and over to not be afraid or He commands us to be strong and courageous, so we should never, ever be afraid."

But I have to wake up every morning and stare at the ceiling, facing the unknown.  I have to walk outside the door of my house into the world, just praying I don't get too dizzy (due to my neck pain) that I pass out in the driveway.  I have to start my car and hope that it actually starts and doesn't break down on the way to work.  I have to go to work and deal with people who ever, ever threaten my insecurities.  I have to go to social things, whatever they may be, that overstimulate me and threaten to cause anxiety attacks.  I have to go to bed at night, staring at the ceiling again, facing the unknown.

I'm freakin' terrified.

And I think that I probably should be.

And I don't think anything is to be gained by pretending I don't have any fear.

Because I figure that overcoming fear and being perfected in love isn't a matter of just praying a prayer and being cured of fear forever and always.  I figure being perfected always involves a process.  I figure that being perfected in love means you choose love over fear in the millions of little every day issues and problems that arise.  When someone hurts my feelings, instead of brooding in my insecurity, I can choose to love and forgive and remember that others have insecurities too.  When I'm afraid to talk to someone because I don't know how much commitment that friendship might take, I can choose to risk it and love anyway.

And I figure I haven't been perfected in love.  But I figure that I am currently being perfected in love.  And I figure that One Day I'll be fearless, but I'm not there yet.

And I figure that if God and His angels repeated His commands "be strong and courageous" and "don't be afraid" over and over and over again, it's probably because we need the reminders.  We need them constantly, and not because we're fearless.  It's because we're naturally fearful.  We can't just pretend that away.  If we could pray a prayer or sprinkle magic holy dust on ourselves and be fearless forever and always, we wouldn't need the numerous reminders.  God gives them to us because He knows we need them.  We're fearful.  We're ever so fearful.

And that's okay.

Because "not being afraid" isn't about willing myself to get over my hangups or willing myself to go do something that would normally scare me silly.  I'm not saying there's anything wrong with taking risks, but risks should only be taken wisely.

And I'm not exactly talking about worldly wisdom.

Because the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.  And I'm still learning how to be afraid, but I figure the best way to be afraid is to fear God above anything else.  Not in a way that we tremble before Him in constant trepidation--though we should.  We absolutely should.

Because of who God is, we should tremble on our faces in utter terror.

But because of who God is, we don't have to.

Because fear has to do with punishment, but we're being perfected in love.

But when we fear God, we're accepting all He is.  We're accepting all He's done for us.  We're accepting that He is stronger than anything else that we could possibly fear.  So what, then, is left to fear?  Nothing, really.

But our minds don't fully grasp that, and, well, how could they?

So we still fear.

But He has left us His Word, and He has left us His Spirit.  He didn't just tell us "be strong and courageous" and"do not be afraid," He tells us now.  He tells us now because He is with us now.

So when I stare up at the ceiling, facing the unknown, I'm not facing it alone.

And I figure the only way to "be strong and courageous" is if we let Him be strong and courageous through us.

In the big things, in the little things, my fear is going to be real.  My anxiety is going to be real.  And maybe I'd like it if I could be that fearless person that everyone thinks I should be, but I'm not.  I can't be.  At the end of the day, all I can be is His.  That's enough.

One of my favorite musicians, Mitch McVicker, put out a song on his last CD, Underneath, entitled "Danger."  I'm posting it below, because it's all kinds of amazing.

If you're afraid, don't kid yourself.  Nothing is really gained by that.  But in your fear, don't forget that He's here, and He's patiently reminding you not to be afraid.

"Show me Your Love is more than what's dangerous.
Just let me know You're here,
And I'll be brave.
I swear."

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Theories on "Listen" (Doctor Who)

I know I've written two Doctor Who themed posts in, oh, the past two days, but this shouldn't become the norm.  I think.  It's just that last night's episode of Doctor Who, "Listen" was extraordinary.  It left the viewer with a lot of questions.  Since this is actually the first time I'm experiencing new episodes of Doctor Who with the rest of the world (and not just playing catch up on the Netflix), it's pretty exciting to get to form theories and such.  This shouldn't become the norm, and if it does, I'll create a separate blog for my nerd posts. :-D  But for now, here it is.

The following absolutely contains spoilers, so don't read this unless you have seen the episode.

There are a couple of really obvious questions from last night's episode.

Question 1:

 What in the name of Tom Baker's scarf was under that blanket?

As the Doctor pointed out, there were two possibilities for what was under the blanket.  It was either just a kid playing a prank, was something else.

Let me go ahead and say that it was not a child under that blanket, at least not a human child.  I work with kids and know that even a really weird kid would probably not carry the prank out that far.  After he/she had scared the others pretty well, he/she would have probably just thrown off the blanket and shouted "BOO!"  A child, even a weird one, would probably NOT sit/stand there under the blanket acting all creepy for as long as that thing did.

Plus, we got a very fuzzy, distorted image of whatever was under the blanket, and it wasn't human--unless it was a human wearing a mask of some sort.  If it was a kid wearing a mask, then running away kind of defeated the purpose.  If it were a kid wearing a mask, then the kid would be wearing it to play a prank and scare people.  Running away and slamming the door was a bit pointless.

So it wasn't a kid.

I have a couple of theories of what it might have been.

A Different Alien Theory:

First, I don't think it was the same creature the Doctor was looking for.  The Doctor was looking for a creature that was a perfect hider, a creature that wanted, more than anything, to remain hidden.  Now, he conjectured that these creatures might come out of hiding for children, the elderly, the mad, people whom no one would believe.  That might explain why the creature was so bad at hiding if just Rupert were in the room, but that doesn't explain the creature's odd behavior if Clara and the Doctor were also present with Rupert.

Because if a creature were trying to remain hidden, why in the world would it noisily climb onto a bed and under the covers?  It was unnecessarily revealing its presence, if not its appearance, and in a very obvious way.  Why would the creature do that if it was a perfect hider?  That doesn't make sense.

Now, it could be that this creature got overly curious--perhaps it was a child (just not a human one).  It could be that this creature realized it had been discovered, and it got momentarily curious.  Then it shied away at the last second and fled the room. That's entirely possible.

But I think it more possible that it was a different alien, one that was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Stranger things have happened on Doctor Who.  This alien had been what originally scared young Rupert, whether intentionally or unintentionally.  When Rupert got up, however, it scurried off to a corner or closet or something to hide.  When Clara came in and climbed under the bed with Rupert (a little sketch, you think?), the alien tried to make a run for it.  But if you remember, the Doctor also came into the room.  The alien must have seen him coming (possibly already knowing the Doctor's reputation for being dangerous to unwelcome aliens on earth), and so it hid in the closest place he could find--under the covers.  When it thought it safe to flee, it did.

It Was Clara:  It was Clara.  It was Clara the whole time.  Isn't that what we learned?  Perhaps Clara realized she had been the one scaring everyone all along.  So she used the Tardis to go back to the children's home a few moments before she had originally arrived.  She put on a mask, just in case she actually was seen.  Then she sneaked into Rupert's room.  She hid under his bed and made creepy noises.  When Rupert stood up, she grabbed his ankle.  While he was freaking out, she rushed off into hiding and waited until her former self came into the room and got under the bed.  Then she climbed on the bed and under the covers.

So, Clara is the creature under your bed everyone.  No need to fear anymore.  She's like 5'2 and skinny.  I think we could all manage to take her down.

All I know is, I'm going to be searching her apartment every time they show it from now on.  I want to see if she's stashed Rupert's blanket somewhere.

Find the blanket, find the alien.

Question 2:

"What was knocking on the spaceship door?"

Sorry, everyone, but I don't buy the whole "the ship is just settling" or "the atmosphere around the ship is disturbed" or whatever nonsense the Doctor, Clara, and Orson were making up to make themselves feel better.  There was something out there.

Well, the knocking on the spaceship door really reminded me of the Midnight episode.  This was the seriously creepy episode where the 10th Doctor was riding on a bus with a bunch of strangers (and Merlin...?) to see the Sapphire Waterfalls.  They were on the planet Midnight, which had a sun that emitted Xtonic radiation that would almost immediately kill every living thing.  So they were apparently alone out in the middle of nowhere, since nothing could survive outside the bus.  Well, the bus broke down, and something started knocking on the bus door.  Then there was an explosion that killed the drivers, one of the passengers got possessed by an UNSEEN alien presence that mimicked voices. almost stole the 10th Doctor's voice.

"Listen!  It's me!"

All turned out well, obviously, but the creature was never seen.  There was never a good explanation for what that creature was, or of what it wanted.

Theory: The creature from "Midnight" was the same sort of creature the 12th Doctor was looking for in "Listen."

Imagine a race of creatures, I'll call them the Listeners.  These creatures feed off the voices of others; they get their nourishment merely from listening to the words of other creatures. They aren't malevolent.  They just want to survive and coexist with us.  They are perfect hiders, and NOT the same creatures that grab ankles from under beds--those really are just nightmares/primal fears/Clara Oswalds.  They're just Listeners.

I think it was a Listener who took the Doctor's chalk and wrote "Listen" on the chalkboard.  It realized the Doctor was onto it, and decided to have a little bit of fun.  Maybe Listening to the Doctor for so long had made it a bit quirky.  I wonder if a Listener can get indigestion if it listens to the wrong kind of voice for too long...hmm.  I digress.

Now, the creature the 10th Doctor encountered in Midnight was a little different.  I think this creature was a criminal, by the standards of its own people.  Perhaps it had gone insane.  Instead of merely listening, this creature decided it wanted a voice of its own.  It decided it wanted to master the voices of other beings instead of just passively listening and existing.  It had probably tried to steal the voices of other beings before its kind stepped in and banished it into the wilderness of a planet where there was no possibility of life--where there were no voices for it to listen to.  I think they left it there to die.

And I think these creatures take a very, very long time to starve to death.

Well, when the 12th Doctor was on that space ship, it was the end of time.  There were supposedly no creatures left alive in the whole universe.  The Listeners are obviously not typical life forms, however.  They were still alive.  And since there were no other beings in the entire universe for them to listen to, they were starving.

These creatures were not malevolent.  They didn't mean any harm.  But they were desperate for voices to listen to.  That's why they knocked on the door.  That's why they made themselves known.  They desperately wanted inside that ship where there were voices--the last voices in the universe.

When the Doctor unlocked the door to the ship, and the creatures opened it, he didn't speak.  He was too busy trying to hang on for dear life and not get sucked outside the ship to his death.  The creatures still had nothing to listen to.  When Orson pulled him back to safety inside the Tardis, the creatures were furious!  They made all sorts of noise and tried to get inside, just starving to listen.

I'm not sure if these creatures are why we talk to ourselves or not, but I am no longer going to feel so crazy when I do talk to myself.  I'm just feeding the Listeners.  Hopefully,what I'm feeding them is something pleasant to the taste.

Meh.  Voices probably taste like chicken.

So what are your theories about the creature(s) from "Listen"?  Do you think we'll learn more about them in future episodes, or do you think Moffat will just keep us hanging?  I think it's better sometimes not to know.  Knowledge has a way of taking the fear out of something, and well, as Clara told the very young Doctor, "It's OK to be afraid.  ...Fear makes companions of us all."

Let me know what you think.  Maybe my next post will be less nerdy, but until then, Allons-y!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Unlikely Person Who Changed My Mind About Matt Smith

If you didn't already know, I'm a Doctor Who fan.

Suffice it to say, this post probably won't interest you unless you, too, are a Doctor Who fan.

Also, let it be known that if you aren't up to date with Doctor Who, there might be some slight Spoilers, Sweetie.

And since I'm already being direct, I might as well go ahead and state that David Tennant, the 10th Doctor, is, and very likely will always be, my favorite Doctor.  Perhaps that is why, when David Tennant didn't want to go and Matt Smith GERONIMO!ed his way into the TARDIS, I decided I didn't like this young guy with the angular face and derpy hair.

This was more than the usual, "You've redecorated the Doctor.  I don't like it," phase that most Whovians go through upon a new regeneration.  The more I watched the 11th Doctor, the more I felt that something vital to the Doctor had been lost.  He could be serious, even properly scary-angry at times, but I felt like he never had enough depth to be the Doctor.

In the 50th Anniversary episode, the 10th Doctor was dubbed 'the man who regrets,' and the 11th Doctor was dubbed 'the man who forgets.'  And I certainly agreed with that assessment.  It seemed as though the 11th Doctor had forgotten everything that had happened before his regeneration and just awkward-giraffe-danced into this completely different and new AmyPondRiverSongCrackinWallFezEnthusiastStevenMoffatSilenceWillFall thrill ride.  He just went Wibbly-Wobbling throughout the universe, handing out paradoxes like jelly babies.  He wasn't the 10th Doctor.  He wasn't the 9th Doctor.  He wasn't any of the older Doctors that I started watching, either.   He was something different--too carefree, too flippant, too flirty, too clueless, and just, well...the wrong kind of silly.

Honestly, if it hadn't been for Rory, I would have stopped watching.  Love a Rory.  Rorys are cool.

So, when it was announced that Matt Smith was leaving the show, I was thrilled.  Just thrilled.  It didn't matter who it was who replaced him (though I prayed that Moffat would wibbly-wobbly something together and get Tennant back for good).  I just wanted him gone.

When Peter Capaldi was announced, I was pleasantly surprised that they were going for an older Doctor.  When they surprised us by revealing his famous (infamous?) eyebrows in the 50th Anniversary episode, I knew we were in for something amazing.  When the 11th Doctor regenerated into the 12, and he started disliking the colour of his kidneys in a rich Scottish brogue, I felt like all was right in the universe.  Ding dong, the Smith was dead.  Which-a-Smith?  The Silly Smith!  Ding dong, the Silly Smith was dead!

...Speaking of the wrong kind of silly.  Sorry.  Sorry everyone.  So, so sorry.

Well, I waited for months, like the rest of the world, for the first full Capaldi/12th Doctor episode.  And it. was. brilliant.  HE was brilliant.  All Scottish and angry eyebrows and mysterious.  I felt like the Silly Smith was gone, and this Doctor, this older Scottish Doctor was going to get back to the Doctor's roots.  He was going to be something new, but something old at the same time.

But, as I watched, I noticed something I wasn't expecting with the 12th Doctor.


Behind those ferocious eyebrows and wizened face was a man who was frightened, just terrified.  What frightened him so?


Maybe it's because he's Scottish, or maybe it's because he's more mature, or maybe, just maybe, it's because he's more childlike--but the 12th Doctor is honest, blatantly honest.  It's not that he doesn't have the capacity to lie.  The Doctor lies, of course.  But he knows that "people don't need to be lied to."  He's very direct, very straightforward, sometimes obnoxiously so.  He doesn't conceal his thoughts or feelings well, nor does he really even seem to think he should.  And I think he just might turn out to be the most complex Doctor yet.

The 12th Doctor is beginning to face himself, again

I never understood Matt Smith, the 11th Doctor.  I thought he was just ridiculous most of the time.  But, like many things in the universe, I could never really learn to appreciate him until he was gone.

But I realized through the 12th Doctor, new as he is, what it was that I really didn't like about the 11th Doctor.  We were reminded many times through out the 11th Doctor's reign that "the Doctor lies."  The 11th Doctor told many lies, many of them bold-faced, and often to those he cared the most about.  But I recently learned that there was one person the 11th Doctor lied to the most.

Again, himself.

The 10th Doctor was brilliant, just brilliant, and I dearly miss David Tennant as the Doctor, but one would have to be a fool NOT to see that he got a little scary and dark near the end of his reign as the Doctor.  Along with all the other demons that the Doctor has had to carry throughout the centuries, I think 10's seriousness all just got to be too much for him.  He had lived too long, indeed.  When the 11th Doctor came along, he NEEDED to be "the man who forgets" instead of "the man who regrets."  The regret had become too much.  And so he donned a bow tie, proclaimed it cool, and went on an awkward romp through the universe.  Rules didn't matter as much.  Everything was cool.  As long as he could keep that pesky crack in the wall from destroying the universe, more than once or twice, everything was cool.  He could flirt with his future wife/best friend's daughter while said best friend was still pregnant with her.  Everything was cool.  He could quickly forget his wife and start wildly flirting with an Impossible Girl who was, in another time and place, a Dalek.  Everything was cool.

But the 11th Doctor wasn't silly for silliness' sake, as I long believed.  He was silly because he couldn't fully face all the darkness that was within him.  He couldn't bear to think of all that he had lost.  He couldn't bear to think of why or how he had lost it.  He needed to forget.  He needed to lie.  So he put on a young face, a bow tie, occasionally a fez, and just pretended he was far more carefree than he actually was.

But age caught up to him.  Time caught up to him.  He expected to die, and I think a part of him was relieved.  He had managed to run away from himself until the end.  I think it was as a childish man in an aged 11th Doctor's body that he accepted a new regeneration cycle.  And maybe it was that gift of life that got his attention.  Maybe it was the knowledge that his fellow Time Lords really were still alive out there somewhere.  Maybe it was just that he was tired, so, so tired, of running away.

But whoever it was that "frowned him this face," I think it is clear that the 12th Doctor isn't running away anymore.  No more lies.

We're only a few episodes into his regeneration, but I'm already seeing that the 12th Doctor is afraid, but he's starting to face his fears.  He's starting to face himself.  He doesn't like what he sees.  It saddens him deeply.  It terrifies him.  But instead of running away and pretending to be strong, he's allowing himself to be vulnerable.

He doesn't mince words.  He doesn't do social graces.  He admits when he needs help.  In fact, he almost demands it, as if he can't think beyond himself--like a child.  In some ways, even in a more mature form, the 12th Doctor is more childlike than the apparently young 11th Doctor.  And it's this vulnerability, this acceptance of who he is and how things are, that make him intriguing.  I think he's going to wind up being one of my favorite Doctors.  It's too soon to tell, perhaps, but I very well may end up liking him as much as the 10th Doctor.

As for Matt Smith, the 11th Doctor, he will never be one of my favorites, but I have a much greater appreciation for him now.  I understand him.  I actually want to go back and watch all of his episodes again with my renewed perspective, so that I can give him another chance.

And it took Peter Capaldi's 12th Doctor for me to understand the 11th.  That, more than anything else, shows me how truly remarkable this new Doctor is.  I think we're in for something amazing.  I think we're going to see both more darkness and more light in the Doctor than we have seen in quite some time.  I think it is going to be fantastic.

Just fantastic.