We’re All Broken and Screwed Up

Aren’t we?

I tend to think I’m the only one with inner battles, the only person who struggles and wages war. I’m the only one that puts up walls and façades, the only one that hides my weakness and hurts and problems. I must be the solitary screw up that looks like she has it all together, and that makes me very special. That makes my problems valid, and excusable, and exceptional. If I’m the only one with problems, one that can be clinically diagnosed at that, I can claim an angst limited to a select number of a special, troubled elite. In a sense, it’s all quite romantic, really.

Of course, that deceptive mentality isn’t constant. Most of the time I’m bemoaning the fact that I don’t have the usual problems that I perceive others having, anxious over the fact that I’m not healed, not whole, not normal with normal problems.

There’s only one wrench to throw into this mentality. What in this far, wide world constitutes a ‘normal’ problem? Would it be more normal, perhaps, if I had to worry about where I was sleeping tonight? Or if I worked my hardest in all my classes, only to have anxiety about passing? Or if no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t connect to others in a way that felt real and meaningful. Maybe it’d be better if I had a pattern of co-dependency, or felt so inadequate in my own skin I felt forced to joke about who I was. Why do I think that I am unique in floundering because I struggle with the remnants of an eating disorder? Because the problem isn’t an eating disorder. The problem isn’t eating too little, or eating too much, or feeling a lack of control, or feeling pleasure from too much control.

It all goes much deeper than that, and to think that fixing the surface problem will make me better, happy, or whole is a lie. And to think that I am unique in having problems is also a falsehood, a fabrication from a dark place. Recognizing the pain that my problems causes me should prompt me outward in compassion to others, not push me further within myself. Being involved in intentional community at the Vista House, and reading literature about growing together purposefully and deliberately has helped me realize the great similarities within our differences.

Take hope, then, that you are not alone. And give hope, because you are not alone.

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Clearing Up the Financial Jumble

Confession: I’m not good with money.

I don’t feel like I have a good grasp of money or finances, or an appropriate attitude towards them. Budgeting is a skill I’ve never learned; when I asked my parents if they budget and why it wasn’t transparent to us kids my dad told me that his “budget is to always make more than I spent.” I’ve spent several years trying to figure out what a healthy attitude towards money is, and I haven’t reached it. This is further complicated (though not badly so) from my perception that everything I have really does not belong to me, and that Jesus talks very specifically about money. Some of his teachings (or my reading of the teachings) have me undulating between seeing money as a useful tool, and wanting to simply give it all away and live meagerly.

“We do need to be born again, since Jesus said that to a guy named Nicodemus. But if you tell me I have to be born again to enter the Kingdom of God, I can tell you that you have to sell everything you have and give it to the poor, because Jesus said that to one guy, too. But I guess that’s why God invented highlighers, so we can highlight the parts we like and ignore the rest.”  Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical. 

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Luke 16:13 

I also spent time last semester reading:

The discussion group that accompanied the book was helpful, but I feel like I didn’t really change. Ultimately, the conclusion we all came to was that in intentional community, our attitudes towards money would change. If we love people and not ideas, and people are in need, we will help those people with the resources we have.

But here’s my problem: I’m not involved in community with a range of people in different socio-economic statuses. My friends are all pretty similar to myself, and spending money goes hand in hand with our social outings. Hopefully this summer working with a ministry in our downtown will help change some of this. I have a lot to learn about money, its role, and my handling of it. Because I’m in school without a job, I sometimes feel like I don’t control the money I have, but I do.

This week’s Pit Stop (which is occurring on a Tuesday) involves a re-evaluation of my finances, the creation of a budget, and decisions about what and where I will spend. I typically don’t even look at my balances in different accounts, and I opened an investment account months ago and have never used it. Now, let me know:

Do you budget? 

Do you ever struggle about the role of money in your life?