Sunday, April 24, 2011

Broken nose, black eyes, my birthday, and the Easter bunny.

Well, I've gone and done it. Playing intramural rugby last Thursday I dove towards an opponent only to be greeted by my teammates forehead to the center of my face (he was diving towards the same opponent). The impact of his head on the bridge of my nose - right where my nose meets my head between my eyes - caused some of the worst pain I've felt in a long, long time. Convinced it was just bad bruising, I went back to my room feeling like I had a moon-sized crater in my face. The days that followed brought swelling, black eyes, and assurance by others that I had indeed broken my nose. I guess that eliminates me from being Jesus, though I'm still in the running for Rocky Balboa.

Days 1 through 4 of the broken nose saga.

If you're my friend - whether on facebook or in real life - you probably know my birthday was yesterday. Being that it's also Easter weekend, I took the opportunity to take pass away from West Point to Washington D.C. for the weekend to spend time with my Aunt Janet, Uncle Tom, and cousins Shannon and Matt. This is my first ever birthday away from home, and I'm really, really glad I was still able to be with family for it. My family has always put special emphasis on birthdays, to the point that they rival holidays as poignant moments in the year.

Spending my birthday with my extended family was a great choice. My Aunt treated me to a trip to Mt. Vernon (they live right down the road!) where we basked in American history, and in conversation with each other. I process best by talking, and this was a great opportunity for me to do some processing, and also hear about my Aunt's life. Later that night I made blondies with Shannon and Matt, then we watched some movies together.

To end a great weekend, my Aunt cooked a fantastic breakfast this morning. We celebrated Easter Sunday with laughs, conversation, and good food.

How blessed I am! I go to a great school, I have an amazing family, I have a girlfriend who loves me and who I love back, and I have so many friends who are constantly there for me. It's easy for me to get caught up in the individual moments of stress, fatigue, and personal failures. Sometimes it takes weekends like this for me to step back and take a look at everything Papa has blessed me with.

Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal. May God continue to rebirth a spirit of thanks and gratitude in you and in me. May his Love envelop you and me so completely that we are overwhelmed with thanks.

When everything is stripped away, isn't that what the Gospel, the good news, is all about? God giving us something we neither expect or deserve? I am humbled by Papa's Love. I don't know how to react to it. It paralyzes me, and in that paralysis a whisper, a single breath resonates. "I Love you, Colin." That resonance ripples throughout my body and I am overcome by a sense of gratitude that simple words cannot express. No actions can express this gratitude, this humbling sense of worth.

Will you join a 19 year old with two black eyes and swollen nose in celebrating powerful Love?


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Music, as of late

I'm always interested in what music people have been listening to lately. Here's the bands I've been listening to recently. Please comment and let me know what music has greeted your ears lately!
  • Jack Johnson
  • Coldplay
  • Mae
  • Shawn McDonald's new album "Closer"
  • Ingrid Michaelson
  • Old Switchfoot (as in, Legend of Chin and The Beautiful Letdown)

It's so awesome to me how memories get associated with music. For instance, whenever I listen to The Beautiful Letdown I think of Jr. High and...well all the crazy emotions and everything that goes with that. Mae, on the other hand, brings to mind High School and chilling with friends on summer afternoons.

What music means something to you, and why?


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Having Grace for Myself

Grace is something that's hard for me to understand.

"Reap what you sow," "you get what you pay for," "he got what he deserved," "justice was served."

Experiencing grace is always a humbling experience for me. Whether it is receiving something I DON'T deserve, or not receiving something that I DO deserve, my first reaction to grace is often a feeling of "I'm not worthy."

I love being able to show people grace, but sometimes that's incredibly hard to do. Choosing to respond in love, instead of responding in anger, is so rewarding, and worth it.

This school year, but specifically this semester, I've been placed in a position that I never experienced in high school. I've had to have grace for myself. See, I'm an extremely competitive person, and that reveals itself most when I'm around people who are bigger, faster, stronger, and smarter than me. At West Point, I'm always around people who are bigger, faster, stronger, and smarter than me. I've learned that constantly living in a state of competition doesn't work for me, and is in fact incredibly exhausting, both mentally and emotionally. How do I push myself to succeed and get better, without getting discouraged by looking around? Where's the line between healthily caring what other people think, and needing their approval?

There's a tension between my competitive side, which wants to fight to be #1 and is constantly getting frustrated with itself, and the side of me that wants to keep the status quo, equilibrium.

Having grace for myself is the only remedy to this tension, it seems. Realizing that my competitive side can push me to get better, but also realizing that it's ok if I'm not He-Man is refreshing. But it's not easy. At all.

It makes me wonder how Jesus does it. If I get frustrated with myself on a regular basis, how much more does Papa have the right to be frustrated with me? Yet He doesn't. His grace is eternal, everlasting, all-encompassing.

It's a mystery I'm not sure I'll ever understand.

Do you have an experience with grace that you'd like to share?