29 July 2008

God Smiled

“I can’t believe that this is only one-third the size of the real one,” I declared once again as I looked out over the railing edge and took in the view of the earth below. The wind from the oncoming storm in the distance caught my hair and gently tousled it.

Aaron nodded his agreement, but he still seemed distracted. He had taken me to King’s Island for the day and we had so much fun just being with each other. In fact, we were enjoying each other so much that we only ended up riding one ride the whole day we were there. I was so happy just being with Aaron that my anxiety that he was going to propose subsided. His presence makes me the happiest girl in the world.
Before we left, Aaron declared that there was one thing we had to do. In the center of the park sits a replica of the Eiffel Tower, and we rode the elevator up it to see the view from the top.

“Is it ok if I ask someone to take a picture of us together up here?” Aaron went to find someone. A park employee was standing by supervising the deck and Aaron approached her. I walked over and Aaron quickly directed me to stand at an open spot by the railing.
I can’t even explain the surge of emotion that overswept me as I watched Aaron give the employee instructions in a low voice and reach for his cargo pocket. My heart was beating rapidly and my insides felt like they were going to melt and fall apart. Was this it?
Funny thing was, the woman was Polish or something and had no idea what Aaron was trying to tell her. Aaron came and stood next to me she took our picture. I was expecting the whole time for something to happen, but nothing did. The Polish woman alternated camera angles, so I assumed that that was what Aaron had instructed her to do. I relaxed a bit but was filled with disappointment.

Back on ground level again, Aaron led me over to a bench in front of the tower. I was grateful to be able to sit down because my stomach was hurting really badly. I think it was from all the nerves and anxiousness that he was going to propose. After it started to feel better, Aaron took both of my hands and started telling me how much he loved me and how much I meant to him.

“I want to spend the rest of my life with you,” he said as he reached into his pocket and got down on one knee. A small box was produced out of his pocket. I wish I could have seen the look on my face as I stared into Aaron’s face, which was on the same level as mine since I was sitting. “Christina, will you marry me?”

I burst out crying and immediately wrapped my arms around his neck. As soon as I did, rain drops began to fall, as if right on cue. I was so excited and nearly bursting with emotion that I nearly forgot to give him an answer. Catching myself, I said yes over and over and over again, to the cheers of onlookers.

It started downpouring, but I didn't really mind. I'm not sure if I even noticed at first. My heart was soaring and all I could think about was how big God must have been smiling at that moment.

21 July 2008

Open Mind, Hard Heart

I realized something the other day.

I am so open-minded to the point that I am close-minded to close-minded people.

This summer I am interning as a youth director at an ultra-conservative church in Columbus. The church is the complete opposite to everything I am accustomed to. There's pews, deacon chairs, a communion table... The service is filled with formal liturgical readings and hymns accompanied by an organ. Although the style is not of my taste, the traditionalism of the church is not what bothers me. What bothers me is how conservative they are in their thinking and teaching.

This whole summer that I've been attending there the pastor has been preaching about nothing but the book of Revelation. No problem, except that he reads it as literally as possible without taking the original literary context into mind and then doesn't even draw a contemporary application from the text. Basically, the whole conclusion to each sermon is that the "Tribulation" is going be really, really terrible and that it is going to be suck to be one of the people who is "left behind." Seriously.

Now, I don't believe in reading Revelation like a crystal ball, especially since it was written to a specific group of people at a specific time in history. It drives me crazy sitting in that church and listening to this same thing every Sunday. Lately, I've been realizing that since I'm so opposed to this idea I don't bother to examine other things that the pastor may say. I quickly write them all off as wrong and don't really consider it too much. Anything that is conservative or spoken in Christian lingo is quickly disregarded.

That's when I finally started developing a deeper understanding of my generation's frame of mind. We're rebellious. We love going against the ideology of previous generations. In fact, we strive to think of new, provocative ideas in response to the old traditional way of thinking. It's almost as if we're always trying to come up with something more shocking, something more contradictory. Think about it. We try so hard to establish Christianity as a relationship instead of a religion. In fact, so many of us don't even like to call ourselves Christians. We instead assume the identity as a "follower of Christ." We place such a large emphasis on the present day and age, in opposition to the old concentration on the afterlife. Theological truths that were previously accepted are now viewed as "too close-minded." I've found myself even teaching all of these ideas to the kids I've been mentoring at the church.

One thing's for sure: Our generation is dramatically shaping Christianity.

This is such a scary thought. Christianity today looks so different from what it looked in years past. While I think that a lot of the changes we have been applying are for the best and are really shaping Christianity to look like it's supposed to, sometimes I worry about the power we possess. There is the huge danger of going way too far with our postmodern mindset.

Maybe we've already gone too far...