Stranger to This World

I used to think camp was diverse.

What a place to be, for someone like myself! All these people who believed a little differently from me. I always felt a little awkward, knowing at least one person in the room thought speaking in tongues was evil. It was kind of hard to make friends, since the only person who knew what it was like to be from a church like mine…was my cousin. From my church.

I thought that was diversity.

I thought that was generally the extent of Christian beliefs, in regards to differences of opinion.

I thought Baptists were the most traditional denomination; and that Presbyterian and Protestant were the same word; and Pentecostals didn’t wear pants because Tim Hawkins said so.

Let it be known now: I was wrong.

I came to college: a Reformed Presbyterian college.

Y’all, there are Baptists and Pentecostals and Evangelical Frees and Reformed Presbyterians and Orthodox Presbyterians and Presbyterians and Non-Denominationals and Calvinists and Catholics and the list goes on.

There are a lot of opinions out there, my friends. A lot of opinions about a lot of things.

I can hardly have a meal without free will vs. predestination, or sprinkling vs. immersion, or baptize the babies vs. don’t baptize the babies, or anything like that coming up.

We haven’t even gotten into some of the debates I could bring up.

What about speaking in tongues? The prophetic? Supernatural healing? The supernatural in general?

Heaven help us when I feel comfortable enough to breach those topics.

What’s strangest to me is that, I always felt out of place at camp. I had trouble making friends. Even now, I look at the friends I have from camp and they’re just that: friends. The most basic level of friend, because I guess…I guess I never felt worthy enough to be friends with anyone there. I didn’t think anyone would like me. So I didn’t try hard enough, and I was always a little bit of an outsider.

But now I’m here. At college. Surrounded by all the opinions that could possibly be held.

And as much as I feel out of place sometimes…especially around my Presbyterian friends…

…I still have friends.

Somehow, this nondenominational charismatic dork has managed to befriend all the denominations, from Baptist to Catholic to, yes, Presbyterian.

How can we overcome these differences?

I don’t know. But I was just able to sit with some people playing cards. Listen to another writer share their plan for a book. Chat with someone about playing music, especially the ukulele.

Am I just overlooking the differences? I don’t know. Not every moment can be a theological discussion.

I think I’m learning that I’m not the worst. I’m not unlikable. I’m not. And if I try, I can have friends.

Sure, I have to bounce back when things don’t go how I think they will. Have to resist being petty. Keep myself from jealousy and disappointment.

But I’m making friends, guys.

Real, tangible friends. Right down the hall. I could go knock on their doors, right now.

I’m not going to, because it’s late and that’s a jerk thing to do…

…but I could if I needed to.

That’s the other thing I’m loving here. We are all from different backgrounds. We don’t all believe the same things. But if anyone has any kind of problem, we can come together by the name of the same God and pray in His name.

I don’t know. That’s really cool to me. Really, really cool.

So yeah. I miss camp. I miss the closeness I developed there over five years, even though I never let myself get close.

I pray this college experience will surpass and overshadow that.

Because as much as I feel like a stranger here sometimes, I can belong.

And someday, they’re all gonna find out how crazy I actually am.

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Fictional Characters

Hi, my name is Lexi, and I care about fictional characters.

People think I’m dumb because fictional characters don’t exist. They think that when I claim to care about fictional people, that I’m saying I don’t care about real people. Or, that I care more about fictional characters than real characters.

No.

That’s not what I’m saying.

I’m saying that yes, it matters to me if Sue and Sean are going to be together by the end of this season of The Middle. It matters to me whether or not Gabby St. Claire marries Riley Thomas by the end of Squeaky Clean Mysteries. It matters to me that DiNozzo left NCIS and McGee has big shoes to fill. Mr. Darcy matters. Jo March matters. Cory Matthews matters. Samwise Gamgee matters. Becker matters.

They matter.

People keep telling me that they don’t. That they’re fictional characters. “They’re just fiction.”

How can they not understand the correlation between fictional people and real people?

I love fictional characters. I love their successes and their flaws. I love when they fall down on their faces, and when they choose to pick themselves back up again. I love their blossoming relationships and crushing defeats. I love them because they feel real to me.

Fictional characters are supposed to feel real, because if I can love something fictional, then how much more can I love you?

Yeah, you, real person. You who keep mocking me over this very issue. I love you regardless. You’re still my friend. I see you in your talents, passions, flaws, and mistakes, and I love you anyway.

You know why?

Because I didn’t give up on Mr. Darcy when he was acting like a jerk.

I didn’t lose hope when Percy lost his memory and he and Annabeth were separated.

I didn’t walk away from the March family when they grieved the loss of Beth.

Fictional people are representations of real people. That’s what they are to me.

And for me to love fictional people means I can love you better.

The Bellowing of my Soul

I want so badly to write something cohesive. But I have no cohesion to offer you, dear reader. I have only my scattered thoughts and emotions.

Perhaps we’ll talk about my writing. That’s something I haven’t had the chance to discuss in so long. But maybe it only feels long to me.

I want to write. I was struck with inspiration this morning as I recounted my next story. I could feel the impact of it. I love these characters. I love what they represent. I love their stories.

This is normally the point in the year when I would be planning my next story. NaNoWriMo will soon be upon us.

…but I am not doing NaNoWriMo this year. For the first time in six years, I won’t have a new manuscript come December. It doesn’t feel right.

But even if I were to write, what would it come to? I’m not ready for this new story I’m developing. So, would I write a charming romance? I have no romance left in me. I have been drained of my feelings.

I would likely write a cynical piece exploring political themes and social practices. Potentially the next great dystopian hit? Unlikely.

So I sit here. Not writing. Not even blogging, because I have found myself incapable of finishing the thirty drafts sitting patiently for their moment in the sun. So many ideas, simply…blocked.

Am I stuck?

No.

Am I?

I keep gathering ideas. But I can’t seem to write them.

What did I do today?

I played guitar for the first time in months. As quaint as the ukulele is, I do prefer the guitar. The robust sound permeated my room and gave me the freedom to sing, to yell, to scream.

Perhaps I scream when I play. If the music is lively enough to cover my voice, I increase my tones until every part of me has joined in the making of music, of this song. I can’t imagine what it sounds like outside of my room. But within my room, it is me in the purest form. Playing something meaningful. Singing, not to sound beautiful, but to feel. To say something. Saying something may come with a voice crack, or the scraping of my vocal range. But I don’t care. It’s me, and that’s all that matters.

I wish I could take my guitar back to school with me. There is no place to put it, and it is unprotected in its soft case. And I’m sure no one within one hundred yards would appreciate it.

But how I wish I could be myself.

I only shine through briefly through the ukulele. The light strumming you hear, the gentle tone of my voice. That is a piece of me.

But I am passionate, deep, feeling, everything reaching down within my soul. Guitar reflects that.

I miss writing. I miss pouring myself and my experiences out onto a page under the guise of fictional characters. I miss my Becker and all of his friends. I miss crafting scenes. I miss being who I was. Who I am.

And I wish for the day that I can just be me, and those who would choose to walk alongside me in life would find me that way.

I’ll be the girl bellowing in her dorm room, pouring everything she is into the song she sings.

I apologize if it sounds obnoxious.

But it is who I am.

And if it wasn’t midnight right now, I would pull out my guitar and be.