Friday, April 29, 2011

Escape and Connection through Music

One of my Pandora stations is Journey. Yes I'm old -  27 years old - AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! =O I'm getting old!!!!!!!!!!! Anyway... listening to these really back-in-the-day (Ok, 80's and 90's) songs reminds me of listening to the radio as a kid when Mom and I were in the car or when I got my radio in 6th grade and I would spend hours in my room listening to music. 

Music was my escape from life. Life as a visually-impaired kid who was also on the autism spectrum and not diagnosed was difficult. Not impossibly traumatic, but not easy either. I could get lost in the music pretty easily, zone out, and be in my own world. When my favorite songs came on the radio, I would try and memorize the words. Often times, I would day-dream as I listened to the music. Sometimes my day-dreams would reflect the content of the lyrics, other times the music would be a nice back-ground soundtrack to whatever I was thinking about. 

I'd say later I would use music to connect with my own feelings and to help myself shape a notion of God at around 8th grade. This is normal as teens get more into abstract thinking and meta-cognition, meaning thinking about how they think/feel. This is why some songs are clearly 'teenage-angst' songs :D Songs that would put into words what I felt helped me in 'structuring' my metacognition and processing about life. This processing was something that I had to do a lot of times on my own just because not many people understood the way I thought. 

Music became really therapeutic during the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School and later the terrorist attacks in 2001 on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. During these incidents, I was often left to process my emotions by myself, or I would process them in the process of helping another person process her emotions. I also watched the news with Mom as her source of emotional support. Unfortunately, the images from both events ended up getting cemented in my head. According to Animals in Translation by Dr. Grandin images stick more strongly with people on the autism spectrum because some of us can't verbally repress and work through the images as quickly as others.  She mentions she can't watch violent stuff or else it stays in
her brain & she can't shut it off. That was me exactly. Since I didn't have the words, I depended on the music I listened to for the words. Even now, there are some songs I associate with those events. After the September 11 attacks, the song Shimmer by Shawn Mullins and Overcome by Live really helped me put into words how I felt. I would listen to Shawn Mullin's Soul's Core on repeat, sometimes some of the same songs over and over again as I rode the bus to school. I also listened to Lifehouse's Everything and Breathing on repeat in my discman. Before the other kids boarded the bus, I had that time to cry. 

During Shimmer, Everything, and Breathing I began praying, or listening to those songs as a prayer to God to tell Him how I was feeling and that I wanted the world to be right again. Music was my escape and my way of processing, but it was beginning to be my way of connecting to God. I had a basic understanding that God was somehow in control (didn't realize He was Creator... yet), that He sent His Son Jesus to the earth, and that He had set out standards of right and wrong for us to follow. 

God knew that music was how I escaped my world when it got too hard and how I processed things when I had no one else to turn to. This is why I was able to connect to Him even in the "loud blasted-out" environment of Summitview's college group The Rock my second week at CSU. I could sense somehow that these students were singing to Someone real, and the words were really powerful. The band did a cover of the song Flood by Jars of Clay. During that song, I acknowledged that the secondary PTSD from the September 11 attacks and my feelings around my transition to college were overwhelming me. I began crying. Connecting to God would save me from the flood of my emotions. I prayed for Him to become real to me to help me. 

Instead of it being a numbing agent, I use music to connect to God. It's not my only means of connection, but it's a large part.  When I realize that a song embodies a theological concept that was trying to grasp, and I have that 'aha' moment, I get really excited! For example, I really like the song Our God because it embodies the concept of a sovereign Creator who is involved in His creation and will be victorious over all the pain and sorrow. When I connect to God through music, I am not just singing to the air, I'm singing to a real person, and I'm not listening to wishful thinking. I'm listening to Truth. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I Sort of Feel like Super-Nerd...sort of!

This seems like an odd title for a post about a career fair,  but it's true. I felt like Super-Nerd...aka Dr. Grandin.  Here's why: I shared my experiences (so far) about my career and what I did and wished I did so that these graduating seniors would be able to do what they wanted in the helping professions. Just telling them to go for it made me smile because that's more encouragement for them. There was a guy who wanted to be a gym teacher and was sort of unsure.  But when he heard that UNC had a program and he could get experience at sports camps and that kind of thing,  he got a bit more perked up.
Just being able to use my experience to encourage others makes it worth it. Even though I am not at a master's level of employment yet,  I shouldn't take what I have for granted. 
Talking about the easy typical stuff will make it easier to talk about the difficult stuff for others' benefit if that's what God wants me to do.
I also realized that I don't have to wait to be at Super-Nerd's level of fame to make a difference.  God wants all of little me and what I'm doing now.

Friday, April 22, 2011

God is Greater than what He went through

Recently due to some instances at work, I have felt a bit blamed and stepped-on for things. I can take it unfairly or I can say, "God is sovereign and I should forgive my people and obviously be upfront and honest when need be." Additionally, I've told God that I really really don't want to do what He seems to be calling me to do and just settle for something less to please people in the here and now.

Today is Good Friday, and like many of my Christian friends, I've read passages dealing with the crucifixion. Jesus was stepped on (probably literally) and the high officials - both priests & those in the Roman government used His case to appease the people and to maintain or gain political popularity. "If we let this guy go, our popularity ratings will be shot in the polls next week." would be what they would say if they were politicians today. So, He's been there as the guy-powerful-people-push-under-the-bus very very unfairly.

He also had a moment where He could've walked away. He could've chosen something different. He even said to His Father, "Lord, take this cup if You are willing, but not my will but Yours be done." He's been there when He had to do something painful but eternally worth it. He had to let his disciples down - for a little bit because they were all thinking, "What the -!!?!? Oh, this isn't good - aw, man, now what!?!"  for the rest of that day and that Saturday.

It's nice to have a God who sympathizes with us in those moments of being walked on and in doing what the Father wants even when we really really don't want to. It's nice to have a God who has felt extreme pain, defeat, loneliness, shame, etc. that was felt on the Cross.

Yet Our God is greater!!!!! I imagine He rose and looked around at the suffering / death / evil, and was like, "What up NOW!?! You want a piece of Me!?!" Ok, maybe not like that, but He is greater than all the pain and sufferering He took on which was all the pain and suffering of this world.

This is why Good Friday is sobering but is still good. Sobering because we remember what Christ went through, and good because we know He sympathizes and He has and will ultimately overcome it all!!!

Our God is greater
Our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is healer
Awesome in power
Our God
Our God


Monday, April 18, 2011

Nerdy Geeky Brains!!!!

So both my grad school friend,  former advisor,  and I have no idea what's going on for our meeting in an hour!!!  I blame our specialized and under-connected nerdy geeky brains!!! According to different studies and images of Temple Grandin's brain,  there are less connections between parts of the brain in autism and some specialty areas get very developed. 

My former advisor and my friend are definitely NOT on the autism spectrum, but if nerdy / geeky normal people have some traits that are still within normal limits,  that means their brains might have some mix of over and under connectivity that allows the geeky nerdy traits to happen. This includes being able to code interactions, but forgetting about meetings and such ;)  There's a reason for the "absent-minded professor" jokes :) 

Dr. Grandin and I have more extreme versions and variations of that. This is why we're on the autism spectrum.  But it's nice to know even certain normal brains resemble ours!!!!  Maybe that's why nerdy geeky people keep coming back to or staying in academia!!  Similar brains think alike!!!!! :D

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Motivation in 1 Peter 1

As a disciple, Peter had a mix of motives.  He did stuff truly to please Jesus,  but he found his faith and motives wavering.  He walked on water toward Christ,  but the fear of the waves overtook his faith.  He proclaimed Christ was the Messiah but disowned him later.  He also cut off a soldier's ear.
Yet after the ressurection, he knew beyond a doubt that Christ was Lord, Saviour,  and Victor.  So his motives for enduring trials and being holy were Christ. He encourages his people to have Christ as their motives as well. 
That's how I am also.  As I learn more and more of who Christ is, my motives become more Christ centered.  Are they perfect?  No. But the pattern is there and that is a sign of growth and a growing relationship with my Creator and Savior. May He always remind me more of who He is! Amen :)