Monday, May 21, 2018

Dear College: Junior Edition

Dear College,

     Year three is finished! We have just one more to go in our relationship before we head toward bigger and better things. People always told me that the college years fly by quickly and now I understand why. The days are filled with so many new experiences and crazy hours that the time seems to pass by in a blur!

     Junior year has been full of so many wonderful experiences! It has been such a rewarding year in my theatrical and musical endeavors. I landed large roles in three productions that were all so completely different. I was stretched as an actress and a singer. I now know that I can play roles that are out of the confining type-cast that I had put myself in. I have a gift of connecting with people on stage that has been exciting to explore!

     This year has also been defined by my new role of being a Resident Assistant (RA) on campus. The job of being a policewoman, counselor, event planner, room checker, and big sister to twenty-one girls all at once was never something that I imagined myself doing, especially since I had to incorporate it into my already busy life. Yet, through the Lord's constant guidance and grace I was able to do my job well and to love the lifestyle of pouring into the girls around me. I grew so much in micromanaging, wisdom, compassion, and boldness through being an RA. That is definitely a chapter of my story that I will always be grateful for.

     However, I couldn't have grown as a person without the many trials that I faced. I grew in confidence as an RA because I grappled with the crippling fear of not being good enough. I had amazing success playing the romantic lead in the opera because I fought the depression of despising the way that I looked. I found contentment in my current singleness only after I experienced the heartbreak of when friend started dating the guy that I liked. I was able to discover new friendships once my closer friendships faded into the background. I have matured as a person because of the difficulties of junior year.

     Yet, I can by no means take credit for this increased improvement. The Lord has been with me every step of the way! My relationship with Him has deepened in love and trust. He sustained me through the fear of losing friendships, anger for the ways I was poorly treated, disgust at my appearance, grief of an impatient and broken heart, and loneliness because of faded friendships. Although I didn't always understand, I could always end my day with the prayer, "I love you and I trust you. Amen."     

Junior year has been the continued cultivation of a new creation. It has been full of lessons and yet it has revealed to me the lessons that I must continue to learn.

I am still learning how to be bold.
I am still learning when to say no to good things. 

     I eagerly await the last chapter of my college years with excited trembling. After that, who knows where my road will go next!

Love, 
        your senior, 
                          Rebekah

Friday, April 6, 2018

When God Says No

Thy will be done. 

     That is a dangerous sentence. It sounds so nice and poetic. We sing songs with it and decorate it with flowers to hang it up as a painting on the wall. We easily say it in prayers with the proud expectation that God's will and our will flow parallel.

     Sometimes, no matter how hard you close our eyes to pray, there lingers the 
doubt that God's will for the next step of your life may not be what you hope for. 
     Sometimes, no matter how much you want it, it might not happen yet or at all. 
Sometimes, no matter how much you think it is good for you, God may be 
sparing you from something harmful. 

     So far the Lord has said "no" to romantic relationships for me. Being the storytelling girl that I am, I enjoying observing people at college and imagining a life with them. I inwardly long for a romantic relationship because I have never had one before. That is not the only reason, mind you. But loving the idea of love can occasionally be more exciting than the realities of what it actually takes to be in a relationship. Unfortunately, the idea of love can result in some distracting crushes.

     The guys that I have liked over the past three years have been respectable dudes. (My girlfriends would tell you that I have good taste.) They have been kind, people-loving, followers of Christ. However, none of them were perfect and they would all be the first ones to say it. Nevertheless, the fact that you notice a cute guy who happens to be a Christian doesn't mean that it is wise to immediately start acting upon attraction. That is one life rule that I live by. They should be observed and also talked about between you and the Lord.

     So far my likes have been given "no's" from the Lord. A few times, when I have actively sought the Lord's guidance through prayer, the "no's" have been through the gradual disappearing of the feels. Those times have been full of ups and downs, like a rolling wave of emotions, and yet it was nice. A few times, when I argued with the Lord saying I knew what was best, the "no's" have been through very dramatic door slams in my face. (If you ever want the Lord to get your attention just defiantly declare that you know how your life should play out. He will show you who is in charge real fast!)

     Getting "no's" really stinks. The door slams in my face hurt tremendously and took long periods of time to work through, during which my relationship with the Lord weakened in anger then strengthened in love. Currently, I get weird looks and stinging comments from people who don't understand why I won't just act upon my feelings, why I don't know how to flirt, or why I still hold to my conservative views on dating. I admit, in today's world it is weird that a twenty-year-old woman like me hasn't ever been in a relationship and hasn't visibly tried to get in one. But that's ok.

     I have this hope. That no matter what my current lot in life is, whether it is being a "single pringle" or a "girl in love", I have the Author of my story guiding me along like a lovingly protective father escorting His daughter through the maze of life. No matter how many red lights I get or how many doors slam close, there will always be another road to walk on which will be exactly where I need to grow and mature.

"No's" and "not yet's" are just road signs to point where the "yes's" are! 

     So my dears (and my dudes), don't be discouraged if God is saying no to you right now as well. He will provide for all of your needs, perhaps in ways you never thought of! I trust Him more than I trust myself. If you consistently ask for wisdom and discernment, He will direct your paths. That is what He has done in my story and although it hasn't always been fun, it has been good. I wouldn't ever change the "no's" that I have been given. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Breaking the Type Cast

     Guys! Guess what?! I am doing something new, and a little scary. I am breaking the type cast.
     
     What is a type cast? Well, it is the association of certain kinds of characters with specific types of people. For instance, sidekicks are usually short and round, while princesses are 90 pounds and 5'5''. Our culture has developed a mentality that certain body types work with specific characteristics.
     
     In my own acting debuts, I have "found" my type cast. I play the loving mothers, crazy aunts, or hilarious sidekicks. I can play those roles really well and it is great! However, I became so focused on the roles that I play that it became a constrictive box that I placed myself in. I began to envision myself as my type cast in real life. I was just a secondary character in other people's stories. I would always play the best friend in my everyday life, and I would never be the princess because my body size and shape didn't fit. I had become stagnant in who I thought I was as an individual and I became complacent in imagining myself as anything other than the comedic matriarch.
     
     Well, I got cast in the opera as the female lead. Griletta is a character who is the opposite of my normal roles. She is flirty, very feminine, attractive, and gets the man in the end.
     
     I have personally struggled so much with this role. I have defeated myself mentally, telling myself that I was not adequate, pretty, or thin enough to play this part. There was no way that the audience was going to take this character seriously because I was playing her. Who would imagine that a curvy girl like me would get the man in the end? That is just not how storytelling is done. I convinced myself that the director had made the wrong choice in casting me in this role.
     
     Guys, I love theatre with all my heart. Yet, one of the downfalls of being an actress is that the characters that you play have the ability to mold your self-image if you allow it. I knew that danger, I think, but I definitely didn’t realize how skewed my perception of myself had become. 

     I am nervous about the opera performances this weekend. I am anxious about how I will be perceived in this role that is way out of my comfort zone. I am worried that the character I play will not be able to be received because it is I who is bringing her to life. But this fear is invalid, because it is not my job to make the audience like me. It is my job to remain true to the story and let God take care of the rest. I need to let go of my wrong perception of myself and just be on stage.
     
     I am honestly very excited to be bringing this story to life! It is full of comedy, romance, and a whole lot of impressive singing! It has been a personal journey for me, and I am glad for it to finally come to a wonderful finish on the Rudd stage! I hope all of you come if you can!

Love,
            Your humble thespian,

                                                Rebekah 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Pressure of Performing

Sometimes it's annoying having a good reputation. 

     I mean it. Although it is so admirable and praise-worthy to be known as a respectable person, it can take its toil. 
     
     My life at Bryan College has looked so different this year than it has during the last two. People know who I am. That alone is a weird fact. As a freshman and even as a sophomore, I hid in the shadows. I stuck with the extroverts, who acted like they knew what they were doing. I meshed in with the crowd of musicians and thespians, without them really knowing what I was capable of. I became friends with the cafeteria workers and the sound man. I observed the drama and only entered into it when I was needed to be a steady rock. My role in college was the sidekick, the steady best friend, and the third wheel. 

For the most part I was fine with that, because it was safe. 

     By the end of sophomore year, I had become comfortable at college. I had found my close friends, my group of peeps that I was comfortable hanging out with, the characters roles that I knew I was good at, and the steady shadow that I existed in. My box was set, sealed, and situated. 

And then God broke it. 

     Apparently, God began to point out the steadfast girl in the corner. I am now an RA this year, which is a position of leadership that I would have never picked out for myself. I even fought it for the longest time and then choose the job initially for the wrong reasons. But God is good and He works through us even when we are unwilling. I am now seen as someone who is to be looked up to. I must know all the answers. I must be vulnerable and full of wisdom. I must be inviting and exciting to be around. 

     I am now an actor and a musician who people have heard and actually like. I am easy to work with and respected at my craft. People expect me to get good roles and to get solos and to be able to write music like it is no big deal. I am an artist in so many concepts of the word whether it is theater, choir, musicals, opera, or the random songs that I write. To other people, I apparently have a talent and a gift that is exciting to see. 

     I am now a junior in college, full of wisdom and knowledge evidently. I am expected to have the answers. I am looked up to by the young freshies, who are embarking on this great adventure that I only just started two short years ago. It amazes me how many people know my name and who are excited to see me everyday. I am so blessed and grateful, but I am also terrified. 

Why me? 

     This is a question that I have been struggling to comprehend. Why me? I feel like people have put me up on such a high pedestal that I am guaranteed to fall right off. All I have ever done is wait in the dark and watched the people around me experience the spotlight. Now that I have more opportunities to step out of my box, I realize that I am more afraid of the pressure of being the best, then I am of what staying confined will prohibit to me. 

I am more afraid of the idea of failure than the idea of being stagnant.

     That's not how the Lord works, my friends. Throughout the Bible, so many of our favorite stories have seasons of doubt. Moses told the Lord multiple times how he was inadequate for the task He set in front of him. I often find myself doing the same thing. 

Our inadequacy is not the point. However, God's glory is. 

     God works through the weak so that we have no reason to boast about it. He chooses those who absolutely cannot do it by themselves because it is then when He is glorified. That is the beauty of our dependence on Him. 

     I cannot live up to all the expectations of Bryan College. There is no possible way that I can be the best RA, the best actor, musician, friend, or upperclassman, especially not all of them at once. All I can do is take one hour at a time and rely on the Lord to be glorified throughout each minuscule moment. The focus is not on me, and I am perfectly cool with that. 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Dear College: Sophomore Edition

Dear College,

     This letter should have been written a long time ago, but I think it is fitting to write this now as the time to start our third year approaches soon. We have been together for two years now! This is absolutely crazy! They say that the college years go fast and they really have. Our relationship is so fast paced that I soon forget how much time has past. However, I have loved the speed of the last two years and all of the things that I have learned in such a short amount of time.
   
     Year Two has definitely not turned out the way I imagined, but life has never went along with my imagination anyway. We almost didn't meet again because of money in the Fall, but God brought it all together in His timing. Also, we almost didn't get to come together again in the Spring, but God provided $3,000 in four days to allow me to come back! His provision keeps astonishing me over and over again! It makes me confident that we are supposed to be together. The Lord also provided for me to go to a Europe Chorale Tour, which definitely exceeded anything I could have imagined! He has been so good to me.
   
     This past year has been a year of growth for me in theatre and music. I have gotten better at singing (through my own vocal training, teaching voice to my first student, and performing in so many concerts). My voice has matured and grown. Also, the opportunities for me to explore theatre has opened greatly. I was given so many fantastic roles that helped me to explore what I could do as an actor (from playing crazy mothers to stuttering lawyers to fancy girls to caring aunts). I have thoroughly enjoyed all of my moments on stage!
   
     However, some of the best moments were when I wasn't in the spotlight because of my abilities, but when I was glorifying the Lord through song. In February, I got to play a song I wrote about the struggles of life for one of the chapel services, which was way out of my comfort zone. The Lord did such great things through that song and even now I can't believe that it actually happened! I struggled so much with feeling inadequate or that I was too small to make a difference, but the Lord lovingly decided to change my mindset and use me to influence literally hundreds of people whom I have never met! I will never forget that period in my life! It was absolutely incredible!
   
     This second year of our relationship hasn't been the easiest. There were many struggles and rough patches. I lost some close friends through unhappy circumstances. The Lord shut doors in my face quite abruptly and crushed some of my plans and hopes in ways that I did not expect. I had to deal with the depressing thoughts and situations of myself and my friends. I had to go through a few trials of learning who I was despite the always-optimistic front I put on. I grew a lot in who I am as a person.

However, growing pains are never pain-free.



      I love to choose to see trials as times to learn lessons, and I have learned a lot this year. I have learned more about what it means to trust in the Lord and that His timing is usually different from mine. I have learned to be more confident in who I am as a person and to not put myself in a little box. I have learned to let go of some of the people I love and to not hold onto them too tightly. I have learned how to worship no matter if I'm in chapel, in a church in Florida, on a tour bus, across the ocean in Europe, or in a practice room with a group of friends. 

I am still learning how to be more open with people.
I am still learning how to not compare myself to others. 

     Sophomore year has been such a blast! I have explored new territories and conquered new fears. I am so thrilled to see where Junior year will take us when the Lord provides for me to return to the exciting journey of college!  

Love,
               Rebekah

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Meaning Behind Monotony

"Life is a great adventure." 

     I hear that every so often in encouraging quotes and as catch phrases in movies. As a child, I read books that were filled with exciting and interesting stories of daring adventures and crazy happenings that seemed like everyday occurrences. I watched movies that were woven around the intriguing lives of individuals who accomplished great things, whether it was becoming a renowned scientist against the ideas of the time or delivering an evil ring to the heart of Mordor. Culture had instilled the idea in me that life was guaranteed to be filled to the brim with adventures that I could never imagine!

      As a woman in her twenties, I have come to realize more and more that most adventures occur in stories. Perhaps that is why I enjoy acting so much; it gives me a chance to experience adventures in a seemingly monotonous world. My mother often used the phrase, "We're on an adventure!", but that mostly meant that we were lost in the car.

     Even college seemed more adventurous than the "real world". In college I was always working on something new: a new project for my classes, a new song to learn, a new show to memorize, or a new conflict in my relationships with friends. I loved the pace at college because it was always pushing forward at a rapid speed. There was also the thrill of being on your own and experiencing new things in what scientists say is the prime of your life, whether it was learning a new instrument, cliff-jumping, or traveling in Europe. College is an adventure that I have thoroughly enjoyed.

      To be quite honest, I have struggled at being home this summer. Life at home can seem dull and boring when it is compared to dazzling lifestyle of college and the unrealistic fantasies of stories. The daily task of going to work and coming home from work just to sleep and be ready again for work the next day can be very monotonous. It is slow compared to college and uneventful compared to the movies I watch and the novels I read.

If this is all that life will be like after college than I am not too excited about it.  

     Maybe you are thinking these same thoughts. I don't know if you are on summer break from school like myself, just graduated college and your now in the "real world", or if you have been an adult for a while and you feel like you are living the same routine on a never-ending loop. 

Do you ever just wonder if there is anything more to the life you living or is this just it? 

     Don't worry. I'm not about to try and sell you something or tell you the one secret to the meaning of life! I'm not that wise. However, the Lord has been convicting me and showing me some things recently. First of all, it is all about the comparing. While I was staying in a hotel in South Dakota last week, I saw a quote on the wall from Theodore Roosevelt. He said, "Comparison is the thief of joy." That hit me hard! My current life situation for the summer is not the same as college or the stories that I'm exposed to. It is different and has its own problems and pleasures. 

The moment you start comparing your life to someone 
else's you lose a bit of the wonder in your own story.

 I've also realized this from reading the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that "He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time." There is a time for everything. Right now it may be slow and uneventful but there is something special about this time that one day you will wish that you appreciated more. Secondly, life is never empty if you are being used by God to influence other people's lives for the better. Your mission in life should not be about entertaining yourself or striving to make yourself happy because that is incredible selfish and it won't happen. There is absolutely nothing in this world that can totally satisfy you except God. That's how you were created. The meaning behind the monotony is to take joy in wherever you are and to inspire others to do the same in the Lord! So my encouragement for both us today is to find joy in the little things and to pursue the meaning through the everyday repetitiveness. Relish where you are at right now. Life is never a mistake no matter how you feel about it. Enjoy the monotony!  

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Cycle of Singleness

     My fellow singles, this post is for you and me. Today I felt led to write about something that we all struggle with in one fashion or another. It is the Cycle of Singleness. What is it? It is a revolving thought-process that we have in our heads in order to cope with the fact that we do not currently have a significant other. This might sounds silly or nonsensical, but I believe that most of us have gone through or are still going through this seemingly endless cycle.

     You have probably started off in the "I am Content" phase of this circle. You firmly trust what the Bible says about God having a plan for everything, including a soulmate. You have read and reread Paul's encouragement for believers to stay single in order to impact people in ways that married couples would have a hard time in. You can breathe freely, control your thoughts, and smile at the couples around you. This is the best time in the cycle because contentment is where we should be. It is trusting in the Lord, and it is filled with joy and peace.

But let's be honest. We have a hard time staying there.

     After watching your coupled friends love on each other and watching entertainment that glorifies relationships to such an extreme (try naming fifteen movies that don't have a romantic interest), you rapidly and without realizing slip into the the pit of the "Woe is Me" stage. This stage is where a lot of us linger and sadly it is long lasting. We all have that inherent desire to be chosen because of our uniqueness and to be loved by an individual for it.

The desire to be loved is one of the strongest desires in human nature.   

     Soon all you can think of is why you don't have a significant other. Maybe something is wrong with you. Are you too weird or awkward? Are you not attractive enough? Maybe everyone out there is trying to keep you from being in a romantic relationship. Maybe God doesn't care enough about you to fulfill your needs. Maybe you will never find "the one" and you will be alone forever.  

     This is a very dark time in the Cycle of Singleness and it is filled with darkness and lies, which if you don't try to fight will turn into the next phase; "I Despise Love". This is the extreme stage of bitterness against all relationships and any outward display of affection. Since you are apparently not good enough to have a boyfriend/girlfriend, nobody else should be. You are so tangled up in your own pity-party that you cannot see the beauty of others relationships. This is a dangerous zone to be in as it could easily manifest itself in not only your thoughts but your actions. If you find yourself slipping into this stage, pray that the Lord will reveal His love to you!

     Thankfully, many times we climb out of this dark stage into one of stubborn independence called the "I'm Fine" phase. You are not bitter about being without a partner. Instead you look down on those pathetic pairs in a conceited arrogance because you don't need another person to complete your life. You are perfectly fine just how you are. In fact, a lover would just slow you down and make your life filled with unnecessary complications. Although this may seem like a healthy alternative to being bitter, it is really just disguised longing. But from here there is the hope of returning to the "I am Content" phase and to begin the process all over again.

     This may seem like a hopeless loop but it is actually the ideal training ground for two important virtues: patience and trust. God uses every season of life to constantly teach us and bring us closer to Him. Singleness is an ideal time to learn more about yourself as an individual without having to worry about another person. It is a time for Him to educate us in patience because we don't know how long we will remain on our own and everyday we must give up our desires for His. It is a time for Him to instruct us in trust because we always must come to the conclusion that He knows best and we must rest in Him alone. God's plan always trumps our own. If it is His desire for you to be married one day than He will make it happen! Also, if it is His plan for you to remain single than He will give you the strength and joy to be able to live life to the fullest!

     I am praying for you, my fellow singles! I pray that you are able to see how God is working in you during this precious time!



P.S. I've never done this before, but I love hearing God stories! If you have seen God working through your singleness or just have stories of His love for you, I would love to hear them! My email is rrrmoviegirl@gmail.com and I would love to converse with you and swap stories of how He is working in all of us!