A best-of compilation of Laura McCarty Happy Friday Email. Those who wish to subscribe may send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org, but be patient because she’s off at camp with no computer.
HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY FRIDAY!!! (December 4, 2008)
PRELUDIO: OK, even though today is Sunday, the Heart for this email has been a long time coming and might be (for me) one of the more important things out there about life, and especially about faith. After that cryptic-ness…welcome to the end of another week, kids!! I hope yall slept in a whole bunch over break, and ate a minimum of 4,000 calories per day, and spent time with the people you loved. And this past week, I hope wasn’t too brutal…I know some people out there have more work than is permissible by the laws of nature, but STAY STRONG!!! Kids who are in Orgo, thou art nearly free…;)
But movin along (after hearing this version of this song, I’m never listening to the old version again ;) ):
I was going to hold off using this song for an HFE but…what with finals and all, there’s a NEED for it ;)
Welcome to another Friday, yall ;)
OK, so for a lot of us, the final crunch-time approacheth…and sometimes Toploader and “Dancing in the Moonlight” can’t make it better (only in extreme cases). In that case, where between doing the work and being in a pool with a gator, you’d choose the gator (or ask how big of a gator I was talking about) then there’s a problem. Think of it this way: you just had like, 3 days off last weekend. In three more weeks, you earn…3 more weeks, to be in your hometown, to read good books (and some really dumb ones), to have NO classwork (b/c if you do, you aren’t in college. Not unless your school offers year-long classes. Guys, sometimes I wonder how we made it through high school, where we had 35 hours of school a week that started at 8 am every day. School itself is all fine and dandy, but STILL…it’s because we didn’t know any better. ), and to do stuff you haven’t done in awhile, just to be wild and crazy, like sleep.
The break is THERE, guys, in the near future: we just have to pay the academic pied piper first. Unless you plan on dying before then, we’ll be totally work-free in a few weeks…STAY STRONG,
COMRADES!!! And be sure to do some fun stuff in there, too, like chill with friends, watch a dumb movie, sleep…etc. And do me a favor: don’t die, please. Thank you.
Since, as seen above, I have absolutely nothing interesting to say (and I’m surprised I said that much, about nothing) I’m going to move on to the Heart that has been nagging me for days but has really been on my heart for a much longer time.
THE HEART OF THE EMAIL: Or, The Turning Point
The reason that this Heart is so important is that every person will (hopefully) experience it in a lifetime. In any true friendship, or any romance, there will come a day when you realize that you’re in it ‘for the long haul’. In a romance, six months after the marriage both spouses wake up one morning to realize that the rosy exhilaration of first love is gone. And that is when the decision comes; to look for that ‘first love’ somewhere else, or to stick with each other despite faults and misunderstandings and imperfections (and thus let temporary romantic ‘love’ give way to the stronger, truer love where each spouse builds up the other, and is the other’s best friend). And in friendship, when two friends run out of things to talk about, or see the full gamut of the other’s imperfections, there comes the choice again: to say, “Well, I guess it didn’t work out,” or to pull through it together, into the deeper, more solid friendship that is more like true family than anything else. In both of these situations, people make choices every day: to stick with what they have and create the kind of friendships and romances that shape a life, or to forever chase that first exhilaration of a new friend or a new love.
But faith is like this, too. The real and mightiest turning point is the day where we wake up and really REALIZE that every single day when we really TRY to be virtuous will be a struggle. The first glow of happiness with conversion disappears, and we are left with the understanding that faith will never be purely easy. We will be fighting, every day, through days or months or years of dryness and dullness of spirit. Just because a journey’s first step is always the hardest doesn’t mean that the steps that come after will be easy. One of the hardest things I ever heard was that there is no neutral setting in faith: we are either struggling upward or slipping backward. Staying ‘where you are’ is not an option. We HAVE to put up a fight. We HAVE to be able to wake up every day and, when we ask ourselves, “So, do we try again today?” respond with a lionlike, “YES.”
So where’s the comfort in this whole idea? Well, first off, you aren’t alone. Every person who has ever tried in the least sense to follow Christianity has run into this sooner or later. The path of faith isn’t easy on the feet. And most of the time, when we are in dryness, we don’t know when our faith will feel strong again, or even if it will. But we are never closer to the goal than when we fall down in despair and see that we cannot rely on ourselves. We can’t sit there and try to ‘create’ a feeling of closeness to God in our faith. There will be long periods where we will only be able to walk by faith, into the darkness where we only see one step at a time. And many others will feel the same way. We can help each other.
But then there is also the unshakable and mighty TRUTH that Christ does not give up on us, even if and when we give up on Him. He knows it’s hard. “Then why doesn’t He make it easier?” Well, ultimate Truth isn’t really something that’s up for revision. The path of faith wasn’t invented by God: it just IS the way it is. We have to put up a fight. There is no other way. But grace makes it easier, and it’s often closest by just when we feel farthest away.
Like a friendship or a romance, we must push through the dullness and the darkness and the imperfection. The ‘other side’ of friendship and romance is as close as we can get to true love on this Earth. When we’ve made it through the hard times, Christ makes Himself manifest in these beautiful human relationships that have weathered difficulty and dryness, and come out newly made. Faith follows the same path. It IS hard, to make that choice to put up a fight against the loss of our faith, every every day…but we are not in it alone. When you face that understanding of the daily struggle that accompanies the way of the Christian, and rise above it, then Christ will take care of you more than you know. It all boils down to trust, as it always does. Will we allow Him to lead when we don’t know the way? Will we trust that no fight or struggle for faith is ever wasted?
This is heavy stuff, but it’s necessary. There is no ‘other way’ of Christianity. Either we’re in for the long haul or we aren’t. I know I struggle with this so so much…as I’m sure many of you do, too. I hope this Heart has resounded with some people…because really, without this choice, there is no faith.
OK, I’m finally going to let you guys go, b/c I know that was a very very LONG Heart to muscle through: again, bless you for making it through this whole, huge, meandering email. You have my undying respect, seriously. Thanks especially to those of you who don’t have this kind of difficulty, because you just had to read through my own attempt to answer my own questions. Bless your poor hearts ;)
Guys, if this week or next week is getting you down, you’re in my prayers. Stay strong ;) and know that I and your friends and your family and whatever pets you possess (especially dogs, because your dogs think you’re the coolest thing going) all think you’re a cool, worthwhile, and beautiful person. That many people (and dogs) can’t be wrong ;)
I wish you guys my love, my prayers, my JOOOYYY!!!, and my gratitude and thanks. Again ;)
HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY FRIDAY!!!
JEE-HOOSAPHAT, IT’S FRIDAY!!! (September 16, 2010)
PRELUDIO: OK, so yall might think I’ve sent you a really depressing song for a Friday, and then you’ll get to the last 30 seconds of the song or so, and your day will be better.
(Fun sidenote: the character with the long hair is Sara Bareilles and the redhead is Ingrid Michaelson ). HAPPY HAPPY FRIDAY, PEOPLES!!!
OK, so I sent you a song about winter in September. There ARE good things about winter, like the morning after a big snow where the sun is out and it’s a clear sky and everything is really sharp and beautiful. There’s a lot of things like that in life: things that seem like a bummer but have a silver lining, such as:
A) DUST BUNNIES: at least your dust was all nice and convenient and got itself into a easily transportable wad for you. How nice of it.
B) LOST PHONE: There’s nobody trying to get ahold of you to sell you a new cell phone, or a vacuum cleaner, or car insurance.
C) GLITTER ON THE FLOOR: At least the floor’s got more pizzazz that way.
D) THE WORD ‘PIZZAZZ’: It’s awkward to spell, but people will marvel at your jazzy vocabulary.
E) SHORTER DAYS IN WINTER: But then you get those clear nights where there’s no humidity whatsoever and you can see the stars.
F) PET FERRETS: Variety is the spice of life. At least some people out there own ferrets, and the fact that they actually own ferrets can just impress the rest of us.
G) SPIDERS IN YOUR ROOM: At least you’re united against a common enemy (bugs).
H) KNOWING THERE ARE MICE IN YOUR ROOM: Better than having a mouse in your room that you don’t know about. Not to freak anybody out out there. ;)
I) HAVING A BAT TRAPPED IN YOUR ROOM: Hey, it’s a good story to tell people after the fact. Because there truly is no other perk to this situation.
J) HAVING A HUMILIATING MOMENT IN FRONT OF PEOPLE YOU KNOW: At least you have a great story for Thanksgiving and weddings.
THE HEART OF THE EMAIL: Or, What’s Not to Believe?
OK, kids, so this is probably one of the more beautiful songs I’ve ever heard, mostly because of how it’s so full of ove.
I think it’s so easy to see how we are loved by one another. After all, we can hold each others’ hands, speak to and hear each other, and give one another hugs. That closeness of love between people creates such an easy connection for us to understand: of course we are loved by others, because the signs of it are all around us. It becomes harder to see and feel the ways in which we are loved by God, especially since He seems to spend so many of His words in Scripture (especially the New Testament) giving us very hard rules to follow.
It seems like Christ spends an awful lot of time in the Gospels giving people instruction on how to live their lives. He is a teacher, a shepherd, and a guide. He gives us so many commands, and most of them seem very hard if not impossible to live up to.
But think of how our parents love us. They give us guidance and teach us, and though a lot of times it grates on our nerves, it’s founded in love. It becomes so hard to remember this truth of the love behind the rules, and it seems like they’re always correcting and challenging rather than actively loving in the way the song this week describes.
Maybe we feel like Christ is kind of the same way. It’s so easy to forget His love when His instructions seem so much more immediate. We forget what animates those instructions: that what Christ is giving us is not so much His efforts to get us ‘in shape’ for Heaven as much as they are a road map to closeness with Him. We will find at the end of all things that following God’s instructions was only a short episode in our lives so that we might find our way Home to Him. Right now, with the immense struggle to follow His way, it’s like we’re picking our way across a beach dotted with obstacles and rocks. But beyond it, where He waits for us and guides us, is a never-ending ocean of the kind of love that the present life as we know it can barely hint at.
Right now is the most difficult part: actively choosing every day to follow Christ where no gratification seems imminent, where we seem to struggle every day without the kind of love we’d imagine God would give us. But His love sustains us more than we know, and we can’t know how we would live without it. Right now it does seem like Christ is only instructing us and never caring for us. But He only instructs so that we might become perfectly lovable children. He already loves us, but His hard teachings guide us towards that day where nothing else will stand between us and Him. The commandments and beautitudes, and following them, works in our favor in terms of eternity, even though we cannot yet see it.
Christ instructs and challenges so that He may someday love us without our shielding ourselves from Him. Even the way in which we are loved now, even now it transcends the most beautiful love between a mother and child. He is just, but also merciful. He gives us the hard way because it is the only way to true love. As someone once said, He gives us today so that someday He can give us forever. His rules are hard, as He Himself said, but behind it and beyond it is a love that transcends all other love.
Trust in that love. Trust that all challenges can be worked by God into greater grace. Trust that His infinitely tender love guards our rest and guides our days. As George MacDonald said, “Trust in the living God. His will is your life.”
God bless you all ;) and I wish yall my love, prayers, JOOOYYY!!!, and a HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY FRIDAY!!! HOOOODALLAAALLLYYY!!!!!!!!!!!
THE EASTER EMAIL [April 24, 2011]
GOOD MORNING, FRIENDS!!!
CHRIST IS ALIVE!! JESUS HAS WON!! TODAY IS OUR VICTORY IN HIS VICTORY: And thank you to the dear friend who introduced me to this song.
On a morning two thousand years ago, the sun rose on a different world. It looked the same: same flowers, same sun, same fresh morning air. But in the night, something had broken free and the light of that morning shone on a world that has never been the same.
But does it still make a difference? The world hasn’t seen something like that since Christ rose from the dead all those mornings ago: hasn’t the world had time to ‘get used’ to having seen a risen Son of God?
We know that Christ’s risen life is the first and greatest of what we will someday experience, and that since He has opened the way to Heaven we have the hope of someday meeting Him there. But what about today? Are we just celebrating a faraway echo, and will it only really matter at the end of it all?
NO. It matters now. The call is as strong now as it was then. “Come awake. Come fully alive. Do not fear the cost. The prize is infinitely greater.”
The Resurrection is already echoing in our lives: not only in Christ’s own rising, but in our own death and resurrection. We have seen things die: parts of ourselves and relationships with others have suffered harm or endured death. We have seen parts of ourselves become so broken that there seems to be no hope of redemption, and we have seen friendships that have ended so painfully that forgiveness and reconciliation did not seem possible. These things seem beyond resurrection, at least in this lifetime.
But we must remember two things. First is that God’s mercy works profoundly in our lives: it is possible that those parts of ourselves or those bonds with others had to die, like the seed that dies to be reborn into fullness of life. Secondly, we must remember that (as a wise friend once told me) when things are resurrected, they don’t merely come back into what they were. They arise stronger, more beautiful, and more God’s own then they ever were. Christ did not return to His old life: He stepped into the fullness of a new life that death could not pierce. Even His own friends did not recognize Him immediately. It should not surprise us if forgiveness of ourselves and others leads us into the resurrection of our broken selves and our broken friendships. These things will be different, but they will be more beautiful because of it. We forsake the need for things to be as they once were so that we can cling to the hope that Christ makes all things new.
Christ has endured death to step into new life. He constantly calls us to do the same, and to not be afraid of His call. Sometimes a bone must be broken so that it can heal properly: sometimes the seed must die before it can become alive as it was meant to be.
We live in hope of the final resurrection, but even now Christ leads us from death into life. How else can He lead us unless He has already formed the path perfectly in His own death and Resurrection? Our Lord is the only one who can lead us, because He alone knows the way that He has traveled Himself.
ALLELUIA. OUR LORD LIVES, MORE BEAUTIFUL AND GLORIOUS THAN EVER BEFORE. HE IS ALIVE. HE IS VICTORIOUS, NOW AND FOR ALL TIME.
God bless you, my friends, now and always. We live because He is.
GREAT SCOTT, IT’S FRIDAY!!! (May 5, 2011)
PRELUDIO: The rationale for this particular clip is: “Well, why not?” ;)
I would’ve paid five bucks to be in the theater for the premiere of this movie when the voice screams out: “AAAAAAHHHHH, (WORDS I CAN’T UNDERSTAND)!!!!” I’m sure most of the people in the theater jumped a foot out of their seats. The scene where Simba’s being raised up by Rafiki is kind of like the British royal wedding (because everyone in the world is staring at Simba), except Simba doesn’t have to worry about tripping over anything ;)
And if anyone else wonders what the Zulu words in the very beginning mean.
Who says you ever stop learning? ;) HAPPY HAPPY FRIDAY, PEOPLE!!!
OK, folks: so hopefully at this point in the spring, folks’ immune systems have stopped declaring war on the pollen in the air and reached a Treaty of Versailles, so to speak. If that made sense to anyone out there, then you’re maybe in that point of sleep deprivation where anything makes sense, to the point where you have conversations like this:
Sleep-Deprived You: Hey roomie, what are you doing after graduation?
Roomie: I’m legally changing my name to Wolverina and marrying a man named Snarkey who runs a stolen Ferrari operation out of Chicago. He also has 26 cats and believes in unicorns.
Sleep-Deprived You: Oh, that’s so great, way to go…
College kids who are returning home from the end of the school year should come with a big disclaimer for their parents that reads something like: WARNING: THIS IS NOT YOUR ACTUAL CHILD. ALLOW FOR A PERIOD OF HIBERNATION AND 20-HOUR-LONG PERIODS OF SLEEP FOR ABOUT A WEEK. THIS SHOULD TAKE CARE OF ANY APPARENT PERSONALITY ABNORMALITIES IN YOUR CHILD, WHICH MAY INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO: NOT KNOWING WHERE THEY ARE, AN INABILITY TO FORM COMPLETE SENTENCES, OR UNDER-EYE SHADOWS THAT LOOK LIKE THEY’RE STRAIGHT OUT OF A SHORT STORY BY EDGAR ALLAN POE.
The basic point is: college kids at this point have not actually slept in a darned long time, and their sleep debt probably stretches back to when they were in the womb. JUST LET US SLEEP. And don’t let us operate any heavy machinery or go to any academic talks on the United Nations. So there’s that, and now we can keep moving along ;)
THE HEART OF THE EMAIL: Or, Work and Pray
Youtube clip of the week (courtesy of the friend who introduced me to this beautiful song)
So Saint Augustine has this quote that’s been perplexing me for a long time, and it goes:
“Pray as if everything depended on God. Work as if everything depended on you.”
So this sounds as though we’re splitting the work of our salvation between God and ourselves. It’s almost like the part of every _Scooby-Doo episode where the gang splits up to look for the bad guy on their own. So what part of this quote is real? Does everything depend on God or on us?
Here’s another thought. When we are attempting to become saints, we are trying to do something that is utterly impossible without grace. Even on the surface of things, becoming a saint is maybe the hardest task anyone has ever been given. Man can invent the airplane, the antibiotic, and the lightbulb, and he can run faster, make more home runs, and dance more beautifully than anyone who has come before him. We know that these things are possible through grace, but at least man can have some kind of illusion that he accomplishes this greatness all by himself. But sainthood is an entirely different species from all of those things. As G.K. Chesterton says, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”
So back to the Augustine quote: maybe a metaphor would help. Someone once told me that an artist sees a block of marble and tries his best to ‘set free’ the figure or the sculpture that is in it. This is what God sees, and He is the artist who is trying to clear away the things that keep us from being free and fully ourselves. We can help Him: He has given us different tools that, if they are offered back to Him, He can use to make the process of ‘freeing’ us easier.
The process of our praying is asking God to make His work be done, and our working is handing Him the tools to set us free. Will we offer Him a toothpick or a chisel to take away all of that marble that imprisons us? Will we offer Him only what’s left over in us at the end of the day, or will we offer Him back everything He gave us in the first place? What will we offer Him so that He can make us free? The ‘work’ is not ours: it’s not like we divide the task of redemption between God and ourselves. Our ‘work’ consists in letting Him accomplish His vision for us, not only by stepping out of the way for Him to work but also by offering our best (albeit feeble) attempts to help Him. All of our acts of charity, self-gift, and forgiveness are small in comparison to His movement in us, but He has to begin somewhere ;)
In all of this, there is one thing that we alone can offer that God will not take as His own task. That duty that He entrusts entirely to us is the chance to choose Him freely. He will not force us, cajole us, seduce us, or pressure us. He will only ask. When we work as if everything depended on us, we are doing our best to let God do His best, recognizing that it is He and not us who eventually sets us free. And the substance of our deepest prayer is that our growing love for Him will let Him do what He wills to do. Don’t we say, “Thy will be done?”
God bless you, my friends, and I wish yall, as ever, my
Love, prayers, JOOOYYY!!! and a HAPPY HAPPY FRIDAY!!!