Ignorance is Bliss?

          These first couple months, though taxing, have actually been pretty okay. For the first month of college, I was feeling on top of the world, unstoppable, perfect. My classes were challenging but fun, I joined a whole slew of clubs, and I was attracting friends like moths to a lamp. I had confidence and pep in my step. I dressed to a tea and strut my stuff around with a big smile on my face oozing self confidence and acceptance. I felt great. For once in my life everything lined up. Everything fit. Everything was perfect. Or was it? And that’s how I knew something was wrong. Nobody is perfect. I was living in an “ignorant bliss”. I was blind to myself. This proverb “ignorance is bliss” is from an eighteenth-century poem written by the English poet Thomas Gray. He wrote

“Where ignorance is bliss, / ‘Tis folly to bewise.’”

This asserts the notion that having lack of knowledge will result in happiness, and that it is more comfortable not to know certain things. I believe the second half of this assertion to be true: that it is comfortable to be in the dark and unaware, like a baby. A baby is happy often with little care for the world because it knows little about it, and as the baby matures it becomes more dissatisfied with the world. However, this happiness, though pure, lacks reality. I do not find it to be genuine happiness.

I was feeling this happiness, this blind love that I realized was not only fake but also filled with ignorance. I believed a lie. Nobody is perfect, but why was I feeling this way? I wasn’t questioning this because I thought I didn’t believe I deserved to live a perfect life, but more so that I thought I may have been missing something. I felt in the dark, like I was missing something. I was blind to a part of myself and I set out to explore it.

After examining my seemingly “perfect” life, red flags began to pop up. I was constantly relying my dissatisfaction with my roommates. I was gossiping more. I was ignoring texts from my family. I envied people. I was less forgiving. Worst of all, I didn’t prioritize my relationship with God. I had this weird pocket of anger in the pit of my stomach. However, I didn’t notice any of this until I questioned myself. Until I had a conversation with myself.

I didn’t realize just how much I was hurt by my roommates. I thought I forgave and forgot, but that wasn’t the case in the slightest. Every opportunity I had to gossip about them I took. Even after I moved out, the wounds were still stinging. I began to swear, which is something I do not do or no do I condone it. I was filled with the anger that I assumed already left me. I am normally a very forgiving person, but this side of my was missing. I lacked grace. I was far from the person I believed I was. To many, this may seem okay and normal even, but I strive and have pride in being a gracious person filled with love and this is not what I appeared to be.

Recognizing this behavior was essential for me to move forward; however, it does not make these feelings go away. I disagree with the statement “What you don’t know can’t hurt you.”  Recognition is just the first step towards growth. Now that I acknowledged this negative behavior I have been on a healthier path towards forgiveness instead of assuming I was already on it. My reality was distorted, it was a lie that I made up and believed.

Another negative behavior I recognized was my lack of attention towards my family. My family does send excessive messages night and day, but this cry is something I did not understand. I am surrounded by people and even though I miss them, the pain that my parents feel is much deeper because they have nothing new to take their minds off of the loss of both of their daughters to college. My lack of attention towards my family is something that I am trying to work on, and even though I am very busy, that can not be an excuse to ignoring my family. I thought I was paying them enough attention, but I wasn’t. This red flag came in the form of angry texts. Texts explicitly saying: “How are you?”, I miss you”, “Call me.” Oh course I read them, but I did not give them much thought. Now that I recognize this, I have been striving to be more attentive to my family’s emotional needs instead of just my own.

          “Thou shalt not covet” (Exodus 20:17).

The tenth commandment. An important law from God, and I broke it…break it everyday. I break it when I envy others: their possessions, their gifts, their relationships. I see what I don’t have and envy them. This of course is very natural , but also undesirable. I don’t want to be someone who envies, I want to be satisfied with my gifts and my talents. The worst thing I envy is other people’s relationships with God. I see how they live and I become jealous. I see their commitment and feel lesser. This sparked another revelation in me: that I had not prioritized God in my life and that is why I was having all of these problems.

This is when I was reminded of the four spiritual laws, the second principle in particular.

All of us sin and our sin has separated us from God.

“Man is sinful and separated from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God’s love and plan for his life.” My shortcomings are my sins, which separate me from God. My life was revolving around me.

“He must become greater; I must become less.”  John 3:30

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I was like this image. I was only concerned with myself, focused on my own problems and only tried to fix them with my own strength. Everything I did was for my own enjoyment and pleasure. Yes, I believed in God, but he was not central to my life. Christ was just in another room in the house of my heart.

He should not just have access to the one room or ones that I selected, but he should have the keys to the whole house, my whole heart, my whole life

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This is the life I want. This is the life that I did not have, but now realize I need. This is not just a better life, but a BIGGER life. One filled with more than superficial joy, but true love and knowledge.

I was living content with who I was and I was very happy, and now I am less satisfied with myself yet more content. Not knowing something is often more comfortable than knowing it; however, I am more content because I feel like I am playing the “real Athena.” The Athena that makes mistakes, that has insecurities, that isn’t always smiling. I am a more genuine person with a deeper understanding of who I am.

Yeah, I could still be living in that ignorant bliss where I feel on top of the world, but I wouldn’t be genuine. I value authentic people. Living in an ignorant bliss is not authentic, and I strive to live in reality and to be there for people struggling in reality too. I enjoy equal didactic relationships where both people are not perfect, but are going through the grind together and experiencing life for its fullness, imperfections and all.

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I grew up in a treasure box.

My mom and pop own one of the last brick and mortar record shops around. I grew up around the rich smell of aged vinyl and a community of artists. Wall to wall, ceiling to floor, my life is filled with music, love, and creativity

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My father’s slogan, “If you can’t find it at the Record Man, it doesn’t exist,” really does reign true. Every wall is filled with a rich history of not only music but America. From Sinatra to Aretha or Miles Davis to Elvis, I was immersed into America’s rich history and timeless music from an early age and was amazed to discover how music from artists like Bob Dylan survived, while the music that was being produced around me lost its value within a month. It inspires me to want to create timeless art.

My family and I were always in the store. At age four I learned how to stand on my stool and peer over the register to snatch money from customers and neatly store it in the compartments. The store is my second home, employees are family and customers are our generous house guests.

I know every nook and cranny of this museum. I remember days when my twin sister and I would build forts with boxes,

climb trees and fences behind the buildings and hop on the roof to oversee the world,

or throw on a record and just sing and dance around our home.

My favorite spot was a nook between two shelves in the jazz room. When I was little I squeezed into my little spot and observed customers. I felt like a spy: strong and sneaky.

My imagination ran wild in this crazy shop so I never sought out electronics for fun. I believe that a good imagination is indispensable.

Boredom queued my natural curiosity about the world. I find beauty and excitement in places others find boring and useless. Where they see bottle caps, I see sculptures; when they see magazines, I see jewelry; they see mint, I see perfume. Life is never boring to me.

Growing up as the “Record Princess” has unleashed my creative side and calmed my fidgety hands. My mom instilled in me her love to create and we proudly have our mosaic signs, abstract paintings, and recycled jewelry hanging from the walls and displayed on the tables. Record-shop-goers are an interesting bunch; with lots old-fashioned folks and new-age artists. These friends observe and purchase my art in the store, and inspire me to create more. Art relaxes me, and releases me: it’s my love.

The Record Man is my home. It’s where my parents taught me responsibility, the value of hard work, imagination, and how to recognize a gem of a record, a work of art, or a person hidden beneath its dusty layers.

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A letter to the curious, a letter to the broken

Dear Music enthusiasts that seek a richer sound and more meaningful lyrics,

Growing up in my family’s record shop I have always been exposed to a wide variety of music and found great passion and voice in all genres we carry. Music has always been apart of me, but became even more so this summer.

Music not only pierced my heart, but healed it. This music  was not found in my family’s shop, but rather in a dark room under my church surrounded by the most talented and joy filled worshipers I know: my friends–God’s children.

Without an open heart worship music can seem repetitive and boring, but when the Holy Spirit touches your heart it becomes more rich and full than anything you have experienced before.

Don’t let my spiritual invitation scare you. I am not asking you to believe, but simply to listen. Sit down, put in some headphones, and just open your heart. Maybe you have been experiencing anger, sadness, or emptiness. Maybe you are seeking something to fill that little gap in your heart. Maybe you are just curious.

I ask you to listen to a song or two and repeat the words in your head, allow your body to sway to the music and feel God’s presence around you enveloping you as you hear Kari Jobe instruct you to:

Be still my soul, be still
Be still my soul, be still
Wait patiently upon the Lord
Be still my soul, be still

After you have been calmed and put into a deep state of peace allow David Crowder Band to remind you that:

He is jealous for me

Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,

Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

Feeling the power and strength sit in your bones Kari rattles you with:

He is here for the broken

When the waves rise against me
and the wind tries to draw me away
I will stand on the mountain
safe in your arms I will sing… I will sing

Because now you realize that through all of your mistakes and all of your misgivings God still loves you; you feel safe…you feel home. Then you sing with The United Pursuit that there is:

No Place I’d rather be
No Place I’d rather be
No place I’d rather be
Here in your Love, Here in your love

And then you and Francesca Battistelli invite God into your life by singing together:

Holy Spirit, You are welcome here

Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere

Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for

To be overcome by Your presence, Lord

Your presence, Lord

Throughout my high school experience, I felt empty, like something was missing. I felt as though I was being denied of something so good and loving. I longed for a more meaningful life. I longed to feel love and acceptance.

I remember the night that I accepted Jesus once again into my heart. This time was much more different than before. I felt broken and weak. I remember a friend kneeling beside me, wiping my tears telling me to give it all to Him. That I should empty myself of any burden any sadness and give it to Him.

I resisted. Feeling vulnerable is hard and scary, your mind fills with worries and doubts. It took one second. One ounce of trust. Realizing that “He is here for the broken” (Kari Jobe). My heart broke, and shattered into infinite little pieces too small to ever be assembled again. I felt free! And in that moment, almost simultaneously, I felt something else. I had that feeling in my gut of a warm soup on a cold day, a hug after a long cry, light in a dark cave. I felt love. It was immense and overwhelming, but it was just what I needed. And in that moment there was “No place I would rather be, than here in your love” (David Crowder).

And I wanted more. I wanted to feel this love for ever. Many believers will tell you that experiencing God can feel like a high. You feel intoxicated on his rich love. You feel completely confident naked in front of him. You feel whole. Amongst all the chaos in my life I am reminded to be still and sit in God’s presence. It is not up to me to calm the waters, I do not have that strength. I must trust that God has me. So I pulled out my guitar and started to strum a few chords and each day I have the ability to experience my own little infinity and I invite you to try it out.

Through my hard times this summer, having this music saved me and I feel reborn again!

Simple verses that once seemed boring and trivial now fuel my soul. Worship music, once experienced for its true beauty and power make all other music seem meaningless and boring. Once you’ve tasted the finest wines, sipping on cheap 7-11 beverages seem dull and lacking.

I have always been a music lover, but now I am someone who experiences every beat and savors every word. Because I experienced such immense love, I desire others to also find this.

Because this is such a personal and unique experience, I want you to know that you are not alone. I would love for you to reach out to me for advice or simply a copy of my playlist! You can email me or just comment below. Even though I felt alone throughout my process, I really wasn’t! I was surrounded by so many wonderful people that were there for me and I didn’t even know it. I am always here, but also I invite you to look around and who already has your back.

 

With Much Love,

 

Rapunzel

No Ragrets

If I could jump into a DeLorean and wiz back to my freshman year of high school I would have a couple things to tell myself. First I would tell myself not to carry such a heavy backpack, because now I have terrible posture,

but also I would tell myself to get out there and have a little fun.

I feel like I missed out a little on the fun side of high school. I don’t mean go out and party, because honestly that isn’t a whole lot of fun for me, but go out with friends.

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I wish I didn’t spend so many lunches in the theater alone. Even though I did gain a lot of wisdom from those chats with my director, I wish I could remember my high school experience as being filled with friends and no regrets.

I would tell myself to get out there and to not be afraid of people’s reactions. Go to the football games, eat lunch in the quad, ask him out!

I would tell myself to stop living in the fear of rejection, but to live for myself.

But I would also tell myself that either way, if I get out there and push myself  or not, I still end up all right. The future is bright as long as I hold true to who I am.