being a literally broke student + grace and blame

My previous jokes about being a poor student came true today.  Having your debit card decline payment of the food you just ate due to insufficient funds is scary.  Especially scary when your OTHER debit card is yet again lost and you can’t access your OTHER bank account.

I freaked out.  Sam, being the awesome person she is, of course spotted me money for our adorable heart-shaped pizzas at Boston Pizza.  Then she drove me to the bank where I freaked out on the lady who told me she couldn’t tell me anything about my account because it was a trust account and my mom had to be there.  Basically I was like “This piece of plastic gets me into that account, and that account has ten dollars in it now, and I am freaking out and you need to tell me what is going on.”

Let’s get this straight—my bank is like a small town bank.  One time the Bank Lady I was dealing with did not know how to use the printer and she did not know how to process a money order, okay?  Another time I could not get $300 USD.  I would think that $300 USD would be an acceptable and simple amount of American money to acquire via your financial institution, but it turns out I was wrong.

What was going on was I bought $450 of textbooks and a $302 iPod and then was essentially, you know, broke after buying things like overpriced cafeteria food at school.  Because seriously, I handed that bank lady my ID and was like “she is my MOM and this is MY account and she is on there because we opened this account when I was SEVEN.  THAT is probably why it is a trust account, and she will be coming in THIS AFTERNOON to relinquish control of my funds.”

Except I said it much less eloquently than that and more angrily and then Bank Lady decided I was legit and started spouting off numbers of Future Shop and university and food purchases and it all made sense, except for the part about the trust account [which I knew previously from past arguments with the bank].  Bank Lady could not give me a statement though and my MOM had to go in there and pick it up if I wanted it.

I essentially became a poor student, because I could not even buy lunch on debit.  It was scary.

My mom saved me from my poorness and met me at the bank and relinquished any  control of my bank account that she never used anyways, and replaced the money she owed me for textbooks and then some while I tried not to be too angry at the bank again.  Because every time I go in there I have some sort of problem.  Yes, I know becoming poor was my own fault because no, I did not read my last statement they mailed me, but really, last time that whole Trust Account issue would not allow me to withdraw $35 from them, and then I walked twenty steps to the ATM, withdrew, and got change for $40 from them.

The thing is, I know I have people who have my back, I know I have investments and alternate savings accounts.  I know I have another bank account with money in it.  And it scares me to know that how I felt today must be intensified hugely when you are an independent adult with legit bills to pay and people to feed and you DON’T have the above things and you get a receipt that says INSUFFICIENT FUNDS.  People who have debt and mortgages and children and pets and have to buy essentials like food and soap and medicine who cannot make ends meet.

When Bank Lady was clicking at her computer, I was leaning on her Teller Ledge with my hands on my forehead praying for grace and resolution while Sam stood beside me, witnessing me verbally accosting Bank Lady with, um, very little grace.  I’m not a good angry person—I don’t yell, I just, you know, get all frustrated and talk weird, and often call the bank stupid as I am leaving it.

I encounter problems with my bank all the time.  Yet this was not a fault of theirs, but of mine.  Most of my faults with my bank are actually faults with myself—they’re just doing their job, I’m the one who thinks what they do sucks when they charge me $16 for a money order or don’t let me withdraw money straight from the Tella’ Fella. 

These problems are not with them, they are with me.  But of course, while blaming ourselves is the easiest thing to do in some situations, it is the toughest to do in others.


the beautiful letdown

A couple years ago, my friend called my other friend and invited us to his youth group.  Now, I love youth groups, but this is one I’d never been interested in going to.

Megachurch.  Youth building.  It has a food court.  Indoor basketball.  I know, sounds awesome right?  I am slightly a contradiction.  I have nothing against these things on principle, but they also were exactly why I was against going–said youth building cost two million dollars.  Which, you know, could have fed and clothed and medicated and sheltered a lot of people, near and far.  God does not need to be sold to youth with cool video games and bonfires outside of garage door walls.

Yes, money is what fuels us in many respects.  It’s a rough concept—empowering and demeaning depending on who is the possessor of the money, and how much money they are the possessor of.

And that night, as one friend and I sat in a church where we couldn’t even find the guy who invited us in the throngs of people, where nobody reached out to us, where nobody reached us, where we were asked if we wanted to purchase various things, where the material things of the world took precedence over the God that the youth had just listened to a pastor discuss.

The beautiful letdown.  I still want, and at the time I still wanted, a church that’s full of realism.  People who have been the victimized, the distraught, the depressed, the desperate.  The desperation that has ultimately allowed them to experience healing, the desperation led them to the people they are now—these are the people I feel I can identify with most.  Because they are not trying to be what they’re not, only what God wants them to be. 

Who are we, letting society decide our coolness, attractivenss, who is to be idolized, by random unknown standards?  Who are we, using these things to divide ourselves further than this great big world has already divided us?

Walls . . . breakdown.

It was a beautiful letdown / When I crashed and burned / when I found myself alone, unknown and hurt / It was a beautiful letdown / the day I knew / all the riches this world had to offer me / would never do. / in a world full of bitter pain and bitter doubts / I was trying so hard to fit in, fit in / until I found out / that I don’t belong here / I will carry a cross and a song where I don’t belong

It was a beautiful letdown / when You found me here / yeah for once in that rare blue moon I see everything clear / I’ll be a beautiful letdown / that’s what I’ll forever be / and though it may cost my soul / I’ll sing for free / we’re still chasing our tails / and the rising sun / and our dark water planet’s spinning a race where no one wins and no one’s one

See I don’t belong here / I will carry a cross and a song where I don’t belong / I don’t belong here / I’m gonna set sight and set sail for the kingdom come, Your kingdom come! / Won’t You let me down / Let my foolish pride forever let me down

Easy living / you’re not much like the name / easy dying, hey you look just about the same / won’t you please take me off your list / easy living please / come on and let me down

We are a beautiful letdown / painfully uncool / the church of the dropouts, and losers and sinners and failures and the fools / what a beautiful letdown / are we salt in the wound? / and let us sing one true tune

I don’t belong here / no I don’t belong here / nah, I don’t belong here / feels like I don’t belong here / won’t you let me down, come on and let me down, you always let me down, I’m so glad that i’m let down, come on and let me down / cause I don’t belong here, come on and let me down

The Beautiful Letdown, Switchfoot

This song went through my head all night.  Because I didn’t belong there.  In the small sense, I did not belong at that church.  My church now?  It’s so full of love.  It’s in debt, but it’s full of passion.  Full of prayer and tears and hope and big, big love for each other, and most importantly, big big love for Christ.

But after sitting at that table in silence with my friend thinking about it . . . I don’t belong here in this world either.  There are greater things beyond it when the journey here is done.