Loss of momentum

  I haven’t been very good about writing here lately. I’ve taken turns seeing if there any words within me worth putting down, deciding I wasn’t good enough to write them well, and fighting with myself on what my voice even was. Who am I to be read or listened to? Where do I have authority and how should I use my words? I haven’t been consistently seeking God recently. I have been pretty good about asking others around me about their walk. Maybe I feel a little more spiritual that way as I don’t really inquire where it is God is leading me to.  I haven’t been vocal about this, it’s a little easier to put down here. 

 

  I prayed yesterday about hoping to live each day with a Godly purpose.  And it was something I meant.  But way too often lately I have quickly made my own decision on where it is I should be heading instead of really leaning into what God desires from me in the current situation.  Don’t get me wrong, I earnestly ask for His will.  But I too often have been going with the path that felt right.  And I really don’t want to be so emotionally led.  Who I’m writing to right now, I’m not even sure.  Maybe throwing these words down in a place that I visit often will give me a reminder.  A reminder to live with patience.  To not seek my own will in things.  To love others in a way that doesn’t require anything back. 

 

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Life is about..

There are a lot of experts on life. At least that’s what I hear by listening to others. Everyone seems to have a take on how life should be lived. And few are willing to take time to listen to others, let alone consider another viewpoint. I know I sometimes think my two cents counts for five but I aim to keep my mouth shut a little more often. To realize that most people have something to say if I’ll give them the time.

The one form of so called advice that really irks me is when people try to sum up all of their knowledge or worse yet, the entirety of human understanding with the phrasing ‘Life is all about..’

Timing.

Second chances.

Forgiveness.

Trying.

Making a difference.

Following your heart.

Making money.

Being true to yourself.

Compromise.

Taking chances.

Being happy.

It’s not that any of these things are inherently bad ideas. But to boil everything possible down and direct one’s life focus toward something so simplistic is self limiting. I think people usually mean well when they share words like these. They have an outlook that’s been shaped by personal experience and want others to know how to traverse a season of life better. I get that.

I just think we live in something so beautifully complex that to say something like that isn’t just cute, but is actually dangerous in how it limits our thinking. I don’t think our pursuits should ever stop including gathering more wisdom. But what if knowing that there’s a lot we don’t know was actually empowering? If I were to grab a Sharpie and shade out a pie chart of the things I don’t know versus the ones I do, I’m pretty sure I’d need a second marker. I love being able to find magnificence in the mystery of the journey. I’d rather see myself always in the process of becoming, not as something I’ve become. I know that God’s granted me the capacity to love well in this life. I’m not sure what else this life has to offer. And I’m okay with that.

Gleaning for meaning

I don’t know about everyone else, but I can find meaning in anything given time. I’m the kind of guy who often reads too much into a situation. He must be mad at me because he didn’t reply to my Facebook even invite. She’s totally into me, she smiled at me twice! This seems to be a quick trigger response that I’ve grown to rationally question myself afterwards to sift for any validity.

As I’ve matured, I realize most of the time I skew what I see in a way that fits what I’m desiring or expecting. I’m all for praying for knowing God’s will. I hope for discernment to be able to make good steps. But I regularly meditate just long enough to feel good about the decision I know I already want to make. I like the phrase my pastor likes to use, “I want patience, and I want it now!” But what exactly does knowing I’m going to seek self gain mean for me?

For starters, I can rest a little easier knowing that every little thing doesn’t have to be so heavy. Probably most importantly I know to press on and seek God out in the middle of what I’m in. I feel like my growth is usually found in the in between. Learning to quietly wait on God, serving faithfully in the meantime, isn’t a passive decision. It’s in that where I take faithful steps, proofing what I see, hear, and feel by what scripture says. God speaks in many different ways. I am sure that I’ve heard Him speak to me on a few occasions. But it’s rarely something I can feel sure in when it doesn’t challenge me. If it’s leading me towards something I already hope for, it may just be my own inclination. I’m glad that God wants more for me than just to serve my desires.

A letter to the author

Hey you.

I’m talking to the guy at the laptop right now typing this out.  This letter is intended for an audience of one but that doesn’t mean anyone else should stop reading  this.

You’ll need these words.  Maybe not today.  But you’ll need them.  There will be a day you don’t feel like saying.  So I’ll give them to you now so you can have them ready later.  And to anyone else still reading you may need them too.

 

You’re not everything that you think you are.

Things that involve you aren’t always about you.  Life moves on swiftly with or without your permission.

Your gifts aren’t nearly so well honed as they sometimes feel.

Your intentions not always as noble as you see them to be.

People are going to dislike you no matter how well you treat them.

Your feelings being offended isn’t reason enough to hold a grudge.

Sometimes tough times are just that.

Your love may not always have the effect you want it to.

The grass will look greener sometimes.

Grand plans will fizzle out with unexpected consequences.

Simply put, you’re just not always enough.

 

But this letter isn’t one I’m writing to remind you of the painful aspects of life.  In fact, I think you should know there’s beauty in the mysterious mess that we live.  A life well lived will involve growth and learning.  A life well lived will involve the messiness of loving others.  And there will be pain.  You may be at a point right now where confusion reigns and the next step may not be easy to see.  But lean on God and remember to keep things in perspective.  There is grace in those things I told you being true.

 

You may not be everything that you think you are.  You’re not your past failures, mistakes, and regrets.

Everything  around you isn’t about you.  Be empathetic but not worried about every little thing.  Walk freely with a compassionate heart.

You have been gifted in ways that you can use to lift others up.  You can show grace by handle your shortcomings.

Your worst moments may not be out of hatred but selfishness.  You can find a way to step out of your own way to love someone else.

It sucks when someone chooses bitterness in response to your kindness.  But pay attention, you can choose grace in return for evil.  Do it.

Your feelings are important enough to be heard but they don’t always lead to truth.  Sometimes you won’t feel like doing the right thing.  Make the right decisions anyway.

Sometimes tough times are a great time for lessons to be learned and for perspective to be gained.

Showering others with love may not cause them to reciprocate.  But they’re no less deserving of it because of that.

You get to be the one to water your own lawn.  Nourish healthy relationships and continue to make good choices even when there are weeds.

Scheming up something beautiful is good for your soul.  Maybe it didn’t work out this time, but you know how to better plan your next adventure.  Don’t give up that desire to love and dream big.

You’re not always enough.  And that’s okay.  Getting the chance to love in community is a pretty great thing.  So is knowing that the very best you’ll ever be able to do isn’t your saving grace.  You don’t need to live up to yours or anyone’s expectations tirelessly trying to prove yourself.

Grace is a beautiful thing.

 

Hope you remember to read this when you need it.

Sincerely,

Me

A new day

I woke up this morning. That’s a pretty big deal. Sometimes I can operate in a mode of unthankfulness, but today it was sharp in my mind that this day was a blessing. I texted out to a few buddies, wanting to share the hope of the new day but I felt like it would be good to spread that more.

A new day means another chance. Another chance to take the next right step. If I’m being honest, I’ve lived too much of life focusing on the problems at hand, too scared or too full of self pity to simply do the next right thing. Dreams aren’t realized in a day. And failures litter our yesterdays. But as believers, we don’t have to live from the identity of those failures.

2 Corinthians 4

13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke”, we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. 16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self[c] is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

2 Corinthians 5

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[a] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Today is a new day. You can grow in hope and live outside of your past fears, failures, and regrets. You can embrace the opportunity to love others courageously and speak with a boldness that comes from the identity of being beloved. You are new. Now let’s live that.

Sometimes stuff just sucks.

I’m sure that I’m not breaking news when saying that things don’t always go right. Dreams and plans may not be realized. Sometimes worse, they can be achieved only to have them crash down around us. While momentary pauses before success can make the victory feel that much sweeter, there are times where our loss feels unredeemable. The pain worse than any possible gain. So we hide. We don’t take ownership of our physical, emotional, and spiritual well being when speaking to those around us.

It’s amazing how unconnected we are as a society on any personal level. Want to see the proof of that? Ask the next ten people you meet how they’re doing. I’m betting chances are good that you’re getting nine or ten positive answers. Often people will reply positively before even taking the time to weigh the question.

That doesn’t scream speaking the truth in love to me. There are plenty of reasons to shy away from the truth when having a bad day. Fear of exposure, lack of intimacy, the desire to not burden another with your troubles. But love doesn’t work that way. It’s graceful in its intimacy. Forgetting the idea of dishonesty for a moment, I don’t think it’s a healthy thing for our own emotional well being.

When studying the Word, we see that there’s a season for everything. It doesn’t exclude the tough stuff. We’re to be thankful in all circumstances even when not thankful for them. Our journey with God doesn’t spare us pain but gives us the confidence to walk in faith through it. So it’s okay to acknowledge that stuff sucks sometimes. We don’t have to impress every detail on people, we can just be honest enough to say that it’s been a rough day and we could use some prayer. We can boldly go forward knowing that while the road is tough, we’re loved by a great God.

Why I chose to be baptized again.

Essentially my entire childhood was spent in church. We went as a family and often. Religiously, if you’ll pardon the word choice. I remember watching X Files when I was young and then finding out I would be no longer able to watch it as it had switched to Sunday nights. I was devastated.

I remember trying to memorize the books of the bible better than the other kids to show off. I remember singing along to old hymns that I didn’t always understand. I remember wearing stuffy shirts that my mom thought I looked good in.

What I didn’t remember, was the time I was baptized. I have a faint memory if being downstairs of the church with my father, changing into the baptismal clothes. I’m really glad that I have that. With him passing fairly early on in my life, I’m thankful for anything I can connect back to that his love was on display. I don’t remember how old I was either. While I’m sure I was eager to have that day come, I was too young to have that choice be one that held any weight to me.

I wanted to step forward in my faith in a way that showed my personal decision. I wanted to do it for me. To make an intentional decision to put preferences aside. I didn’t want that nagging voice to keep up, questioning whether my original action was really volitional. My personal growth in the past year and a half has been leading here. I needed this. But I hope that as I share my story of God’s redeeming grace in my life, this day ends up being not just for me. That others can see a man who’s willing to tell Jesus yes. A man stuck after years of religion. A man who found himself deeply rooted in sin. A man extremely grateful to be loved.