Overdraft

You learn a lot about what you need when you have nothing. I have mentioned before how I have been living on nothing, or what seems like nothing for all of 2014 and the last bit of 2013. You see, I gave my all, or at least what I thought was my all, to take a leap of faith. I quit my job and lived off of fumes waiting anxiously for my FAFSA check that wouldn’t come, at least not yet. Then in the process of finding a job to live off of, I was offered a round trip plane ticket to see my parents for Christmas.

“I have to get a job,” I tell myself, “I can’t afford to fly across the country.” I also convinced myself that I needed the isolation to learn why it is the timing was wrong for New York. I refused the tickets, at first, but you know this, what you don’t know is what I was praying. You see after coming to the realization that I was not moving I prayed that I could get paid to do the work I do on campus here at Ignite. I prayed, but I did not hope. I had already caused enough issues with everyone on campus with the moving and not moving, plus why should they pay the performing arts intern?

When I accepted the plane tickets I knew that I would be delaying my opportunity to get a job in town, so I hoped that it would give me time and perhaps my prayer would be answered. I went home without money, then a check went through I thought had already gone through. I went into overdraft, then I was fined, then five days later I got another fine. I tried to call and get it removed, but it did not happen. I returned to school over drafted. I applied to multiple places in town and called them diligently. To be honest I don’t know why I keep trying it this way. When my sister began looking for jobs, my mom always told her to call them, it makes your name stand out. Every job I have done that with has not panned out; however, every job that I have gotten has always been nothing short of miraculous. I’ve skipped interviews, been given a better position before being hired, been called within two days from a state where I was moving, been called within the day I applied and then my current job.

This first week back was difficult. I anxiously applied for jobs and God consistently reminded me not to worry. He also managed to take care of my needs during this time. Laundry and gas money when I needed it and food for every meal. I began to learn about living with just my basic needs met. During this week, I also had this nagging feeling, that I needed to talk to the director of the school, that I needed to ask for a stipend to pay for my necessities. I had learned to live with little, so I planned to do that until my FAFSA money really came, or my tax return, whichever came first.

When I finally mustered up the courage to ask, I was approved immediately. There was some grant money for resident interns that I would be eligible to receive. I was elated, it was more than I had asked for or budgeted. It was also around this time that I got an opportunity to work in the school cafe to pay for my meal plan. I was so blessed. Then I found out last week that my Credit Card payment was overdue, so they fined me.

I was worried, but I knew it would be okay. I had not received any stipend at this point. My needs were still being taken care of and now that I was working in the cafe I ate more than enough every meal. I had even filed my taxes, but my return would not be available until after the 31st of January, today.

Today, I got paid my first stipend. Today I am no longer in overdraft. Praise God.

I have learned something so significant in this time, three things really. One: God works in weird ways to provide you with wonderful opportunities (I am paid to do what I love, administration and the arts). Two: I know how to live well on very little. Three: God always provides, even if it’s not how you think.

Oh and to just add to see how great God is, the verse of the Day on my Bible app is Malachi 3:10, look it up…

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Training

Yesterday, I realized again how my life is extremely blessed. The day started off innocuous enough. I woke up earlier than I intended, had a spoon of peanut butter for breakfast and read my Bible. I learned in a quick moment of how Jesus was such a catalyst in the lives of the disciples. They had jobs and lives before Jesus walked by them. At first, they followed for his natural charisma, then they were hooked when they believed he was the Messiah, the one to restore the throne of David in Israel, to overthrow the oppressors. At some point in this, they realized that he was not the military leader they thought, and yet they continued to follow him. Why? He was changing them, and they couldn’t get enough of it.

I left my apartment. The door was locked on the office building at the school I work at, because I don’t possess a key, I wandered into the common recreation area. I opened my computer with the full intention of getting started on whatever I needed to accomplish for the day. But, as is the norm, Facebook beckoned with all of it’s promise of social interaction. I was surprised when I heard the conversation window *pop* open. A friend, and fellow blogger, was commending me on the blogging I had begun to do. “It’s great to see you in your journey with God”. Blessed. We began to talk about life and ministry, the call of God on our lives and where that had taken us in our respective journeys. I began to lament a little that I was still not yet in New York and how that desire caused a restlessness in my heart and spirit.

She said that the burning desire was so that I would never settle anywhere that wasn’t where I am supposed to be, that I wouldn’t settle for anything less than the place God is taking me. It rang true. I have been realizing more recently these patterns in my life. God will move me somewhere out of my comfort zone but then I begin to sink into a pattern of living, I adjust and become comfortable. When God first laid New York on my heart I was ablaze, I had so many ideas and plans. I visited the city for the first time and I became overwhelmed, but I knew it was wonderful still, I felt at home in a city I had never been. Then I arrived in Virginia at what seemed to be one of the more awkward and challenging periods of my life. And yet, I adjusted.

When I returned to New York that winter God spoke to me and told me that he was giving the city into my hands. (This is a pretty audacious claim, but I felt it more than anything else). I was determined to live there that summer. I did. And in that summer I learned something. I was scared of the calling. I loved being in the city, but I let it get to me. I allowed myself to fall into a self-defeating attitude. This reached it’s zenith at the end of the summer. As I was preparing to go home for a bit before returning to school, God began to challenge me. He asked me what my response would be if He asked me to stay. I told Him I could not, because I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t learned enough, matured enough yet. I wasn’t ready for the city. He told me I was, but that he would let me go back. It was here when I realized how much I had adjusted to my training ground.

As if to make me so ready and raring to get back, almost immediately upon returning to school was I ready to go back to New York. I kept telling myself, “One more year and then I’ll go”. I got more than one year. I am now nearly at two years from my summer in New York. I thought I was moving, I readied myself to go, but then I was to stay longer. Looking back now at last semester I am beginning to wonder if the sole purpose of that itch, that feeling, that it was time to go was just to get me unsettled enough for me to realize: “This is my training ground, not my battlefield”

Now, I sit and work anxiously waiting for the door to open, for my deployment letter to come and I realize how wonderful it is to know where I am going. To top it off, my final training, I am getting paid to do what I love. To finish out my day from yesterday, after talking with a friend and co-leader at this school he commissioned me to write a skit. That afternoon I sat down and wrote one out. It didn’t take long and it wasn’t extremely deep or significant, but I got to sit and write as a part of what I do here at this school. Who can say that as a college senior they helped develop and helm a fine arts department at a burgeoning private college? I can, but get this: this is my training.

It Is a truth universally known, that a man pursuing ministry is in want of a Wife….

Girls aren’t the only ones that have been let down by the expectations set by Disney movies for relationships.

Growing up I always thought that if I acted like a Disney prince that one day I would get my princess. I thought that if I was a gentlemen, if I thought of her first, catered to her needs, romanced her with flowers and fun excursions and most importantly made my love known, then I could get the girl. This, sadly, is not true. In life, things are so much more complicated. 

I thought love was this ideal, this epitome of life. If you had a girl you loved to the moon and back, then you were set. I mean of course you have to have a castle and a kingdom to run, but to have true happiness all you need is a princess. I thought that if I could find the love of my life then everything else should magically fall into place, I mean at least that’s what the movies talked about. Nothing else mattered really, jobs could be adjusted, people could move, all for love. This was the ultimate goal in life.

For many years this was all I looked for in life. I mean sure, I worked hard, did my studying but my eyes were always alert for the future Mrs. Rushton. This seems pretty dramatic at first, especially for a guy to say, I mean do guys really look for this? Yes, we do, it’s just not manly to admit to it, plus the added bonus of our gender not really adept at handling complex and difficult emotions that require vulnerability (I’m breaking all kinds of rules here). But really, looking for your wife?

Yes.

I was raised in a house where we were not allowed to date until we were sixteen, and even then my parents impressed upon us to not just date to date, but to get to know a person and then, if you thought it was serious and that it may ever lead to marriage, then by all means date them. Because I am who I am, I took this as the letter of the law and I adopted this as my philosophy on dating. You date to marry. Then there were the movies, not just Disney movies, but most, if not all movies. They created this view that a significant other was the ultimate goal in life. Being a person who wants to make others happy and desperately craves for the love and affirmation of others, I am a sucker for this mentality.

I find this one person who just “gets me” who laughs with me, who is my best friend, who I can tell anything in the world to and still loves me, I find this girl, and I am set for life, nothing else really matters. Not to mention the church admonishes marriage so much, to a point that may be unhealthy (but that is another conversation).

I prayed and asked for this girl. There were a few promising prospects, but for some reason or another it would always break down before something really happened. I explained it to myself (in order to make me feel better) that we were headed in different directions, different callings.

You see, I have this call on my life, I’m sure if you’re reading this you know a little bit about it, but I feel called to minister to the city of New York (hence AdventuresInNY) and more specifically to those in the theatre industry. I have given my life to God and in this offering, He has staked a claim on my life for this city and I always knew I would eventually end up there so I prayed that I would meet someone with a similar calling or a calling to that area so we could marry, move to the city and ride off in the sunset of marital bliss changing a city for God. They had to have a similar calling because I never want to be in a relationship where I am more important than the call of God on a person’s life.

Then I met this beautiful lady. I fancied her and when (in a bold move) I told her how I felt she let me know that she fancied me. We began the courtship process while honoring the restrictions set by the school we were attending. When the time was right we started dating, it was wonderful. She was my first girlfriend and I thought she was to be my wife. Remember the paradigm I had been working with and she expressed an interest in my city and she even admitted to the same thoughts I had. Then she went home for the summer and all the bubbly, new relationship feelings dwindled a bit. 

Distance is hard on relationships. When she came back to school she realized that she wasn’t sure if she could end up in New York and I began to have the feelings that I was to move by December (which is what motivated the resurgence of my blogging). We broke up because we were heading to different futures. 

This goes against my romantic nature. Love is supposed to go beyond circumstances. 

I didn’t end up going to New York yet and it just makes me wonder…

And suddenly all those romantic feelings resurface. The paranoia, “What if she is the one?” “Did I make a mistake?”

Life is a messy place and emotions just make them confusing, but that is what makes life worth living. It is in these moments that I realize life is not a Disney movie and the really good love stories are the ones that don’t seem likely until the last moment. I don’t know what God has for in store for me in this department, but I will trust Him and continue to pursue the calling he has on my life, who knows while I’m running towards Him I might start to notice someone running beside me. (Sorry, I had to use this cliche, it’s my favorite). 

Don’t Feed the Fears

I don’t know if this is just me, probably not, but for me I feel like I run on two speeds. One, I’m high functioning do it all guy, chatting with people, getting stuff done, and I feel happy, well something like happy. In this speed I am running fast and not stopping to think, sometimes I feel like I’m running on autopilot. This is my organizational micromanaging side of my ENFJ personality. I am doing a lot, getting a lot accomplished, I don’t like downtime here because then I’ll slow down. If I slow down I might fall into the other speed.

My second speed is stagnant. I sit and mull over life. This happens typically when a random idea creeps into my mind and it cripples me. I become consumed by the emotions that the idea created. I feel anxious and I don’t always know why. I feel sad and hurt by the smallest things. I starve for attention. This is when the needy side of my ENFJ surfaces and I want more than anything to be surrounded by people, but because my need for people needs to be meaningful and positive I why away from people out of the fear of rejection or less than meaningful connection.

I think I’ve determined that these aren’t so much conflicting speeds, but two attitudes that are on the same coin. The two faces of anxiety.

I rush and work hard to avoid facing something I know I can’t avoid forever, and when I finally encounter the something, it cripples me. I don’t know why I fear it, but it is not just feeling afraid but it immobilizes me. I can’t sleep. I feel numb. My thoughts are scattered. I am afraid to do anything.

What if I make a mistake?
What if this will haunt me for the rest of my life?
What if this will affect my children?
Will this be constant for the rest of my life?
Will this lead to feelings of discontent?
What of I miss what God wants me to do?
Will this hurt my relationship with Him?
Will this hurt others around me?
What about the people I need to help?
Can I help them?
Will someone else help them?

I am worried that this will steal the happiness from my life? I can have days that are great and it’s like that evil one won’t let me have a happy thought. Every time I come down from a happy high, I am reminded of all the things I don’t know, all the things that are unsure, the loneliness I feel.

This isn’t the end. God is with me, He is my strength and His strength is my joy.

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It Snowed for Me

It snowed last night. 

I’d say it was for me, but I know better. Perhaps I can just be blessed by it, rather than go as far as to say it was for me. Now excuse me as I ramble on….

Earlier in the day I realized how Facebook and other social media sights like Twitter and Tumblr are very similar to drugs. They give this feeling of connectedness to the world, to other people that isn’t quite like real interaction. It provides much of the rewards of interactions, but you can be protected by some of the risks you run when you engage with people. You get to engage with people all over the world and find out about different cultures and see how people live. You can find people that you identify with, so you don’t feel so alone or odd in the world. There is a problem…

It’s not quite real.

On the internet, you can be anyone. You can present yourself exactly how you want to be, without showing anyone how their life is messy. You can come to people and share your secrets and have people accept you as you are, but not challenge you to see things differently or to grow. You see, when you present yourself online and everyone else is doing the same thing, you need to be loving and accepting. Accepting now means that you tell them they are completely right as they are in every situation (well as long as they too ascribe to this loving and accepting image that needs to be upheld) which means that people with serious problems or dealing with serious things are told that life is just like that, and you must accept it. 

Stagnant is a word that describes something that is unmoving, typically water, and as such it begins to gather bacteria, mold, mildew. When people remain exactly as they are, they grow old, unchanging. 

When you interact with a person in real life, it is raw, there is not edits and you are just yourself. Because every human being is different this means that you can learn from someone, when you learn from someone you can change. This is not always easy or comfortable, but you learn how to adjust to real life. When all or most of your interaction comes through a webpage, you can learn, but you don’t learn

When you interact with someone in real life, you can challenge people, challenge their thinking, and because of all the other forms of communication (body language, tone, etc.) you can still communicate love and acceptance while still sharing a different opinion and making a person think. 

The internet is safe. You can gather information, and spit it back out without blinking, but with people it doesn’t work like that, with people you have to think, there is a risk. There is loss, there is heartbreak. Dealing with someone’s sobs in person is sitting with them, holding them, it’s different than giving contrite words on a comment post. Participating in joy with someone is jumping up and down,  yelling and screaming, not giving extra exclamation points in a text. Real life is hard because it takes more effort, but the return is much greater.

Yesterday I realized how addicted I was to the internet, to the unfulfilling moments of engaging with people over wifi. I decided to begin to go out and live. When I had 45 minutes to spare in between meetings, instead of browsing Facebook or Tumblr, I went outside with my camera that was returned to me and took pictures. I went out to lunch with friends. In the evening, I had planned an event with my school where we had fun and games, and enjoyed one another’s company. It was beautiful, I felt so fulfilled. 

When the night was over, I walked outside. It was snowing. 

It was snowing for me. It was snowing so I could enjoy the moment of the soft silence of the snow coming down. It was so I could wander as I let my thoughts do the same. It was so I could think about my future and talk to God about my next steps. It was so I could live. It was so I could be sad. It was so I could feel romantic. It was so I could miss people. I wasn’t looking at a photo or reading a post about snow, I was walking through it.

Last night, it snowed for me, and you know what, today the sun is shining for me and I think I might just go out and live in it.

Dear Sir,

Dear Sir, 

I know it was you, well at least I think I do, it doesn’t really matter, but thank you. I really needed that gift today. It’s funny because God has blessed me through people in this way before, leaving envelopes of money for me when I really needed it, but to be honest I was expecting a gift from God earlier in the break. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it, and I know you are faithful because God gave through you in this way and it must have been a difficult sacrifice for you, and I don’t want you to think that I am ungrateful at all, I just thought God would provide earlier.

You see, I’ve been living off of very little for the past few weeks and I have bills I need to pay, and because I know God takes care of his children I assumed something like this would happen earlier, that God would provide earlier so I wouldn’t have had such a struggle, or had to rely on others so much. Really though my problem isn’t you, it’s me. 

I’ve had so many ups and downs throughout life in this area, and God has always provided, that I expected him to provide in the way that he did all those other times that I needed him. I’m selfish and prideful, so it’s easier for me to receive anonymous donations rather than have someone pay for a meal. If I see someone providing for me, I feel this deep set guilt that I have affronted the individual in some way and now I have to figure out someway to repay them. You know how someone paid for me to go home for Christmas, well that was difficult to accept, because for some reason I hate admitting that I need help from other people. I expect God to help, because that’s what He says He will do, and I think I’ve deluded myself in this notion that God helping me is really God allowing me to figure out how to help myself or me just helping myself, when realistically I am learning He wants others to help and I can trust that. 

Realistically, God is not late, and your gift today, was exactly what I needed and when I needed it. God knows and you obviously were listening. You see, this past week I have been getting by, I have not gotten hungry, but my meals have not always been exciting. On two occasions one of the guys in the apartment made a meal big enough to share and I ate well and multiple times my old roommate bought me a meal for the price of the ride there. I have not put gas in my car for over a month, but I have had enough to get me where I need to go and to help others. Oh, and last week there was a need for work to help clean and I was able to do that, which opened the opportunity to work for the meal plan at school, so today I got to eat two complete meals with friends.

Then you’re gift came. It’s like God blessed me all at once, and you know why? If the gift God gave me through you came any earlier, I would not have accepted the help of others and it would already be spent on groceries, not allowing for the opportunity to eat on the meal plan. You see, the double blessing you provided would have been nice, but if I had gotten it in the timing I was selfishly expecting then I would limit the possibilities that God wanted to allow me to have.

Thank you for your sacrifice, your compassion and most of all your obedience to God. You have taught me a valuable lesson today, sometimes when you feel like God is withholding blessing from you, He is setting up a more ideal time to bless so that you don’t get in the way of the fullness of what He wants for you. I needed that, thank you.

 

Much Obliged and Grateful,

G. R. 

Cheeseburger

I haven’t written yet this year. This absence is not due to a lack of things to write about, but rather the lack of focus to write them out. So much has happened since I wrote last. We had Christmas, I flew back to Virginia, New Years Eve came and went (I had planned on writing some thought provoking post about new beginnings, but I neglected it, probably for the better) and we started back up with working here at School.It’s been great and God has really been pressing in on me with different little lessons.

Money has been extremely tight lately. Tighter than I have every really experienced, but God is faithful and he provides for me consistently. All break I had been praying that there would be money to help sustain me so that I would be able to spend more time at school and working with the Performing/Fine Arts here at the school (my internship). Last Friday, it was approved. When I got back from break last Monday, I had $10 to spend on groceries, in a week and a half I have not gone in want of food. Money is tight, but God is good.

This experience has been so humbling for me and so completely beneficial. Every time I have gotten to a place where I thought I had my life together, that I could take care of myself, times like these come where I have very limited resources and I am forced to completely rely on God. And he has come through, he has taken care of me. Today McDonalds had a deal for $.49 burgers and I did not have even enough money for that, yet God provided. My former roommate and I went and he used some of the money on his gift card to buy both of us lunch. I have never appreciated a McDonalds burger as much as I did today at lunch. This friend of mine, doesn’t have much more money than I do, but he shared his gift card with me and we both feasted on three junior burgers.

It’s amazing how grateful you can be when you have nothing and you begin to realize how much you really have. I have a place to live and a community that surrounds me with love and care, more than that I have the Lord of the Universe caring for me, taking care of me, making sure I can have a prayer answered in the form of a junior cheeseburger. 

I know I am not the only one that can be in a place where you don’t know where the next meal is coming or the next paycheck, but know this: God is taking care of you, He will provide for you.