Swell

Breathe. Take a deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. Breathe.

I’ve been here before, but it’s been a long time. I thought I was done here, done with this; I wasn’t supposed to come back to this.

Breathe.

One little thing doesn’t go your way, well and that other thing which could fall apart. Or that one thing that just consistently seems to fall apart. I’m supposed to be happy. I’m supposed to be grateful. I am grateful and I do feel happy, sometimes. Emotions ebb and flow, I tell other people this all the time.

Why does it seem different when you’re the one to ebb and flow. Waves. The tide rolls out before it rolls in.

Keep your eyes above the waves! I am not supposed to succumb to fear! I have seen so much, experienced so much, I’ve experienced miracles. I’m not supposed to let the waves bother me. I’m not supposed to be a victim of the tide. I am supposed to walk on water. I’m supposed to climb every crest, stride through the swells.

Swell. It’s swell. It is swell. It is well.

It is well.

It will be well.

I’m anxious, but…

it will be well.

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As my training in Pennsylvania draws to a close I begin to search for a new place. I was hoping to find my own place and either I am naive, currently facing a rude awakening, or to be faithful and trust God to find the perfect place. Maybe it’s a mix of both. Please pray for me, that I would have wisdom and faith bigger than a mustard seed.

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Not as Alone as I Think

I want to say something,  something illogical and foolish, but please bear with me. It’s been a while since I have written anything. There’s good reason for this, well no, actually it makes sense but it’s not a good reason, in fact it’s rather counter intuitive.

In the past month(s) I’ve come to realize something about me. I enjoy being around people, not ground breaking, but I need to be around people. I need to be with people I trust and I can be completely vulnerable with. The difficulty I’ve found is that though I have people around me I close myself off, in part because I worry about people’s thoughts about me, what I’m sharing, but in large part due to this feeling that I will overwhelm the people I care about with the extensive overthinking I do.

I feel as though, because I want to care for people around me who carry so much as it is, I cannot load more on their shoulders.

So the problem persists, grows, and compounds, creating an unhealthy Greg, withdrawn from the people that care for me and stewing in negative thoughts or just too many thoughts.

Foolish right?

Now, in the past to sort of “sidetrack” this issue, or for an eloquent “put together” way of expressing my internal turmoil, I blog, I write about it. (This is beyond the daily journaling I do). This way I can share a struggle, a frustration, a confusion, without true intimacy because I give it themes and metaphorical meaning, externally processing with the enigmatic wide web which includes whomever “chooses to read/hear” my stresses. Typically written blogs give an air of finality to personal struggles, like “writing about it means it’s solved, or mostly solved” which is much more manageable than unresolved conflict, which is messy.

Since I have been trying to work on friendships (or rather this is what I told myself) I didn’t want to share my struggles via blog without cluing in at least some people because then I’d get the typical former response of, “Hey I had no idea, please come to me if you ever need to talk”. I want people to know me, I need people. This is why I haven’t been blogging.

While this has been “good” I haven’t been doing my part. I haven’t been sharing.

I recently reread “Scary Close” by Donald Miller, this is now the third time reading it (I think this will become a habit). The book outlines how Don struggles with intimacy, how he’s been “performing” his whole life. He walks through his journey of discovery through his relationship patterns up until his wife. The book explores how life is meant to be shared and though it’s scary, to be known by people.

Rereading this book and a moment of clarity on a Sunday at church woke me up. My ideas culminated to a realization, I’ve been emotionally unhealthy. I realized it fully when my friend asked me why I was sitting on my own reading my Bible rather than be at lunch with my team/friends.

Reading the Bible is not the issue, in fact it’s a great thing, an essential aspect to life. It was the timing and the scenario. I timed my day in such a way that I missed lunch with my friends, in fact I didn’t miss eating, I had grabbed food on my own and then sat down to read. I told my friend as I was realizing it for myself. Because I need people to process my own thoughts with, I isolate myself when I am feeling anxious because I don’t want to overwhelm my friends with my anxieties.

I’ve been making things worse.

Last night as I was sharing with my friend an encounter I had with God this week, a moment where God was again asking me to trust Him which I was struggling to do. It was interesting though because after I shared, after I included him in my struggling and the process God was walking me through he thanked me. Not just for sharing “myself”, my process, with him, but also he was reminded of something God had spoken to him. My friend basically told me that not only should I share with people for my health but for others to learn.

Life is meant to be lived with others, to share the burdens we are not strong enough to carry on our own. To get perspective from those not within a situation, not themselves crushed by a specific anxiety. We can learn from hearing what people are processing and realize that we are not as alone as we may perceive.

Terrible American

First off, I want to apologize. I am sorry. I don’t know if I have the right to share my opinion. I am not a good American. I didn’t exercise my right as a citizen today.

I didn’t vote.

I didn’t vote and so I probably have no right to share my opinion. I mean I have a vaguish reasonable reason I didn’t vote. Though I am from California, my last residence was Virginia and I live in New York. I should have done an absentee ballot, but I assumed I would go and change my formal residency and voter’s status. I procrastinated. On the last day I could register to vote in New York (which I was reminded of that day by a stranger on a train) I did not have my correct paperwork with me to send in. I was not allowed to vote by my high hopes and poor follow through.

If I can be honest though, I didn’t want to either.

I don’t like our candidates. The crazy thing, as far as I can tell, I am in the majority. Most of the people I speak to don’t like either candidate and while in the past the elections have been a voting for the “lesser of two evils”, I don’t think it has been seen so strongly by so many. On one hand, we have a candidate who “tells it like it is” but what “it is” is gross, racist, misogynistic, and all around frightening. On the other hand, we have “the first woman to be president, who also happens to not be Trump” but there are a lot of people who are not Trump, and this not Trump has a history is deception, inconsistency, and pandering to what people want to get into a place of power.

Who should I vote for?

“How can you even ask that?”

Should I go third party?

“and throw away your vote to them?”

Why do we even have a system where this is becoming the norm?

A part of me thinks: I could not live with myself if I voted for someone who’s behavior is so erratic, who has said so many terrible things, and makes obscure promises, and of those promises some of them just seem to fly in the face of the grace and love I am supposed to exude as a follower of Christ? How could I support someone who instills so much deep seeded fear into my friends?

but

If someone so obviously terrible to so many comes into power, perhaps people will then be stirred into action. Perhaps large scale (hopefully peaceful) rebellion will start up where people begin to lobby to get policies to change, our party system may be examined. People will be impassioned to bring change. I think my fear with a corrupt politician (though more appealing emotionally and for the sake of “peace”) is that we will fall into the fugue of status quo. We as the masses will forget about politics again (except to gripe) for the next four years. We need change…but at what cost?

That’s the other thing. I, a white cis male, carry with me a set of lenses that are narrow. I know for a lot of people even the potential of these awful promises is terrifying. I have never experienced that anxiety. My citizenship has never been in question, my faith and appearance puts me in a “randomly unscreened” category when I go through security or when I pass by a police officer. Will this possible political upset, be too upsetting? Individuals are at stake.

But you know what really makes me glad I am not “allowed” to vote?

Because this election has been stirring up deep seeded feelings, it has stirred up deep seeded hatred and contention. People are either abrasive with their opinions, everyone else be damned, or you’re afraid to share what you’re wrestling with because you’re a villain or a fool if you even consider the other terrible candidate. This election is dividing people in the worst way, no longer do we just disagree on opinions, but now we demonize one another for our decisions, worse our potential thoughts and concerns. Heavy moral implications are placed on both candidates. So how can a person decide, well reasonably, when they feel like they are being tossed between two echoing walls of people perpetuating the same arguments.

I am uncertain. People are stressed and worried. I don’t know how to help.

But you know what gives me peace? In general, bad things have happened and people still thrive, but more than that I believe people are more than citizens of a nation with a ruler higher than kings and emperors. Here it comes.

Jesus. King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

I believe, aside from all this politics I know who leads my life, I know who is in control of the world. God has been constant and because all people are flawed He has still made good regardless of the appearance of hopelessness. He still moves and His creation is still beautiful, as are His people, even when we act ugly. So, while the waves thrash, I know the one who calms storms.

Admonishment (the following is to professed Christians, if you do not share this, feel free to end above):

We are not meant to worry about these things (Mt. 6:25-34; Col. 3:1-3; and the stories of the seeds planted along the road, don’t create unneeded weeds). Please. Please. I implore you, do not get caught up in the frenzy. I think it’s fine to share your concerns, to be nervous, to feel, if I didn’t I’d be pretty hypocritical to add this to the previous post. What I mean is please don’t demonize people, don’t ostracize people, we’re all mixed up and some people have different views than you. Sometimes their views can be hurtful, but at the end of the day we’re all sinners in need of grace and love. Please let’s trust that God has control still no matter the outcome. If it turns out as bad as people fear, God is still in control, in either case and remember, we’re more than citizens of this country, of this earth…remember that. Please, let’s not add more fear to the already tense times and lets bring instead the fruits of the spirits and try to be an ambassador of Heaven to all people. End admonishment…I will try to do my best.

I am terrified. I feel sick. I want to vomit. Can I continue to believe the fantasy? Can I pretend just a little bit longer?

If there’s one thing about me that I really hate, it’s that I’m not perfect. I wish I was without any flaw, a paragon of humankind. I yearn from my innermost that I might be the most, the best, be what everyone wants of me, be what I think everyone needs of me. Perhaps I am too hard on myself. Perhaps my personal standards are too farfetched, that I could be perfect. Perhaps what scares me the most is when I know other people know of my brokenness.

You know I’ve gotten extremely good at wearing a mask, so much so that sometimes I believe it  when I look at my “reflection”, but I know deep down how marred I am.

But God. You see, I am broken, but God is perfect. I make mistakes and God has none and yet, He still loves me. He has died for me, so that I can live life with Him forever, so my brokenness is of no consequence because He is so good.

Here’s the rub. I’m still not perfect. I need someone to save me and while I eternally grateful, I still don’t like it. I don’t like that I need someone to save me. I don’t like that I cannot manage it on my own, that I cannot somehow do so much or be so good as to warrant good things. I don’t deserve good (not the good as we have watered it down to in our language, like nice things or stuff I want, but true good). I don’t deserve to be loved by the one who gave me life and gave me more, the one who is goodness and love personified because I am a mess. I am not perfect.

Have you ever seen that couple that you know one of the people is dating way up, way out of their league. That’s what it’s like with me and the creator. You see, the God of the Universe, loved His creation so much that He wanted to give Him the greatest good imaginable, Him (it’s hard to comprehend when we have for muddied the definition to mean anything that is beneficial to our happiness, but true good is going for your best in spite of desires). But because He is so good and His creation chose to leave Him, He made a promise with a group of people that as long as they trusted Him, believed in Him and His character, thereby knowing His love for them, and living in community with Him, then He would go above and beyond in blessing.

The story doesn’t end there. He chose these people because they were small and weak, not because they were the best, in order to display the greatness and vastness of His love as well as His limitless power. If these weak people followed Him and where thereby blessed how much would the rest of humanity envy them and wish the same for them? However, in the choosing of weak people and flawed people they did not do the best in sharing His love and character. Furthering His mission of sharing His love and goodness to the world, He came Himself in part and in whole (honestly this bit is a little confusing, but nevertheless the important aspect is how he came to live like one of His creation) and then died furthering His showing of love by providing the ultimate good, a way for our souls to be made perfect so that they could spend eternity with the perfect father.

There’s this slight thing though, God wants a lot of His creation to know Him, so in the same model of how He used the people group He chose, He wants those who believe in Him to share His story, to share their story with Him, how broken they are without Him. That’s the thing of it, too. Because those who believe in Him still live here on Earth, they are not completely rid of that which is bad, the imperfect. God allows imperfect people in His presence to be molded and changed into what He originally had us designed as, without fault. This process is not easy as it requires letting go of control, because as I mentioned I cannot be perfect. To attain perfection I need someone perfect coaching me, guiding me and thereby changing me.

Here’s where it’s about me again for a second, for you see I am one of those imperfect ones who believes God is who He says He is but cannot seem to do well enough to show it on His own. I’m so fractured, I need the creator to slowly break parts away to reform me to who I am meant to be, my true self, the one before the breaks. I don’t know where the fractures began exactly but I know where they lead if I don’t let go.

When you try to hold shattered glass together you’re going to end up bleeding.

Here’s where it’s not about me. To show the process of me being reworked into perfection, I need to be honest with myself and others as to wear some of my fracture points are. I need to expose my wounds to oxygen or else they will fester. I need to allow the doctor to tear away the shrapnel to fix me. How will others know who to trust with their fractures if they don’t see who fixes mine? I can tell people “I’m broken” but unless I really show them how, they won’t understand or even believe how I’ve been healed.

It’s hard to open up because it hurts, but if you’re not willing to be in pain a little there will be no growth.

Much like many people I have identity issues, I forget who I was designed by and what He intended for me because I begin listening to other people and their opinions about who I am. So in an effort to really begin healing I am taking off the self-made bandage before it gets any more toxic.

I am gay. I am straight. I am neither. I am both.

There’s this spinning storm inside of me as I try to sort out my thoughts. But I can’t seem to land on one thing because I want a simple answer to a complicated question. I’m trying to label myself by someone else’s standard, but I cannot. I don’t know how to articulate the confusion, the frustration, or just the anxiety with sharing because you’re thinking a million things right now. Something inside of you is telling you how to think about me and I am terrified of what it says. I couldn’t handle you slapping me on the back congratulating me for coming out, because I haven’t. I haven’t declared anything other than I am confused. And please don’t tell me I’m living in self denial, because I know what that is and I’ve left that behind.

I worry because some of you might think your suspicions were right all along. I am afraid of you being disappointed that I wasn’t more than I am. I couldn’t handle the shame you might give, I’ve been letting that go for some time and I don’t want it back. I worry that when I have this conversation with my future wife she will think less of me, or feel self conscious. I want to ease your curiosity and say I am attracted to women and I have been in love with a woman. Contrarily I have never been in love with a man, nor am I even sure if what I experience is even considered completely an attraction to men.

Writing it out makes is weird and I worry you’ll get queasy but finally putting it down is somewhat of a relief as well.

Before you get angry, telling me I’ve just been brainwashed into not being myself, I want you to consider how you, the one claiming to not want overbearing entities to define me, are trying yourself to define me. That’s not your job. It’s not your responsibility to identify me. The only one with that privilege is the one who made me. The one, who in this confusion and struggle has just whispered love and truth to me, comforted me in my anguish knowing I would let someone down one day because I was not what they hoped I would be.

I write all of this down for me and for you. For me, it means freedom, letting go of the shame and personal bonds I have placed on myself, to allow healing in my life. For you, for you it’s to see the healing process. It’s painful, but it’s good. I am exposing my wounds to you, not for your politics, not for your philosophy or psychology; I expose my wounds for your theology. I want you to know as I do, how He loves.

In church my pastor spoke about how we are to embrace grace, to fully welcome the knowledge that God loves me as I am, but wants so much more for me, the very best. That in my life embracing this grace means embracing it for others, embracing our weaknesses so that others may see the grace that envelops.

I have a problem, a serious problem. I don’t know how to ask for help. The very idea of it scares me, almost to the point of a panic attack. I don’t know where it comes from. I don’t know if it’s pride, not wanting to admit that I can’t handle life on my own. I think that is part of it at least.

But you know what really gets me?

The idea of writing this, makes me anxious, too. Because this is an indirect ask for help, part of me wants this to be an ask, but the biggest need is to be cathartic because not sharing is also hard. Whenever i get stressed out the best way for me to figure it out is to talk about it, but often as not when I talk about needing something people want to help.

Which stresses me out.

I love helping people, in fact, I don’t know if I like anything more than to be that dependable friend who helps in times of need. I don’t know how to be helped. I feel mixed up, grateful and happy, but also indebted and stressed. I keep mental notes of what I need to do, but you know what is awful, typically I cannot pay it back.

This past year has been extremely difficult and it seems to be culminating up as the year comes as a close. I have been paying all my bills, some a bit late, but they get paid in full. If you’ve been reading my posts over this year you know this. I am tired. I know I need to be faithful, I know I need to hope and that God will come through and I will wait for that, but I am tired and stressed and I don’t know how to ask for help.

Christmas is a week away and I’ve managed to get the week off, but you know what? I don’t have anything after that. I just paid last months rent three days ago. I probably won’t be able to pay next months on time. I have eaten grilled cheese about three times already this week. I have zero dollars in my bank account, well a little more, but I have to keep shifting it around so that my bank doesn’t give me any penalties or some money doesn’t get charged for something random. I have all these parties this week too, and I can’t figure out to attend and not be the party pooper who can’t bring a gift, or someone buys a gift for me to give, or I can’t afford to get anything other than water.

But how do I ask for help?

Aren’t I supposed to prove to the world that I can handle this? Isn’t God supposed to prove to everyone that this was where I was supposed to go? If I ask for help won’t people think that this wasn’t actually where I was supposed to go? Or perhaps it’s a different sort of success we are to see in our lives, that the people of the bible who were called places faced a lot of adversity? Or perhaps what’s scarier is maybe I’m deluded.

A few years back there was a difficult time in my family and when I finally broke through my own insecurities about asking for help I was accosted and told to “grow up” from someone I trusted. It hurt. I know it’s not correct, but it’s still in my head that I need to prove myself a capable adult, but I don’t know if I can. I can’t do this on my own.

I can’t even complain because there are so many people that have worse off and I have so many people that I have in my life that care for me and even people working to get me home, it’s still uncertain, but there are those who are really trying to get me even now, and perhaps this is going to be an eleventh hour miracle, or even 11:59 miracle.

And here’s the takeaway, I suppose, sometimes life isn’t full of roses and rainbows, but you’ve gotta just keep going. I think it’s alright to ask for help though, and I think it’s alright to be stressed and anxious, but I think you can’t let it ruin your life.

One time I had a conversation with a good friend and we were mentioning the cliche (which is Biblical and true) that God’s mercies are new every morning when it dawned on me (pun completely intended) that it’s always morning somewhere.

Well, who knows I may write a “amazing God came through, everything worked out” post, or it may be one of those “well I was surrounded by friends and sometimes life is difficult but it’s okay” post. Life is weird that way. Anyway, this was kind of a ramble but that’s where  my brain is at currently, so sorry.

Merry Christmas!

It’s What He’s Doing

I should be sleeping.

But I can’t. I’m anxious.

I haven’t written a blog post in six months. My last post talked about what my adventures would be like “Not in New York”. I had resigned myself to not going for a while. I didn’t know when it would happen.

Well, it’s happening. I am moving in five days.

It all started very much the same as it did a year ago. I felt a stirring. I felt like God was saying it’s time to go to New York City. But this time I told Him no. I could not go through the ordeal of hoping for this and having it not happen. But, as any stirring from God it wouldn’t go away.

I decided to visit New York in order to assuage this feeling. Perhaps if I visited I could get this whole New York thing out of my system and be content where I was, but it didn’t. Because I wanted to be sure, I laid out a fleece for God, I set up something that I wanted Him to show me specifically in order for me to know that it was Him saying go. He answered it, above and beyond.

When I got to New York, it felt good. Like breathing air (smog filled air). I felt like I was right where I was supposed to be. You know that feeling you get when you are away from home for a while, but then you return to visit, well, it felt like that. I didn’t care so much about wanting to do tourist things, so much as I just wanted to walk, or maybe sit in a coffee shop and drink coffee. I visited my old Starbucks twice in one weekend.

I was made for this city. I know it. I pushed onward and a midst the craziness that was my life this semester, I took the steps I needed to take. I have been working hard, saving up, I talked to my bosses, I set up a transfer, I reached out for housing and all of it was responded to well and now I am here. I am about to embark on this next season, into the unknown and I am terrified and yet excited.I cannot wait what life has in store for me, but at the same time I am worried. What will it look like? Will I have enough money? What will people say?

But you know what? All of these things don’;t really matter because one thing is for sure: God has called me to this city, I don’t know what it will look like, but I know He will lead me and take care of me.

Oh and I will do my best to keep you updated on how He does it.