The Road Taken by NOT Robert Frost

It’s warm, not quite hot, and it’s humid, but there’s a slight breeze to alleviate the stifled air. The slightly overgrown path snakes downward towards the water, making the city feel more jungle, less concrete. That’s it! I feel less concrete. These Saturdays slumber on slowly as they press me in to learn to stop. Stop making, stop producing, stop demanding, stop doing, and simply be. Sabbath.

I love this city. I love how the old parks make it feel like this place is stuck in between worlds, the grit of reality and the magic of fantasy. Old poets, playwrights, authors, song writers, and movie makers will convince you the same. New York is always ready for adventure. Even on these slow days, anything can happen. You can be anywhere. Anyone. So why do I feel so trapped in me?

My problem? I have the sensibilities of an artist, I want words that wax and wane, describing my days as if they are pages or scenes or stanzas or verses. Even writing these thoughts I am pressured to present them with pomp and circumstance. Each Instagram Post illuminating the pieces of an imaginary existence. I can’t even write a blog without sounding pretentious and indulgent.

I am not imaginary. My life is not fantasy.

I am real.

And sometimes that’s the trouble. There’s no plotted course, there’s no perfect next step. Where is my arc taking me? Am I a flat character in someone else’s narrative? I should get to the point.

I am real.

Carpe diem. Seize the day.

I am responsible for what I do. I am responsible for my decisions. I don’t have a script. I am not a victim of my life. I am responsible. I deal with the repercussions of my actions.

Now, I have a good life. I think there are many decisions I chose right. But how can I know for sure?

If I was the hero of a story I would have a clear course, a path from A to Z. Defeat the monster. Get the girl. But who is she? Does she want to be get? Be gotten? She has her own story. So what if the girl decides she doesn’t want this hero? Does she want the black smith? Is she the hero? Am I even in her story?

See, it’s getting muddy.

There’s no clear cast. I am the hero. I am the mentor. I am the plucky sidekick. I am farmer #2. I am the villain. I am the son. I am the brother. I am the friend. I am the crush. I am the crushed. I am the actor. I am the director. I am the stage hand. I am the barista. I am the grandson. I am the supervisor. I am the coach. I am the coffee roaster. I am the roommate. Who am I in my story?

Who are the others in my story? Who stays? Who is supposed to leave?

Stories are good because they teach us lessons, but the best teacher is experience, it is also the hardest.

You see why it’s easier to cloud my thoughts. Fill the space with activity. With things. With other people’s worries. With work. With watching other’s lives through a 6″ screen. With reading someone else’s story?

 

 

silence

 

 

Can you tell I have a flair for the melodrama?

That’s my problem I suppose. My brain sees everything in technicolor and life is a more subdued hues. I am too scared to make a decision because the consequences.

What if it never happens?

Well what if it does?

And what’s the worst that happens if it doesn’t?

I suppose it is less either/or and more in between or and. And maybe I’m making this bigger than it ought to be and I am so worried about making the wrong decision, I make no decision at all. I don’t live in a fantasy, but what if I forget to even live in reality? I suppose I should get more comfortable in the nebulous.

 

Sometimes I wish God would be more clear about every step I should take instead of trusting me to live the life He’s given me. Then I don’t. How great is that He gives me life to live, messy and rife with possibility, and chooses to direct when needed, but more often than not just walk along.

 

Walking down an overgrown path snaking down towards the water. The path splits. Where should I go?

 

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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.

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.