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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This is Not what I Wanted

I can’t believe Jesus has the nerve to not give me what I want; He’s not the savior I thought He would be and yet He still calls himself good.

Growing up attending church, I consistently felt strange and uncomfortable on Palm Sunday. The Sunday before Easter Sunday, the Sunday we dressed up like first century Israelites and waved fake palm branches and shouted Hosanna while one of the guys in the church with a beard walked down the center aisle of the sanctuary (we didn’t have the budget or approval for live animals). I had a difficult time wrapping my mind around the people in Jerusalem were so excited about Jesus’ arrival to turn on him five days later. Living in Southern California, I also thought it strange we didn’t just pull real palm branches down from the tree outside, but that is beside the point.

I know the story of Easter. Jesus gets betrayed by his friend, He is tortured and killed as punishment for sin, but because He was pure and didn’t deserve death, because He gave up his blameless life for the broken life, taking punishment, He broke the punishment. Jesus didn’t die. He came back to life. Some have viewed this as the first recorded incident of a zombie, but there’s no record of Him feasting on brains, so I don’t give credence in that. From my own study, I think He was alive again, with a better bod.

I digress.

Palm Sunday. Celebration. Director’s notes, “let’s have a lot of energy. This is the guy that fed five thousand, turned water to wine, brought dead people back to life. He’s the Messiah, let’s get jazzed.” So the scene is set. We’re celebrating the entrance of the King, the redeemer. Get into character. I found it extremely difficult to get into this character, finding the motivation when I thought about this same role I would play Friday night. Here I am on Sunday praising this guy and I know Friday I’ll be screaming “Crucify Him” with the rest of the extras.

Why?

Hosanna?

Let me start there.The commentary section in my Bible says that this word is transliterated to English. Transliteration is taking a word in it’s original language and spelling the same word in another language, rather than translating it, which would be to use a corresponding meaning. So, Hosanna is the Greek word used here, but it was also transliterated to Greek from Hebrew. Specifically Hosanna was the Hebrew word, meaning “Save now” found in Psalm 118:25 which was a prayer asking for deliverance from enemies, deliverance from oppression.  According to this Bible Dictionary Hosanna was part of prayer used in reference to the Passover and Feast of Tabernacles, an active prayer of gratitude and askance for salvation from oppression linking to the Exodus from Egyptian Slavery.

So, the Israelites are excited and using this prayer/praise word from their holiday tradition in reference to Jesus as the Messiah. Deliverance.

The Israelites had been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Christ, the Messiah, the one to free them from oppression, and here comes this Jesus into Jerusalem the week of Passover, the week they celebrated and remembered what God did through Moses when he led them out of slavery into their promised land. As Jesus entered this town there was an expectation of deliverance, of freedom, from what, or rather from whom?

A quick google search reveals that the Romans conquered Jerusalem just under 100 years prior to this moment. While Rome is known for it’s achievements and prowess as a conquering kingdom, it’s not quite known for kindness and generosity. Some reading through the Gospel writings reveals that the general populace were not fans.

It doesn’t take a lot to figure out now why the people are so jazzed about Jesus. Redeemer. The one spoken of to take the people out of oppression. He’s their contemporary Moses. He’ll lead them out of under the thumb of Roman rule. Perhaps not a great Exodus from Jerusalem, but an ousting of military might. A would be king to replace Caesar.

What could possibly go so wrong?

Now the Roman rule allowed the people to still worship in their synagogues and follow the leadership of the religious teachers of the time, but it seems the odd government allowed for a power dichotomy from the religious rulers and the lay people (everyone else). It is the unfortunate pattern that people will use whatever is at their disposal to gain power, control over others, even something that is disguised with benign belief. There were a few individuals who were not super stoked about someone overthrowing the current regime which allowed them to wield such power.

The first story told after Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem is everyone’s favorite Jesus story with turning tables. Jesus is angry. He’s so incensed He causes a scene. The religious leaders have been levying their power to line the offering baskets. At Passover the people of Israel had to make a sacrifice in the temple of a pure lamb, but not everyone had a perfect lamb, so they could purchase one at the temple. Basically these offering shops were set up to abuse the poverty of the people. It perpetuated a system of economic disparity. The church remains wealthy and the people are poor. Jesus gets upset.

Okay, so off the bat Jesus is showing that things are changing. I’d assume that for the general public this is welcome, but for some of the church elites, this is problematic. Jesus also tells the story of the sheep and goats during His time in Jerusalem, another win for those in need. Jesus makes it clear that those that know Him, know His father (YHWH) are definitely caring about those in need.

So, why still did we not have Jesus as the populist King of Israel borne on the backs of the down and out itching for political reform.

John mentions a time where Jesus knowingly avoids some people because they try to force Him to be their revolutionary (John 6:15). Within the parables told between the Triumphant Entry and the Lord’s Supper, Jesus shows more of His intentions, of the specific nature of His kingdom and what the Messiah came to do. One of the most notable moments comes when some of the Teachers of the Mosaic law come to Jesus to trap Him in a bipartisan argument (Mt. 22:15-22; Mk. 12:13-17; Lk. 20:20-26). They ask Jesus if taxes should be paid to Caesar. Should the “Kingdom of God” pay fealty taxes to a conquering King? If Jesus was to say no, siding with revolutionaries, He would be committing treason. If He said yes, He was acknowledging Roman right to rule, and not the “redeemer” that people wanted.

He basically said yes and no. He called them out on their hypocrisy. The denarius was the money utilized throughout Jerusalem by Romans and Israelites alike. How could they use the common currency without themselves acknowledging Roman rule. He said, give them taxes out of the Roman currency they used. He was also cluing the people into what kind of King he was not.

I think Jesus reveals His intentions again when He is anointed in Bethany as told in Matthew and Mark. The disciples are frustrated that she would waste so much money that could be shared with the poor. Even the disciples think they know what kind of Messiah Jesus is, upturning the waste of the wealthy for the spreading of funds.

Jesus says something upsetting, “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them anytime you want.” (Mk. 14:6).

I used to think Jesus was being a little hypocritical here, uncaring about poor people. But in context with the rest of His work and words, I don’t think Jesus is saying not to help the poor, in fact far from it. I think He was actually calling out the disciples and their smug, judgment. In this moment Jesus also makes clear that though we are to help the poor (obviously should do it whenever we can) that His Kingdom is not solely about public works and infrastructure.

Hosanna!

Save us! Thank you for saving us!

Hosanna!

Jesus came to save. Messiah!

Revolutionary.

But not in the traditional sense. He’s not Che Guevara. He’s not Moses. He’s not George Washington. He’s not Cesar Chavez. He’s not William Wallace. He’s not Maximilien Robespierre. He’s not Malcolm X. He’s not Martin Luthor King Jr. He’s not Vladimir Lenin. He’s not Mahatma Gandhi. He’s not Toussaint L’Ouverture.

And historically that made people mad.

It would’ve been simpler, if He was. His death may have still been imminent, perhaps later, but it would’ve been less remembered.

He arrived the first day of the week to adulation, but He wasn’t what they wanted. They wanted to have the world change for them, but He said people had to change for the world. What’s worse, He said they couldn’t do it on their own. I think that’s what really bothers people about Jesus (I know it bothers me a lot). There’s not a five step process to save myself. I need Jesus.

That’s it. He is the Messiah, the Christ, the redeemer. Savior. Salvation. But from what? A flaw, not in the design, but in application of design. We are creatures made of physical body, mind, and a spirit. Our lives are dependent on the life force, the spirit of creator. Made for community, for love, for communion with creator. But we have to choose, that’s key in love, in relationship. There has to be freedom of choice. Which means we are free to sever ties from life, from good.

History is evidence of the choice.

If every decision we made was circumvented because it brought  us or others harm, that would not be choice. That would not be freedom. Which means for now, “the poor you will always have with you”. That means separation from good. While there is separation, a broken agreement, there cannot be communion. We can’t engage with someone we’re estranged with until someone does the work to bring unity. In this case, takes the result of separation, death, in the stead of another person. It’s like shooting up but someone else takes the kidney failure, the heart failure. We chose a high over life, and there is an effect.

Jesus did that.

So, this Sunday we celebrate His arrival. By Friday we’ll be crying for his death because He’s not what we want, and you know what, He’s definitely not what we deserve.

You know what else is crazy? He knew. He knew riding in where He was going. He went anyway.

This is why Palm Sunday makes me uncomfortable. I am in that crowd praising Jesus for being a cultural revolutionary, for upsetting the establishment, but I am also in the crowd on Friday. Angry and upset that I am not getting my way. To follow Him means I have to allow those things go. My plans. My wishes. My way. My perception that I can do it on my own. I have to allow Him to take those things with Him upon the cross. I have to admit that I should be the one with nails in my hands. I should be the one eternally separate from life, from good. And I’m angry because He loves me, does this for me willingly. He’s better than me.

I cannot save myself. I am not self-sufficient.

Once I let this go, I can live. I can rise.

Palm Sunday is a lie. It is a celebration of perception. Friday is when the lie dies. Sunday, Easter, is where truth comes to life. Throwing off the dead things that hindered me, I can run my race. I am not in control of my destiny, and I never was, but now I know the one who is and He is good.

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.

Heads in the Sand

Can I speak?

No, I mean I can, but I really meant

Should I speak?

I have some conflicting ideas. On one hand, I was always told to speak your mind, express yourself, that I live in a free country and can have an opinion. In school I was rewarded for speaking up, for asking questions, for processing aloud. On the other hand, I was told that sometimes it’s better to have peace than to have my perspective shared. In this climate lately, I’ve been told explicitly and implicitly my perspective doesn’t matter, well unless my opinion reflects those who speak the loudest and most passionately now.

I also happen to carry certain identifiers that also render my opinion invalid because of the crimes of my predecessors. I’m not here to make another whiny no-one-will-listen-to-a-white-christian-male post, I’m just clarifying that lately I’ve felt less inclined to express my opinion for the fear that it will be completely disregarded, not that some (most) of the criticisms are valid. I mean it has been colonialism that have led to many of our worldly woes.

I digress.

I honestly haven’t written in a long time for a myriad of reasons. Most of them are internal. I hated repeating the whiny broken record of “Why God? It doesn’t make sense! I’m living in one of the greatest places on earth and don’t know what I’m doing. I have a dependable job with benefits that is flexible for life. I have to pay off dental bills for the fixing of my teeth. Wah”

It’s exhausting to go through the motions in and of them self to then rehash it out for others.

So my throat tightened.

My thoughts and emotions suppressed.

Left to sit.

But..

When God designed me, when he set the parameters for how I was raised, He made me to express and share. In fact I don’t function well at all if I don’t talk things out, to formulate my thoughts out loud, and hopefully with someone as a sounding board. The last few months I’ve been sick, not visibly but internally, heart sick. All the thoughts and feelings have been stewing inside and creating poison. Every now and then I release a little bit, I allow some to seep out or some of the poison lashed out, but up until about two weeks ago when I began to work on healing, I allowed poison to grow. I knew it was there but I tried to distract myself with a million little things to avoid the truth.

The thing about truth, whether personal or objective, it is good when let out, but it’s not always pretty. Towards the end of last year when I was exhausted from asking God to heal me, or bring focus, He challenged me to begin to pull away from my self medications, my distractions. I slowly began pulling them out by the root and had serious withdrawals. Most of my distractions were simple but effective (social media being king). I wouldn’t allow for a moment to go by without occupying my mind, so I began to allow myself to be bored, to not be distracted. It was awful. I was in a scary place.

I was alone, alone with my thoughts.

All those things I had not dealt with, that had lingered, now stared me down. I couldn’t face them alone, so I prayed.

Relief. Sweet relief.

I began to realize my problem, I was never able to receive healing because I was ignoring my problem, my sickness. Ignoring a knife wound and willing it away doesn’t fix it. Dressing it up in fancy wraps doesn’t mend it. Making self-deprecating jokes doesn’t heal. You’ve go to take the knife out (not immediately, in the presence of a great surgeon) and allow yourself to be patched up.

Lately, things have been getting chaotic. And ignoring it won’t help. So now I look at it and now I will process out loud. If you’ve read this far, hopefully that means you won’t readily discount my thoughts. I know my personal struggle lends nothing to my education or my perspective, but I hope it allows you to see that I am human, that I struggle and that I have some personal character.

Breathe.

The world is a messy place. You know that, I know that. It’s also a beautiful place.

It’s sick. For a long time people have liked to think otherwise, that the problem is “those people”, but the problem is those people are just like you, part of humanity, flawed, messy, and beautiful. You who argue that morality is gray, how can you say I am wrong that all humans are simultaneously capable of wonder and atrocity.

There’s healing available. Good healing. The caveat requires that we give up something of ourselves, our pride mostly. We have to all recognize how we contribute to the problem before we can figure out how to be part of the healing.

That’s the rub isn’t it though, it’s so much easier to see someone else’s problems, “Can you believe that person would say or do this thing that I abhor”, you say. They retort, “At least I don’t do that thing or think the way you do!”

Right now we have a President in the USA who is making a lot of bold moves that are scary to a lot of people. If you are not concerned with how concerned the country is, I wan’t you to ask someone why they are scared. If you are in a fever pitch with how disgusted you are, can you ask someone what fear they had that led them to their perspective? If you who scream tolerance are intolerant of another how do expect progress? If you claim to love your neighbor but won’t stop to hear their story how can you expect love to grow? Are you able to confidently accuse someone else of bias without recognizing your own limited bias?

Can I march with you if I don’t agree with everything you say or support?

Can I not march and still feel passionately?

Will you listen to what I have to say before disregarding what I have to say, without a retort ready on your lips?

What if I told you I am Pro-life and think defunding Planned Parenthood is terrible?

That I believe in the right to bear arms but I think war is deplorable.

What if I told you some of the most brilliant, open minded individuals have an accent different than yours?

I believe in empathy and understanding, but I don’t think safe spaces are a healthy solution.

Can you imagine a world, a country, a room even where people are not afraid to share their perspective for fear of being shamed or disregarded? Isn’t that what has this been about? Or has all of history just been a repeating cycle of the bullied becoming the bullies?

 

Now, this is where I become more divisive. I believe the healing we need is love. The love I refer to is not the one that is permissive, that allows children (who are still developing and need direction) to do whatever they want. (sidebar, why do we spend so much money on training and disciplining pets if we don’t care enough for our children to guide them) Not the love that is unhealthy and codependent allowing for abuses because one day someone might turn around. I mean the active, healthy good love we all need. The love that comes to us and tells us when we’re messing up but makes sure to walk alongside us when we need it. The love that gets into the ditch to help up out when we’ve slipped. The love that celebrates our victories with the most relish. The love that protects but urges us to be brave. The love that makes us our best and the most we could be.

I believe that love comes from one source. You have every freedom to disagree with my “limited” view but in my life when everything is crashing, when I am what I described above that love is God, made apparent in Jesus Christ. My attempts at good are a farce in comparison to what I have done through Him. (not ignoring all those who misuse his name and character, that is evident in their character) Jesus is my healer and the one to heal the seeping wound of this world.

 

Now you know what I think. Now I’ve just got to get better at representing Him. Although the great thing is, all I have to do is let down my guard with Him. (Which is scary). Recognize that part of me is the cause of hurt and as long as I continually go to Him I will become part of the solution.

That’s all I meant to say, I’ve gotta take my head out of the sand. I’ve gotta speak and be a part of the solution.

 

 

A Post Script for those who follow Christ as I have aforementioned. I don’t understand how we can ignore the pain and the cries of so many, even if you disagree with policy. How is the red, white, and blue greater than the Kingdom of Heaven? I thought we were not of this world? I thought we pay taxes to Caesar, honor and pray for him (or her), but we are not nationalists. We are not supposed to be Greek, Jew, Gentile but citizens of heaven? With all that how can you offer me a “but…”? I will listen, I do think the system is messed up, but never has our hope or salvation been in a political leader or policy? We cannot become pharisees, we cannot wish so badly to adopt the customs of our neighbors that we get Saul at the end of his reign, or an Absalom (at least he was of the line of David?). Why do we want a king so badly? Let’s learn from Israel’s history, not repeat it (this is not a political stance on current nation of Israel a critical view at Biblical Israel).

 

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.

A Feeler

I am a feeler, I am learning what this means more everyday. This is probably my ego-centrism, but I think I feel deeply, perhaps more deeply than others. I take information in and I feel the depth of it. I take on the feelings of those around me. Worst of all, I take things too personally.

Oftentimes when someone acts or does something around me, I have to figure out what they are thinking of me in that moment and how that feeling framed what they said or did. I know others do this, but I don’t know if they do it to the extent that I do. I am constantly analyzing the people around me, the social dynamics, whether people are genuine in their friendship or just friendly because I am there. 

There are blissful moments where I don’t over analyze, these moments are when I get caught up in what is going on and forget to think about it. Honestly, these moments are happening more often. There are a few individuals where I completely expose my insecurities, fears, and anxieties.

You see, I’m a feeler. According to Myers and Briggs I am an ENFJ, which means that I am a people person, or something like that. I like arranging social situations and be loved by those around me. To top it off, my highest love language is quality time. Withholding love is my kryptonite, but because of my anxiety of being rejected I distance myself from others so they do not have a chance to withhold from me, so…

…I am withholding love from myself.

 

Why is this frankness relevant? 

I am lonely. It is refreshing to finally admit it. I am lonely. I have friends but I long to go deeper in these friendships, most aren’t ready or willing for that, but it’s getting better. I think I am more willing to open up to friends, without feeling the need to perfect what I say and do around them. I am beginning to feel like myself. 

I am lonely in another way…romance.

I am not a serial dater, in fact in the last six years there have only been two, both times it ended the feelings on their end just evaporated. I still don’t know how that happens, but anyway the issue I face is I want someone. I want that special girl in my life, my best friend, someone to kiss, to date, to cuddle, to marry, to watch netflix with, to travel with, to fight with, to cook with, etc. I want that in my life. Someone to start a family with. 

I am lonely, but I am not alone. I am surrounded by people that love and appreciate me. Right now is not the time for a relationship and that’s okay. I think now is the time when God will remind me again of how to be close with Him and how to be a friend to those around me. To be confident in who He has made me to be and pursue His call on my life, to sacrifice myself daily for Him.

 

Thanks for allowing me to debrief and be honest. 

A Man of My Word

Today I was afraid. I came to today thinking, “I need to blog today because I said I would, I said I would blog Mondays because those are my Sabbath days”. I spent much of my morning finishing up homework that was late and then my afternoon was spent watching Doctor Who, because for some reason I couldn’t resist watching and I felt the need to stay. I had to blog sometime today, but I didn’t know what about because to be honest I did not spend any extra time with the Lord, but I had to blog because I said I would. For me, my word is important, if I say I was going to do something I will do it.

But I could think of nothing to write, I needed to spend time with God. Then I had an opportunity, an excuse really, to spend time with God. A friend of mine needed a ride to work, so I thought I would have the ride back to talk to God. Which I did. It was the normal, anxious “God, where are you? You said you would provide a way. Where is it?” A lot of me worrying and ignoring God’s words of life and support. But, I’ve already written about how worried I am and how big of a leap of faith this is for me and I don’t want to keep harping about how flaky my faith is and how I still have no plan. I need to write because I said I would, and I need to follow through with what I said I would do. 

Then, because I watched too much Doctor Who, it was time for our Monday night service here at school. I thought, for sure God is going to say something that will embolden me, that will give me confidence in this blind walk I am making. This great step. Mike did the service a little differently tonight. He brought five different students to talk about what God has been revealing to them in their past few months. Of course, all of them had some great insight, but three stood out. The second individual that spoke, shared about her fears and problems with trusting God. It was amazing to hear because I Identified with those same fears and trust issues. It is the mindset that, “Yes, God is good, but am I certain He is going to do these things He has promised”. After she shared, Mike asked if anyone had similar trusting problems, my hand shot into the air while others timidly raised theirs.

A friend texted me, giving me a hard time about how fast my hand rose. I said I identified and she responded by saying how proud she was to see me going into this leap of faith with no plan and just trusting God. I thought this would be good to share in my blog: how reassuring to know that I wasn’t the only one afraid to come out onto the water, or more accurately, that I was afraid God wouldn’t take care of me. Just typing it out, I realize how foolish my mindset can be, but it is what it is and that is most likely why God is doing this with me.

The next individual who spoke, shared about personal transformation and growth and to be honest it wasn’t until the end that I really got what he was saying. He brought into perspective the passage in Matthew 6 where Jesus tells those listening not to worry about their needs because if God can take care of the flowers of the field and the birds of the air then he can take care of our personal needs. The student mentioned how the seed doesn’t get to work any harder to become the flower, it just is and the surroundings are what do the work to make it into a flower. It reminded me of the process that God is doing in me. This I could really write about.

The last student interviewed is a senior in college and examining his plans for the future. He shared a vision God gave him where he saw a goal on the mountain that he wanted to get to. Being a high achiever, he said that he just needed to forage through the mountain, taking the direct route. After hearing a sermon he realized it had been a long time since he had heard God’s voice so he sat and spoke with God. God basically said He was always there with him and he should stop trying to go his own way, but trust God and take His path. I could write about this.

Then, as I was walking out of the church, Mike stopped me. He spoke to me in his very fatherly way and asked if I had a plan. I shook my head. “I didn’t think so. I want you to know you can come back in January. In fact, since you graduate in May come back and finish out like everyone else. I just want you to know you still have a place here. Sometimes its better to eat crow. I want you to know that you are a part of this family and you should feel safe to fall back on us.” I knew what he meant. He spoke what was a fear of mine, that this wasn’t going to happen and I would fall. He just wanted to make sure that if this did happen that I wouldn’t be alone and homeless. That I wouldn’t let my pride of “I’m going to make this work, even if it isn’t” get in the way of reason. This sent my world cascading upside down. 

This was my biggest fear, my biggest conflict of trust. What if God didn’t really tell me all of this and I’ve been claiming my plan as God’s plan and in two months it’s going to be evident to all how much I failed, lied, and was deluded. 

As I mentioned, I am a man of my word. At least I believe so, almost to a fault. If I tell someone I will do something, even if it is immensely difficult for me to do, I will do it, solely because I said I would and I don’t want to let them down. Mike addressed this foible. He is fearful that because I told people God said I need to move to New York, that I would do it, with or without His blessing, just for the sake of not letting anyone down. This is no reason to move, this is not faith.

If God has not told me to go yet or I misunderstood him in some way, I need to eat crow and make for those arrangements. I need to take a step back and be safe and smart, otherwise my pride will end up throwing me to the wolves. I cannot move in the fear of letting others down. This move is about God and me, about my faith, about God’s goodness, not about impressing anyone or proving something. This must be rooted only in God and nothing else, just a pure, unequivocal child-like trust in God. 

I’m moving to New York in 18 days. I don’t have the money to do it. I don’t have an apartment yet. I have an application in at Starbucks and at a Theatre Production company. If, in 17 days God has not provided miraculously for the move to happen now, I will eat some of that humble pie, apologize for my misunderstanding and work faithfully here at Ignite until the day God calls me out. Please pray.