Thoughts: Awkward Is the New Black

My heart likes to make weird, awkward tugs when Jesus inaudibly speaks to me, this one said, “Why don’t you act like that?”

Today was an interesting day.  Most times, Christ teaches me about himself through people and through the things that they do.  I’m really, really good at observation.  I have many thoughts on many different subjects brought on by many different stimuli.  There were several stimuli today.

My grandmother is a wonderfully obnoxious, lovely worrier who will literally kill you with kindness.  I don’t think there’s been a day in my life where my grandmother hasn’t called me more than twice.  She is forever in her head and forever in everyone else’s business.  Yes, it’s obnoxious, and yes, most days I get incredibly pissed off by her constant barrage of questions and nagging, but Christ always seems to find a way to teach me a lesson through it.

Today, I took my grandmother to KU Burn Ward at KU Medical Center in Kansas City.  A while back she decided to grab a pan that was engulfed in flames and get 3rd degree burns on most of her right hand.  Her right hand being her dominant hand, she has been unable to do most things for herself.  While driving up to KU, dear, sweet Ethel rambled on and on about whatever popped into her mind.  It’s hard to keep a conversation with her because she burns through topics very quickly, or gets tired of talking about one subject and moves onto the next without warning.  I’m not proud to admit that most times I just get irrationally angry at my grandmother for this and my reaction was to turn up my new Dance Gavin Dance album and listen to that instead.  But, willing to do anything to have my attention, my grandmother just started tapping her foot to the beat and headbanging along with me, asking questions about the band and why I liked them.  Not in a million years will you find a 70+ year-old woman who will willingly bang their head to a song titled “Shark Dad“.

When we arrived at KU, it was actually a pretty short visit.  All they had to do was clean the burn and remove any dead skin that may be impeding healing.  While I was sitting in the waiting room, listening to Steve Harvey hosting The Family Feud and reading Bob Goff’s Love Does, there was another man with his grandmother, only he was the one with the burnt hand.  Their relationship reminded me a lot of mine and my grandmother’s.  As I watched her awkwardly comb his hair and try and plan out his day with a barrage of prying questions, I couldn’t help but make an awkward face and think, “What the hell is this lady’s deal?”  Not surprisingly, the man got quite cross with his grandmother and demanded that she quit asking him questions and leave him alone (She didn’t stop).

The man was called back by a hearty, smiling black man and the woman sweetly asked if she could come back there.  He replied with a sure and a grin.  “Hold on just a moment.” She had been counting some change, for what, I have no clue.  “I’m incredibly sorry, I was counting some change for the parking toll.  I spent all of my money on gas to get up here.”  Without hesitation, the man pulled a money clip out of his pocket and handed her $3.  “That should cover the fee.”  He said with a smile.

I didn’t get to hear how the rest of the conversation went down, as my grandmother and myself were exiting the waiting room on our way back to the car.  But where the conversation between the hearty male nurse and this overbearing grandmother ended, my conversation with Christ began.

My heart likes to make weird, awkward tugs when Jesus inaudibly speaks to me, this one said, “Why don’t you act like that?”  I was kind of taken aback by the question.  My instant reaction was to get defensive, but I had to push that back.  The more I thought about it, the more I wondered why I wasn’t like that.  I was reading an entire book on how love is an action and yet I was thrown by the man’s kindness.  I felt terrible because I should be treating my grandmother like that.  I treated my grandmother like she was a nuisance, and even though this man knew this woman was a nuisance, he still offered a gesture of love.  After that, I was very obliged to take my grandmother to dinner, and we listened to She & Him on the way home because she loves Zooey Deshanel.

Bob Goff really spoke to me in one of his chapters as well.  He said he didn’t go to bible studies.  I thought this was odd, but he expanded on that and said he met with a group of guys, they read scripture, and then they either went out and did something about it right then to show the love of Jesus, or they made some sort of plan as to how they could act on what they had spoke about.  He was very much about being with people rather than gathering information.  I thought about this quite a bit and even had a vivid dream about several people in my life.  It’s really easy for me to just get the latest information on people and then claim that I am involved in their life.  It’s easier that way, it hurts less, to be honest.  Being with people rather than just knowing them is messy, it’s awkward, it’s very real.

When I woke up, I started preparing for my day and turned on “Awkward” by Dance Gavin Dance, where the tag is literally, “Don’t make this awkward”.  It reminded me that I should just be human, yes, that is awkward, but I don’t have to make it that way.  After I got done brushing my teeth and trying to get my facial bed-head to lay down, I went into my kitchen and talked with my roommates.  It was nice to have this new perspective.  I felt like I didn’t have any agenda in talking with them and I could simply just laugh and talk and be happy.  When I put on my jacket and made for the door for work, I realized that one of my other friends was sitting on the couch in the living room.  It’s someone I don’t see very often that I wish I did, but more often than not, I make my interactions with them awkward with small talk that doesn’t matter (which I absolutely hate, so I have no clue why I do it).  Today was different, I really enjoyed getting to see that person and I was able to combat my instinct to be awkward and removed.  I wish I didn’t have that sort of reaction to this person because they have an absolutely lovely heart, but I’m glad that today, Christ pushed me through a reaction and pushed me into being an actual human.

I’m really starting to understand what Christ meant when he spoke through his apostle saying, “Put off the old man and put on the new.”  or when he said, “To truly live, you must die to yourself.”  I thought I already pretty much had those in the bag, because I had studied them.  It turns out, I really suck at living things out.  I can memorize and regurgitate, but I can’t put things into action.  Yahweh is forcing me into a lot of uncomfortable and counter-cultural things lately and it’s very scary, but I’m also incredibly stoked about it because through all the adversity and fear, I am finally getting my faith to go deeper rather than wider.  Jesus is getting more and more tangible with each step.  I feel like I still screw up just as much as always, but now, I can move past it.  Love is difficult, it hurts, it’s messy, it’s awkward.  But just remember, “Don’t make this awkward,” accept it and live.

Poetry: Romanticism in the Ordinary

Don’t treat me like the shores today. Can I be something more stable?  Not in pieces, thrown about by tides, crowned in seafoam.

Yeah, I’m always so beautiful when the sun sets on me. Yeah, I’m always so comfortable beneath your feet. But in the end you’ll turn again to your landlocked abode away from me.

I try to cling to any crevice I can fit. I just want to be so close to you, be with you wherever you sit. But I’m just too agitating to your pale skin, you’ll wash me away, down this drain of despair whilst you’re reading in your den.

Can I be your breath, or could I be the light? Something you can’t live without, allowing you to see the beauty in every day and night. Quite alright, the thought of being in your lungs, where I’ll hang on your every word from the tip of your tongue.

Maybe just a blanket and a bed. Providing you with comfort, shelter, safety, a place to lay your head. So precious with it’s dreams and visions, caught between REM and bliss we could kiss and laugh our day away.

I could be your foothold and get your through this climb of memories and hours we call life. We’re always expecting so much more, some adventure, some caper to whisk us away so reality isn’t as real. But love isn’t found in coves on the Gallapagos, on beaches by the coast.

Find it in someone’s eyes and find it in their hands. Find it in the way they laugh or the way they make demands. It’s in the crinkling of a nose, a freckle on the cheek, I promise you, I’ll prove it to you when we meet.

I just need a love that wants to hold hands in the sun, walk creek beds in the summer, drink a beer, take a run. I don’t want to find you in the extraordinary, that’s not where you are, it’s who you are.

So when we meet just know one thing, I will do everything in my power to let you know you’re lovely, to let you know you’re gorgeous, to let you know I’m whole.

Pain: Living in the Dark

I never thought I would get to a point in my life again where I would be incredibly and abysmally lonely.  I never thought that I had taken the presence of people for granted.
Laying in my bed at 6 in the morning in the complete dark listening to the birds sing of treetops and wind current, I almost forgot what the morning felt like.  Working overnight has changed a lot of things for me. Sleeping when the sun is out, adapting to the lack of Vitamin D, getting used to the dark, being the most alert when those I care for are not.

That’s the hard part.

I never thought I would get to a point in my life again where I would be incredibly and abysmally lonely.  I never thought that I had taken the presence of people for granted.  I don’t think I was prepared for what changes were about to come into my life.

At first it’s fine. Life doesn’t seem to change all that much. You’re resilient, you’re youthful, you bounce back. But then you’re suddenly without a social life, without a normal routine.  You’re alone.

Loneliness is a tricky thing for me. For some reason, my mind’s reaction to being alone is to just be more alone. I forget how to talk to people, I become less interesting, then I just get to a point where I don’t even want to be around people. Why my wires are so crossed as to come up with this solution I have no clue.  I’m stuck however, I start to cling to things that I shouldn’t.  Pornography, being the main one. I hate that the moment I feel a hole in my heart I try and fill it with the most objectifying outlet to women we have ever created. I hate that the only option I can come up with is to seek out a few moments of ecstasy to create several hours of abysmal self-loathing and emptiness when I claim to have a God who is ever-present and ever-wanting-to-put-up-with-my-shit.

The even worse thing about loneliness is it makes my depression worse. I’ve had a couple cycles lately where I just sat in my room for a couple hours staring at the wall, because that’s all the energy I could muster to do. The two feed off of each other like a passive-aggressive couple, constantly taking something from the other out of spite, only they’re really taking stuff from me.

I like to write these after I’m in a better frame of mind and a better place, when I can look back and really evaluate what’s going on. There’s a few things that I’ve seen and learned from all of this and I just wanted to share.

Don’t take for granted those around you.

I never knew how much a kind word would get me through. Be encouraging to those in your life, whether they are good or not. Shitty people need encouragement too, they are probably dealing with just as much, if not more, than you are. Just because we find faults in people, doesn’t mean we should let it define them and walk away from them completely.

Encouraging is uncomfortable. Often times, women think that I am hitting on them when I am actually just imparting a kind word, men think I am too emotional and often times play it off like it was nothing or shrink back in some sort of homophobia. So in short, learn how to take a compliment, not everyone wants to get in your pants.

Words mean more than we think they do.

I’ve found myself missing just simple ‘hello’s’ and ‘how are you’s’. Care about people. Go out of your way to see how someone is doing. Quit just checking on facebook and knowing people through a 4″ screen. If the most interaction you have with people is through social media, delete it. We’re so geared towards connecting with people and loving others, yet we can’t do it without this electric brick. Say hi to people whom you walk past in public, don’t look at your phone to avoid them. Be willing to stop and chit-chat. Meet with people. Say genuine things. Our country is probably the most BS country on the planet, we can’t do anything without being two-faced or having some ulterior motive.

Be present.

When you are with people, be with those people. Don’t be on your phone, don’t be taking selfies for snapchat, don’t be watching the tv in the corner. How in the world are you ever going to be close with someone if you are more worried about documenting how “awesome a time” you are having on social media rather than actually having the time and letting it be something special for yourself and for that other person. Make plans with people, straight up, and then stick to it. Don’t send out mass texts with vague, “what are you up to’s” or “where you at’s”. Make plans with a person, show them you care about them, and then do something. Maybe it’s not the best thing that could happen but that’s your own damn fault for always wanting something better rather than being content with what you have.
It’s time we got back to actually caring.  I know this is an uncomfortable thing for me, but I also know that living comfortably is unproductive and selfish. I just want to encourage you, my dear reader, to make people matter in your life. One of my favorite bands, Silent Planet, calls their fans ‘lovers’. I felt super uncomfortable at first to hear that, but the more I reflect on it, the more I enjoy it. What would it feel like for someone you care for to call you lover. For someone to recognize that a. You need love, to b. Convey that love through one word, thus c. Recognizing the worth and beauty that you have.  How wonderful is that? Yeah it’s weird, yeah it’s counter-culture, but who cares. If you’re worried about what society thinks of you because you want to encourage and love, then do us a favor and quit contributing to that zeitgeist that no one truly believes in.

You are loved and I love you.

You have worth and I see that.

Your dreams are valid and you should pursue that.

Your life has purpose and I encourage that.