Thoughts: Awkward Is the New Black

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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

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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

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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.

Pain: “Yeah, Sometimes I Wish I Weren’t Me Either”

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“In the same way, let your light shine before others so they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.”

This has been such a huge verse in my life. To the point where I’m going to get it tattooed on my body. If there’s one thing that I’ve made my entire life about it’s Jesus.

I’ve been catching a lot of flak from a lot of different people lately. People who want me out of ministry, people who believe me to be a drunkard, a liar, a bad influence. The ironic thing about it though is that I’ve never once heard this from the people themselves. I’ve ALWAYS heard it through someone who was told by these things by these people themselves.

It’s incredibly hard to fight bitterness over this. It’s incredibly hard to seek reconciliation or come to some sort of understanding with these people because: 1. I have 0 clue who these people are. 2. These people are spreading lies about me to get me kicked out of church.
How do you deal with that?

I’m incredibly hurt that my brothers and sisters would opt to cause me pain and create dissension rather than  actually, physically speak with me. They would rather see my downfall than understand where I’m at and correct me if I actually needed correcting.

I’m frustrated because it’s not Christ-like. Yet because I live honestly and refuse to hide behind religion, lies, and fear of looking bad, I am a horrible person.

Normally, I would go out of my way to show people what I am actually doing for Christ, but not now. People can believe what they want to believe and that’s fine. I know where I’m at and I know what Christ wants me to do and I’m going to do that.

Usually I would have some sort of turnaround with hope but I’m not at that right now. I feel hopeless, I feel hurt, I feel persecuted. I just want this to be an eye-opening experience behind the heart of some Christians. To my non-believing friends and family, I’m sorry the church is like this and I promise Jesus isn’t. I hope the actions of a few don’t affect how you look at Yahweh and the way He feels about you, his beautiful, and glorious Creation, I just need to address this, whether it makes me look bad or not.

Sometimes it’s hard to find hope when those who are supposed to have it create the opposite. Sometimes I wish I didn’t do what Christ asked me to so life was easier. Sometimes I wish I grew up indoctrinated. Sometimes I wish I didn’t know Christ. Sometimes, I wish I weren’t me.

This is how this makes me feel. As someone who struggles with Depression and Suicidal Ideation, sounds exactly like what I need to be feeling from my Brothers and Sisters, right?

Blessings: Grace; A Gift You Never Asked For

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Do they not deserve Grace?

Grace is a hard concept. It’s hard because it’s not human. Every fiber of our being tells us to never let go of injustices done to us. Our society, the media, sometimes even our relationships reinforce that when we are hurt, we must hurt back.
I recently started work in a non-profit helping youth in undesirable situations become what they aspire to be. They’re at the lowest point in their life that they have ever been and is an extremely sensitive situation to work in. Every ounce of your being needs to be Grace focused. Every single person I work with has love in their eyes, hope on their tongues, and passion in their touch. It’s a blessing to be a part of this family and it’s forced me to rethink my life and the way that I deal with my decisions and others.

There’s a lot of pain that’s been going on in the lives of the people around me. It’s upsetting for me and being a justice-centered person, I want to see something done about it. The problem is there isn’t a single person going about things in the right way.

Being hurt completely blows, the pain is legitimate and needs to be addressed. But address it with Grace. Fighting pain with pain doesn’t solve anything. This is often the first thing I turn to and more often than not I regret anything I do under that mindset. I’m incredibly blessed to have a friend who is so Grace centered that she bleeds the stuff and is patient enough to teach me how to be full of Grace.

Something that’s often overlooked is a reaction to when people are hurt and they lash out. We believe it more acceptable to criticize and punish those who are reacting to hurt inappropriately than showing them Grace.

Do they not deserve Grace?

Grace isn’t about staying quiet and it’s not about speaking out. It’s the middle ground of listening and responding. There is not a single person on this planet who is good, so why do we expect people to be good? EVERY person does injustice to someone, you may not know it, see it, or understand it, but it is there. 

There’s plenty of people whom have hurt me and do not know that they have. I want so bad for them to feel the same pain they have caused me. But I can’t do that, it’s a means with no end. Pain only ends when you address it with love. Seek out those who’ve hurt you, discuss why you’re pained in a healthy, safe atmosphere and mindset, and hopefully they will understand and move towards reconciliation, but if not, that’s okay.

There’s a verse that I’ve been mulling over recently that the Founder and Finisher spoke in the Gospel of Matthew in chapter 18, verses 15 to 20: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (‬ESV)

These are hard verses for me to swallow. Christ doesn’t ask us to fight on his behalf. He doesn’t ask for justification from something that is subject to his Will and Sovereignty. He asks us to walk away. Find people who are like minded and do his work with those people. Organizations, churches, and coalitions fade, but Christ does not.

I’m in search myself. I don’t agree with a lot of people around me and I don’t believe in the same type of practices they do. I want to find a place that is Grace centered, where the Common Grace of every person, believer and non-believer alike, is exemplified, a place where I can be challenged and grown than feared, uprooted, and tossed aside.

I want to leave some lyrics from the band Being as an Ocean from their song Grace, Teach Us What We Lack for you to mull over. Every time I listen to this song it brings me to tears, not because of injustice in the world, but because of injustice I create, and then the lack of Grace I have for others and myself. This song speaks a better word than I ever could.

See conviction wells up inside, an imprint from above


Seeks to reject injustice and not to judge


Works to fix the things that are broken


Walks in humble regard to their fellow man


And never forgets that the greatest law is Love

Thoughts: Yahweh; The Night We Made You Lowercase

A letter with sincerest intent,

Man of Sorrows whose sorrows I have created, free me from this addiction that cannot be sated. A thirst so great with no well deep enough, let alone something to draw with.

I never knew something that was forced upon me would create such disdain, such a stain, like Merlot spilt on the white shirt of my brain.

“Could you pass the club soda? What’s the use, it’s already soiled.”

So I’m left to cope.

Sometimes I search you with bitterness, and sometimes with doubt, sometimes shrinking back at your clout, others ending with a shout, “Why can’t I find joy in you? Why can’t I be whole? Won’t you save me from your daughters? Won’t you save me from the things that I have made of them?”

Lilith, you spoke the stain upon Eve, conceiving the grieving of my Father’s spirit. Hear it and wail like my heart when something as small as a 4 inch screen can be my downfall.

mon cœur ravagé par le péché.

mes mains tachées de désirs trouvés entre les draps.

How do you cut out a sin so deep? How do you stop what’s natural? I’ve heard the clichés. That’s all there ever is.

How do I find wholeness in you when no one wants to be real? Their every answer primed with church pew lacquer. Understanding as thin as the pages they base their life on.

Sometimes I am ashamed to call them brother and sister. Sometimes I’m ashamed of me. Sometimes I’m ashamed of you.

Lord whose name do I bear and wear it? Can it be yours? It’s not like this one they speak of here. That one is faint, passed through tongue and cheek like a whore. I just want your name to mean what it really means. Can it be more solid in my life? I see you in books, praised over laté meetings through coffee stained ivory, sung over generic keys of C and E, on bumper stickers, tee shirts, and decorative wall lettering.

Lord, when did you become a statuette? When did you become an ideal? I’m tired of holding my questions behind my teeth. I’m tired of keeping things just beneath.

How do I make you real again, in a world of handshakes and how-do-you-dos? Where the church gets to create a mold of your image, selling it in bulk.

YOU’RE NOT JUST ONE THING!

I can’t see the Grace in your wife anymore. Isaiah, when Christ touched that coal to your lips did you know you would utter my destruction? Did you know the Creation would groan in this way? Where Yahweh’s temple would become a place to find a mate and nothing more.

Yes Lord, I’m bitter.

It’s because I’ve kept quiet for so long, allowing my heart to rot along with your body. I am vulgar at times, I am prideful.

I am broken.

“My heartache is as yours. Why do you believe I stand apart from this pain? You cause me grief as much as the next, do I love you any less?”

I have this groaning in my being, I don’t want to settle for what this world is presenting. I’m uncomfortable, itching in my own skin. When you calmed the seas and sighed,”Oh you of little faith.” Did you know you were speaking to me?

I don’t understand but I wish to. Please help me understand this burning and why the pain is necessary. Manifest in me your manifest destiny.

Blessings: Patience in a Pit of Despair

These past few months have been pretty shitty. Ever since the last half of North Carolina, things have been looking down (except for my donation, that was rad). To go from ultra positive, close with the God you care for so dearly, loving the new situation you’re in to back to square one, jobless, and over a thousand dollars in debt.

It’s funny how life changes so quickly.

It’s funny how one minute you’re well off and the next you’re not.

It’s funny how quickly a devotion for Christ becomes disappointment.

I want to pose a question: Why is it that when life starts to suck, the first thing to go is the last thing that should?

It seems that Jesus is the first person I throw out of my life when it gets hard. If things aren’t chipper or dandy I don’t want anything to do with him.

Sometimes I feel as if I’m the only Christian who most days I don’t want to be. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who can’t cling to the cross.

Instead of clinging to the cross I was clutching at what little money I had left, hoping to find at least one meal for the day, feeling utterly useless and hollow. It’s difficult to want to be ambitious or motivated when your day-to-day consists of sleeping, trying to figure out ways to survive, and fear of losing everything you own.

I pretty much quit.

I remember sitting on my couch one night at 2 in the morning, unable to sleep from stress and hunger thinking, I used to have so much passion, where did it go?

Have you ever been so wrapped up in life that you give up on everything you ever cared about?

I have.

I started praying that Christ would give me opportunities to gain a passion again. To do something productive for his kingdom, for his Earth. I prayed and prayed, constantly searching. I filled out nearly 100 different applications just hoping to gain a foothold just strong enough to hold me till I could find the next one. It was stressful. It was agonizing. It was emasculating.

I broke pretty quickly.

Yet one day I get a call from my long time mentor and friend telling me I should apply at this non-profit that helps runaways and at-risk youth. I thought to myself, “That sounds like everything I’ve ever wanted.” I applied, got an interview, and was super stoked to be even given a chance to pursue my dreams. I felt good, I felt genuine, and by the grace of God I got that job.

I now get to help kids who have been through some of the same atrocities that I have. I get to let them know it gets better. I get to have a direct hand in giving them hope.

Looking back at all the times I failed, all the times I had given up, I realize just how quick I am to write God off. Then I also see how faithful Christ is even when I’m not. Glad he is.

Poetry: The Night I Sang My Prayer

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In the kitchen one day, swooning over my past.
The reminiscence of regrets regurgitated from my heart.
Between thumps the bumps in my road I can’t avoid.
It’s all gravel now.
Broken to pieces, dust in the air.
It’s a gavel now.
Self-conscious, I’m not fair with the way I view myself.

So a thought it crept and a song it leapt from my heart into my tongue
From across the room my hearts impending doom is what I had sung.

Bereft of embarrassment of humility at the throne bending low every aching bone for solace from every sigh and moan my lungs had blown of feeling alone, bleeding for the grace you’ve shown.

“I thought I wanted you, but it was only redemption I sought. The fear of being myself, being left with naught. Of feeling sorrow for never doing what I ought. Spitting on every soul you ever bought.

You were supposed to fix me…

I didn’t want a love affair

You were supposed to heal me….”

Thus from my lips it did depart, that I wanted my God for His power and promises. Singing “fix me”, “I need you”, “take it away” in the Key of C, such abysmal pleas in the happiest Key there could ever be.

Sitting in a silence after my melody, realizing my fault in my tepid honesty, that God was only God, some far off concept all stars and nebulas.

Well Yahweh, why’d you let me do this to you, shrink you down, dull you to a more tolerable hue, watered you down so you were easier to chew.

Why’d you let me take that first bite?
Take my fork! Take my spoon!
Take my teeth if it were needed!

“You’re bull-headed, my son, and I needed you to see that there is only room for you and none for me. I know this life’s been painful and I know the breaks aren’t clean, but without them you never would have seen that you only needed me to preen your image and not your soul. See that I am existing, see that I am whole.”

I forgot you were real once because I remembered me, glad you still love me with my fleeting memory.

Zeal: Pride’s Humble Brother

We took Christ right out of his own house.

I’ve had a lot of time to contemplate things lately. Jesus has been throwing a ton of interesting thoughts and concepts onto my plate. It almost feels like being an indecisive eater stuck in Golden Corral. Luckily, I have a super rad friend, Austin, who has the same craving for truth about Christ as I do. We’re searching for answers because we have a void that can’t be filled by, “That’s how I was raised” or “Well, I heard it in a sermon”.

I’ve been seeing a ton of religious talk lately. About the exclusion of the LGBT community, about Evolution, about the well groomed-bearded-flannel-donning-attractive Christianity, and it’s all incredibly heart-breaking to me. Here’s why:

Christ is in none of it. Christ isn’t the focus at all.

Before I dig any deeper, I want to take a look at Pride and Zeal.

Pride often gets confused with Zeal, only because people try to make Pride look humble and call it Zeal. Zeal is a great thing. It’s much like passion, like motivation, like desire. Pride is like that, only Pride is about the betterment of ourselves whereas I would associate Zeal with such things as Social Justice and compassion.

So, with those things in mind, we can get back to the affore-mentioned religious talk. The LGBT is constantly being ridiculed by Christians, whether in Government, the private sector, or, even more abominable, the Church itself, Evolution is viewed as Satan’s biology project, and our church communities have been not-so-slowly shifting to talking more about coffee and clothing than Christ and Cross.

My heart breaks every single time I look at social media. I read an article just the other day about a Christian campus group that is pushing for a law that would allow them to keep the LGBT out of their groups, and not just a campus only thing but a national thing. I saw that groups at Duke were trying to get benefactors to withhold funding because a Muslim group was praying during their meetings on campus. I’ve had many friends claim that anyone who would believe in the myth of Evolution are deluded and unintelligent. I’ve been to so many churches lately that talk more about their favorite coffee shops than the reason for even having Church in the first place.

It makes me cringe.

Why?

Because we’re focused on ourselves. (I say we because I am included. In no way, shape, or form will I ever write something that’s critical and not include myself. Mostly, because I really suck as a human too.)

We took Christ right out of his own house. “Here’s your eviction notice Mr. Christ, could you take your Grace and Mercy with you? We don’t need that anymore.”

Just to be clear, I’m not saying that if you wear flannel and love coffee that you don’t love Jesus, I love flannel and coffee shops. I’m not saying that if you aren’t for Evolution that you’re unintelligent, I don’t agree with Evolution, but I can’t say I know exactly how and what God used/did to create. I’m not saying that if you’re a little unsettled by the LGBT community that you hate them, I personally love the gay community and admire their ability to support their peers through Hell and high water.

What I am saying is this:

We need more Grace.
I need more Grace.

We get so caught up in discussing airy topics, in discriminating, in trying to find fatal flaws, in explaining things away, in being right.

I was a part of several really awesome communities, life happened, and then I left those communities. Once I was on the outside, I started seeing flaws in those communities. It soon became my goal to rip those things apart. I was consumed with Pride, that my way of doing things was 100% correct and theirs was not, and we couldn’t let that happen because my way was Jesus’ way and theirs wasn’t. But the simple truth of the matter is that I was wrong. I was merely hurt because this community full of people that I love didn’t bother to try and see my side, they didn’t see the merit in the way I went about things. The same was true for me. I didn’t see anything from their perspective either. Jesus let me know that. He let me know that my Pride had become bigger than him.

I started to evaluate why this had happened. I found out that a lot of my friends were only friends within certain buildings. That my role as a church leader wasn’t as important because I was young. That even after countless years of pouring my heart and soul into several ministries, trying to ensure that Christ would remain the center, that he would call me out of it and I would watch one die and another change completely.

I’m still hurt by it. But I’m hurt even more because I didn’t have the Grace to try and see those people’s perspectives. If I had Zeal, I would have made an attempt to stay a part of those people’s lives. There’s people whom I love very deeply that I don’t even speak to because I’m too wrapped up in my pain and could care less about their perspectives.

That’s the incredibly sad, brutal truth.

So how do we get back to what Christ wants?

How do we be intentional with those who’ve wronged us? How do we forgive ourselves for doing the wronging? How do we try to see others complexly? How do we try and put ourselves in their situation and feel their pain alongside them?

I don’t have the answer. It’s different for every person. Christ is obviously a common denominator, and a huge part of the answer, but I can’t lay out details. I get it wrong all the time.

Austin and myself have had several talks about Grace and Love lately. About how we’re focused on so many different things that don’t matter. It opened my eyes to see that I was focused on me. I didn’t have any Zeal in me, only Pride. Hopefully, Christ will grant me some Zeal, so my heart isn’t just a calloused mass anymore and I can start loving people again.

Charity: The Draining of Blood and the Saving of a Life

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The first thing that ran through my mind was, “I HOPE it’s not me.”

During the spring break of this year I had traveled out to beautiful Colorado to share the Gospel. The first Sunday that our group was there, there was a group of people standing out in the lobby of the church that we were helping.

They were there because there was a young man in the community that was suffering from a rare type of blood cancer. They were taking swabs to try and find a match for him through a company called Delete Blood Cancer. He was only a teenager. I remember thinking, “Man, that really sucks, I really hope he gets better.

Sure enough a guy in our group suggested that we all do a swab, just to see if it could be one of us.

The first thing that ran through my mind was, “I HOPE it’s not me.”

This isn’t a story about how courageous and brave I am for donating my stem cells. This isn’t a story about how I made the selfless decision to save a life because I’m this wonderful human being. This is a story of how Christ is SUSTAINER and REDEEMER.

I got a call at the beginning of October from Delete Blood Cancer telling me that I was a potential match for someone.

I was blown away.

Never in a million years did I think I was going to get called. I asked everyone else in our group of they had heard anything and they hadn’t. I was the first.

Over the phone in that moment obviously I had said yes, that I would pursue further testing. But the only thing that was running through my mind was fear.

What if something went wrong with the procedure? What if there was a lot of pain? What if I became sick as well?

Satan was doing everything he could to get me to not do this, and I was starting to nibble at the bait.

I soon had done more testing and was found to be a positive match. Next was my information session, running down all the risks, rewards, and info about the patient. It had been close to an hour into the information session phone call when I had found out that the person I was donating to was a 68 year-old male.

I remember thinking, “Oh, well he’s lived a full life, right? Why does he need this?” In that moment I had determined that he didn’t deserve to be saved. That his life wasn’t worth my time. That because he was old, he was worth less…

I don’t remember much of the phone call after that. I was too busy being slapped around by one question I heard Christ ask me, “Who are you to determine what a life is worth?”

I was wrecked. Christ had shown me so much Grace and I had done a TON of shitty things in my life. How did I know that this guy didn’t deserve a second chance? When did I try to put on the face of Yahweh and play Creator?

I hung up the phone after agreeing to follow through with the procedure. There was a lot of growth during that time after the phone call. Christ had begun the process of teaching me about the sanctity of life and what sacrifice truly meant, and with that lesson there was a lot of pain and tears.

Fast forward to December.

I got to fly out to DC to have my physical done at Georgetown University Hospital. It was wonderful getting to see our Nation’s Capital, admiring all of the works of our forefathers, feeling the air of importance within the atmosphere of the great District. I soon found out more about the process of donation.

It was decided that I would be donating Peripheral Blood Stem Cells as opposed to bone marrow. Bone marrow, being a more invasive procedure, was seen as more risky. The cool thing about donating PBSC is that it was much like donating plasma, in that all they do is filter your blood. They give you a set of injections to increase your lymph and white blood production by about three times. So that’s about 1×10^23 to about 3×10^23. That’s a LOT of cells being produced!

I started injections about 2 weeks after my physical. I had become very excited to be given this opportunity. Christ had changed my heart. I was happy to be helping another person out, to be the ending of their pain. But with that ending of their pain came the taste of the pain they had been feeling.

The injections started to accumulate. By the third injection everything hurt. My back was in agonizing pain, I had massive migraines, I was nauseous, it was hard to walk or stand, I didn’t want to be around people, and I DEFINITELY didn’t have any motivation to do basic, daily tasks. The pain was so excruciating at night that I could not sleep. Up until my donation day I was averaging about 2 hours of sleep a night. I have never been hospitalized in my life, never broken any bones, never been in any kind of major physical suffering apart from my childhood (that’s a different story for another time), so this pain was the worst thing I had ever experienced.

During the donation I got sick, I almost passed out, I lost a lot of blood, I was at the weakest physically I have ever been in my entire life. I felt like garbage. But it was quick, it was seamless, it was miraculous. I was told shortly after that my donation was one of the quickest ones that have happened, and the most agreeable. There wasn’t a single hitch in my donation process.

I still don’t know how to feel about my donation but I do know that the one thing I want to come from all of this is the glorification of Christ. That the only way something this wondrous and flawless could happen is by the Grace of the Living God.

I started making parallels between my donation and the Gospel, I wanted to learn all I could from the experience. Here’s the rundown: There was a lot of junk in my body that was causing an excruciating amount of pain and there was nothing that I could do to fix it. A third party had to come in and take from me what was causing that pain, then all that bad became a testament of good to another’s life.

There’s a lot of bad in me. Sin has always tasted so good in a moment of temptation, and, me being me, I’m very apt to be caught hook, line, and sinker. Through this whole process there was a lot of fear, cowardice, and pride on my end. Christ was the courage, Christ was the bravery, Christ was the humility. Christ gave up his life, his feelings and emotions, his ambitions, his deity for a time, so that we might be more than the things we are naturally. I don’t deserve that, Grace isn’t fair though, so because Christ gave his blood to me, I could live, the cancer of Death was cured, and I could now share that with others. Physically and spiritually.

Blood for blood, I was given a second chance, so that’s why, blood for blood, I had to do the same.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2