Always more

I was just listening to “stop and stare” by OneRepublic, it’s the first time I’ve really listened to it closely. The line that catches my attention is “You start to wonder why you’re here not there”. My interpretation of this is similar to what I was thinking about earlier.

A lot of time, at least for me, is thinking about how I want to be “there” weather that’s about how people perceive me, how I’m performing, or even as vain as how I look, there’s always more… Sometimes I need to just stop and stare, realize what I’ve got is incredible blessings, promises, opportunities, and love around just about every corner!

Being comfortable in my own skin

One would hope that after being on this planet for nearly 30 years I would be comfortable being myself… but for whatever reasons stupid insecurities still creep up, and it drives me fricken crazy.  It’s always silly stuff too, but I realize it’s always the things that haunted me as a grade schooler as well… the same feelings.  So, I can either just accept this, as part of who I am and really just be okay with it, or I can continue to be distracted and held back by it.

I want to just be ok, but it’s a matter of retraining my head to match my heart, and both of them to match reality/truth – no one really cares about the things that I feel embarrassed/insecure about.  It’s ok!  The thoughts in my head are always whispering about what people think of me… and I’m here to say the truth – people like me!  It’s been hard enough to get where I am, I don’t need to keep on “working” at it.  This is one thing that I think I’m okay with saying “I’ve arrived” – now get off the plane and see reality for what it’s always been.

I hate small talk… and other random things.

This post isn’t prompted by anything, well I guess it kind of is, but nothing specific, and not b/c of any recent conversation.  One of the reasons I have not been posting as often, is the thought that I need to entertain, write something very interesting, or I have such a passionate thing to write but feel like no one really cares… all of this is just my stupid performance complex, and it doesn’t really matter.  I like to write, I like to talk about all kinds of things, but I don’t like small talk.  I don’t like conversations that have sentences ending with “um yeah”, or “anyways”, or “and so, yeah, how about them Mariners?”

Life means a lot to me, yet I don’t really talk about why so much these days… except with the “safe” people at Church, but so many of “them” are to busy doing something to actually go beyond small talk.  So I end up not being satisfied with many of my conversations… but I don’t blame anyone, a little bit of my self, but I know I’m only human so I don’t beat myself up too badly.  Well enough of this small talk, let’s move forward, ok?

A swarm of thoughts

So much of the time I shy away from writing something on here because I begin to think for people, and most of the time I think they’ll think I’m being too negative, or I think they’ll read it as “complaining”, I just want to let you know (even if you never thought those things) that my heart has never been in those places, although my mood certainly has.  I’m in a place in my life where I’m feeling good and content with where God has me, and at the same time, I’m discontent with where I spend most of my days, stuck up in an office.

The funny thing is, I really like my job, but when I start to think about the time it requires I am not too happy with it, as I would much rather be free to meet with friends, have coffee (or beer), love on people, spend time with my bride and daughter, etc.  However, I still really like the job, and I love working with the people God has placed around me.  It’s kind of a weird paradox, a love/hate kind of issue.  So, overall I am content, but there is definitely something inside me that wants more, and I’m trying very hard to hear what God has to say about that.

I know it is through discipline in Christ that I’ll find fulfillment.  Today I was reading Proverbs 12, and the first verse captured me – “To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction” – I’ve always been one to accept correction, to seek his discipline….  that is at least what people could see.  Now that God has been showing me (through marriage) how much more I need to seek his discipline, I have found myself unusually closed up, unwanting to change.

Thankfully, I think God is turning a key, opening a door, and doing new and greater things in me.  I think I’ve began to let him.  It’s hard, it burns, but it feels right.  As seek his healing in these areas I know his promises will become true, and I’ll be more free.

A world without God.

A world without God is a world that I fear to imagine.  Yet many people live in a world without God, they go about day to day, without any more than a fleeting idea of God.  So why am I so fearful to imagine a world without God?  Because I know God, I live with God around me, in me, and through me.  Because even though I fail to obey, and I do things which are contrary to God’s word, I find that the God’s grace is more than just a simple “I forgive you”, it’s a reality in which I know that no matter how I live, my God will be there for me to turn to.  Humans can turn God into so much, from a letter of the law judge, to a magic fairy who grants you everything you ever wanted.  In my experience God is neither, God is mysterious, yet personal, God is loving, yet just.

If I were to imagine a world without my God, I would see a world full of hurt, evil, injustice, greed, abuse, hunger, confusion, and chaos with no way out.  As I make the choice to draw closer to God, I see that the love, justice, freedom, life, authority are not just benefits, but are the way God shows his intense affection for me, for us.  Take away those things and it’s one big world, and a huge void.  I was in that void once before, I never want to go back.  Yet everyday I make choices which are either of the world, or of God.  When I follow God’s ways, I am fulfilled, when I choose my own, worldly way, I am sick, troubled, and empty – not because I feel some “religious guilt” but because I know what the feelings of true satisfaction in God are – they are not easily explained in words, and that satisfaction is what I live for.  If had to choose one word to try and describe it – it would be peace.

Reaching this peace requires a lot of flesh burning, a lot of humility, and in the end a lot of forgiveness.  It’s well worth it, trust me.

Giving a little

I’m being reminded throughout my days that even the small acts of giving are huge for many people.  Giving a smile, or holding the door just a moment longer, sticking your hand in a closing (old) elevator door for someone far down the hall, can speak volumes to people.  For some reason though my “default” mode of “thinking ahead” often times hinders me from catching these moments to serve and give a piece of who my God.  When I am in the right mode though, and I am thinking beyond what I need to do next, it is an amazing thing to watch how listening to God on these things opens doors into the soul of another person.  My soul thrives when I give up myself, when I choose to burn a bit of my needs for those of another, my soul thrives to water others.

Life is about God and people, and His love in ourselves and in others is what I want to focus on.  Most days though I am simply “in default mode” – my prayer is for “default” (read as doing what I’ve always done and don’t really like to do, but do it anyway) to redefined to reflect a life of giving in the little areas.

Fear and Surrender

The potential of a person is not for other people to determine, it is only for other people to encourage.  Seeing a person be insecure, unable to talk, and unable to identify their own passions is something which stirs me to action.  My heart is moved and many times God’s voice clearly says “speak my truth” – the truth that all people have a purpose, and it’s more than they can imagine, and it scares them to death.  The risks involved are almost always the issue.  We can’t be stupid, we’ve been given knowledge for a reason, however, and the knowledge is a tool, not the means.  For me, faith comes into play when what I know God is asking, is impossible without Him.

Many times I realize that if I am dwelling on how God will come through, I just end up waiting longer and longer – it’s when I surrender, straight away or quickly after a quick panic, that God begins to show me/us the blessings – and usually it is in ways that I would never have done on my own.  Surrendering is the key, without surrender, it becomes a burden, and I know that once something feels like a burden I am not letting God be in control.  I have found these last few ideas to be the greatest confidence building tools for myself, and I have witnessed others take these steps and become amazing leaders as well.

Bottom line (not to be read as reducing to a pat Christian “answer”, but rather encompassing everything above into a thought producing idea for further pondering): When fear arises, what does God say?  Is it a risk to do what God asks?  When you address the fear speak with the authority you have been given (see the end of any of the Gospels and what Jesus says to the disciples, and us, the descendants)!

What I’m thinking…

One of the many reasons I don’t write on here anymore is that, as self-focused as it sounds, I think far to hard about what people may think about what I’m writing.  So, I end up canceling out any thoughts with silly weird arguments about why not to post something.  The whole idea behind this blog in the first place was simply to write about what I was thinking, about life, about God, about people, etc… But with more and more of what I (we) are doing in the future, I feel I need to filter things far more than I would like.

I suppose the challenge is that I should write in a way that I still express myself honestly, and at the same time in a way that honors the God that I so claim to follow and love.  Yet, many times the things I’m thinking about are about the disappointments of life, which are all quite real, and need to be discussed.  I know there are plenty of people who appreciate the reality, but I also know (all to well) there are people who want to “make sure God is involved” – and then there’s the “You’re going to be a missionary, right?, YES!  So, don’t you think you should be positive and focused on God… well yes… but…”  I understand these comments, I really do, and at the same time I strive to not be religious and not be giving pat, common, text-book, Christian answers.  God is far bigger than that.

So here I start on a very long, overdue, rant and soap box… however I will start with the core of my God-given heart’s desire in life….  I wrote the following and realized it was a bit convoluted, but maybe it will start some conversation, and then I can clarify with posts to address the questions and/or discussion that comes – or maybe it will just sit here and I’ll create conversation in my head and post my thoughts as I go…

The strongest passion I have for others is that they be encouraged in their walk with God, and not just in the private aspect of a relationship with God but in the ministry piece.  In fact, sometimes I wonder if our walk with God is truly full unless we are actively ministering to those around us.  I often find myself frustrated, disappointed, and concerned for the “Church” do to the apparent lack of concern for caring (ministry) to others.  Then again, I find myself equally frustrated by myself because I myself do not step up when I know that God has given me many opportunities.

So, as a person who is fully aware of what God is calling me, and my family to do, I am constantly looking for ways to encourage others to trust God, and take risks.  Many times throughout biblical stories we see the characters faced with life-changing risks.  The blessings that come from following through, and having the discipline to honor God with our decisions, are more than I could ever explain in a short posting here.

The challenge every person faces come not in the big decisions, but in the everyday decisions, the choices that are presented to us when we first greet our co-workers in the morning, or how we engage in conversation with our peers.  Yet there are so many forces which drive our interactions with those around us, everything from how our parents treated us, how “popular” we were in school, to poor choices and uncontrollable life circumstances that eat at our soul and take us off track.

Most of what I write is simply me processing the events that I witness, in the Church and outside the Church, as I see people of all statuses and of all walks I am humbled to know God as I do.  I am challenged each day with the ideas of why has God given us, my family,  the joy of having such amazing family and friends…. while others are seemingly aloof, floating around in this world without any connection points.   Then I am reminded that it was because someone, at some point, obeyed God, and reached out, took a while to minister to someone, who did the same, who eventually ministered to me, and the same to Alexis.

I thank God for those that have this discipline, this passion, for I am eternally grateful.  I wish to not be like these people because of these great things, I wish to do these things because our God has an amazing and wonderful life to give us, when we surrender to him.  This is the heart of everything I am, want to be, and will be.  I have nothing to be discouraged by, as long as I am choosing to obey and discipline myself… even then God’s grace is sufficient if I fail to meet “the mark”.

Let those that have ears hear.  May those in the Church be encouraged to take the risks, the “lost” have the choice, only if they experience it though, we also have a choice – but I’m not so sure we can easily forget (that voice is pretty consistent) when we choose to ignore it.

In the beginning -there was sex and more

So I was debating on writing today, but seeing as I am on the Max that had a 10 min delay due to mechanical issues on the train ahead of us – I’ll write something. I am writing this from my phone and so expect some grammar and spelling issues.

Following up on yesterday’s post, I want to go deeper into the “why” behind my first feelings. Why did I feel shame and guilt at this first sexual experience? Why would that happen?

I have often thought about this because I did not grow up in a strict Christian household. Nonetheless, sex simply wasn’t talked about and most of what I had learned up to that point was all scholastic, simply informational “sex education” as the State of Washington had required. Some of my feelings I believe were culturally ingrained, small town, some of it just ignorance, and the rest natural.

Even before I had any kind of tangible relationship with God, I had an awareness of Him. I remember that first sexual encounter as feeling overall wrong. I believe it was God’s small voice and the fact that it didn’t feel natural, but/and all at the same time it was very natural. So why all this confusion? Because the pleasure was natural and good, but the relationship was wrong. God made me, and all of us, so much more than just someone’s personal pleasure-servant.

Because deep down I wanted to be accepted by my peers, my “friends”, I would do whatever for this. I would lie just to save face, and I would do things, and participate in things that I perceived as a way to gain acceptance.  The events that took place in that tent were only the beginning of nearly 5 years of sexual encounters with the same friend. I never felt right about it, but always desired it. I hated it and wanted it. This “friend” would constantly ask me to do new things, always for him, and always denying me outside of the events.

Then one day, about 4 and a half years into this, it happened – he completely rejected me calling me gay, unwanted, and threatening to use it as blackmail if I ever said anything. But then a month later he “invited” me to a lakefront cabin.

Adam and Eve had sex, fully aware of God’s presence… This is the significant difference that I am now rebuilding into my sexuality. It has taken over a decade of processing to even begin to feel sexually at peace.

Hitting the edge

I’m really frustrated with a lot of things right now, there are a lot of loose ends in my life right now.  Some if it is lack of communication, another part is simply feeling like I’m doing “all the work” in a number of areas, and lastly just the lack of time due to working full-time, having a family, and balancing ministry all at the same time.  None of these areas are in any kind of bad shape, it’s just that I am personally finding myself on the edge, annoyed, and generally moody.

Thankfully I feel God’s hand in all of this and have an understanding that I would have had a few years ago.  Yet at the same time my flesh still wants to freak out, and I’m easily irritated.  There are many times where I feel like I just don’t have the outlet to vent, either because it’s inappropriate (meaning not the right people to talk with), or just emotionally draining.  Alexis gets the brunt of this, which just makes me more upset, it’s probably all a case of  “being drained” which I hate to admit.

I love what I do, when I’m doing it – but the preparation, admin work, and the lack of time due to this season we are in, is hard to stay on top of.  There are some friends I wish I could spend a lot more time with in these kind of seasons, and that is probably the area I’m feeling the most “drained” in.  Alexis is being amazing and understanding, and is doing amazing herself, work is providing all kinds of accomplishment, the ministry pieces are growing and showing fruit.  Personally I just need to take some time to myself, without feeling like I’m taking away from one of these other areas – which in reality isnt’ true, because if I don’t invest in myself, the other areas will fall apart too.