Oh My Weary Soul

Staying busy is a stable of the American culture. The pervasiveness of the ‘American dream’ drives us to work more in order to better our place in society. In the last month, I’ve started a new job at Chick-Fil-A. Since I started just after Spring Break, I’ve worked full time which has stacked up with my twelve hours of classes in Seminary and into the hours I spend serving at church. I’m exhausted!

 

While being tired, exhausted, or what ever synonym you wish to use is not a bad thing or a negative thing, to take a line from the Fellowship of the Ring, “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” This quote is revealing, for the means by which it describes weariness. The idea of being thin, not in the process of losing something, but rather in being pulled, stretched. Stretched is an accurate way to describe this state of life. Being stretched is never comfortable, as it typically means moving or elongating things that are not usually put into that sort of pressure.

 

This is an exciting time in my life, in which I’m being stretched. The process, through tiring, is for my benefit even if I don’t realize it at this time. Thus, as I’m being stretched, the need for rest has become more apparent. Fortunately, today marks the end of the majority of my semester. I now can seek both rest and entertainment, which serve to not only refresh but to reinforce.

Who am I?

Who am I?

This past week, our junior high minister spoke on Philippians 4 in which Paul focuses on the nature of contentment. I’ll be upfront and honest here, I was convicted… Not necessarily for not being discontent, but rather for my tendency, vocal or internal, to complain. Complaining about the petty, inconsequential things that are both in and out of my control. Perhaps the question that lies at the root of this improper perspective is “why?” Why isn’t my life this or that. Why don’t I have this or that. Why am I this or that. Why couldn’t I be with different circumstances. This question of is the very essence of not being content, because of the little fact that by asking why we are voicing that we are not comfortable or acceptable with some aspect.

 

Why is sometimes a request for more information, for clarification, for understanding, but is often a veiled means of voicing the internal complaints of the heart. Any parent can attest to this when a child replies with why when requested to do something (Yes, I’m guilty of this). We approach God with such questions of selfish ‘whys’ when something doesn’t happen the way in which we would like it to, or when we are denied something that we see that would bring us pleasure. We ask why of God, too, when we are imploring for clarification, for understanding, for comfort in the unsteady times. Thus is the nature and danger of the discontent heart. When will enough be enough?

 

Complaints, despite how valid that they may be, are a poison that affect every facet of one’s outlook on life. I, myself, am a cynic and a skeptic. A dangerous combination for fostering resentment and indignation which is the result of a lack of contentment and the outpouring of complaining. In approaching life, I question everything and look at all the angles before choosing whether or not to act. Now, not all of my questioning and inquiries have the negative connotation that this post may currently lead you to believe. I am a curious person, which when mixed with my cynicism and skepticism, leads to deep intellectual thought and a largely pessimistic worldview. However, this pattern of having and gaining knowledge and insight has led to a life that complains about the petty circumstances that crop up through life. While it is easy for me to say that the ‘Man’ is out to get me, or is out to ruin my opportunities; coming to the realization that I am my own worst enemy is harder to grasp (conceptually, at least). I’ve written about contentment before, particularly Philippians 4 and Exodus 32, thus I obviously know the correct answer to this concept. Being a know-it-all is a difficult life, as I laugh at my own semi-quasi-joke. In all seriousness, I know the correct solution, Jesus (I hear the audible groan from you, Jesus is always the answer. 2+2=Jesus).

 

So why am I feeling this convicted? Well, what cause or reason do I have to complain? What good have I ever done that has granted me this position that I can be discontent with my circumstances? Nothing. The answer is nothing. Even my greatest goods that I’ve contributed to the world are nothing. Besides? What do I have to take pride in? What is my value? Nothing. While there are accomplishments that I’ve made, things I’ve worked hard to reach, but even now, those things are distant memories and trophies in some hall gathering dust. So what about the inverse of this, the inverse of complaints? I’ve been blessed with much, much more than I deserve. In the words of Dave Ramsey, I’m doing better than I deserve. This is due to the fact that the only thing I deserve is death, which is due to the effects of sin. My best things are worthless because of the corruption that resulted by the effects of sin. The Bible describes it as dirty rags, which one could picture as being ragged, worn down, and covered in filth. In offering this up to God, it looks as bad as I could possibly describe it. Just what we might easily describe as garbage, that’s what my good things are.

 

This is rather negative of you to say, you might be saying to yourself, and I’d say that you’re right in this thinking, but that’s not possible for me to say. You see, the nature of sin has ruined myself, perverted my ability to be good, to be righteous. Now, due to the sacrifice made by Jesus on the cross I am made, in part, whole again. However, I will not fully be made pure and righteous until Christ returns. Thus, if I am genuine asking for what I deserve, I am surely asking to be cast into hell because my sin has corrupted me from any pure motivation. Fortunately, God and His infinite goodness, His very essence is goodness, is extended to me, thus I’ve been given things beyond what I may ever deserve. So who am I to be complaining? I’ve been give so much more than I could ever earn or deserve. This is where I fail to see all the good things that I take for granted, which I use everyday.

 

The home I live in, the computer I write this on, the Internet that I connect to that allows access to this space, the car I drive to get to and from school and church, and so much more. Yet, I do not often voice my appreciation for these things that I’ve been given, but do not deserve. I have no room in this universe, or any other universes, to be complaining about anything. This is toxic, and leads to nothing more than additional discontentment. A cycle of devastation in one’s, my, perspective toward my situation, toward other people, toward the outlook on life, and so forth. Now, this is the very nature of sin and how it manifests itself in small ways, building up like plaque on teeth, then finally becoming a stronghold that is difficult to remove. It is this perspective, discontentment, that leads people to commit all sorts of actions that are demonstrably negative. Adultery, pornography, cheating on exams, murder, and so much more stem from the discontentment with the one’s circumstances. Now, I am not suggesting that complaining leads to these thing, it can and could, but that discontentment leads to the quick gratification that we might find leads to further and further transgressions. Thus the serious nature of discontentment.

 

From the time that I started this post this afternoon, I’ve had some time with some of the other leaders in the ministries I’m apart of. After rehearsal this evening, myself, a college leader, a high school leader, and our student minister and intern began discussing some of the serious things that are going on in our spiritual lives and in the student ministry. This was and is a time of deep, meaningful discussion where we shared with one another, encouraged one another, and was, for me, very rejuvenating. What made this increasingly beneficial, was that some of the topics that were brought up by others were the exactly the same things that I’ve been convicted about. In getting to also share that I’ve been dealing with these things, I’ve gotten valuable insight into where I stand in relation with others. In what is truly a blessing in and of itself, time with people. Coming together in an unplanned discussion about life and leaving with a sense of perspective. So moral of the story? Don’t take things for granted, give thanks for all the things you’ve been blessed with, be grateful that you have not been given the thing that you really deserve, and remember that you and I have no room to be complaining.

 

Thank you for reading.

-T.

Words

Have you ever been in the middle of a conversation, maybe even mid-sentence, and just gone blank? Where all your thoughts, words, and ability to speak just disappear? No? Just me? I see… It happens to me sometimes where I just end up speechless. That has been me tonight. Having thoughts, ideas, and topics to write about then upon sitting down to write about them, they disappear. Poof! They’re gone! Magic! I’m a little infuriated by it, because the inability to communicate and express myself is a scary thing. Therefore language is a curious thing, especially the lack there of. 
Writers block is irritating because I draw a blank. A page of emptiness that is asking for words to fill it, but they are not translated from my neurons to my fingers into the keyboard and onto the page. Just nothing. A disconnect. In speaking, it known as being tongue tied. Taking a speech class, diction is key to communication. Word choice is vital. Unfortunately, we do not use words carefully or wisely. For instance, we use the word love very vaguely, even in incredibly specific ways. While English has a very blanketed way of communicating love, the Greeks had three words to describe different kinds of love. The point being is that we do no articulate ourselves to the best of our ability. So to cut a largely unfocused post to a close, be careful in how you community yourself. Choose your words wisely, even when they don’t seem to want to come out. Like when I’m talking to a friend, and stop mid-sentence at a blank, with a dumbfounded look on my face in an attempt to grasp back onto that already disappeared thought. 

I Have No Idea What I’m Doing: Having Confidence in the Faith

I Have No Idea What I’m Doing: Having Confidence in the Faith

I have no idea what I’m doing! Seriously, I don’t! Where to go next, what to do next, how am I going to get there. I am seriously clueless! I’ve never been an overly anxious person, but I’ve not been keen to uncertainty. When the path ahead is masked by fog thick enough that it could be cut with a knife is not what I look forward to. That is where I was at the end of my high school ‘career,’ if you will. Like a stepping stone across a creek, but the creek is a river, in dense fog, full of rapids, and other dangers, in total darkness, knowing that the next step is somewhere ahead of you, but with absolutely no clue if its six inches away or six feet away. That is how I felt about the future some odd years ago. And while situations have changed, and experiences have been had, I still have no idea what is next. And that is not such a bad thing!

 


 

This pass weekend was Discipleship Now for our student ministry, which saw over three hundred students gather together to worship, learn, and grow deeper with the Lord. Now, I’m not sure if I’ve discussed this on the blog before, but I work media. For the weekend, when I wasn’t with my group of senior guys, I was running graphics for the broadcast from my control room located above our gathering place. To the left of my computer is a door to a crow’s nest of sorts, which was previously used as a camera overlook. I use it to watch the stage for visual cues from the band and speaker, but to also look out over the students. Seeing the dancing at the foot of the stage, the casting off of burdens and worshipping freely our good, good God in their seats, and the collapsing of students to their knees and pouring their hearts out to God. It’s a unique sight to see, which has seriously humbled me as a college student. My introduction to our student ministry began at this same event last year, in the crow’s nest. From there, I took part in the student’s summer camp with seventh graders, who are now my eighth graders for our small group time on Sunday’s. Since then, I’ve become apart of the student ministry with my fellow peers of college leaders. What a blast that it has been, I am continually blown away with the questions and answers these students have. I am constantly amazed by this unique vantage point that has afforded me a immense appreciation to see, quite literally, the hand of God moving over the students. Moreover, I am grateful for the afforded to be opportunities that have been afforded to me to be apart of the student ministry, college ministry, and media ministry. After this past weekend, I have found that my appreciation growing even further.

 

Over the weekend, I had a group of seniors (as I know that I’ve already established) and during one of our small groups someone mentioned that they were anxious about the future that is set before them. So, being that I’ve had a history with this very matter, I asked who else felt uneasy about what was on the horizon. What was really spectacular, and most certainly God designated, is that the entire weekend was ‘themed’ around having confidence in the life found in Christ. That, for those of use who are follower of Jesus, we have full assurance of our salvation. As I’ve written about for what just might be the umpteenth time that the college stage of life is hardly a cake walk. If it has been for you, please share your secrets with me! Actually don’t, cause I already have the not so secret secret. Carrying on, I hate to be melodramatic in saying that the journey from high school to where I currently am has quite the rollercoaster (it hasn’t been so crazy, honestly), yet I’ve experienced my fair share of confusion, uncertainty, and indecision. This year, I’ll be another year older (duh, I can hear the audible audience in my mind) and in reflecting back on that time I may be looking through rose tinted glasses. Anyway, back toward the end of my senior year I faced a whole lot of uncertainty. The fun of football season had come and gone, I was not going to prom (so wasn’t looking forward to that), graduation was closing in quickly, and the college application process had ended. I was at the foot of what one might call the future. I was accepted to all the universities I had applied to, I had a good SAT score, and was trying to figure out how I was going to get from here to there. The issue, I had no means of moving forward. I had received no financial aid, no money, no car, and little idea of how to make anything happen. I was offered parental loans, but I was not able/willing to take such a route to move forward. That would be like taking one step forward and 99 steps back… #DaveRamseyLife

 

Fast forward to graduation, things were getting clear that I was not going to be going to college at this time. In the months leading up to this point, were full of frustration, disappointment, and loss of faith in the system that had been institutionally, systematically pushed into our minds from as early as the second grade. Work hard, get good grades, and be apart of extracurricular activities, and you’ll get into a ‘good’ school. False, false, false! I may have been in somewhat of a depression, though it might have been after I had graduated, I do not remember the timeline very well. So now I was a fish trying to swim upstream, during a drought, in the middle of a hurricane, with a volcano erupting in the middle of the path, with a fish fry of destiny at the very end of it all. So I graduated, and was left to nothing but sitting at home. Broken. Lost. Uncertain. The next logical progression was to get a job. This is easy to say, but is (and was at the time) much more difficult that one might believe. I graduated a few years after the housing market crash of 2008, which left the job market decimated, and businesses unwilling to hire a high school graduate with no experience except the ability to march eight to ten (eight steps to every ten yards), with a dedicated mentality of what punctuality being that the earlier you are, the more on time you are.

“If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re late, we don’t wait.”

 

I spent three months looking for a job. I tried Blockbuster, Chick-fil-a, and others to no avail. Three months of not being able to find any success in a world that was told to me as to be my oyster, mine for the taking. In my mind, and largely a practical understanding of my perspective of the time, I was standing on a stepping stone across a creek or stream. Ahead of me was a wall of dense fog, which could feasibly be cut with a knife, that obscured any sense of where to step next. By the end of those three month, I got a callback for an interview finally! Now this is where I begin to ascribe all of the particulars to God. In my initial interview, I learned that the manager I was meeting with was married to a CFO, here daughter played the same instrument as I did in high school, and got a kick that I used my former babysitter as a reference. So it just so happened that I included my mother’s boss, who was a CFO, on my resume. That I listed being a member of my high school marching band. I had no prior experience in the job world, and had no reason to be hired on. Yet I wholly believe that it was God’s doing that led to the connections that I did between my life and this manager. Let’s fast forward a bit again, and about a year later I was given a car. Y’all, given a car! I needed a car and was just flat out given one! The was definitely God’s provision! Fast forward a little bit more, nearly two years into this first job, and my mother loses her job. We don’t know what to do. Well, God once again provides in incredible ways. She’s hired on by the dean of the school I now attend, which is what allowed me to begin to get my college degree about two to three years after I graduated high school.

 

So now what? I HAVE NO EARTHLY IDEA WHAT TO DO OR WHERE TO GO… I’m so incredibly uncertain what to do. I’ve been looking for a job for a year now, and during that time I’ve been serving in the student, college, and media ministries which has been awesome! Getting to be apart of a generation of young adults that purposely comes together multiple times a week to praise God, to minister to the next generation, to go our onto our college campuses to share the truth of God’s grace and mercy with other college students. Anyway, I’ve been looking for a job that would all me to focus on school as I get closer to being finished, and one that would continue to allow me to be apart of the Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday ministers that I am apart of. Thus far, I’ve had little luck. Today, in fact, I received an email from my latest application with another denial. I’m disheartened guys. If I can be honest, I’m a whole lot of emotions that swell and billow in ebbs and flows. Confused, frustrated, lost, afraid, and so much more. I really have no idea where I am right now (in this aspect). I wonder what has been keeping me from being the ideal employment candidate? I know that my school schedule alone is difficult to work with, let alone my schedule with ministry service. Am I not ‘good enough’ to hiring managers? Am I overqualified with my experience in the food & supervision categories? Am I too old? In some ways, I can understand why a company wouldn’t want to hire a twenty-something who is feasibly done with college and will be pursing an ‘adult’ job in the near future. But is that the issue?

 

Throw into the mix the swirls of new desires, hopes, and dreams that have come into my vision. The plan for the future being one with, hopefully, a wife and family, but how am I going to get from where I currently am to where I’d hope to be? Am I destined to walk this life alone, without a companion? It is true that I have a whole second family of companions, and without them I’m sure I’d be even more lost that I could imagine. I’ve found an incalculable amount of support, assistance, and guidance from my second family of college students which has been vital to my current sense of foundation, thanks for that God! Much appreciated! So returning to the D-Now which was the basis of this post, the main idea is having our foundation being in Christ.

 


 

As believers, our identities are found in Christ alone which means that despite our situations, we have a solid foundation. I’ve been struck by this, even in the midst of some of the many feelings, which I might chalk up to depression attempting to find a foothold, as the world tells us what or who we are. Our hope is set in things above, and our trust is in Him.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

-Hebrews 4:16

I find it perplexing that on some days having faith is easier than on others, but I guess it wouldn’t be faith if it was instinctual. Perhaps that’s where I currently stand, in a place of difficulty. A quagmire of sorts. In breaking apart this verse, I see a few things of note. These pertain directly to me, but also directly and indirectly to you, an action and a response. With confidence I ought to draw near to the throne, so that I may receive mercy and find grace in my time of need. In the context of this past weekend, this verse was meant at highlighting that if we are truly believers, followers of Christ than we have no need for concern, or doubt in our faith. We are covered by the blood and are new creations. Yet, at this time, in this current situation I read it as my needing to unburden myself. To un-hinder myself from the weight I carry upon my shoulder. I know, I know, I’m a stubborn man, I get it. And if anything in my story above should point out, it ought to be that God is going to take care of me in this situation.

 

And I know that He will provide a way. I have confidence in this, despite the fact that I might consciously acknowledge that in my mind. So I should be at peace, right? Logic would say so, I would say so as well. For most of today, I haven’t been. I’m not a turbulent personality… but I’m not exactly stable either. If that makes any sense to you, I hope it does. Perhaps you could borrow my life to see if it makes sense to you. Anyway, as I’ve continued writing this post out, I’ve found some calmness. Some sense of relief. Not exactly a swelling of the Spirit, but a calming of the mind, the senses, and the emotions. God is my rock. His will will be done. Thus, let me draw near to His throne, boldly handing over my situation, and submitting myself to Him. Taking the grace and mercy and finding peace. I trust the Lord to provide, and while I wait I will continue to be faithful. Faithful in His promises. Faithful in His bride. Faithful in my walk.

 

So when I look back in twenty years, and have newer insights to share on this thing called life, you can expect a new post on having confidence in the Lord and His provision.

The Outward Face of Illusion

This is rather difficult piece to write for many reasons… It may be difficult for you to step into my perspective and therefore difficult for you to comprehend what exactly I am about to attempt to explain. So please bear with me should I not find the words to adequately articulate the ramifications of what it is I am trying to say. Now that I’ve given some preface to this, let me try to explain this strange position I find myself.

I am not who you think I am. At least, I’m not the perception of me that you have. Whether I’ve met you in person or you’re someone I’ve never been in contact with, I am not the representation that you have interacted with. You may find yourself asking me, ‘what on earth are you talking about?’ Well, if your basis of me is purely the projection I put out both in a physical sense and then as an internet sense, you are only seeing the good that I put out here. ‘What do you mean,’ I can hear you asking. I’m not the happy, optimistic person that you have interaction with.

This is crazy, especially from the position that I’m in. I am a happy individual, don’t let this post fool you. I seek out good things, I enjoy the simple pleasures of the company of others, I take solace in entertainment, and other things that we might find that make us feel ‘happy.’ In an attempt to put my ‘best self’ forward, I suppress the other feelings, emotions, concerns that weigh my soul down. The best example of this can be seen on my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram where I proclaim my joy, excitement, appreciation, and all the good I find in the world. However, in an act of being positive toward the onlooker, you will find little to suggest that I deal with doubt, confusion, pain, sadness, depression, anger, frustration, and the myriad of other ‘negative.’

What might be most worrisome, is that this facade is not limited to the internet. It’s a mask of sorts. Granted, there is some merit to being a positive person. Even in person, interacting with peers, I give little evidence to suggest that there are underlying problems that I face within my own mind and soul. I wonder who, if any, can see through the facade. Granted, facade is not the best term to describe what it is that I’m feeling. Putting the ‘best stuff’ of our personalities, lives, and engagements is a natural response to the interaction with others. It could be suggested that this is a defense mechanism to protect the ego, the mask the flaws, to hide the pain which is caused by the inherent sin that is in each and every one of us.

Perhaps what I am describing is that I’ve closed myself off to others, hiding the pains which can drag me down. Yet, that is not what I suspect as being the matter. I am that happy person who enjoys playing four square, talking about movies, and debating the nature of theology. I’m also that person who is torn between dissatisfaction. I’m also the one who is burdened with frustrations. Filled with shame, disgrace. Wrestling with chasing desires and knowing that the time has yet to come. I’m the one who loves to laugh, to play games, to be surrounded by the numerous wonderful people God has placed in my life. So why do I only put out the good, and who can see past the exterior and see the interior?

Obviously, in an answer that I already know, nobody has their act together. Looking by our social media streams one is seeing an illusion, seeing the outward happiness and ‘put togetherness’ of other’s lives. I mean, just look at them! They’re engaged, traveling world, they have bright smiles in their eyes, they’re buying houses, and, the selling point of this illusion, they have their lives in order. What an illusion! Even going through my own social media, you may get that impression. I expect you too. And the people who I see week in and week out, may even come to the same conclusion.

How many of them have seen me in a state of sadness? Depression? Anger? Truthfully, next to none. I’m positive that many, if not all, have felt like I do in this sense. What I find disturbing, in myself and in this pattern of self-censorship, is how easy it is to hide the deep, dark pains we experience. Throughout high school, and more rarely now, when someone could tell that something was off or out of the norm they would ask “Are you ok?” Only to be met with the answer of “I’m fine” or the more doubtable answer of “I’m just tired.” These answers highlight the problem. We hide what we see as weakness. We don’t want, subconsciously, to burden others with our personal dilemmas, so we put on a mask. We do not want to appear weak or in need, as to be thought lesser of.

What you may notice is how in one fell move, I’ve proceeded to address my issues and immediately analyze and answer it. I’m sorry, but my mind just functions like that. And this is where I find myself as I’ve addressed elsewhere, probably Facebook, of knowing both the problem and the solution and yet still being plagued with it. Like knowing that four is the sum of two plus two, but being stuck at the fact that the problem still has to be solved by the process of transcending the parts of the whole. If that previous sentence caused you confusion or a double take… sorry, I’m just a confusing person who can’t seem to put language into a medium of understanding. Then again, I’ve never set out to be the most articulated person whose language and grammar transcends the merits of conventional colloquialism that progresses in conversation of a digestible form. Yes, I’m being pedantic, used for comedic effect and to drive the point home. Anyway, returning to the subject at hand.

My point is this, you have not seen all of me. And perhaps this blog and this post is me being vulnerable. Opening up in a way that social convention doesn’t allow. Besides, who wants to see a man lose control of his emotional state in public? Then again, who wants to witness anyone lose control of their emotions? It’s not a pretty sight, at least initially. Yet, there is something beautiful in breaking the socially accepted rules of engagement, especially in the presence of the Lord. It means that we have shed the outwardly representing we give to others to interact with. We are vulnerable and naked before the Lord who has taken the burden we just cast off, and embraces us with grace, mercy, and unconditional love to which we cannot fully comprehend.

There I go again, answering my own questions. It’s silly of me really, especially now, because it’s an endless cycle for me. Lord help whomever I may marry, if it is in your will, cause my cycle of questions and rhetorical answering never ceases. On another note, should I ever begin to court someone or marry them, I’ll need to find a new barber… but that’s a story for another time. Perhaps what I’m trying to make clear to you, metaphorical reader because I have little indication whether you read all of this or just the title, is that I look for the goodness in others. I try to, when appropriate, comment on it. When somebody goes out of their way to help another. Or someone who has taken on a role like worship leader. Or when someone simply does something unnoticeable. And it’s that, the unnoticeable. We, I, don’t always look for the unnoticeable. We are superficial like that. People do all sorts of things for good reasons, not to be noticed. This is obviously a good thing, but that does not negate the fact that we all need someone to sometimes come along and touch our spirits by noticing them. Inversely, we also need people to sometimes see past what is seen and touch what is saddening us. To lovingly address our exposed pain, and to share in our pain, sadness, confusion, frustration. We could and should be more like this, especially in social circles within the Church, capital ‘C’ for a purpose.

I’m beginning to believe that I’m now in a cyclical pattern of thought, though I might not be. I may be chasing quite a few tangents, which is a likely outcome. Probably because I’m an insane person the exists on the fringes of genius and madness, joy and grief, compassion and selfishness, or in summation a sinner. I am appreciative of all the wonderful people who God has surrounded me with, don’t let me fail to emphasize that, which has been the greatest blessing on my life. And as I’ve stated in person and on social media, I’ve gotten to witness just how God is working in their lives! Perks of being a media person who literally exists in the back of the room, unseen. I literally could not function without them! I’m sometimes shocked that I can somewhat function around them, cause you know the whole crazy person thing. Yet, as you get to read what started out as a heavier piece from me and that has now turned into an analytical examination of my own thoughts as I type this. Yes, I am typing this at the same time as I am thinking about other things, which is rather odd… Back to the point.

I’m so grateful for all my peers, the Godly men and women that have helped shape not only my life, but the lives of their peers over the last year and a half. I’m grateful that they too, are complex creatures which deal with the same issues I do. And if there’s anything that this therapeutic piece has taught me, it’s that we are all broken by sin. We all carry some burden. The happy cheerful exteriors are true, they are real. Manifestations of the goodness of the greatness of God which is reflected in our lives. And the broken, conflicted interiors are true as well, even my own insecurities, which are the results of my sin. Fortunately, it won’t always be this way. Yet, in this time on Earth, I am glad that I can be true no matter what exterior ‘mask’ is being worn. Perhaps, I must be more willing to be exposed and vulnerable around others. More willing to listen before responding. Casting off the worldly judgement and speaking truth in response. Once again, answering my own proposed questions with answers I already knew. I guess that this is one means by which the spirit and flesh combat.

The flesh posing questions that have already been answered, and the spirit immediately answering with a mic-drop. Like, I mean an instantaneous response. As if the flesh hasn’t even finished the question and it’s been answered. That might not make sense to you, which is understandable. I will not deny that I might not be the most ‘sane’ of individuals, but professionals will need to be the final call. Ahem, calling Dr. Christ. Levity aside, it is true the only the Lord can definitively give truth to us, especially in areas where we have improvements to make. I feel have once against changed from the original topic, and yet continue to write at the same time as having the thought, like a conversation. Only you can’t speak back… very once sided of me… but you voluntarily came here. So blame yourself?

Ergo, to wrap this up. We all put our best selfs forward, and that is not a bad thing. But failing to recognize that not people are not wholly who they represent themselves to be, can cause misguided expectations… and now I’m writing to myself again. The ‘bad’ things that we pack away and hide from others, are not bad in essence. Our pains, sufferings are not our own the bear. Our insecurities, of which I have many, and uncertainties are not indicative of things we are lacking. And being vulnerable, particularly in the company of believers, is not something to fear or hide. Sorry for not having a neat bow to tie up this post, but I think I’m going to end it here. Somewhere between the beginning and the end. For now, thanks for stopping by, and as always… have a nice day.

A Letter to the President Elect

Dear President Elect Donald J. Trump,

 I am writing to you today as an American. Not as a Republican, nor as a Democrat. Not as a supporter of you, nor as an opponent of you. I am writing as one of the millions of Americans who live within the boarders of this state, and we are all under different circumstances, values, upbringing. I want to avoid the American Exceptionalism that is present in nearly every patriotic message that describes America as a nation. Yet, as I sit here in my home, with my family, I have a few requests of you, Mr. Trump, as you prepare to enter office.

Like President Obama and his predecessors before him, you enter office with a plateful of social, economic, and world issues, policies, and conflicts that will continue over from past leaders, decisions, and unavoidable actions. I cannot fathom the burden of decision that falls upon your office, the judicial, and legislative branches of government. Thus, Mr. Trump, I have reached my ultimate point in this writing, to ask that you, in your actions, decisions, and character, conduct yourself with consciousness. Despite how the previous year of campaigning has gone, you have the opportunity to conduct yourself with accountability, with you words and actions.

I ask that you uphold justice, not one’s own self assessed sense of justice, but justice according the preamble of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and as human decency toward one another. While many people have opinions, values, convictions, upbringings, and beliefs than I do, it is my hope that you, too, value their different views. This means protecting their abilities to share, cordially I hope, opinions, concerns, and beliefs. While I may not see the same way that they do, I recognize the value of our humanity. 

I ask that you choose your words carefully, speaking diligently, before you take to Twitter or to make a speech. While we all have words to speak, your words speak beyond the capacity of the everyday man. Your Tweets reflect not only yourself, but America as a nation, which is why you, and the rest of America, must conduct ourselves in conscious, consideration, honorability, generosity, and honesty. Yes, there are many who will speak out against you. Yes, there are some who will belittle you. Yes, there are those who will completely speak out against you. Yet, as the elected representative of the American people, you are to be the bigger man. Turning the other cheek, and letting your character and reputation go before you. 

I believe that a man’s, meaning human beings, character speaks highly to who they are as people. You ought to examine yourself as America’s elected representative, which will greatly be used to assess your actions throughout your time as President. This is what I ask of you, to conduct yourself in a manner of responsibility, accountability, and honesty. Be accountable for what you say, and mean what you say. Speak diligently, clearly, and take responsibility for the things you say. I wish you luck as you take office, and hope that your actions will be conducted in a manner of honorability.

Sincerely,

A Humble American Citizen

Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

[Message from T. Hurst: It has been a while since I last wrote, and so, as I finish up this semester, I brought in someone to write the very first guest article for this blog! My sister! I’m thrilled that she finally took me up on my offer to guest write on my blog! I hope you enjoy and be sure to check out her blog!]

 

 

This semester has been a whirlwind of time, stress, emotions, and life. Life is a whirlwind. I don’t know about yall, but I always feel like each day my time is gone before the day has even started. Do you ever just wonder why our days aren’t longer? Sometimes I ask God, but then He reminds me that if He wanted the days to be longer, he would’ve made them longer (But also, who am I to ask God and question His creation?).

This semester has been trying. I have been grown and stretched, and made uncomfortable. It has been hard, I’ve lost sleep, I’ve cried (a lot!), I’ve laughed, I’ve rejoiced, I’ve struggled, but I’ve learned some lesson from all of this.

This semester in my personal study time, I have been studying Philippians. I’ve been in Philippians so much that I’ve gotten sick of the teaching of the apostle Paul, only to return day-after-day to read the words over again. I have especially spent hours pouring over Philippians 2:27 “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”Do my actions, my speech, does my life reflect the gospel of Christ? –No it does not always reflect Christ as it should.

What does it mean in Philippians 2:12 when Paul says to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”?–Is it simply having the reverence for the Lord like I ought to? Or is it more?

Do I “Do all things without grumbling or disputing?”–No, in regard to daily thing and classes, my attitude has been one of complaint or grumbling. “I don’t want to…”, “Ugh…this sucks” I have been hesitant in things that I should not be hesitant in. I have had sluggish feet when approaching classes and papers, and obligations.

I am woking on rejoicing always as the apostle says to do. Sometimes thats hard. Often we as humans want to have pity parties for ourselves when things don’t go how we want to, or when life poops in our Cheerios. But we are commanded to rejoice in the Lord, ALWAYS.

How hard is to to not be anxious?–Let me tell you, its hard. I am not much of a worrier, but lately I have been worried and anxious about life, the future, classes, assignments, work. I forget sometimes that the rest of Philippians 4:6 says “Be anxious for nothing, BUT in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known of God.” i forget how important and vital prayer is sometimes. I get into this attitude of I ca do it, butI cannot. God can. I must remember this.

Mostly I am learning as the apostle Paul learned what it means to be content. He says in Philippians 4:11-13 “Not that I speak from want, for I have LEARNED to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” I am only able and content because of God. And contentment is not something that I can achieve overnight, it is a learning process.

I have learned this semester that God is working me to teach me. He is teaching me contentment. He is teaching me how to live in different situations. He is showing me what it means to have much and to have little. He is teaching me to sully rely on HIm. God is preparing me for His ministry. He is working in my life now, so that later I am prepared and not lacking. He is teaching to rejoice no matter what happens. He is teaching me to pray more and worry and be anxious less.

I know now that I will be better equipped for what comes in life later. Whatever ministry and life throw at my I will be better prepared. This semester has been trying, but I wouldn’t change it. Because if I changed it I never would have learned the things that I have. God has called me to be faithful and to follow Him. People may not understand this, but it doesn’t matter what other people think about me and the choices I make and the path that I follow. What matter is what God thinks of me. And I want to please Him and not others.

This is what I have learned.