Fall Together, Fall Apart (a poem about colder weather and cognitive dissonance)

Idioms and axioms swirling across the concrete of my twisted mind,

Like reddish yellow leaves swirling ‘cross the concrete of  twisted sidewalks where I find,

My beginning and my end.

 

Righteous indignation sets ablaze the synapses in my head,

Like the fire in my bones is strengthened by emotions long thought to be dead.

“I am the beginning and the end.”

 

But God who called the dust to rise up and speak a life-giving word,

How can I discern your plans for me when silence is all I’ve heard

At the beginning and the end?

 

Where is this mysterious scroll  of prophecies long inscribed by omnipotence,

Hiding beneath the clouds of vested emotion or rambling beneath my own incompetence?

You are my beginning and my end.

 

My judgment has been marred by trust long broken,

Faith in anything is so frail that affirmative words are now hardly spoken,

As if bearing heavy burdens is an easy trend.

 

Goosebumps, a childhood memory that kept me up at night, weaving tales of killer clowns and puppets across the back of my eyelids that would make your skin crawl. Goosebumps, that feeling of anticipation that something was about to happen that would change everything and you couldn’t put it down. Goosebumps, raised on my flesh as war rages under my feeble plans. Rising knots in my throat and tears in my eyes as I try to put pen to paper and understand my own rebellious heart. What a wretched, empty soul who cries out “Abba, Father” and is made whole. Following your heart is just fine in fairy tales, but “the heart is deceitful…who can know it?”

 

You can know it because you know me,

Like leaves racing across the blacktop of childhood dreams,

Their path unknown to the casual passerby,

 

Twisting and turning and ripping at the seams.

Unraveling like words in a line and cognitive dissonance shaking the corners of stanzas yet

to be

(or not to be)

written.

Falling apart, we fall into ourselves,

and

into our selfish whims,

But we are not of those who shrink back,

But those who cry

 

“Abba

Father.”

 

 

Predetermined or burdened with purpose?

Invisible streams flowing mightily from the one who holds it all in his hands,

My beginning and my end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Random Thoughts (on contentment, goals, and how I’m feeling about life)

I’ve always wondered when it is, that moment when you look out at all that you’ve done, all the stories you’ve told, and are finally content. Or when you get to a place of real intimacy with the people you care most about in the world and finally believe that authentic relationships can last, or even begin. Or can finally have the courage to speak boldly about what you’ve been given without fear of criticism.

I know that once you feel like you’ve arrived, you’re probably more blinded and arrogant than you’ve ever been, but I’d for once like to be sure enough of myself to believe I’ve done some good in this world.

In all my questions, I’m confident of this: to know God is the greatest joy in this life. Jesus is everything, his peace makes even the dark times bright. We don’t always overcome our nagging questions with abundant joy, but we are blessed with joy for the small moments that keep us running the race. As a dear friend once said, “God is my alpha and omega, my beginning and my end.”

He is constant grace, for the moment and for the long haul. Know tonight  that you are more loved than you ever thought was possible.  that in Christ, there is no condemnation, no fear of inadequacy, no comparing yourself to another person. Because in relationship with Christ, when God looks at you, he sees Jesus. When he looks at me, he sees Jesus. We are all the same at the foot of the Cross.

No matter what relationships you value most in your life, they will always fail you. People will always fail you, but the omnipotent God of the universe who saw you first, who, while we were still sinners, sent Christ to die for us, that God knows you and He loves you and he will never fail you.  We are so worried  that the people we love most in this world will not love us back. We pine for their affections, yet we ignore the One who loves us with a love that never ends.

We bury our boldness underneath layers and layers of low self esteem, terrified to testify about the only one who can save us from ourselves. And if we have experienced Christ’s overwhelming mercy? Well then, we have no excuse to keep silent. How dare we keep to ourselves what has the power to save!

It is my prayer for you that knowing God would be your most deeply cherished treasure. That nothing would come between you and a relationship with Jesus Christ. Not fear, depression, not anxiety, not other people, not complacency, not bitterness, not dissatisfaction with your life. Because the goal and aim of our lives is to know Christ and to make Him known.

This God knows your hurt. He knows your pain. And he wants to be your joy. I pray that you would let him be your joy, your peace, and your salvation.

New Year, New…Everything (on dealing with loneliness)

At the time I began writing this post, it was 11:30 p.m. 30 minutes until January 1, 2015 is over. A beginning for so many people of something new. A new lifestyle, a new diet, new relationships, new everything. We make promises to ourselves, we make promises to our families, we make promises to God and wrap them up in the nice little bow we call “resolutions.” And then, so often, we break every promise we dared utter within the first few days.

Twinkle-lights-for-New-Years-Eve

This year, instead of making resolutions I knew I wasn’t planning on keeping, I spent my day eating collard greens and black-eyed peas (a southern tradition that has carved itself into my life, regardless of how gross I thought it was as a kid) and reflecting not only on 2014, but on years past.

In a little over a week, I’m going to turn 24 years old, and I’ve found that it is so easy to spend all of your time thinking back to “the good old days.” And I even spend my time chasing those days again, attempting to relive days gone by when my close high school friends go back home for a few days, a few weeks, maybe, and I return to the town where I grew up to spend precious minutes with them.

And in that time, we make new memories and it is beautiful.

Some days, I wish the moments would last forever.

Let me restate a few truths I’ve mentioned on this blog and elsewhere in the past year.

1.) This is my first foray into living by myself in a new city.

2.) I work as a Youth Minister for an incredible, supportive church and I really love it.

3.) I am, by definition, an extrovert. Everything about me is encapsulated by that. I process everything externally, value constant contact, love to be surrounded by others, gain energy from that socialization, and turn into a sluggish pile of molasses when I don’t have it.

4. Maybe that makes me needy, but I’m currently okay with that.

All of that said, living in a new city is an overwhelming and terrifying thing. I have met folks at the church I work at who I care a lot about and consider friends, but that doesn’t go far beyond the walls of the church, because, well, relationship building takes time.

I have met people at local coffee shops and through mutual friends and the times I spend with them is great. But it doesn’t feel like home just yet. And I’m told that’s normal.

But a year ago last month, I left a college campus filled to the brim with people I spent every waking hour with. And now, experiencing the brunt of loneliness isn’t just relegated to the times I am alone in my apartment seeing what’s new on Netflix.

So, many days in the past 6 months, my extroverted soul has been sick, even when I’m surrounded by others.

Frederich Buechner, a Presbyterian minister, once said:

“That you can be lonely in a crowd, maybe especially there, is readily observable. You can also be lonely with your oldest friends, or your family, even with the person you love most in the world. To be lonely is to be aware of an emptiness that takes more than people to fill. It is to sense that something is missing which you cannot name.

Did he read my mind? Probably. Or maybe it’s that the human condition is incredibly predictable. And this keen observation tells me I’m not a freak, I’m not alone in my (sometimes self imposed) isolation. That, as extroverted of a person as I might be, people cannot solve the innermost longings in my soul.

Buechner then points to a familiar passage of scripture, Psalm 137:1

“By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion.”

Buechner, and many Christian theologians like him, find parallels between the Psalmist’s cries of dire landlessness and a longing for home with our longing for heaven, our hope to see God face to face. For the one who knit us together inside of our mother to hold us closely and call us Beloved.

This is so that we, fickle people who can’t always keep their emotions in check, can be reminded that our lives are of importance to the only One who can love us with a fierce and undying love, and embrace us despite that we are so slow to give love in return.

And that, when we feel loneliness creeping up inside of us, that longing is for Zion, for Heaven, for the place we can’t quite see but that we know is there.

He finishes with :

“Maybe in the end it is Zion that we’re lonely for, the place we know best by longing for it, where at last we become who we are, where finally we find home.”

I am in a transition currently that is both beautiful and painful. The little boy that I was is becoming the man that I am. I am responsible for others, someone people look to for guidance and the best I can give them is an assurance that though all may not be right in the world right now, it will be one day, and in the meantime, they aren’t alone.

As I reflect on the year, one common theme that emerges is change. Everything is in a constant state of change, like sand shifting underfoot. There are very few things you can hold onto in this life, but I want to make one thing clear: Jesus Christ is the only thing worth holding, the only thing that, at the end of it all, won’t slip through and leave you lonely.

When and if I can look back on my life on January 1st, 2016, I am fairly confident I will see a life where my extroverted soul is free and surrounded by new friends and deeper relationships than I currently have in my new setting, but everything can change in a precious moment. But not Jesus.

He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

This New Year, after being surrounded by my dearest friends and closest family and feeling a joy that sometimes feels elusive, I resolve to not resolve. Because life is a journey that doesn’t end until I reach Zion, until I’m finally home.