Saturday, May 30, 2009

And, yo, I did some things, but that's the old me.

I stayed up way too late last night composing my last post. Somehow I still awoke several minutes before my alarm of 7:45am. I didn't allow any time this morning for breakfast or quiet time or anything; after all, I wanted to get some sleep after being up until around 3am. I showered and dressed and grabbed some poptarts, then split. I arrived at my church at 8:45am to prep for a funeral, then I ran sound for the memorial service. I'm very proud to say there wasn't even so much as a hiccup in the whole thing. I also managed to read almost the entire time (which helped keep me awake, to some degree). These blogs keep getting longer...
What I was reading today, the author was calling to light how incredibly dependent we are on validation and affirmation from other people, since we betrayed the only true source of validation at the Fall. It's not that we can't find validation in God, but now we are overwhelmed with self-consciousness. The author was pointing out some things in Genesis 2 and 3, how, when Moses wrote it, the overwhelming point of it all was how Adam and Eve were naked and felt NO SHAME, then they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, betrayed God's trust, and suddenly felt shame and embarrassment and self-consciousness. Now we seek to find affirmation in whatever is closest to us, and we are ALWAYS comparing ourselves to others.
He was also talking about how it boils down to feeling valuable. When somebody cuts us in line, for instance, it's as though he or she is saying "You're less valuable than me, so I'm going to take the better place to prove it." We find our value in the way that other people act toward us.
I can't remember where I was going with this. So, I've read this book before, by the way, and as I read it again, I think, oh yeah, I kinda remember this now. But for some reason it never stuck with me from the first time. Another book by this same author left ideas and thoughts running through my head even three years after I read it (although I just re-read it and it challenged me in many fresh ways). The book I'm reading through now is also very profound, but none of it stuck with me the first time, and I'm not sure why.

After the funeral wrapped up, I headed home. I made waffles and bacon, then Mike Radigan and Josh Steckel came over. We left to finish up the gravel job around noon. They'd fill the buckets and bring them to me, where I'd crouch around the crawlspace like Gollum, dumping buckets where best I saw fit. An hour and a half later, all the gravel was in the crawlspace, and it only took me another few minutes to spread it out and level things. I'm dying of blacklung/moldlung now, but at least the job is finished. We hauled a couple enourmous logs some hundred yards out to his fire pit, cleaned up the mess where four tons (8,000lbs) of gravel used to lie, and then we went back to my (parents') house to part ways.
After another quick shower, I was back to the church (about 3:15pm) for tech-related tasks and the evening services. Soundchecked the band, then I basically sat there and read for the next several hours. My mom brought Chipotlé to me (thanks!) since I was going to be there until almost 9pm. I ate that and continued reading, even throughout the 5pm and 7pm services.

Now, I had forgotten the book I was halfway through, but I had another book in my car from a visit to the library earlier in the week. It's called Marriable, and I really don't like it (based on the first hundred pages I read when I wasn't tech-ing things tonight). See, among the many other things I'm reading right now, I'm also looking for solid books with wisdom regarding relationships. Yes, there's somebody I'm praying about this summer. I figured gaining some wisdom would be great, even if my feelings end with the summer. While in Europe, I read I Kissed Dating Goodbye (after owning it for three years, it was about time), and I also reread Boy Meets Girl (which I read as soon as I bought it three years ago... clearly hoping for something with somebody at the time...). Especially in I Kissed Dating Goodbye, I can tell Joshua Harris has some overwhelmingly conservative views about relationships with the opposite sex. At the same time, I feel like I reached a lot of similar conclusions personally over the last two and a half years. Both books seemed full of wisdom, and most of the stuff was practical and applicable even in friendship with any human being; a lot of stuff dealt with simply loving other people selflessly and serving them. I really appreciated Joshua Harris' dedication to advice that truly seems to reflect living in a Christ-like manner, even in terms of a relationship.
Anyway, with my pursuit of wisadom in the area of relationships, I snagged Marriable from the library several days ago. I didn't want to start it until I finished the book I was on (which has absolutely nothing to do with dating/"courting" relationships). But since I forgot it, I needed something to read tonight. That's how I started Marriable. Okay, so the authors are both Christian, and I assumed it would be a terrific book about learning to live more like Christ even in the midst of dating or courting or whatever they would choose to define a relationship. I figured it would talk about the need to pursue Christ above all else and not let a relationship become your demi-god. Instead, the authors poked fun at "spiritualizing" the dating process, and offer continual advice to "play the dating game". I mean, they kept emphasizing the game part so much, and how dating really needs to be competitive. I may have misread, but I'm fairly certain at one point they encourage girls to play hard-to-get because "guys love the chase".
I guess that's just where my own idealogies differ from theirs. I don't think it's a game, where you're constantly trying to play the odds and hope to eventually hit the jackpot. I think relationships should be entered into humbly and guarded with wisdom. The authors talked about how you shouldn't waste time "just being friends", and you should "strike while the iron is hot" and all this other mumbo jumbo that really rubs me the wrong way. If God has ordained for some girl to be my wife, then it's gonna happen. Why rush into something blindly and foolishly, with the risk of it ending painfully? Why not spend the time seeking wisdom and praying about it? If she's the one, the relationship is inevitable. I'll have the rest of life with this person, so those few extra months where I'm not in a relationship won't hurt anything. And if those few extra months lead me to lose those feelings, then I didn't leave any damage from a haste to have a relationship.
Also, if I'm constantly "playing the dating game", that's just one more distraction from my focus on God. This summer, I know I have huge opportunities to grow in my faith and spirituality. There's also some opportunities to serve God in great ways. If I'm hung up on "exploring my options" or obsessing over some girl, it's really going to hinder my ability to serve.
I said this already- I'm praying about somebody right now. But I'm in my prime to serve God, and I really cherish my single-ness and the unique opportunities it gives me to serve and grow. If those feelings are still around in the fall, I can decide how to handle them; whether to pursue them. If they're not, then I'll be totally relieved that I did nothing silly in haste, and was able to use my summer to serve and grow.
Anyway, I'm going to finish the book just to know the whole picture, but it really seems contradictory to my own perspectives on handling relationships in a Christ-like manner and loving people selflessly. One really awesome thing about the book, though, and I'd be remiss not to mention it, is how straightforward and realistic the authors are. They really do show the nature of guys and girls in typical relationships, and they don't try to water it down or pretty it up at all. As ugly as some characteristics can be, they still talk about them in an informative manner. I do think, in that sense, it's really useful just to know about the ways in which girls (and guys) react to relationship situations and how they handle feelings and such.

...I feel like I was just rambling a ton. After the services were over, I was gonna go hang with the guys and play poker, but that would've lasted until who-knows-when. I was already exhausted from a long day of work and too little sleep, so I decided to blog and then crash.
It's crashing time. Goodnight.

Currently listening:
Mystic Travels - a cd of "Native American" music that Sam and I bought in Milan, Italy from a group performing on the street.

In the midst of a headache...

See, since I've been back from Europe, I've been getting up pretty early every day, working really hard, and going to bed fairly early too.  I'm up way too late right now, and so my head kinda hurts.  But I'm intent on keeping the blog updated daily, so here goes:

   I woke up around 7am this morning.  Actually, it was 6:55, five minutes before my alarm went off.  I finished yesterday's post up, since I fell asleep writing it.  Then I grabbed my Bible and headed to the toilet.  I had a job at 8, so I didn't have time to make myself breakfast and sit in the backyard for quiet time as I had been doing the last few mornings.  The toilet has always been a faithful reading place for me, though, and I tackled a few more chapters of Luke.  Chapter 13 really stuck out to me, particularly the first few verses.  Some dudes come to Jesus talking about how Pilate killed some people and mixed their blood with the blood of sacrifices on the alter.  Then he talks about the Tower of Siloam collapsing and killing people.  But the point Jesus is making is that those people weren't any worse sinners than we are.  I started thinking about Jerry Falwell.  He's a pretty well known reverend (recently deceased), and when 9/11 happened, he came out saying that it was God's judgement against the homosexuals and abortionists and feminists and such.  It breaks my heart to see such "logic" used to explain things.  I mean, I can just picture Jesus in the crowd, listening to Jerry Falwell, then standing up, possibly even shaking to control his (righteous) anger, and saying, "Dude!  You're no better than they are! What are you going on about?  Your sin is just as bad as theirs, and you have no right to judge them or pretend like you know why my Father lets things happen!  Cut it out!  You have no idea what I'm all about!  You have no idea the LOVE I have for those people!  I was eating dinner with some of them just last night, and my heart is broken that they just died!  Stop pretending like you know me, dude, 'cause you clearly have no idea!"
   It's just, the more I read about Jesus, the more I see how amazing the love he has for us really is.  This past month, something has been changing for me.  I was praying around the end of April for Jesus to become real to me.  I've spent my life accepting Jesus and believing and such, but he only ever seemed like a good idea.  He never really seemed like a person or anything, just a noble cause.  This past month, that's all changed though.  I feel like I "get it".  I know I won't fully understand God's ways or anything, but I feel like Jesus became real to me.  And I'm overwhelmed by his capacity to love without bias and by his capacity to love without reason.

   Jesus never, ever offended straightforward sinners.  He always loved them, lifted them up, and cared about them so strongly that they desired him above their previous sin.  You know who Jesus consistently pissed off, though?  It was the Pharisees, the scholars and the teachers of the law; the people who constantly misrepresented God.  They were so hung up on following these rules they created that they were clueless to the love of God.
   Something else that's been huge in my mind is how I, striving to be a Christ-follower, am an instrument of God.  God uses me to show love to others.  Actually, he wants to use me for that, but I mess his plans up with my own ideas constantly.  God wants to use me to show his love to people, he wants to use me to show his own compassion and mercy and grace and selfless giving.  Then I go and get hung up personal stuff and refuse to let God work because of the things I want.  I've been praying a lot recently that I don't get in the way of God, and that he'll use me to show his love to people.  I've been praying for all of the spiritual gifts at once: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,  goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.  Maybe that's a little dramatic to demand everything from God at once, but I know he'll help me grow in all of them, and my desire to grow them is born of a desire to be more like Christ.
   I read somewhere that back in the day, if somebody confused you for your rabbi, that was the greatest honor ever, because you were so good at living like your rabbi.  I mean, that's what I want with Jesus, you know?  I want people to see the way I live, and confuse me with Jesus.  Don't get me wrong here, I don't want people calling me their savior or anything like that.  But Jesus loved people practically to show how much God loves us, and people were transformed (often literally through healing) by that love.  I want God to use me in that way to point people's lives back to him.
   Wow.  I just realized how risky that hope is.  I actually just got scared by it, because I don't even know what that means exactly, like, what God might choose to do with me to show his love.  But I get it now!  I understand the fact that God loves us overwhelmingly!  I still can't grasp that love even partially, but I want my life to be a tool for God to show that same love to others!  I long for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control because that's what Christ had (without limits) for EVERYBODY.

   One more thing, and this is probly the last thought for the day, I've realized, I think on the flight home, how significantly lacking I am in love for myself.  It's been about three years, I think, since some things happened that destroyed my identity and gave me a sense of worthlessness.  I would pray for people, but I never for myself, because I either didn't think I was worth those prayers, or there were even times where I didn't believe God was even there to answer them if I did.  (This is all really complicated, and I'm skipping a ton of details in my life-story.)  I would try to love people even though I felt unloveable- I just didn't want other people ever feeling the pain I felt.  There's a lot more similar things I tried to do for others, but it was never really effective.  I really, truly felt without any value, and this worthlessness even came with me to Europe.  So many things happened, though, and everybody on the team was so constantly encouraging about anything and everything, so I couldn't ignore it anymore.  I used to deflect encouragement and compliments and things because I didn't feel deserving of them, but it was like there were some many coming my way that I couldn't deflect all of them.
   Then some stuff I was reading was talking about how if we don't love ourselves, we can't even accept God because of who he is: a being that IS love.  Later in that same book, there's a whole chapter about loving ourselves, and I kinda feel like the author was struggling exactly in the same way I was.  I was reading this chapter on the flight home.  Anyway, the part that struck out most is how we need to learn to accept love people show towards us.  And God tells us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, which also means we need to love ourselves in the first place.  It's not arrogance, it's really just an acceptance of the overwhelming love God has for us.  The author pointed out how critical it is to love ourselves, because we're hypocrites otherwise.  I go around hating myself, but trying to love other people.  Thus, I'm trying to give them something I won't even accept, so I'm being a hypocrite.  I've started praying that God will help me see it when he uses people to display his love for me.  Encouragement and compliments have really started to edify me, especially this past week, since I started praying for that.  It feels really radical, because I'm so used to turning them away and ignoring them since I felt so unworthy and undeserving.  But God is giving me grace to accept those things and let them build me up.

   Well, back to my day.  At 8am, I arrived at Aaron Zink's house. We spent about two hours moving gravel from his driveway, through the garage, into the house, down to the basement and into the crawlspace, then dumping it and spreading it... using five gallon buckets and brute manliness. ;)  We moved probably around 4,000 pounds of gravel, no joke.  Once I finally get to bed so I can wake up tomorrow I'll be crazy sore.  Then I'll set in to moving the rest of it with a couple friends, starting around noon.  It was hard work, but really gratifying to do some physical labor.  I also sweat insanely, which was uncomfortable, but still kinda cool because I was working so hard.
   I got home, showered up and split for the Great Harvest in Pickerington.  My friends Ashlee and Kevin own it, and they wanted to go to a concert, so I obliged by closing the store.  It was actually a really great time for a ton of reasons, but I don't want to keep writing about all of that.  It was so slow that I wound up texting several people throughout the latter half of my eight-hour shift there.
   I drove home after that and wound up playing guitar and singing a bit.  It's been a long time since I've just unwound in that manner, and it was really refreshing.  Dad made me an awesome burrito, and I ate it while we swapped ideas for some piano and synth parts to a track a friend's daughter sent to him.  Then I went outside (I love our backyard, by the way) and read for probably an hour or hour and a half.  I talked to Brian for a bit to keep him awake while driving, and we had some really solid conversation about loving people. Then I started this.
   And now I'm ending it.  I really do appreciate you taking the time to read about my life and my thoughts.  If you have any comments or anything, feel free to leave them.  I'd totally enjoy a conversation about any of this, so if it strikes a particular chord in you, then let's converse over the phone or in person or something!
Okay, I'm really done typing now.

Currently listening:
Adam Lambert's cover of Feelin' Good
Kris Allen's cover of Heartless
both on repeat, many, many times

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Thousand Times I've Failed...

And yet I'm going to try this blogging thing again.
I mean, really, I've probably started at least six blogs in the last several years, and then I've abandoned them all within a month or so at best. So why try again?

   Well, secretly I think my life is interesting enough that everybody should care about what I do on a daily basis. I pretty much expect everybody and their aunt to read this log of my life. If I write, then people can read and know what I'm up to.
   Or maybe I'm just doing this to help clear my head each day before I go to sleep. I had a xanga when I was a wee lad, maybe 9th and 10th grade. But then drama ensued, and xanga was a primary ground for compounding the drama. That's when I stopped blogging.
   I'm back, again, to try, again, to blog, again, in a mildly consistent matter. Pretend it's Thursday night... Here we go:

   I still haven't adjusted entirely from European time zone-ness.  I woke up at 5am the last two mornings, and 7am this morning.  I'd prefer to keep getting up early, though, even if it means sleeping earlier.  It's awesome to hit 11am, think it's 4pm and realize how much I've accomplished already and how much time there still is.  This morning I made poached eggs and toast, then sat in our backyard.  I read some of Luke, sipped coffee and ate.  My eggs were sickeningly sweet, because I accidently poached them in sugar water my mom had prepared for the hummingbirds.
   Around 8:45, my dad and I left the house to do a job.  We painted a kitchen/dining room ceiling in some house for some gal.  We ate these gigantic and delicious chicken salad sandwiches for lunch at a place nearby called Freeman Market.  I don't feel like describing it right now.
   When we got home, I was checking some emails and twitter and such, and I wound up reading articles about EQing and miking and live sound for around three hours.  I always love reading about that.  I also listened to Kris Allen's cover of Heartless around ten times. Maybe a lot more.     I stopped by the library for my new card and two books.  It's really great having a card again.  I'm really excited about the books I'll be able to read for free this summer. :)  After that stop, I hit up the bank to deposit some money (borrowed from my parents, because I'm flat broke, still).  However, I've got some really awesome doors God is opening for me in the area of a job, so I'm thrilled about that.
   I went to the church next to help out with the band reahearsal for Sunday.  It's soooo nice to be back at Heritage.  I just really missed my church a whole lot more than I thought I ever would.  Anyway, did a few small tech things, stood around catching up with John Wirtz, then him, Jewelee and I split for Donatos.  We chatted about all sorts of things and heard lots of funny stories about John being flat broke after hs days at Full Sail.  John had lots of food-related stories, such as making chicken alfredo or spaghetti using ramen, various freebie packets of sauce from places and carefully rationed ramen seasoning.  He also told us of free food giveaways where his brother would snag random freebies resulting in concoctions like shrimp coctail sandwiches.
   Moving along... After we ate it was back to the church to hang some banners related to the Revelation series happening right now.  Apparently there's also going to be a live lamb...
   The gal who was going to buy my tv bailed at the last minute, so there's a hundred bucks I didn't make tonight after all. No biggie, I suppose.
   I gave Jared a call to catch up on life over the last month; it was a fun conversation for sure.  After that, I came inside and crashed (...AFTER writing this blog...).
New day "tomorrow" with new opportunities. Hopefully my posts will start to take some direction, because this wasn't quite what I had in mind, though it was close.

Currently Listening: Spring Awakening soundtrack