“Make mistakes, learn from them, and when life hurts you (because it will), remember the hurt. The hurt is good. It means you’re out of that cave.”
– Jim Hopper (Stranger Things Season 3)
If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you know how weird the past few months have been. I was let go at the start of the year, and that left me with a lot of hurt, feeling unwanted and unappreciated. It sucked, but then, we got a little message from God. Our time in Greensboro didn’t seem to have anything for us, and a door opened to come down here in Orlando. My dearest Danielle started the Disney College program, and it was such a unique blessing for our season. While we’ve been down here, I didn’t have a job offer waiting. I applied a lot, but nothing seemed to be biting for me. Ouch, kinda stunk to have a cool transition to a new place, but still deal with feeling of being unwanted.
In the midst of that, Danielle helped me choose to view things differently. I started trusting God. My prayers were pretty much, “this doesn’t make sense but I trust you.” You see I’ve learned that God’s plan is unexpected and often doesn’t make sense, and that’s beautiful.
I love jumping into the pool. There are different kinds of people, those who gradually ease their way in, those who test the water before deciding to go in or not, and then there’s me, diving in like a hooligan. My thought process is, if it’s cold, might as well get used to it quick and have fun while doing it than nothing. I hate long buildups. Danielle and I recently went on a roller coaster, it spun you all around, was really tall, and very very fast. My dearest Danielle loves adrenaline, and I enjoy roller coasters, the thing is, the waiting kills me. The lines always crawl and, in my head, I build it up to be worse than I know it is. What if I die? No one has ever died before, but what if I’m the sucker who kicks the bucket this time? What if my glasses fly off? I know physics literally says that they will stay on my head because of the force, but what if I defy physics? I have the best time when I just jump into it, and not allow room to worry.
My favorite quote from the great theologian and philosopher, Lemony Snicket, is, “Do the scary thing first, and get scared later.”
I think we need to live like this in all things, especially as we step into our calling.
I need affirmation. That’s something I’ve learned in the past couple of years. Knowing our worth is one of the hardest things. We know, in our minds, that God made us and that means we are loved deeply by him, but at the same time, we battle thoughts in our head that say otherwise. Maybe it’s due to the comparison in our lives, seeing the best that others post can cause us to look at our own lives and wonder if this is really it. We crave this need, so we start to look elsewhere. Maybe it manifests in a toxic relationship to your social media presence. Maybe it’s the value a significant other gives to you. We all need affirmation. We want to be known, loved, admired. So why do we feel unworthy, unloved, completely de-valued?
The truth is that our spirits have been stolen, killed, and destroyed.
Yet, there is hope.
I think children’s stories capture so much of the human condition. Often these books and tales try to take real life obstacles and put them in the form of something light hearted and silly, in order to help children mature. One of my favorites is, The Little Engine that Could. A story about a train engine facing an impossible task in front of him. In a moment of desperation, our train friend begins to believe in himself and starts saying, “I think I can, I think I can.” I love that. Sometimes in our own lives we are faced with big hills, these mountains of fears and unknowns, but we need to keep pressing on.
I’m reminded of another children’s tale, one that I loved watching growing up. Each week, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers would face a nasty bad guy (It was always obvious they were super bad). I’ll go ahead and spoil the formula for every episode, a formula so sound, that they still use it for the current Power Ranger show airing now. The baddie attacks the rangers, they morph into their power suits, taking the bad guy out, only to then have the baddie turn into a colossal version of themselves. Faced with impossible odds, the rangers fly into their robot megazord and never give up. It always ends with the heroes being victorious and blowing up the baddie (never looking at the explosion cause that’s how cool people do it).
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
– Habakkuk 3:17-18
When we think of worship, most of the time our minds immediately go to singing on a Sunday morning. I mean church services are often referred to as worship services, there is a worship team and a worship leader, but today, I’d like to move away from this common idea. I’ve talked about worship from that perspective here before, but I want to talk about worship that we all possess. You may not be a singer, but you are fully capable of worship. When I look at worship, I think it’s better to see worship as a lifestyle, not just a Sunday morning state of mind (or an occasional mid-week service that happen). We’ve turned the concept of worship to no be a lifestyle but a “thing” we have to do. This often happens in the routine of our relationship with God. Read the bible. Check. Pray. Check. Listen to Hillsong on the way to work. Check. Listen to a church podcast on the way home (mainly to help the blood boiling anger of rush hour traffic, Orlando I4 what’s up). Check.
The thing is, worship was never meant to be a part of our checklist, it was supposed to be a state of being.
You are awake today and that means you should be living a worship lifestyle.
I’m pretty sure all of you have heard the saying, “it’s about the journey, not the destination,” at some point in your life. It’s to help those of us like myself, who really hate waiting. For instance, anytime I go to the movies, even though I know I don’t need to get there a half hour early, I’ll find myself rushing to get to a theater and end up with forty-five minutes of early waiting. I love the destination. The destination is final, not a reference to those cheesy movies, it’s something that is certain and I don’t have to wait any longer. Texts that say, “I can’t wait to tell you something later,” consume my thoughts and make me want to find out what it is now. Cynical people would say it’s because I’m millennial or whatever, but I just like the present, not always the wait to open it. The hard part about me being wired this way, is that I lose sight of the journey. Yes, it’s all coming together, that’s how I like to write.
Another word for journey in the context of life would be, waiting.
I tend to freak out. Especially when it comes to anything technology related. The WIFI takes a second to refresh? I immediately think the router is dead and we are now going to have to be like 1800’s farmers. Admit it, you do it too. Maybe it’s not with tech, but maybe traffic is a bit too slow. Maybe you have to walk behind someone taking their sweet time in Target. Whatever it is, we have the tendency to freak out. A lot of times it’s due to our lack of patience, but what I’ve been learning recently is that impatience is only a small piece.
The biggest reason we freak out is that we have a lack of control.
I wanted to write about rejection. Last week I wrote about how we don’t have to have it all figured out, and this week is the part two that goes along with that idea. Not a direct sequel, but still related. Think of last week being Alien and this week being Aliens, both related but you don’t need to see both to understand. Okay, weird tangent; I wanted to write about rejection. You see, there have been a lot of no’s in my life. I use the word wanted, because I wasn’t in a good mental state thinking about it. I had just gotten another rejection from another job. My story has had many times of rejection. From high school being rejected by teachers who thought I was dumb. There was a day in my senior year where I received three letters from three different colleges telling me I didn’t get in. I remember being alone in my room and screaming at the top of my lungs, why? In college, I had an internship where I wasn’t able to do what I thought was best. At my church job, I wasn’t given a chance compared to others. I have been rejected, but the truth is, I cannot live in the belief that I am rejected.
I wanted to write about rejection, but then my wife reminded me of what I truly am.
I’ve always loved movies about high school. There’s just something funny about them, it’s always melodramatic and filled with this one idea. The senior year scenario where the characters all have to make choose who they want to be for the rest of their lives. It’s a great set up for a movie, but when it comes to real life, this shouldn’t be our mindset. For most of us, we’ve graduated high school and most likely college. The truth is, life for most of us has moved beyond that as well. That’s a good thing. I’ve found that in almost every stage of life, people love to ask you the question of, “what’s next?” For me, I love to have a plan. I like knowing what’s next and having an idea of where I’m headed.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that. God often doesn’t work like that.
We are now about two weeks into the month of May, and it’s mental! May is mental health awareness month, shining a light on mental health and allowing for those who haven’t opened up a chance to know that there is always hope. That’s why I love this month. For a long time, especially in the Christian community, mental health hasn’t been talked about. Not only has it not really been talked about, but many times it has been seen as a weakness, something that makes you less than those around you. It’s tragic because we have lived and treated others in this lie that Satan has convinced us of. We get in the mindset that we have to be perfect, that in order to follow Christ, we have to have no flaws. The truth is, if we believe this, we will live our lives believing that we are never enough, but the power of the gospel is that Jesus says all we need is to walk with him. Jesus doesn’t want perfect people, because he knows people aren’t perfect. All Jesus asks of us is to follow him, and he’ll help us sort out the rest.
The same is true with mental health.
Just like every other part of our lives, we need to trust in Jesus. Trust in our creator who designed us with a purpose and loved us so much he sent his son to die on a cross and take our sins, and then raise again to defeat death.