Spooky season is almost finished, which means this is our finale to the b-movie series here on the blog. Today, since I like to keep you on your toes, we will not be looking at a movie, but a TV show, and a specific episode. The Twilight Zone, created by Rod Serling (who also narrates each episode), sets a spooky tone in every episode with wild scenarios, all based in real issues we deal with. The episode we will be looking at today is titled, “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street,” the setting takes place in a suburban neighborhood and suddenly a flash in the sky appears and everything stops working. The neighbors gather in the street confused about the power outage and strange flash, and a little boy suggests it could be aliens infiltrating the neighborhood. Panic starts, then fingers are pointed at one another power comes on in certain houses, driving the people to become more and more untrusting of one another. The anger leads to a death, then the street erupts into chaos.
The final moment of the episode shows two aliens watching these events, and they simply say that all they need to do to conquer earth, is create confusion and the humans will destroy themselves.
One of the biggest tropes in horror films, is when the gang decides to split up. Almost every classic b-slasher movie has a moment where the teenagers decide it’s a better idea to split up and go get help, and we as the viewers want to scream at the screen because we know this is the worst idea! I always think of the Friday the 13th series, because they all pretty much follow the same formula. Jason shows up and then everyone else runs in the opposite direction, just not together. It becomes a free for all and doesn’t end well for pretty much anyone, until the end when the final people figure out a way to stop the mad man. We watch this and get so frustrated, asking ourselves, why wouldn’t they all just work together to stop this killer? The truth is though, that we ourselves do this same thing.
Life gets really tough sometimes. There are days were you just can’t take it anymore. I’ve had a lot of time to think, just like many of you have during this time of social distancing, and I’ve thought about the events that have led me to where I am now. Looking back, I’ll be honest, there have been a ton of times where I wanted to quit. To just give up and let go. In high school, I knew God was calling me to be a pastor, it’s the clearest voice I have heard. I had a passion to help people and a passion to help young people especially step into who God made them to be. From that moment I felt very weird, I am still so passionate about it, but when I have pursued it, I get push back.
Maybe you have been met with similar pushbacks, you might not have enough experience, might be too young or too old in the eyes of the person in charge, or maybe you’ve been told you don’t have the right x-factor or cool enough. I’ve faced these exact same challenges, but in it, god has been with me. He always reminds me:
Never give up.
I was thinking back to about a year ago when I was listening to Reggie Joiner speak at Orange Conference. He made a statement that stuck with me, and popped into my head the other day. He said this, “On his way to save everyone, Jesus stopped to save someone.” I love that. In the context of what he was talking about was the story of Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was a man that no one liked, and he wasn’t really likable. Despite what he had done, he wanted to listen to the teachings of Jesus, and Jesus called him to be greater. God sent his son to save everyone and he started by saving someone.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
This scripture keeps coming into my mind.
In every season it feels like there always comes a crossroads. A time where decisions need to be made and the next chapter will begin with whatever choice is made in this moment. I’ll be honest, in my life, these decisions aren’t comfortable and often are the result of hurt. I think about how in college, I was interning and it felt like the next steps were so clear, that I would just continue into that path. That wasn’t the case, life often has a way of shifting and moving, and most of the time it’s not the way I would like. So often I used to write and preach about how God’s plan is so much better, yet during these same times I had my plan all mapped out. Things just made sense, but the truth is, God’s plan is so much better, it just means that we have to get uncomfortable to take a leap.
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.
One of the toughest feelings is that of getting second place. It’s said that Olympic athletes deal with this idea; gold medalists obviously are ecstatic and even bronze medalists are proud of being able to place in the top three of the world’s athletes. The silver medalists though, that’s the hardest placement. Silver medalists are often the most tortured mentally, battling the inner fight of the fact that they were good, just not good enough. Milliseconds off of making it across the finish line first, but never getting there first. I’ve felt like this as of recent. I feel like I just keep coming up short.
I’ll never forget the creepiest class I took at UNCG. I was in a “history of horror films” class that met for three hours every Thursday night. It was a blast, scared me to death, but it was such a blast. Sure, some parts of the class teetered on the “this is too much that I want in my mind,” but with an understanding professor, it ended up being a fantastic experience. The only bad part was, by the time the class had ended at nine, the campus was empty. It was dark and eerie, and after talking about horror, it made for a bad combination. I learned that walking to the bus pickup spot was really creepy alone, but luckily, I made a friend in the class who also went to the bus stop. After Jamal and I decided to go together, the creepy night wasn’t so bad.
It’s funny how much of a difference that made, and the same can be true with many different things as well. It helps to have a workout partner to keep you motivated. Going to the movies is a lot more fun when you can talk about what you just saw over milkshakes (Now I want milkshakes). Playing board games with a group leads to lots of laughter. While these are pretty surface level things, when it comes to more serious matters, we choose to walk alone.
I recently have started adding podcasts to my morning runs. I normally have been listening to music to help me get hyped, so the heavy rotation was the Frozen soundtrack or Czarface, ‘cause you know, my fav Disney movie and a rap group with members from Wu-Tang Clan go together. Instead of listening to music, I started listening to podcasts to help me deepen my relationship with God and grow as a leader. I recently listened to a podcast called, “Leadership Lean in with Chad Veach.” Chad Veach is the lead pastor of Zoe Church in LA, and I really love his perspective and attitude when it comes to leadership. In the course of the podcast, he said that there is something he has learned when it comes to discerning decisions and other areas we find ourselves in. He said that God often times will block it, or bless it.
That idea hit me, because it’s so true, and it’s often the biggest hang-up we can find ourselves in.
I’ll never forget the first time I was able to have a conversation about Star Wars. After my dad showed me the original trilogy, I was in love with it. It made my afternoon playing outside have vivid stories of me dreaming about being in the Star Wars universe. I read the random books from the library trying to get more of this thing that I loved, but I really wasn’t able to share my love for it. My neighborhood friends loved skateboarding and video games, but couldn’t connect with my new thing. I wouldn’t talk about Star Wars, because they weren’t interested and thought it was kinda lame. Then, my friend from church named Grayson, told me about this new book he was reading, based off of Star Wars. Immediately I connected because I was able to be myself and talk about something that I loved dreaming about as a kid. That’s a bit of a random story, but I think it illustrates something that many of us face.
It’s hard to be ourselves.