My dear Danielle is so much more of a daredevil than I am. She’s the skydiving, dirt bike racing, spooky forest, adrenaline junkie; and I’m super jealous. She somehow tricked me onto the “Fury 325,” which is a fitting name for Carowinds’ roller coaster, one that is called a giga coaster and the fifth tallest, seventh fastest, and fourth longest roller coaster in the world. Yes, I had to look all of that up, and I hope it lets you know how terrified I was to get on this. I figured I could chicken out, but her dad was there, and of course I had to show I was a brave guy for his daughter. I remember feeling so sick as we waited in line, and I said, I’ll be fine as long as I’m not in the front row. We then got the front row. I remember the hot sun beating down on me, and Danielle yelling, “look it’s Charlotte!” I turned my head and saw the entire city of Charlotte, North Carolina. I then remember the coaster being a jerk and stopping for a little bit at the peak, then we dropped. I thought my skin was going to peel off of my face, certain that even though I have never had a bad heart, that it would then burst out of my chest.
We are officially in a new year. It’s a great time; we all are thinking about the past and now thinking about what we want the future to be. I know for my dear Danielle and I, we have been looking at what we want this year. Habits we want to begin, things we need to cut out, vision casting for the future. I love looking to the future, but often, I get caught up in the future and end up missing right now. There have been many moments where I want to do something, but ended up getting held back because I was not “experienced” enough. So, I strived in the past to get to the next level, do whatever it takes to gain influence. Now, for me, this never meant being a bully to get ahead, but it did mean I would get so focused on who I needed to impress and which boxes to check to move up. I was trying to speed through a game, without taking time to have fun.
What I’ve been learning is that I need to stop rushing into what’s next and enjoy where I am. I need to be present.
This past year has been one of the busiest and chaotic years to date. As you might know, my monthly posting schedule has been completely thrown out during December. Working a theme park is fun, but working during the holidays and as a new ride opens, it started to become more like hell for a few weeks. Kind of a fitting way to end a chaotic year with a bit more chaos on top. I’ve learned to adapt very quick over this year. It began with me not having my main youth pastor job, and my dearest Danielle and I searching for what was next. With an open door and a need to push ourselves out of our comfort zone, we made the move down to Orlando for Danielle’s Disney College Program. While job searching, I found myself processing a lot of hurts, my pastoring position wasn’t just a job; I had invested in the lives of a ton of students, so when I was let go, I didn’t really know what to do.
I didn’t belong, and I felt like I was letting those students down or abandoning them.
It felt like my purpose was pulled away, I had gotten wrapped up in a place and lost sight that no matter where God had me, I had purpose.
I’ve been talking about love a lot recently. Most of my posts have centered around the idea of how to love others and how to love ourselves the way Jesus loves. The idea for me was sparked during a conference I went to over the spring of last year, the Orange Conference, its’ main theme being “it’s personal.” One of the speakers was Bob Goff, and of course, if you know anything about him, he’s all about loving people. This spark made me look at the way I live. How do I love others like Jesus? What does that look like? What steps can I take towards loving in his radical ways? The answer seems to be right in front of me, in front of all of us. We want to be better people. We want to make positive changes and influence in the lives of the people we come across. So, what do we do?
We do what Jesus did, we call out the greatness in others.
I think everyone has significant moments in their life. Moments that have shaped us and made us who we are, and often, these are not too happy of memories. It’s such a tragedy that our lives encounter terrible heartache, yet it’s how we grow and mature. It’s almost Thanksgiving, and while most of the time we are focused on family and delicious foods, I think it’s important during this time to look back at the moments that have shaped us. What you’ll find, and it’s something that I myself have found, is that these key moments, good and bad, have shaped us into a stronger person than we once were. I titled this post the way I did because I think living a life full of thanks, allows us to have deep joy and love well.
“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31
There’s a special feeling that comes when someone treats you in an incredibly kind way. This past week I was able to attend a talent show where my friend was going to be singing. Normally, I wouldn’t be able to get in since it was for the Disney College Program people, but my friend put me as a VIP. That’s not a normal thing I get very often, so when I was able to get in, get a lanyard and sit in the front row, my whole attitude felt very positive. I got to gush over my friend, Shanden, and his incredible voice and encourage him. After, I started thinking, I began to think about what Jesus said when he talked about how to treat others. The “golden rule” is well known, but not always followed. When we look at the life of Jesus, we see a man who chose to treat others like VIPs, treating others with love and encouragement. We are called to follow the example that Jesus set, so that means, we need to start treating others like the very important people they are.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
Being yourself is one of the hardest things. We are surrounded by people who either try to tell us how we should be or idolize the way someone else lives. We start to live in the stereotypes of every high school movie from the eighties, and then get lost in all the titles and expectations of these labels. The thing is, labels and stereotypes don’t work in real life. We live in the view of who we should be, and we then lose who we are. We can’t live trying to fit in. We have all been designed in unique ways- no one person is like someone else. Similarities, yes, but an exact copy, no. The reason I’m talking about this and the reason I think the concept of being you is so important, is because life is filled with unknowns. Our identity helps us weather this adventure.
I think it’s important to talk about mental health. For a long time, mental health had a stigma around it, meaning that whenever it was brought up is was hushed or just treated like something you needed to just “get over.” What has happened now though, is that these stigmas are starting to break, which is a good thing. We need to be okay to talk about our struggles and in turn, get help for them. That’s what we’ll be looking at today, ways to focus your heart. Too often we forget to take care of ourselves, and I mean that from a mental perspective. You might be dealing with some struggles, old heartache, or maybe you don’t even know where these “low” feelings are coming from. It’s easy to try and brush it aside or pretend like it’s not real, but it is real. Our mental wellbeing is important, thought we don’t address it in our lives. This is coming from someone who has heavy anxiety. I’ve written about my battle before in a post I called, “My Battle with Anxiety.” That will give you some context and help you if you are dealing with this same battle, but today I want to talk about something incredibly important, addressing the problem in order to be free.
One of the scariest situations to be in, is a new place where you know no one. Growing up, I didn’t move a lot, but I was put in situations where I had to meet new people all the time. I grew up in a church where there were a lot of kids, went to a bunch of homeschool groups then a real school, there were continual moments growing up where I found myself faced with people I had no clue about. That can be very intimidating. What if they don’t like me? What if they make fun of me? What if no one wants to be my friend? These questions are based in a real fear that we experience, but often, we let that fear control us. I had to learn early on that I sometimes had to do the scary thing first and get scared later, that meant putting myself out there a lot and not knowing what would stick.
I am now twenty-five years old. That’s kinda weird to think about. I really love birthdays, it gives me a chance to reflect and dream about what can happen during this next phase of my life. Last year was really awesome, I talked about that in my post a couple weeks back; the biggest part was starting a new adventure with my dearest Danielle! As much as it was awesome, there were some challenges outside of that moment. I still deal with some of the rejection I faced, the knowledge that people who wronged me will never apologize gets me angry. I’ve struggled with anger for a long time, and if you’ve met me hopefully you wouldn’t think that. I learned a long time ago that anger feels very empty, it’s often just a reaction with no thought of the consequences that could come. I believe anger comes from fear. Our expectations and emotions were switched and we are filled with fear deep down as a result, then we get angry.
Anger is empty, love is fulfilling.