The day is finally here! It’s Christmas Eve, hopefully you have all your gifts ready to go, and if not, I wish you luck with the chaos that will be happening today. Christmas is always such a magical time, there is so much going on and it can be easy to grow distracted with all the cooking, family gatherings, and making sure you’ve got the perfect gift for that person who is always so hard to shop for. Christmas can also be a challenging season. With emphasis on family and being joyful for what you have, this can be very difficult for some to cope with loss, heartache and fear of the unknown. For me personally, this Christmas has been a time of fun and uncertainty mixed together as the new year has many unknowns. So, what do we do? What can we do is we find ourselves busy and uncertain all at the same time as having to put on a happy face? I think the key is actually simple, just difficult to fully accept and believe. I say this, because it is something that I have to accept and navigate as well. This isn’t me saying, “this will change your life in a few easy steps,” really, it’s the beginning of how to grow and mature in your life. We have been called to humble ourselves and love others; in other words, we are called to be the light.
October is my favorite. It’s a season for jackets, pumpkins, and spooky movies. Some people have negatively questioned my love of spooky things, but these spooky things have helped me cope with a lot of fear I had as a kid. We often give fear too much power, and Christians are especially guilty of this. In an attempt to turn away from sin, we decided to fear the “other,” choosing to stick to ourselves in our comfort zones; we have begun to fear the people that need to hear our message the most. We see people that are different, and we fear them, we fear that their influence will be “bad” for us, so we just avoid them all together. This is a mindset we have to fight because we are called to “fear not.” Joshua in the bible faced bigger things than many of us will, and God told him over and over to have no fear, to trust God and he would give him victory over his fear. This month is coming to an end, and I have been talking about how the enemy uses fear to try and bring us down. I like to fight back fear, because to fight means that we are active, and we must actively combat fear.
As we continue our series of lessons from horror, I want to look at something important that we don’t take nearly as serious. Mental health is something that is becoming more and more of a conversation, and that’s a good thing. There has been a stigma surrounding it for so long, people being afraid to open up that there seems to be something off, people like me. For a long time, I have struggled with anxiety, and haven’t always felt able to talk. My family and wife are the ones who have helped me be open and able to talk. They are safe people. This is a term that many have heard when it comes to mental health, find safe people to be open with. It can be hard to find these safe people, but we need to realize that having community is so vital, no matter what you may be going through. The sad thing is, many of us choose poorly. We choose negative influences over the positives, because we have an enemy working against us. This is a topic I talk about with students and kids about, because negative influences can lead us into some dark spots. God has designed us for community, so find a safe one.
October is here! I always love this season, as it kicks off so many good events. My birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas; it’s my favorite time. It’s a season of change, seriously, it’s the autumn season of change. I’ve been through a huge season of change. This past week I got married to my best friend in the world. It was such a beautiful moment, one that I will always remember as the beginning of a brand new chapter in our lives. I’ll write about that in a few weeks, but one thing that I want to focus on is the season of fall. When I got married to Danielle, I didn’t meet her the week before and say, “hey, we should get like married or whatever.” It was the result of a cultivation of our relationship, we chose each other and invested everything into it. Our marriage is a result of the sowing we made into our relationship. That sowing directly affects the harvest that will come, and as a conclusion of these one-word topics I have been writing on, I want to focus on the harvest.
This past summer was a whirlwind. Now, I know technically it’s not over yet (ugh), but when school starts back, I mentally move away from the summer mindset (bring on the leaves and pumpkins!). I’m a creative person. Obviously, I enjoy writing, I aim to write every single day. Only one post sees the light of day a week, but each day I write. I started because I felt like I had something to say, something to give the world around me. I didn’t have many opportunities to share, but on a blog, I could pour out my heart. Creatives need an outlet to express their craft. Some of you might be thinking, that’s good for you, but I’m not creative. See that’s where you’re wrong, we are all created by a creative God to be creative. The word “create” means to bring something into existence, that’s a broad spectrum that encompasses a lot of things. The way we encourage others, the way we problem solve our work and relationships, the way we pursue our callings; all of these are creativity in motion. Still not sure? Take a look at Ephesians 2:10, which says, “We are God’s creation. He created us to belong to Christ Jesus. Now we can do good works.”
One of the craziest things from high school that I remember was how heavy my backpack was. I know, very small detail to highlight, but it was the worst. Yeah, we had lockers, but when it came time for homework and studying, you needed all those hefty textbooks. Random musing, I know, but sometimes I feel like I can walk around like I’m carrying a weight on my back. If you ever had a heavy backpack or had to carry something heavy for an extended period of time, you know how hard it can become as time goes on. I want to take a look at something simple today, a basic truth about a relationship with God. Our God has died for us, we are bought and paid for by the blood of the lamb. So why do we continue to walk around with burdens on our backs? It’s time to take off our burdens and remember that we don’t have to earn our way to a relationship with out creator.
I love failure. Now I don’t love the feelings that come with it, the rejection, the pain, the heartache; but I love failure. It’s something that I’ve experienced a lot of throughout my life. In high school I failed Spanish class. It was a humiliating moment, I had to repeat the class and every day sat in with students who were younger than me. It was a humbling moment, I felt like a screw up, but God taught me perseverance. I applied to colleges, and every school I applied to declined or waitlisted me. I remember sitting on the floor screaming out until my voice went hoarse. Failure hurts, but failure is good. We don’t learn the oven is truly hot until we touch it by accident. Failure is the greatest tool, because failure allows us to re-think what was done. One of my favorite quotes is by writer, Grant Morrison:
“It’s good to mess up! Sometimes when you mess up, you find new things and new ways to work.”
Life is a wild thing. I look at life like a story being unfolded one chapter at a time. I don’t know what the end will look like, or the people and experiences that will happen along the way; it is a beautiful mystery that keeps me pressing forward. I’m a storyteller at heart, it’s something I’m so passionate about. That’s why I love comics, books, movies, and an assortment of other creative outlets. It’s especially why I love the bible. It’s a book of stories that help us learn and grow. You can have a bunch of information, but unless you can capture that into a story, it will be hard to convince someone to follow you. I get funny looks when I tell people that apologetics are for people who are already believers, because I think your personal story blows away any questions of if your relationship with God is real. I love life because new chapters happen all the time and bless us with new opportunities to step into what God has for us.
“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.”
This past week I went to Asheville with a close friend of mine. It was a small excursion for a couple of days, a much-needed time away to recharge and get away for just a moment. We walked around downtown searching for a taco shop (I mean, it was taco Tuesday), poked around some comic shops and other art stores. It was awesome, I have a hard time simply relaxing and not working on something. I am always working, if not at my jobs, it’s my writing or some other project. The idea of rest is something difficult for me because I have always had to work in order to get where I need to be. It was a blast to have no agenda, to look at books, and find some Fantastic Four back issues I’ve been searching for (issues 347-349, yo!). We then decided to take a small drive on the Blue Ridge and see some mountains.
I’ve recently been in a fog. I’ve never really had writer’s block, which is something pretty amazing after the past four years of writing here. I was contemplating not doing a post this week, I missed my early Patreon post schedule and was about ready to just take a week off. Then I realized that there was a mix of circumstance and spiritual attack. Last week I ended one of my favorite series I’ve written, all about having spiritual victory. It seems only fitting to then the next week fight some spiritual attack. This season in life has also been super busy, each day seems to be filled with projects, planning, and small moments of rest in the evenings. Spending time with Danielle and my family has really been the biggest driver keeping me from not getting lost. In this season of busyness, my quiet times are often rushed and not as filling as I usually have. In times like this, I feel inadequate. That I’m not doing enough or feeling like I’m not good enough. I can start to internalize this, and then everything that happens around me just hits again and again, with the whispers of “I’m not good enough,” plague me. I want to be open because I think often we have days like this. We feel like we are overlooked, that we aren’t living up to our potential, or because one bad day will cause us to fail. The truth is, we aren’t made to work enough to be used by God, we are simply people made new through the love of God.