“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.”
Sometimes we get in a funk. Things might not be terrible or falling apart, but there are still moments where we feel like we are in a haze. I talked last week about the nature of God and how he is our savior and deliverer in our moments of doubt, and today, I want to talk to you about the power we have because of Christ’s love for us. God is Yeshua, our savior and deliverer, and what that means is that because of the ultimate sacrifice, we are free. Easter is here, and while it is well known to be a big day for local churches to have new guests, the reason for Easter is the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is how Jesus holds the name of Yeshua, he came to earth, as God and human, in order to fulfill the old testament’s prophecies and then be crucified, taking on all of our sins. Then three days later, defeated death and rose again allowing each of us to enter into a relationship with him. That is a very condensed version of the gospel for you, and it is a beautiful tapestry of how nothing, not even death, can hinder God from overcoming all things.
Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we can overcome.
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.
Everybody wants a place to belong. I think it’s just a natural human trait, we crave the feeling of belonging. We all try to find a tribe, a group of like-minded people that know who we are and welcome us in. The thing is, sometimes we aren’t welcomed in. That feeling of the lunchroom, you just want to have a seat at the table, but don’t have a place where you belong. We then enter this cycle of searching for validation, where it might not be good. We see this all the time in our current time, we have our social media presence desperate for that perfect shot of our life, in order to get a hit of that red notification. The internet is a powerful tool, but because of the internet, mistakes are forever and validation is ever-changing. While you may be popular one moment, the next you are a distant memory in the stream of content. If it’s not online, we tend to push ourselves to fit in with the group. Geek culture is terrible for this, while you’d think it was the most inviting, it can get toxic easily. Your opinion is different than mine? Well I think you’re the worst. So, we start to tell little lies about ourselves, making compromises about our values, and start to lose ourselves.
Everybody just wants to belong.
It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these journey updates. The flow of these is pretty much just me taking some time to share about what’s been happening to me personally and what God has showed me through it all. It has been an insane ride. I got married, moved in with my amazing wife, got fired, wandered in a state of unknown, we decided to move, had a few panic attacks in there, and are on the job search as we move to Orlando, Florida.
Yeah, a lot has happened.
Fear is just the worst. I’m not talking about the type of fear that comes over us when we watch a scary movie or hear a noise in the night, I’m talking about that great and powerful, “unknown.” Think about it, we are all scared by what we don’t know. Ever been at a party and you knew no one? It’s the pit in your stomach when you were in a class and the teacher said to choose a partner, but you have never spoken to a soul in that room. You kinda just have to go with the guy next to you, but if you have the luck like I do, you get partnered with the guy who blows his cigarette smoke into his backpack. That’s a true story by the way. I have never been more speechless than that moment. Anyways, fear of the unknown is extremely unsettling. It’s the reason why you rarely see the shark in Jaws, the picture you create in your mind will always be scarier than when you actually come face to face with it (though sharks are all kinda freaky to me). I recently dealt with this amped up fear of the unknown this past week, and came face to face with some heavy lies.
I want to talk about fear today, but more accurately, how fear truly stinks.
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.
This past weekend, my wife and I decided to go on a road trip. In December, we went to Walt Disney World for our honeymoon, and we had the idea to go back. You see, they had a Festival of the Arts event at Epcot, and we were bummed we might miss it. My wife then said, why don’t we go? So, we decided to pick a weekend and drive down to Florida. It’s always awesome to go on a road trip, you have lots of time laughing and goofing off in the car. Singing songs at the top of your lungs (whether you know the words or not), having those moments of needing to pee and not seeing a rest stop anywhere, and munching on whatever food you brought (shout out to peanut butter sandwiches). Time feels slow and fast all at the same time, and it’s a great experience. There are often moments where you have to fill up on gas, sometimes you are stretched to see how long you can go without stopping or praying a gas station will be there soon, either way, you gotta fill up. If you don’t, you could end up getting stuck.
What’s funny is we understand this idea on a road trip, but when it comes to our heart, we run it into the ground.
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.
Life has been wild these past few months. I got married to my best friend and greatest woman in the galaxy. The holiday season was wild and fast. I lost one of my jobs. Danielle got a great job. We went on our honeymoon and had the best time. I started writing more. Danielle went back to finish up her school. So wild, filled with highs and lows. Yet, in all of it, I feel so very free. Normally, when I talk about what’s been going on in my personal life, I put a post under the title of “journey update,” but this didn’t seem to fit that style. Yes, this is a sort of update, mainly me laying out the things that have happened that I’ve only alluded to in my recent posts. I’ve been processing and reflecting a lot, maybe it’s the new year mindset of looking back and moving forward, but I think God has been speaking to me a lot. So, this is a personal post. It might go off on some tangents, but I promise that God wanted me to share the things I’ve been learning because it’s important to every single one of you who are struggling. Maybe you’ve hit a wall or feel like what you wanted seems far off, this, this is for you.