Have you ever done something you wish you could take back? Made a comment, did a thing, chose one option over another? It’s a pretty crummy feeling, what’s worse is that most of the time, we could have changed the consequence by our original choice. I love working in children’s ministry, and one of the main points we talk about is that we need to make the wise choice. But, how exactly do we make the “wise choice?” Sure, some options are easier to see, like, if I need to be up at 5, I probably shouldn’t get to bed at midnight if I want to be alert the next day. Pretty straight forward, but what about the other choices in our lives. Relationships, jobs, living situations, what we spend our time doing; the list goes on and on. It would be easy to say, just do what the bible says, and wash my hands with this question, but the reality is, the bible doesn’t say anything about if you should move or if you should pursue a relationship. Or does it?
Have you ever been in a season of new? The past year of Danielle and I’s life has been filled with new. Since we got married last September, we thought it would be great to do all the things. From moving to job changes and doing life together, it’s been a wild journey. Everything is new, and new often means that fear begins to creep in. This is a perfect concoction for anxiety, isn’t anxiety just the best? I’ve talked about it on here before, but I’ve dealt with anxiety for a long time. The hard part was is that I was never really open about that fact, I tried to put on a face that I had it all put together, but the truth was, inside I was letting fear rule me. There were situations in high school that made me feel like if I didn’t have it all figured out I wasn’t enough. That led into college where everyone seemed smarter than me, and I would feel inferior to ask for help. I had been in a church job where if I wasn’t “cool” enough or got enough attention, I was seen as someone who wasn’t cut out for ministry or that I didn’t have enough “woo.”
I don’t say this to gain sympathy from you, reader. I simply talk about this because there was a moment during that college phase that helped me realize that the root of anxiety is fear, and fear is a punk.
I really love people. Everyone has a unique story, because all of us are unique. I love meeting new people and I really love when people can get together and have fun. I am loving my new job, and I really love every person I’ve had a chance to meet. We are all experiencing a new massive opening, so all of us are having to figure out the details and rely on each other to get it all done. I am loving every second of it, and love being able to encourage the people around me. I’ve been in environments that are completely opposite to what I’m experiencing now. In both work and outside of work, people can quickly become judgmental and start drawing lines in the sand of people they just do not like. We begin having this mindset of making those we don’t always like or get along with, become this idea of the “other.” This is just a concept that occurs when we begin to de-humanize others around us. We take stereotypes and turn them to the extremes. I think as of recent, we have seen the escalation of this idea. By the time of writing this, there was another mass shooting, and the driver behind the murder was hatred of other people. Now, I’m not saying that everyone who has ever acted on or believed a stereotype of someone else will commit a murder of that scale, what I want to talk about is the importance of empathy. There is just a general lack of empathy that I’ve noticed, and I’m sure you have too.
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 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).
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.
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.
This past week, dear Danielle and I drove down to Atlanta, Georgia. For Christmas, we had been gifted tickets by my parents. The Orange Conference is an incredible event. Over eight thousand people were in attendance, all with the heartbeat for reaching the next generation. There is something so refreshing being around people that think the same way as you, knowing that the future belongs to the youth and that we have a call to raise them up to be leaders. The speakers were incredible, hearing from those in ministry, secular world, and from a vast array of professions; all pouring out powerful information. There was a ton of information, all great, but a lot of it. Everything we learned and heard boiled down to one central idea.
Have you ever had one of those weeks where you are incredibly busy? This past week has been that in my life. My wife and I are moving out of our tiny home and in with my parents, until we make the big move to Florida in just a few weeks. The reason this past week was so busy, is the fact that in order to move, you have to put your life into cardboard boxes. Playing a giant game of Tetris with your life, figuring out where the mugs and books all go and making sure nothing gets messed up. It also doesn’t help when you are working all day and coming home at night wanting to rest, but you have to pack everything up. It’s a weird feeling at the end, looking at the boxes all stacked up ready to be loaded up. It’s your life. The memories, the necessities, and the luxuries all placed neatly in boxes. You know I talk about the crazy year it’s been so far, and sometimes it can be easy to let Satan get in my head, saying that I’m not enough or that you’ll never make it, but then I have moments where I stop and see my life packed away in those boxes.
It reminds me that God has my back.
“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.