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.
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.
One of my favorite classes I took in college was an art appreciation course. When completing your degree, you have to take a certain number of fine arts courses at UNCG, so I took this class and ended up loving it. There was a bit of history, but the main focus of the class was seeing what makes art, art. That’s a super overarching topic, and one that I won’t focus on today. What I want to talk about is a piece that I discovered while researching a project. Modern artist, Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen took mirror shards and covered a series of mannequins with the pieces. Then, she shone light on the mannequins, creating a light affect similar to a disco ball. I just remember thinking how cool that was, and recently, remembered this again and feeling the Holy Spirit nudge me. My life has been wild the past few months, with incredible moments but with it the fear of the unknown creeping in. In conversations with friends of mine, this feeling is not something I share alone. I think even you may be walking through some very real unknowns, feeling like you aren’t sure what’s next. These fears are tools from the enemy that then cause us to doubt ourselves. We begin to feel like failures, worry about past mistakes, and compare ourselves to those who seem perfect around us. We end up feeling broken. Shattered people who feel like they can’t be anything in a sea of people. The Holy Spirit nudges me sometimes in my moments where I feel week, reminding me of promises and truth in scripture. The thing he reminded me of right now, was of those sculptures, a broken masterpiece.
“The message I give you waits for the time I have appointed. It speaks about what is going to happen. And all of it will come true. It might take a while. But wait for it. You can be sure it will come. It will happen when I want it to.”
I dream a lot. My mind often wanders about things I want to achieve in life, things that I feel a burning in my soul to accomplish. As a kid, I loved going outside to play. I would create vast worlds in my mind a live out a series of stories and adventures. Sometimes it was being a superhero or Jedi having to face great odds, a villain bent on destroying all of existence. Other times I would be a knight or samurai, a part of an army keeping the land safe. I dreamed awake, creating ideas and solving issue of the world. As I grew up, I continued to dream, talking about the future and the things that I was going to accomplish and save the world from. One of the best compliments I’ve ever received, was from a girl named Ellen in high school. She told me she wanted to join my group project in science because I was always dreaming and creating things. As I’ve grown in my walk with Christ, my dreams have shifted. I used to want to be a screenwriter making movies with beautiful stories, I wanted to create stories that spoke to the core of others and impacted them, but the Holy Spirit had more in store. The Holy Spirit shifted my mind, it was hard and my flesh didn’t know how to handle it, but my eyes were opened. God made me this way, not to be a screen writer, but a pastor. A mentor, someone who empowers others; a dreamer for a kingdom minded world. God made me a dreamer, and the truth is, he wants us all to dream bigger.
One of the most impactful things that has happened in my life, was when my middle school youth pastor, Marshall, brought me into his office and told me I was a unique kid that was going to do great things. After that he brought me with him to a low-income school on the south side of Greensboro. The school was filled with kids who came from broken homes, newly immigrated to America, and were in a rough side of town. We set up a mini carnival for them, playing games and handing out candy. The smiles from the kids gave me a hope for the future. I was an awkward middle schooler who loved comic books and had anger issues. I was given a chance to reach out to young kids who needed help, they needed the love of Christ. I was able to give that to them in the form of fun childish games. I felt like I wasn’t going to amount to anything, but Marshall empowered my dream to be a hero to others like I read in those comic books. Marshall spoke life into me.
Wow, it’s been one incredible year! Today I turn 23, my Michael Jordan year, hopefully no Looney Tunes need my help to play basketball. It’s not gonna end well for them (Shouts out to “Space Jam”). This isn’t like one of my normal posts, I simply wanted to reflect on some of the amazing things from this year. God has done incredible works in my life and the lives to the people who are close to me. This past year I basically graduated from UNCG (wrote a post about the one class I have to complete), which was an awesome picture of how God helped me through my studies. That was always a stumbling block for me, and can you believe it, I even want to get a master in divinity over the next couple of years!