Questioning Alone (Poem)

Questioning Alone (Poem)

*I wrote this because I needed to. I share it to remind you when you feel alone, you can know (if only in your head) that you’re not.

Lord, why do I feel like I’m all alone; like the progress I’ve made was all for not? Why do I strive and fail? Why do all of my ambitions feel fruitless? I’m walking up stream. A moment passes when I feel I’ve prospered, but I find my foot crushed by a stone. One moment, I feel I’ve made headway and the next, I am knocked down. I float down stream. There is no trace left in the ground beneath me to prove I’d gone anywhere. Do the trees have eyes to back me up? Do the mountain peaks stand up in my defense to vouch when I’m seen striving in the place I’ve already been for seasons that have come and went?

Why does it feel like I stand alone? I feel that I’m following the plans set before me and when I’m doing well people notice me, but they do not join me. When I’m starving and isolated and even in my dreams, don’t find relief, I’m left alone to sink.

In the high times of my life, I find rest in you, Jesus, and joy in the moments I spend with you. In my confident moments, I still hear your voice of pleasure, your peace when everything around me seems to be anywhere from building to crumbling, because I know you are with me. In my joyful days, my humor and laughter is uncontainable. In my persistent days, nothing on earth or beneath can stop me from following through with bringing the wonder in my mind to the world in the unique way only I could do.

But in my despair, the days I have reason to feel alive, I feel empty. One moment I can hear truth and put on the face I feel people want to see, and the moment I’m alone, my hope leaves as if I hadn’t heard a thing. The things that normally feel rejuvenating feel exhausting and even the littlest lie from any of my enemies can throw me into a spiral of self loathing. I find myself drained, lying in my underwear in the middle of the day, trying to find motivation through music or the Bible or anything. In the process, I usually find myself asleep.

These aren’t the places I strive to be or the mindsets I ever want to be having. In a few hours or even by the time I’m finished writing, I may have mental clarity. Hope will eventually arise along with energy and redemption of the waisted moments in sin or self pity.

We do not deserve whatever hellish conditions we put ourselves through when we’re held in a chokehold by the devil’s schemes, others lies and selfish tendencies, or the evil we can be to ourselves when our flesh proves to be weak.

Sometimes, I am my own worst enemy, but I will push through, learn what only my weaknesses can teach me, and force myself to bring others in with me that I know have my back. These are the hardest times to do it, but the most crucial times to get through it.

As a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, do not give up or disqualify yourself when your weak. Get reinforcement from one who is willing to be close enough as you reconstruct, build you up, and hold your ground. That’s what I surely need now.

Grief: Where Eyes Are Open (Poem)

Grief: Where Eyes Are Open (Poem)

Today, I hugged a lady that, last time I saw her, yelled at me for something so silly, I couldn’t even believe. Her face was red then, but it was also red today. Last time, it was from rage, and today from pain, because her husband has now two months been in the grave, almost to the day.

I had a chorus teacher in high school who was known for excellence, her grit, and for making students cry or at least want to quit any activity she would lead. I also know that before she passed onto the other side, she flourished in a place she didn’t choose to show often; in compassion. I saw her become love out loud and as her body withered down and the cancer tried to drown her out, her joy through the pain would grow stronger and stronger, even to her last day.

One time, I lost my dog. Before this happened, I would have privately mocked someone who blubbered over such a thing. I almost had him a year when I heard he was hit by a car. I cried so hard, screamed so loud, and could not speak; when I would try, I would only wheeze. I never felt that way before that day. I was broken. I could not alter what had happened. My heart has broken since through the death of friends, the moving away of my twin, and relationships that would finish.

And isn’t it interesting how in the darkest hours and seasons of grieving, that the ugliness in us takes a season of receding? Our eyes are open to greater things if we recognize that life is so much shorter then we like to credit it for, and eternity is so much grater then holding onto pain.

Understanding trumps rage, compassion smacks power in the face, and taking on someone’s pain as your pain is no kin to mockery.

A hug beat a fist, a listening ear can save a life, and a hand can hold someone’s world from crashing down.

Let the things that seem to break you down hold weight in your freedom and don’t loose it when you’re on the other side.

Let it lead you to a life that remembers pain is not permanent, but love and time are, in fact, the only things that can really heal that.

Good Intentions (Poem)

Good Intentions (Poem)

To write is something I know I can’t stop doing. When I take a break, it’s like the communication from my heart and my head gets rerouted. I don’t fully understand the neurological connection that bridges them, but the only connection I see is my pen.

I’ve been full of good intentions, full of quotations. I’ve been full of good ideas and dreams and expectations. I’d been full when in community and full when on my own.

Most recently, I’ve been alive with other people and empty on my own, but that empty feeling is starting to flow into my conversations. That emptiness has begun to seep into my friendships. The way I sometimes have nothing to say. And that’s not a bad thing, on it’s own, but I find my passion beginning to wane, my hope start to decay. Being honest is my way, but it hasn’t lead me through the pain.

To be honest is the first step and the start of good intentions, but it stays that way when that’s the only step I take; I’m walking in place. I’m facing my fears, then turning away, turning to shame, turning to pain, to my old ways.

Step two is find someone to help you through and I’ve found someone. good intentions brought me there, but business took me away. I take time for music, time for media, time to dress myself, time to work, and time to educate, but at the end of the day, end of the cycle, I still feel like I’m hardly alive. I’m pushing through, I’m telling the truth, and I know what to do. My pride will have me ignoring help, thinking I can’t look weak, especially to those I’m trying to let know that God brings life, but if I’m hiding my life, being honest, with a catchphrase on the side, making a change for a moment in time to take back the changes the moment I slide. If I’m living like that, I’m living a lie, and if no one else bought it, I bought it myself. I purchased fake comfort; see where it got me?

The part that gets me shaken up is I know I’ve lived in seasons of freedom. I know I’ve given up things I thought I needed. I know that Jesus is no less powerful when I don’t believe him, and is no less loving when I don’t receive it.

He doesn’t just want me to follow the steps, or fall in line. He hasn’t been forcing his agenda on mine so I give into his list of conditions.

His heart is for my heart to give up my pain, give up my worry, and give up my shame. His heart is for me to take up my cross, follow his lead and count the cost. His heart is for me to see that my habits, see that my hardships, anxiety and fear are much heavier then the cross we can choose to wear. The cross is no longer a mark of shame or surrounded by pain. It no longer caries the same kind of weight because of the cross that Jesus took on for me. He gave up his life to rebrand shame to forgiveness, and pain into healing, reducing it’s burden from heavy to light.

So why do I stay in this space, walking in place, one step forward and one step back, one step in faith and the next, relapse? The burden is light but it’s unfamiliar. It’s light, but it’s huge. What’s holding me back is my trust issue, because if my fears come true and it really does all fall on me, then I’m screwed. On the other hand, If he’s carrying all that weight, then I’m good. Any problem I might face I can face with him. He’s got my back and every other side an attack could come from.

when it comes to the spaces I’ve felt comfortable in, even if it’s filled with depression, I have to change my footsteps. I can’t step in the same places I have since been. I can see them from a mile away; I’ve worn a rut in and I know each mistake like I know my own skin. I know what will happen as soon as I give in. If it be lust, insecurity or depression or anything in-between, they’re all internally connected at my brain stem and never fail to pull me back if I let them take root in any place I am.

I must take the steps, and change my path; start to trust and not turn back. I’ve been honest and I’ll do it again, but only time will tell if this was all another good intention.

*

I’ve

Said

It

Before,

But

I

Pray

That

This

Time

Starts

The

Change.

*

It Will Pass (when we’re not okay)

It Will Pass (when we’re not okay)

Sometimes Jesus revives us in a moment, but sometimes, he gives us eyes to see how he’s been sustaining us through our season of struggle.

Being in a place of hopelessness, or grief, or pain is often accompanied, in one way or another, with questions or feelings helpless. I’m not saying it’s a necessary thing, or that it is a “this, then that” statement. I am saying, due to the human condition, we often revert to negative introspection, especially when dealing with more serious things, like depression or anxiety.

The past few months have been amazing in specific ways, but really challenging internally in different ways, dealing with some mild separation anxiety with my twin getting married soon, some loneliness, but mostly just feeling some connection to the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz, and even more specifically the way the Avett Brothers described him in their song “Tin Man”. One line specifically goes, “I miss that feeling of feeling.”

This past weekend I took a spontaneous road trip with my cousin. I knew I needed it. I knew I needed something to jumpstart my feeling and remind me of the joy I had known to be, not just on the outside of me, but deep within me. It’s a joy that leads to tremendous peace, and I hadn’t felt it in a long time.

Throughout the trip, through music, podcasts, conversations and practical love from strangers, something changed within me. My circumstances didn’t change in my life, but after attending Jess Ray’s album release concert for her new album, “Parallels and Meridians” God began to soften my heart to a place I could begin to feel again; something other than tired or anxious. I started to feel the love, and even the community of the church being a singular body. We had no plans on places to stay besides my car, and with that being announced from the stage so graciously by Jess, we were offered 6 or so different places to stay by total strangers. We ended up staying with the first people who offered, went to their place and crashed on their couch bed. When I woke up in the morning, I felt a pease and comfort, something I hadn’t felt in a while, as well as a sense of belonging.

fast forward a day or so, and this evening, at “theOak” (the youth group I volunteer at) I had a realization; Sometimes Jesus revives us in a moment, but sometimes, he gives us eyes to see how he’s been sustaining us through our season of struggle. As I worshipped and sang to Jesus, memories came to my heart from times I wasn’t feeling it, but God was still using and calling me toward himself.

If you’re going through a season, if you feel empty or anything other than joyful and free, remember: It will not last forever. as my pastor said this morning in typical Pastor Ted rhyme scheme, “Your pain has not come to last, it has come to pass.” It will not be everlasting. Push into Jesus. Be honest with yourself and be honest with Him; he can handle it. In a moment or in time, you will see the other side.

 

Inspiration Re-Evaluated: A Writing When Nothing feels Right

Inspiration Re-Evaluated: A Writing When Nothing feels Right

“From those times does inspiration turn from stress and anxiety, to hope and strategy.”

I have not written in a while, but it’s not strictly because of being too busy or not knowing what to write about, or taking an intentional break or any other excuse. My issue has been that my mind is a minefield of emotions, and nothing feels right.

Some may trace it to mild depression, pent up pride, writer’s block, shame etc. I think in the back of my psyche, a little bit of each of those might exist, but I trace it mainly to the answer of this one question:

What is inspiring me? 

Say this for yourself, and take a moment before you continue reading.

.

.

.

Isn’t that a crazy thing to think about? maybe you’re not as wowed by this as me, but there are so many places I find my inspiration. Personally, I love interviews, podcasts, music, sermons, videos, and listening to others opinions and passions. These places can be so beneficial, but also, can be so toxic. I find myself so “inspired” I don’t give myself time to think. Even more scary, I sometimes don’t give myself  time to pray and talk to the original inspiration and creator of life itself.

One way the “mind clutter” (if you will) has affected me is that I find myself in one moment, yet thinking of the next thing or the thing from last week. I see that I am present physically, responding to people, but not fully engaging in what they’re bringing to the table at that moment.

Another contribution that is made by the clutter is apathy toward situations or people. The apathy seems to come from an overstimulation of information mixed with busyness that causes people to become statistics, and hopelessness to brew when we see all the problems and how much time it takes to reach a solution. I’ve found this to lead to anxiety that can cause a shut down, and sudden urge to watch Impractical Jokers and eat ice cream (but maybe that’s just me). But practically, it makes confrontation a chore.

The last negative I’m going to share to air out just a little more of my dirty laundry to the world, is this overstimulation of information, especial from social media, as well as retreating to a vice, can cause some real loneliness. This might sound counterintuitive, but too much absorption most times, leaves us empty. I’ve felt this in many respects. I personally am blessed with some really good friends that won’t let me have a day without a phone call from one of them. What’s more important than having the coolest friends in the world, (something i definitely don’t have, because they’re all super weird, and way more awesome and loyal then they are hip) or being with the love of your life, (something I’m so ready for, yet definitely not rushing) or having everyone like you (something I’ve given up trying to achieve, yet something I wish was achievable without compromising one’s convictions) or having something to do or think about without fear of boredom, is sitting down with Jesus, (don’t tune out please) and talking with the one who created you the way you are for a purpose bigger than yourself. He isn’t judging you right now for who you are or what you’ve done. Right now, he’s longing for your attention in a world full of distractions. Some of us even get distracted by pastors talking about God or by talking all about the deepest parts of what we know about God during the times we need to just spend with him.

From those times does inspiration turn from stress and anxiety, to hope and strategy. God created you for relationship, and he created you for impact. When we “waist” a certain amount of time with the one that loves us fully, we are able to hear his heart for the hurting and outcasts and the people we wish didn’t have to live in misery and injustice. From there, he sends us into the world with assignments of LOVE into the world that may not love us back, but won’t be able to stop the impact.

And if you don’t know Jesus, IT’S COOL! Because he fully knows you and fully loves you no matter what your knowledge is of him. Get to know him, let him know you want to give up all the junk that hasn’t satisfied you yet and even the stull that felt satisfying in a moment, but did not sustain you, for him. Tell him you want to connect to his heart and his family. Ask him to show you his heart and to fill you with his spirit. In him is fullness of joy and freedom.

My life after giving my life to Jesus has been a battle, but when I tap into his strength, I can overcome and when I lean into him, in the easy and the hard times, he gives me peace and fills me with his love.

Won’t you are I put down our devices, and pick up our chins and look to Jesus, fall in love with the Bible, his physical word, and thank him for his faithfulness?

“What is inspiring me?”

My Life is NOT My Own

My Life is NOT My Own

Life.

This word has been presented to me year after year by platform after platform. I’ve been told it’s found in letting go and I’ve struggled with the thought of my life being out of my control, my life not being my own. This notion has always been in my mind because of repetition in teaching and songs, written in my poems, but never being written on my hear in more then dry erase on a white board.

Since a young age, I lived for the spotlight. Being the youngest, being told go away, you’re too young or not yet were sucker punches that to me then, didn’t make sense. When your identity is in being along, being alone doesn’t leave much identity in the mix.

As grew up, where acceptance lacked, I gained in grit, and a determination to find a way to be known by the likes of anyone willing to notice. With each step into a new year, I tied myself to a new tactic, from sports like baseball and gymnastics to humor and wow factor. I pursued women, lust and pornography to try and fill the empty feeling my shallow friendships and rejection from the last girl couldn’t fill within me.

This lead my into a hatred of myself and my own body, my own mind and identity. My christianity was my life in the light, my vice in conventions and retreats, but it was my shame in the evenings and in the deleted history from my phone screen, but no matter how hard I’ve tried to delete that history, the memories and shame would never delete.

My comfort soon came to me in routine. This routine was comfortable, like being in a prison cell. The routine creates normality, but not because it becomes better, but because there is survival in the numbing, but no, no there is not living. I would start out the week with a community, broken, yet free, spotted with others like me. I would fill my mind with words and quotations, to later fill my schedule with anything that would give me my fix, pick any from above, whatever one I could get. If it was the word of God, I’d meditate on it, to later forget, and be filled with loneliness again, to turn to another vice much more destructive.

See, religion is all fine and dandy, and in the scripture, there are rules that have helped frame me into a moral human being, but without Christ Jesus, those were just words. Words that cut me open and showed me how dirty I really was inside. But oh how life is different on this day!

FLASH BACK: 2014, filled with pain, emptiness, and a glimmer of hope.

FASTFORWARD: 2015,  a year of thanksgiving, renewed life through Jesus Christ, realizing not just everyone else, but I was loved and adopted by my creator, nothing inside could change that he is love and he is light. I became a friend with my savior.

FASTFORWAR: 2016, the pain and emptiness had not been dealt with in full back from 2014, and struggles came and went, and complacency was my reality, but not my intent. Perseverance and self control were in the development stages, as I re-indulged myself in some of the sin I claimed freedom from just a year prior, as I re-applied shame and condemnation daily, like that old Coppertone sunscreen. It went on thick, but the more I rubbed it to try and hide it, it sunk deeper in to the pores of my being.

FASTFORWARD: 2017, a year starting with not wanting any friendship with complacency, not just interested in intimacy with my creator and king, but desiring to give him everything.

NOW: My identity in him is the only thing I’ve ever found to be satisfying, and as I give away my life, I find myself so alive, a truth that only God knows why, but he promises it to all who are willing to give Him their hears. Now when I start to fall into thoughts or actions of lust, personal condemnation, self pity, or identity in people and things, I come back to Jesus quicker then ever, with surrender. I know where life is, I’ve known where life is, but I now confess it with my mouth AND believe it in my heart; Jesus Christ is Lord!

I am not only saved, but set free. If you can’t say the same, I challenge you to join me.

FULL of Emptiness (Poem)

FULL of Emptiness (Poem)

I am full, yet I am empty. It is not simply content that can fill the void inside of me, but only silence; only solitude will truly bring me into a place of fullness of joy and identity.

To say all the right things outwardly, to do all the right things publicly, it only blows up the outward appearance like a balloon. From another’s vantage point, it creates an illusion of fullness, while in reality, it only makes the emptiness that much greater.

As I sit, I saturate, and I absorb as I meditate. I am satisfied as I loosen my belt and rest, as I sease to strive. This phenomenon does not exist for irony’s sake, but for the one that did create, who does not cease in His goodness, who does not falter in any way.

We’re filled when we’re empty, we’re strong when we’re weary, we know peace in calamity, and we’re wise when we embrace simplicity.

This is true, because at the end of our abilities, we are able to embrace humility. At the end of ourselves, in the rest of our Heavenly Father, we are filled.

So I throw aside all of my distractions, sit in His presence and saturate in His goodness, meditate on His word and absorb it’s challenges and its promises that hold true. I’ll rest in his peace, even when everything around me is in peaces, and in simple faith is where my strength and confidence will stand undefeated.

I know the practicals, and I believe it in my mind, but Jesus, would you change my heart.

 

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (ESV)