Tag Archives: fear

Have Hope

“Have hope.”

This was my response the other night to my roommate who was asking me what I thought we should do in response to the seemingly dark times we live in.

My heart has been heavy since this conversation but also lightened.

It’s so easy to give up hope right now.  Every where we turn – every screen we turn on/open – all we seem to see is bad news, messages of fear or just plain civil division.

As optimistic as I believe I am, there have been times I’ve wanted to give in – either to the fear or to the indifference I feel creeping up at times.  At this point it seems that my heart is torn between this fickle couple with hope taking a far back seat to the reality of the day.

And I’ve seen it in others as responses to fear and hate have been more of the same.  Giving in and responding in kind won’t get us anywhere constructive.

The truth is, though, that nothing good grows in fear, hate or indifference.  The path out is not found there.

The path out is found in sowing seeds of goodness and intentionally forcing/letting light in.  The path out is found in leaning in toward one another and not away.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t deflect reality and ignore it but what I am saying is that I wholeheartedly believe that it’s possible to know, realize and spread a message of hope even in the midst of such terrible circumstances.

Our humanity is found in hope.

Our humanity depends on looking at something small and saying ‘this is good’ and letting that be our cornerstone.

I’ve sensed this for some time, especially with this current political season we’re in the midst of, but we can’t forget that there are good things all around us.  Simply because it demands the most attention, we can’t push out the good in lieu of fear and indifference even if it seems to be what we encounter the most often.

Talking to Jared, my roommate, the other night I about lost my ability to hold back the tears because he was able to verbalize what I think a lot of us are feeling.

‘If it’s all bad, what’s the effort worth fighting against it if we just encounter brick wall after brick wall?’

Good things, hopeful things, must be given space to grow.  I believe that happens when we talk about it together and choose to let what festers out into the wild.  And hope, like most things that counter the dark corners of the world, will need to be jumpstarted in small, intentional ways.

It’s up to each of us to make sure we’re letting the good into the fear and indifference that seems to envelop us.

Have Hope.

The Consequences of a False Appearance

You know, in spite of the fact that Christianity speaks of the cross, redemption, and sin, we’re unwilling to admit failure in our own lives.  Why?  Partly because it’s human nature’s defense mechanism against its own inadequacies.  But even more so, it’s because of the successful image our culture demands of us.  There are some real problems with projecting the perfect image.  First of all, it’s simply not true – we are not always happy, optimistic, in command.  Second, projecting the flawless image keeps from reaching people who feel we just wouldn’t understand them.  And third,  even if we could live a life with no conflict, suffering or mistakes, it would be a shallow existence.  The Christian with depth is the person who has failed and has learned to live with it.

– Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

 

If you deal with this as I do – you are not alone.  If you fall prey to the expectations of other – it’s OK.  Don’t be distressed.  You don’t have to do it on your own.

Let’s walk the path together.

A Flopping Fish, A Storyteller No Less

I’m great at creating content.  I love to talk; I thrive on conversations.

Whether it’s writing, talking, or something else I’m decent storyteller.

It’s what lies at the ends of the conversation, story, blog post, or relational encounter where I have trouble.

I’m terrible at starting or completing a thought – so I hold back and each time a part of my heart dies.

 

At the beginning and in the end, I struggle.  I don’t just have trouble – I flounder, I stutter – I’m like a fish flopping on the parched surface gasping for air.

I’m the guy that ends a conversation the long way rather than the short way.  I’m that awkward guy who’s looking for an opportunity to live out loud but punctuates the beginnings and ends so horribly that inside it feels like fingers scratching a blackboard.

I hold back often times because I don’t always know how to start.

 

I share this because I’ve noticed this is probably a more common thread in more people than admit it.  We focus on the things that hold us back than the things that move us forward.

We don’t pray not because we don’t know what to say but because its hard to articulate our thoughts in a way that feels yet worthy.

We put relationships at arms length not because we don’t want the communion but because we’re afraid of what the other person might require of us.

We don’t choose the path less traveled because we’re afraid of what we don’t know/understand or in some way we’re held captive by the past.

 

Our souls are crying out for something that we want – something that God wants for us but we hold back because we’re unwilling to encounter the passion head-on.  We try to get the same results by approaching a situation from a different angle because the path of least resistance, we realize, is not always the easiest one requiring the least amount of heartache.  The most direct path, the path that leads us to contentment, is not always the least dangerous.  In fact, I’d argue until the night grows old that the more something is “right” for us to pursue, the harder it will get – the harder we’ll have to push and overcome adversities.

I’m a storyteller – I love communication.  I love dissecting it, I love pursuing it, I love the joy it brings me when I can help others understand who they are by simply talking and listening.  That said, it’s not easy and sometimes downright difficult to bridge the gaps between myself and others.  Communication is not easy, it is obstinately difficult.

I’ve realized that when my passion – any passion – is surrounded on the bookends by challenges and difficulty, I can’t deny my heart – I can’t deny God the joy that my passion brings.  A part of me dies when I don’t live out who God made me to be.

We have to be willing to accept and embrace those difficult bookends (whether in the form of trials, challenges, awkwardness, etc.), moving closer to the center of God’s will for each us.  God uses these moments to shape and transform us – starting with the heart and working outward – however, it’s a direction we must choose.

When you face difficulty and challenge square in the face, Christ is with you – God does not abandon.

Push on – embrace those moments when you flop and flail.  You’re not alone.  Through adversity, your heart will be filled and your passions met with contentment.

Everyday Resolutions

The New Year time is a difficult time of year for me.  Not because of holiday gluttony or sometimes deathly frigid cold.  Not because of the inevitable passing of the Christmas season.  Not even because of the mass clamor, at this time of year, of people seeking change in their lives.

OK, well, maybe partly because of the clamor of New Year’s resolutions.

I used to have ‘faith’ that on January 1 I could flip a switch and things could be different.  I had hope that January would wipe all that was bad the previous year, as if to delete the unwanted stuff and empty the metaphorical computer recycling container of life without letting it form who I was.  I fully believed but never saw it fully realized.  But, to be honest, things were never that simple and there was a season of my life I gave up on trying to change who I am.  This time of year hauntingly reminds me of that old self but it inspires me now as well because there’s still hope.

January is indeed a great time to let go of things from your past, strive for something better, and renew the spirit to keep fighting the good fight.  However – it is, as any moment is, a terrible time to let go of things without first dealing issues and situations that hold us back from greater things which I’ve done so many times before while looking for an easy, quick fix.

This does not mean I’ve given up on change, rather I’ve shifted my perspective and view transforming change as something that happens outside of the month of January all year long, taking a little longer time than I’d like.

I’ve learned through past New Year’s moments – and more importantly other learning seasons in my life – that the things that you want the most, the things that God wants you to learn the most in your journey, come with different expectations than what we attribute.  Our expectations can be framed around the thought that the easy, quick approach is not necessarily spiritually ordained, though God wants us to commit to long-lasting change in our lives.

You are not destined to be who you are today, tomorrow.  God has invited us on a journey that spans time, patience, diligence and steadfastness.  This is not easy – mainly because it requires us to learn from our mistakes…  It requires us to not simply let go but to learn, to live, and let go – using our past as building blocks for a future.

The best way that we can transform ourselves is to respect the past, learn from it, and embrace what comes next.

Instead of treating January 1st as a singular season of change in our yearly journey, my prayer for myself, my friends/family, and for you is that we resolve to live a better life with every moment within each year.

Embrace who you are but never turn away the desire for change.

Stick with it, you’re not alone.