Sunday, September 14, 2008

Are you ever bothered by the state of your life? I don't mean circumstance, because a lot of times what's happening around us has little to do with us making it happen, (ie. death of a friend or family member, someone visiting unexpectedly, catching a cold from someone at work, etc.).
I mean the state of affairs that you have clearly and undeniably caused in your own life. Whether good or bad, the "idea of making your own bed" (I will skip the "lying in it" part for now) is what I'm talking about. We can read books, watch movies, even hear stories from the lives of other people of either desperation in difficult moments brought on by self destruction or moments of greatest where people rise to an occasion, sometimes even repeatedly.
Perhaps it's even something that you can think back on your life and recognize having done something like that. My question this morning that I'm asking myself is this...what causes a person to do such a thing (put him/herself in a position, whether good or bad)?
Why do I make decisions that will hurt me in the end, even if I know what the result will be before I even do it?
Or why do I work hard at something and see the benefit?
I think the answer to the latter is pretty simple. We want to see good things happen in our lives, and that's not a bad thing. It's great to strive to greatness, so long as it's not at the cost of humility.
I think the answer to the former is also relatively simple though not easily accepted (I think that's really what I'm thinking on today). We do stupid things, I do stupid things, because I'm stupid. Too crass? Perhaps, but basically true I think. What I mean is, we make decisions that aren't the best for us in the end sometimes because we honestly think that the outcome will turn out well, but sometimes I think it's simply because we're stupid. We allow the sinister voice in our minds (call it what you will) to convince us to do wrong, even if we know the outcome will not serve us well in the end. That's sin, it's in our fallen nature. Obviously the Bible talks much about this portion of humanity that Jesus seemed to be able to fight much more holistically than we are able to without divine intervention.
So I revert back to the original you ever find yourself bothered by the state of your life? I do. Currently I am.
Unfortunately I think that part of why I am so bothered is because I fell culprit to the tendency of pride. Striving for greatness for greatness sake, to be lifted up as the great and awesome ME. It stings to realize something so harsh of oneself. Often we don't want to admit to being arrogant or full of pride (unhealthy pride, sinful pride), but at the same time it's all too oft the pride that causes us to blind ourselves from it.
I think I fell prey to the "sin of grandiosity" as one professor/friend of mine so eloquently worded it. Basically, I want to be great for my name's sake. To become the greatest of pastors because I want people to look to me. It's sickening when I think about it, that I could use such a privileged position (not earned by any means) to try to make something of myself.
Now, being that I'm still 25, and Jesus didn't even enter into full on ministry until he was 30ish, hopefully this is an immaturity thing that will shift as I grow older. It may very well be, but if I don't recognize it and learn to battle it, it can very easily become a monster that lurks beneath the surface of everything I do (similar to the theme of Andy Stanley's book "What Lies Beneath", incredible book if you ever get the chance to read it).
Those who know me well know that I have a tendency to be my worst critic, and I won't disagree. I can be a little harsh on myself sometimes. But in this particular instance, I don't see it as being harsh so much as honest. It's something that I'm not pleased with at all. I don't want to become the person who strives for great things in life simply because I want the enjoyment of them or because I want people to like me, or because I want to become a 'sage' of some sort to whom all people look for advice.
I think John Eldredge stated it well in his book "The Way of the Wild Heart" (also worth reading) when he mentioned that the position of "King" (essentially the noble leadership to which mostly more progressed people are assigned, ie. senior pastor) should not be desired, it should be something that a person is lead or pushed by God into. If it's something you desire, than you're not likely ready for it, if it's something you recognize you can't achieve by your own merit, then your heart is right for the job with the aid of the Father.
So why am I bothered by the state of my life right now? Mainly because I have allowed things to fester within me without dealing with them, without repenting of them, and without handing myself fully over to be healed and renewed by God for quite some time. I have coasted, I have not lived. I have become arrogant in some ways, allowing pride to dictate my actions.
It's hard to relinquish control, it's hard to lay it all out on the table.
I am challenged this morning by a sermon I heard last night on the commandment of God to have no other gods but Him.
Is it possible to deify yourself and place yourself before God? Yes, and I think that's the biggest problem that a lot of us have. Some are just more apt to battle it than others.
I'm pretty selfish, and I'm not a fan of that. It comes out in a lot of what I do, others may see it, or they may not, but I see it and God sees it, and that is why I'm bothered.
So what's the solution? Do something about it. Seek out the Father, turn myself over to Him, relinquish control (continually, which is a struggle) and walk in faith that what He says He'll do, He'll do.
And to prove that I really am as selfish as I say I am, this is all written for my sake, not for anyone else's. So that I can come back and read this again later and remember the situation again. Also so I can process at this moment all that is happening.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Can't Sleep

I occasionally find myself awake at night, my mind and body refusing to shut down for much needed rest, tonight is no exception.
I have also found some solace in the spewing of words and thoughts into this particular page, knowing that it's not just some secret place to hide everything, but just the potential even one person reading this means that it's no longer locked in my heart.
I don't know nor can I begin to understand the strangeness of releasing thoughts into oblivion and the comfort that it provides.
Of course, I'm quite confident that there are few who even stumble across this page anymore, but it's the action, not the audience, that counts in these instances.

Perhaps I'm just not tired, but I don't think that's the case. Perhaps I ate something strange and it's affecting my sleep pattern this evening, but again, I doubt it's relevance. Especially because of the pattern that I'm discovering arises on occasion for periods of time where I don't sleep well.
But I've also been dreaming, in the short instances that I do slip off into an unconscious realm. That may not seem strange, but I don't normally remember my dreams, nor do those that I do remember contain recurring themes or characters, and that's what's happening.

Anyway, regardless of reason, I can't sleep tonight, and I just need to write something, anything, hopefully to deter my thoughts from keeping me awake all night.
I have to admit, I have struggled with the changes that have come my way in the last while. Not with right or wrong choices or anything like that, but simply adjusting to circumstance.
I'm in a place that is full of people, a city of over a million people, and yet I still feel as isolated as the "survivorman" when he finds his way through the wilderness of some remote region of the earth.
This is to nobody's fault in particular, I think it's just a matter of adjusting well, which I have not been able to do.
I'm bothered by much these days, by things in my own character that are flawed and need work. About my current relationship with the Almighty. About my current views of the opposite (and finer) gender, and many other things that could probably fall in an "in between" category.
I suppose ultimately I see myself as inadequate in all of these situations. Somehow not quite reaching some unattainable standard that I've placed in my mind for everything in life.
I have a tendancy towards placing high expectations upon myself, too high. Not that one shouldn't strive for excellence in everything, but one most certainly shouldn't expect perfection, because that is simply not possible.
I feel inadequate, or even that I've missed something when it comes to regular intimacy with God. That somehow I have to have been sinless for a period of time, or that I need to put on some sort of persona just to say 'hello'. Of course in my mind I know that this is absurd to think because it's just simply not true and there are passages of Scripture to support it, not to mention personal experience to over rule my thought processes.
When it comes to other people, I feel that I must reach a certain quota of acts of kindness or service to merit friendship. Also absurd.
I think ultimately with these two areas, it's more a matter of acceptance that God loves unconditionally. And that people don't always expect something in return for kindness. That perhaps they even want me around.
This isn't me airing dirty laundry, just simply shortcomings that I'm wrestling with right now.
When it comes to fast approaching seminary classes, I'm terrified that I won't be able to keep up, or that I won't comprehend what is being thrown at me.
When it comes to relationships in general, I fear that I don't measure up.

I think really, behind all of the aformentioned issues in my mind is a strong desire to skip ahead in life. What I mean is, I don't want to climb the mountain, I just want to be at the top. I don't want to have to put in the work to get the result, the sinful nature within me just wants what I wants and I wants it now!
I don't want to have to go through stretching periods of growth where I have to realign myself with truth and Savior if I've found myself off track.
I don't want to have to push myself beyond the door of my house to get acquainted and reaquainted with people of like mind. I don't want to have to work at friendships, new and old.
I don't want to have to work at getting into the "groove" of school work.
I don't want to have to put myself on the line the mend broken friendships, or to do so to introduce the possibility of romance into my life...
With all of these things there is an annoying little voice in the back of my mind that constantly says "just give up, it's not worth it", and I recognize the need to ignore and destroy such a thought. But there is a much greater voice that tells me that it is only through danger and toil that one can really thrive.
These are all the dangers and toils of my life right now, they will change, they will intensify, and down the road I may even reminisce and wish for the days when my only fears were of failing a class of being rejected. But, as for now, I need to face the current situation with resolute passion to see the light at the end of the tunnel, even if there may not seem to be one right now.

So now, I will retreat back to my pillow and pray that with sleep God will calm my soul tonight, and with love to wake me up with a fresh view of what's ahead.