This is one of the hardest posts I’ve ever really had to write. It contains some things both religious and political and as such here is your standard warning to leave now, no questions asked. I also eventually plan to get back to the series about Time Management and writings in general, but I feel that this is not the correct moment for those. The last couple of days and weeks have been very challenging for me and others for a variety of reason and as such I’m not really sure where this will go. It most likely won’t receive many edits as it will most likely be a fairly lengthy post and contain some rather raw emotions and thoughts that I don’t really want to second guess. As such I don’t really apologize if it contains grammar or just plain logical issues, nor do I really apologize for the length. If you choose to continue just know you’re doing so at your own risk and any emotions or thoughts stirred within you are completely on you.
I want to start first with a couple of apologies. The first being that most likely the things I’m about to say aren’t going to come out in the most elegant of fashions and as such I don’t want you to misrepresent the manner from the message or the intent of the message. The second thing that I feel is important to apologize for is that if you read this and feel no emotion or motivation then I’ve failed you and you probably shouldn’t ever come back and read any future articles. Somewhat similar I should apologize because if this comes off anywhere near where it’s at in my head then your life is about to change and so if you were found of it then I’m sorry that there is no going back. Additionally, I’d like to apologize in advance for the things that are coming that may offend you that aren’t actually my beliefs but are held by others that might be misconstrued as me. Finally, I’d like to apologize for the fact that it’s taken me this long to get to this point.
This week things changed for the world. While some people are going into things about evil winning and good losing, that is not what this post is about. Rather I want to talk about how I’ve failed you, whoever you may be. In response to that I also plan to talk about given that realization what it means or might mean going forward. Finally, I would like to extend a difficult maybe even impossible challenge to some of you. Here we go, come what may…
I’ve failed you, but I’m not sorry.
Looking at social media, media, or even just the world around, there are clearly emotions of all kinds. Yet the thing that seems to be the most overwhelming among all of these emotions is pain. People are hurt at the lies, the hatred, the sadness, the pure threat, and the unknown that now exists around them. They are afraid of those who they don’t know. I for all intents and purposes is one of these people. For I have failed to know you. As a Christian, white, able-bodied, educated, middle class, American male I cannot ever truly know what most people have gone through or are going through. I am not sorry for this. It is not that I have no empathy for you or that I don’t recognize the differences and the agony of being different. I do. Yet I cannot be sorry. For you see sorry is just a word that is hollow at this point. People have heard others feel sorry and feel pity and yet no real action came about because of it.
My heart breaks for you. Maybe more than ever before. The fact that I am blessed so much in my life that I can spend more money on a side item on a menu for a random lunch than most people make in a day’s worth of work is heartbreaking. Or the fact that on some days I waste more clean drinking water than some communities around the world have access to. I don’t say these things to make you feel bad about your circumstances if you are above such situations. Rather I say these things with the clear intention that I’ve failed you for not speaking about them sooner. I’ve failed you for not working harder to meet some of these social injustices. I’ve failed you for not delivering more than empty words. I’ve failed you for living in a bubble where I hoped someone else would fix the problem so I didn’t have to. I’ve failed you because in trying to avoid certain things I either became that very issue or I became a new problem. I’ve failed you because in never knowing you I couldn’t protect you or help ease your pain. I’ve failed you by not serving you before myself. I’ve failed you by loving myself more than you. But most importantly, I’ve failed you by not showing you the God that I love, that loves you and me, and by being afraid of both what that means and by what you might think if I did show you.
Before we go any further I feel it is important to share a brief detour. In this week the term Evangelical Christian has been thrown around. I have no plans to define what that means to me. I also have no plans to defend anyone else’s faith or make excuses or definitions for them. I can only say what I think, feel, and believe. I would also ask that you have patience and understanding when using labels. To categorize others and then be hurt when you are categorized is more or less hypocrisy at its finest or worst.
For me the thing that is the hardest to deal with this week has nothing to do with my own personal desires or thoughts or actions. It is in seeing a hurting and scared world lashing out in all directions as the foundation they believed to be secure crumbles beneath them. When we as a society find ourselves building pedestals and glass houses or living within a bubble, it can be quite the shock when it all comes crashing down and leaves us staring up wondering what just happened. Again this is one of those things where sorry isn’t good. I can’t say sorry to those who now because of my inaction or inadequate action now live in a world where they have become separated from what they hold most dear. In some ways this is a good thing. It gives me the opportunity to show the grace and glory of God. Not in the “hahaha look at my life it’s so perfect because I believe in God and your life sucks because you don’t” way that some have taken this week. Rather my life is screwed up, it’s messy, it’s emotional, it’s constantly in transition, it’s difficult, and God loves me anyway. My life has called me to look after the poor, the widow, the sick, the hungry, the oppressed, and I feel as though I have failed all of them, but my God has not.
Recently I’ve also come to the realization that I’ve tried to make God too small. To limit the potential contributions that I’ve been given as less of God and more of me. Which when living in a world of safety and security is easy for me to make it all about me. Which isn’t what I feel called to at all. Safe suburban bubbles where nobody ever does anything wrong creates an environment where we aren’t in constant need for something more. Where we give out of surplus instead of as sacrifice. Where we find ourselves struggling not with am I going to eat but what am I going to eat. Struggling not with do I have clothes on my back, but what do I want to wear. I don’t say this as a condemnation for material things. I believe that much like the infamous words included in Spiderman “with great power comes great responsibility”. By this I mean for every blessing I’ve been given and that you’ve been given you have the opportunity to reflect it back as a contribution of only yourself or as something more than that. You can grow your talents and your blessings or you can hold them inside. You can choose to give abundantly or you can hide away that which you’ve been given.
There are many things that I’m not aware of or take for granted on a consistent basis. The very fact that I live in a country where I can express my own ideas and opinions about religion and politics is a blessing in and of itself. The fact that I have the ability to create this blog using technology that is available to me and that I have people who choose to read what I have to say is a blessing. The fact that people willing choose to read the random words and thoughts that I have or want to listen to me talk still blows my mind. But I’m just a vessel for the things I believe my God has called me to be and has blessed me to be.
If you read these thoughts and think this guy is crazy… good let’s talk about it. If you read this and say, wow this guy is super fake and is just trying to defend his way of living… good let’s talk about it. If you’re pissed off, hurt, sad, afraid, bored, are searching for more… good let’s talk about it. If you wonder how I can be passionate about a God in a world full of evil and hate… let’s talk about it. If you wonder what my relationship with something I can’t see and can’t possibly begin to explain in any way that is coherent without His grace… let’s talk about it.
Blah blah blah, what now?
Like I said earlier a lot has changed recently. If by now you haven’t realized, the tone of this blog has changed slightly recently. A major driving force behind this has been the book Radical by David Platt. I would highly encourage you whether Christian or not to read the book. In addition I’m openly inviting you to join me in the year long challenge that occurs at the end of the book. Starting January 1st I will be undertaking this challenge and I say that now to give others the opportunity to first read the book and then join me. For those who aren’t sure about this religion thing or who are looking for me, please join me. Sure a year seems like a long time. What’s the worst thing that happens, after a year you’re basically in the exact same spot you are now? On the other hand what if you accept the challenge and your life is changed for better in ways you can’t even begin to explain? I will mention this multiple times between now and January 1st but please I ask that you would consider this. If you feel scared or afraid that’s a good thing, nobody is expecting this to be easy. It’s hard to know that life could change, but if you look around you then you see life is changing whether you want it to or not, and this is the opportunity to do something about it. To ground yourself in something a little stronger than a bubble.
This challenge doesn’t come with a safety guarantee. In fact it’s pretty much the opposite. Which isn’t to say that you will be in physical danger, although it’s possible. Rather this challenge very much aims to confront those things that are holding you back and aims to stretch you very very much outside of your comfort zone.
In addition to this challenge, I’ve also been working on a project that coincides with that geared around identifying who I am. I’ve found that for most people you honestly have no real clue who I am. There are groups of people who say very different things about me and my behavior, emotions, thoughts, etc. This in a way means that I’m being somewhat deceptive. Not that personalities aren’t allowed to be flexible, but if core truths of who I am aren’t apparent to all people then in some way I’m either hiding or holding back. That’s not okay. How can I expect to know you and to grow with you if you don’t know who I am? In regards to this, I am planning to also include some very fundamental things about who I am coming within the next couple of months as well. In fact for some of you who read this, you might recognize that I don’t always talk about myself that much. It has nothing to do with whether or not I like myself, but rather I’ve found myself fearing what other people think. To which highlighting that fear I’ve found that honestly I don’t care anymore. If people don’t like me for who I am that’s fine, I can still love and respect them without their approval.
Finally, we’ve come to the uncomfortable challenge. This one comes in two parts. The first I invite you to come get to know the real me. Not the one hidden by walls and defense mechanisms. Not the one that is fake or put on display because that’s what I think you want. I invite you to truly come and find me where I am. I invite you to challenge me and to make me grow. Ask me questions, and don’t settle with the first response. Come explore my God through me. Come feel my pain, my joy, my passion, and while you’re doing that find those areas that are my weaknesses and my strengths and help me. This is going to get very raw and very messy for you and me, but I dare you to do it anyway.
At the same time I dare you to show me and the world the real you. To really let me know who you are and not just the kind surface level knowledge that “makes us friends”. I want to know about those facts that you don’t talk about. Like the fact that you want to quit your job because you would rather be doing something else or maybe the fact that you feel alone in this world even though you’re constantly surrounded by people. I invite you to go deep with this. In the end if the real you doesn’t like me you can still do this with others, but are you brave enough and honest enough to tell me that? I dare you to reach out to me and others and say, “I’m important and I want to know you and I want you to know me.” I want you to know God and I want to know God through you. In the end though I want these to be more than words, because much like sorry, these can’t be hollow words.
If we truly know the world around us, then we can make change. If the world truly knows us, then some of the fear and hate and misunderstanding will go away. But most importantly, if we know each other then we will know that things don’t stop at the last word here, but rather just begin. Now you get to make a decision, will you be silent or will you speak with more than just words? Will you let the world know who you are or will you just hide in your bubble or the shadows of anonymity? Will you see these words and the point behind them and choose to do nothing or something? Or maybe you’ll see the words and be offended or come up with excuses to not do anything? You have the opportunity to talk to me about it or you can be quiet. You can talk to other people and say how wrong or right I am. You can ask questions. You can say never again. You can find those people you don’t know and ask them who they are. You can do nothing. Or you can do something. But now you have the choice… what do you have to say for yourself?