The Burden is Light

After a couple months of wondering around in fuzzy-mindedness towards the God I had previously decided to give my life to – glossily sliding around spiritual conversations with skillfully placed B-school cliches, always readily available, and without much effort, at my fingertips – this is their nature, these cliches, verses and phrases – they take little effort, they are designed to get one out of a tough spot. No need for empathy towards a needy soul or somewhat reckless wisdom inspired by the Spirit, kneading you in and out of tough places. This is the most fragile procedure you could decide to endeavor upon; choosing to feel a depression that isn’t your own, weeping with tears that belong to someone else, mourning for grief that you never had to choose to feel. Being with them, souls side-by-side, feeling the same despair, together. Bearing burdens. The incredible healing comfort of the messy meshing of people. Together.

This type of interaction is hard. It takes work. It involves self-sacrifice of simple comforts to engage fully with a struggle that someone else is inching through. It’s not comfortable, and it shouldn’t be – if it is, you can doubt whether you’re giving the other much comfort at all. And while I used to feel pretty passionate about this, the place I have been in for the last several months has been one of utter selfishness and disregard for the souls of the immortals walking with me.

I remember days where I would, for lack of a better word… Swim – through people’s backstories, frontstories, dreams, wonders, imaginations, journeys, hopes and fears like a marathon. This was God. I am naturally selfish beyond what I could ever describe. Anyone who really knows me knows this. Any ex-boyfriend would tell you this and so would probably most of my friends from high school. But for the joy of relating to another human – what I believe we were designed to do, even when the relating is over soul-crushing heartache, alive and well in this world – I was sometimes able to put my selfishness aside and enter into another’s heart. Stand side by side, holding hands, and walk deeper into sad places. And people did the same with me.

Others have given cliches and scriptures with no knowledge of my heart. And I have done the same to others. I have absent-mindedly looked over another’s soul, seen the bruises, the wear and tear – I’ve looked into their worn out eyes, and just panicked. I’ve panicked and thought, “How can I make it out alive?” And so I have thought of the best Bible School cliche I could think of, sometimes in the form of a Scripture, sometimes an encouraging line, something about God, something about hope, something about trust, something about the future and about life being short and about Heaven. I gloss over. I have no idea where their bruises have come from, whether or not they need surgery, and where – and yet, I hand them a band-aid. They smile, say thanks, eyes still dead, conversation over. I made it out alive.

“Hey, I did my part,” I justify. “I reminded them about God. I talked to them. I did all I could.” But of course, a very real doubt lingers.

I came back to God today. It wasn’t anything spectacular. I wrote in my journal for the first time in months, scribbling away a mess of thoughts that were taking up spots in my brain where good things are supposed to exist. I asked Him to prove that His burden is light. That was my main prayer. Because up until now, it hasn’t felt light.

After getting this off of my chest, though, I’ve realized – what is more heavy, really – entering into fellowship with another person’s soul, bonding together through tormented experiences, relating to one another in the cesspits of life, crying, maybe screaming, maybe feeling uncomfortable, but eventually reaping the rewards of a shared understanding, hearts that are connected, the experience heaven kissing earth in relational goodness that must be as pretty damn close to the Trinity as we can become, or..

Spouting out shallow cliches without ever knowing the other person. Feeling something missing in relationships but never knowing what, exactly. Feeling no freedom to be ourselves, to be broken, to be depressed, in anguish, confused – because we will only be shut down with the particularly heinous brand of Christian-esque positive thinking, being told “God is still good,” when a relative dies and “you need to trust Him,” when you are sinking helplessly into a particularly dark cavern of gut-crushing depression. Hearing Bible verses to meet your supposed needs, although they miss the mark every time – and being made to feel unspiritual because quoting Scriptures, playing worship songs on repeat and repeating mantras like “Keep your eyes on Heaven!” and “Jesus loves you, just keep your eyes on Him,” just aren’t doing it for you.

Jesus never asked us to randomly quote Scripture and cliches at each other to make each other feel better. Not that there is no place for Scripture – obviously, I would never, ever argue that. Conversation can be dictated by Scripture, and by the Spirit. But sometimes, the Spirit may lead you to have an entire conversation with someone without ever quoting Scripture. Sometimes, the Spirit may lead you to simply cry and ask questions with someone in need. Sometimes, the Spirit may just ask you to simply shut up and listen.

This principle is shown most clearly in Galatians 6:2 – we can’t ignore this! “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” I love the Greek Commentary on biblehub: “The mutual bearing of moral burdens is the mutual, loving participation in another’s feeling of guilt, a weeping with those that weep in a moral point of view, by means of which moral sympathy the pressure of the feeling of guilt is reciprocally lightened.” This is fulfilling of the law of Christ! To be sympathetic, empathetic, compassionate, loving, understanding! To pursue, and to care, deeply – and to ask questions sincerely! This is healing for us as Christians, and absolutely essential for life!

There is a rule of thumb throughout the book of Proverbs, which basically demands we speak good words in season. This must be taken to include Scipture, encouragement, etc. But how will we know which season someone is in if we do not hear their hearts? If we do not ask questions and learn about them? If we act haphazardly, more often than not, we will quote something at them that will make them feel even more alone.

I understand that this is not something that people usually do purposefully. It is a high calling to engage in the hearts of others. It takes time – much more time than quoting Scripture – and effort – much more effort than a Bible Study.

But I want to rededicate myself to this practice, because without it, I really think life is empty. Human relationships will not work without empathy. And we cannot accomplish this task without Christ – it is an other-centered type of love we are talking about here, one where we put all positive thinking and self-preservation to rest, and choose to feel bad in order to help someone else survive.

This is a high calling. But it is one that is absolutely essential.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15

Dreaming

I’m 22 and I’m clawing around for life. Seesawing between here or there, this thing or that thing, this dream or that dream. I’m 22! I want to scale down and run around and let sun beams soak into my skin on spontaneous road trips. I know it sounds cliche, to go round and round all day spending precious few resources on travel. It’s what everyone who is 22 wants to do – overextend your money with your best friends on adventure and recklessness and sudden whim. Take in the blue sky and blue lakes and cleanse your soul with romance. Of course that’s what we want to do! We’re 22. But more than that, I want to go to shows – I want to dance. I want to sing and dance in tune with the motion of my multi-colored necklaces and the beaded strings hanging off of my crop top cotton. I want to learn to flow, to swing, to groove with my hands. I want baptized in art; use clouds of Panama Red to immerse me. Use the clashing cymbals and banging beats of bands to pound it into my soul. Use campfire to make it pure. Use fungi and make tea. Rock and roll to make me whole. I want fire to start in my core and bleed into my heart, with fierce orange waves of smoke and scattering ember. I don’t care if I’m deep and lost in the middle of one more what-for binge, as long as I’m not a bored and sore for all the things I didn’t do done did. The adventures I never hid have had. For all the dreams I never said saw seen. And all the other lucky people who lived all of my dreams.

20 joints for a month. 20 bucks for a show. 20 hours in a day if you don’t sleep, let’s go.

I want to take art classes. I want to refine my skills. I want to buy a fancy camera and start snapping away. I want to paint, draw, create. I want to dance. I want to go. I want to buy beautiful clothes and nice products to make me happy. I want friends. I want my own group of friends, where I belong and where I’m loved. I want bars, I want alcohol, I want marijuana. I want fun, memorable nights out with friends. I want to feel good, look good, all the time. I want to spend money on expensive organic food from farmers markets and feed my body what it wants. I want to binge watch whole seasons of anime. I want to read what I want to read, when I want to read it. I want to think and analyze life, the way I want to. I want to ponder. I want mystery and adventure. I want kids. I want love. I want to paint my toenails. I want to go to nice restaurants. I want to eat out. I want to eat out, in London. In Paris. In Tokyo. I want to get out of here. I want to move to Cali. I want to serve myself and take care of myself. I want to sleep in. I want to learn. I want to listen to music. I want to be myself. Find myself. Explore the world and find pieces of myself as I go.

…God?

If I choose to follow you, what does that mean? How much do I have to give up? How much can I keep? Can I even know? Is it even worth it? How do I know? Can you show me? Can you help me? Can I please do both, keep the fun but follow you, too? Can I spend my money how I want? Or do I always need to be thinking about other people? Do you know how hard that is? Do you understand how much you require? Do you know how hard that is? Do you? Do you even expect that to be possible for us? Do you expect me to choose, and how? How do you expect me to make such a significant decision? How do all these people decide so quickly that you’re the best thing to follow? How do I set everything aside?

This is ridiculous.

Grace, face, this place, faith, grace, repeat.

I’ve never listened to a Christian worship song and felt inspired. Never. I’ve felt sad, I’ve cried, I’ve let the Bible words churn my soul around a little. But I’ve never been inspired because of quality. Ever.

Now, I have been inspired by the song Like a Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan. And lets just be clear that this was because of the quality of his music. I was driving passenger seat in the car and listening to the joy that is that song with Nate, and I broke down and just wept. Purely because of beauty. Purely because there is beautiful music to help people like me survive existing on this planet.

There are people I run to to reignite my desire to be creative. I’ve been inspired by a man called Levi the Poet and by a woman named Emily Joy. They’re making art, grinding. I’ve been compelled to write because of these people. When I’m feeling like there isn’t a creative bone in my body I run to them. To Propaganda. To Kimya Dawson. To Hopsin. And I regain strength. The way I’d listen to DMX before a Track Meet and then go kill it. But never has Christian Worship song helped my artistic drive come above water. Ever.

Worship music is the opposite of this kind of inspiring music. Worship music lulls you into a false reality, tricking you into believing that real art – real art – REAL. ART. Looks like worship music. I’ve never been inspired by a Christian Worship song. I’ve been anti-inspired. I’ve been, for lack of a better phrase – and this is blunt – artistically dumbed down. And I think a lot of us have.

It’s sad because if we really do know the God of the Universe, who created everything – like, everything, shouldn’t our music be just a little bit more impressive? Why do we suck so much, at like, everything? Why are we so embarrassing? Our movies, our music, everything. Christian culture feels like thick dark slime. It’s gross.

And the thing is, we’re not authentic. David was so radically throwing it all out there in the Psalms, lets take a hint from him, shall we? He’s constantly like, “oh my gosh, my life sucks, everything sucks, just kill me.” We’re all David. We’ve all got our shit. Unlike David, we hide it under false identities and catchy phrases and “it’s okay” and “God is good.” But I thought it might be fun to write out some of the lyrics to the most popular worship songs on praisecharts. (ugh)

“Who breaks the power of sin and darkness
Whose love is mighty and so much stronger
The King of Glory, the King above all kings

Who shakes the whole earth with holy thunder
And leaves us breathless in awe and wonder
The King of Glory, the King above all kings.”

“Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay.”

You are good, You are good
When there’s nothing good in me
You are love, You are love
On display for all to see
You are light, You are light
When the darkness closes in
You are hope, You are hope
You have covered all my sin.

The rhymes are as follows – “thunder, wonder – more, are – free, me – you, you – way, stay – me, see – in, sin.” Ugh. This isn’t deep or poetic. This is… elementary at best.

I have not loved Jesus for most of my life. The Christian music station did not help. Because it was just, well, bad as a fact of life. When I became a Christian I remember telling my friend that I was super excited about God and stuff, but that I could not do the whole Christian music thing. And that I was sorry. But I just couldn’t do it.

I’m sad that there are so many Christian artists out there – writers, painters, musicians – who don’t get a platform for their art because the platform is filled with bullshit. They’ll probably have to create a whole new, separate platform and do combat. This is not a very appealing pull towards God. And we do not value art as Christians. Although art for God should be the most beautiful of all.

He is good, He is good, when there’s nothing good in me. Then let’s be honest about it. If there’s nothing good in you, just be honest about it. Don’t think lack of authenticity is noble. When you enter a Christian circle and don’t know what to expect, and look around and that’s a lot of what everyone’s doing – spitting lyrics and cliches, you can’t help but follow suit and put away your hurts. You’re just going to burden everyone’s happy mood if you bring them down with your negativity. Send the depressed people to the front of the stage to get healed. And push the doubter’s doubts to the bottom of their stomach, silently lurching and churning for the rest of their owner’s life.

I feel like Hopsin (who made this… “Man everything is “what if,” why is it always “what if?” Planet Earth, “what if?” The universe “what if?” My sacrifice “what if?” My afterlife, “what if?” Every fucking thing that deals with you is fucking suspect!), doubting God, more than I feel like Chris Tomlin. I doubt a LOT. And I wish I could make it all go away, but I honestly can’t. So I’m gonna try to confront those fears and listen to Hopsin to get inspired and talk about it as much as I can. Because hopefully someone feels me and feels a little comfort in knowing that I feel them, too. And hopefully that means more than a Bible verse being spoken out of season.

Word.

 

 

The D Word

Depression.

How the hell does anyone function with this? I was laying outside yesterday with my husband in lovely sunny downtown Jackson on a big baptist church’s steps. Sounds romantic, but it wasn’t. I had to stop walking after I couldn’t get myself to go any father because a feeling beyond feeling was making it hard to do anything, including move or hold a conversation.

“What do you want to do?” he asks.

“Nothing,” my answer.

Which people say all the time but I meant, Nate, I literally don’t want to sleep or eat, or watch TV, or drink beer or walk around or have sex in a hot air balloon or fly to the moon. I don’t want to draw, play, write or read. I could possibly eat pizza, but that’s it, and I’d probably be worse afterwards anyway.

The moments that most devastatingly clarify my depression are ones like these.

Let me explain – when I was in my Senior year of high school I started feeling this feeling that I had never felt before – the familiar frienemy I now label “depression.” And of course, anyone who has struggled with depression knows that this thing – this monster – goes far beyond feeling. It’s heinous in it’s inability to be explained. It sneaks around at first and bugs your mind with little emotional traps – not enough for you to get a clue, but enough to break you down slowly. And by the time you’re broken down, you’re on Prozac and it’s all over.

Pictures and comparisons are almost always necessary to explain my depression, and even then most people don’t “get” it. So when I began to be sucked into the enduring silent vortex that is the deadlock of a word with no synonyms; the black gruesome monster who was simultaneously consuming more and more of my friends and family as he silently did  me; affecting my mind, body and soul, I questioned everything. I questioned what this was because it wasn’t sadness – Sadness is sadness. Depression is collapsing headfirst into a rabbit hole you never saw coming, looking around and realizing that you have landed in a different dimension that is the same as your own, except it has lost it’s flavor. It’s color. It is more distant than before, more gray, and less exciting. People act the same but are more exhausting and more terrifying. You grasp the fact that there is something off and wrong, but you’re never able to fully grab hold of the entirety of it. That’s depression.

That’s what I felt for the very first time sitting in Finance class, and realizing that I felt worse than I had in my entire life, but not knowing how to fix myself. Not knowing anything anymore. That was my depression.

Naturally, I got a therapist, and the therapist put me on Prozac. Great choice, therapist. After months of cutting, smoking myself silly, and absolutely draining the life out of everyone around me, the Prozac kicked in, yay! Does Prozac actually work for anyone? UGH.

So Prozac made me want to kill myself. I made this discovery when I went to go for a run. Running was the one thing I had that would without fail calm my mind and get some of my tired endorphins to move. That is, if I could get myself to actually go. I started, taking the usual path that I always took, and dead stopped after less than 400 meters.

Shit. I don’t want to run, I realized. I don’t want to run, and I should want to run. Running makes me happy, and it’s not.

And then for the first time ever I wanted to die. Because why live at that point, really.

So when I was laying next to Nate yesterday, feeling the sun on my face – the sun that I had begged God for for months, that I said I would be so much happier when I could feel – the sun that promised Summer and adventure and road-trips, the sun that warmed me all over, my favorite feeling in the world, I tried to choose to feel happy. I tried to convince myself that this was a great moment and I should just choose to feel happy about it.

But I couldn’t. Because I’m depressed. It’s like eating a donut, expecting to taste a donut, and instead tasting sand. But everyone around you tries it and is confused because it tastes like a donut, why don’t you just taste the donut, Sam? No matter how fabulous that moment was, it wasn’t going to break through the jail cell that is this icy cold prison where I, and so many others, live all the time.

I hated my life yesterday. I questioned God extensively yesterday. And I remembered that familiar feeling of not being able to run yesterday. I wished I didn’t have to exist anymore yesterday. And I had no resolution yesterday. It only got worse and bled into today.

I love how the Psalms are so honest, and always end with a bit of hope about God. Even if the whole thing is a cry of total despair, the writer always chooses to end with hope.

As much as I like that, I don’t have a whole lot of hope or faith right now. So maybe, hopefully, this isn’t the end of the story. But right now I’m in a prison and God has the key. And for some reason He won’t hand it over, which really pisses me off.

The needy soul.

I want to please you. I want to please the fuck out of you.

I want to give you everything you want and be everything you want me to be.

I want the sheer essence of who I am to seep into the depths of your very being. I want to startle your soul into a place of deep enamor. Write poems about me. Photograph me. Craft music with me as the main theme. Show me I’m important. Show me I can move you; be a muse to you, make you think; I want songs preformed about the way I move. The way I speak. The lovely way my lips move and the way my hair falls.

I want a single glance to captivate you.

Call me beautiful. Call me gorgeous. Call me perfect. Call me all the beautiful adjectives you can find in a dictionary and then try other languages.

I’ll make it worth your effort. I want to please you. I want to do all the things you want me to do. I want something as quiet and light as my morning routine to draw out simple, inspired attraction. I want my particular musical tastes to grip you and make you wonder about me, all about me, and love me, love me. Breathe for me. I want my unplanned words to sound like poetry, poetry that you recite under your breath when you need to feel inspired to create something. Let me be your muse. Your role model, even. Your best friend. Your fantasy. Your object of envy.

I want my hobbies to cause you to be interested in me, my style to enchant you, my journaling, drawings, baking to make you smile. Because of me. Because I am special and worth something. I want my body to be your ideal and I want you to compliment me. I want my physique to inspire. Inspire jealousy. Inspire lust. Because I mean something. I matter. I’m good enough. I’m important. I’m sexy. I’m beautiful.

Right?

Approval. I need it. Tell me I’m beautiful. Tell me I matter. Use the most sophisticated words you can conjure. Use adjectives that I’ve never even heard. Forge balladry. Dream up beautiful lymericks, sonnets and quatrains. All about me. 

Then I will know I matter. In fact, I think I will die if you don’t follow through. I want this all so much. So I will be anything you want me to be. I will change for you. If my body is not what you desire, then I shall change it. If you do not like my hair, then my hair will be cut, grown or dyed. If my activities seem sub-par, then they will certainly change. If my speech does not spark fascination, then I will learn new words and mannerisms.

Please tell me you love me and tell me I matter. I will be whoever you want me to be.

I’ll be whoever you want me to be.

I’ll be whoever anyone wants me to be.

All I ask in return is your love and acceptance.

I have become a pish-posh of unrecognizable pieces of flesh and fashion – interest and activity – personality and practices – soul and game. I know not who I am anymore. And I am still unsure if anyone really loves me for me.

I can’t think about this too much because it freaks me out – because those who do love me do not truly love me, but love what I have created. My mismatched demeanor. My cut-to-pieces soul. I have sparked ruthless jealousy in some, as I have been ruthlessly jealous of others. I have slowly and skillfully adopted shaped myself into what I have believed would make me the most wanted. Given me the most adoration, attention, respect, approval.

And now I am not myself and I am not loved for myself.

Probably all the love in the world could not fill the ravenous hole in my heart that begs for evermore attention and praise. And the people’s praises that do seem to momentarily fill are so shaky, changing their affections based on the culture and age and personality.

I am left shaken, broken, older than I should be and unlike who I really am. I am too far away from reality to know who I really am. My heart cries out for love in a vacuum. I operate out of the same old mantra: “please let me please you, and accept my desperate attempts with praise.”

I am empty. And alone. With no ballads or photographs that even begin to touch the true longing of my soul.

I cry, scream, distraught – exhausted – from extracting everything I possibly could from every other option I could have sought after with my needy heart.

Already feeling the guilt and shame of the knowledge of what I should have done all along, I cry out, “I’ve tried everything now! I’m done! I need perfect love!”

He answers in grace.

He binds up my wounds.

He tells me I’m loved.

This is the answer.

But I’ll do it again.

Avoiding God

Hi, I’m avoiding God.

Who, God? No thank you.

I’m tabbing between this and facebook and a lingerie website for a bridal shower next month, and youtube and my email.

I’ve been avoiding God for about 4 hours now.

I figured writing about it would be better than surfing the web, but it’s not better. It’s worse. Surfing the web is great because it’s like heroin and has a way of turning my mind off to the shit I should be thinking about, and kind of numbs me into this warm, comfortable complacent dazed state of laziness. Where I don’t care.

Like I know I’m suppressing them – the feeeelings of disappointment in myself for doing this again, but the longer I stay online, the longer it will be till I have to feel anything. But also, the longer I stay online, the more violent the tidal of regret hits me when I finally face it. It’s a vicious cycle.

I hate myself sometimes. I hate my behavior.

I hate my addictive personality. Fuck my addictive personality.

Fuck me, I’ve had a few really good days.

And one romp around the internet sends me back to this?

I’m stuck.

I mean I guess the thing you gotta do is just go pick up your Bible and start reading it wherever. It gives me a truer perspective. And makes me hate myself less. I know that.

But I’m scared because I feel like God’s gonna be all pissed off that I just wasted all this time. I don’t want to face that. It feels like I ate rocks and they’re just casually rolling around in my stomach. And it’s getting dark which makes me feel worse.

I guess I’ve been conditioned to believe that when I mess up, I’m gonna get the whip. I’m gonna be guilt tripped and punished.

I do it to myself.

I don’t know how to conclude this. I gotta go talk to God. I don’t know if I’ll keep surfing the internet. I hope not. God help me. Urgh I hate even saying that, but God help me. Because I need to get off but I can’t. I could have had such a good night but I’m not now. I ruined it and I feel miserable, and I feel like if I spend time with you I’m gonna miss out on even more of the good night I could have had because it takes time to spend time with you. Even though I have no problem sitting on the computer for 4 1/2 hours. Because when I face you, I’m in reality.. but here, I don’t have to be. I can be somewhere else. And I like being somewhere else. I’m not so good with faith. I don’t really believe that you’re better like you say you are. Even though every time I step out you prove it. I’m sorry. Please help me get off the computer cause I can’t really stay on here anymore.

I think he helped. Bye.

 

 

 

 

Random thoughts 1/7/16 9:15 PM

In life you’re going to find that things will surprise you. Things will pop out of nowhere and fill your head with thoughts you never thought you’d think. You’ll dream dreams you’d never thought you’d dream. People will act in ways you would have never thought to act. And colors will seem more vibrant or more dull depending on your mood.

You’ll have boring days filled with nothing. This might lead you into depression and anxiety or a good nap. You might wake up feeling refreshed and write an awesome song on the guitar. Or you might not be able to get to sleep at night because of it and be pissed off the whole next day.

You might spend days at work trying to do everything in your own strength before you remember that you’re supposed to call upon God for these sorts of things. The world spins and your lazy relationship with Him doesn’t make it stop or go any more than it would have. But if you’re a guilty person like me, it might feel like it.

When the earth halts its steady rotation because you’re not reading and praying, remember that you’re delusional. And that the earth is actually moving and so are you. And it won’t feel this way forever and there’s a lot to look forward to. If nothing else. Heaven.

Your husband might die or your cat might die. You might live married till age 80 and pass away quietly holding hands in your bed on a ranch. Don’t think about these things too much. They’ll just drive you crazy. Trust me.

Live in the moment. Breathe deeply every once in a while. Ponder deep questions like whether Christians should do Yoga or smoke weed.

And all in all, show yourself grace. Because if you’re as half as scatterbrained as I am, you probably feel like you don’t get much accomplished and that your relationships with God and people are pretty off track. This may very well be true with people, but all relationships between people tend to be messy, so don’t worry. And your relationship with God is going well, despite what you may think. He loves you to the moon and back, and more. Even if you watch an entire movie without thinking about Him when you should be folding laundry and putting away dishes, and even if you don’t read your Bible for two whole days.

He’s gotta look down and think we’re pretty silly anyways, fretting over the tiniest things. Count the stars, read a book, and take a bath. If the thought of those things make you feel guilty for any reason, show yourself some grace. You’re only human afterall.

A Recent Conversation With God about Being Uncool

Dear Lord.

Please make me cool, Lord. It’s hard bein down here not knowing how to be cool. I beg and plead with you every year to take away my social anxiety, and You don’t. I feel like it’s my… weakness, like Paul’s, you know? The one You gave him to keep him humble? Whatever he had, I’d trade him. Being uncool and awkward is the worst.

I’ve tried for so long to look cool and act cool. I grew out my hair, dye it sometimes, and wear clothes from Salvation Army. I think I have a pretty good Instagram. I write in trendy cursive letters in my journal and notecards. I even know about cool alternative Christian bands, like Rivers & Robots (in fact, I think I knew about them before a lot of people!). I listen to secular bands, too! Like Radiohead! And Led Zeppelin!

I’ve tried to throw parties, eat at lesser known restaurants (even though I like the chain ones… how I’ve sacrificed!) and take a lot of pictures with my friends. I go to Ann Arbor regularly and drink alcohol, bar hop, and smoke a cigarette here and there! In fact, I used to smoke weed everyday. I did shrooms once, even? My past is edgy and unique and I have a cool salvation story. I’m skinny, fit and have long hair. I’m well-read in C.S. Lewis and Harry Potter. (Is Harry Potter cool? I still can’t figure it out.) I don’t understand why they don’t like me. I’m hip!! Help!

I mean, okay, I’ll admit I’ve made a few mistakes along the way. I probably like Pokemon a little too much for it to be cute and quirky. I started a club about it at Bible School because I’ve been obsessed since I was eight. You know I love anime and cartoons and you saw me set my cover photo on Facebook as a scene from Steven Universe… Why didn’t You stop me? I might occasionally watch Anime Music Videos (I don’t publically announce that one, at least… I’d die if anyone found out) (I even used to make them.) (Do you like anime, God?)  I think participating in a Magic: The Gathering tournament might have been a big slip-up for me. As was dressing up as Misty two years in a row for Halloween. I don’t mind wearing shirts with stains on them. I get really over-excited when someone orders pizza. I like chain restaurants. I listen to classic rock, which I think might be kind of cool, but I’m not sure.

But God, I feel like a lot of really cool people get away with this stuff. I’ve known cool people who like Pokemon and watch cartoons. And like pizza. I’m starting to feel like cool is a natural gifting – something you’re just born with. Which honestly, God, I’m pretty pissed off about. UNfair. I’m not the most attractive, I know, or the most socially… elegant… but does that mean I’m destined to be completely excluded? Never taste the fine wine of acceptance from the elite of society? Never be loved the way they are? Looked up to the way they are? Wanted the way they are?

I know I’m not at the bottom of the totem pole so maybe I shouldn’t be complaining. But Lord, I’m getting pretty sick and tired of thinking that I might finally have a relationship with one of these cool and elite Christians, be in their cool pictures and be invited to their parties, and then I’m not. What gives? Pls make me cool, and likable. Thank you. Because I cannot honestly handle another day of being excluded from their groups! Like, what is wrong with me?

Please change me Lord. I hate who I am. I hate being on the outside. I hate getting 12 likes on my instagram pictures while the cool girls get a thousand. I hate walking around awkward and rejected by them. I hate my social anxiety. I hate that my jokes aren’t funny enough. I hate being excluded. I just want to be loved, Lord. Accepted. Looked up to by the world around me. I’d probably be more relevant for You, then, right? If I could be cool?.. That’s a good reason for you to do this for me. I really think You should. Because the way You made me really sucks.

Sincerely,

Average

Dear Beloved Child,

I am sorry that this world has rejected you. I feel your pain. I know the struggle. Please remember when I sent my Son onto the earth, there was nothing about Him that attracted any human. He was normal – average – and perfect. Please know that to be like Jesus does not mean to be the popular and elite of society.

Listen to me. You need to know that I have created you beautiful. It hurts my heart hearing that you do not love yourself. I love you infinitely. Immensely. I would part seas for you. Split the earth. Come down from the clouds of Heaven to rescue you from all this. I want to save you from this world. And I will. But you’re there for a reason now.

You are unique. No one on earth can do what you do. I am sorry that this so called “cool” group of people has rejected you. They are no better or worse than you, only different. In the world system that Satan has created – and make no mistake that he has created it, and it has infiltrated my beloved Church, the bride of Christ – there are the beautiful and the rejects, the loved and the unloved, the cool and the uncool. Trust me that I am aware of this and I have felt your pain. I have felt millions of my children cry out in pain because of their exclusion. I am not flippant concerning this. My heart breaks over the exclusiveness of members of my Church.

I wish all who call themselves Christians would heed my words. I chose things despised by the world – things counted as nothing at all – and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. The Holy Spirit has devoted an entire chapter in the book of James to the sin of partiality – to not view people as lesser or higher based on worldly requirements! How, knowing this, do my children judge and exclude one another based on what the world considers important? Awkwardness? Not wearing acceptable clothes? Listening to off-putting music? Not being what Satan has deemed most desirable, whether by attractiveness or personality, or likes and dislikes?

No! Pure foolishness! This is not the way I think at all! No, daughter, do not let yourself be defined by this world. Do not let anyone tell you that you are less because you are different. This is a lie from the pit of hell itself. You are chosen for a special purpose that only you can fulfill. You have much to offer that I desire everyone to see. Unfortunately, sin has cursed this world and divisions are a result. Your task is to be inclusive, and to love everyone, despite their wealth or poverty, attractiveness or lowliness, intellect or lack thereof. All of these things make no difference to me – I show no partiality – and in fact, I often seek after those who are poor and helpless – not often those who the world considers the best and most beautiful; most desirable.

With pain in my heart I must rebuke you as well. I do feel and understand your pain but I see you putting certain people on a pedestal where they do not belong – this is wrong. This is why you feel so needy to be accepted in these groups. You are changing yourself to be included. No, child. Be secure in me. Be secure in the person I have made you, even if everyone in this world tells you that you are unlovely and weird. Through My eyes you can see the good things about yourself – but not without Me. Do not let go.

You are beautiful, daughter. Love those who ignore and reject you and do not reject anyone. Listen to the music you love and cultivate the talents with which I have blessed you individually. Find your identity in me and in my love for you. I love and pursue all my children equally, including the ones who reject you. Find it in your heart to love them, through my Son. Only love will bring you freedom to be who you truly are. Being authentic will bring you closest to Me. Being closest to Me will make you most effective. Identify with me. Care about what I think of you. I care about you so deeply it hurts. I adore you. I love your quirks and your spirit and the way I have made you special. Do not let that go to waste. I love you. I love you. I love you.

Love,

Daddy

How your smartphone usage could be limiting your relationship with God (and your whole life)

Five minutes ago I was journaling to God about the three day hiatus I had taken from reading the Word and praying. I was sorry, and ashamed, and it actually took me a while to formulate the words because I was so ashamed.

I’m usually pretty honest with God. I’m a messy messy messy piece of justified work. It aint pretty. So I was kind of shocked and disappointed with myself when I kept dancing around the issue with Daddy. I couldn’t broach the subject. I was too embarrassed. I kept almost formulating what I had done, but then I’d distract myself – unconsciously – trying to avoid the issue.

Because if a three day trek (and on-and-off for the past… three years) through making an idol out of crap isn’t bad enough, I did it with something so stupid. My stupid Smartphone.

Dumb. Walking around in this daze all the time, half aware of things and half not. I feel like my smartphone makes me think faster and more slowly at the same time. You know what I mean? And more foggy, too. Like when I finally settled down to pray, there was this thick, syrupy layer of gunk I had to remove from around my brain to finally think about anything spiritual or important.

So, yeah, that was why I was embarrassed. Because… really? If I’m gonna have an idol, couldn’t I have picked something less embarrassing? My spouse. Very common. My career. Semi-noble. Knowledge. At least that’s useful! Anything but my little stoopid plastic device.

So the last words in my journal are, “I’ve got some issues right now, Lord – I’m addicted to my iphone.” I  was about to write all the ways, numerically, my iphone was keeping me in bondage. But I decided to blog it instead so my many followers lol can read this.

  • I wake up and check my phone for 1-5 minutes. Doesn’t seem like a big deal. Then I go pee and sit with my phone and I end up on the toilet for at least a few minutes longer than I would have without my phone. Then you have to do the whole awkward, put your phone down, get toilet paper, pick your phone back up thing. Hopefully the willpower to not check your phone is there during breakfast, but probably not. Chalk up at least 1-2 minutes.3-10 minutes on a good day of wasted time on the smartphone in the first 10 minutes of your day. Guess what gets left out? Time with the Creator of the Universe.
  • Justifying everything.
    I’ve become a pro at justifying everything because of my smartphone usage. Five 10 minute videos about nutrition? Well it’s really good for me to watch these videos actually, because my body is a temple and it’s important that I know about nutrition so I can feed my husband and future kids good food so they won’t die, even if I disregard our relationship in other ways (like talking.)

    It’s okay to watch every single snapchat story when I have a lot to do, because I need to know what’s going on in other people’s lives, and it’s kind of just a normal thing that people do, is look through all their snapchat stories, and snapchats are really short so it won’t take very long. Besides, how would I keep in contact with my youth group without snapchat? It’s a ministry tool really.

    It’s okay to scroll on instagram for forever, because there is a lot of really good stuff on Instagram and I wanna see what my friends are up to and it’s fine because it is.

    Posting these videos/Instagrams/Snapcats/pictures/whatever aren’t to get attention. I want my family to know what I’m up to. Besides, I’m just being relevant with my culture. I “don’t care” if people think I’m special/pretty/cool/have a lot of friends.

    Reading 20 facebook articles in a row is probably going to make me smarter so it’s fine.

    Checking my phone consistently while in social situations isn’t a way to unhealthily escape awkwardness, it’s just a good way to fill silence which is fine because I’m not creating any long-term bad habits.

    The list goes on. Many lies mixed with little truth, my friends. Social media has made me a literal pro at consuming a bunch of useless information, making bad choices, wasting my time, and then convincing myself that it’s okay rather than really evaluating myself, with all my motives and decisions.

  • Addiction
    This goes into justifying but it’s probably okay that my intention is to look on facebook for two minutes and I end up sitting there for 45 minutes compulsively clicking on different links and different sites and I end up researching mad cow disease on a little known blog in a tiny corner of the internet, right?

    I can’t remember where I read it but you know you’ve heard that it changes your brain composition. I’m SO addicted to the comfort. Why is it so damn comforting? I don’t know. All I know is that I crave it, and I’ve been frightened by how natural it is for me to click off of sending a text message to facebook without even thinking about it. Muscle memory at this point. Yikes.

  • Lack and loss of intentionality and self-control.
    Similar to addiction but a lot of times when I click the beautiful round button at the bottom of my iphone, or the little rectangular button on the side, I have no plan for what I’m going to be doing. I’m using it as a distraction during a social situation. Or a time-filler, sitting on my couch. Or just doing it even though I have better, more important things to do. Or a de-stresser. A comforter. (Hm… A priority? A de-stresser? A Comforter? Sounds like what God should be.)

    When you pick up a book, you know what you’re getting into. It’s straightforward. Same with a bath. Or playing an instrument. There’s some variation, yeah, but there’s also a goal of some sort that you’re working towards. The problem with the internet is that it’s never ending – there is no goal – you can scroll forever on any given social media – unlimited Instagrams, practically unlimited friend-of-a-friend Facebooks, unlimited INTERNET. It goes on forever and it sucks you in and you can never find the end. If you don’t have a goal you’ll never get the reward you’re looking for!

    There’s no plan going in so I’m just click click tap tap scroll scrolling, searching for something that I’ll never find! Which is why I’m on there for 200 hours a day… No purpose, no plan, and looking for… something.

  • Satan freaking uses it to minimize your potential!
    Look at u. Look @ U! God’s given you so many skills and abilities you could grow. Things you could learn. For me, it’s art. Love it. Love the idea of finally honing my doodles and getting better at drawing. Know what gets in the way? Know why Satan loooooves this? Internet – and because it keeps us from reaching our full potential.I’m just so distracted. I’m so distracted with my phone that I have no time to talk to Daddy, no time to draw, write, or think, no time to meditate. Because I’m constantly filling empty spaces with IT. The proverbial black hole. Internet.

    I just wanna stop. I know this is Satan’s game and he loves all of us being so distracted. I’m not even going to get into embracing the moment, being fully present, cherishing real people and conversation, and disconnecting from technology. But I want those things too.

    I WANT REAL LIFE BACK! And I want my Daddy God, not electronics that just rewire my brain into mush anyway! Thanks for listening, whoever’s listening.

    EDIT: My iPhone broke 2 days after posting this entry. xo