Perseverance

Sometimes it feels like this.

 

Running, working, striving, trying so hard to reach the goal, so hard that you’ve never imagined this is what they meant when they said ‘Try, try again’ because trying is all I do. It’s all I know how to do, it’s not like I ever reach anywhere so I can relax and enjoy the inside of rest for once.

Running toward a goal becomes the thing we want. It takes over us, consumes our life like it’s our job, and sometimes it is, but whose fault is that? ‘It’s the way of the world’ he says, ‘just the way things are’. I’ve now spent most of my life trying to conform myself to ‘the way things are’ and here I am again, running toward goals that seem to get farther away the faster I run the harder I try.

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So, I’m currently training for a Half Marathon… That’s right, a whole freaking CAPITALIZED Half…full stop…Marathon.
I don’t know if you realize how literally ‘yuuuge’ this is. That’s because, folks, and I don’t know if you’ve actually met me, is because
I.
Am.
NOT.
A.
Runner.
One thing God has not graced me in this life with (well haha, ha, one of many things, haaa, I mean… *gulp) is the beautiful graceful slender physique of a runner. See, I’m Scots-Irish heritage, and so that means that my national sport was probably wrestling [or at least maybe just taking an enemy’s head off in battle] – a least that’s what I’m left to assume when I look in the mirror.

But be that as it may, I am actually doing this thing called ‘training for the long haul’.

One of the most important things in life, to me personally, and -I’m learning, with some help- on the mission field, is to be fit: mentally, emotionally, relationally, spiritually, and physically.

Physical fitness is one of the core values of this current group of very fine individuals I’m currently privileged to do life with in this season, and so I run. Well, I was forced into running. Coerced into running? OK OK it’s the same thing. Anyways it was ‘strongly suggested’ that I run…or at least work out somehow. I mean it is one of the values and personal spiritual disciplines I try to follow, as a member of a globally dispersed group of contemplative activists called Axiom, but I digress.

See, the thing is, I LOVE IT.
I mean, I actually am coming to enjoy it, despite the pain, despite the god awful hour I have to get up to actually get it in before the day starts, before the ‘red hot fire demon‘ (AKA the sun) rises and makes this world unbearable.
But it’s really not that bad. Waking up early is preferred to staying up late. The mornings here are really a beautiful and special time of day, and it is a LOT cooler.
But that’s not the half of it (haha, get it? see what I did there)…

God is teaching me persistence in this season.

Right now it’s like this.

Perseverance. Persistence. Consistency.

These are things that I’m learning. These are things that are not easy lessons for me.
I think most people have trouble going, that they need that kick in the arse to get out of the inertia of the comfort zone and do something.

But for me, it’s the opposite. I don’t know how to stay.

“Imagine what you can achieve in ten years, if you consistently do something about your dream. You don’t even have to spend hours on it. It can be minutes every day. Small actions compounds.”

And so.
And so God is teaching me.
And so I am learning.
And so I have no idea what I’m doing.

This is where it gets real. This is where it gets raw. This is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. And wherever that happens smoke arises.
I expect there to be some smoke, some friction, as in all things new and important and necessary come to pass. But I also know that in this is the formation of success.

Success only comes through getting your hands durty and mud on your clothes. It only comes through dragging yourself out of bed everyday, usually way earlier than we would want to if left to our own devices, before the evil sky demon makes its burning presence known. No, success and things that go along with it require a burning of their own, one of desire and effort, among many other things. But the rewards are great. Or so they tell me.

Faith, Hope, Love.
Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control.

You may recognize these as principles, Biblical yes, promises, of the true life, one lived in service to a Higher Being and in the way of others. Love is even mentioned twice here, and we all know that the most important things are repeated.

What is glaringly absent from this mix is what’s required to attain these gifts…if attainment is even the right concept (which it isn’t, I just took the liberty of using that as an ideological shortcut in order to prove my point).  In fact what’s arguably missing in most of the common literature is what’s required to get us to the finish line.

One example I can think of that’s an exception to this rule is the Bible. It talks a lot of perseverance, often put into the terms of ‘running a race’, and the frame of reference is that of a marathon, not a sprint. Fitting, no?

But are perseverance persistence and consistency the same thing? How are they similar, or different? And what does persistence, commitment, and influence have to do with each other? Are these concepts related or completely foreign to each other?

More to come…
~To Be Continued…

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Perseverance

Beloved Community

I went into this season having read Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and with experience of living in community in other settings, other times, with other people, non-Christians. I thought I knew what I was in for. I was sadly mistaken.

I thought this time would be different. I thought the Holy Spirit would show up and give us a supernatural ability to care for each other, to draw each other into the healing presence of Jesus, even in the midst of all of our deep and lasting wounds, all brutally inflicted on each one of us through no fault of our own, merely the result of the harsh realities of life. What surprised me though, was how hard it was to see through my own brokenness and love these others, this crew of wounded healers.

The first thing I encountered, known going into this season, is that I don’t really know what love is, or how to love others, outside of a romantic relationship, and it may be argued that I don’t even know in that case. What I discovered is that it isn’t quite as clear cut as one would expect.

The reality is that it is much easier to love the other when much isn’t expected of them, as in the case of the broken sinner, the unrepentant, the non-Christian. Bonhoeffer seems to center the first part of his paradoxical work in this realm, talking of living amoung the broken, not in Christian community, but in the community at large, being a witness to those that need such example. And this is a true blessing, to show the love of God to the oppressed, the poor, the forgotten and downtrodden, the prisoner and the criminal. This is also the least of our efforts, for to love them as commanded comes as easily as one would expect of the obvious.

The hard part in my estimation is loving those that should know better, that should love you back, or first…and this brings up an interesting dilemma. For we are called to humility, and expecting to be loved, and basing the amount and quality of the love you pour out on that expectation, seems to directly contradict the commandment to love and prefer others first, to put yourself second, to take care of another self-lessly, as we are called.

Jesus talks in the Sermon on the Mount about the speck that is in your brother’s eye, and the plank in our own, and making sure our priorities are straight and that we aren’t passing judgement on others, and you don’t really think about what this means, or how difficult it is, until you are in the fire of community, and putting your well being and welfare in the hands of others, especially when you are let down, and realize that the line in the sand is right there, staring you in the face and asking to hold your hand. Are you going to, will you let it?

This requires an amount of ‘woke’ that most people frankly are just not capable of. We are all on a journey, but some of us will just never arrive. But that is all the reason to love them more, these followers of a Broken Savior that are not quite all in the light themselves. Our job, the ones that know and see and get it,  is simply to shine the light, and in so doing to throw some illumination onto the path of least resistance, and thereby to contribute, even a little bit, to building the Beloved Community, the very ideal that Martin Luther King Jr sacrificed his life for.

So my conclusion is this, if I have even come to something even remotely close to resembling closure in this season (end with a comma, not a period) — one of the most difficult things we can do as sinful fallen beings is to love first God, then the other, and of course to model this after respecting the self. It is our call to emulate what Jesus taught us, and nowhere in Scripture does it say that we are perfect, or will get it right even half the time. What we are called to do is to seek awareness, and cultivate the capacity to accept, even in the midst of a broken world in which that is becoming exponentially more difficult to do.

Thank God and Jesus for grace and forgiveness, as we learn to navigate this sometimes conceptual and often practical journey of becoming more like Him, of embodying compassion and mercy. I recall and am desperately grateful for the Beatitudes: ‘Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice, FOR THEY SHALL BE FILLED.’

Amen

Beloved Community

Ruined

I will not be the same again. I can never go back.
I mean where do I even start?

How do I explain the past 3 weeks, some of the best and most disorienting ever experienced in my life?

How do I begin to describe the incomprehensibility of one’s very foundations of belief being shaken to the core, disrupted for the glory of becoming even stronger?

Here we go:
‘What makes the Gospel offensive is not who it keeps out, but who it lets in.’

There. That should cover it.
—————————————
Haha. Nope. J/K. Not even close.
OK kids pull up a chair and pay attention, we’re going in.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”  ― Rob Siltanen

This is a journey. A process. If you are uncomfortable with the unknown then chances are you will be very uncomfortable here, because this ride is in motion, please keep hands and feet inside the vehicle.

The very process of uncovering our true self and healing the wounds that keep us from experiencing the Ultimate Reality of the Divine, God, YAHWEH, is the beginning of this grand journey, the steps of which are:

  1. Self-discovery
  2. God encounter
  3. Missional drive

For you see, we cannot hope to impact the world around us, to bring hope and healing and reconciliation to this broken world, until we have dealt with the board that is in our own eye (Matt 7:3, Luke 6:42).

And this is my journey, my mission, my call, my passion: to bring healing and reconciliation to a world badly in need of those not only willing, but able, to bring the Truth of radical love, those saints and misfits downright restless with this Truth. Those willing to wrestle with truth, story, even their own community in the process of uncovering whatever it is we need to get to, on our journey home. Argue well, disagree valiantly, admonish with love, and do not stop fighting, for your very existence, the existence of this world depends on it.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the very fabric of what we know and keep as sacred is tearing apart, the veil is ripping friends, and it is not pretty, no, revolution requires bloodshed, and is ugly, and it will not be televised, especially if the revolution this world needs is that of the spirit, of things unseen but felt and heard, and that is exactly what’s going on.

OK OK, I di’nt mean to impede on politics there, to join into the misery of this election season or anything, believe me that’s not my intent. Well, not really. At least not this time.

Look, all I’m trying to do is to explain that the very foundation of what we know of as Christianity, what we call church these days, has gotten so far off center, at least in America if not in most of the global ‘West’, as to be completely unrecognizable within the modern framework of culture, society, fitting in and being accepted.

This, friends, is revolutionary. This is the conceptual framework for the change that is banging down the doors of almost every country on Earth. Every religious tradition agrees that we are in the end of an era, the cycle is winding down, and it is up to us what we create, and how we create it. I don’t know much, but what I do know is that we need a new framework for being, a new/old way of existing in harmony with each other, with all life, with the planet around us.

We need to return to God, through Jesus, the ultimate Love Story. LOVE. That is the only thing that matters. I know I’m still trying to figure it all out, but there can be no faith without doubt.  Otherwise it would be called knowing, or reason, and there is plenty of that in the world. I would even say that’s the main problem. Even in Especially in the Church.

Church.
The family.

My family.

Ruined

American Consumer Gospel

God loves me, but that does not help me pay my bills.
God loves me, but this does not help me find a partner.
God gives me grace and mercy, but this doesn’t help me to have friends and live my life in a physical sense..

I don’t understand this stuff, that people spout off like it’s their job. Like all they do is sit in their 1% home with their beautiful wife living a life they never had to struggle for, like they had a perfect childhood and never went against the grain and had trouble finding anything other than a minimum wage job because their alcoholic father was never around to teach them things like how to figure out what you’re good at and how to talk to women. They just sit and earn money in their sleep and come up with this shit that’s easy to say and even easier to sell because who doesn’t want to feel good even if it costs them their last dollar to do it, because what is money for anyway except to buy us the opportunity to forget, even for a minute, the fact that praising God doesn’t bring us any more physical relief other than the joy in our heart, which is a hard enough feeling to describe never mind to actually feel.
I do not respect these people that tell me how easy it is to live life when the life they have lived has never been anything other than easy.

God all I ask for is wisdom. All I ask is that you show me what it means to walk with You, and to make it in this stupid bold beautiful hard nosed life. Just give me the grace to live each day loving and serving the unlovable as you would do, and to shine Your light into the darkest of places.

Inspiration: https://skyejethani.com/who-are-the-de-churched-part-2/

American Consumer Gospel

4 Thoughts

  1. Someone I know recently posted this on social media, about their daughter: ‘xxxx is afraid to get on a plane because she is worried about being bombed at the airport.’
    I weep for this world.
    Dear god what kind of world are we creating, what kind of world are we raising children in?
    I know the only answer, the only possible thing that could save us, that could make us comfortable and protect us, is Jesus, and the love of God. But many won’t listen to that, won’t believe.
  2. ‘Unless I understand the Cross, I cannot understand why my commitment to what is right must take precedence over what I prefer. – Ravi ZachariasThe ONLY thing that matters is the work of justice and equality.
    I only want to do the work of social justice and economic justice and environmental justice (which is economic really, at the root of it), nothing else matters to me. I just don’t know how. Yet. I’m learning though, figuring it out, and God is showing me, teaching me, leading me. These next steps into YWAM will be instrumental to building this calling.
  3. ‘Work’ is a joke, meant only to keep us busy enough that we don’t see what’s really going on and take back our lives. We get paid just enough that we have to return the next day-after-day in order to justify our existence. I’m not bitter, just tired of poverty and the endless run around of capitalism.
  4. Coming up with 4 thoughts on random things is harder than I thought it would be!
4 Thoughts

All I do is…

It’s been a minute since I’ve been able to focus enough to take the time and sit and write anything. But I don’t really know why that is. I mean it’s like I do anything, really, besides give myself the impression of being busy, but it’s not with anything actually, other than thinking and stressing and worrying about what am I doing / how do I make money / how I don’t have the time to do anything productive / what value do I actually have to being to the world. I’m just trying to get paid, dollah dollah bill y’all.

So I change my mind everyday? So what?
So I can’t pick one thing to write about and keep it consistent? So what? So I really honestly want to do too much and wind up doing nothing? So what?
So I listen to other people too much? So what?

The key to success is consistency. Small tasks that lead up to big things. I hear this everywhere, my Facebook feed is pretty much filled up with so much of the same thing from everybody that I’ve stopped reading it. I’ve stopped believing that I can change because I haven’t, and I’ve been trying so damn hard.

Nahmean?

I know that I can help others, through my own struggles, but I honestly don’t know how to do that or what to help them with.

Part of me just doesn’t give a shit anymore. Part just says ‘fuck it I’m going to write about whatever the hell I want to write about. I’m going to spend my money as it comes to me on whatever I want to spend it on (of course I only want to spend it on constructive things these days, no more “empty pursuits”), I’m going to work wherever I want to work and do whatever I want to do, and travel and go wherever I want to go’. But I don’t think the world works like that. I mean after all that little question of work and money is what keeps me from doing all this anyway, right?

Or maybe it’s actually all in my mind. Maybe I’m the one that keeps me from doing all this, that I’m only following the shadow of my thoughts instead of actually living?

All I do is…

Branding

I just typo-ed that as I was writing to ‘brading’ and it seems to fit, I like it a lot, and just might go with it, y’kno TM it and stuff. So be ready for that on the viral circuit y’all…

Anywhoo I’m thinking again about this personal/professional branding stuff (always thinking about this I wish I could stop thinking about this even in my sleep I think about this). Believe me I want to write and write and word vomit and post uncontrollably until I get this worked out, I literally have to stop myself from posting every thought I have about this like 18 times a day, have to spare my readers the pain and heartache dontchakno.

But I’m getting closer, and this writing definitely helps, so thanks for bearing with me here.
So I’m currently in school (and boy how, I mean I’m in like one major school to get my degree finally and like 800 online classes that I call ‘professional development’ but really I think might just be an excuse to feel busy and pseudo-productive (plenty of info out there about this if you’re interested, maybe fodder for future blog explorations?hmm) and posted this in the FB group of one course I’m participating in, and it seems to nail it the best, my brand I mean, what I want to do with my life I mean, to tie up all these discordant loose ends I mean:

I have an AA and a background in enviro ed and wilderness programming, adventure leadership development, wilderness rescue and emergency medicine, that sort of thing. I’m currently an eco-preneur and lately been focusing more of my efforts on increasing impact and influencing the changing of business practices because I see this as a major cause of environmental degradation globally, especially in developing nations that are being pillaged for their resources as the indigenous cultures’ voice is silenced by the weight of the corporate elite. As such I’m currently pursuing my Bachelors degree in Business Administration, and planning to focus on socially and environmentally responsible business, transparent practices, the circular economy, and alternative business models such as worker owned cooperatives, environmental finance, industrial ecology, impact investing, and more if I can handle it lol. I also have a focus practice and interest in contemplative activism, and I’m exploring ecological spirituality and how to spark conversations in the Christian church (particularly here in the US) and how to unite different faiths in this important battle for the future and survival of our planet and species!

Also a question I am wrestling with recently, is how do you have true wilderness experiences in an increasingly urbanized world, especially when it is an often losing battle to get urban planners and government officials to appreciate the importance of nature and set aside these areas for protection against economic interests?

This is it, my past experience, and current situation. All that other stuff is really just tools, icing on the cake, extraneous info, the how of what I do.

So that’s the core of it, that is what I am going to work on refining, defining, and putting to work.

Branding