Thursday, October 21, 2010

Looking for fun and feeling guilty!


That's how I feel anyway. I don't even know where or how to start this blog entry. It takes a lot for me to even be here. I feel I should have caffeinated myself last night and stayed up all night to work, like I did the night before. I feel like I should be doing the impossible and working three times as hard without much sleep, if any. Now, because I didn't stay up, I feel overwhelmed thinking I'll never get anything done well with so much to do. Where is my God in all this? Why has He abandoned me to suffer like this?

"If you have so much to do, then why are you...?"

Writing in my blog? Good question. I must be here. At times like this, I must be careful not to give way to negative thoughts and energy. It can be very draining and make it even harder to get anything done. Writing helps bring clarity to how I will approach my day. Sometimes, just the title of a book can be thought-provoking to me. I still have such a book I used for a college course many years ago. I believe it was in English I. The book title is Thinking in Writing. That's what I'm doing here.

"If you are a Christian, then why aren't you...?"

Joyful? Great; more guilt! I'm reading a book with my wife each morning called Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper. In it, the author clearly states his case, based on biblical scripture, that suffering is the means by which we bring glory to Christ (and, as a Christian, that is our purpose). We should rejoice in our suffering (James 1:2-3). In contrast, Dietrich Bonhoeffer talks about 'cheap grace' in his book, The Cost of Discipleship, which is the grace of the gospel accepted superficially when the love of Christ should change a life radically. There is the avoidance of suffering and the seeking of the comforts of life in cheap grace.

Where is the radical change in my life? Actually, that's what I'd like to know. Sure, I'm suffering through a lot of stress brought about by financial difficulties. But, this is not the kind of suffering I imagine John Piper, or Jesus for that matter, means. (I think of persecution, not prosecution.) Rather, I feel like I'm being tested here. God is testing my faith. Where will I turn when things are tough? Undoubtedly, the devil relishes in the murky despair I feel over of my situation, and gladly pours on the boiling guilt to prompt me into panicky action, promptly neglecting to pray.

Writing is my opportunity to "resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). I am here, writing in my blog, to rediscover my faith and "be still and know that [He is] God" (Psalm 46:10). It is through my writing that I come back to what is important, listen to my heart, and feel inspired and, possibly, be inspirational. Writing is my radical change.

So, how do I feel now? Calmer, much calmer. Confident that God is with me through my suffering, no matter how unbiblical that suffering may seem. I did not write just now because I sought comfort, yet it was comforting. I see now that my suffering for Christ starts with merely confessing Him, and I can certainly rejoice in that. I can wipe my tears of self-pity and make it through another day - with joy in my heart, and praise and thanksgiving on my lips. You, dear reader, have a joyous and blessed day yourself, for "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24).

Special thanks to Milli for leaving such a timely comment in my previous entry.

PS - The title of this blog was taken from a line of a Simon & Garfunkel song (The 59th Street Bridge Song) except the original word was 'groovy' not 'guilty'.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Then & Now and Now & Then

Two years ago, I said I would follow my heart's passion and write more. (Write to Heal) I've written a few entries since then, but this hardly constitutes evidence of my heart overflowing with creativity.

I need to 'fess up. Most of my entries were lessons given, not lessons learned. In 'Write to Heal' I made myself vulnerable and it was appreciated. I was encouraged by the feedback. And I learned a lot.

I recently told my wife I wanted to write again. I needed that creative outlet. She said, and I paraphrase, "Well, you usually write about ideas and stuff. Why not write about you?" She told me the story of another relative who writes and concluded, "Know what I love about his writing? It's real. It's inspiring, but it's really him and things he goes through, good and bad."

I thought, "I could do that." (Actually, I already knew I could do this because I've done it!) I not only felt I was wasting my talent (if I may be so bold to admit to having any), but I was hiding behind it, too. Most of my blog entries here barely scratch the surface. Vulnerability? Nah! It's merely a flesh wound! ("What are you going to do? Bleed all over me?")

Be prepared to squirm. Be prepared to cry and sometimes sob. Be prepared for a genuine belly-laugh. Be prepared for bitter-sweet laughter. Be prepa... - I'm talking to myself, by the way - for open honesty. Be prepared to be scared. Be prepared to love and be loved. Be prepared to be hurt and feel lonely. Be prepared to know real joy and peace.

I want to - scratch that. I will write about my current faith and my childhood experiences; my struggles and fears; my many losses and stupid mistakes; my roles as family, friend, father, and husband; my pursuit of work and desire for play. In the end, I still have hope. In fact, I have more hope than when I started. But not in me, however, in Him. I'll tell you something about that soon, maybe next in my next blog entry. Until then, it's now and then.

Disclaimer - My intention is to inspire others to be genuine, vulnerable, and follow their hearts. In the process of being real, I may offend some. For this, I apologize in advance. Please forgive me.