Weapons of Mass Distraction: a Christian’s manifesto

It’s recently come to my attention (perhaps again?) that there is a tool the enemy uses that we seldom pay attention to but it could be one of his greatest methods of triumph, if not the greatest: getting us to waste energy trying to get things we already have.

I never noticed it before, partly b/c I was falling for it myself.  And also because it was subtle and kind of strange, something that is fairly alien to human deception b/c we so often deal in what is seen.  But there’s so much evidence for it that I’m forced to see the pattern.

The other day my mom was telling me about this sermon that she was listening to about the garden, and how the serpent was trying to tell the woman that they would become like God if they ate the fruit.  “But they already were like God,” my mom paraphrased.  “Huh,” I thought.  I thought it was a good point, even if it seemed a little weak.  I knew the nature of the devil was to lie but he didn’t seem like the kind to go for technicalities.  But what seems like just a technicality is really just a distraction.

And if you haven’t noticed, this world is full of distractions.  Mainly of the media persuasion.  We all know the media tries to create a void in order to sell you a product, they openly admit this.  And we give them a certain amount of respect for it.  We see a persuasive technique played out for our benefit and even though we can see the strings, if we end up wanting that thing there’s a little part of even the smartest of us that goes: “well played sir.  fetch me my credit card.”

I’ll save the conspiracy theory about that whole system another day.  But the point is, if this kingdom belongs to the prince of this world, it would make sense that the highest officers of this kingdom would be so b/c  they prescribe closest to its methods.  But if you are a Christian, you are of another kingdom, yet the same holds true.  Only problem is, we’re taught to believe that we have to contend for this kingdom that we’re already a part of.

I listen to this guy Jon Crowder a lot.  Many people take issue with his theology, but I like him b/c he’s always got a Word that’s fresh and stimulates the mind renewal process.  And as I was watching him talk about unity the other day I thought, “Where have I heard this before?”  Essentially he was talking about how we should stop contending for unity in the body of Christ b/c we already have it.  I realized that a lot of his messages are on this theme of “stop asking God for what you already have.”  Stop asking God for faith, for a spirit of love, for the Holy Spirit.  You already have those things.  Know that you have them.  Then use them.  “The man’s right,” I would think.  The Word says we already have access to this b/c of Christ.  Let’s think on this everyday and see if it doesn’t change how we behave.  And if it works, we should then find out where we got this notion of working hard for something we already have, and beat that person (kidding).

Then, I was watching Bill Johnson.  Say what you want about Bill Johnson but you can’t say he isn’t doing his thing.  He preaches it, practices it, then teaches others to do the same.  And he was talking about the garden as well, only this time he talked about the serpent’s first statement:  “Did God really say?”  And he talked about how the enemy gets us to question the validity and/or understanding of what God says.  He then went on to twist God’s statement but the point was, the seed of doubt is planted that you don’t have all the information.

Here’s God: “Hi.  You are like Me.  Here’s the information you need.”

Here’s the devil:  “That’s not all the information.  You aren’t like Him.”

The strange thing about those two statements, just looking at them they both are pretty compelling.  Both declaring a way of things.  And it is tempting to want all the information, even if it isn’t relevant, who knows where that stems from.  I want to engage the latter statement.  I want to know why someone would say that so I can use my knowledge to combat it.  If I cannot combat it, then I must entertain it.  It’s the Western way.  Surely the devil knows that, and he uses it.  But as I get older I’m getting to the point where the former statement is enough and has proven to be true more and more, and I lose interest in the latter statement, which tends to mislead me and waste my time.

Another thing Bill Johnson brought up was the temptation of Jesus and how Satan opened with, “If you’re the son of God…”  I’ll get to the profundity of all that in a minute, the point is that God had just said a chapter before, in front of a buncha people, “Ya’ll, here go my son.  Right here, there he is.  I’m pleased with him, he’s doin’ good.”  Even put a compliment on it.  And here comes the devil, just putting a spin on something that’s already been said, b/c he can’t come up with any new statements, “If you are…”

If I am?  I am.  What are we talking about?  God himself told me that I am.  In front of witnesses.  Not even like… I mean this is crazy.  It would be one thing if God said, “You are the son of so-and-so,” and he had to take His word on that.  But God says, “You’re my son.”  I mean… there’s no higher verifiable source than God on who His own son is.  But the devil still goes for it.  And you know what?  It almost kinda works, obviously, b/c here’s Jesus undergoing one of the craziest spiritual battles of his life, and what’s the root of it?  His identity.

So, okay #1: Wait a minute, are you serious?!?!  Did he like, not know who he was????  Come on!!!

And  #2: Sound familiar?

So with my mom and Jon and Bill all swirling about the same issue without any prompting I had to go, “okay… this is real.”  And I started to think about the implications of this type of lie.  We’re dealing with invisible things so I can see this getting dicey.  If the enemy can get me chasing and questioning something that I already have… then a couple things can happen.  I can go to God for something I already have, then think He isn’t giving it to me, then think “well, He must have a reason for not giving this to me,” then go around thinking that God doesn’t answer all prayers but you never know which ones but you gotta trust Him, then go telling other people that.

The other thing that can happen is I start thinking I gotta do something to get it.  So I’m trying harder and harder to get something [that I already have], feeling like I’m just not there yet b/c I don’t see it.  Then I look around at other people and I start comparing myself.  “Well they’re not doing as much as me.”  Then I tell other people that they’ve got to do better if they want this thing [that they already have], then I can look at people not doing “good” or doing “bad” and draw conclusions i.e. judge them.

I could undermine the work of the cross.  If Jesus paid the debt, the whole debt, of everyone who’s ever been, and we really believed that, what would happen?  Are we ready to live in a world where we believed that?  Do we even know what that would look like?  Do we know how many deceptions and lies, great and small that we’ve been told over the years from this or that, get in the way of that reality and have to be uprooted?  Could we us and our doctrines out of the way and let God do His job?  Are we ready to offer freedom with no strings?  Have we ever even been taught such a thing?  But it makes sense, if the gospel means “good news.”  And “eternal life through Christ” sounds more like good news than “eternal life with stipulations.”  I mean duh, right?  That’s what everyone expects.  That’s just like, “regular news.”

So my point is, people going around thinking they don’t have what they already have is not only a prevalent deception, it is a primary, fundamental one.  Meaning, you ought to always stop and question this type of thinking.  Just today I was on YouTube watching this forum for black men and women in relationships, and this guy, bless his heart, got up and eventually said something like, “we as men want more power, more strength, more influence…”  Now we could argue about his priorities all day, but when I heard that I just wanted to scream [Negro] YOU ALREADY HAVE THAT!!!  ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW WITH THIS!!!

But you know what?  If you go around deceived, thinking you don’t have that, then how are you going to behave?  Not well.  And you might be thinking– supposing you understand exactly what I’m saying with all this–  “If this is happening why doesn’t God tell us?”

That’s the thing.  He is.  He had to tell me three separate times through unrelated, unbiased sources before I would even see it.  Before that He would tell me all the time.  And guess what?  I didn’t believe Him.  Because I couldn’t see past the deception.  If I complained about me and how deficient I was He would tell me, plainly, “You’re fine.  You have everything you need already.”  Case closed, right?  But I would either think He was doing that rose (blood?) -colored Jesus glasses thing where He just thinks I’m great no matter what, or I’d think it was some hallucination induced by my inner desire to live complacent without challenges, or some theosophist leaning that seeped through my brain after too much Wizard of Oz or something.

Thing is, He wouldn’t stop there.  If He knew I wouldn’t trust His voice He’d get me to open up the scripture to Corinthians or something, and have Paul say the same thing He just said.  And that would sorta work, but it would just get me praying to Him to get more of this stuff that I already got!!!!  

The deception was like a web over my eyes.  I wasn’t completely useless while it was there, but it was hindering me.  Didn’t help that everywhere I turned were people living in the same deception, reinforcing it.

So this blog is an entreaty to the Christian:  please question this idea of trying to plead for, earn, or even claim, that which you already have.  Notice how I’m not even saying ENTITLED TO.  You are not “entitled to” life and life more abundant, YOU HAVE IT.  I promise you, you do.  But a great deception can diminish even the most tangible miracle.  How much more the invisible kind?  Keep watch over what has your attention.  “I don’t have” is the silent, swollen chant of this heavy, insatiable country.  How much of it is true, and how much is it a spell?  If we, who have the power of heaven, can consciously remove ourselves from the clutches of this seduction, it could be our consecration.  Faith in the truth, in what God has sent forth through His Word, an agent of eternal, unlimited power and life.  It might be the only thing separating us from true holiness.

I’m trying to try.

The following day after the last post I heard a brilliant sermon preached by the magnanimous Timothy Keller called Praying our Fears.  In it, he outlined the subtle difference between fear and anxiety, citing a proper psychologist on the matter of whom I cannot think of the name.  He used the illustration that fear, its healthy form, is that thing that moves you out of the way of a moving car and to safety.  Anxiety is what you have left after that experience.  Anxiety.  I think that’s what I was getting at in my last posting.  He gave four practical steps, only three of which I can remember.  At the time I was overjoyed, I felt it was an immediate answer to a prayer.  I still feel that way.  But it’s not changing my life’s circumstances, and aside from doing a lot of thoughtless things, there’s really nothing that can.

I am plagued with a lot of anxiety.  I do remember the last step he gave, which was “remember the people.”  Basically find something outside of yourself to focus on.  Which I would totally do if I could remember what the step was RIGHT before that one, which I can’t.  I try to focus on other people, sometimes I think I really am focused on them.  But it ends up being sort of clinical and kind of “oh well.”  Because the way I see it, people are a powerful force.  It’s damn near impossible to control or predict a person.  Not that I think that’s the only thing one can do with people, I just mean it’s difficult to set your intentions to people and also maintain happiness.  Especially me, who has a tendency to just get dragged around once a new person enters my life.  It’s a gamble, to say the least.  I’m not happy now, and everything about life suggests that having people in it is not only ideal but intended.  But it’s the uncomfortable stuff, stuff that I am in no way used to (e.g. the cornucopia of ways there are to get hurt) that seem to outweigh the whole people in your life thing.  I get that everyone is beautiful and all that.  No one understands that more than I .  But we’re also all human.  Filthy, flawed, extreme, evil, blind humans.  Having people in your life still beats out root canals and all that, and I’ve had some success in finding people I like that also like me.  But to me, meeting people is about as tenuous as finding a job.  Sometimes it’s hard, sometimes it’s easy, but you don’t succeed by doing just anything.  This is not really the point, mind you.  I don’t need to meet new people.  I’ve got plenty of people to focus on already.

Yesterday I was sitting at my computer listening to a bunch of teenagers being teenagers, and I had the fleeting thought that I should say something to engage the entire room.  The thought was dutifully rejected.  I had it in me to do, but I didn’t do it.  A lot of my discontent comes from this trope that I have about myself, which is that I don’t do anything.  People try to tell me, “oh pish posh” but that doesn’t help, nor does it change the fact that aside from a few things, I literally don’t, and haven’t done, anything.  It bothers me.  I go around thinking, “what should you do today?”  “What have you done today?”  “Well you’ve got to do something today.”  When I do something, anything, I’m like, ready to throw a party for myself.  For awhile I thought I was maybe being too critical of myself, which may be true.  But the thought struck me that I don’t do anything because I don’t try.  I don’t try and I don’t think to try.  I tried to think back to a time where I wasn’t afraid to try, and I don’t think there was one.  It was my natural disposition, made worse by various life incidents.  I could probably lay out to you all the reasons why I don’t try:

#1  Something…could…happen.

Sounds harmless enough.  But it’s actually quite frightening.  In movies, on tv, the characters try, and it usually turns out well.   Even if it turns out disasterous, there’s usually some point to it that you can readily see, because it’s not real life.  Life hasn’t been written by anyone, and life is far more complex than any room of overpaid writers.  You don’t know WHAT is going to happen.  People are crazy, and they don’t have any clue that they need to go easy on you b/c it’s your first attempt at something and if it doesn’t go well you may never try again.   I get a picture in my mind of when, like you know when you’re playing a video game, and you have to defeat this big scary monster thing, or a “boss.”  In some games, nothing will happen as long as you don’t start shooting at them, you both just stand there.  But as soon as you start attacking, that thing starts doing all this crazy unpredictable shit, and it could spur you to do something brilliant, or it could just kill you immediately and you were stupid to think you had a chance.  That’s what I’m talking about.

#2:  NOTHING could happen.

My biggest fear?  Not the worst thing, but the non-thing.  What if I do something, and NOTHING happens?  It literally does nothing?  And then I have to try to convince myself that it was some self-augmenting thing that would change me somehow.

#3: What happens after you try?  MORE TRYING.

It doesn’t just end after the one thing you try.  One try will put you on this endless path of having to try more new things. It’s basically like deciding that you’re going to run a marathon and then suddenly being in it.

#4:  It hurts

I can’t tell you how taxing it is at this point to try, especially now.  I’m thinking back on all the times in the past that I have tried to try, and I gave up because… it just feels terrible.  It’s so blindingly unpleasant, it’s almost impossible to see past it to whatever reward could be awaiting you on the other side.  I convinced myself that anything that is that harsh and elaborate couldn’t possibly be real, because no other experience on earth is really like that for me.  There’s no immediate perk, only the promise of a perk, and it just doesn’t add up for me.  I’m usually all about the long run but with trying, I need something NOW.  Right now.  Perhaps if I had a source of undying support or something it would be easier.  Maybe I should’ve spent more time with my dad, or maybe I didn’t eat the right vegetables, I don’t know.  What’s done is done.

You could say that what I’m describing is the same situation everyone faces.  Maybe that’s true.  I don’t think it is, because I’ve long observed people and have found little evidence for this.  Even if it was, that doesn’t help me.  Either I’m a special case, or a wuss.  Neither is ideal.  It’s likely the latter.  I’ve been told this in one way or another for a good portion of life.  I hated it, but what could I do to prove them wrong?  Certainly not write this blog.  I’ve seriously told God that I was seriously considering just phoning the rest of this thing in from here on out.  I mean I get life, I get it.  And it’s great.  It’s nice for all that it accomplishes but I really just can’t do most of it.  The trying thing is just…I mean it could be the source of all my misery, but my misery is still beating it out by a fairly notable margin.  Everything I’ve ever done or accomplished in life was because it was easy for me, beneficial, a combination, or I was just ignorant at the time that it was something that I would never want to do.  But trying to reach the heights I see other people reaching, as inspiring as it is, it would just take so many consecutive miracles, and I do believe in miracles, I have seen miracles.  But I’ve no reason to expect it.  I can’t even get perfectly reasonable and feasible things to happen for me.

With all this said, I’m still going to try to try.  I just wanted you to get a feel for just how goddamn hard it is.

 

I’m trying to be new.

A good friend of mine who also writes for the blog Black Girls Like Us refers to the last ten years of her life as “the vault.”  The stuff in the vault doesn’t get brought up, or if it does, you’re not allowed to feel any kind of way about it.  It’s like evidence inadmissible in court.  Yeah, it’s there, but it can’t be used against you.  I don’t know if both good and bad are in the vault, mostly bad I assume, but the metaphor is a powerful one.  It’s really stuck in my mind.  What are vaults?  Visually they’re pretty arresting.  Thick titanium or some other intimidating alloy, complicated locks, frighteningly secure, made to hold much more than that of a safe, and far more inconvenient to go digging around in.  You can almost forget about what’s in the vault once it’s in there, and even why you put it there.  It frees up your brain to think of other things.

I do not have a vault.  I carry anything I’ve ever said or done good or bad, what other people did about it or felt about it, with me everywhere all the time.  You might say I’m a hoarder.  Why?  The same reason why people hoard in the natural– you never know when you might need it.

I might need that scenario that happened when I was 16 because if or when it happens again, I can compare the two incidents and maybe get further to the reasons why I do what I do, so I can learn and thus grow.

I’m obsessed with self-improvement.  I was thinking today that a good bit of my life is devoted to it.  Immediately after that I was trying to think of ways to remedy that.  If there’s a way to stop doing it I haven’t found it.  But I’m thinking about this vault.  And I’m thinking, what would it be like to put everything in a vault and just… Because it’s not like my techniques have really helped me.  I don’t know that any self-imposed behavior has actually helped me.  The things that have helped me have almost always been external.

This whole job thing that happened, for instance.  It still sucks.  But I’m going to be fine.  Mostly because I’ve been through similar things before, and I just have hope.  That has almost nothing to do with my self-improvement system.  The frustration of each circumstance was because I didn’t have control over anything.

Forget a vault, I think it’s time to take all this stuff to the dump.  I don’t think I need it at all.  I think perhaps at some point, someone said, “If you don’t understand your past, you’re doomed to repeat it,” and I took it and ran with it.  Context is one of my strengths, after all.  I’m also strategic.  I think I’ve tried to use my strengths on myself too much.  Maybe any is too much.  In fact, it might be that I think that I’m only entitled to try my strengths out on myself.  People give you funny looks and get all out of shape when you try your human stuff out on them.  They like when you can make them laugh or be otherwise moved, do something for them, and…I don’t know.  Answer their questions or something.  Actually, they don’t always like the last one.  So I try these things on myself to try an help myself.  After all I know me, I understand me well enough, I know where I’m coming from.

A lot of it’s fear.  Fear fear fear.  Fear is stupid, in theory.  Fear in the moment, however, is a door that’s always open, a light that’s always on, an option that is always…ALWAYS available to you.  You can always run away, always say nothing, always lie, always do the easy thing.  It’s a choice that you know will always yield, often immediately.  Like everything else, there are consequences to fear, but they are often far less complex and/or abrasive for you.  Judge me if you want but I, for one, like that.  Fear might be the only thing that gives me that.  Fear is addictive.  Or at least… a force of habit.  It’s sad really.  Because fear was once my worst enemy.  And now it is an ally of sorts.  Fear is really desperate for me and longs for me.  Fear has been after me.  I don’t know why.  Seriously fear, just like, let it go.  It’s so tiring.  But I don’t know just what is responsible for that.

I’m trying to be new.  I was thinking about the fact that a lot of my interaction is just me mimicking other people.  I’m not actually interacting with you necessarily, just recreating a scenario that I saw or was once in, one that I think you would understand and/or appreciate.  It’s me offering something that is perhaps familiar, but is not actually me.  Sometimes I am actually myself and there’s a noticeable difference.  If I were to make a vault, this would all have to go in it.  This whole “self vs. semblance of self” thing.  A couple things have happened lately that made me think of how I’ve been shaped through life and I’m an unsure person.  I’m unsure of myself.  It’s a permanent place that I’ve made to make things easier.  If your personality is strong enough, you could probably get me to tell you that the sky was some other color, either because I’d just concede or I’d be partially convinced.  I generally don’t like it because I don’t think it’s a good thing.  And I don’t think it’s a good thing because I feel like one of those paper table cloths at Macaroni Grill.  Everyone just draws on me, just draws whatever, frivolous or not.  And I offer them a blank spot on me because I feel like I can spare it.  And maybe I can, maybe I can do that forever.  But then I see that other people are drawing on themselves.  And then I’m angry.  It’s not fair that you get to define both yourself and me.  People don’t see it, they don’t see it a privilege to get to draw on themselves, nor a they feel like it’s not okay to draw on someone else.  I see all these other people with fully formed personalities and traits and identity, and I think “I want that but I was denied that.  I’ve got all these other people’s graffiti on me and I don’t feel comfortable.  I’m showing you me, telling you about me, but I’m just showing all the things other people have written.  Is that me?  I don’t think it’s me.”     Unless everyone else is right about me.  But should I be putting my faith in other people?  If I told you what I’m really like you would laugh.  I would laugh.  Because it contradicts what’s already on me.  It’s too late for new graffiti.  It’s been years and the graffiti has already made a pattern.

Could I really be new?  A brand new tablecloth for me and only me to write on?  Or maybe not even me, not anybody to write on?  No evidence for me to consider, really a new person?  A clean slate?  My God.  My God that would be… beyond anything I could ever think to ask for.

Stuck on Repeat

There are so many things wrong with me right now.  Where to begin?

It all started with this stupid job that I saw last week.

I’ve been looking for a job.  The one that I was counting on fell through, so I need something by the end of the month.  I was looking for something part time, but if I found something really good full time, I wasn’t about to turn it down.

I don’t really want to go into the back story of why the job I found was like beyond any dream of amazingness, let’s just say that it was.  I told God I really wanted the job.  I understood that I could not get it, but I also understood that if I didn’t, it would be a really difficult thing for me, though I didn’t know how.  I didn’t want to think about that at the moment, I just wanted to focus on getting it.

So anyway, I applied.  I tried to use some networking skills that I felt I had acquired, I still don’t know if they affected anything.  All I know is, that when I went to look up the job on Tuesday, it had been removed.

Could it be that they took it down because they had enough applicants?  Sure.  Could they still be deliberating this decision?  Possibly.  Could it not be the great job I’m thinking it is?  Yeah.  But the reality is more than likely that the position has been filled and, more than likely, here’s another desire of mine that is absolutely no match for the reality that life IS, and that you are utterly powerless against the numberless decisions, possibilities, likelihoods, and destinies that make up life.

It’s not a reality that I want right now, or should I say, one that I want to go back to.  Before I was at Belmont, before I was working, I was not.  I was emphatically devoid of any action words.  That was two years ago.  Now, I’m out of school again, out of a job again.  Not the only one, but a crucial one.  The uncertainties of life out to crush me again.  Will I survive?  Yeah.  But what’s that about?  What makes my odds for success so dismal?  Is it me?  Don’t think I hadn’t thought about that.  And of that, it could be many factors: my inability to follow through with anything, my virtual invisibility, my abhorrence for my own natural talents, my complete and utter lack of proper self-evaluation, I’d just need one of these to explain it.  That is, if life is completely the result of one person’s actions.

But it isn’t true.  It just isn’t.  Some actions bring about results, and others just don’t, and it’s not up to you.  If it were, I’d be reaping a lot more, both good and bad.  Forget that I don’t understand any of it, the fact of the matter is, I really didn’t need that thing to happen, because it took all of the elasticity out of my will to dive into this new year.  I should never have seen that job, I knew something like this would happen.  The level of discontent that I have right now is immeasurable.  You probably don’t understand, but God knows me.  He knows me.  But He still made the decision He made.  And I know His infiniteness makes it futile to argue but that only adds to the overall “over it” feeling I have.  I’ve got to stop trying, I just can’t try anymore.  I was really optimistic when I didn’t think there was something that I wanted out there.  I thought, “you’re going to hate it all, so you might as well find something that you’ll like for awhile, until you don’t anymore.  And just do that about 100 more times and then you can die.  And maybe you’ll learn some things.”

It’s stupid for me to keep trying to do this.  Nothing works.  Nothing has worked.  Why would I keep trying to do something that doesn’t work?  People need a sense of accomplishment, a sense that it matters what they do in the world.  A lot of the people I know that are happy have this.  Some have had it so much they think they can actually tell you what is wrong with your life based on the affirmation life has given them.  Well, let me tell you what life has told me over the past seven years.  That my efforts, are so tiny, so insignificant, that they can barely make a dent in the universe, let alone cause it to actually stop and respond to me, and tell me why what I did couldn’t have worked.  It’s also telling me that there’s some magical component about being in school that makes it ideal.  Truthfully I don’t know what it is.  I thought it had something to do with the sharing of ideas or something… I think it just has something to do with the fact that I paid out the ass for it, or that it has no actual real world equivalent that matters to anyone else.  But it worked.  I had this, like a blanket, for two years.  Now that it’s gone, I don’t know which life was the reality.  Do I have the capacity for success or not?

There’s something fundamentally wrong with the way I look at things, and I know that.  I know that for every person in the world, there is another way to see it.  Would it help me?  That’s the assumption.  Problem is, no one seems to be able to tell you a better way to do something without tearing at your own psyche first, without “correcting” you first.  And the 1/6billionth percent more knowledge I would get from such an encounter just doesn’t seem worth it to me anymore.  There was a time that I believed so strongly in diverse opinions that I would listen to practically everyone, which I’m sure was just an extreme that ended up doing more harm than good.  But again, too much effort for me to correct right now.  I also know there’s a cornucopia of invisible things going on, and part of this is a last ditch effort to be proven wrong.  I don’t like to make an ass of myself, I don’t like to go back and apologize for some faulty idea.  Maybe if I go off the deep end about it, none of it will be true.  I’m willing to have every person shake their head at me in the end, even laugh, if it means that my life can be somehow different than it is.  But the fact is, I’m tired of dreaming, tired of hoping, I’m officially down for the count.  Maybe life will make something of me, maybe it won’t.  But it certainly won’t be at the hand of my own efforts, because I am now embarrassed to the core to continue believing in anything that I can do.  It was a fear that I thought I overcame, that has now become a truth that I fruitlessly tried to ignore.  Or perhaps a prophecy.  Maybe even a curse.  The key is now to try and not self-destruct.  Apathy is helping a lot with that.  It’s not ideal, probably not even healthy, but it’ll have to do for now.

On a side note:  It’s come to my attention that I think much much further ahead than most people.  I unfortunately have no way of conveying this to anyone.  I always suspected that but now I know.  It doesn’t help me, or change anything, and I can’t make any money with it, and ironically it doesn’t make me any smarter.  Just early.  Painfully early.  And thus often misunderstood.  But oh well.  As far as I’m concerned it’s just another random puzzle piece in my humiliatingly insufficient bag of resources.  No offense God.  Although, I have to say…what the fuck, Man?

A real live blog post

hello.

Oh my gaaash.  It’s been a long time.  I’m not sure if I even remember how to do this.

Okay, soo…2011.  Crazy, right?

I suppose a lot’s been going on.  Or a few things have culminated into major goings on.  I don’t even know where we last left off.  I think school was starting.  Hold on, let me look.

Okay, so it looks like I made a few posts here and there but nothing particularly introspective.  I don’t know how much I have in the way of introspection now, but I feel a muscle warming up that I haven’t used in awhile and…it kind of feels good.  This is becoming strangely sexual.

Anyways, it’s been a long time so let’s hit the highlights.  I just graduated from the Master’s program at Belmont.  I am now a master of arts.  I felt like I was before this happened but the piece of paper makes it official in the eyes of my school and country.  The one thing that makes me feel about a hundred times more accomplished than having a degree is having completed a 100+ page creative thesis from an idea that I got in the middle of the night a few years ago.  It’s not even the size of a novel, but it’s certainly the longest project I’ve ever worked on, the most ambitious, and now I know that I can actually write a novel.  If I wanted to.

So now, it’s a new year again, I’m a new graduate again, out from under the wings of an institution, trying not to get antsy and anxiety ridden, paralyzed at the thought of making the same mistakes (or worse) as the last time I graduated.  So far I’m off to a good start, practically.  I’ve got a place to live, I’ve got job(s) to sustain me (though that was mostly God’s doing– which leads me to the thought that all else must’ve been His doing also), but I still feel miles away from the thing I want to do and the person I want to be [known as].  I try to comfort myself with thoughts like, “there is no ONE THING,” and “you have your entire life to figure this out.”  But being a stickler for good foundations, I want to be doing it right all the time, and the best indication of things done right is related things happening.  And so far, “nothing” has happened.

Well, maybe a few things.

Tonight I’m going to a meeting, where a local neighborhood newsletter wants me to do a restaurant review for their next issue.  It ain’t Rolling Stone but it’s something.  And it was a completely organic request that I didn’t have to go and seek out, which is what intrigues me about it.  Everything about my life has seemed like groping and grasping.

Here’s something else a little random: I’ve started working out.  Why yes I have “started” working out before, how did you know?  But this time is considerably different because this time, I’m sticking to it.  Yes, it’s only been two weeks, BUT.  Not only can I see results already, but I LOVE the program.  No more boring treadmill, no more fruitless crunches, no more clueless yoga and feeble attempts to get strong, this is the REAL…DEAL.  Props goes to Christina who signed me up to be annoying, not knowing that I was secretly resolving to get healthy once and for all this year.  I had no idea how to do it of course.  My plan was to perhaps join the YMCA and just work my ass off.  “20 minutes isn’t enough,” I thought.  “Not 30 minutes.  I need a full hour.  I need to push it.”  Yeah.  Thank God for Jesus (and Christina) because she had a place called Curves call me and offer me 30 days free.  I thought, “hey isn’t that for fat people?” (no offense, that’s what my head said) but it’s specially formulated for all women, since we’ve got special needs.  And without going into complete commercial mode it’s everything I’ve ever wanted.  It’s cardio, but it’s also strength training, it’s easy, it’s 30 minutes a day at least 3 days a week and, thank the LORD, it isn’t…BORING.  It’s impossible to be bored because you are CONSTANTLY moving and doing different things, working out your ENTIRE BODY.  I didn’t plan to go on this long about this work out program but it’s clearly blowing my mind.

There’s other things I could talk to you about.  But let’s not overload you on poorly placed Cliff’s Notes on my life.  There’s a new development that I’d like to talk more about but…I feel like I should wait.  And by wait I mean come back tomorrow.

Tomorrow?  So I guess this means…I’m back blogging again?  I have to say, I wasn’t expecting to feel so…good.  After a year or so of writing for a purpose it feels good to just let the diarrhea flow.  I regret that I took it for granted.  Lately I’ve tried to take writing seriously as a career.  I’ve noticed every few years I do this, because I know it is the responsible thing to do.  I don’t know that l love or even like to write, but I’m so good, and it comes so dang easy (now that I’m a master I can say this).  The maximizer in me keeps saying, “try it again, try it again,” because I feel like I’m disappointing heaven every moment I choose not to write.  I’m not one of those people who get writer’s block, who don’t have any ideas.  I credit laziness but I know it’s something else that seizes my motivation, some fear of a kind.  It’s too much expectation for one person probably.  “You have a gift,” I say to myself.  “You owe it to the world to say what you have to say.”  Maybe.  But if it’s true of everyone, I need to at least pay everyone the same attention that I do myself, which I can’t do when I’m admonishing myself for laying in pj’s watching Hulu.  “Another minute wasted.  Another hour you’ll never have.”  That’s no way to live, is it?  Waiting for the other shoe to drop, the day I’m breaking down in sobs because I want to write all day but I don’t have the time, the faculties, or whatever else may happen to me.  I’m just flat out getting it wrong.  And even though I know it, it’s a biatch to correct.

So anyways, that’s a bit on where we’re at currently.  Maybe later we can talk a little about where we’ve been.

November 16, 2008

stuff

I was thinkin’ about how everyone calls me a librarian but library science is kind of a big deal to the real librarians at work, and I’m starting understand why because you have to know how to search for things. The challenge is that there’s sooo much information on eeeeeverything. And basically you have to be a human google. And when someone says “I need a book on elephants” you think “piece o’ cake” until you type in “elephants” and the entire system is like, frozen and crashing because your search wasn’t specific enough. What about elephants? Breeding? Poaching? The developmental stage of? Diet? African? Asian? Fiction? Cartoons? Audio books? Once you realize that challenge, then you face the other, the biggest, which I think would surprise you: people, flat out, do not know how to ask for things.

Now, when someone says, “I need a book on elephants” and you say, “okay, what about elephants,” they say: “I don’t know, you know, just like, elephants.” So then you try and stimulate the process of need by using the above list of questioning: “do you want…the geography, or the life cycle of, or…” and then they say: “yeah.”

okay.

And then when it takes five minutes they say, “you know, if it’s that hard to find then don’t worry about it.” And I want to scream at them, “no you dumbass, it would only take like three seconds if you even had the capacity to articulate what it is you want.” It’s the fucking…library. The culmination of millions of people’s thoughts, aspirations, endeavors, inclinations, and conclusions ever found since the beginning of time, on a sea of information so vast you could never in your life make it through a tenth of it. But everyone does the safe, human and therefore backwards thing which is, “if I don’t say what I really want and keep it broad and vague, I’m more likely to get something.” When in reality, that’s just the opposite.

Then I thought, if that’s the case with humans, how much more is it with God.

November 3, 2008

Everybody hurts

Every couple months or so it’s like God gives me a theme. In life. Where He gives me a little truth to chew on, then that theme emerges in the things around me—church, work, literature, tv, friends—in a fitting bout of synchronicity. Then, as needed, I relay whatever I’ve been learning. And then the theme changes. It’s really like taking a college class with Jesus. The chapter’s introduced, you do a few practice exercises, you take the test, you move on to the next chapter. A few months ago the theme was, “no one know anything.” The new theme is “everybody’s in pain.”

Ya’ll…everybody is in pain! Like, everybody! As in, there is no one on this Earth that is not in pain. Past pain, present pain, and people’s actions are dictated by this pain. The weird thing is, no one readily acknowledges this pain. Men tend to be at a double disadvantage because not only do they deny this pain to others, they’re often taught through a series of societal set-ups to deny this pain to themselves. No wonder they make up the majority of violent offenders, no wonder they seem beyond help, in a cyclical nightmare. The rationalizations for ignoring this pain are very common, far-reaching, and apparently convincing. I can’t speak for other cultures but in America, this is a problem because it’s not good to “complain.” We say, “That was a long time ago, there’s no point in bringing it up now,” “it would hurt all these other people if they knew,” or “it’s just not that important.” The very fact that everybody’s in pain is probably the most often used rationalization. Ergo the things that aren’t rare are not worth mentioning. But the focus of latest theme seems to be that because this is a commonality among all people, it demands our attention.

We’re all in pain because we’ve all been traumatized. We’ve all been traumatized because we’re all in the company of imperfect people. And imperfect people, let alone imperfect people in pain, make mistakes. Maybe you were robbed of confidence or trust or faith or peace in a simple way, a complex way, a fleeting way, an unspeakable way. And this hurt you because somehow you knew the proper way to be, and you knew that by being on the other side of this way you were in pain. And you knew this because you’re a child of God, and this episode that ripped at His divinity in you is what we call “trauma.”

The other part of this theme of everybody in pain is that this pain perpetuates through us. Meaning, if the pain is not dealt with, whatever you’ve been hurt by, you will inflict the same pain on someone else. Period. No exceptions. And it will keep going and going down the line of your household until someone deals with it. It’s a tough, bleak piece of news. And you may think, whatever unspeakable thing that happened to you, you wouldn’t ever inflict on someone else, but you will. It doesn’t matter the medium, it’s the message. If the message was, “you’re nothing,” then that message will continue, in whatever form, unless you stop it.

The amazing thing is that, we deny the pain so long, bury it so deep, or medicate it so effectively. We’re all so good at this that it seems like we’re not in pain. To the point we even forget. But when we remember the pain, we look around at everyone doing the same thing and we think, “they’re not in pain like me.” Lol! Like no one else could know the pain that we know. So then we convince ourselves that the pain is rare, not common, thus making us a freak and so we have to hide this information. WTF!! Whether it’s human nature or sinful nature or evil interference, the point is we have suffered the consequences of dismissing such a huge part of our reality.

Pain is the last frontier. If you’ve got the money, the free time, and the solitude, then you can go to a professional and get your pain sorted out. It’s not seen as fundamental like food or shelter, or in America, employment. But the reality is, this is the soul we’re talking about. And the soul, trumps, the body. Every time. Yeah homelessness is bad, poverty’s bad, but I bet those people wouldn’t need half the money we threw at them if someone addressed their hurt, if someone cared how they were. Some people’s whole reason for success is so someone will care how they are—ironically no matter who they hurt in the process. Or at least, that’s what they’ve deduced in life. As a remedy to their own pain.

When we deny that pain is part of reality, we put unrealistic expectations on life. We try to find the pain-free place with the pain-free people and put our children in pain-free schools and elect pain-free officials. Then we write pain-free history about the whole thing…until someone finds the inevitable evidence that everyone’s freaking life was wrought with pain. Ooh, I’m so surprised. Then the people openly in pain not only become freaks, they become something other than human; because if pain is not part of reality, then people in perpetual open states of pain are unreal. The murderers, users, deceivers, abusers, molesters, addicts, the unbalanced, the out of control, to most of us these people are life’s hazards to avoid like neon orange cones in the road. They’re people to avoid being around, turning into, marrying, having children by, getting “stuck” with. It’s something that happens to a friend, a neighbor, a not-so-swift family member, and our advice is always the same, “get the hell, out.” We don’t know how they got that way and we don’t care. As if they’re leprechauns or gremlins from some mythical storyline that has pain in it, when you know full well that yours in a pain-free life. They seem like villains, the “work of the devil,” when in reality they’re most likely just other people in pain, and maybe the only difference between you and them is that their pain doesn’t sit as easily with them as it does with you. We visit the murderer on death row and marvel at his humanity. We don’t get it, because we’ve blinded ourselves. We didn’t want to feel pain and so now we don’t– ours or anyone else’s.

And so, the good news is actually the bad news: if you really want to be successful in this life, the way God defines success, you’re gonna have to feel the pain. I’m sorry to have to tell you that. You have to feel the pain, address it. Then correct it with the information that you now know and have the courage to utter. I recently heard a very wise observer say that we gain courage through—what else—encouragement. Implying that you probably won’t be doing this pain thing alone. In fact, it’s easier to help people with their pain when you’ve gone through something yourself. When you’ve never experienced a weighty kind of pain it’s hard to drop anchor and help someone else, and everything inside of you wants to run away. So it’s entirely a possibility that God orchestrates pain for us to be of help to each other, which would mean that even our pain isn’t about us. So that’s it. Yaaay! So if you’re in pain (and you know that you are) I would be up to helping you.