Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"I hate it!....but I don't."-Adam Velez

I enjoy soap operas. I enjoy the over the top acting, the hyperbolic characterizations, and even the sudden 'resurrection of lost twin' plot twists. Now I don't watch soap operas religiously; in fact, I really only watch them for a few minutes while in the cafeteria or while running on the treadmill at the gym. But once I start to watch, it is difficult to turn away from them.

I have recently come to the realization that my life is a soap opera. Definitely not as remarkable as 'Passions' or even as engaging as 'The Young and the Restless', but a soap opera nonetheless. There are people who stab others in the back for seemingly no reason; factions who split and come to loathe one another. Heck, there is even the occasional sex scandal. Honestly, part of me thoroughly enjoys the dramatics of it all (mostly the fact that I can sit back and laugh at the improbability of it all), while another part of me cannot stand any part of it-it is a thin line I walk.

I am tired of the secrets, the lies, the duplicity, the back-stabbing, the mistrust, the exclusion, the deception and (perhaps most of all) the pretending that everything is ok, when it is not. Don't insult me and lie to my face when I know there is something going on. If you don't want to talk about it, that's one thing (a thing which I think is stupid-find somebody to talk to about it if it's not me), but don't try to convince you are ok when there is clearly pain and hurt in your life-I am not oblivious.

So often, we attempt to take care of our problems ourselves-I don't know why, maybe it is all ever see on TV or experience in life. Maybe it's a fear of the possible pain that could come from opening up to someone. But I think the most likely answer is the fear of rejection or judgement from that person. Most people don't care-it's the truth. So when you try to open up to them, they don't know how to handle it or what to do-they don't even know how to listen. Nobody likes to feel that they are not being listened to, so they just don't talk about what is going on.

For me, the most frustrating thing is the fact that I want to listen and I want to be there for people, but it is rare when a person will open up to me about a situation and allow me to sit with them. Sometimes, I just want to scream, "You don't have to go through this alone! Let me in, let me help! I may not be able to do much, but I can at least share some of the weight with you." Often, people will mention that something is going on, but they will not divulge any more information, saying they'll "be ok".

As I write this, I am reminded of a song by The Pretenders, redone by Carrie Underwood and featured on the show Glee called 'I'll Stand by you'. For a long time now, I have looked for someone to offer to stand by me and help through those dark times; in part God has filled this role in my life both with His presence and by sending select people who I know I can rely on. People I would never have thought to turn to for support. And I guess, I kind of want to feel needed or significant-to know that people can turn to me when they are hurting or need support. But as one of my good friends says, "You can't want more for a person, than they want for themselves."

I realize how hypocritical this will probably sound to most of you, noting how I do not readily open up about my own hurt-and I have been sitting here for a while trying to justify this, but I can't. I simply know that God has given me an ability and a desire to listen and I want to be able to make use of these things the best that I can.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lanch Party

This evening I joined one of my friends on an adventure, an adventure to the number 8 rated Gamestop in the country. You see there was a new video game (Mass Effect 2) that was to be released at Midnight and my friend was eager to own it. Well, none of our other friends wanted to accompany him to this "Launch Party" and I wasn't really doing anything-so I said yeah I would go. Little did I know what my night would hold for me.

When I arrived it was like returning to a world I had once abandoned. I heard the conversations from the other customers and recognized the general idea of what they talking about, but did not understand the specific details. I remember a time when I was as involved in video games as these people were-so absorbed in the world that I prided myself in every minute piece of knowledge that I could parade in front of my friends.

Honestly, though, it did not instill within me a desire to return to that life; I am not the person I was in high school and even in college. However, I know that if I wanted to, I could easily fall back into that group and become a fanatic once again.

It was a weird night, but an enjoyable one, don't get me wrong. My favorite part was when I was told that if I attempted to take a poster that another customer wanted I would be stabbed and left to die-hilarious...

I am thankful for the great memories I have playing video games.

Later, gator


p.s. The title of this post is a reference to an episode of 'The Office', did you catch it?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Missed Opportunities

So when I sat down to write this blog I had no idea what I was going to talk about. But as I looked through my 'reading list' of other blogs, I came across one written by my friend Amy in which she quotes a prayer of Dr. Goodman. Suffice to say, my eyes are no longer dry. Well, I wanted to post that prayer as well, so here it is:

"May the Lord bless you and keep you,
may the Lord make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you.
May God give you the grace never to sell yourself short.
May God give you the grace to risk
something big for something good.
And may God give you the grace to remember that
the world now is too dangerous for anything but truth,
and too small for anything but love.
May God take your minds and think through them;
may God take your lips and speak through them,
and may God take your hearts and set them on fire.
Through our Father, through his Son,
and through the Holy Spirit.
Go in peace and be blessed.
You are Christ's, church. Amen."

-Dr. Daniel E. Goodman, Jan 4, 2009

So much of who I am and what I believe today has been shaped and informed by this man and I never got the opportunity to thank him for that, or even tell him how much he influenced me. I feel part of me will always regret that.

Tell someone how important they are to you, you never know when it will be your last opportunity.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

"When I am down and, oh, my soul so weary; when troubles come and my heart burdened be..."

"I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth." -Psalm 121:1-2

I have been thinking about these verses for a few days now and then last night at Zoar, John spoke on this Psalm and suggested that we meditate for a few minutes on the verse and see what struck us. So, I am going to share some of my thoughts on this verse with you guys.

Here is the whole Psalm:
"I lift up my eyes to the hills-where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip-He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you-the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm-he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore." -Psalm 121

The first thing that stuck out in my mind was in verse 3 when the Psalmist says that "He who watches over you will not slumber"-I know that I sometimes forget that; that God doesn't sleep, that He is always there for us, watching over us. There are times that I feel that I am not as efficient as I could be because I can't handle every situation that arises, whether it be because I am tired or exhausted or whatever. But I find it a huge comfort to know that God never experiences fatigue and that He will never turn me away, saying He is too tired to deal with me today.

Next was this idea about the sun and moon not harming us. I think this stuck out because of its obscurity-I have never really thought about the sun (and certainly not the moon) causing me harm. What I drew from this was the idea that God is protecting us even from those things which seem innocent and unlikely to cause harm. There are lots of things in our world which seem innocuous, but actually present a great danger; for example, a simple word spoken to a friend. It seems innocent enough, just an off the cuff remark to someone and yet that comment gets spread around and changed and that simple comment can tear relationships apart. So for me, it is comforting to know that God will be there for me, even when I think I know best and jump headfirst into trouble.

Finally, in the last verse when the Psalmist comments that the Lord watches our coming and going. For me it is nice to know that God is there when I come and when I go; once again He doesn't leave me nor forsake me.

So yeah, I had been thinking about the first two verses even before John spoke about I think it is God calling out to me. I have not been as devoted in my relationship with Him as I should be and I know that He is calling out to me, seeking to reconnect and invigorate our relationship.

I am thankful that God is always seeking after me, even when I lose sight of Him.

Later, gator


Sunday, January 10, 2010

"Do you ever get the feeling you were meant to do something extraordinary?"

I wanted to post something today, let you guys know that I am alive and well in good ol' BS. It is nothing profound, so don't expect your mind to be blown.

I am not going to lie, sometimes (times like now) I sit in front of my computer debating what to write about. I will write an entire paragraph and decide it isn't good enough, so I'll erase the whole thing. I am afraid of appearing ignorant or simple when I write these blogs-I respect you guys and value your opinion, so I don't want you guys to see me in a weak position or to expose my faults to you.

So, as I write these blogs, it is constantly running through my head what people will think as they read. But you know what? I just feel like talking tonight, so that's what this blog is going to be: some of my ramblings.

I really want to be an encourager. And to an extent I feel that I am. Maybe. I also want to receive encouragement. I feel that to an extent I am. But there could be more-on both sides. So I am going to try something-I am going to keep a list of all the times that I encourage people, the times I am encouraged, and the times I could have encouraged someone but didn't. I would appreciate it, if when you saw me, you asked how the encouraging was going-kind of a means of keeping me focused, as well as an opportunity to encourage. Part of me feels like this is a huge undertaking, while another part feels it isn't going to be that big of a deal-we'll see, I guess.

I also really want to be a Jedi or a Super Hero. Maybe one day....

I am thankful for mandatory fun-times, that actually turn out to be fun.

Later, gator


Monday, January 4, 2010

'Sometimes, you gotta put your behind in the past.'

Hello, again. Today is my dad's birthday, so I will start this post by wishing him a happy birthday: Happy Birthday Dad!

Ok, so last night my siblings and I (Stephen and Elaine (Alan wasn't here)) were looking through our high school yearbooks. There were a lot of memories contained within those few pages-messages left by friends, pictures speaking 1,000 words, etc. Well, as I looked through these yearbooks, I was hit by a monstrous wave of nostalgia and a deep desire to go back and spend some time as that high school senior/junior and see my friends again.

Today, my brother and I (again it was Stephen, Alan is still not here) watched the movie '17 Again' (coincidence? I think not-as I have said before: there are no coincidences, just small miracles God uses to make people happy (with an addendum) and/or to speak to them). In this movie, Mike O'Donnel wishes he could go back to being a high school senior and relive his 'heyday'. Well, his wish comes true....but I won't spoil the movie for those who haven't seen it, but I enjoyed it.

Well, as I sit here reflecting on these past few days, I can't help but feel a connection to Mike. I, too, wanted to be able to go back and enjoy my high school life; however, one important distinction needs to be made-my high school experience was not as amazing as his seemed to be. In fact, I definitely would not want to relive high school at all. Honestly, I just want to be able to remember those experiences and maybe connect with those friends who I once held a lot closer. I don't know....Sometimes, I just have to sit back and stare amazedly at how God works in my life. It was only a few moments ago, when I saw the connection between the events of last night and today-God is unfathomable. Kind of ironically, as I was walking the neighborhood today, I was contemplating about blogging today and what to write about; well, I decided to talk about '17 Again', but I was going to say that even though I had enjoyed it, it was one of the few movies in which there was no deeper meaning that I found.....wrong again.

'A discerning man keeps wisdom in view, but a fool's eyes wander to the ends of the earth.'-Proverbs 17:24

I am thankful for music.

Later, gator


Sunday, January 3, 2010

"Don't get hung up on meaningless distinctions"

Hey, I know it's been a while, but honestly, you should just be happy that I am even writing this at all. I told you before how horrible I am at writing these kinds of things and following them through. Anyway, my break has been really good and I am kind of sad to see it go, but I know that I will find many other happy moments in the future to come-so I'm not too sad. I hope you all have enjoyed the break as well, some more than others I can suspect.

So as you guys know, I am a pretty big Star Wars fan (and no, it is not my only geek outlet-I have far more) and so this holiday I set the goal to finish the series, The New Jedi Order (partly because my friend Trey(hey, Trey) really wanted me to read further in the series and be able to have conversations with him about this stuff, but also because I have been reading this series for like 6 years or something like....don't judge). Anyway, I will not be able to finish the series because I have 5 books left in the series, but access to the next 2 only. This frustrates me, but alas, there's not much that can be done about it-so I move on.

Well, in these books there is a character named Jacen Solo who has recently suffered the loss of his younger brother, as well as the separation from the rest of his family and friends. To top it off, his galaxy is being invaded by a race of aliens who seek to destroy all the Jedi (of whom he is one) and to change the galaxy to suit their needs.

So he is actually captured by these aliens and placed in a thing called 'The Embrace of Pain'; you can probably guess what it did, but just in case-it basically caused whoever was 'in it' to experience an unbelievable amount of pain, but never to the point of death. And rather than go on to explain it further, I will just say this: he had to learn how to deal with pain and grief.

Now I can't say for sure because, as I said, I have not finished the series, however, I feel that Jacen did not adequately deal with those issues. In fact, I know that he didn't. Pain is there for a reason-to teach you, or stop you from making the same mistake. But Jacen 'learns' to ignore the pain and not let it affect him.

As was made even more clear to me today through a friend, pain/hurt/grief is a very real thing for us as humans, perhaps one of the things that distinguishes us as such. So to completely ignore it and to disregard emotions and feelings is to lose, at the very least, a piece of your humanity. And for Jacen, this will more than likely prove to be far more devastating than for those of us who are not force-sensitive (no matter how much we may wish we were.........)-it will probably lead to the dark side, he may even become more dangerous than his grandfather.

But there is one aspect of the book I was reading (it is "Traitor" in the New Jedi Order by Matthew Stover, in case you were curious) that really caught my attention. There is one point in which Jacen is having a conversation with his dead brother, Anakin (through the force, similar to how Obi-Wan spoke with Luke after he died). Well two times prior to this, Jacen had thought he had heard his brother but it was only a trick used by someone else, saying that the person had used the force to fake his voice. But Anakin says to him, "how do you know? are you sure it was a fake? she was using the force right? how do you know the force wasn't using her?" I couldn't help but feel a connection to God through that exchange. It may seem heretical, but I think sometimes God acts in that way-from our perspective, we think something terrible has happened to us and we feel self-pity and cry out to God, saying 'save me from this terrible thing'. What if that terrible thing is in our lives for a reason; what if God used a great pain in our lives to lead us down a different path? I don't know, it is hard to think of God as someone who would cause pain or suffering, even for the greater good, but I can't help but speculate that that may be part of it. That perhaps in some way the pain/grief that we deal with is just as important to God as the joy that we experience. As one of my friends said, (paraphrased) 'sometimes we just want to wallow in our own self-pity'. But the thing is, no matter how you see it, we can't stay in the pain-we have to get out of it. But we can't forget it; we need to forgive, but never forget-same with pain, we need to move on, but always remember the lesson it taught us.

'Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.' -Psalm 23:4