Thursday, July 28, 2011

The power of a letter

So most of my posts are long and retrospective...or at least some semblance of that. This one, however, is just something simple.

One thing I love is being able to encourage other people. It is so awesome to know that you can make a difference and help someone else. However, there are times when I feel so drained from having given so much and not having received anything in return. Don't get me wrong-I am not saying I do these things to receive accolades or to get something in return, would be nice every so often to get some encouragement myself. I have written letters to the guys in my small group-a seemingly simple task and yet every time I finish one I feel so drained. Ha. Clearly I was not made to be a writer. Again, don't get me wrong-I love those guys and I love sharing what is going on in my life, but when I finish, I can't help but think, "Does this mean anything? Am I writing these things just for myself-do the guys even read them?" I hate to think that the letters serve no means of support for the guys.

The other day I received a text from one of the guys to whom I write; he said how thankful he was for the letters and how much he appreciated the encouragement, especially the scripture verses included with the letters. It invigorated me and encouraged me in my ministry for these guys-remembering that God works through even the simplest of things.

Kairos-defining moments, no matter how simple they may seem,

David A. Bell

Monday, May 23, 2011

Kiss today goodbye

So another year at Gardner-Webb has come and gone. This one was particularly difficult for me; not only did I have to say goodbye to a number of good friends I had made in the three years I spent in the Div school, but I had to watch as some of my closest friends left for the 'real world'.

This transition was made more difficult as it was revealed that there was tension among myself and those good friends. I won't go into detail about that issue, but I will just say that perhaps the hardest part of this event was not being able to enjoy the company of those guys one last time as a group.

Anyway, here I sit, on Gardner-Webb's nearly empty campus, half-expecting everyone to come back next year and to simply pick up where we left off at the end of this semester. However, I know that isn't going to happen and that this next year will be anything but normal and routine. And that hurts a lot. So much more than I express in writing or otherwise. There are people who I just now found how awesome they are and how much time was lost in not getting to know them before and not enjoying their craziness-UNICORN!. There are others who intimidated me from our first encounter and struck me with how brilliant their thoughts, especially in the only class we had together-African American Literature (I was always impressed with their insight, especially as freshmen). One who immediately wrote me off and declared that I would not last more than a semester, only to become one of my best friends and a true means of support. There was a group that was formed based on an idea of support and prayer, both of which were found in that group-things I needed at that time and was unable to adequately provide for others.

This semester was particularly trying for one of my friends and so our friendship was strengthened as this person sought support and camaraderie from me. This friendship has been extremely important for me as well; I had always sought to have a better friendship with this person, but it had never seemed to be in the cards. It was so awesome to have a guy friend who I could talk to about life (granted I had another strong friendship, but there is just something about having another guy as a means of accountability and encouragement). My sincere hope is that this friendship continues beyond the typical college friendships and that we will continue to assist one another as much as we can-which I believe will be the case...or at least hope.

As I reflect on this, I can't help but think about those friendships that have lasted beyond graduation-they are few, but so powerful. Chris Farthing and Andy Tillery are some of the most awesome people I've ever know and I am so thankful for their friendship. Even though we don't see each other on a regular basis, those times when we do are so much greater because of the absence. It is a similar story with Emily Walker nee Dykstra; even though we didn't spend four years together at university, the two years we did were enough to secure a life-long friendship. I was recently privileged to see her again after five years-we picked up right where we left off and neither of us missed a beat. It was so amazing to be able to reconnect our friendship, even after so long.

I guess I am using this particular post as a means of processing through saying goodbye to a lot of dear friends, but also finding hope in the fact that it needn't be goodbye-more like see ya later. Also, this serves as a means of thanking all of the people who are my friends and have impacted my life. Ultimately, life continues, regardless of our desire for time to stand still; so while it is important to cherish those moments, it is also important that we not seek to live in the past. God has given us each day and so we should take joy in those moments.

Each of my friendships is special and unique, important to me. But I have been trying to keep my focus on God and not allow my happiness to alter based on the position in which I currently find myself. God is always constant and so in these moments, I know I can rely fully on Him and find peace there.

As I finish this, I am reminded of Isaiah 43:2, which says, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you." Even though friends come and go and new relationships are formed, God will never leave us and we find our strength and stability in Him.

Kairos-life-defining moments and friends,

David A. Bell

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

One of the Sides of the Story

Often for those of us who are not as prolific in terms of blogging, it is in the moments of great emotion that inspires a blog post; e.g., an exciting event in our life, a time of loss, a feeling of overwhelming sadness or confusion. If I'm honest, the reason I am writing this right now is because I find myself in the final category-I am extremely sad.

One reason I am particularly sad is because of the fact that with the end of this semester, I will say goodbye to a group of people who I have come to know and love perhaps far greater than anyone else in my life (besides family). The class of 2011 comprises the freshmen class who came in when I was a senior-they are the last remaining connection that I have to Gardner-Webb undergraduate. Once they leave, I have no one to share stories and laugh with about the "old days". But more than that I genuinely don't want to even begin to think about life without these people-how can I wake up in the morning and go about life, knowing that I do not have their friendship to keep me going?

Another reason I am sad is the fact that I feel like there are people who have written me off and I have ruined the friendship we once had and that the person will never seek to be close friends again. Moreover, I fear that I have been (easily) replaced and that the person no longer looks to me to be their friend. I am so devastated by this and I feel so depressed that the person has no desire to reestablish the relationship, but has just written me off as a lost cause. I think I need to apologize to the person, an issue which was discussed in Sunday School (quite appropriately, I guess) and one point was to do in person-i was thought about texting the person about it, but stopped in my tracks and remembered what we discussed. So life is kind of crazy like that, yeah?

In addition, I am just tired and overwhelmed with the end of the semester. I am so tired I think I might explode on the next person who bothers me. This is not a good place to find yourself; however, I have no one to talk to about it because the friends I do have either don't care or don't know that something is literally eating away at me. Plus, I think some people know me and they know that I won't really talk about what's going on in my life and the few people who I can talk to about it, I have been unable to talk with them and I'm not sure as I will get an opportunity to converse with them. So yeah I am pretty frustrated right now (hence the blogging) and I am really tired of people and how I feel like I have to put on a happy face and pretend that everything is ok just because people don't want to see people sad.

In a conversation with a good friend earlier today (technically yesterday at this hour), she asked how I could be happy-go-lucky one minute and so forlorn the next. I explained how I felt I had to play that role; she told me that transparency and vulnerability were valid at points as well-a point with which I agreed. However, as I told her the cafeteria is not really the place for that (nor was Facebook....) and the issue dropped, with a clarity that there was no hatred just thankfulness for good friendship. Well later, I was with a bunch of my friends and so I tried the whole transparent, vulnerable thing-it went over like a lead balloon. The people there just ignored the pain I was in, or perhaps I am getting better at disguising my emotions. So it drove me deeper into my sorrow and I realized that these people could not handle what I was going through because they were also going through stuff themselves. It was a matter of group therapy for them and I just couldn't fall in line with that and so I found no healing. However, I am thankful that they seemed to find at least some comfort from the interactions tonight and that there may have been some growth in their own personal issues.

What do I seek to accomplish with this blog? Well, 1) find some resolution by getting it out-check. 2) process what is going on in my life-check. 3) get sympathy from people (haha)- 4. move on and be proactive in my relationship with the person in the third paragraph- 5. give it all over to God and let Him work in/through it-1/2 check. I am so thankful for all that I have, honestly, I just really need someone to listen to me without judgement and be a friend. C'est la vie-at least there will always be God.

Kairos-the moments that define and frustrate us,

David A. Bell

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A little more insight into the author's obssession

I am known around here at Gardner-Webb. What I am known for (or as) varies from group to group: GRD Bell; David Bell; DaBell; Debi; Dave; that guy who sits in the caf for hours on end. Most of the people who know me now have little to no concept of who I was during my time in the undergrad, something for which I am thankful.

Now, it's not that I was some sort of crazy party-animal or rebel while studying to get my BA; in fact, I was basically just as boring then as I am now. However, I was not nearly as strong in my faith as I am now. I found a lot of my foundation shaken with the knowledge I was given in my religion courses-the obvious incongruities between text and our modern understanding; possible additions made by multiple authors to prove or maintain beliefs; etc. In addition, I didn't have a strong group of Christians to whom I could turn with all the questions I had. They simply festered in my mind and doubt became a constant friend.

For a while, I abandoned things like 'The Verge', upset at the hypocrisy that I saw throughout. I stopped going to church, no one in those churches cared about me anyway and the churches that did care about me disbanded. The Christian community on campus failed me-no one offered support or guidance because I was not high-profile. People knew I was a Christian and so figured I didn't need to hear the gospel (granted I didn't), but I desperately sought someone to help me traverse through the struggles of a daily Christian walk. I needed a mentor.

As a freshman, I sought a mentor in a good friend who was a senior-he was extremely intelligent, well-grounded in his faith, and didn't mind an idiot freshman hanging around with him. He certainly helped in the transition process from high school to college life and challenged me in my faith, but also encouraged me. However, since he was a senior, he graduated after that year and our friendship changed and I lost that support.

My sophomore and junior years I sought to find another person who could guide me and be a means of support. However, all of the people I turned to were my age or younger and had more inconsistencies than I myself had. Don't get me wrong I love these people and wouldn't trade their friendship, but they couldn't mentor me like I needed.

I did find quite a lot of guidance from professors, but there again that was in a classroom setting and not really the mentoring that I was seeking.

Senior year brought an awakening in my life. I saw freshmen who were unashamed of their faith and lived it out proudly and in your face. They challenged me in my faith more than any other person in my life-how could I continue in my apathy when faced with such a great cloud of witnesses? I needed to get my act together.

However, I certainly couldn't seek guidance from these people who were younger than myself-so rather than study under them, I studied alongside of them. There were many who were far more firm in their faith than I was, but I knew my stuff-12 years of Christian education had drilled the Bible into my head. Their passion and devotion had reinvigorated my walk; they showed me who God really is and helped remove the cynical picture that I had developed over the past two years.

I am not ignorant of the fact that I have a presence and that people value what I have to say; I have always been able to garner credence. I am also keenly aware of the fact that I must be a good steward of this gift that God has given to me; I cannot squander opportunities that I have to minister to those in need.

Ultimately, I seek to be for someone that which I so desperately sought: a mentor and friend.

Kairos-guiding moments in life,

David A. Bell

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In which our author is frustrated and angry and uses some choice words

Note: This is an old post I found in my drafts; there is a lot of hurt in this post and I can't adequately speak to that pain now. However, the way I see it, there is a reason I wrote it all that time ago and I ought to go ahead and post it. So without further ado, here is a lost piece of my blogging life:

Have you ever had a friend who suffers from 'kettle-syndrome'? Let me explain 'kettle-syndrome': I assume you are familiar with the phrase, "the pot calling the kettle black", while someone with the kettle-syndrome is someone who takes great pleasure or maybe even goes out of their way to call someone else out on an issue that is clearly evident in their own life and they seem to have no desire to fix the problem in their own life.

Or how about the person who joins the 'conversation' a little late and assumes that they are the only ones who are on the ball? You have been saying similar kinds of things for months, but suddenly it registers with them and the idea is so novel, they can't believe no one thought of it before...

But obviously, you don't know what you're doing, nor do you have the right motives. This person knows all and can see how inferior you really are. Man, you just suck at life, don't you? You might as well just give up, your friend clearly has better motives and abilities and can handle the situation better anyway; you would just be getting in the way.

It would really stink if this were your life, yeah? Well, I am so glad that it isn't mine, but it has been before. And let me just say that there is little hope for these kinds of friends-honestly, they are so self-obsessed that they rarely acknowledge your presence anyway, only when it is beneficial for their ends/goals. So if you discreetly remove yourself from the situation, they eventually forget who you are and move onto their next source of esteem-looking for someone who they can walk all over and use.

There's a lot of hurt in this post and so for that reason it may not be 100% accurate and part of it could be skewed by emotional hurt. But I am trying to deal with that pain through this post-so deal with it. If this post speaks to you-there is probably a reason. If it doesn't-good for you (this is not said sarcastically, I genuinely mean it).


p.s. I bet a bunch of you were expecting me to cuss because of the title; you probably got really excited too "ooh, David's gonna cuss, I gotta see that!" Shame on you.

"After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, 'Listen to Me, all of you and understand: there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man." Mark 7:14-15

"With it [the tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God;" James 3:9

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Prolific Friends

So some of my friends blog. Most of those friends are more proficient at the art than I am. Two in particular leave me in awe at their prolific prowess and the beauty of their blogs.

The first is a friend I have known for a relatively short time (although I find most things at this point in my life are relative), only about two-ish years. Her name is Katie and she is an amazing writer. I have only recently started to read her blogs and I am upset that I have missed out on her writing for so long. I always enjoy what she blogs about, she seems to bring the words to life with her humor and craftsmanship with language-it is unreal. But don't just take my word for it, read some of her stuff (I'm not sure how she feels about my encouraging you to read her blog, but I'm sure she'll leave a comment about it): I'm telling you, you won't be disappointed.

The second is a friend I have known longer, although I have not seen (or even really conversed with) her in seven years. Her name is Deborah and her blog inspires me to be and do more. Her blogs may not always be humorous, but there is always so much strength and humanity flowing through her words. She, like Katie, is a master of the written word and can keep you enthralled and engaged in the conversation. Sometimes, I find myself envious of the vivid imagery contained within the blog; who am I kidding? More often than not, I find myself envying her vibrant voice. Her blog is

I guess I am writing this post because I feel so honored to be able to read their work, that I want to be able to share it with those who read my blog. They write too well. Also, I just wanted to take some time to thank them for allowing me to share in their journeys through their blogs-you guys challenge, encourage and inspire me, thank you.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Changing lives

I love discipleship. I couldn't imagine my life without the opportunity to mentor and invest in the lives of younger guys. Unfortunately, mentoring is not a smooth journey; there are ups and downs (seemingly more downs than ups) and it is chock full of frustration. However, I wouldn't change my experiences for anything.

I recently received one of the greatest compliments of my life: I was sitting at a baseball game with my girlfriend and one of the members of my small group, who also happens to be on the baseball team. Anyway, we were sitting there enjoying the Runnin' Bulldogs securing another victory and talking about various aspects of life, etc. Well, Adam would be leaving that day to prepare for surgery in Charlotte, so his mom was coming to help with all of that stuff; so when she got to the game, Adam brought her over to sit with us. We introduced ourselves and had some small pleasantries, etc.

After a little bit, Adam turned to me and asked, "David, don't you have class tonight?" I hesitated for a moment, then turned to him and said, "Yeah, I am skipping it to be here at the game." He said, "Oh ok." His mom laughed. Then she leaned forward and said, "Wait, you're Adam's mentor." I froze, I didn't know how to respond. I really want to be seen as a mentor to these guys, but recognize that for the most part, I am just one more voice in a sea of well-meaning peers. So to hear that I have been acknowledged as a mentor literally made my heart jump a little (ok so maybe a lot). I stuttered and said, "Yea-yeah if that's how he's referred to me." And then quickly added, "But I can assure you, I am usually much more responsible than to skip class."

I am huge proponent of different callings in life and the fact that we as the body of Christ are not called to the same groups or to make use of the same gifts. For this reason, I recognize that not everyone has the same passion to disciple young people like I do; however, I do think that it is important to share your experiences with those who are coming behind you. In fact, there are probably a number who are reading this post and thinking 'so a kid thinks of you as a mentor, big deal-who cares?' and that's a fair point, it is not an earth-shattering revelation.

I am just so thankful that God is allowing me to disciple people at all and to be as a good a witness for Him as I can. This was drilled into me (yet again) at last night's baseball game. The umpires were making some questionable calls (but when don't they?) and I was getting really frustrated-you see, I hate when I lose and so through the transitive process, I hate when teams I support lose; it's like I am losing. So I started to get angry and when I get angry I get really quiet and sort of shut down (a trait which I am really thankful for, it tends to keep me out of more trouble). Well, at one point, the entire crowd was yelling at the umpire and telling him how bad of a job he was doing; as I sat there, I realized how stupid I looked by allowing something so trivial as a baseball game to compromise my witness. So rather than join in the frustration, I started singing some hymns (hey don't judge, I love traditional hymns) and oddly enough I found so much peace in the lyrics of 'Be Thou My Vision' and 'I Love You, Lord'-it was so awesome. And even though we lost that game, I didn't get upset or angry. Totally a God-thing, cause on my own I would have probably yelled a lot at that umpire. But what kind of example would I set, if I reacted so rashly?

I apologize for the same theme that seems to pervade all of my writing, I just can't help where my heart is. All I know is that while I seek to impact the lives of these young people, more often than not they impact me so much more. One of the guys said something more profound than I think he even realized; it was almost an off hand comment and yet there was so much depth there. He said (in a paraphrase of sorts), 'even if there is no reciprocation, you still need to treat them the same way you always do.' Now I knew this, but to hear it so adamantly spoken really shook me to my core. There was no question in his mind that that was how he needed to treat people, regardless of they treated him. He continues to amaze me with his passion for God and his desire to live for Him. Sometimes, I think he understands it better than I do.

Kairos-moments that define and change us,

David A. Bell

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Craziness abounds

Life is not always easy. Life is not always fun. Life is not always what we thought it would be. But life is always crazy. This is both a blessing and a curse, I think. I love the fact that at any given moment, you have the opportunity to experience the unknown, to jump headlong into uncertainty. But in the same breath, I hate it. I like stability and certainty; I want to know how things are going to play out-I've never really been one for surprises or blessings from whom I cannot attribute (just ask my friend Courtney about that...).

It seems as though my life has been exceptionally crazy as of late. In the past week, I have said goodbye to two amazing people; I have given up everything I have known for the past three years; I have found confirmation on some things that were murky. However, there have been good points too: I have experienced an awesome outpouring of love from my families; I have felt God working in my life and holding me up; I have been given a great opportunity to invest in a young man who is passionate for God that all other aspects of his life would fall to the wayside.

I hate saying goodbye. Plain and simple. I am a fairly emotional person-I do not have a problem crying-so when I have to say goodbye, it is always an emotional experience for me. There are so many memories and feelings tied to that person; as I say goodbye all of those moments flood my mind and I think about the fact that we will no longer be able to make those kinds of memories. But honestly, I think we need those emotional releases in moments of loss; grieving is a part of life. To avoid it or ignore it, is to avoid being 'weak' or 'not in control'.

And I think that is the point. If we can't allow ourselves to be weak, how can we ever let God use us? If we constantly need to be in control, how will we be able to step aside and allow God to 'take the reins' of our lives? I think that's where the craziness shows itself; it's hard to imagine any trip in which you don't know the destination or the means of transportation as anything but crazy and uncontrolled.

The other day, someone told me they envied my life and wished it were theirs; as expected, I replied that they surely did not. However, as I sit here, I realize just how awesome and God-driven my life is; who wouldn't want a life in which God works so powerfully and wonderfully? Yet, God is working in ALL of our lives-just not always the way we want Him to work. I can assure you there are aspects of my life that I wish God would change or remove, but that's not how He works (or maybe it is, idk). I do know, however, that it is those frustrations that bring me closer to God-not because He gives me what I want, but rather because in those moments I see just how much God has my back. For the longest time, I struggled (as do a lot of Christians) with what Paul called his 'thorn in the life' and how God would not remove it. I understood the first level that God is able to work through our weakness and to glorify Himself through those aspects, but it was difficult to comprehend why God didn't take away the struggle once Paul identified its purpose. I think I understand better now that we have those things in our lives not just as a means of seeking after God for His support and for Him to demonstrate His power despite our weakness; they exist to prevent us from feeling comfortable and to know that God is with us.

If we are comfortable, we have missed the point. Sometimes, God calls us out of comfort and stability (take a look at Abram-Genesis 12 or Moses-Exodus 3-4) so He can bless us so much more than we can imagine. Don't get me wrong; it isn't easy or without its struggles, but it is definitely worth it-just knowing God is with me in those frustrations gives me more strength than I can adequately describe here.

As I sit here and write, I am thinking about people whose lives I envy. No matter who they are, I keep coming back to the fact that they do not have the relationship with God that I do and so while I may envy their earthly position (something that will ultimately result to nothing more than dust in the wind), I do not envy their spiritual life. I would not trade what I have found in God and what God has done in my life for every selfish desire in my life. (It reminds me of the story of Jesus in the wilderness and His temptation) In all reality, I don't need anything more than God-a few weeks ago, in Sunday School, Matt asked us if God were to ask us to give up that which we held most dear, would we be willing to give it up to Him? If the answer is no, I would argue your Christianity-harsh? Yes, but nonetheless valid. I would say rather than being a follower of God, you were a follower of that 'thing' and more devoted to it. I know God is going to ask me to give up that which I hold so dear and I will/am in the process-it sucks.

God has revealed so much to me lately and been so awesome-I feel like I have moved so much farther in my faith; I am not looking forward to the backslide haha.

Kairos, these are our defining moments-and how!

David A. Bell

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9