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): http://katieax.blogspot.com 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 http://wheresmydreamlife.blogspot.com

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