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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Delight

To delight, in context, means to desire. I never knew that until recently. To me, delight was just a strange word that came upon me at times that I couldn't help and packaged in an orange-juice-like beverage that I always thought was bad for you. Not until recently did I realize that delight is really summed up by what you desire; the object of our truest affections.

I came across a verse recently about delight, maybe because it was the only one I knew, having heard it so often in Sunday School rooms and growing up in a Christian home. It was the famous Psalm of David, 37: "Delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." I then replaced the word delight with desire and it becomes: 'Desire the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.' Suddenly, the verse made so much more sense! For years, I had seen this verse as a good bit of old wisdom or even a manipulative tool that would cause people to ask God for whatever they thought their heart desired and would get it. This time, I saw that if someone is truly delighting in the Lord, then the Lord becomes the desire of their heart. He will come and fill every gap and hole that people like me have been trying desperately to fill with relationships and money and distractions. In essence, what I believe David to be saying is that, once I am truly focusing on the Lord, it will be clear that He really is what I have been searching for, and I can delight all the more in that; in continual desire.

Just this morning I was reading about another promise that God has made, this time to Jeremiah, who I am coming more and more to respect, and really to all of Israel. He said: "Cursed is the man who trusts in Mankind and makes flesh his strength, and who heart turns away from the Lord. For he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes, but will live in stony wastes in the wilderness." Conversely, He says: "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit."

To me, that is the very picture of delight, especially when you have the opportunity to experience both in the same lifetime; you really start to appreciate being a tree by the stream, when you were a bush in the desert before. Sounds good right? A whole lot better than Sunny Delight, even more when contrasted with living water that will cause you never to thirst again.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Freedom

To be honest, I can hardly type. This day has been on its way for a long time and it is both horrible and freeing to realize that it is here.

For months, I have been ignoring the subtle signs that I am absolutely unhappy. I knew that I was. I think I even knew why, but instead of listening to myself and trying to figure out how to change my circumstances, I did something that I always do: I second guess myself.

I knew what I wanted, and what I kept running away from. However, I slowly convinced myself of the fact that this was my lot in life and that I was absolutely powerless to change it. Every circumstance seemed to be something I was "supposed to do" and the places that I despised were places I "should be." For months, I've tried to content myself with a sort of asceticism, thinking that I would learn something valuable or some mysterious elusive secret to life; hoping that it would all pay off. I learned something. I learned that this is not that way that I was meant to live.

Yesterday, the dam broke. I finally faced up to everything that I was feeling and admitted it to myself. I found the most bitter, ferocious things come out. I got mad, really mad. I wondered why on earth I hadn't listened to myself sooner. Why had I defended the very things that were stealing the breath and joy out of my life? That was the last day I was going to do that.

I have realized that this is all much too big for me. I have opened the door and the monster that came through it has overwhelmed me. So, I didn't fight it. I prayed. I called others and asked them to pray. I have come to a place in my Christian life where really all that is between me and absolute despair is God. Through my family and others in my life I am surviving because they told me the truth that I have professed to believe, and have now been forced to either reject or live out. Its not because I have money in the bank or food or a place to live or anything else. Its simply that I have hope that God is actually in charge of whether I live or die. Its not just that though: its that He loves me and wants me to be happy. So there it is.

Once I knew that, it became about freedom. Did I really think that both me, and the God that I believed was the creator of universes and the human race itself, were actually trapped inside a circumstantial state of being? If that is really what I believe, that would be ridiculous. Freedom came in when I realized that I was indeed trapped, but only because I had trapped myself. God, on the other hand, was not. I realized that He was on the outside and was waiting until I saw the walls of my prison with my own eyes. I could now be saved.

I want to be free. I want to live my life to the fullest and stop wading around in knee-deep misery. Is that the life of a Christian who claims to hope and love and be held in regard by the God of the universe? I don't think so. I don't think I am called to punishing myself on earth for the sake of an afterlife, but instead to be made whole on earth to enter the afterlife equally full. So, I'm going to stop ignoring the anger that will inspire change and let change occur. I will stop thinking that I am not worthy of joy and happiness and freedom; starving myself of these things until I am utterly dead.

I want to live again.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Home

I just back from a long overdue visit home. My home is nestled in the Pacific Northwest between the Rocky mountains and the Idaho border. It holds some of my favorite things: trees, fresh air, and my wonderful family.

Every time I go home I think that I will realize something about how I've changed or gain some fresh perspective on my life. I always do, but it is always something different than I expect.

As I hung out with my family and revisited old places and old memories, it struck me that everything was almost exactly the same. It was if I was who I was 10 years ago. However, as you might guess, I was not.

I went for a bike ride in the September evening a couple nights before I left. I breathed in the warm air and let the gentle wind soothe me. I could have ridden around that neighborhood forever. It was in this atmosphere that I realized that I am not the kid I was 10 years ago, even though everything around me told me I was: the summer night, the city, the sights and sounds. Instead, I was who I was now, amazingly enough. I realized that I had been bringing those memories and emotions from all the time I had spent there and throwing them on the canvas of my town; living life through an old and outdated lens. In that moment, I glimpsed the possibility to enjoy life for who I am now, not through the memories that are, albeit part of me and my life, but are long gone.

Instead of being depressing, it was a very freeing feeling. I found that it can be just fine to hang on to memories and cherish them, but it is also possible not to live through them. It was more fun to make new memories this time and to finally, in my hometown, be myself and not who I remembered myself to be.

When I left home again after that, I decided this new way of seeing was coming with me: I was seeing my hometown differently, how about where I live now? I left that old lens behind and things are starting to get just a little more clear.