In my last post, Stressed Out, I discussed how steady work took a downturn for me and I was effectively unemployed. Well, that was September 3rd, almost three months ago. For three months I haven’t accessed WordPress or drafted a new post. Part of it was I was actually busy in a positive sense, but a big part of it was that I haven’t felt compelled to write. I was doing a little back-end work on my blog with editing old posts by changing grammatical errors or fixing links and such. But what I found was a lot of empty words. For every one or two posts that stood out as gems of well written thought born out of honesty and vulnerability I found another two or three posts that I felt were empty and full of empty words. Many of those posts I took down and posted privately. In going through this process I decided (Or vowed, to add a little dramatic flair) that I wouldn’t write a post unless I knew the topic would be meaningful. So, that might mean that posts will be infrequent, but I hope that by reducing the frequency, I might ensure a better quality. Which is something that I hope to be beneficial for both myself and those of you who read.
Since September I have helped to launch a new church plant in my local community, Sozo Communities. I have also been officially brought into The Coalition of Christian Outreach (The CCO) as an associate in an endeavor to become a full-time staff with them. I’ve also acquired a part-time job at Michael’s craft store with the help of a friend who works there. These last two things have only happened within the last several weeks, and are preceded by long stretches of waiting, filling out job applications, waiting, and waiting, and waiting. Oh, and waiting. That said, I have much to be thankful for this week, and yet, I still find myself discontent with so much in my life.
Over the summer I built a computer, and it’s a beastly machine. I use it every day, and I look at it and I still feel significant gratitude toward it. When I go home to visit my parents and I get to play my drum set. I bought that drum set several years ago, and I still feel gratitude toward it. I consider my friends and community in Langhorne and Penndel, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude because I find myself surrounded by good company that expresses more love and grace to me than I deserve. Then I consider my living space: a basement rented from a former professor, and I am discontent. I want more space and a ceiling higher than six inches above my head, I want a kitchen and living room that I can entertain people in, and a room for my drums. I consider the ways that I am still dependent upon my parents, such as insurance and a cell phone plan, among other smaller things, and I feel discontent because my pride tells me that at 25 I should be doing these things on my own.
And there’s the rub, isn’t it? I hadn’t really put it to words until I wrote it, but this internal conflict and sense of discontentment really comes from my pride. Somehow, somewhere along the way I attached myself to the notion that my success as a person was dependent on my independence and individual accomplishments. I feel conflicted because while many of my friends have their Bachelor’s degrees, they’re also mostly all married with places of their own and relatively decent jobs. I, on the other hand, chose more schooling, and now instead of choosing a career in clinical counseling that would pay both steadily and well, I am pursuing a career with the CCO which requires me to raise support like a missionary, as well as a part-time job that pays eight dollars an hour. How stupid does that make me seem?
Like a starry eyed actor starving in Los Angeles, I keep waiting for that big break, and every month, every year the possibility of obtaining success seems further away. The question I then have to ask myself is whose success am I striving for? Mine or God’s? God promised Jesus to Adam, but it took centuries for that promise to be fulfilled. God promised the Promised Land and descendants to Abraham, but it took a long time for that to come to fruition. Nothing that God promises happens as we anticipate, and not everything that we think is a promise from God really is from God. Sometimes we have our own ambitions and desires and because we want them so bad, we trick ourselves to believe them to be from God. And if we really get down to brass tacks, what we often think of as success is rooted more in our cultural and family traditions than it is in Scripture.
I had a “moment” back in October. I was on my way back from a weekend of training for the church plant I’m a part of, and stopped off at my parents on my way back to Bucks County. During that layover we went to my parents’ church, where a choir did a rendition of “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” and I was struck by an overwhelming sense of connection to the Biblical patriarchs and other believers that have gone before me. Now, if you know me at all, you might be going, “YOU?! You had a ‘moment’?” Yes, I did, and it was at that point that I felt compelled to go forward with the course I am now taking. That it was good and right for me to pursue this seemingly foolish path. And so here I am trying to not let my pride divert me from the way I should go, but also obscure the proper perspective that I need to have as I continue on the path that has been put before me.
My youth group is working through the book of James, and as we were discussing the matter of faith and works, I asked my students, “Is faith a noun or a verb?” So, that’s very much where I am. I’m trying to figure out how to “do” faith, and how to embrace God’s idea of success as opposed to humanity’s.