Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I think I'm beginning to gain a greater sense of purpose in my life; it's been some time in coming and it's still coming. I'm by no means arrived, but I'm at least progressing. I've been greatly struggling with this concept as of late: What is my purpose in life? It seems like quite a daunting concept to determine and pursue ones "purpose in life." Doesn't it? It feels extremely narrow and as if we have one shot at hitting this "purpose" and if we miss it, we're screwed. But, what if we actually do miss it? Well, then I suppose the rest of life is pointless, at least according to this narrow philosophy. I cannot accept it. Although, it has far too long ruled my thinking about life. No longer.

This is my purpose. Here. Now. What I'm doing right now is my purpose. He is my purpose. People are my purpose. What and who He has in front of me is exactly what I'm suppose to be doing at the present time; that is my purpose. And what I will choose next will be my purpose then. I'm starting to feel freer in my head as I ponder these realities. And also that, I can't really screw up my life; I'm just not that big in the grand scheme of things. And it's rather arrogant to think otherwise. A friend encouraged me recently that we ought to simply step out in faith--regarding our purpose--rather than waiting on a push from God that may never come. That is faith. Trusting & believing that if God is good and our deepest desire is to pursue His will than He is big enough to care for even our smallest decisions. When He is our purpose than little else matters. Blessed relief.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Somewhere in between

I find myself in an interesting space. It feels a bit like no-mans-land, to borrow a cliché. I'm not sure where I am or quite where I'm going. I lack vision & thus lack direction. I'm not aiming at anything, or going after anything. "Without a vision the people perish," as my mother always says; she's right. Without something to shoot for, what's the point?

I'm not entirely sure, but I'm trying to figure it out. Up to college graduation there was "a plan," but then came the abyss, the abyss of "post-college life." No one warns you about the abyss, it just appears before you, a black, gapping hole, ready to swallow all poor, unprepared college graduates whole. It hasn't quite swallowed me yet, but it's come pretty close...

I know many of my peers are also experiencing this same phenomenon, the "not knowing what to do with your life" phenomenon. I suppose it's not really a phenomenon, but rather an inevitable reality. However, the question remains, "what am I doing with my life?" Still no idea. And it's been two years. I feel like I should know, but I don't.

I desperately desire direction, momentum, forward motion of some kind, yet I'm not sure where to begin. Isn't that always the problem? Where to begin. It's like writer's block and the blank page. Always hardest just to start. I wonder, if I actually get going somewhere, will I like it when I get there? And does it matter? Is it just as important to simply have direction as to have the right direction? I'm such an idealist. Who knows if there is a "right" direction. I mean I think we're all made for specific things and purposes, yet I think it's so much less what do we as how we do it. Goodness, just over-flowing with the clichés today aren't we.

Altogether, I suppose if I spend too long trying to figure out where I'm going I may never actually go anywhere. I might just stay, staring at the blank page for the rest of my life and never write a darn thing. Perhaps I could start with a little old fashioned brainstorming...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Control...or lack thereof

I think everyone wants control of their lives; I know I do. It seems more maddening, however, to realize I can't control other people's lives, which I suppose is really the same thing as wanting to control ones own life. My students for example: I can do nothing to alter their desires, their actions or behaviors, their outcomes--nothing. Unbelievably frustrating reality. When I see potentials, but than see them fail to reach those potentials I feel defeated. Why? I'm not entirely sure. I think it has something to do with me putting myself into their efforts, and feeling like I am thus ineffective when they do not perform as hoped. Ridiculous? Maybe.

Control is an interesting thing. In reality it evades those who seek it, but this evading causes people to chase it all the more. When we want to control something and don't have it our desire for control of that thing increases, tightening like a noose around an imaginary hold...because control is just that: imaginary.

Yet, I still want it. Control. Or at least a semblance of it. Contradictory? Definitely. It's just incredibly difficult to relinquish control of a thing you greatly want. But, I'm realizing the more you hold onto a thing, the less you have it...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Avoiding the inevitable

I avoid things like the plague, even if they are as simple as brushing my teeth...alright, maybe not that, but I avoid many things, as if they were the death of me. It's like a sick mental block. And the saddest part is that the thing in front of me may not actually be very hard or complicated, but I make it so by putting it off and putting it off, again and again. And with the mounting avoidance comes the inevitable growth of the mental block in my head. Then after so long whatever the thing is becomes so huge and pressing because, small though it might have been originally, has now become a colossal mound, now absolutely necessitated by my avoidance. Why do I do this to myself? It's madness. Sigh. Fine, I guess I'll go brush my teeth...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

S.....l....o.......w & p.....a...i...n....f..u.....l

Everything in life feels incredibly slow at present, almost painful in its processes. Life, I am discovering is just that--a process--and a slow one. I am also realizing nothing of value comes quickly or without effort. My natural impatience and laziness balks at this reality, yet it's simply true. This is easy to speak (or write in this case), but not so easy live.

Matt Chandler comments in one of his sermons, "progressive sanctification is horrifically slow." He's right. Emphasis on horrific. I think this truth is just beginning to set in, in earnest in my life. The gospel is actually starting to become real. My sin is becoming more painfully apparent and often overwhelming. And I am realizing that no amount of concerted effort on my part, or "pulling myself up by my bootstraps" will amount to anything when it comes to my sanctification. Whew. And that it's going to take a LONG time. Yikes.

And waiting on the process of others is just as difficult, if not far more so because I can't control others, I can only control myself, which apparently I can't really do that either. I can't make my kids desire to learn, grow, change, or become better, I can only encourage, prod, love, watch and wait. Wait. Always wait.

How often must God wait on us? And I'm complaining. Me, who is confined by space and time, complaining to an eternal God that He's being too slow. Absurd. But, true. I can't cause people to respond, move, act, initiate. I must wait. And be patient. With others, and with myself.

I also cannot make myself do better or "be better." It's a cosmic impossibility. And a maddening reality. Why must the process of personal growth & sanctification be so painfully slow? Why can I not simply realize my shortcomings and find remedy via that understanding? Because knowledge does not equate change. It's part of it, but not all of it. So frustrating. I assume if I "think" about something enough than surely it will become a reality, not true. Sadly. It's just not up to me. When will I realize this? That I cannot change myself. That I cannot sanctify my flesh. Slow & painful.

Monday, November 7, 2011

They are me and I am them

I had the revelation recently: I am my students and my students are me. I am discovering that the things which irritate me most about them are my own fatal flaws. Sad truth. But, isn't it always that way? The things that irritate us most about others are in fact our own deepest discrepancies.

Hopelessly lazy, ditto.
Everything is "too hard," yeah, I get that.
Perfectionists. Yikes, yep. To a fault.
Finding identity in grades, achievement. Hmmm, check.
Just wanting to finish, accomplish, and move on. Mmm hmm.
If something's difficult, too complex, requiring of actual thought, forget it. Whew.
Doing things ones own way. Yep! That's me.

Each one individually seems to posses at least one quality that, collectively amongst them, makes up all the qualities which summate my greatest shortcomings. Humbling. Perhaps God has so much more to teach me about myself and His character through these kids than I actually have to offer them, which is not much.

Mini me's are not as fun as one might imagine...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hipster: the new mainstream

It is my observation that the current "hipster" trend, an alleged counter-culture movement is in fact it's own version of mainstream. Urban dictionary defines hipsters as: "a subculture of men and women typically in their 20's and 30's that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter." The last bit is great: "witty banter." However, the portion of the definition that pertains to my thesis is that of counter-culture. My thesis is by no means original or earth-shattering, but I think it's relevant. I find it amusing, being a wanna-be-hipster myself, the lack of originality that I see amongst my "hipster" peers, who's intent is the very opposite of conformity, yet have attained just that. Myself included.

The next part of the Urban dictionary definition goes like this: "Hipsters reject the culturally-ignorant attitudes of mainstream consumers, and are often seen wearing vintage and thrift store inspired fashions, tight-fitting jeans, old-school sneakers, and sometimes thick rimmed glasses." As I sit in Starbucks blogging away on my MacBook, my iphone & a moleskin journal at my side, sporting a flannel shirt and wearing a pair of skinny jeans, I sadly conform to the stereotypical image of "hipster," or so I believe. And my favorite part is the girl sitting across from me who's wearing and doing essentially the same thing, MacBook, flannel shirt, skinny jeans, moleskin and all, except she's got her "hipster" glasses on; I left mine at home today in favor of the contacts. Thus, I help prove my own thesis, sad isn't it?

Again, these observations are not revelatory, but they are, I believe, relevant concepts and ones which I've been stewing over for some time. The more "hipsters" I hang around, the more I realize we are all stereotypically stereotypical, and we like it! But, than again, this shouldn't astound me. It resonates with the very fiber of what it means to be human--to want to belong. i.e. A group. It's the same with any select group or subculture; it's a place to belong, to find identity. I do believe such groups, or subcultures begin as a reaction to what a specific group considers "mainstream;" however, over time, coupled with growing popularity and appeal that same group or subculture inevitably becomes it's own version of mainstream. It happened with the hippies and it's happening with the hipsters. Beware all hipsters: you're not as original as you thought. And neither am I.

I purport that the valuable, core principles of a movement can remain intact despite growing popular appeal and general conformity, but if such principles are to be retained there must be some smaller culture within the subculture itself that remembers and lives what those values are. I may not be a real hipster, per say, but I hope I can aspire, at least somewhat, to the principle that just because everyone else is doing it doesn't mean I have to do it too...oh wait, I already did. So much for counter-culture.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


It's a beautiful thing, watching my students learn. It's the best part of a day when I seem them actively engaging with subject matter, being curious about a topic, asking hard questions, helping each other understand a concept, and in general learning. The moment one asks a question that spurs another question that spawns a whole discussion about Communism during WWII, which leads to a conversation about the nature of sin in the world. Those are the best moments. Those are the moments that make it all worth it. They make all of the exhausting pulling and prodding and pleading seem worth it. It can be exhausting trying to make them want to learn. But, I've realized as of late, I can't. I can't make want to learn; I can't make them care. BUT, I can always be here to encourage both and try to care when they don't, and foster an environment of learning when they could care less. I think that's my job. To care. If nothing else, I can care...