Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sunset Meditations

Tonight I sat down in the cafe to devour a quick cup of baked potato soup (awesome) and a cinnamon crunch bagel (sliced, toasted, and also awesome)...I picked a chair by the long wall of windows because I like to look outside at the sky and the traffic and the neon signs of the other dozen restaurants surrounding my own place of employment.

As I sat down and looked to the West, I was literally stunned by the sunset. It was not the traditional sunset where the entire sky blazes red and orange with shadow-purple clouds. It was not the cloudless sunset where the fading light burns and fades in perfect clarity.

This sunset was a wide cavern of light in a wall of dark clouds. Every part of the sky was overcast with a few cotton wisps hovering above the trees and a gray blanket blocking the dusk stars. Every part but one....

Blasting over and around a rolling thundercloud was the purest yellow light I have ever seen at sunset, as if the sun had polished the atmosphere and shone its perfect light through crisp, spotless air. Ladders of brilliance erupted in all directions. The edges of the cloud held the brilliance in its vapor like the flares in our eyelids when we stare at fluorescence.

I watched this incredible beauty for thirty minutes, and traced the sun's descent with awestruck eyes. As I ate and enjoyed the evidence of God's beauty, I watched the customers leaving the restaurant, willing them through some stupid attempt at telepathy to look up at the sky and behold the beauty. I wanted to bang on the glass, burst out the door, point with my hand and tell them how amazing and how beautiful and how cool and how unique was the sunset....

But no one looked. No one stopped to watch, no eyes turned to the light, no heads shook with wonder. Once, I grew excited as an early-twenties couple left and the young man pointed with his hand. I leaned forward, hoping he was pointing at the sun, hoping he was sharing this moment with someone he loved...but no. I sat back disappointed. A shiny new Jeep held their attention and they stared at it while walking to their own, undoubtedly less-cool vehicle.

I could not shake the tragedy of them missing out. I could not shake their ignorance. I could not shake their blindness to the light.

For some reason, I have always been mystified by the sky. I love it. Massive clouds, rain, lightning, tornadoes, sunrises, sunsets, the moon (my absolute, absolute favorite), stars, meteors, eclipses. I love all of it. Everything about the sky is incredible.

My creative, artistic personality has given me hell at times, but other times it lets me see heaven. Sometimes the passion and intensity and emotion within opens my eyes and draws my attention to things other people might miss completely.....

So I thanked God for who I am. I thanked Him for allowing me to see the sunset, for making me a person who finds beauty in the world, in nature, in real things. I do not find myself superior to the people who walk to their cars with bellies full and minds on bedtime. Not at all. But I am so glad I see more. I hope I never walk past beauty without appreciation and awe.


Now. This is where my mind stopped until I started to write....then I felt a challenge. An analogy, a metaphor, a whatever-the-heck comparison.

The sunset is beautiful.

But God made the sunset. God fashioned the earth with a word. He ordered the sky with His hand. His creativity pulled everything beautiful from emptiness. Our Father is the Creator.

Oh! To feel the reality of my sonship with as much power as I felt the beauty of the fading light of a dying star. To have the urge to shout for those walking in darkness, their eyes filled with nothing, to behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. To have the desire to share the experience of my shameless, guiltless salvation in the name of Jesus Christ like I wanted to share the wonder of a single sunset.

Father, break my reality with your presence. Outshine your creation in my heart, overpower the desires in my life, overcome my weakness and fear so I may boldly, proudly, adamantly proclaim the worthiness and majesty of my Father to those who are missing out on the most beautiful thing in existence--Your Love.

JOB 26
“The departed spirits tremble
Under the waters and their inhabitants.
“Naked is Sheol before Him,
And Abaddon has no covering.
“He stretches out the north over empty space
And hangs the earth on nothing.
“He wraps up the waters in His clouds,
And the cloud does not burst under them.
“He obscures the face of the full moon
And spreads His cloud over it.
“He has inscribed a circle on the surface of the waters
At the boundary of light and darkness.
“The pillars of heaven tremble
And are amazed at His rebuke.
“He quieted the sea with His power,
And by His understanding He shattered Rahab.
“By His breath the heavens are cleared;
His hand has pierced the fleeing serpent.
“Behold, these are the fringes of His ways;
And how faint a word we hear of Him!
But His mighty thunder, who can understand?”

PSALM 57:10
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.

PSALM 63:2-3
So I have looked upon you in your sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.

PSALM 96:1-6
Oh sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth!
Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of people are worthless idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

Friday, July 1, 2011


Tonight I experienced something new and exciting.


I know. World traveler, college graduate, strange-job-extraordinaire, etc. who has never tried sushi?

It was true. Before tonight, the only exposure I had to sushi was a crumbled mess from a supermarket deli in which I ate the rice and scraped the random slimy ingredients to the plate.

A friend of mine (also world-traveler and college graduate) took me to a local sushi place called Fuji San. No idea what it means, but the word "fuji" will always remind me of Mt. Fujiyama photos, which in turn reminds me of Tom Cruise's movie "The Last Samurai", which then requires me to say the word in a very fast, very slurred Japanese accent.


It's pretty fun to say, really, and it's an easy way to make everything sound Japanese.
Computersan. Tablesan. Dressersan.

....I feel like a lot of people do the same with Americans (Southern especially) and the word ya'll....I know after I lived in Canada, I made sure and said "eh" after everything.

I am tired, eh? There is a storm coming, eh? Looks like the end of the world, the sky all black and everything, eh? You got hit by a raindrop just now, eh? Sucks, eh? Right on your eye, eh?




What a bizarre experience. I enjoyed a Fujisan Special Roll (crabsticks, salmon, roe, sesame, eel sauce, and avocado). The taste was pretty incredible. All the different tastes and flavors came together in a way that was very pleasing to the ole palate. However, the texture was crazy. I really have no way to describe it because I have never eaten anything with the slimy, sticky, spongy texture of sushi.

I can honestly say, though, that I enjoyed it. Much of that had to with the company, but as far as a new culinary adventure, it was a complete success. I will have sushi again in the future, for sure, especially since I will get to use chopsticks invention ever. However, how come they haven't evolved? I Western cultures we have the fork, spoon, knife, spatula, salad fork, soup spoon, tea spoon, etc. etc. until finally culminating in the highest mutation of the culinary tool genus: The Spork.

Come on, Orient. You're falling a bit behind....put your thinking caps on and let's get some creative tools attached to your bamboo sewing needles.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

crossroads and crazylove

I am reading a book right now. Correction. I am studying a book right now. I am digesting a book right now. I am absorbing a book right now.....

The book is called crazy love. It is written by Francis Chan.

I have a pretty short attention span and very high standards for this genre of literature...most of this results from the commercial manipulation of my faith. I have been in very few Christian bookstores and browsed very few church foyer tables where I did not feel a sourness in my stomach.

However, this hesitation toward commercial-Christian literature is starting to dissolve thanks to some quality recommendations from strong friends who are also pursuing the truth of Christianity and the prize of a genuine faith.

Chan's work came to me through many channels. Five friends and a sister encouraged me to "check out the book crazy love", and their recommendation was usually followed by some variation of the statement: "It's awesome."

And so far I would have to agree....though I am not sure that word sums up the experience completely.

I am in the middle of the book, and honestly, it is kicking my butt. I do not want to post a review or a summary...not I will not get into the specific reasons for my diagnosis of defeat, but Chan does not dance around his central issue, the central issue facing the Christian Church today.

We are not doing our job. As mirrors of God, the majority of us--95.674% of us--are cloudy and foggy at best. At worst we are not mirrors at all....

My mind still reels when I try to understand the perfectly coincidental timing of my studying this book. God has been testing me lately, as best I can discern anyway. Who am I to know the workings of the Creator? But I have felt Him pursuing me. I have seen His Spirit in my surroundings, heard His whisper in my searching. He has been drawing me closer to Him: through fire, through peace, through glory and shame. It truly has been remarkable to witness.

Enter the urgent message of the book.

Basically, in an incredibly powerful and Biblical manner, Chan urges his readers to truthfully examine the nature of their faith. Honestly and seriously consider the lengths we are willing to go for the God of the Universe and the Savior of our Lives and the Comforter of our Souls.

He blatantly and unashamedly proposes the idea that most Christians (especially and specifically in America) are stagnant, complacent, apathetic, habitual followers of tradition and social morality.

He throws accusations and challenges like arrows, and they would not hurt if they were not so well-targeted.

It is as if God has been working in me to this moment...testing and strengthening my faith and my spirit for this very encounter with His great purpose for my life. He has ordered my steps, and I find myself facing this new challenge, this all-or-nothing lifestyle designed to bring Him glory.

Why is it so hard to surrender? Why is it so difficult to let go? Why do my lips speak every phrase with ease, but struggle violently to even whisper, "not my will, but thine be done"?

My pride and my spirituality are taking a beating. My idea of a godly life is being redefined. My understanding of God's desire for me is changing dramatically. And I do not attest these things to Mr. Chan because his voice is secondary to the voice of God's Truth. Scriptures abound in the book, which is one of the reasons I have taken the truths presented to heart and not dismissed them as opinion. I fully believe that God is working through the words of his servant, and God's work sometimes hurts. The truth sometimes hurts. But He promised it would

I feel a crossroads approaching, if I have not already arrived, where I must make a conscious decision to move forward or succumb to insincerity and fear and allow myself to be taken downstream.

Give me strength, Father. I want to want a life of sacrifice. I desire to desire nothing else. My spirit and my flesh are both weak....

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Do the angels sing Amazing Grace
when they look upon your face?
Do the clouds glorify your name,
the sunsets give you the highest praise?

Do the planets turn and dance for you,
or the stars proclaim your perfect truth?
Will the rocks sing of your endless love
or the rain as it pours from skies above?

Do the waves roar when you draw near
the smallest sparrows tremble in fear?
Does the moon reflect your holy light
Or the morning sun your fire ignite?

Out of all Creation you chose me
to shine your light so they will see
The power of love, the depth of grace,
The healing power of your holy name.

Out of all history you have chosen me
to conquer the world so that it will see
the power of the light, the end of the dark,
your Amazing Grace, how great thou art.

You formed me in the dust with your hand
fashioned life from this grain of sand
You saved me from the dust with your death
offered life with your dying breath.

More than conquerors, more than clay.
More than sinners, more than saints.
More than mountains, oceans, valleys low.
More than the death our sins have sown.

Formed in the dust, finished on a cross
Everything I gain is counted loss
Filled with the promise fulfilled in your name
When we shall see you, oh glorious day.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

:help my unbelief:

Faith….what is it?

Is it perseverance despite a lack of proof?

Is faith mere certainty?

Is it constant, unceasing security?

Is it belief?

If I believe something, do I have faith in that something?

This cannot seem to be the case because “even the demons believe”—and tremble in fear and awe and total recognition of their helplessness. So therefore, one would think that faith is not belief or emotional reaction.

It is not fear, guilt, shame, joy, happiness, comfort.

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.”

What does it mean, then, to have strong faith?


Abraham is one of our examples in Scripture.

He climbed the mountain, clinging to a hope that God would raise his son from the dead after his hand drove a knife through the young boy’s chest. Does this mean at no time on this trek did Abraham falter, cry out in the depth of his soul, look down on the valley and think of packing his tent and returning to Ur?

I don’t think so.

Abraham was an example of faith, but Abraham was a human example.

So what convinces us to continue? What turned Abraham toward the mountain again? In those moments when he struggled, when doubt whispered in his ear, what finally forced him to lead his son to slaughter?


I think Abraham’s memory played a part in this perseverance.

I think he remembered two things: God’s promised future and his personal past.

Denying his faith in God meant denying all the miraculous things he had seen—all the evidence of grace and patience and faithfulness. Giving in to doubt meant returning to the environment of his ancestors—to the uncertainty, the pointless searching, the pagan rituals, the worship of material things. I think he remembered who he was outside the covenant—another rich citizen. However, persevering meant accepting his new role, who he was in the covenant—the ruler of an entire nation, the patriarch of the ocean sands and night stars, a friend of God Himself. I think in those moments, Abraham, through strength of mind and will, forced himself up the mountain…and it was counted to him as righteousness.

So maybe faith is a choice, a conscious decision to believe God regardless of how we feel at the moment of our doubt. Perhaps faith is choosing to sacrifice our independent intelligence that would seem to dissuade us from the supernatural experience of a new creation, and choosing to do this even in those moments when it may all seem like a waste of time—those dark minutes when everything seems so distant, so fantastical, so doubtful…

In fact, perhaps it is only through these times that faith is necessary. During the other times, when we “feel” like a child of God, how often do we question? How often do we doubt? How often, during a rousing worship service or a deep conversation with an intimate friend, do we need that quality of faith that carries us when there is no light of confidence in our soul?

When “God is working” in a tangible or even a definite, emotional way, there suddenly becomes this distance from true faith, because now our security and certainty is based on the satisfactory feeling, the sense of calm or comfort. Now, I do not believe these feelings are a bad thing. I absolutely believe that God excites, overjoys, encourages, quiets, soothes, etc our hearts and minds with the gifts of our emotions. These are not to be feared, but to be recognized as mediums with which He works, rather than guarantors of our condition.

This experience belonged to the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration when there was a great amount of proof—both physical and emotional—that they were in the presence of the Almighty. Undoubtedly there was a mixture of emotions, which settled into peace of mind. This time did not require the action of faith because the evident reality of their belief was so incredibly present, so magnificently obvious and direct.

Perhaps think of it in this way…On a crisp, spring day, one might find it easy to be in a pleasant mood. The birds are chirping, a breeze is blowing, children are laughing in the park. The whole world seems excited and alive. In this event, barring some deep personal tragedy, one would not need a great strength of mind or emotional soundness to walk with an open chest and whistle a favorite tune. However, on a dreary winter morning when icy rain bites and gloomy clouds settle on the city like a steel wool blanket, one typically has to fight to repress feelings of depression, tiredness, and woe. In this event, we see the vital importance of conscious emotional focus and submission because in this event, it is needed to maintain our desired—or our optimal—state of being.

A town does not know the strength and efficiency of its fire department until flames threaten their homes and businesses. They do not recognize the need salvation when there is no present catastrophe, except for peace of mind should the unthinkable occur. Perhaps this is something we should consider in the realm of faith. I wonder how many times faith is discussed in the Bible in direct relation to some trial of mind, body, or soul. Job, Abraham, David, the saints of the church, are all mentioned in relation to faith, and all of them are in relation to their personal strength during suffering. Faith is not fire insurance, but assurance during the fire.

Just like the town does not recognize their need for a fire brigade when there are no fires, we live as if we do not need faith unless we are in some sort of trial. BUT just as the townsfolk would be incredibly foolish to not institute a fire department, we as humans are beyond this foolishness when we leave faith from our daily life. For if there is one thing the townsfolk and we Christians share, it is the realization that fires will come. They will consume the walls of emotional experience, intellectual defense, and any other tangible proof—save a foundation on the rock of faith. This is when we need our faith…yet how tragic is it that I dismiss this faith from my daily and weekly pursuits of emotional highs and the “peace beyond understanding”. How tragic is it that I look for God and search for Him in an effort to repair the problems and enhance the pleasures of my life and leave my faith in weakness and frailty. No wonder when the fire arrives I look up in anger and amazement rather than joy.

How does one strengthen faith? How does one acquire this action/virtue?

Virtues—faith, hope, trust, self-control, mercy, etc. are only increased when they are tested, only strengthened when they are used.


Take self-control—a denial of some personal desire. The only way one can practice self-control is for one to deny something they desire. It is not self-control if you do not want it. If you refuse to enter an establishment of ill-repute because you are afraid someone will see your car in the parking lot—you are not practicing self control, but simple fear-based reasoning akin to a kid with his hand in the cookie jar. In fact, if I might be so bold, we rarely exemplify true self-control. We always seem to create some reason in our mind why we do not want something or cannot have something rather than just admitting our desire and deciding to deny it.

“I really want to buy this, but if I do, then I won’t be able to get those shoes or go to the movies.”

Not self control. A prioritization of desires.

How do we strengthen it?

Use it. Start with little things and work up, though, rather than leaping into a den of debauchery and saying I led you there to practice self control. Say no to a movie, say no to a purse, say no to a friend, say no to something. Deny yourself something you want, even if that something is not sinful, and you will see how terrible we are at self control. The first thing you will ask yourself is “Why?”

“Why should I not get this? I can afford it?”

After discussing poor examples of self control, I will include a genuine example which I believe will also answer the above question.

“I really want this job, but if I take this job, my children will not have the best chance at a positive future.”

“I really want this new cd, but I could use the money to buy dinner for a friend having a difficult time.”

This is self control. Refusal, not out of a different form of personal gain (reputation or alternate entertainment), but from a selfless desire to promote the well-being of another.

Self control and selflessness go hand-in-hand.


....that part was free....


I do not want to get too far off-track. The purpose of this example is to show how our virtues—those things in our life we might think we have—are often found lacking when we need them most, and this might be the result of their weakened state due to atrophy. The point still remains, and can even be applied to the previous example, we do not recognize our need for them until they are required of us.

Right now, my faith is needed.

Right now, my faith is required of me.

And right now, my faith is weak.

The time when I need those feelings of peace and comfort and trust, they are nowhere to be found—because they are fleeting, based on tangible events or emotional triggers—and because God has chosen, in His will, to not rain them down upon me. Now it’s just me and the darkness of doubt, and the only things that will save me are the faith I am questioning and the truths of Him and His Word that I am doubting.

Ironic and cruel, in a way.

But it’s not faith if there is overwhelming evidence. It’s not self-control if I refuse something I do not want. It’s not blind love if only directed at those easy to love.

So, I am on a mountainside, in the middle of an exhaustive climb, and right now I struggle with the promises of God and question the reality of His presence. I look back, wondering, fearing, thinking, despairing. My next motion will either increase my reliance on a power beyond myself or increase my own sense of control and my own power over my life.

And honestly, I do not want to go back to the way things were.

I remember my life before Him.

I remember my pain before His healing.

I remember my wandering before His guidance.

And I want nothing to do with it.

I would rather walk in blind faith, mocked by the perceived intelligence of my own flesh and the social acceptance of my culture, than return to a present without purpose and a future without hope.

So now I turn to the mountain and force my feet to walk. I still do not feel the sun on my back, but I force my bones to bend and my muscles to move, even as I am surrounded by doubt, and I cry out to a God I cannot see and cannot feel and ask Him to save a wretch like me.


This will not be my last climb. This will not be my last trial. And these thoughts will not be my last on the strange topics of belief and faith and doubt. I do not claim all of the above to be truth, nor do I claim it to be a wholly accurate description of my personal doctrine. These are thoughts from a chaotic mind, thought during a chaotic time. I hope they are encouraging/revelatory. I hope you find comfort in them should you happen to be on a mountain. I hope you pray for me if you are in the sunlight. This time is an important one, and while some parts of this rant may seem to promote independence of action and thought, I am very much aware of my complete need for Him.

May the God of peace be with you. He is so much bigger than anything I could ever fear, and this time is necessary to bring me closer to Him.

Grace and peace.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Father of Lights

Blessed are you, God and Father of my Lord Jesus Christ.
According to your great mercy, you have caused me to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for me, who, by your power, am being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this I rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, I have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of my faith--more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire--may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though I have not seen Him, I love Him. Though I do not now see Him, I believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of my faith, the salvation of my soul."


I need to make an announcement.

God is incredible.

I know something similar is said by a thousand mouths in a thousand seconds in a thousand places, and perhaps we become too calloused to the truth. Perhaps because all of our worship songs sing it, all our Christian bookstores sell it, all our believer friends say it, the truth can be lost in repetition.

But God really is amazing, and I cannot even begin to express my thoughts regarding the majesty He has shown in this past year. My analytical mind wants to halt these words long enough to work out some kind of cohesive, in-depth research essay on the glory of God, so I can pinpoint every single event and connect them with every single emotion, but I am not going to wait for such a complete summation. I am going to sporadically write my thoughts without planning, without editing, without correcting, erasing, retyping. I want my words to flow, and I want my flawed, disconnected words to somehow bring praise to the One who has given me everything I could hope for and eternity beside.

My words will never be enough...the best thoughts my ignorant, simple, scattered brain can conjure will always fail to comprehend the greatness of His love, glory, mercy, compassion, patience, faithfulness. But that doesn't mean I don't try...that doesn't mean I don't stammer and stutter and whisper and shout and cry and laugh at the ideas of Him, at the nature of His Spirit, the sacrifice and love of His Son.

The love of God is greater far
than tongue or pen can ever tell,
It goes beyond the highest star
and reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair,
bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win
His erring child He reconciled
And pardoned from his sin.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forever more endure
the saints and angels' song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the sky of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above
would drain the ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
though stretched from sky to sky.

This year has been so difficult...This year has brought me to lows I never thought existed, into valleys of great shadow and fear...This year has caused me to doubt the very ideas of life, God, the future, happiness...

This year has been so amazing...This year has showed me the truth of God, the faithfulness of God, the love of God, the patience of God...This year has brought me into a time of great joy and great blessing...This year has consumed me with a complete reliance on my Father.

Through fire, our faith is purified.
Through fire, God shows His glory.
For every battle, a victory.
For every tear, a comfort.

God is a God of victory. And though sorrow lasts for a night, a year of nights, joy comes in the morning of His presence, and just as He is faithful to lead us into times of suffering and trial, He is faithful to lift our heads and look at the future awaiting us.

This is my simple, flawed, incomplete declaration of His unspeakable love and faithfulness, and I cannot wait for the day when my imperfections are transformed into perfections, and I am able to finally praise Him in His complete presence.


"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever Amen. "

"Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

"Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

"He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

"Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful."

"Is any one among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise."

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed."

"For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith."

Now to you, who is able to keep me from stumbling and to present me blameless before the presence of your glory with great joy, to you, the one and only God, my Savior, through Jesus Christ my Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

First Impressions of the City

I wrote the following thoughts down in a notebook at Sugar Cafe, a coffee shop in San Francisco full of beautiful people.
These are rambling and chaotic, disconnected and strange, but they stem from my observations of the crazy new climate I experienced.
I think the greatest thing about all of this thinking and writing was the connection I made about cities and the world at large....very illuminating for me.


The city life is incredible.

Everyone is an outsider. Everyone is isolated. Even in a group, you are isolated outsiders.
It is a place where the confident are sharks and the rest of us are clown fish, afraid to leave the confines of our coral apartments.
People put themselves on display, equate everyone else with what they wear and where they do what.
Location, location, location.
For an obsessive, hyper-conscious person such as myself, I would never survive.
I cannot help but be conscious of what I say, how I say it, what I wear, and how I wear it.

Independence is everywhere.
It's a paradox, because there are so very many in this environment, yet there is so much loneliness. How is this possible?
It's not all bad.
People are friendly, but I feel like everyone has become so accustomed to being in a shell that there is never an attempt to move beyond work or current social groups.
I'm not sure.
I think most of it stems from a mis-identity with people, a cycle of wrongly-placed importance. Our society has placed in our minds such an emphasis on standing out, being noticed, being cool and hip and catching someone's attention, that it's almost like stepping out the door is an assessment, the presentation of a final draft we are not sure is complete.

A strong sense of social worth and belonging and purpose allows one to parade through streets and coffee shops with bravado and ease. This person is a final draft they are proud of, one they could see getting published, accepted as literature, enjoyed by the masses.

A weak sense of social worth, and the person is forced to place an incomplete manuscript in front of watchful eyes. A walking rough draft that may, at first glance, seem ready for critique, but in reality, it is full of holes--and the author knows it. This false confidence is often over-done, and it is then eclipsed by resulting shame and discontent.

I cannot imagine being an active, productive, strong Christian without a central group of fellow believers at my disposal. A group that offers encouragement and affirmation in the midst of such an overwhelming call for independence and security.

Consider the specific case of a romantic relationship--one defined by a certain amount of intimacy--when all of the pressure for success is placed on the duo's shoulders. It's not wonder so many buckle under the weight. How can two people so very independent and confident and self-reliant come to a place of genuine need for the other? How can someone, the result of years of personal discipline and social indoctrination, arrive at a place of emotional dependency on another, a place of emotional trust in the other person? Could the difficulty of this be a reason why so many relationships are based on physical connection and intimacy, rather than emotional attachment? When it is very challenging and demanding for self-reliant people to rely on another emotionally, the only thing left to offer is physical connection, something we all know to be, in and of itself, neither challenging or demanding. It is the easiest connection. We don't even have to think. In fact, in some cases, thinking is a great way to ruin such shallow pursuits. Could this tendency toward physical attraction further emphasize the need for one to present one's self in the most attractive and reflective manner? Could this be why so many rough drafts try so very hard to look final? They fix the margins and change the fonts of the title page, but leave the substance untouched, because, after all, no one will bother to read that far...

I do not mean to mock or malign city life at all, because, the more I write this--the more I realize these characteristics are not those of a metropolis. These are not traits of a collection of humanity, but of humanity itself. Everyone, in any social demographic, experiences these same truths every day. From the highrise apartments in NYC to the trailer parks in rural Missouri. We are all unique snowflakes, yes, but we are all snow, and the same white blanket of vices and virtues covers all humanity. We are all independent. We are all isolated. We are all wrapped up in our comfort zones and social cliques. We all feign confidence. We all demand perfection.

However, just as a scientist connects the dots easier with a larger number of guinea pigs, these traits of humanity are seen clearer when more of us are in one place. Competition increases with each athlete added to a contest, independence and ambition increase with each human added to a given location.

Because of this, as I mentioned earlier, being a passionate Christian within the physical and cultural limits of a major American metropolis would seem to be a very challenging thing. It would require a strong sense of identity in God--obtained through devoted prayer and regular study in His word and among His people. It is absolutely possible for a single Christian to survive and be a light in his or her social atmosphere, but it means obstacles and persecution, but obstacles and persecution demand focus on God and purify our faith.

I think the only point of this whole discussion was to work out my thoughts about the city environment, which are, in turn, thoughts on humanity at large. The implication of all this talk is the recognition of the existence of difficulty in a strong, faithful Christian life. We have to understand our battle and respond to it appropriately.

Independence vs Dependence.
This is a battle I fight daily.
I want to be self-reliant. I want to be an island. I want security. I want absolute certainty.
But independence is not the Christian life.
I am human. I am incomplete without a relationship to my Creator.
Even though every cell in my brain screams for independence and self-reliance, I know my body and soul were created for union with the Trinity of Glory.

Pride and humility wage a war inside me. Inside us.

I love you all.