Been Awhile…

It’s been awhile since I’ve written last, or since the last time that I’ve written.

Nobody reads this, and that used to bother me, but not anymore.

The older that I get my need for validation has grown obsolete. I think that validation and recognition are sicknesses. I suffered from them both.

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Now I am comfortable saying that I can live my life free of fame or recognition. I am not the star of my life….

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I do believe.

I’m just looking for You in something. Not the generic everyday be grateful for what you have kind of way, but I’m looking for You.

I read about You every night before I go to sleep and I ask myself, “Can this be true?”

“Can He be true?”

“Is He who is says He is?”

My heart says yes. My soul says yes.

I am tired of hearing everyone else’s account of You. I want to know for myself. In a real and absolute way. I want to know that You are more than a character in a really old book. I need to know that You actually hear me.

I need to know You.

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This love is not based on what I give You. Or what I have to give You. I guess that would be what’s so amazing about Your love. You sacrificed so much when I gave you nothing. Sometimes I feel like I’ve robbed You. If I’m honest I could’ve done way more. But this love isn’t interested in what I could do, or what I can do. It blows my mind that You have chosen to love me, just for me. Not as a result of, or by any certain circumstance. You just love me.

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Kindness.

You know, I was writing a whole other blog. I was trying to be really deep and super spiritual but I couldn’t finish it. I need to write about kindness. Do not let that word fool you. Kindness is a force to be reckoned with. Kindness is not weakness. Often times kindness precedes the most powerful force on earth. For where kindness is shown you can be sure love is not too far behind. I felt an urgency to write about kindness because I am not kind. Isn’t that crazy?! Not really. I never claimed I had any answers so you shouldn’t be so surprised. Sure, I will open the door for an older person. Of course I use manners when I am speaking to someone for the first time. I don’t use first names when I’m meeting people out of respect. Unless your name is Mr. or Mrs. which would be super weird. Kindness is more than niceties and pleasantries. Kindness is defined as a quality of being. (yes I did just bust out a definition thank you dictionary.com #official) I want to be kind when no one is around, that’s quality to me.

 Honestly I can’t say that I have been kind. I’ve only thought of myself, and my actions have reflected my ideals. However, kindness is the cure for the sickness that is selfishness. I think that kindness is me doing the best I can for you even if it’s just for a second. Even if the best I can do for you is helping pick up the coupons you dropped in the toothpaste aisle at the market. Maybe my best is not responding to anger with anger, because I believe kindness can be shown in what you don’t do or say.
 

You know what I find that is interesting about us humans? We can’t give what we aren’t giving ourselves. I cannot love someone else if I do not love myself. I cannot be honest with you, if I am not honest with myself. I cannot be kind to you if I mistreat and devalue who I am. That wouldn’t be balanced. You can’t take something out of nothing no matter how cool it sounds to say it. I just want to be kind, to my wife. I want my sons to say that their father was a kind man. It times past I would’ve measured myself by what I’ve done for my sake. Now I realize that the true measure of who I am can be found in what I’ve done for others.

That’s why I love Jesus. I look at what He did for us. I look at the things He said. I think about the things He could’ve said. He could’ve really embarrassed the woman at the well. He could’ve called the man out who had been sleeping with the woman the Pharisees wanted to stone. He didn’t. He did His best for those people that needed Him even if it was just for 2 or 3 scriptures. A moment of kindness can change a life.

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I used to say that the greatest testament to my faith was myself, but now thanks the book “Why Jesus” by Ravi Zacharias I realize that, by me saying that I was making my faith exclusive to me. So I want to say that my relationship with Christ has not only changed my life, but I am positive He can change anyone’s life.

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I’ve been ashamed to tell people where I live for the past few years. It’s funny how we let things define us. We all fall prey to letting our fears, follies and shortcomings speak for us. Unfortunately as of right now, the area where I live and am trying to raise a family is not the greatest place. So many nights I spent hating, and questioning what divine purpose was being fulfilled by my occupancy there? The scriptures read that “hope deferred makes the heart sick…” and once again that is a truth that resonates deep through the passages of my life. It’s the hope, not the struggle that floods my heart with grief when it seems good never comes to pass. I am a fan of good, and things that are right. I admire fabled stories of good triumphing over bad which I believe is justice in its own sense, so not only have I found myself in a place I’d rather not be I cannot reason why I’m there. I believe that a great injustice had taken place in my life, I think that the same can be said about some of the other residents of the community I live in as well. Most of us are all living with a sense of why, and our hearts are all sick. Some of us have not known hope for quite sometime.

  It’s amazing how often times some of the most inspirational stories originate from the most devastating circumstances. Almost like how soldiers find purpose in the trenches during war, purpose that gives them the will to persevere. It’s how mothers find the strength to raise sons and daughters in the absence of their fathers often times raising them to be productive members of society. You know how the truth of equality rises from the ashes of oppression? They found truths to their given situations, after they came to view the problem not as only a problem but an opportunity to change what has went wrong and make it right. The struggle is only as large as the heart of the person will allow it to be. So I’m no longer ashamed of where I live, if anything my living here was necessary. Maybe to gain true definition of hope you must be surrounded by people who feel hopeless. I am learning to love people who don’t love me. To have vision for young black men who society writes off as menacing. How these babies clothe their insecurities in violence so that your too afraid to ask them how they are doing, or what they want to do with their lives. I’ve seen first hand the adverse affect of drugs and how it plagues the lives of residence in a community, and claims the lives of those who can’t break free. I’ve seen widows and fatherless children, I have also seen men and women who are hopeful for the future and work hard to provide for their families. They have not lost sight and are ever faithful in their belief that trouble won’t last always. I’ve found purpose on those beaten sidewalks under the street light on those muggy Georgia nights. I learned the struggle is only part of the story it does not define it.

Made from Scratch.

Paul is the author to some of my favorite scriptures in the Bible. One of those being Romans 7:15, “I don’t really understand myself for what I want to do is right, but I don’t do it….”. Wow. It’s like even 2000 years ago people were going through basically the same things we go through today which only confirms another scripture found in the Bible Ecclesiastes 1:9 “there’s nothing new under the sun.”
    

    I think about Paul and how awkward he must’ve felt in the Christian circles he was running in. Not everybody was mature as he was, surely there were some raised eyebrows and sighs of contention all due to his presence. Little kids staring at him because they heard their parents say that he was the murderer that had found Jesus. People are funny that way, always wanting to remember someone for who they were not who they’re becoming, but Paul was in all actuality an ex-murderer it’s true. I wondered how he dealt with that? The grief that he felt knowing that he had taken innocent lives, ministering to the people he had once brought charges against. I wonder sometimes if He thought about the pleas of the Christians he executed? How he once considered their words heresy, now he knew them as truth. How can you deal with that: When your wrong, and you know your wrong, and everybody knows your wrong, but Jesus still uses you? Was Paul able to erase those faces from his memory? Within a few moments of his life he went from terrorist to evangelist. A lot of areas in my life resemble Paul’s.

In my life I have always tried to do the right thing. Ever since the 7th grade when I stood up to Big Antoine because he was picking on a smaller kid. I dedicated myself to always going right when others went left. Looking at my life now I wonder what was all that good for? It has not made a significant difference in my life at all. I think in my younger days I had the idea that good was some sort of currency that I could bank on. Now here I am 13 years later ready to make withdrawals only to find “insufficient funds” stamped all over different areas of my life. In my anger I lash out. People far and wide know about my anger issues. Some have suffered directly, others indirectly, and no matter how much good that I think I do, it always seems as if my shortcomings precede me, and are put on display in the back of people’s minds. I think this is where Paul and I are similar. Men with treacherous pasts rescued by grace and made new, but the difference is Paul really believed he was made new, not me I struggle with that.

I think about those 2 words: made new. I realize you can’t make something new if you are still looking back at the old. (Please understand that I’m talking to myself hear as well.) You can’t really make something new with old materials that would just be making a new design not making something new. The design may work for awhile but eventually the materials will give way. To truly make something new, you got to strip it down and start from scratch. Just like Paul was stripped down, knocked off his ride and blinded. Where he was headed no longer matter, what he was doing, no longer matter, all that mattered to Paul was finding out what just happened to him, and not only that but Who happened to him? The journey to scratch is always drastic, because it’s where we really realize who we are and who God is. Only from scratch. God doesn’t want to take our old and make it better, He wants to take our old and destroy it.  When God builds someone up there is no denying it regardless of what the past looks like. That’s why those people could talk about Paul all they wanted and those kids could stare but nobody could deny the Lord was at work in His life. What a testimony for God when we can tell the world, “this righteousness is not my own, this love that I can give is not my own, this grace that has been displayed in my life is not my own, but all this was made possible by Jesus.” Paul stated several times throughout the epistles in different context that he was a major sinner but he had been rescued. Paul didn’t have to convince anyone of anything he used to be a murderer but he had been saved by grace and that grace was all that mattered.

Paul actually makes me feel like a wussy now that I’m at the end of this blog. I mean the man was a murderer but had no problem believing he had been saved by God. I’ve never killed anything except for the occasional spiders and mosquitoes and here I am struggling with the thought of being saved by grace. It all starts with belief. We’re never out of God’s reach. We’re never too far gone. All we have to do is believe, and be prepared to start from scratch.