Things have a habit of just happening. A lot of the time it’s when we least expect them to and we aren’t ready for the impact that these events carry. However, there are a few times in which these events are welcome and embraced as part of our ever-changing identity.
Recently, I had just begun to be intentional about a lot of things. One of which was keeping a journal. It isn’t about my daily activities or my feelings, well… not in the sense that we would write about them in a diary. Rather, how these feelings manifest themselves in the two biggest facets of my life: Personally and Professionally. Truth be told, I didn’t have a lot of faith in the idea that critiquing and documenting the way I live my life wouldn’t inspire much change in it.
Boy, was I wrong.
Being able to be honest with yourself is one thing. Holding yourself accountable is quite another and I’ve found that using a journal is a great way to do exactly that. Once it’s on paper, you can’t get rid of it. You can’t deny it. It’s out there for anyone and everyone to see. Furthermore, it’s an expression of what you truly feel and how those feelings alienate you toward what the circumstances regarding them. It’s very hard to express yourself and at the same time be complicit in the notion that how things seem and how they actually are can be different.
In the last two weeks, the general theme that has surrounded the vision I’ve had is acknowledging my fears. The fear of failing, in particular. I’ll be open with you. Most of my teenage to adult life, I have had plenty of reason to believe that I had been an unmitigated failure. I had unfulfilled relationship after another. I’ve been in positions where I wasn’t being gratified in terms of a career. I had lost confidence in hope in the idea of being genuinely happy. I’ve even gone as far as to say that I wasn’t ever going to get married and been vocal about how I believed that life was over for me.
So, as a result of these feelings, I decided that everyday (Starting Feb. 1st) I was going to write down my goals for the day and questions I needed to ask myself that would allow me to search for answers. As a result, every day since then has yielded guidance and a place to go when my path strayed away from my vision. It’s been a struggle, to be sure. But, a welcome one. It’s allowed me to keep myself in check. That’s a new and refreshing change of pace after running rough shot all over the place for so long.
The whole experience for me has been like having a bag full of random things. We carry all of these things wherever we go. Whether it be material things or emotional baggage or whatever the case may be, it goes with us. Whenever we stumble and lose control of that bag, we become panicked and frantically pick up the pieces and pull ourselves back together. By doing so, we continue the project the illusion that we have everything under control when the reality is those very things dictate and manipulate how we portray our personal integrity.
But, God isn’t the kind of guy to trip us up and create a situation where we have to go through that kind of regrouping. I’ve personally experienced (Here lately more so now than I ever have) that He is the type to take what we have in hand and ask, “Why is this so important?” Why do we hold on to such frivolous things? We don’t care if we lose our pen or if a penny falls out of our pockets. We don’t have vested interests in those things. On the flip side, we do have a vested interest in our feelings. They are OUR feelings. They BELONG to us. What makes our feelings so different from that pen we lost or that penny we dropped? They were once OURS. They BELONGED to us. Maybe it’s because that a penny or a pen is “just stuff.”
Anyone who knows me can attest to how stubborn and inflexible I can be. One reason for that has been that I have been unwilling to forgive myself for a lot of things that have happened over the years. I’ll own whatever I’ve had my paws on and I’m not afraid to admit it. I’m not afraid to. But, there have been things that I’ve also accepted responsibility for that weren’t mine. In both cases, it’s been an insurmountable challenge to let go of these things regardless of how much or how often it’s put to me that it was necessary.
Today was a little bit different. In these two weeks, I’ve had to learn how to be patient. Being patient isn’t woven into anyone’s character. It’s definitely an acquired talent, to be sure. Throughout this process, one of the lessons has been that it’s unfair to ask God “When?” Asking that question just means our faith and our intentions aren’t necessarily on the same page. To make matters even more squirrly, God’s timing could very well be around the corner you’re about to turn.
When I walked into church this morning, a man that I’ve had bitter feelings toward for a long time now was leading worship. It was already a bad morning for me. I didn’t sleep too long and I was present to offer testimony as to how The Navigators had been helping me grow. Preface: I hate public speaking. HATE IT. But, to have to stand in front of a congregation I’m still getting used to and have to have a heartfelt expression in front of people I wasn’t ready to have that kind of talk with yet made it a lot more nerve wracking than it already was.
When I was at the podium, the first words out of my mouth were that initially I didn’t want to be where I am now. I’m man enough to admit it. I had been hurt enough. I didn’t want to go through that process again. Something my friend Tyler told me was that being around the right people can make or break an attempt at starting over. Throughout the entire process, I had my doubts. I’m big enough to admit that as well. In the back of my mind, I knew it was inevitable.
While I was speaking, I had the realization that all of these failures or “pens/pennies” were exactly that: Just failures. Just another pen lost or a penny dropped. In that moment, I came to know that there was a reason. I was impatient. I was bitter. I didn’t want to leave. I wasn’t ready to go. Me… me… me…. it was… just me.
At the end, I had come to know what it really meant to be patient. It meant that things will come when they are supposed to come. Being patient meant that things come and go and circumstances change along with them. Being patient helps build your faith in the things to come. There are a lot of moving parts about the future. Rushing them can throw a wrench into those plans and when it happens, we wonder just what the deal is. Looking at it now, it’s a kick in our personal complacency.
At the end of the service, I knew peace. I came to know that being patient would yield its own reward: Forgiveness.
When I waited to speak with this man afterwards, I told him exactly how I felt and that I understood his position and in the contrast, we found that it was definitely a God thing to be where we both are now. Even more than that, to have found some affirmation in that I was where I was supposed to be… needed to be and in the right moment to be there.
And of all the things I had found today, I had found that some of those “pennies” I had been hanging on to for so long… They didn’t matter anymore. They didn’t matter because this man hugged me. He shook my hand, hugged me, and told me how proud he was about how far I had come and encouraged me in the direction I was going.
That’s more important to me. Don’t get me wrong. Feelings are important because they are that bag we carry. But, all of these things that work against us… doubt, fear, anguish, hate, bitterness… you name it… To God, these are the “pens” and “pennies” that we care more about than we should and we can’t get so offended when He asks, “What is so important about this pen? It’s just stuff.”
It’s just stuff, people. It’s just stuff…