on bad choices and unconquerable love.

Life can be messy, you know?

It’s easy to believe Jesus when it’s not messy. When I was young and the worst things I did were sneak home a rap album and play too many video games and not do enough homework – at that point, it didn’t really mean a lot to think I was loved by Jesus – I didn’t really understand a lot of the weight of bad choices and big mistakes.

But lately, I am starting to.

In the last three or so months, I’ve made some of the biggest mistakes of my life. And to an extent – that’s okay. Sometimes I think that God sits on His throne saying, “you can do whatever you want, son. I’m telling you – it’s a bad idea, but I still love you and you can talk to me about how big of a mistake it was after it’s done. I’ll still be here.”

It’s hard to fully articulate the degree to which these mistakes have clouded my judgment, distracted me from work, from God, from church, from resting. I’ve awoken on some days completely overtaken by some thoughts – in the aftermath of some decisions that aren’t my finest.

But I’ll use Sunday as an example – I was on about two hours of sleep, distracted by the fact that I had worked all week (Although I did get the rare day off;) I’d stayed up way too late; I lost my temper too much at work that week; I was thinking about the extent to which I’d made church a priority (the answer: not high. I’ve stayed home and rested and watched Chelsea games on TV more than I’ve gone to church in the last few months. Not that going to church makes or breaks your Christianity, but man, it helps you;) and finally, I was a slave to a schedule as I was moving from my house to my new apartment and I had a great degree of running around to do for that.

I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t see Jesus. I couldn’t grasp the gospel. It was a fog. People reached out to me, introduced themselves to me, and invited me to their connect group, but my brain was so far away that none of it really registered.

I think it was all fruit of choices. More specifically, it was bad fruit of bad choices. It was choosing not to take care of my body, choosing not to relax and unwind when I should have done, it was staying up way too late and not resting, it was choosing to do the things I thought I wanted which, ironically, only brought me more anxiety.

Aaaaaaaand I wonder why I have a hard time with the thought of plugging into a new church.

But here’s what I love about God: all of this has to be so small to Him.

I like to think that when we’re living forever with God, He’ll look back with us at the days when we felt we were at our darkest, and we’ll laugh about all of the little things that stressed us to the point of tears. We’ll realize just how merciful and gracious He was in those moments, how much grace He still extended. We’ll realize how powerful His love is – that in the face of failure and darkness, He stood open-handed waiting for us to respond.

I remember a morning last year when I was still at River of Life – we were singing the song Forever by Kari Jobe. A line I’d sung a million times finally stuck out to me like a sore thumb.

His perfect love could not be overcome.

God, in that moment, spoke in a voice louder than I’d ever remembered hearing Him before.

It’s not so much that the enemy of our souls can’t overcome His love – that’s true.

But I think that this is what it means…

My doubt can’t overcome His love.
My fear can’t overcome His love.
My insecurity can’t overcome His love.
My mistakes can’t overcome His love.
If I reject His love, not even that overcomes it.

The amazing thing about the love of God is that the impetus is always on Him – not us.

I tend to think of it like this…

Whenever I’ve dated a girl, her response to my treatment is the determining factor. I can give everything I have in a relationship, but if she doesn’t respond to it, if she doesn’t accept it, then it means nothing. The love loses all of its impetus. Her opinion of me and her response to me can crush me or uphold me.

Not so with our response to God. God is God whether we accept love or not, God loves whether we believe it or not, God loves whether we know it or not.

I can’t drown out God’s love with cognition – because it’s not just a thought. I can’t drown it out with logic or reason – because it’s not just a feeling. I can’t drown it out with rejection or doubt – because it’s a steadfast choice He has made.

and that’s really, really good news.

on tattoos.

I just got my third tattoo (maybe my last for a while due to finances) and I’ve never been prouder of a tattoo – I’ve not loved one to this degree, maybe that’s due to how it compliments my other tattoos; maybe it’s because my artist put more of his own spin on this one than he’s been able to ones previous; maybe because it’s the biggest; but definitely because it’s the best.

Anyway, my opinions on tattoos are at an all time activity level.

Today, as I was perusing Facebook, I saw someone share an article about 41 of the dumbest tattoos of all time, and my heart was filled with emotion – and at this point, I start to get judgmental. So anyone with “dumb” tattoos, or artists, feel free to call me out if I’m being a little singular-minded here…

But I get sad, and I get mad when I see people have meaningless tattoos. I have no intent of regretting my tattoos when I’m 60 years old, because for one, they’ll have been a part of me for a long time, and second, they have a lot of meaning to me. Each one is like a message that still rings true and that I believe with the whole of my heart – None of my tattoos are an attempt to justify my actions or existence (ie. “No regrets” or “Only God Can Judge Me”); none of my tattoos are a fad or a cultural tide; none of my tattoos are an idol or a tribute (ie. my late grandmother’s face, a famous musician or author, and oh by the way, that’s what the Bible means when it says don’t get tattoos or markings for the dead. it’s idolatry.)

So I get a little irate when I see people who have dice tattooed on them. I get a little pissed when I see an Elvis tattoo. I get a little weirded out when people get their dead dog on their calves. I judge people who get “Only God Can Judge Me” on their arms.

Again, I could be wrong here – but this is what gets me worked up about tattoos – they are permanent. It’s not something you should make the stake of a bet. It’s not something you should do on a whim when you’re slightly drunk. It’s not something you should do without considering an idea and marinating on it for weeks, if not months, if not years. It’s not something you should do if you can’t afford it.

Tattoos are, I opine, one of the deepest forms of art. Tattoos are the image of yourself that you choose to convey to others. They’re there when you work, there when you play, there when you socialize, and there when you’re alone. They’re there when you read, when you write, when you sing, or when you create. They’re there when you’re being serious or when you’re being funny and lighthearted. When you adventure. When you travel, when you stay home. They’re a big deal. Therefore, why in the world would I get something that doesn’t mean a lot to me? Why would I get a tattoo that doesn’t say a lot about my beliefs, or my life philosophy? Why would I get a cupcake sitting on a toilet? What does that do? What does that say about me?

A tattoo is a crazy experience – a wonderful high and a fantastic permanency. It endues you with pride, with meaning, with purpose. They’re “reminders” – even if you don’t need them – of things that are important, or that give you deep-seated joy. Shouldn’t be whimsical. I highly recommend it to everyone, but I also highly recommend it on the grounds that you give it a year’s consideration (oh, and that you have a job you love and that allows you to have tattoos. That are visible. Because why would you get something you couldn’t see?)

Make art.

Make art that means something.