[mingling.]

this is not a task for the faint of heart

this is not your gift if you’re willing to quit

this is not your war if you’re not willing to die

this is not your right if you’re willing to run.

 

you crawled in a bed acting like it’s a favor

but it’s never that simple, it’s never so easy 

you can’t use your body to pay your hearts debts

you can’t just pretend they’re not one in the same

 

there’s nothing wrong with being confident

but i’ve got some problems not telling the truth

i’ve got a problem pretending

that there’s not a lot at stake

 

if you just can’t take it when she’s feeling mad

if you run away whenever he’s sad

if you’ve got your eyes on anyone else

if you’re holding back cause you’re scared of your secrets 

 

this ain’t a job for a girl in a bar

you can’t mingle souls if you don’t know their scars

it’s not a reward for a man with good words

i don’t like your plan if you aren’t assured

lenten prayer.

Glorious, gracious and good God,

You have caused the sun to rise today; You have caused breath to enter and exit my lungs; you have caused the earth to turn once more and given grace and mercy with the dawn of this new day.

Let me (us) not forget that it is by You I exist, through You I exist, for You I exist, and in You I exist. It is in You that I, along with all of the world, live, move, and have my being.

For this reason, bring my spirit down to size. Give me grace to live for a greater cause than simply myself – give me compassion for my neighbors, and humility to not live in excess. Give me courage to speak the truth, and give me security to love unconditionally and indiscriminately.

When I pray, give me awareness of how great You are, and how small I am. From ashes I came, to ashes I will return.

When I fast, give me awareness of the hunger of my neighbors.

When I rejoice and feast, give me a glimpse of the heavenly meal that all of the saints will one day share.

 

Gracious God, You hold me in the palm of Your hand, I am nothing without You. Let my work, relationships, interests, conversations, and engagements exist with that truth at the forefront.

having the conversation.

this is an off-the-cuff post; inspired half by things I thought upon perusing twitter first thing in the morning, and half by the twitter purge I began in the evening.

 

See, I got myself really worked up this morning, and I sort of have been lately. So maybe I’ll start with the angst and move on to the alternative.

Lately, the two worlds I’ve been a part of – the conservative, evangelical world and the liberal, more progressive world (I’m not saying they’re mutually exclusive, nor am I trying to imply that to be conservative you must be un-progressive or vice versa) – have been butting heads with each other. Some of my twitter follows/followers have been tweeting at bloggers or writers or pastors that I have known and loved for a long time about various issues that I would say center around justice/injustice in the world: issues like gender inequality, gender roles, racial inequality, acceptance of the LGBTQ community, etc. And for me, it’s pretty exhausting.

 

It’s exhausting because I love each side of the conversation a lot, and I hate that, to be frank, calling it a “conversation” is pretty disingenuous.

 

A lot of times, it seems like people are just yelling at each other over social media, and it WEARS.ME.OUT.

 

It wears me out because I can’t have an actual conversation with these people sometimes. It wears me out because I, too, want to look at these deep issues facing our society – issues of the evolution of gender roles, of racism and class inequality, of humanism and sexuality and all of this stuff – I’m happy to have a conversation about them. I’m happy to talk because I’m happy to learn, and because I have no earthly idea.

 

I’ve realized lately that my perspective is really, really small compared to the rest of the world – I don’t know what it’s like to be a northerner, a westerner, a European, an African, an Asian, a black man, a Hispanic, a woman, an athiest, a member of the LGBTQ community; I have no idea what it’s like to see a police officer and fear for my life, to hide secrets from my parents or my church in fear that they’ll disown me, to feel discrimination in the workplace, etc.

 

And while I appreciate how limited my perspective is, it seems that people like me are dismissed quickly from the conversation. We aren’t given the room to learn, to converse, because we are in the majority, the favored class, and we are all swept aside in one massive generalization:

 

AMERICAN, STRAIGHT WHITE MALE.

“You can’t relate.”

“You don’t understand.”

“You’ll never know what it’s like.”

“You’re the problem.”

Now, let me be careful lest I sound like I’m using my privileged position to sound indeed unprivileged; that’s not what I’m trying to do.

I suppose that what I’m trying to do is ask for invitation to the conversations, the conversations that are too long, complex, and difficult to have over social media. The conversations that, quite frankly, you should have while eating with people, while having coffee, while doing life together, because we should have these conversations with people that we know. I’m not in a position to judge the people on my social media platforms, even if I’m inclined to, because I don’t know them. I don’t work with them, or go to church with them, or hang out with them; I’ve never heard the sound of their voice before – so how can I have a conversation about justice with them?

Isn’t there something to be said about knowing someone as an individual before you can judge their character based on their opinions? For instance – theres a really good chance that a lot of great business minds are total racists. There’s a really good chance that some of the loudest voices for injustice are lousy workers at their job. Surely we can’t simply group people together: “The conservatives are racist assholes who are nice to no one, hate every black person, they’re all rich, they all go to church, they’re shallow, afraid of conversation and they’re dogged in their beliefs. The liberals are noble humanists who read all the books and who are all eloquent in their speech, they’re entirely open-minded and fear no one, they have a plethora of conversations every day and they are nice to everyone, they are the middle-to-lower class who work hard for every penny and give everything they have to others.”

I fear that politics have skewed our ability to see other people as they truly are, and I worry that we can’t have a conversation because of it. I’m sure that a lot of people, because of the way that I act and how I interact with people, because of my financial status, age, etc. think I’m liberal, a registered democrat, etc. But – I’m a conservative raised in a conservative background, and I use those values to help me approach the issues of life. But being conservative does not equate to being closed-minded.

I also fear that social media (in conjunction with the last point) has marred our ability to have these conversations in an effective way – those people who are lionhearts behind a keyboard can defend their beliefs (whether progressive or not) and can exit the conversation whenever they want, and if they’re capable, can totally deflect all of the emotional backlash. You sort of have to on the internet – it’s one of the reasons I struggle with having a blog: I don’t have a thick skin. I wrote what most people would call an ignorant, homophobic piece a few years ago (about how people should respect Russia’s call for no LGBTQ propoganda at World Cup 2018) and got torn to shreds for it. I never wrote for that website again. But the lesson I learned from that is that in the blogosphere, while you can tackle any issue you want to any degree, you will have people who have no idea who you are, what you’re like, or what you’re really all about, judging you on one blog post. One tweet. One facebook post. One video. And you have to either deflect all of the flack entirely, or you have to spend ages cleaning up after yourself, clarifying what you said.

So maybe it’s important to start localizing these conversations. Social media is great, the blogosphere is great, but what progress are we making? Which of your neighbors, co-workers, friends have you talked to about these issues that matter the most? I haven’t had a conversation like this in person in a long time, I can tell you that. Isn’t that where we’ll actually make progress?

i have not arrived.

i have lived in five (and a half) places in my lifetime (at least that I can recall,) for various durations of time:

604 Kenway Ave (1991-99/2000)

214 Mt Vernon Road (2000-2001?)

3161 Peggy Flats Road (2001-2012)

217 Churchill Dr #1 (2012-2014)

102 Delmont Dr (2014-2015)

366 S Broadway Park (2015-present)

In my life I’ve had a lot of consistency – in the first four houses, I was living with family. In the second to last, I moved in with a couple of guys who were almost complete strangers, but we became best friends and brothers, and then this house has been a revolving door of roommates because of jobs, engagements, and the like. more on roommates later, though.

So, as you may be able to imagine and/or understand, I have a lot of sentiment about the last couple of places, because they were where I started to experience adulthood. I never made a rent payment until 2014, at the age of 23. I was on my own for once, no family to be my safety net – I was supported by friends and family, but from afar. They weren’t in my house now.

When we moved out of Delmont, I made an 11-minute video on our last night, going through and reminiscing on memories made in that house. That was where roommate A played that stupid song. Remember that time we had Pop Punk Monday? That was where the Wii U sat, and I hit it all of the time with soccer balls. This is where the couch was, where I had that cute girl over to watch a movie. This is how we set up the couches when we had our first roommate meeting. I remember eating cold cut sandwiches and drinking Mexican cokes in my room the first few weeks living here.

On and on, the memories all gushed forward – painting a beautiful picture of the year I had been fortunate enough to spend in that house, with those people.

In this apartment, it’s a little less straight forward.

Oh, quick aside: I’m moving in a month. Hence this post. Our landlord is terminating our least to do “extensive remodeling.”

This apartment doesn’t have all of the fond memories, but a few.

This apartment is an amalgamation of the night Britt and I sat and watched a movie while drinking beer and eating chips, commemorating the eminent move (I had moved in, he hadn’t just yet;) the thrill of getting a puppy, and the frustrations of dog ownership (the kid is a destructive tornado;) the anxiety of being away from church; the weight of my first major sexual mishap; the bittersweetness of the walk to and from the Starbucks three doors down, which I made to write, I made when my girlfriend stayed the night and we got morning coffee, I made since I didn’t feel like driving in to work to get coffee, etc; the sadness of living for one short month with one of my best friends, Travis, who moved to Michigan; the frustration, anger, and sadness of the breakup of 2015; the near-athiesm that came as a consequence of pre-mentioned moral failures, laziness, apathy, and cynicism towards the church; the courage, hope, and optimism I found in long walks down Broadway with a sparkling water in one hand and a podcast in both ears (the Liturgists podcast has been instrumental in me regaining my faith;) the walk down Broadway to Rupp Arena for my first ever Kentucky basketball game; the walk down Broadway to Hopcat on Monday nights with my friends, the walk down Broadway onto Bolivar to the beginning of Mill St which I took all the way to its end down by Third St. – the Walk Down Broadway.

I’ll miss that walk down Broadway. There’s a bit of me that loves it because it’s genuinely nice, and a bit of me that holds on to it because sometimes I feel it gives me an excuse and a means to still feel pain, to still doubt, to wonder, to explore, etc. It helps me come to terms with the fact that life ain’t always pretty, but as I ponder its non-prettiness, I pass by lamp-posts and arrive at the big culture hub we call Triangle Park.

But today, I made that walk for what may be one of the last few times, and I realize – sometimes you have to let that sort of stuff go. Sometimes you have to let seasons fulfill their potential, or make the most of them while you have them, and then move on. I can’t stay here.

I can’t stay in a place of potential relapse into fits of anger and bitterness, I can’t stay in a place of cynicism towards the church, I can’t stay in a place of isolation from the people I called family back home in my old city. No, I need to visit them. I need to fuse the two realities together, because I am the same person I have always been, just in a new place. No longer will I attempt to forge a new reality or a new personality – I’m happy to have been through what I’ve been through, and I’m happy to come back to a reality where I found peace, joy, and fruit before. I may have rejected my church history a while back, but I embrace it now.

I embrace it because what I’m finding to be true is that people who know who you are are people who hold you most accountable to be who you are. At Delmont, the great thing about living with brothers was that we all called each other up – we encouraged each other, exhorted one another with scripture, we vented our frustrations, but we always ended up back at the same end – Jesus.

That was true before I moved to Lexington, and it carried me through the first year. The second year was harder because I let go of the church’s hand – I decided I didn’t want it or need it. But I do. Some of the doubts still exist, I still examine issues more thoroughly and progressively than I had done before, but I realize that I need the church. I need people who know who I am, and I can’t be afraid of who I am. I may not be a preacher with a pulpit again, but I’m not meant for an existence of not truth-telling. I may embrace doubt, but I also embrace truth. I embrace that I don’t know some things, but I embrace that I do know some things.

The last year – with all the failures and uncertainties – has been an introspective, quiet year. Things have changed for the better, yes – but some things are dead ends that I will be happy to leave behind. In some ways, I’m coming back home to who I’ve always been, with a renewed sense of purpose and a renewed understanding of why I believe and hold tight to the things I’ve always done.

And I know that it’s a journey – I have by no means arrived: I will likely turn down a wrong path at some point and have to backtrack; I will likely go down a dead and and turn around, but that’s part of it. I know what I’m doing.

And I’m thankful, ultimately, that Jesus is the Author and Finisher of my faith. It was His idea, and just like a good author, He can navigate the twists and turns of the story, He can paint the negatives into positives, and He knows exactly how it’s all ending.