i began writing this morning at 6:30 in my dining room – our table is cluttered with various papers, books, a game, a poster, and some wilting flowers (i’m realizing that i leave more stuff around than i’d like to believe, given that everything but the latter two are mine…) it’s a funny thing, living with people – i’ve found myself bothered when other people leave their stuff out or don’t do their dishes but i seem to give myself a pass when i leave my own crap out (i reckon it’s an internal sense of peace knowing that i’ll get to it soon – and sometimes i seem to be the only one around the house, so i’m the only one for my own mess to bother)
it’s a little hypocritical, huh?
i’m finding more and more little flaws like that in myself – more and more little inconsistencies. small, unreconciled things, discrepancies in where i am and where i’d like to be. i’d like to wake up every morning at 6 and read, write, pray deep and well, be in a great mood when i go to work. instead, i toss and turn in bed until about 6:20 when i finally drag myself out and i might sit lazily on the couch staring at a few verses until i start to grasp them a little, and my mood kinda depends on whether or not i saw something on facebook that threw me off or if i see something around the house that bugs me, etc.
i’d like to be debt-free. i still buy Starbucks twice a week sometimes and eat out more than i should.
i’d like to sleep better. i stay up late playing FIFA or watching movies instead.
there are more of these examples, i’m convinced. the point is, i’m realizing that life sometimes – certain aspects of it – is/are kind of like going hiking or caving, and the first time you do the trail, you try to do it one way, and you realize it doesn’t work, or could have been a lot better. then the next time you do it, you try to figure out a better way. you repeat and repeat every time you hike the trail until you get it. sometimes this is the analogy for finding a job you like, going to a church you love, meeting friends, planning your weekly schedule, etc. i’m personally in a season where – i’m happy to say – i get the pleasure of dating a really wonderful woman, and i’m realizing (almost every day) mistakes i made in past relationships, particularly in the way i responded to them and the way i expected them to respond to me. i feel familiar emotions and realize that my response is up to me: instead of being angry, passive-aggressive, timid, manipulative Old Jeff, i have an opportunity to respond in a new way that i’d rather: with grace, with understanding, with patience. i’m sure i don’t always. but i have the chance.
the chance to be new.
it’s an everyday thing, actually, that chance to be new. i love the way that my pastor (pops) back home articulates it – he says that every day we wake up with a new, fresh bucket of grace and mercy next to our bed. mercy is new every morning. i’ve been praying that a lot for/over myself, thanking God for it, i’ve been praying that over my friends, that they’d wake up and step their foot right in that bucket, whether they knew it was there or not.
the chance to be new. the chance to write a different story.
that’s been my life over the last two years, and even more so this year. can i tell you a bit about it?
it’s been a big year, 26.
the biggest highlight has been involving myself in a group called TND. it’s a bunch of great folks my age, in my boat – twenties, out of undergrad, single, working a job (in most instances,) looking for friends, looking for people to stretch and challenge and grow them, loving Jesus and loving each other. that’s it. it’s amazing and i’ve gotten a few opportunities within it, including being asked to lead worship for a retreat by someone who didn’t even know that i sang (spoiler alert/twist: she’s my girlfriend now, so that’s cool.)
oh, speaking of leading worship, i got to reunite with my old band back home in September and play music down there for a men’s retreat, AND i got a job working at Southland Christian Church as a student ministries worship leader. it’s the coolest thing i’ve ever done – i get to do something i love and be compensated for it, alongside an unbelievable team of people. oh, and my friend and co-worker Jess (who is among the highlights of my year, because she is a rockstar and i got to sing with her a couple times and there’s something really amazing about singing with an amazing singer, go figure) asked me to do a special at the main campus, which was a whirlwind but so much fun and one of the coolest things i’ve ever done.
i left my job of three and a half years back in June to make some changes in my life. i wanted a more consistent schedule and i’ve largely gotten it, i balance three jobs but given that i’ve set myself hard rules of not working nights, it’s not as hard as it sounds. i miss my old job and the people there, but i also know i made the right call for the time in my life.
instead of reading just the 21 books i was aiming for this year, i ended up reading 27. just over one every two weeks. i’ll take that, given how chaotic the summer ended up being.
i’ve developed a hunger for reading more – both books and the Bible – inspired largely by Dr. Daniel Brown who, at the men’s retreat, said “i just read this thing a lot,” referring to his Bible. i just find myself wanting to take in more: more stories, more information – i still don’t retain it all, but i love taking it in. i also watched a ton of movies this year, as a foil to the book thing. i listen to Truth & Movies by TCO London, which is a great little pod which, if you let it, will expand your cinematic horizons rapidly and pointedly.
i’ve got to wrap this up because i’m about to go hiking – i guess here’s the big theme, though: being new. every day, there’s a chance to be new. i remember talking with my friend Sean and she shared this nugget she heard that over the course of seven years, every cell in your body has been replaced. you are never the same person you were then, and you’re not even the same person you were yesterday. i know i’m not. i hope you’re able to lean into that truth.
i am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.