The Death of Gravity

I like this one quite a bit. I hope that enjoyment is shared.

some days I wake up like God put too much gravity in my knees

and now I’m falling prostrate

and on my face is written the name of a god that I created

a god that can’t know my name

this god is a million empty bottles

and a pile of burnt grass

and a collection of brash masks

and a feeble past

and lonely ash

that will one day become my body

I’m killing myself softly

and slowly

and intimately

my feet are dancing vicariously around the idol called me

and I’ve forgotten which way is up

I climbed down from a tree

and ended up in the sky

that was the last time I trusted my own intuition

or my own sense of direction

I asked God to tie balloons around my eyes

so my face would always tilt upward

and so that every god that dust created

would fade away

and fall apart

and die in someone else’s arms

Thanks for reading this. Hopefully, there will be more to come!

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Quit Trying: I Dared You to MOVE.

I recently had a long conversations with someone about arrogance. This person told me that they were trying to live out love and compassion. They told me that they didn’t like their arrogance or any of the dark things inside of them. They told me that they wanted to change. They said that they were trying to change.

This all sounds progressive, right? I will agree that it is a good first step. However, this made me realize something about myself. When was I going to stop trying to change and actually do it? I know I reference my dad and basketball a lot, but here we go again. During basketball, when my dad would explain something, I was in the habit of responding with “Okay, I’ll try.” My dad would always catch me and say, “I didn’t ask you to try. I asked you to do it.”

I realized that I had been passively waiting for Jesus to fix me. That I have been wanting the little inkling of desire to change in my heart to be enough for Jesus to do it for me. Yes, Jesus is the one who changes, but we do have a role in this. We have free will.

Jesus may do the heavy lifting, but we have one decision to make. This is not passive; it is submissive. Submission is active. It is a daily decision. Our decision is whether to turn to Jesus or not. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, if you are a believer, you know that this can be really difficult.

The important thing is that we realize that we have to DECIDE and ACT. Jesus is not just sitting up in heaven manipulating us to do what he wants. Jesus wants us to love him actively. Like I said in my blog post about love a while back, love requires dependence on God. Dependence is an action, not just a decision. We need to stop TRYING to change, and just DO it.

Dreaming of Being a Star: A Poem

This may be long, but I like it a lot. Maybe you will too. You won’t know until you read it though… 

Your lips move like a stuttering soliloquy

reciting rehearsed lines from the prose of your mind

but the subtext of your heart proves you a liar

your curvaceous silhouette conceals your sly hesitance

but the contours of your heart bulge through the scars in your skin

not cuts, but scars

cuts are endodermal but these scars are endocardial

they are cardinal; like the color of your blood

as it frees itself from the prison of your wrists

shackled hate unfettered from arteries 

arteries so clogged that mere breath is stolen from you

lungs filled with regret

plagued from the infection of past deeds

cloistered by apprehension and blundered trust

you are recluse

shamed by reckless love and blackmailed happiness

trust; born of a virgin 

too naive to discern and

your bones were made of glass, stained glass

stained blue by despair

and shattered by cutting bitterness from broken promises

the cons in their speech led to knives in your back: conniving

your pride lies 

lies murdered in the streets of abusive relationships

you’re abandoning ship

but smooth seas never made a skilled sailor

so you take a ship called emotion and sail her

sail her farther west than sins were cast

joy castrated from your heart

a weary soul casts a shadow of impotence on unsuspecting travelers

but you travel alone

bearing the burden of darkness entirely

willing to trade intimacy for a quiet conscience

and passion for sane thoughts

you travel alone

a lone wanderer

or maybe a soul wanderer 

they say “not all who wander are lost”

but you are lost

shipwrecked in a teeming town of solitude

your eyes are like Paris in the rain

dark, but still lovely

abandoned, yet hopeful

a contradiction

the antithesis of optimism

but not quite a pessimist

with ambitious dreams and lofty aspirations

self pity is a temptation

that leads to self depravation

and allusive fantasia

you’re a dreamer

with your head in the clouds

and an anchor on your ankles

the immobility is paralyzing

you linger with your head high but your spirits downcast

your sun was cast down from its conceited throne

and thus ceases the illumination of the moon

so you waltz with stars

though they burn you, they save you

though they cut you, there you find salvation

you envy the stars

they fall when they desire

shoot daydreams in beams of freckled light to a lamenting earth

and people are always thrusting dreams upon their shimmer

but as those stars grow brighter

your light fades

dimmer, dimmer, dimmer

until the only lightness about you is a free spirit

unabridged apathy

bridges the gap between body and soul

now your arms are your mind’s diary

your heart’s monologue

logging every affliction 

affectionately writing love on your arms

hoping someone might speak your language

but your silent screams fall on deaf ears and colorblind eyes

as you lie in bed at night

dreaming of being a star

you have a faint hope

a faint hope that tomorrow will be a different day

I hope you all enjoyed that, or at least one of you. Thanks for reading it. It means a lot to me! Keep an eye out for more. 

Porch Swing: Poetry for a Friend

I wrote this for/about one of my friends. He loved it, so I hope you all do too. I called it “Porch Swing,” but forgive that because I am not too incredibly creative.

innocence rests in your eyes

I see my grandpa sitting on that porch swing

with a cup of coffee and a cigarette

smoke puffs like clouds above my head

a miniature universe and he is god

he tells me tales of time gone by

about flying kites and falling in love

he says that hope is like a bubble

mirroring the passion in the sky

he says it reminds him of my life

how I never quite touch the sunshine

but I also see my grandmother

standing by the kitchen counter

making peanut butter cookies

and telling me about growing up hard

she said her daddy never loved her

he never told her she was beautiful

he drank his life away

and she hated him until the day he died

and that hatred has eaten her alive, she says

I hear my mother

crying all alone in the bathroom the day her father died

I hear her whimpers pierce the hallway

through her fake smiles

barely reaching my ears before I fall asleep to dream

of my father’s hands

working hard but hating life

struggling just to put me through school

and give me the life he drank away when he was younger

I see a man

who can’t quite mutter the words “I love you”

a man

who was never told how beautiful his insides were

a man

who is struggling just to be accepted

the innocent blueness of your eyes is captivating

but it kills me more than you know

because I see a childhood

that never manifested

and a man with festering wounds in his heart

I see a soul ripping at the seams

but he seems okay

and you act alright

but I know that you are praying to a god you don’t believe in

and hoping in a light you’ve never seen

a light you never hope to see

like my grandfather

sitting on that swing

talking about the good ole days

the ones he can’t get back

I hope you just enjoyed that. If not, just pretend you did or something.

The Violet

“Forgiveness is the fragrance a violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” Mark Twain

The violet does not choose to forgive. The violet is forgiveness, so when it is crushed, it literally bleeds the fragrance of forgiveness. I think that too often we try to act a certain way so our fragrance will smell Christian, but it’s not what we’re made of. It’s not who we are. We too often try to pretend our way into feeling until we finally love. It doesn’t work like that. That mindset is what creates apathetic Christians because it gets to the point where you don’t even want to try to love because you can’t do it. I don’t know if anyone has ever told you that, but you can’t love on your own. That’s why love is the most important command. It requires your absolute, daily dependence on God. It demands constant prayer. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 simple says, “Pray constantly.” I think we see that and wonder how that’s even possible, and we assume we will never reach that. Well, if your focus shifts from your actions as a Christian to actually being godly in the very depths of your being, you have to pray constantly. Who are you? I’m not asking what you do. I’m asking what you’re made of. I am not saying that I’ve reached that, but I am certainly on my way to discovering this.

There’s a quote my dad always tells me in reference to basketball. He says, “In moments of weakness, players revert back to their most deeply held habits.” Applied to Christian living, is your most deeply held habit prayer or worry, love or judgment? In your moments of weakness, whether that be temptation, life events, or oppression, what do you revert back to? Going back to the illustration of the violet. When the violet suffers, it forgives. When you suffer, do you forgive? Do you love? Do you choose to see past a person’s actions and see their heart, their motivations, their hurt, or is love an action you turn off and on? If it is, it’s not true love. I am sure you have all heard of the love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13. How is that passage set up? It says love IS patient. Love IS kind. Love doesn’t act patiently; it doesn’t just act kindly. When you break down love, when you crush love, kindness and patience and forgiveness cannot help but come out.

We need to wake up as a church. We are acting so Christian that we’re driving people away from Jesus. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard someone tell me, “I think Christianity is great, and I probably would be a Christian if the people were different,” or something along those lines. That breaks my heart, and it should break yours as well. I see more often than not when someone is not a Christian, we tend to try to convert them or win them over with our theology, and when we’ve done all this praying for them and talking at them, we give up because “there’s no hope for him” or “she’s too far gone” or “she’s a lost cause.” We completely miss the person. And I know some of you are probably thinking “oh, I would never say that.” I probably wouldn’t either, but I’m sure we’ve all thought it or at least felt it. We’ve all felt helpless in trying to tell people how much Christianity or Jesus mean to us. You know why? Because God doesn’t need you to save people. It’s not up to you. That should be a relief. If we act like God needs us, then it gives us free reign to do whatever we want. God doesn’t need you. You need God. That is humility, realizing that you NEED God. “Humility is not sinking to your lowest. It’s standing at your greatest and realizing there is still something far greater.”  Love requires dependance on God, no exceptions. If you’re not depending on God, it’s not love.

Back to the original illustration of the violet. This is the difference between God acting lovingly and God being love. God does not choose to love us. God cannot help but love because he IS love. Do you understand the difference? That difference is God deciding whether or not you’re good enough for him, and God seeing past that and forgiving you anyways. That is the difference between judgment and salvation. In our own lives, it is equally as important. The difference between us acting Christian, and us being Christian, the difference between feeling empty and truly finding and knowing God. It’s literally life and death.

Wake up! We are missing the whole point. We are so focused on our own “spiritual growth” that we don’t see people. We don’t see hurt. We choose who we see and who we don’t. You shouldn’t be able to help but empathize with people, to love people, to want to help people, to see hurt in people’s eyes. People are hurting so much deeper than what we assume. I think we force people into being grateful, and it makes them feel guilty for feeling pain, for hurting. It makes them act happy around us because they don’t want to seem ungrateful or selfish. I grew up in a great home, and I always felt guilty for feeling empty, for hurting, for being depressed, for feeling sad on days when life was seemingly “good,” or when my situation was desirable. Why is the only time we truly pray for people when something bad happens to them? We pray over deaths; we pray for surgeries; we pray for tests; we pray for chapel speaker’s nerves; we pray for safe travels; but when was the last time you wept over a person’s soul? Where is the anguish in our prayer? Where is the earnestness in our prayer? We need to see past people’s situations, and see them. When all of their walls fall down, and you truly invest in how they feel, that’s when you will see who they really are. Christianity isn’t about ignoring your feelings so that you can portray a certain image.

I don’t know if you know this or not, but people are really good at faking things. If you’ve ever been in a church, you know that. People will try to fake their way to being happy. There are people everywhere who feel hopeless and hurt, people who want nothing to do with all of this simply because of how we portray it. We don’t do a very good job at showing brokenness, at showing vulnerability. We think being vulnerable is getting up in front of people and teaching some biblical lesson. It’s not! Vulnerability is stripping yourself of every barrier between your soul and someone else’s. It’s showing people who you truly are, what you’re made of. It’s sharing your hurt. It’s not having it all together. Until we understand that, we can never experience grace. The gospel and grace are synonymous. Without pain, there is no grace, and without grace, there is no gospel. 

 

 

The Human Ego

I have been thinking again. God has really placed a word on my heart and on my mind that I just can’t make go away. Ego. Yes, that dreaded word. Ego. We are so selfish. We are so narcissistic in everything that we do. Pride is the root of all sin. And the root of everything we do.

I have been watching people more recently. Don’t think I’m a creeper…because I kind of am. But I have noticed that every single time I look at someone, without fail, I determine how attractive I think they are. Now this may not seem like that big of a deal, but God has really been breaking my heart over this. Why is that how I determine a person’s worth? And then I realized, that we judge people based on our own insecurities. Ouch, huh?

I realized that I find my worth in how I look, so therefore, I judge everyone based on that same standard. I also find my worth in humor. I also judge people based on how funny I think they are. If they are not attractive to me or not funny, then they are worth less than someone who is really attractive and can make me laugh. That is so shallow, but this is my struggle.

I have realized that everything we do is out of selfish ambition. Every single action has the aftertaste of self-gratification. We are hedonists. We want happiness for ourselves. God is simply the back-up plan. Everything that we do is to make ourselves happy. In a sense, even our seeking of God is to make us happy, not to glorify him. 

Now, I am definitely not saying that it is wrong to be happy. But we find our value in our happiness, and happiness is fleeting. Trust me. You will not always be happy. We all know this. So then why do we rely on happiness so much? This is a sad truth. Think about today. What did you do? What did you complain about? What did you accomplish? Now ask yourself what motivated you to do those things. I guarantee that it was for yourself. We have become so good at making ourselves happy that we can turn helping others into a self-serving activity.

I have truly been broken over this, especially the past few days. I see people do all of these things with a smile on their face, but I have looked into their eyes and seen sadness, emptiness, and hatred. I have seen people work for my acceptance, and I have only judged them.

The level at which I hide things behind fake laughter is the same level at which I expect people to hide things. The less genuine I am, the less genuine the people around me have the freedom to be. I cannot complain that people are being fake or trying to be cool or whatever. That is exactly what I am doing. It is just manifested in a different way. And I am only fueling their desire to work for acceptance by showing them that I care about their approval. What happened to sincerity? Why can we not be real with anyone anymore?

I know that I have let people walk away from me when I know that they are not really okay. I have ignored the broken. I have ignored the widow. I have ignored the orphan. What kind of love is that? The less I struggle for acceptance, the less other people will feel that they have to work for my approval. Everyone is carrying burdens around. Until we give our own burdens to Jesus, we cannot expect others to do the same. Living free frees others.