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that’s not me.

31 Aug

I have been struggling with something lately.

I have been struggling with this blog.  Not with the ideas behind it, nor with completing anything off the list.  It’s more of an attention thing.  It makes me uncomfortable to be praised for the things that I’ve experienced in writing this blog.  I never really considered that would be a potential outcome.  Honestly, I figured most people would write me off.  I was unprepared for the heaps and heaps of positive response.

First, THANK YOU.

But second, instead of praising my efforts, consider taking on your own challenge off the 50 ways list.  If there is one thing I’ve learned in all of this, it’s that you just need a little push.  I know I did.

(Warning:  What you are about to read is going to first not relate to anything I’m talking about AT ALL and then, once you get past that, it will show you a few of the strokes of paint on my completely black canvas.)

I’m claustrophobic.  I’m literally claustrophobic, in that if you hold me too tight or stand too close or lock me in an empty ice making machine (long story)– I.  WILL.  LOSE.  IT.  I’m also mentally claustrophobic, in that as a teenager, I felt like the small town I grew up in was a cage.  So, instead of going to a state school like a lot of my friends did, I decided to move to Chicago and go to school in the city.

Moving to Chicago brought me toe-to-toe with a topic I had never really encountered before: homelessness.  Aside from a brief stint working in the projects of New Orleans, I had never really encountered homelessness.  Chicago was a much grittier world than I was accustomed to.

At first I wanted to help everyone.

“Do you have any change?”
“YES, YES, here, take all the change I’ve got.”

Next, I grew wary (and weary) and justified not caring anymore by the fact that obviously they were just going to use the money on booze or drugs.

“Do you have any change?”

“No.”

Eventually I just pretended they didn’t exist.

I pretended a human being didn’t exist.

I think I was proud of this.  Friends would come to visit and I’d say, “Oh, you’ll get used to it.  Just ignore them.”

You’ll get used to pretending a HUMAN BEING doesn’t exist.

That is the person I am capable of being.  That is the heart I am capable of having.

Last weekend I was in Boston and a man asked me if I had any change so that he could get a cup of coffee.  I said, “No, I’m so sorry, I don’t.”  I didn’t.  I wished I did.  I felt like…  you know how in those Road Runner cartoons there’s always a huge metal anvil that drops out of the sky and crushes the coyote?  Yeah– I felt like that.

I could not just ignore the fact that he existed.

I asked him his name.  “I don’t have any change but I would love to buy you a cup of coffee, James.  Where can we go for some good coffee?”

I know the person I am capable of being.  I know the heart I am capable of having.

The love that freely flows through me, the heart that has been placed inside of me– that’s not me. I know this, because I know the things that once came so so easily to me.  I know this because I know what I am capable of.  I know this because I’m constantly reminded of what He is capable of.

confession.

12 Aug

What better way to follow up on last week’s post, where I wrote, “If this week has taught me one thing it’s that I’m genuinely ashamed to learn that I view my own sins in a much more positive light than those of someone else.”

Number 48 on the list:  Confess something you have done wrong to someone and ask them to pray for you.

Good bye, positive light.

I don’t know how to write about this one.  I took this one and made it as difficult as possible.  In that, I didn’t just confess something I did to someone.  I confessed something I did to the someone I did it to.  I don’t know how to write about this one because I’m not going to write about what I did or who I did it to.   “Confess something to someone.”  What do you even write about if you remove the “something” and the “someone”?

Confession.

Confession: I had a really easy time thinking of who to confess to.  I had a really easy time thinking of several things I had done to wrong several people.  It was difficult to narrow it down to just one.  So I didn’t.

I think if there’s something I’m learning in all of this, it’s that the difficult things are becoming less and less difficult.

There’s this home group that meets at my friend Paul’s house every Wednesday.  Yesterday we talked about Matthew 6:1-4, a passage that talks about giving.  I said that last week, while I was initially trying to write the letter to the registered sex offender, I would have given anything to just give away $100 and be done with it.  That would have been so much easier.

Confession: God does not want us to live an easy life.

I would be willing to go out on a limb and say that we have all done things to other people that no one knows about.  We’ve wronged people in ways they aren’t even aware of.  Since we’re the only humans that know every thing we’ve done, it’d be easy to just keep our wrongdoings to ourselves.

Confession: God does not want us to live an easy life.

It’d be much easier to just throw money at our problems.  But I think that was never God’s intention.  I think He intended for us to face loving people head on.  It’s not easy.  Sometimes it’s doing something that no one even knew needed to be done.  But it does need to be done.  And it hurts so good.

I confessed something to someone the other day and it hurt so good.

Confession: My soul is filled with joy when it’s not easy.  I imagine that it fills God with joy as well.