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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.

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16 Aug

Number 24 on the list:  Go TV free for a year. Or turn your TV into a pot where flowers grow.

If you personally know me, you most likely know that I don’t own a TV.  I deliberately don’t own a TV, because I want to focus on things that matter, like relationships with individuals, myself, and God.  When I sit in front of the television for any period of time, my mind shuts down.  (Isn’t that the point?)  For these reasons, I could very easily do number 24 on the list.

Confession:  God does not want us to live an easy life.  (See: “Confession“)

I am the type of person that greatly values communicating.  I write long e-mails, Skype my friends in near and far away lands, call just to say hey.  I THRIVE on my relationships with other people.  As such, social networking tools have become my friend.  Gmail has become my most visited link.  I recently joined Twitter because my friend told me it was right up my alley.  I’ve become very reachable and have enjoyed reaching.

So.

I’m getting rid of the internet for the next month.  Since number 24 was mostly a useless check off the list, I tried to think of a good alternative to going TV free.  I came up with giving up the internet for a month.  How many mindless hours have I spent on the internet, wasting time?  (I’m not answering that.)  The internet is something that has become a part of our lives.

I can’t entirely give up the internet; I need it for work.  And, though I’ve done a lot of research in preparation for my month hiatus, there may be an occasion or two where I need the internet in order to figure out how to best act on something that is on the list.  Like I said before, my goal has never been to “complete” the list in its entirety, word for word.  My goal was to take part in a passion-inducing, comfort zone stretching, heart-breaking, love-flowing, getting back to the basics challenge.

I can’t entirely give up the internet.  But I can mostly give it up.  I can remove my wireless card for my laptop at home, rendering it useless.  I can deactivate my Facebook.  I can get ridiculously behind on my Google Reader reading materials.  So since I can…  I’m going to.

Starting Wednesday, August 18th, you’ll have to call me to talk to me.

(What?!)

I’ll say it again:  Starting August 18th you will have to CALL me to TALK to me.

(What?!)