Friday, July 22, 2011

Whimsical Heartache

Whimsy, it’s a beautiful place, one of dreams, of running and never growing weary, of becoming everything you’ve ever wanted to be and more. It’s a place free of failure, free of pain, full of smiles.
In a place like this people can fly and fairies are real. There is no trouble, no arguments, no struggle. The water tastes sweet, the weather is warm, and people never want to leave.

Heartache, it’s a terrible place, one of nightmares, of running and never being caught, of becoming everything they’ve every wanted you to be and more. It’s a place free of trying, free of knowledge, full of false smiles.
In a place like this people fly away and fairies are the only thing that is real. There is no depth, no growing, no insight. The water is tasteless, the weather not noticed, and people can’t ever leave.

What people don’t know is that Heartache and Whimsy are the same land, viewed in a different lens, but having the same affect: pull someone out of reality, out of present. We can live with our heads in the clouds, or in the dirt, turning our eyes away from everything and playing make-believe or hiding because we don’t want to see the world. The fact of the matter is that one false land pulls our eyes up, the other down, but they both take them away from where they should be, straight ahead.

Our God gives us a world that doesn’t have to be full of fantasy or full of despair. He gives us a world that is full of both; He gives us a world that is real.

I have lived in both worlds. I have entered the singing white gates of whimsy, put my bag down and stayed a while. I have entered the decaying black gates of heartache and sank to my knees and stayed a while. In both lands I have felt utterly and terribly alone. Misunderstood, looked over, and unloved. Now, I have entered the slightly rusty, chipped away blue gate of my reality. And I see, heartache and whimsy are not a world in itself; they are not an idol to be sought after, nor a cell to be locked in. Heartache and whimsy are components of one world, one full of suffering and joy, full of struggle and benevolence, full of laughter and tears. One full of life, life to the fullest, life being known, life being free.

I invite you to enter into your own gate of reality. To look at your life through the lens that God has given us. Live a life full of turbulence, ups and downs, irregularity, confusion, uncertainty, and faith. Because we serve a God who is constant and He will be our rock, not this world. His Hand will be the one we squeeze tight in our anguish, fear, and sorrow and the Hand we raise high in celebration, joy, and laughter. And our Rock, our Guiding Hand, will make living not just bearable, but abundant. We can live life, not just cope through it. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

"The Mask I Wear"

THE MASK I WEARThis is a poem that I was given to me by a very wise woman. Just read through it, I feel like it speaks for itself (and the pictures are of my brother (looking good bro)).

Don't be fooled by me.
Don't be fooled by the face I wear
For I wear a mask. I wear a thousand masks-
   masks that I'm afraid to take off
     and none of them are me.    
Pretending is an art that's second nature with me
          but don't be fooled,
   for God's sake, don't be  fooled.
I give you the impression that I'm secure
That all is sunny and unruffled with me
   within as well as without,
    that confidence is my name
     and coolness my game,
    that the water's calm
   and I'm in command,
  and that I need no one.
But don't believe me. Please!

My surface may be smooth but my surface is my mask,
My ever-varying and ever-concealing mask.
Beneath lies no smugness, no complacence.
Beneath dwells the real me in confusion, in fear, in aloneness.
   But I hide this.
    I don't want anybody to know it.
     I panic at the thought of my
      and fear exposing them.
That's why I frantically create my masks
          to hide behind.
They're nonchalant, sophisticated facades
          to help me pretend,
To shield me from the glance that
But such a glance is precisely my salvation,
   my only salvation,
       and I know it.

That is, if it's followed by acceptance,
   and if it's followed by love.
It's the only thing that can liberate me from myself
   from my own self-built prison walls

I dislike hiding, honestly
I dislike the superficial game I'm playing,
   the superficial phony game.
I'd really like to be genuine and me.
But I need your help, your hand to hold
Even though my masks would tell you otherwise
That glance from you is the only thing that assures me
   of what I can't assure myself,
     that I'm really worth something.

But I don't tell you this.
   I don't dare.
      I'm afraid to.
I'm afraid you'll think less of me, that you'll laugh
   and your laugh would kill me.
I'm afraid that deep-down I'm nothing,
        that I'm just no good
             and you will see this and reject me.

So I play my game, my desperate, pretending game
With a facade of assurance without,
And a trembling child within.
So begins the parade of masks,

The glittering but empty parade of masks,
   and my life becomes a front.
I idly chatter to you in suave tones of surface talk.
I tell you everything that's nothing
   and nothing of what's everything,
                 of what's crying within me.
So when I'm going through my routine
   do not be fooled by what I'm saying
Please listen carefully and try to hear
   what I'm not saying
Hear what I'd like to say
   but what I can not say.

It will not be easy for you,
   long felt inadequacies make my defenses strong.
The nearer you approach me
   the blinder I may strike back.
Despite what books say of men, I am irrational;
I fight against the very thing that I cry out for.
   you wonder who I am
    you shouldn't
     for I am everyman
     and everywoman
      who wears a mask.
Don't be fooled by me.
At least not by the face I wear.
-----author unknown and it has been published in a number of books and on the web.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Process of You Are Still

You are still. These three words have been the focus point for me these past few weeks and all of last semester. I never thought I would use those words as often and with such grave importance as I have grown to use them. It starts with something way earlier than saying them though. You see those words, they start with realization, then experiencing and letting go, and ends with trust and contentment.

Let's just start with the beginning, with brokenness and hopelessness. We all have experienced something be it big or small that has left us hurt. Some of us have been hurt so bad that we have run away from the anguish, from the sorrow, from the piercing pain that comes with thinking about it. So, instead of looking at it, we put up a wall, a mask to pretend that it didn't happen and we run. We run as fast as we can away from ever having to look at or deal with the pain that has been bestowed upon us. Some of us take our hurt and we say that we've got everything under control and we can find our own way of dealing with it and our own way of healing. We do so completely away from God because this is just a small thing and we don't need to bother God with such small things. After all, God is a big God who is in control of the universe who doesn't need to look at the things that we can deal with and we are just small people, how could He care about just one person and their small problems?

Saying the words You Are Still takes first realizing that there is brokenness in your life, that there are things that have happened that hurt, that are not fun to think of, that you wish had never happened. It takes realizing that God is a big God, yes, but also that He is a God that cares about YOU, that cares about everything you think about and everything you go through, no matter how small. He LOVES you, it takes realizing that and recognizing that He wants an intimate relationship with you.

Then we walk through it. It's not that we recognize the hurt and then we find immediate healing without ever having to walk through what it was that hurt us, what it felt like to be hurt, what thoughts and events occurred that dug the knife in. We walk through it, we begin to feel for the first time. We see what it was that hurt us, we deal with the river of pain that we built that fantastic dam for. And it hurts. But we continue to walk through it, because we have a reason for doing it, we have a hope that is being restored as we walk and talk about it with the Lord. Because, we're not just walking through our pain for the sake of walking through it; we're walking through it because Christ has promised healing and we are holding on to the promise with our whole lives. And we are giving up the reigns to all of our hurt to the Lord as we walk through our anguish. We are putting these emotions and tears at the feet of Christ. And you know what, He's catching them before they even hit the ground and He's looking at us with Love so fierce we are overwhelmed to experience it.

Then the words come. Then the You Are Still is uttered. As we are in anguish, as we are sobbing uncontrollably, as we are feeling for the first time the things that we've spent our life running from, we utter the words: You. Are. Still. "God, You are still good. You are still in control. You still love me. You still have a good plan for my life. You are still faithful. You are still forgiving. You are still with me. You are still accepting. You are still calling me Child. You still see me. You still catch me. You are still who You say You are." And as we utter these words we see a transformation. A transformation from the lies that Satan has spent so long convincing of us into the Truth that God has placed in our lives that NEVER change or alter. We see a transformation from all that we are not into all that Christ is. We lay our pain at His feet and find the healing He places in our hands. We find freedom from the anguish we've been chained to all this time. We find the reason for the cross, and in that we rejoice.

You Are Still Everything. Thank You Lord!

Sunday, July 3, 2011


I do a lot of work at the local coffee house at Purdue and in the lobby of my residency hall. They're not necessarily the most quiet places, but I find my comfort, my normalcy, my mojo so to speak in this small uproar. I talked to my counselor a few days ago letting him know that I was just struggling to stay above water in my classes and he asked where I studied, I proceeded to tell him what I just told you and his response was the whole, "maybe you should consider a quieter place to study". My little heart and mind did an imaginary gasp inside of myself, a quiet place to study, NO WAY! I freaked out, and decided I was just going to nod and smile, but there was no way I was changing my habit.

Now that I'm sitting in my coffee house comfort zone in the midst of the dull uproar of conversations about everything, people wasting time, people being WAY productive, and everyone drinking coffee and just being, I'm wondering why I was so opposed to a quiet place. What's in the quiet that I find disturbing, that I find upsetting and worth gasping about? Maybe the answer is in the question. What? The quiet is a mystery (or at least for me it is), it's a place where all of a sudden we are who we are and we are slapped with a rude awakening of reality, no more lies, no more distractions. A dull uproar, that pretty much characterizes my whole life. Running from place to place, something planned every day, studying out the wazoo, and work to pay for my expensive coffee house habits. Quiet isn't exactly something that I come across every day and when I do my brain doesn't just stop, it keeps going, desperately trying to escape from this situation of rest. It takes a while just for me to stop thinking to go to sleep!

Yet, God desires us to be in rest with Him, to sit with Him in Silence and listen to His Voice whispering in the wind. God desires us to rest from our daily lives so that our souls may find peace and renewal and may be poured into by His amazing fountain of Life; but it takes seeking out. We have to actually seek out the quiet in our culture; we must search for a place that is our own and be able to sit with the Lord. "... the crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." - Luke 5:15-16. Christ did it in the peak of His ministry, so why should we not withdraw from our daily lives and be in touch with the Creator of the Universe and every cell? Take some time this day and sit with the Lord. Be it through journaling, sitting in some nature, listening to worship music, going for a walk, reading your Bible, or praying. See what happens when we lose the uproar.