Posted by: musingsofthemund | October 13, 2011

Remorse and Regret

I was at the guys bible study I go to on Tuesday night and we were continuing our journey through Acts, discussing the topic of relating well with others as seen in chapter 6. Seemed pretty innocuous as I worked through the material in my workbook beforehand and lead to some interesting discussion in the group. What I didn’t anticipate, however, was the flood of memories that would wash over me, triggered by the realization that it was an anniversary of sorts.

I don’t really know where to begin with this. We were on the subject of things that cause conflict in the church and the topic of doctrinal dispute came up. I suppose my contemplation started when Daniel commented that there’s something wrong when two spirit-filled people argue divisively. Or something like that. I don’t remember exactly how he said it, but that was what I took away from it. I realized that it was sometime last October that I had what turned out to be a friendship-ending argument with one of my former closest friends.

It ended up leaving me somewhat distracted as the night went on.

Feelings of grief washed over me accompanied with remorse and regret.

It was a fight that took place over the phone. Harsh words were spoken by both parties. I’m not sure when it dissolved from a spirited discussion into an acidic fight, but it certainly did. The topics were basically Calvinism and the sovereignty of God and as it turned out, we had staunchly different viewpoints. It was a fierce argument for sure. He said some very hurtful things to me and I must assume that I did the same to him. I’m not gonna sit here and point the finger and say it wasn’t my fault. You can’t have an argument with one participant. I have a responsibility for the words that come out of my mouth and there were ugly things there.

I know that some things, some relationships are only intended to last for a season. Perhaps this was one of those. Our interests were becoming more and more divergent, we’d already been growing apart some. Maybe this was what it took to bring out some of the resentment that I hadn’t even known I’d carried toward him, I don’t know.

Ultimately, I chose to abandon the relationship after the fight. In spite of the fact that I forgave him afterward, something was fundamentally altered in our relationship. Suddenly it was no longer safe and trust seemed to be broken. And yet a part of wonders if it wasn’t incredibly selfish of me not to try to mend things. He was ready to do that. I told him I would need time, and then time passed and I moved on. I don’t know that it was my intent at that point to let the relationship go, nor am I completely sure when that decision even happened.

Even if it was just a “seasonal relationship,” never meant to last a lifetime, for it to have ended the way it did rends my heart. I grieve it. More than I know how to handle when I really stop and think about it. I dunno if it’s just the anniversary, the fact that it’s been a year since this happened or what. It just hurts. If it were to end either way, I wish it had been amicably. Not the brutal, ugly thing it turned out to be.

As I sit here I find myself wondering if I have a point to all of this. Are there lessons to be taken out of it?

I suppose it’s that in the course of life, when you come to disagreement with your bretheren, take care in what you say and how you say it. As Christians, we are called to love each other, when we agree and when we don’t. Let our discusions and discourses be characterized by love and not anger, humility and not pride.

Also, it may not be the other person who is hardest to forgive. I’ve forgiven him, but I wonder… have I forgiven myself?

I’m sorry for the way things happened, for the way the argument escalated and for the way the friendship ultimately ended. I wish it turned out differently. I wish my behavior had turned out differently and I wish that I didn’t take things so personally. But what happened happened and there’s nothing I can do about that.

I suppose all that’s left is to forgive myself and move on.

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Posted by: musingsofthemund | October 11, 2011

Hollimund Part III – Maybe

Yes, I suppose the title is a bit of a spoiler (or at least it was until this turned into a four-part miniseries!) but then again I suppose I spoiled it in the first part of this epic trilogy tetralogy.

So we come to the middle of May and a complication arises. I’m still battling with a lot of frustration about this, but God had been teaching me a great deal over the past weeks and helping me to overcome the struggles I had been going through. I was learning not to accept every negative thought that went through my head and to take my thoughts captive. In all of this, in spite of my continued desire that things would be different, I was doing alright. So of course, it was time for another wrench to be thrown into the works.

My pastor, Mik, pulls me aside before The Exchange and says to me “My wife and I have been talking and we think you should ask out Holli.”

I think he thought this had been something I was totally oblivious to and that his telling me this would be a pleasant surprise and instead I got to tell him basically, “Well it’s funny that you should mention that. I really want to and we’ve talked about it, but we just don’t feel like that’s what God wants.”

He was a little disappointed and seemed a bit mystified by it I think. Now it should be known that Mik is someone I’d looked up to for quite some time. I respected him a lot so the fact that he had seen that there could be something good in this, completely independently of us (or in other words, having not known about anything that was going on or had happened) weighed heavily on me and got me to start praying and asking God about it again. In the meantime, that week I once again started talking more with Holli and spending more time with her. We talked a little bit in the prior weeks but had, for the most part, done a pretty good job of just trying to be more distant friends.

So fast forward to that next Saturday. Holli and I both ended up serving together at the Market on the Move, a ministry at church where for $10, people can come and fill up a box with up a bunch of fresh produce. That afternoon, another friend of ours had asked if she could use my kitchen and have a bible study at my house. Holli was going to be at that study and since she didn’t have access to a car, she asked if she could just come hang out at my place between when the market was over and when the study was happening and I was like sure, why not!

As it turns out she had an ulterior motive, having noticed our renewed closeness, she wanted to talk about that and make sure once again that we were honoring God in how we were being with each other (Her commitment to keeping God first and submitting to and honoring Him first in our relationship is one of my favorite things about her) and so I told her what Mik had said that previous weekend and we both lamented about our frustration that we couldn’t be together and didn’t really come to any conclusions about that, but we did get to talk for a while after that and get to know each other some more which was cool.

So the next day, after having had a conversation with a friend for a while after church about my frustration and having a distinct lack of peace about the whole thing, I decided to pull Mik aside after the Exchange and ask for advice. I felt I was too close to the situation personally to hear objectively (and it seemed that I was just hearing a jumble of things when I was praying) so, given how much I look up to Mik, I thought I’d ask what he thought…

Posted by: musingsofthemund | October 4, 2011

Hollimund Part II – No

“This is not the relationship I want for you.”

What? You’ve gotta be kidding me! But that is what I heard. I prayed more about it, hoping for a different answer, but I continued to get a sense that the answer was no. I asked, if this was no for now, or no never at all, and was met with a call to trust and obey in faith. So I knew what I had to do. It was time to have a conversation with Holli.

We hadn’t talked to each other about this before and while I thought there was a decent chance that she liked me too, I didn’t really know for sure. But I didn’t want to hurt her feelings or make her feel led on or something by just suddenly ignoring her or something, so I figured I would tell her what I felt and what God had said.

Of course, I’m not usually terribly good at having these conversations, and so I was not only terrified of the conversation itself, but freaking out about when I’d even get to have it. However, opportunity was presenting itself! My best friend Greg, Holli and I wanted to see a performance of The Frogs at GCU (I hadn’t gotten back to see a show from the newly reopened theatre department and was eager to do so) and I figured we would probably get something to eat at some point afterwards, so I conspired with Greg. He’d leave dinner a bit early (Well, relatively speaking) so I could end up having alone time to talk with Holli. Yes, I actually did this.

So everything went according to plan and I proceeded to have the most peaceful, easygoing conversation I’ve ever had with a girl about having feelings for her, which I discovered were mutual. I told her that in praying and seeking God, I just didn’t think it was what He wanted and that I didn’t know if it was just for now, or if it were altogether, but that I hoped it was for now. The whole thing felt kind of surreal. As I said, every other time I have had a conversation like this, I was a wreck. I mean, sure I was a little nervous going in, but seriously, I have never felt better during or after a conversation like this before.

So a week goes by, I continue praying and trying to clarify whether it is a temporary no or a permanent one and still find an inconclusive answer. I just have no idea at this point, which was incredibly frustrating. In the meantime, Holli and I had still been talking and spending some time together in group settings at an event or two throughout the week. So that next weekend, Holli and I end up having another conversation and decide that if we really want to honor what God is telling us to do, to not have a relationship that is, we probably need to not talk to each other as much or spend much time hanging out or anything as it was only continuing to stir up our feelings for each other which was proving to me frustrating for the both of us I think.

I knew this was the right thing to do and even though I wasn’t super happy that it had to be that way, I was desiring to honor God and what He had said to me in this, so I obeyed. As I sought Him more and continued to pray throughout this asking if it was temporary or not, I finally came to the conclusion that He was basically saying to me “Look, I’ve told you what I desire. Have faith and trust me, obey me. You don’t always get the answers you seek.” It wasn’t so much that I was getting on His nerves or something, but more like I could keep asking but it wasn’t gonna get me anywhere. So I resigned myself to what I had heard and continued on.

As you might have already guessed, God was not done. Things continued on until about the middle of May when a new complication entered the mix…

Posted by: musingsofthemund | October 1, 2011

I Want to be Disturbed and Disrupted

I’ll preface this by saying that the video I want you to watch is a bit long, (the talk is about 45 minutes long) so if you don’t have time to watch, I understand, but this is something I came across from one of the bloggers I read probably a little less than a year or so ago and I just watched it again. It’s a worship leader named Carlos Whittaker talking about the calling God put in his life to disturb and disrupt, which I found to be quite fascinating. the first 9:30 of the video is a short interview, so if you don’t want to find out a little about him then just skip to the 9:30 mark to hear the talk.

I’ve been following his blog for probably a couple of years at least so far and love Carlos’s authenticity and willingness to really challenge the status quo in church culture, urging us to see with the eyes and perspective of Christ. You can check him out at ragamuffinsoul.com

Posted by: musingsofthemund | September 27, 2011

Hollimund Part I – How it Came to Be

So one of the major developments in my life has been the addition of a girlfriend. Anyone who knows me or has read this blog in the past knows what a big deal this is. I’ve only been chronically desiring it for practically forever. That  might be a slight exaggeration, but still. I am beyond delighted to be having the relationship I am having with the beautiful and wonderful Holli. She is definitely a blessing and a joy to be with. I thought it might be interesting to reflect on this relationship here (though based first on her approval of the sharing of such reflections first I suppose). Before I reflect, however, I’d like to tell the story of how Hollimund came to be.

While we met last year in the fall at some point, I don’t think we really started talking all that much until February this year and I think it was when she made me an awesometacular birthday card later that month that I really started to take notice of her. We had a similar sense of humor. I think that was one of the first noteworthy things that struck me. As the weeks went on, we found ourselves gravitating towards each other more and more frequently. I was beginning to wonder if she liked me while trying to decide if I had feelings for her myself. My first thought was ‘Whoa there, boy! Don’t you think she’s a little young for you?’ and admittedly, she is a great deal younger than me. So I spent a lot of time questioning what I was thinking for even wanting to like this girl, but finally came to the conclusion that age is not the only indicator of maturity and having observed her for a while as we’d been around each other, it was clear that she was pretty mature for her age. Sweet. So I started praying about it, as a relationship had always been a large priority for me, it was an even greater priority for me to make sure that to pursue this would have the Lord’s blessing.

I prayed a lot and for a while didn’t feel like I had a clear answer. Now I should add that this time frame was a pretty rough patch for me personally emotionally and in faith. Depression was rearing it’s ugly head and I was finding myself having a hard time trying to decide if I could trust God and if I really even wanted to follow Him at all. (That will be documented more in another entry) So I have all this turmoil going on inside of me and on top of that, I’m trying to figure out if I like this girl and if so, what to do about it.

Holli knew that I had been wrestling with faith and life (it’s not like I’ve ever been good at keeping a secret of those struggles) and at one point in the midst of one of the darker points of that struggle encouraged me and gave me scripture that God had put on her heart for me. That may not be THE point at which I decided I wanted to be with her, but it definitely played a heavy influence. So as I continued to work through my own issues, I turned once again to God in prayer, seeking to discover whether or not his was something He wanted for me or not.

What I ended up discovering in that pursuit surprised and dismayed me.

As I prayed to God, seeking His blessing to pursue Holli, first I had a hard time getting a clear idea at all, but during some intentional time quiet, set out for the purpose of seeking God’s voice during The Exchange, the young adults service at my church, I heard him whispering in my mind. I didn’t really like what I heard.

“This is not the relationship I want for you.”

Posted by: musingsofthemund | September 14, 2011

A Balanced Approach Awaits

As I start this entry, I haven’t yet decided if it is going to be full-length or more of a filler just to have something up here. (As it turns out, it’s on the shorter side 😛 ) It’s been a while since I last wrote and a great deal has happened. Things that will probably take more than one entry to talk about, so that’s a starting point. A starting point for what, you ask? Well you see, I have a hard time writing when I’m not inspired by a struggle that I am faced with or reflecting on the outcome of said struggles. Life right now is really, really good. As such, it feels like there is less to process, though really I think the issue is simply that I may process things less when things are going well. It seems that if I am processing during the battles, I should be doing so during the peaceful times as well.

All this to say that all of the things in recent events in my life make an excellent starting point for what to write about and perhaps I’ll build from there. I’m sure I will continue to chronicle my thoughts on struggles as they happen in the future, but I also want this to shift into a more balanced collection of musings and that certainly includes musing on the good things in life and perhaps spending some more time thinking and writing about what God is teaching me. I’m not gonna make any promises about writing more regularly as I am pretty sure I have yet to write consistently here, but I will be trying to write more often than every few months, I suppose. 😛 Anyhoo, don’t be surprised to see more from me here in the future.

Posted by: musingsofthemund | April 29, 2011

Midair

Midair

Taken a leap,
falling in faith.
Still unsteady,
still unsure.

No idea
what’s to come.
Cannot see
the ground below.

In the middle
of the sky.
All the motion
seems to cease.

Can’t see origin
nor destination.
Am I falling
or just floating?

No one told me
about this state.
Reaching limbo
just to wait.

Is it time for
something yet?
Move ahead or
going back.

Anything feels
better than
another day
of wait.

Is surrender
just another
safer place
to sit and wait?

Less comfy
but the same,
still dreary
and the same.

Posted by: musingsofthemund | April 11, 2011

Faith, Obedience and Waiting

As those of you who have been reading lately may have noticed, the last few months have been rather stressful for me. I’ve been working through some pain, some issues between myself and the Lord, and ultimately trying to find my way out of a cycle that seems to keep putting me down on the ground and not letting me up.

I finally reached a point where I realized a need to surrender everything and not just the things I wanted to to God and I thought that in reaching that point and laying things down that I was finally in a place of moving forward and improving. And I am, there is no doubt about that. What I did not realize was just how difficult and painful this process was going to be.

Just when you think you’ve reached and come back from the breaking point, you find that there’s more to go. But I suppose that’s the whole point of stretching, isn’t it? Stretch and relax, stretch and relax and as the process continues, we find ourselves able to stretch (be stretched) further.

That’s kind of where I feel like I am at this particular moment. Stretching further than I imagined in a way that simultaneously hurts and scares the crap out of me. It seems I’m starting to really walk in faith and not by sight.

One of the major things that God has shown me over the past week or two is that I am a huge control freak. I want to know everything that’s going on so that I don’t get caught by surprise, so I know how to prepare myself to handle whatever may be coming. I want to be able to set up my own safety net and prepare for a myriad of possible outcomes to any situation so as to minimize my own anxiety or hurt in the case of negative or awkward events.

God’s been calling me to do certain things recently that have both required a lot of faith from me and I stepped out in both things and obeyed what I believe He was asking me to do and now I sit in the aftermath of those steps asking “Okay, what’s next? What are my next moves here God? Show me what to do and how to do it, give me steps so I can prepare myself for whatever outcome you are leading me to here.”

And rather than receiving clear direction, I found little more than confusion and chaos. Eventually, He cut through the chaos and said to me “Wait and see. You need to get used to trusting me in the step you are in and not trying to figure out the next few moves. This isn’t chess, it’s faith.”

Hearing that was kind of anathema to a control freak like myself. I’ve been struggling and wrestling a great deal with the notion, but ultimately believe that it is for my own good, even if I don’t completely understand or even like it. Some things require waiting and some require action and in spite of the pain of this being stretched out, God is good. Growing pains suck, but growing is good.

Lord, give me the faith to keep trusting you in this and to obey the things you call me to do, even when they’re uncomfortable and painful.

Amen.

Posted by: musingsofthemund | March 23, 2011

Pain and Surrender

So, a friend of mine posted a blog on the subject of surrender that really spoke to and encouraged me today as I think that is a big area (if not THE big area) at the present time that God wants to reel me into, so to speak.

In looking back at some of my previous writings, I see this cycle of depression and pain and crying out to God and eventually pushing through and learning through it. It’s lead me to question what role I play in the continuation of this cycle. Am I doing something that keeps bringing me back here? Perhaps this is my personal version of the Amorites or Philistines sent to oppress me when I wander astray and worship other things. Then again, there could be a deeper root. I’m honestly not really sure yet.

So what does this have to do with surrender, you ask? Well I’ve made an interesting observation of the cycles and it seems like there is a part of the pattern that I hadn’t really noticed before, a tug-of-war of surrender. It seems that there are two sides tugging on me, desperately trying to receive my surrender.

Often in my despair, I have a tendency to surrender to the darkness that wants to consume and destroy me instead of surrendering to God who wants to love and protect and heal and grow me. I grow bitter and cynical and pretty much wind up taking a “screw it all” kind of attitude. Not so good. I don’t know why, but it never occurred to me that in doing so, I was surrendering, just to something evil.

Just as you can’t serve two masters, you can’t surrender to two masters either. Unfortunately for me, in the face of my pain it usually takes some kind of breakthrough moment in order for me to shift directions. An intervention from God that lifts me out of the pain and gives me perspective to see that He hasn’t left me, but is with me and has been with me all along, and suddenly I remember who my Father is and who it is I desire to surrender to.

Surrender is scary because sometimes it means allowing God to lead you through unpleasantness. Kent, my mentor and the leader of the guys bible study I attend, suggested that in order to break me down and lead me out of the complacency and contentness I’ve been in with stagnant areas in my life, suggested that there is a road that God wants to take me down that might be more painful that I’ve even experienced yet. I really don’t know where that road will go, but given the pain that I have been in the last weeks and months, the thought of a road with greater pain had no appeal to me and I said so much to him last night. It had become so easy to doubt God’s goodness and love for me in the face of the pain and when I already felt like I was at the breaking point, the thought of more honestly terrified me. Things moved on a bit and the guys all prayed over me and within a few hours, God had lifted me into one of those breakthrough moments I mentioned earlier.

Kent posed an interesting question/thought to me in the course of that conversation. “At some point, you’re going to have to choose whether you want God more or comfort more.” It made me angry, I think because I’ve always desired both. The thing is, though, surrender means letting go of control and comfort and letting God take you wherever it is He wants to. Whether that’s through a painful fire of refinement where impurities are burned away or through a time of peace and rest. Giving Him control means I don’t get a say, because in the end, it’s not really about me anyway. That’s surrender. Giving up everything. Total and full control, desires and dreams, your whole life. Holding nothing back. It’s terrifying, but more terrifying is the thought of staying where I’ve been in this endless cycle of pain and despair.

If I really want God, which I do, then it’s time to stop holding back. It’s time to stop complaining about the things in my life and personality and desire that I don’t like and to surrender it all. I worry about being selfish. Surrender it. I worry about being lazy. Surrender it. I worry about not being good enough and falling back into depression later if I get out now. Surrender it. I worry about the vices in my life. Surrender it. Lay it all down. Let God be the author, perfecter and finisher of my faith and this work He has started in my life.

Amen.

Posted by: musingsofthemund | March 13, 2011

Christ Cocaine

I’ve come to a number of realizations over the past couple of days. I’m still processing through some of them. All of them, really. I don’t know really how to handle what I’m feeling. It seems that struggling with my faith is pretty much a constant anymore and maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

I chose a rather provocative title for this post. Some of you may see that title and find it instantly offensive. I’m okay with that.

You know what strikes me as funny? The way we Christians refer to our spiritual experiences. We call them mountaintop experiences, we call it being on fire for Christ, we call it being on a spiritual high. A spiritual high? Really? So Jesus is our drug of choice, then? The more I think of it, the more it feels like the comparison works.

And when we crash (or hit our lows) we say things like ‘Man, I’m just not feeling that close to God right now. I just need to spend some time with Him, I need to find a way to find the fire again.’ We sing songs about asking God to change us, to transform us, to consume us. Isn’t that ultimately what drugs do, too?

I’m at a spiritual low right now. In some ways, it feels like I’m building up a kind of spiritual tolerance. The “highs” don’t last quite as long as they used to, when they happen at all. I’m not finding much joy. When I’m in this “crashed” state, I find that my relationship with God is more a burden than a blessing. It’s so much work.

It was strange when I realized the other day how, in spite of knowing I probably should have been guarding the words coming out of my mouth over the past weeks, I haven’t been and it’s been a strangely liberating feeling.

Ouch.

I know, I know, God gives us rules and boundaries to protect us because He loves us. I know that. But there are times when it all feels so oppressive.

“But Edmund, you’re free from the law, you don’t have to live under the burden of sin and death anymore.”

It doesn’t always feel that way. Sure, I read the truth in the bible, but I have a hard time with it. It seems like this is so paradoxical. Free to be slaves to a different master. To Christ, instead of sin. We’re free from death and sin, yet that doesn’t mean we can go out and do whatever we want. Somehow the law can no longer crush us, yet we are still called to follow and obey it. Christ says His yoke is easy and His burden is light, yet He also says the road and gate to eternal life are narrow and hard to pass through. So which is it? I’m not saying I expect it all to be handed to me, at least I don’t think I am. Maybe that is what I’m saying.

I really don’t know.

What I do know is that I’m pretty sure that this “life abundant” that I’m living/seeking after probably isn’t supposed to feel like such a heavy burden. Maybe I’m trying to do too much “religion” and not enough “relationship”.

Relationship.

Sometimes I wonder if I really have a relationship with God. I mean, I guess I do. Maybe that’s not the real question. Maybe what I should be wondering is if I have a GOOD relationship with God. Why, you ask? I don’t know. I’ve been thinking about it lately. It seems that I draw as much pain from my relationship with Him as I do joy. Maybe even moreso on the pain. Part of me feels like He’s just waiting to squish me like a bug, break me down so he can put me back together and place me on the road to Holiness.

I don’t know. I hate saying this, but honestly, there are times when I really don’t like being a Christian. In times like this, I can’t tell if my faith is the only thing keeping me afloat or if it is the rock chained to my feet trying to pull me under. I despise being in a position where I’m capable of even asking such a thing.

But I’m crashed out. I need a Jesus fix or something. Need to get that high back, need to get that joy back. Oh that I would really seek Him like a coke addict seeks his cocaine.

Maybe I’m addicted to Him. Or maybe I’m addicted to myself. Either way, I need a fix.

What do you think? Is Christ simply like an addiction for us? Is it just about getting another Jesus high for ourselves? Or am I just viewing things too much through the melancholy tinted glasses and being too morose and/or crass?

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