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Friday, December 22, 2006

home

it's finally sinking into me, or vice versa, or perhaps both. all the rituals and/or traditions help, i think...
  • making the iced tea and steamed white rice,
  • the whole family cleaning the house together (every Thursday),
  • lighting the oil lamps,
  • doing laundry,
  • preparing (or having prepared for me) my favorite meals,
  • seeing my favorite people,
  • web-work/movie/snacks/video-games with Ug,
  • going to sleep right as Mom is getting up to go to work,
  • finishing a whole book in one night,
  • playing with siblings
it feels amazing. and that's why i'm finally blogging again.

it rained alot today, so some of the puddles stretch across the entire street, in our neighborhood. the greyness of daytime was perfect for an isaiah like me. the air was perfect too; it's not really a clean smell. it's hard to describe... old leaves (fragrant and kind of musty, in a good way) and... hard to describe.

anyway... i'm thinking about other things right now, so this post isn't very substantial. but it's here, and it feels good to blog here again after almost a month.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

and when you pray,

pray that i will pray.

if you do so, you will be touching upon the greatest struggle of my life... so thank you in advance, friend.

Monday, November 27, 2006

autokrator

today's epiphany begins with the affirmation that the human person is ridiculously complex.

i've spoken in earlier posts about the holistic nature of the person, especially as that idea contrasts with Greek philosophy's dualism and the Enlightenment Project's reductionism/deconstructionism. but let's not forget how complicated, how dynamic, how malleable, a person can be.

i think you understand how true this is, and how profound that truth is. how long would it take for you to comprehensively explain yourself?

"well, that depends on what exactly i'm explaining..."

everything about who you are, leaving out no detail or explanation, so that when you were finished, your audience would have absolutely no questions left to ask, no matter how intelligent or how much time they had to think about it.

"that's preposterous. can't be done!"

exactly. moving on, then.

given the complexity of the human person, i have to ask... just what does it mean that i am independent? what in the world am i saying when i speak these words: "i decided to ________." ?! there are dozens of influences guiding every decision i make! it would take days to fully explain why i decided to lock my door today. it isn't just a question of what i wanted to protect... it's a question of why i wanted to protect those things. and who or what taught me the importance of doing so? how did i learn that certain things are mine and other things aren't? do the multiple thefts that occurred on campus last year have anything to do with it? does it matter that some of my things can be replaced, and others can't?

nothing is as simple as it seems, it seems. ;)

so: to claim that i am in charge of myself, what does that look like? let's try this analogy. picture a vast medieval kingdom, wherein the monarch has just passed away suddenly (assassination is suspected), and there are 7 lords, each ruling over a particular fiefdom thingy. all seven of these wish to rule the kingdom, and each one has a different way of accomplishing this goal. they each have a different motive.

to complicate things: you are the king's child, only 10 years old, rightful heir to the throne, and yet in danger of being assassinated just as your father was. you know the first thing about ruling as monarch... but that's all you know. the first thing. and now you have not only a kingdom to rule, and a shady death to evade, but seven fiefdoms to 'reconquer.' you have some knowledge of each fiefdom thingy, but your informants give you mixed information so that it's difficult to determine just who's right about who, and to what degree.

every person who says, "i am in charge of myself," is that royal child, even if they have no knowledge of their dire situation.

~ ~ ~

autocracy is anarchy in disguise, even from itself, so that when it looks in the mirror it can fool itself into thinking it has authority, when in actuality it is simply waiting to be assassinated.

to be a disciplined person is not to be in charge of yourself; it is to be in submission to some higher power which overrules your pitiful, fragmented self-government. to be disciplined is to naturally go against your own will in moments where the self is in opposition to the higher authority.

who called all the shots in your kingdom today? who did you have to answer to? when did you-- as an imperfect, flawed being-- go against your nature, even when you didn't have to?

~ ~ ~

"God wants us to become the kinds of persons whom He can trust to do whatever we want." - Bill Dogterom, University Pastor at VU

"Jesus Christ is LORD." - the most ancient confession and doctrine of the Christian Church, born in the time of 'Lord' Caesar's ultimate authority

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

goodnight

today hasn't been the greatest day, but it hasn't been the worst either. i think these words best describe it (or me in it): fragmented, complex, melancholy, mildly bitter, angsty, funny, awkward, complacent. so while it's true that i looked forward to the completion of my day (in my connecting with you), it's also true that i was mostly un-talkative.

i think i'm in a season of that... i just haven't felt like talking with people recently. i conversed with Dogterom today, and even though it was intensely encouraging, even talking to him felt... off? i feel like i've been out-of-tune with life or myself or both, of late.

maybe this break will help...

sorry i haven't been very me lately. i hope we can phone while i'm home; i hope i have the right kind and amount of energy.

you might find this most recent post interesting... or maybe not. but my hope is that you and i will not only seek together, but also find together. and here i might have to address a wider audience for a moment, as i close this post: i have every intention of faithing with you in every way that i can. don't let your own limitations (whether real or self-imposed) keep you from acting on that which you are seeking to believe in, because if you didn't believe in it already, you wouldn't be seeking it.

we are not agnostics. we are blind treasure-hunters. don't let anyone keep you from living the way you know you should... don't even let yourself keep you from it. God Lloves you enough to be patient while you stumble through the dark, and i'm depending on His faithfulness in the midst of my faithlessness, as paradoxical as that may seem. are we not paradoxen ourselves, wanting to have faith and yet rejecting it when it presents itself, because it doesn't meet our epistemological standards, or because we cannot accept the simplicity of revealed truth, or because we cannot accept that faith is a matter of our own responsibility and not dependent on our feelings from moment to moment?

that last is particularly important for me, such an inconsistent person.

see some of you soon. i arrive in Fresno at 7:50p.

i Lllove you all.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

home of the wind

i fear the way of wishful thought
though my fickle heart knows every turn
of the trail that twists 'round rock and tree
of the trail that makes my dry lungs burn

~ ~ ~

i'm pretty inconsistent. you'd think that as a person grew up, they'd become more themselves; they'd develop more and more patterns. their character would begin to harden. they might change their major a few times, but at some point they'd stick with something and say, "alright. this is where i'm at, and this is where i'm headed."

is ten-teen too young to be able to say those kinds of things?

~ ~ ~

sometimes i feel like a pastor's kid. i always memorized the verses and went to the all-nighters and earned big points for my team at summer camp. i went from attending VBS to serving at it; i went from singing Jesus Loves the Little Children in kindergarten, to leading worship for a hundred people. i came to a Christian University and major'd in Religion.

and now i'm thinking about leaving the church so that i can find God.

~ ~ ~

the old wood splinters against my hands,
tearing at flesh and mind and soul
the dust attacks my light-cursed eyes,
burning like freshly kindled coal

~ ~ ~

a retreat. maybe... a month long? more? by myself. solitude and silence for a month. fasting, prayer, meditation, introspection. Rest. i think i need something like this. maybe after i get a job or two, i'll be able to afford something like it.

the thing is, Christianity makes sense to me historically. past, future, i get it-- God is the Source and Goal of all creation. He is man's telos, and man's rest. we are His image. we're even invited into His family. everything about life makes no sense without God. and yet, my intuition, as its own entity, struggles every day to push me away from this faith that i have been seeking with such strong, universal intent.

everything depends on this, i tell myself. my relationships, my career, my self-worth, everything.

but then i ask myself, Q: "what do atheists say their lives depend on?"

the atheist's life revolves around his wife, or his kids, or his job. that's his whole telos. if he's good at fixing Jaguar cars, then that's his purpose. if he loves his wife and his wife loves him, then that's his telos. or let's say it's a woman, and let's not do atheist... let's say Buddhist. her religion gives her purpose.

some people are unsatisfied with these... but not all! the church has been indoctrinating me for the better part of two decades that nothing satisfies like Jesus, and that life is completely meaningless and shallow without God directing it. "unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain that build it," says the Bible.

well, actually, atheists build houses every day. really nice ones. and not just houses: whole lives. they build happy families, and automobiles, and websites, and TV networks, and daycare centers. and many of these are very successful. so actually, Bible, you're wrong! (sorry to burst your bubble.) the righteous don't always prosper (as you say; i'll give you that), and the wicked sometimes have great lives.

so basically, i'm having to unravel all these lies that my own faith has been feeding me. i've been doing that for a few years now, and i sometimes enjoy it because i hate being wrong. but the thing is, i need some 'right' to fill in the gaps, and for some reason i can't seem to make it fit. my body's rejecting it; it's like a transplant, right? it's like i'm trying to re-arrange my whole life in light of the Truth, but when i move the couch over to the corner, it sticks out five inches past the doorway, and this rug just doesn't look the same in the kitchen as it did in the den.

so i'm pretty much sick of it. i'm tired of Christianity. i desperately hunger for God, but there's just way too much religion in my life and little-to-no relationship. i believe i'm built for both.

almost all of my loved ones will have their own little grey clouds following them around now, if they read this blog post, but i have no choice. don't worry, the weather will clear soon, when the dramatic-ness of this post fades. at the dinner table this Thursday, don't forget to thank God that you have the ability to believe in Him. thank Him for giving you faith.

God have mercy on me, the one that's leaving the ninety-nine. i hope He understand that it's only because i need a clearer view of Him. (i'm tired of staring at sheep-bottoms all week long. no offense meant to you, sheeps... and e-props/kudos to you, Zaccheus, because i think you were on to something.)

~ ~ ~

one more thing that inspired this post. i told you i'm inconsistent? well, i'm sort of wondering now if i have that spiritual gift that Paul claimed to have.

I Corinthians 7
1 Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. 7 I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.

are you serious? single-ness (and the ability to resist or even remove from oneself the desire for marriage) is a gift from God. interesting. i know what i want for Christmas...

seriously, if you weren't trying to live for God, who or what would you try to live for? i can't think of any telos that would beat 'God' and 'family,' but if any of you can think of one, i'd be greatly interested. comment or g-mail me.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

who will be the greatest?

so you're having casual conversation with a few friends after church, just shootin' the breeze, making fun of each other, trying to figure out where you're going to lunch that day... and you get around to talking about cell phones. there's some debate as to whether cingular or t·mobile is the bes--

"my sister just got a new cell phone. it's absolutely amazing; she paid like $3,294 for it, i swear it's incredible, it's got-"

uhm, excuse me? why did you interrupt?

"well, sawr-ree! i just remember something i--"

but couldn't it wait?

"but i want people to know!"

"why?"

"because... what if they don't notice me?"

"then maybe you're not noticable!"

"that's bad! i want to be noticed!!"

"then stop trying."

"you're insane."

"yes... but that doesn't exclude the possibility of me being right."

"...smart aleck. ok fine, how is that going to help me be noticed?"

"it probably won't."

"then what the heck!?"

"why do you want to be noticed?"

". . ."

"yes?"

"i guess it's because i want to feel loved."

"and i'd say that's a natural desire... at least for fallen humanity. it's also a dangerous one."

"how can it be dangerous."

it's dangerous because these are the things that it drives peeps to either 1) become people-pleasers, or 2) believe that they can't be loved at all. it's also dangerous because it's the opposite of what we're designed for and called to.

"what do you mean?"

well, here's an analogy. do you want friends?

"uhm, duh..."

then you should stop trying to get people to be your friends.

"uhhhh yeah, that makes alot of sense... =P "

it does. for those of us who aren't just naturally cool and charismatic, being a friend is the focus we need. why? not just because it's right/good to focus that way, but also because it is what will ultimately fulfill us.

trying to make people like you will sometimes work, but it's all based on your performance. the better you perform for people, the more they'll like you... at least until you mess up. it's like having a career in acting, or music. the better you perform, the more successful you'll be.

but a performance-orientation is unhealthy for your personal social life. it will conceal from you your true worth as a person, and hinder you from developing your real identity. outwardly, people will see you as someone with alot of personality, but just as Bruce Wayne isn't Christian Bale, that person that everyone likes won't really be you, even if there's alot of apparent overlap between the two personalities.

it's a common paradoxical truth: if you find yourself wanting something*, walk away from it. why? because your motivation is wrong, and because you'll probably find it if you stop looking.

*something = to be loved, to feel special, to be liked, to be served, to be encouraged.

in this case, the opposite of seeking encouragement is not seeking discouragement... it's giving encouragement. the opposite of trying to be liked is not trying to be disliked... it's liking others. this is the kind of thought-process Christ had in mind when he said things like,

Matthew 10:39
Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

Luke 9:25
What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?

John 7:18
Those who speak on their own seek their own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothing false in him.

Matthew 6:33
But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 18:1-4
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" 2 He called a child, whom he put among them, 3 and said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom."

children are what? not 'innocent' or 'naive' or 'full of faith' or 'pure' ...but humble. = having nothing. i can just see the disciples trying to shoo them away without touching them, the least and lowest of society. and Jesus is telling them that children are the greatest in the kingdom!

if you would feel loved, search your heart and ask yourself why, and consider this: the more you try to feel loved, the less everyone will truly value you, including yourself.

realizing that trying to feel good about ourselves is an unhealthy pursuit, will free us to find the self-confidence we need. i say that in bold because, for me, this is all about freedom. the freedom to be who you are is the same freedom that will let people enjoy you (notice the upgrade from 'liking' you). freedom from a social life of performance is freedom to live a full and healthy social life overall.

1 Corinthians 10:24
Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

it is good for us to seek the good of others! it's not only Right; it's Good, as in 'healthy' for us! so really, when you purposefully seek the good of others, you're accidentally seeking the good of yourself.

~ ~ ~

the bottom line in all of this? if you feel like you aren't loved, good. you've come to the right place. if you feel you aren't special, excellent. maybe you aren't! =)

now that you've realized that, you're free to be special.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Remo, tremo, sento...

HAHAHAHAHAHA =D

i'm laughing at Josh Groban. care to join me? => okay, maybe not. in fact, i may have offended you at this point. but just give me a little time, and i'll explain everything. including the universe and God and stuff. deal? deal.

such a weird mood... it's been awhile since i pulled an all-nighter, all alone. LOVED IT. it's 8:08a right now, and i have class at 9a, but first i need to write a conclusion for this 9-page paper that i spent about four hours writing.

and guess what i'm going to do with it when i'm done?!

...

i'm going to record the entire thing and post both voice and word for you to enjoy! so exciting. you can't wait. your can't-wait-y-ness is as strong as these words are bold!

yeah, i'd better get back to it. my stummy's almost ready for breakfast, and that's how you know for super-darn-sure that isaiah is not himself.

until then! *salute*

(wait... when's then?)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

follow-up

Bonhoeffer gave me an epiphany last night, and it said this to me: stop looking for theophanies.

the truth is, i think i’ve been looking for God to show Himself to me, when really i should have been focused on showing myself to Him. or, put another way: i have to disagree with Augustine. he says not to understand in order to have faith; he says to have faith in order to understand. i need to reject both-- i want to have faith for its own sake! or maybe for Christ’s sake? for truth’s sake? for righteousness’ sake?

i think i’ve been seeking faith as a means to an end... namely, an experience of God. i think about all the songs i sing, where the lyricist wants to “see Your face” or “feel Your touch.” i think it might actually be an idol! are we asking God for signs and wonders, as if His son wasn’t enough? as if His grace isn’t enough? and i’ve argued (with myself) that if i don’t experience God’s grace, i can’t know that i’m receiving it. and i’ve argued that i can’t force myself to believe, to take a ‘leap of faith.’ i’ve described my spiritual life as a leap of faith that never brings me to the ground; i just sort of float there, in the air, waiting for something to happen, and when nothing does, i fall on my face, rather than landing.

my religion has been teaching me that when i am faithful, i experience God. however true this is, i think it can become manipulative. people can learn to be ‘faithful’ just so that they can experience God. but this isn’t what i’m after, is it? is it what i’m supposed to be after? what does the Word say?

the Word takes it for granted that God exists, and that He does what He says He does. what i’m wondering is, do i need to be checking on God to make sure He is faithful, or can i just assume along with Scripture that He is?

i have to think on this some more; and, i have to be careful when i’m reading any devotional material, or taking any spiritual advice. i have to remind myself: “we’re not seeking an experience. we’re seeking to become faithful followers of Christ.”

if i can keep this in my head, i think it will change my life.

sorry

it's true; sometimes we have to apologize for things we haven't done. like tonight: there was something i didn't do. i didn't converse with you.

i could have. i saw all kinds of opportunities too. we would've laughed together alot, and you probably would've stayed on the phone longer. in that sense, something good came of my depression, but that doesn't validate or excuse or redeem the bad things that came of it.

it's been awhile since i've been this depressed; it's a combination of alot of things. i'm hungry, i'm tired, i'm anticipating a heavy work-week, i took an evening nap...

...but worst of all is this feeling of disappointment, and i realized tonight that it's been the main source for most of my depression over the years. here's the disappointment:
all the Christians around me act like God interacts with them personally, and they all tell me He relates this way with anyone who desires it, if they are willing to follow Him the way He asks. well, i've been at this for years, and you know, i am maybe somewhat willing to accept that i can't make myself believe the way everyone else does, all the time. sometimes, rarely, i have moments where God seems very real and very present. but those are far too infrequent.

okay, well, maybe i can handle that... but it gets worse. following every one of those good moments is the following reflection: "it only
seemed like He was present." translation: He wasn't. it's just that, somehow, my imagination won a small battle, and my mind had to give a little ground. but it always takes it back afterwards, so that for every step forward, there's a step back.

this is so stupid. i want to give up, but can't, because i'll Die without this; i don't want to give up, but i have to, because the disappointment is Killing me.

but back to the apology: it would've been more than one-word responses, had i been thinking less selfishly. i could have been more myself for your sake, but i was too wrapped up in my bitter misgivings, my resignation to perpetual spiritual poverty.

"blessed are the poor in spirit." not really, actually.

i promise to be better in the future.

Love,
isaiah

Thursday, November 09, 2006

an imperfect model

but it's helpful. here's how it works:

let's say you are an evangelical preacher/pastor somewhere. traditionally, your week builds up towards Sunday; that's sort of the climax of the weekly rhythm. ideally, your energy would build up toward the morning service, where you pour yourself out through your sermon and everything. after that, you begin preparing for the next Sunday.

i realize things aren't that simple, but bear with me; it's just an example for the sake of the analogy.

pastor Dogterom's advice for you, if you are ^ this pastor ^, is this: never resign on a Monday.

"why not?"

because Monday, being the day following Sunday, is your low point. your adrenaline was at a high on Sunday. in order to recover from this, your body (your whole self, really) needs to experience a low in order to balance you out. Dogterom draws this figure on the board:



and you're thinking, "what? i thought i was taking a class on preaching, not mathematical psychology, or whatever it is we're talking about."

but the truth is that your body is often very mathematical, and there's a lot of psychology that's involved in being a pastor. even if you never counsel anyone, you should know some psych. why? so that you can understand yourself.

so there, at the high point of that wave-y diagram, that's your Sunday. and the dip afterwards: that's your Monday. the bottom line is that an energetic high needs to be followed by a corresponding low, if you're to remain balanced.

"what do you mean, a 'low' ?"

a depression. yeah... it's bad. that's why you don't want to make any big decisions on Monday. you'll be depressed, and that's no good for making big decisions-- e.g., your own resignation. don't reply to any letters/e-mails on Monday. don't fire anyone. don't do anything but Rest.

- - -

i'm not a pastor/preacher, but i am human. but my week doesn't build up to Sunday; it builds up to Monday through Wednesday. LoL i'm serious; that's how it works. Monday requires non-stop work all day; Tuesday, same thing, if i do my homework. Wednesday, same thing, if i do my hw. Wednesday night is sort of my high, because i have Beauty & the Christian Life, which is always alot of fun, and then a new episode of LOST with friends afterwards, which is always exciting and intense.

where does that put my low, usually?

i don't feel so bad about not doing much homework today. i'd rather not have this limitation at all, but i honestly, actually need Rest. i got 8hrs, counting my nap, but then i napped again for a few hours! what is that?? it's my body balancing itself out, somehow.

i said the bottom line already, but here's the lesson: a high is often followed by a low, and sometimes even the other way around. so when you experience either of those, and you don't know why, ask yourself how your day went yesterday. it might clue you in.

*returns to doing nothing*

Friday, November 03, 2006

prayer

it's about trust, it really is.

Q: whenever you feel... less than confident in your prayers, why is that?

this is my dilemma: i'm not very good at making myself believe that a human being can 1) actually experience spiritual realities (i.e. divine realities, or God), or even more difficult 2) know that le has done so, once le succeeds.

there's this thing called epistemology. it is my constant fascination, and my relentless tormentor. an espitemologist would want to ask this single question: "how do we know what we know?" or perhaps "how do we know that we know?"

it amazes me, how answering that can be so intriguing and so frustrating. how do you know that you exist?

"that's easy! i can see myself."

that doesn't mean you exist; it just means you think you do.

"how could i possibly see something that doesn't exist?!"

we do it all the time. it's called variance of opinion (at least, it's called that now; i think i just coined a phrase, at least for this specific usage). if two people disagree on something, how do they find out which person is correct? that's a fairly easy endeavor when it comes to calculus, or whether a certain move in a chess game is within the rules or against them. but what do you do when the correct answer cannot be proven?

when it comes to spiritual reality, here is the rule: it cannot be proven. it can only be believed.

well, if we are only believing it, and many people believe many different things, then how can we proceed with any amount of confidence? here's the rule for that: you cannot believe in a spiritual reality without risking foolishness.

geez... it's an effing paradox!! i'm sorry. usually i love paradoxen, and usually i am safe and conservative in my choice of individual words. (actually, i don't know if that's true... comments?) but this time, it's just too much. rationale tells me i'm a fool for thinking (or feeling!) that God is present, but Proverbs makes this statement quite boldly: "the fool says in his heart, 'there is no God.'" isn't it annoying!?

i hate being incorrect. i don't care whether anyone catches me being incorrect; i just hate incorrectness itself! and i love it when something is gotten right. it doesn't matter whether i'm right, or someone else is right; the state of someone being right is a big happy for me, and i'll go to great lengths to experience it. i find deep satisfaction in knowing. the problem is that God can't be known like that.

He can't; argue if you want, but it all comes back to that thing about proof versus faith. my intellect despises it. why can't God prove Himself? why does He hide? why did God make the spiritual reality so much less tangible, if it is the reality upon which this wholly tangible world rests? in other words, why is it that our world (the one that seems real) depends so much on His world (which doesn't seem real at all)?!

"in Him we live, and move, and have our being." we are contingent, as Rybarczyk and many other theologians would say. frankly, i'm glad; i like the idea of our selves and our surroundings being grounded (ontologically speaking) in His self and His surroundings. i also hate it because it means we have to take a breath underwater.

does that image work for you? imagine waking up one morning, completely submerged in the ocean. everything's black, and you have no idea which way is up. first comes the simple realization: "hey... i'm underwater." then comes the question. "why am i underwater?"

then comes the panic: "i can't freaking breathe!"

so you're floundering around down there, feeling around for something solid to grasp, trying to ascertain the direction of gravity's pull so that you can make an escape attempt... when all of a sudden you hear a chorus of voices, all speaking. some are more vehement; others sound apathetic, or despairing, or full of joy and excitement. some are pleading with you; others are mocking you. a few are foreign tongues. you hear your mother's voice, your best friend's voice, your pastor's voice, but more than that, you hear the voices of well-meaning strangers. or maybe you hear tones of condemnation and hopelessness, above those.

all of the voices are telling you what to do, or what not to do. and how to do it. and why.

finally you discern this small, scrawny whisper. you're not even sure that it's speaking English, at first, but you find you can interpret a possible meaning. it repeats its own words, and, with a bit of uncertainty, you grasp the phrase:

"take a breath if you want to live."

and that's all it says. 1st reaction: "if i do that, i'll let water into my lungs." 2nd reaction: "this person wants to kill me." 3rd reaction: you suddenly realize that you'll be choosing to breathe, not just right now, but during every moment of every day of the rest of your life down here.

what will you choose?

journal - journey

exactly one month and one day ago, while writing in my journal, i came to this conclusion:

“i think i've killed my heart.”

i think i can elaborate on that, now. i think i came to trust entirely in my thoughts, and not at all in my feelings. after all, “The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse-- who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9). i’ve been that way for most of my life, especially since 9th grade when i started to make my faith my own.

i think one of the spiritual themes of my life is captivity vs. freedom. most of the time, i treat myself as a strict master would treat his slave. ...no, that’s not quite the right analogy. maybe i’m more of an authoritarian parent, or even government!
Authoritarianism describes a form of social control characterized by strict obedience to the authority of a state or organization, often maintaining and enforcing control through the use of oppressive measures. The term may also be used to describe the management style and personality of an individual who seeks to dominate those within his sphere of influence and has little regard for building consensus.

In an authoritarian form of government, citizens are subject to state authority in many aspects of their lives, including many that other political philosophies would see as matters of personal choice.”
- from Wikipedia.org (emphasis mine)

this describes me perfectly! i seek to dominate myself, sometimes through sheer force of will, and almost always through the use of oppressive measures. i make no allowances for mistakes-- everything must be done perfectly, and if not, then i’ve failed. i think of every endeavor in terms of success and failure. if i burn my toast in the morning, i throw it away and begin again. when singing along with my favorite music, if i miss a note, i go back and sing it again, and again, until i have it right. if someone says “hello!” to me on their way to class, and i half-heartedly mumble a response, i berate myself for the rest of the day, reminding me to smile warmly and speak clearly the next time i greet someone.

everything i do is calculated and controlled. i can’t walk at all unless i know where i’m going; i question every thought and feeling, until i have a complete answer. i have little regard for building consensus, unless ‘consensus’ simply means making everyone believe one thing (which it doesn’t). i keep my heart in a cage when it comes to spiritual matters, because i’m so guided by my intellect and reasoning. it would be foolish to trust my heart; what can it possibly know that my head isn’t capable of grasping?

many things, it turns out, although i’m just now beginning to acknowledge it.maybe by allowing myself to really feel failure this morning (rather than just dwelling on it mentally), i broke myself. maybe i’ve finally come to the point where i can neither give up nor keep going the way i’m going. something about my confession to a mentor of mine may have unlocked the cage i keep myself in. whatever it was, it enabled me this morning to spend a long and heartfelt time in God’s presence, and that’s extremely rare for me in this chapter of my life. it felt amazing.

my first thought, of course, is “what makes you think God was present?” and i have no answer that would satisfy, logically speaking. i simply believed Him to be here, listening, even guiding me in my prayers and reflections. i don’t know how it happened; i struggle so hard, internally, to force myself to ‘believe.’ it seems like so many Christians around me find it easy to believe in God, and that’s discouraging rather than encouraging, because 1) i haven’t the slightest clue how they do it, and 2) no one can explain it to me. “you just have to have faith,” they might say. it’s like the ultimate mystery, the way a human being can access the realm of the divine.

mystery doesn’t sit well with my brain, and if i trust only my mind, then my heart’s longings will never be fulfilled. in fact, they’ll only drag me down until life is nothing more than a struggle to survive.

that’s why my life is about captivity versus freedom. i have a choice between trusting my heart (the biggest mistake ever, in my mind), or following the advice in Jeremiah 17:9. the latter path, though it’s been the path much more easily chosen, is certainly suffocating me, while the former path seems treacherous beyond anything i’ve seen, yet claims to be vital to the success of my endeavors. my prayer now is that the heart i’m putting my trust in is God’s, and not just mine.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

BRICK

that was.. what? my 4th time watching it? 3rd? something. still amazing. i caught a few more things this time; i'll probably catch more the next time. sort of crazy, that a movie could be so detailed and clever.

sooo there's this phone booth that plays a big part in the movie. it's at the intersection of Camino Del Rio and Calle Sarmentosa, in San Clemente. i google'd it; it's about 30min from Vanguard. i want to go there. it would be cool to visit the high-school, too... i think i found it.

that's all. =)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

winter

a few weeks ago, i experienced a brief period (maybe 4-5 days) during which i had alot of energy. it was a little scary... it was completely unlike me to feel so awake and alive, so consistently, for that long.

i passed the balance awhile back, so i'm living life uphill now. at least, i think that's what's happening. circumstances haven't changed much, but i seem to be very different in mood than i was a few weeks ago. i feel very at peace, yet my mind is scattered; i have many reasons to be joyful or desperate or introspective or complacent, or all of the above, but none of them seem to take hold for very long.

it's fairly complicated; i have no clue what's going on, except that 1) i haven't been blogging, and 2) i really need some rest. i won't be getting much of it anytime soon, either.

i miss blogging.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

suite!

the 6am (or so) bird just called!

that has made my morning. =)

who will suffer through me?

sometimes i want to listen to you.
sometimes i want to just hang with you.
sometimes i want to do something specific with you.
sometimes i want to talk with you.

sometimes i just want to talk to you. is that annoying? i sometimes use blogs for that reason.

awhile ago, i had this idea for an audio blog, and now i'm thinking it's time to implement it. but i need your cooperation, in three respects.
  1. you've got to volunteer to listen. no point, otherwise.
    it just makes sense. in addition to the obvious reason (why talk to peeps who aren't listening?!), i want to point out that, i would much rather have a very specific audience in mind when recording my voice. it helps me come up with thoughts to share and words to share them. knowing specifically who is listening, helps me talk.

  2. you've got to exercise a ton of patience.
    this would be new for me. i don't think it would come as naturally to me as blogging does. with a blog, i can go back and correct things, add things, subtract things... i can spend as much time as i want or need to, polishing and perfecting. with this audio blog, i would just want to go for it, and that is a risk that i cannot control very much. if you know me well, you know that i do not take uncalculated risks. this would be a very messy enterprise, and i would need your help with containing (or at least forgiving!) that mess. =)

  3. you've got to work with me on the technical aspect.
    the "embed" tag is the first thing that comes to mind, but with all the different software and stuff out there, i can't be sure one method would work for everyone. so i would need your feedback and cooperation in making things work technically. it might even involve installing a special plug-in or something, who knows.
enough explaining! let me know if you are interested.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Jesus is absurd

"it's not fair."

you're darn right, it isn't fair. it may not even be wise, but you know what, Jesus was stupid when he went to the cross.

think about it. if You are God, are You going to kill yourself? come on!!! that's the stupidest idea ever! if you were Bill Gates, would you throw all of your money into the ocean and hope that a few poor lost sailors will pick up a few bucks of it here and there? stupid again!!

utter foolishness. there's no point sacrificing more than you have to. if there's a new guy at church and he's having trouble fitting in, but you're someone's girlfriend, you're not going to go hang out with this guy one-on-one every week to develop a strong friendship with him, because what the heck!? you have a boyfriend! it wouldn't be fair.

so stupid. Jesus killed himself so that some people would be saved.

we should all be very careful and frugal when deciding how much of ourselves Christ wants us to give.

~ ~ ~

are you a Christian? can i emphasize the first six letters of that word? what are you, that you can identify yourself with Christ? what is in you that is like him?

perhaps the question isn't how much of yourself to give-- i believe we're all called to die empty, if at all possible-- but how you give all of yourself. obviously you have to feed yourself as well as others, because if you don't, you'll die, and that's not the grand. i am guessing Jesus calls most of us to live for him, not die for him. (i mean death in the literal sense; i think our present context calls for something other than martyrdom. feel free to disagree, though- and don't forget to explain why!)

when considering how much to give, and how to give it, have the mind and heart of Christ. there is a place for wisdom and prudence, but... i mean, think of the early Christian church. they testified to their beliefs, through word and deed, in the face of the Roman government. Rome had absolutely no problem with taking away your children if you so much as spoke Jesus' name! before Constantine's little theophany, you would have been considered unfit for parenting if you believed in Jesus.

that means that, back in the day, following Jesus could mean sacrificing your family.

if you don't think that's fair, you're right. Jesus' life wasn't very fair, either. i think that, if he'd raised a family of his own, he would have taught them the importance of sacrifice. we should do the same. we should strive for the stupidity of the cross; we should take on the absurdity of Jesus.

ask Him what you might be holding back, that He might be asking you to give. ask Him, if you are brave enough.

Torah

i would love it, if i could post a quality blog every day. but i'm no Pharisee; i won't go making more laws for myself, as if i didn't have enough to break already. i've got lots of stuff i could blog about, but the passion has to be there, you know?

well. it's 1:51a, and i am home alone-- no idea where my roomfriends are, though i suspect Jesse went home to Hemet-- and i have just finished eating two of Jesse's frosted strawberry poptarts. i missed dinner. =(

no one's online, nothing new on myspace, and i have zero energy but i'm not sleepy. i hate that feeling. i know... you do, too. lame, huh?? it's because i've messed myself up so bad, as far as sleeping habits go. the fact is, i have no sleeping habit right now. *sigh*

*another sigh*

you know what i hate even more than being tired-but-not-sleepy? being absolutely unmotivated to do anything that would normally be enjoyable. i have books to read, movies to watch, junk food to eat, sleeping people to leave messages for, lyrics to write, problem to solve... but i don't want to do any of that. i'm not sure i even want to have fun at all, right now.

i guess that's what being bored really is. it's not that there's nothing to do; it's that nothing to do would be fun. it's my mood that's boring, not my circumstances. i'm just drained. maybe tomorrow will be better.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

learning to Breathe

EDIT: this post was originally intended to simply express my joy in praying with God, rather than just to Him; i hoped to show people that it is possible to grow in faith, because i have rarely experienced that in my life. i just haven't been good soil for encouragement in that area. i've had the hardest time actually believing that God interacts with His people today, in noticeable ways.

i want to add something onto this post now, a specific purpose: i want to challenge you to give God a chance to speak. as You're talking at Him, be ready for His interruptions. He might make them, and He might not, but how will you know if you never give Him the chance during prayer? believe that He wants to teach you, and at one point or another, He will.

okay, done! read on. the post begins with a compliment:


Jonathan Foreman is brilliant. (contact me if you've never heard this song.)

breathing is so instinctual that we do it even when we're unconscious. we can only stop breathing for about... oh... a few minutes, at the most. if we practice. (is that right? someone correct me.)

Hello, good morning, how d'ya do?
What makes your rising sun so new?
I could use a fresh beginning too
All of my regrets are nothing new

So this is the way
that I say that I need You
This is the way
This is the way

That I'm learning to breathe
I'm learning to crawl
I'm finding that You and
You alone can break my fall
I'm living again, awake and alive
I'm dying to breathe in these abundant skies

Hello, good morning, how ya been?
Yesterday left my head kicked in
I never thought I could fall like that
Never knew that I could hurt this bad

I'm learning to breathe
I'm learning to crawl
I'm finding that You and
You alone can break my fall
I'm living again, awake and alive
I'm dying to breathe in these abundant skies

So this is the way
that I say that I need You
This is the way
That I say I love You
This is the way
That I say I'm Yours
This is the way
This is the way


i've never grown tired of this song, in all the time i've known it (years). it's so true; i'm just now learning how to Breathe.

yesterday a friend of mine hit a glitch in lor Story, and i didn't know what to do except pray. i didn't even know what the glitch was; i just knew it had taken place. so we prayed for len in my capstone class at 1p, but... i kept worrying. maybe i could've calmed myself down, but i didn't want to. i don't think it was the unhealthy kind of worrying. it was more an intense concern. (i hope. ¬_¬)

anyway, in Spiritual Disciplines @ 2:30p, we talked about prayer as relational. for three hours. but in the middle of that, we took 15m break, and i went to the comp lab to check on len. i read the blog again, and decided i should probably pray. but there's a problem: see the Q i asked in the post just under the one you're reading now? yeah. that. i have a problem asking God for things when i am pretty sure He's either 1) not granting the same request for someone who needs it more, or 2) has never answered a similar request of mine in the past.

sooo having just discussed the fact that prayer is really like deep conversation between friends (rather than an ATM machine transaction), i decided to pray this:

i know You hear me.

i know You are there, listening, watching. maybe You're even speaking. maybe Your silence is best. maybe You're unnoticed, yet still so present. maybe You care more than i do about len, and about lor situation. maybe i feel like You need to do something, and maybe i'm scared that You won't, because i know that sometimes, You don't.

i am so trained to fix things, to anticipate happy endings. i don't know what else there is to do, God...

perhaps You can teach us. i'm game.

amen.


in the time it took the prayer to publish, this thought was... impressed? upon me: "keep lor situation in mind." (God didn't say 'lor,' but i have to, so... yeah. just clarifying. ;) "just keep thinking about it."

uhm... what the heck? my mind doesn't come up with stuff like that... not in that way. it's like when a friend tells you, "okay, close your eyes," and you keep asking them what the surprise is, but they won't tell you. so you just have to follow the sound of their voice until you get to... wherever it is they're taking you.

so i did.

and about... oh... 15 seconds later, after i had already exited the lab and begun walking back to class, i realized three things: 1) i can't do anything to help, 2) God does care more than i do; He will do what He does and be exactly Who He is, and 3) the first thing i realized is more a command than a confession. in other words: don't try to fix it. just leave it alone, let Me be 'intensely concerned' and not you. (...oh, and by the way: you're on the right track with those prayers.)

that is definitely not something i would come to on my own. don't help!? You're not serious, God. i am made for this! and, sorry to see my cup half-full here (rather than half-empty), but i'm not half-bad at it. p.s., You are the One Who made me this way, by leading me through 1Cor13 and Rom13 and Llaura and all the others. this is what i am supposed to be doing!

"not this time."

*exasperated sigh* fine. fine... we'll do it Your way, God. *humph*

(*~*)

sooo later that night, i talked with len, and le basically said exactly the same thing God said (about me not helping). i didn't believe len, and i even had trouble believing God, but both of them together is just too much to argue against.

~ ~ ~

there are two realities. the first is the world your 5 senses tell you about. the second is the 'kingdom' that Jesus of Nazareth talked about when he was here in the flesh. one of them exists because of the other one (can you guess which is which?). in Him we live, and move, and have our being. our whole existence would collapse in upon itself if we ever slipped His mind.

to grow in faith means we are learning how to live in that reality, where God speaks something, and it is so. faith is what the centurion had when he said, "don't even waste Your time coming-- just say the word. i know You have authority." that authority is what makes the kingdom His kingdom, and the more we live under that authority, the more freedom we will have to Live at all.

God, teach me how to Breathe that air.

Monday, October 16, 2006

a happy, and a sad

when i'm in a bad mood, i tend to list all the bad things about my day.
when i'm in a happy mood, i see all the positive things about it.

it might be that my circumstances affect my mood, but it's also true that i look at my circumstances through the hermeneutic of my mood. so, if you ask me, "how was your day?" that's really not far from asking me, "how was your heart today?"

today was happy, and i can't figure out why. i didn't get much sleep, and i won't be getting much sleep tonight, and my evening nap actually made me feel good rather than depressed and apathetic, and that made the gree-grumps stop their growling, which means i was able to finish some of the homework due in one of my classes tomorrow... and i enjoyed it.

i could attribute good days and good moods to lots of different causes. i could give credit to my roomfriend Jesse, who bought me dinner and made sure i stayed focused on my reading notes. i could thank a certain friendly ghost for len words of encouragement. i could even give myself a little credit (imagine that!) for thinking carefully and critically about my attitude.

what i'd really like to do is give credit to everyone who Loves me, because even if you're not helping me to do anything, you're certainly helping me to be someone. and that is just as important, since i am not just trying to accomplish-- i'm also trying to become.

i don't like how i've pulled an all-nighter for the sake of homework being turned in on time, only to find that i'm very awake right now. i hope my one hour of sleep tonight doesn't kill me tomorrow. do you think it will help more than harm, or the other way around?

let me give you a disturbing thought to work through, before my consciousness commits suicide. (don't worry; i have hope in the resurrection.)

Q: if God is allowing people all over the world to starve to death, to contract fatal diseases, to be separated from their families, and to drown in hopelessness of one kind or another... how can you, in good conscience, ask Him to bless you? or, put another way, how can you thank God for providing for you when He doesn't do so for others, including infants and other helpless children of His?

English is lame

"In English, there just isn't a personal pronoun to express [God's] kind of Life/Personality that isn't either exclusively male or exclusively female. The only nongender pronoun in English is impersonal (it). Since God is neither impersonal nore exclusively male nor exclusively female nor neuter (meaning less than male or female), none of these pronoun options satisfy." - Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy

i'm tired of it. if- lol haha.. i didn't even intend that pun. *proudface*

but seriously, i'm tired of not having a personal pronoun of ambiguous gender reference. there needs to be one. and so, i am creating a new set of words.

"le" - he, she
"len" - him, her
"lor" - his, her (possessive)

this word refers to a personal creature who might be male, or might be female, or might be beyond these categories! let's give it a try, shall we??

"If someone wants to be listened to, le should begin by first listening to!"

yes-likey? no-likey? let's play with it a little more.

"A certain student of mine, who will remain anonymous, recently found lenself running out of laundry money."
(interesting form, there...)

"Le who laughs last, laughs longest."
(females should get to be included, too. it's politically correct.)

"I'm having trouble following you," le said to len.
(if genders were applied, it might read 'he said to her' or 'she said to him.')

"God is three, and yet Le is one."
(notice the capitalization of our new pronoun. whee!)

"This Isjami-person... I've never met len. Is le male or female?"
(okay, i admit, i am sometimes a tad bit feminine... for a guy, anyway...)

"The unidentified burglar reached for lor handgun...."
(normally we would say 'their' there, but 'they' is plural, isn't it???)

hopefully you've enjoyed my break from homework as much as i have. =) stay tuned.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

sad day

i've been drained the past few days; lots of interesting, bloggable stuff has happened (like the thunderstorm, and Rybarczyk movie-night, etc.), but i just don't have the energy.

=
i have homework all day tomorrow, or else.

come back in a few days.

EDIT: i lied. this needs to be said right now, while the passion's still there.

if i get married: i hope, i pray, i wish that my wife would have an affair, hide it from me for several weeks, and then confess. i really hope she cheats on me. the world needs to see that there's no excuse for any lack of faithfulness and loyalty, at least in the case of Christian husbands.

Spanglish is a stupid movie.

Friday, October 13, 2006

teach me how to live life



i had my second counseling meeting with this guy today. he's someone who knows how to live life; i rely on his wisdom, and his understanding of Scripture. the Text becomes real and alive when he leads us into it. Jesus becomes a real, human person... doing the Right thing becomes a joy, a natural expression of who i am, instead of a categorical imperative that drives me.

i would trust him with my life. and i don't mean i would let him work the ropes if i went rock-climbing... i mean i would live my life a certain way if he gave me his advice.

i've had four classes with him, including this semester's:
  • research methods for the study of scripture
    (how to find out what the Word means)
  • intro to teaching and preaching
    (how to help others' lives be changed by the Word)
  • theology of church mission
    (who is the Church? what's it do? why? how?)

  • spiritual disciplines
    (how to form spiritual character; following Jesus)
that last is the one i need the most, and the one i'm the worst at. i am in such desperate need of spiritual formation... the others are great, too, but i've been looking forward to that last one for awhile now.

anyway, today was the best day i've had in awhile, and my convo with him was one of the things that made it that way.

right after that convo, i went next door to Professor Rybarczyk's office and had another great convo. i trust them both with my life, but they have different personalities, different vocabularies, different 'wisdoms' even. Rybarczyk's helped to teach me how to think, particularly through and about theology. i really appreciate both of them; i rely on both of them.

i'm sad that i waited until my senior year to get to know them.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

i want to know You

if you are reading this casually, stop. it's extra-important.

"lighten up, dude, geez!"

lol fine.. look, i'm smiling. =D see? i'm light-and-up.

but this is still serious.

"okay, fine, whatevs..."

hush! i'm talking.

;)

~ ~ ~

all my life i've grown up knowing about God. born and raised in the church; memorized the verses, sang the songs, believed the beliefs. learned all the fundamentals, asked all the questions, saw all the skits and drew all the illustrations (remember the canyon one?) .

around 9th grade, i realized, "uhm... God's a real person, and i really need Him alot."

that's when i started my first prayer journal. i told God all kinds of things; i spoke to Him as if He were actually there, listening. i told Him i wanted to give Him my world; i asked for Wisdom (Proverbs), and friends, and guidance. i confessed sins, rambled about things, poured out my heart and mind.

i learned some important lessons through that. God taught me about Love (1 Corinthians), and that set the foundation (and motivation!) for my experiences with it later on in life (i.e. Llaura, and the girls afterwards). i think more than anything else, in that first stage of real faith i asked for Wisdom and Love more than anything else.

but then, eventually, i started to think, "what if none of this is real?" and that was about the same time i sort of grew out of my high-school faith. i didn't really 'get anything' out of the Sunday morning lessons anymore. it was time for me to doubt everything, and lose almost everything... my only belief was, "God exists." that was it. i wasn't sure of anything else. i even told the group at Mexico, "i don't believe God loves me." that's basic, right? an essential!

it took me over a year to work through that. it was definitely the darkest chapter of my life; i was completely lost. i don't know how i got back, but if my loss of faith was like setting sail from my home port and losing sight of the shore, then somehow the wind brought me back to dry land. it was a different port, i think, but still too close to home. i believed God loved me, but i didn't experience it; it was blind faith at that point. and i guess that was enough for me at the time.

then i set sail in a different way: i came to Vanguard University. what an experience. finally i could learn about my faith! finally i could ask questions and get answers. do people go straight to heaven when they die? what was God doing before He created the heavens and the earth? how do i minister to people with my specific gifts? who is the Holy Spirit, and what does He do? what happens to those who die before hearing the gospel? what are the right ways and wrong ways to interpret the Bible?

yeah. my first year was a suite, suite eye-opener. i felt like a kid in a candy-store; my classes were the grandparents who spoiled me. it was Einstein's first visit to a library; it was Bill Nye getting his first chemistry set. it was a Muslim's first journey to Mecca.

but... after that came another dark night of the soul. it began with questions like, "if Satan's not omnipresent, how can he be tempting all these people all at once?" "since there are 7 billion people in the world all exercising free will, how can God be controlling anything?" "if God and the Bible can't be proven true, why do we believe in them?" "can God tell a lie?" "how can there be one Truth, but many Christian denominations? which one is right?" "does God really know everything, or do we just say that to make us more comfortable?"

the questions continued, and all the while Vanguard continued to teach me not just what to think, but how to think. and as i was trained in the art of critical thinking, i began to be critical of my faith. the more i learned about it, the more i mastered it, and the more i mastered it, the more i put myself above it, like a scientist puts himself above his specimen. he must do this, or else he cannot hope to understand it, right? a child cannot study and understand an adult; he is below the adult. so i put myself above my faith. i dissected it. and why not? for the first time in my life, i was given permission to ask dangerous questions and explore every nook and cranny.

the more critical i became, the less committed i became. i was already lacking in an experiential faith; i had never heard God's voice, seen His face, or felt His presence. i thought i had sometimes, like in worship, but i found out later (as i became more critical) that the joy i felt was the joy of music, not of connection with God. and the more i realized how human i was, the more i realized how beyond me God was. and that's how i lived.

"Jesus is my best friend" became a joke to me. Jesus can't be our best friend; he's not here! he left. he ascended. he's gone. how about the Spirit? invisible. untraceable. undefined. not very easy to put under a microscope. and the Father? transcendent; mysterious; up in heaven; outside of time; holy; the Alpha and Omega, but none of the letters in between. Source and Goal, as theologians say, but where was He in my world, in my life? He created the world, and He would remake it, but what about the world in the meantime?

it became my greatest desire, and the most impossible concept ever: to interact with God. and if i cannot interact with Him, then i cannot know Him.

there's no idea more hopeless for me, than that one.

it makes me want to stop existing.

~ ~ ~

so... i came to VU this year with the expectation of somehow renewing my faith. i quickly realized that this was a stupid thing to expect, because it was VU that made me lose it in the first place!! my knowledge increased, and so did my heresy. i found it possible to rationally explain away every Truth that might offer a shred of hope for me. i can still do it for you, on command; but there's a problem. the 'smarter' my theology gets, the more my heart and soul starve. the more i learn how to master Scripture, the less chance It has of mastering me. the more i understand God, the less of a God He can be for me.

at least, that's how it seems.

i think the more accurate way to describe it is in terms of my attitude. if i intend to study how a violin works, i should probably take it apart. but that means i won't be able to play it. no music, no inspiration; no inspiration, no joy. same with the Bible. the more i take it apart and learn how it works, the less chance there is that i will ever hear its song. dissect a frog and take away its hop.

the solution? i need to stop studying and start feeling. well, that's sort of hopeless too, since i'm always trying to figure everything out, especially if i'm going to invest myself in it somehow! i don't trust my feelings, and i don't base my decisions on impulse. logic is my compass; reason is the be-all, end-all.

this is not the kind of attitude you need if you want to truly Live.

in addition to my scientisfic mindset, i have another problem. it's a certain belief that stops me from trying to know God: the belief that i cannot know God. and can you blame me? the people who see Him the most are the ones who believe in Him the most! it's almost backwards! you'd expect the people who believe in Him to be the ones who see Him, but noooo... it is all upside-down.

you see what you choose to believe in.

well, if that's true, then all i need to do to see God is to believe in Him. but if that's true, then i could make myself see God, even if He isn't there!!!!

*tears hair out*

so i need some different kind of faith. experience? nope, doesn't work, because i interpret experiences based on my beliefs, and my beliefs are such that God's not here. He's not active or present in our lives. well, then how about a blind faith? sorry, doesn't work either; i can't force myself to believe something for no reason, and even if i could, that wouldn't mean it's real. it would just mean i've forced myself to see something a certain way, whether it's actually that way or not.

so there must be something else.

i asked our new campus pastor, and he told me this (basically):

"you can't have that kind of belief any longer. belief has to mean something different. there are two realities: one of them is very tangible. the other is very hidden. God (that is, Jesus) has announced the arrival of that hidden reality: the kingdom of heaven. He has asked us (in His Word) to stand in that reality, to act as if it is just as real as (if not more real than!) our tangible world. your job is to be faithful to that; you don't necessarily have to think it's real. just do what He says."

that kind of belief is deeper than mere mental assent (Latin assensus), and it's deeper even than experiential trust (Latin fiducia). it goes beyond either a thought about God, or an experience of God. it's an obedience to God that is independent of either assensus or fudicia. it's the kind of faith that says, "i will follow You even if i never experience you. i will walk in Your footsteps even if you are too far down the road for me to recognize You anymore."

it's no longer about belief or experience, for me. it's about obedience.

i'm told that i can learn how to be obedient. in other words, i can learn how to have real faith. i can do what God wants me to do.

that's not even the best part. this whole time, i've never actually believed that i could know God; not really. but i'm told now that i can, and i intend to. there's nothing i want more.

~ ~ ~

now comes the analogy, and the reason i'm posting this now instead of later.

i met a girl online several weeks ago. we've spent hours and hours getting to know each other, despite the fact that she lives many hours away from me. i could say all kinds of things here, but i'll stick to the important part: she shows more interest in me than anyone i've ever met.

"how does she do that?"

by reading my blogs. i mentioned her in an earlier post. she just browses through the archives, and wanders around trying to somehow get in touch with the mysterious essence that is the isjami. by the way, you should know that Trillian (my chat program; mostly AIM) logs all of my conversations. that means that i can go into a certain folder on my laptop, and see who i have talked with the most, online. for example, Caleb's text-file log is 303 kilobytes. the Laurax beats him with a score of 635 kilobytes.

this girl's score: 1,059 KB and counting. i have only been talking with her since the 4th of September.

now, i know what some of you are thinking. well, you can stop. =P

"but-"

no.

"fine!"

thank you. i will post on that topic another time.

and here, dear readers, is an excerpt of our conversation:

~ ~ ~

[04:11] Isjami19:: still reading?
[04:11] Anymouse: yes
[04:11] Anymouse: I've read through it once already, though
[04:11] Isjami19:: same post?? the glitch?
[04:11] Anymouse: yes
[04:12] Isjami19:: why do you want to know me so well

to understand that question, you need to read the post below this one. it's called "why is 2-sided," and it's a short but important one. moving on.

[04:12] Anymouse: why...?
[04:12] Anymouse: what do you mean?
[04:12] Isjami19:: both sides...
[04:12] Isjami19:: what motivates you to do it, and what do you hope to achieve by it?
[04:12] Isjami19:: =) i'm not complaining
[04:12] Isjami19:: just very curious

okay, okay... here's the suite part:

[04:14] Anymouse: I don't want to just know about you, Isaiah
[04:14] Anymouse: when I realized how...
[04:15] Anymouse: how committed, I suppose, you were to this friendship, to me...
[04:15] Anymouse: I want to know you.

i immediately thought of the worship song made famous by Sonic Flood. and that made me think of God. and then i started to ask, "would this apply to my relationship with God, at all?"

and i answered, "yes, especially right now."

check it: i stopped believing/experiencing God's commitment to me a long time ago. i've been so focused on my relationship to Him, and my relationships to others... and i always believed that God wasn't around. so for me, God has mostly been Someone who tells me what to do and how to do it!

He leaves me notes, sends me gifts, gives me instructions... but He's not affectionate. He's not intimate. He's not personal. He's not involved. i'm supposed to be doing stuff in His life, not the other way around. is this making any sense? it's really really late right now. early, actually. oh, well; moving forward.

[04:26] Anymouse: what motivated me:
[04:27] Anymouse: I think, if I simplify it, it may come down to the fact that I realized you'd stick around...
[04:27] Anymouse: and that made me want to... umm...
[04:28] Anymouse: jiminy crickets, I don't know!
[04:28] Isjami19:: =)
[04:28] Isjami19:: that is a good answer.
[04:28] Anymouse: *started typing* no, that sounds stupid *thinks* that's not right, either...
[04:28] Anymouse: *sigh*
[04:28] Isjami19:: i'm serious
[04:29] Anymouse: but not good enough for me! I like to knwo why things are teh way they are
[04:29] Isjami19:: oh i agree!
[04:29] Isjami19:: it's not enough.,
[04:29] Isjami19:: but it's still good.
[04:29] Anymouse: it's had me curious and bewoldered all the time we've been talking...
[04:29] Isjami19:: =D
[04:29] Isjami19:: so fascinating
[04:29] Anymouse: anf irritatiing because I can't figure it out!
[04:30] Anymouse: that doesn't sit well with me...
[04:31] Isjami19:: it sits well with me
[04:31] Isjami19:: normally it wouldn't
[04:31] Isjami19:: but this question does.
[04:31] Isjami19:: because: 1) i've been asking it for years, and it has taught me patience. 2) i believe the answer is partly transcendent; partly beyond me.
[04:32] Isjami19:: i don't think i can grasp it completely, even if God were to try spelling it out for me
[04:32] Anymouse: can I risk sounding stupid? (even if you know I'm not... or so you claim... >.>)
[04:33] Isjami19:: you can
[04:33] Anymouse: you've said that, eventually, your female friends leave because they no longer "need" you
[04:34] Anymouse: I want to be someone that you want to keep around; I want there to be a difference between me and them.
[04:34] Anymouse: I can't be that unless I know you.

at this point, i was struck by that all-too-familiar feeling of needing to blog. and badly.

if God is just Someone i go to when i need Him, then He is for me exactly what i have been for many peeps: a helper who shows up when He's needed, and leaves when He's not. in order for me to change that, i must know Him.

i must confess something. there are some people who have sought to be my friends, whom i have shut out. they ask me how i'm doing, and i deflect or ignore or criticize the question. they call me just to 'chat,' or to talk about me, and i forcefully turn the conversation away from me. is that selfless? i suppose... but if it is selfless, then they cannot know me. and if they cannot know me, then they cannot be my friend. i can only be theirs.

if i can't know God, then He is only here when i need Him to be.

that's not enough; i'm not satisfied. why? because i don't just need Him. i want Him.

please, please let me in, God. let me into Your life. You've been in mine, already, but it's not enough. i want to know You.

[04:34] Anymouse: I can't be that unless I know you.
[04:35] Anymouse: not just the happy-go-lucky, "everything's-just-fine-so-what-can-I-do-for-you" Isaiah that appears most often.
[04:36] Anymouse: besides... it means a lot to a person when someone is searching out their past in order to know who they are todday
[04:36] Anymouse: not just who they are, but why they are who they are

another strike to the heart, here. i'm told the Bible is God's primary revelation of Himself to us; the church has taught this for ages, and the Psalmist had it right in chapter 119.

the idea here is that God has written some things down, and i need to read them; not just analyze them and figure them out, but touch on His character. i need to know Who and Why He is. i need to search out His past; i need to browse through His archives. i'm tired of the God who only appears when i need Him.

~ ~ ~

everything is coming together in a way it never has before. you might be reading this and thinking to yourself,

"isaiah... all these revelations you're having... they're elementary. it's like, duh; no brainer. you're so stupid, it's embarassing!"

i know, i know. but think back over your own life and look at all the things you had to learn through experience. if people could learn anything they wanted just by having it told to them, we would all reach adulthood at age 6. experience; coincidence; guidance. everything's coming together. my relationships with all my friends; the classes i'm taking this semester; the questions i'm asking in this chapter. all these things are working together to accomplish something extremely unique, and extremely important in my life.

here's the bottom line: my goal in life is to know God, and for the first time ever, i believe i can.

i have wanted this since 9th grade. now i believe in it, and not only that, but i'm in a place where i can begin to have that desire satisfied.

once, it was: "God's a real person, and i need Him alot." now it's, "God, You're a real person, and i want You alot."

i just want to know Him, you know? even if He never "does" anything for me ever again, i want to know Him. He intrigues me. sometimes we want to know someone, but they seem too distant, or maybe we think we won't click with them, or that they're too cool for us. well... God was too God for me, once, but now i'm beginning to think He's not too God for me. what a strange thought. please let me in, Atlas...

i hope He's personal. i hope i can meet Him. if i can just meet Him everyday, i will be content for the rest of my life; i will have found and fulfilled the most desirable desire ever to be desired.

~ ~ ~

- thanks, Anymouse, for teaching me the most important lesson of my life, and for giving me Hope. i have many things to thank you for, but these specifically mean more to me than you can know. God used you tonight to say something that rocked me like nothing else ever has. sorry if that's hard for you to grasp; i expect it will come as a shock to you. maybe as we get to know each other even better, you'll realize the truth of it. you've been put by God into the right place at the right time, for the right purpose. thank you, thank you, thank you. thank you. -

"why" is 2-sided

Q: why did my Mom homeschool me?
A1: ...because she loves me.
A2: ...in order that i might learn, in the best way that i can.

Q: why did my friend Bob insult me?
A1: ...because he felt hurt by my criticism
A2: ...in order that i might be hurt in return

Q: why does the isjami blog?
A1: ...because he feels a drive to express/explore himself
A2: ...in order that people might think and live differently

asking the question "why?" especially when applied to a particular action, usually is two questions for the price of one. the first is, "what motivated them?" and the second is, "what were they hoping to achieve?" the former speaks of a force pushing them from behind or within; the latter is about having a goal in mind, something external.

a runner in a race has a motivation, and a goal. he's motivated by the sheer joy of the exercise; he loves to run. at the least, it's adrenaline and seratonin and whatever else goes on physiologically as he's sprinting along. his goal, though, is not adrenaline; his goal is the finish line, and preferably he will reach it before all the other runners do.

i think you see what i'm saying. say "not really" if not.

so the next time you ask yourself, "why did that person do that?" or maybe even something like "why did i do that?!" just remember that you are asking two questions, not one.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

this chapter is about...

I hadn't intended to keep this from you. The final editing took longer than I originally thought it would; one of the paragraphs just wasn't shaping up like I wanted it to. But it hurts that you'd think I'd break a promise... it really hurts. Am I, at times, reluctant to do so? Yes. But do I still do it? Again, yes. And... well, yeah.

Anyway, here's the post I promised you.

Why do I pray for him so much?
He asked awhile ago, and I didn't know what to say. Nor did I have time to stumble my way through an explanation, because I had to be at work. But it's a valid question, and one that deserve and answer. I really wish that there was an easy, "ready made" answer I could give him... but at the same time, I'm glad there's not. Easy answers like that don't apply to harder questions, because they require thought, concentration... even meditation. To give an answer like that... well, that's like cheating (or so I think).

The cop-out answer would be that he's my friend, and I pray for them because as much as I care for them, I know God does a better job of loving them than I ever could. And so in my caring for them, I ask Him to watch over and take care of them. All of which is true, but still not enough to justify it as an answer to his question. I don't pray for all my friends like I do for him, either in effort or method.

No, the answer goes deeper than that. I think it resides in him and who he is, actually. Now, how do I go about explaining that statement... when I first started talking with him, he was on this major Atlas kick. He Loved people, taking on their burdens in addition to any of his own that he was already carrying; he wouldn't let anyone care for him, though. Hence my analogy to Atlas; in ancient Greek mythology, Atlas was believed to be a giant man who held the world on his shoulders, bearing the burden all alone. He (my he, not Atlas) tried to do the same, and it drove me nuts. He expected me to open up and give without him giving any of his troubles and whatnot in return. That, frankly, ticked me off (as I believe he can testify to). Friendship is a mutually beneficial relationship between people, in which both parties give and take.

But I digress; I got caught up in our story. He tries to take on so much, without any back up support system of his own, and that worried me. He said that Loving and being Loved were two completely different things... one he's good at, and the other not at all. That he'd always been like that; always taking what is given, but keeping any problems he might have to himself. Even though people have challenged him on that before... he persisted in it.

And then along comes me... passionate, spirited me. The one who blew up at him numerous times because of his twisted view of friendship; I told him nothing he hadn't heard before, but it seemed to slip through a crack in his wall somehow. I think the cause of that crack was when he made me cry, just by what he said in "Samishii". Things changed just a little after than night. He told me that, if there was any hope of him changing his view of friendship to give-and-take, I was it. I don't know how serious he was about it... but he's changing. He's learning to lean on others, not just take their burdens. He still takes things upon himself, but not without relying on people (though not necessarily me).

He takes so much on to his plate... school, friends, volunteer projects, etc. And in doing so, he sometimes (less now than before) neglects his own needs. At least now he's no longer outright denying they exist. And since he won't (or wouldn't) do it, I decided that I'd watch out for him, instead; he may not "need" it by his own admission, but I've set my mind to it by now. And since we're so far away... one of the best things I can do for him is pray. I worry sometimes that he'll take on more than he can handle... and prayer helps me. It's not some magical "feel good" type of thing, either; I know He hears, and I know that He does watch over His own... and I'm more than convinced that he is one who genuinely belongs in that group.

If you haven't figured it out yet, I'll say it plainly: I pray for him so much because I care. It was in there, but rather camouflaged, so don't feel bad if you didn't catch on to it. He has managed to fully activate my desire to actually take care of someone, not just care about them. Even though it almost seems like it, I'm not trying to compare him to a lost puppy or something (that's what came to mind as I read back over what I just wrote... bleh). There's just something about him that makes me want to look after and serve him in any way I can. He's so open and candid with me despite myself, how can I not feel that way?

All this for one little question... and yet it seems (or maybe feels) right. So does that adequately answer the question?

I hope so, because I've got nothing left...