Remember The Actual Lesson

It’s an all too familiar story. In fact I’ll shorten the setup.

  • College undergrad is walking around aimlessly on campus.
  • Doesn’t know what they will major in, which of course, determines the rest of their entire lives.
  • Wanders into the department doors of a subject matter they’ve never heard of but by title alone sounds very intriguing.

There I was, standing in the Urban Studies department office, no more than a glorified windowless closet in the main campus’s equivalent of a high school building. Urban studies. Hmmm, I wonder what this is. I mean, I picked up the pamphlet a couple times, and I knew I loved tall buildings, main streets, and walkability before I knew walkability was a word.20171009_102936

The undergrad director at the time was in his office and gladly welcomed my unannounced visit. After stating what could be the most repeatable line any college professor hears, “hi, my name is ____, and I have no idea what I am majoring in,” this professor launches. I mean, he must have either been caffeinated or just waiting for this moment. I’m certain there’s no way I was the first to do this to him. But what followed gave me the sense he was just muddling through his day until I showed up.

A few things were said about urban studies. Maybe a couple. I think you’re obligated to at least address a person’s direct question at first to be polite.

Then he started to make his transition. It flowed rather naturally. Although, as I would discover later on after taking a course with him, he had indeed been preparing.

His message to me, paraphrased:

Do you want to change the world? Do you want to make an impact? People like Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi changed the world by finding something bigger than themselves and throwing their all into it. Something they couldn’t direct on their own, but something they certainly could bring hope to others by their actions. Do you want to do something lasting which changes the lives in your own life?

I don’t think we actually came back to urban studies after that. He may have handed me the brochure.

All I knew while he was talking was this: I need to take any course I can with this guy. If this is how he is when I just waltz into his office, I can only imagine what a class is like.

Not long after I signed up for the co-major of urban studies. A co-major meaning it didn’t have enough core classes to be a full major, so I still needed to pick a major.

Which he then suggested something audacious. Pick something I really like. What a strange concept. So I picked history because I love, love, love history. I also loved seeing the faces people would make after I told them I was in college and they asked “what is your major?” My answer made their starting smile which read ‘good for you kid, being responsible and stuff by going to college’ turn to shear terror of ‘God bless your soul and future career.’

I figured I would go on and obtain a masters in urban planning (which I would). But here is what I neglected.

Somewhere along the way I allowed his message to be hijacked by all the usual trappings. His message to me that day was not ‘sign up to urban studies.’ His message was ‘change the world you live in, help people in your life, and grow into the person you really need to become.’

It wasn’t go get your masters in urban planning.

It was go do what you like and help others while you’re at it.

What Do People Ask You For?

Over the past year I notice people ask me to give them the following for free:

  • Information, articles, and my yet-to-be-written book on how I lost a significant amount of weight.
  • Tips to learn songs on the guitar efficiently, what my approach to learning a song involves.
  • Advice on how to advertise a business by providing a clear message.
  • Reasons why I believe in God, despite everything happening in the world around us (and in us).
  • Encouragement to make major life decisions.

No one has asked me to give them, for free, a map displaying demographic data.

Which is odd because this is all I ever put down on a career resume. It was, for a while, how I answered the obligatory societal question “what do you do?”20161231_132446

The free part is an important intentional emphasis by the way. It’s an indicator how people sense pure enjoyment and passion coming from me regarding those subject areas, along with expert knowledge. They see my face light up after I’m asked for information on the issues listed above. And I freely give what I know about all of it.

Again, no one has asked me how to make a map.

What do people ask you for? I believe the answer to this question is a major signal leading you in the direction you should head towards.

Change Anyway

One day, an emo girl goes to school wearing a complex layering of autumn clothes she purchased at Urban Outfitters because she likes the way the outfit looks. For one day she has traded in her black band shirt, black skinny jeans, black backpack, and black finger nail polish for orange, red and brown. And layers. Lots of layers.

But she faces ridicule. Peers have no idea who she is trying to be. She shouldn’t wear the outfit according to the hipster kids and the emo kids. They’re all letting her know it.

And she knew this was going to be the reaction from everyone. So she never wears it.

Actually never buys it. She just plays the above scene in her head in the fitting room and leaves.


This scenario is me within every corner of life. If I feel I want to change something, I end up not changing because of the fear of drawing attention. I can’t get past the initial hour of being noticed. Or minute.20161015_130458

Every now and then, miraculously, I get through something new for a month. But that’s only a month. Is this really me?

But once the shock value of a month has worn off with every single person in my life I encounter, a funny thing occurs. They stop noticing. They will start to see me for who I am plus this change.

Outer changes like clothes or a new haircut are the most striking changes and have the greatest initial reaction.

But what if we want to go to the gym more often? This fear is rooted in something that makes no sense at all.

Can’t do something different because I can’t draw attention to doing something new.

Can’t face the hazing that will come from people who just know I won’t follow through and keep going to the gym.

I kid you not, those fears would flood my mind when it came to working out. You know, to do an activity designed to literally change me for the better.


We fear quitting to smoke because we forgot what it’s like not smoking. We fear changing careers because we are known only for what we have worked on up till now. We fear making ourselves better because then we have to explain how we got better.

Those are the lamest forms of fear. The absolute lamest.

You have to value yourself enough in order to make the changes you know you have to make. And yeah, people are going to notice. But as long as you know you are becoming more yourself, keep on changing.

Stop fearing becoming the better version of yourself you know you’ve wanted to become.

Wow. What an absolutely lame form of fear.

Misfit Mission

As I was laying out the concept of this blog I asked myself the following questions: Who am I writing to? Who am I talking to in this vast digital ocean? Whose heart am I really trying to stir with this central message of purpose and love and self worth?

A couple weeks ago I had an aha moment.

I realized I needed to talk with the person I am very familiar with. Someone like me. The person who needed this message of value the most:

The metal-head, the goth, the emo kid, the scene kid, the speech therapy kid, the misunderstood, the mistreated, the reject, the unloved, the ignored, the beaten down, the emotionless, the awkward, the pimple faced kid, the made fun of in church youth group kid.

This space is really for anyone and everyone. But I am hopefully reaching you. The Misfit.

The Misfit? I was going with outcast and baggy pants person from the 90’s.  Who are the Misfits? I mean really, I wasn’t using that term just a week ago.


But then my friend starts bumping this rap group I’ve never heard of called Social Club Misfits. Their mantra jolts me because they are basically talking about how much they are geeks, weird, boring, rejects, misunderstood, etc etc. Stuff rappers shouldn’t be saying out loud. And they are comfortable with this identity.

This short sermon song  pops up. I’m tearing up a bit hearing it. He’s talking to me. I’ve never heard the embracing of being a Misfit as he defines it with such confidence. With such assurance of self.

A Misfit is one who’s uncomfortable with his or her surroundings. Oh yeah, that’s me. Raises my hand slowly out of discomfort.

and is seen to be disturbingly different than others. Always have. And if you’ve experienced this too, you can rest assured you are not different. You’ve got me at least. And all of us Misfits.

And as Misfits one of our greatest discomforts is inconsistency amongst our peers. The dare is to be comfortably, consistently yourself. Be authentic. Be who you are. Wear socks with sandals if that’s your thing. You’re a Misfit.

There is a humble confidence, if I can use that phrasing, throughout this definition of a Misfit. They have put to words and music what my aha moment was trying to grasp at.

Trying, because I was only just beginning to become (finally) as confident as they are about being Misfits. It’s kinda amazing it all happens within a couple weeks of each other.

Social Club Misfits could not clarify any better in my mind what is pressed deeply into my identity and calling:

We are Misfits here if we are taking on Christ daily. And we are further Misfit (rejects, goody-two-shoes, freaks, geeks) if we are the kid who got picked last, the only non-swearing kid at bible camp, the person painting your nails black, the parent who is in prison, or the constantly laughed at.

But. Chin up.

You are loved. You just are.

 

 

Narcissistic Love

Love overwhelmed me. And I found myself crying in my car in the church parking lot.

Like crying crying. Not whimpering. Not onion chopping crying. But pent up emotions and trials and bewilderment and disbelief crying.

It was the culmination of all the events of my past year packaged into one heavy question I asked out loud in tears:

‘God, am I narcissistic to believe for one second every seemingly unrelated, earth-rattling event which occurred in my life over the past year happened because You love me? Can all these debilitating events be in rhythm with the incredibly joyful events, married to each other in order to finally capture not just my attention but my heart?’

It broke me. And I think that is the point.

I was begging the question in the most relational way possible as the tears flowed. How could God be utilizing the actions of others to breakthrough to me? It struck a nerve because I was trying to convince myself God shouldn’t be including other people and their circumstances just to usher me deeper into His embrace.

God loves me? When the fact manifested itself in multiple wake up calls, love dissolved into the innermost parts of my soul. And the fight was on as I was saying out loud in the car ‘God loves me? How narcissistic of me! All these things happening to me, involving others, crashing me down or lifting me up, all of it can’t be happening just to refine me so I fully trust God! That’s so self centered.’

I was fighting with a strong either/or. Either all this is randomness occurring while I attempt to piece my life together. Or it’s all happening because God loves me so much. I was finally breaking down with the ramifications of the latter. Yes. It could all be happening to draw me close to Him. Which means God loves me. Always has.

And it really left me in a heaping mess when I realized this is not a narcissistic love. He loves you too. He actually does. If you lean in a bit to Him, you’ll notice the Light cutting through the darkness so it can be with you.

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Bridges Of Scars

My math was off. By four.

I posted a couple weeks ago how I felt like I was 21 again. But as of today I am back to 17 year old me in high school. Back when weighing in the 180’s was the norm. For the first time since high school, I dropped back into the 180’s!

Measuring weight is one thing, and I am floored I accomplished this.

But the change in my energy and emotional well-being is the highlight. My energy level is off the charts right now. My ability to focus. My creative energy. It’s all here again.

Maybe it’s here again. I mean, it’s been so long I may have forgot what it was like to feel healthy. Or maybe the feeling is more of a rewarding sense because there was much to overcome, in contrast to 17 year old Dave just living off being young and athletic and indestructible.

See me in the before shot from 2013? I can’t see me. I provide this not as a before picture but as an in-the-middle-of picture.

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2013

Back then I was very aware I was not myself. I know a statement like that would be totally different if I had been heavy my whole life, but I hadn’t been. I had a past version of me to reflect on, a goal to get back to. My prior youthful athletic self was enough of a sample size to know I wasn’t myself.

I am closer to me right now. I want to live fully into the person Jesus wants me to be, the person He made regardless of my situation. He redeems everything. He leaves nothing to waste. He’ll even take dark seasons and turn them into the very best light.

I’m convinced telling my story so others can realize they are not alone in their pain is exactly how Jesus will be using my out of control weight years.

I’ll build bridges made of my scars to you.

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2017

But until then all of our scars will still remain, but we’ve learned that if we’ll
Open the wounds and share them then soon they start to heal,
And as long as we live, every scar is a bridge to someone’s broken heart
And there’s no greater love, than that one shed his blood for his friends.” – Thrice, For Miles

 

As Yourself

I am 21 again.
A decade coma is lifted.
There is life again
Where there was death.
The trick to it trails
Off the tongues of
Even the greatest theologians.
Focus on the last clause,
The sneaky backend of your
Occupation’s mission statement:
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
————–
As yourself.
————–
As yourself.
————–

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