Freedom From Fitting In

The freedom is found far from fitting in,
It’s relief cannot be measured,
There is no price to put on it,
A valuation most pay a life or two for.

A realization floods over every fiber,
It’s mark leaving scar tissue of the most beautiful kind,
Imprinting not freedom from others,
But binding to each passing soul.

Breathing slowly recaptures everything,
There is no avoidance of hard work,
A commitment to freedom summons
Heartfelt joy for the hardest possible task:

Looking into each others eyes,
And looking into your own.

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The Pain Of Doing What You Love

I love the do what you love mantra. Gurus pounding their fists on tables saying do what you love right this moment so you can establish it as the thing you keep doing, the thing you do more of.

But what if there are painful reminders attached to what you love? Deep wounds which leave you completely paralyzed? Do you do more of something you love which has hurt you tremendously?

I think we have to do more of what we love even if we are hurt in the process. But not the exact same type of more.

If your passion or love died off at some point because the baggage of failing at it attached itself to your identity, stop this very moment confusing that failure with your identity. It’s not who you are at all. You just didn’t get it the first, second, or seventeenth time around. But if it is something you love tremendously then it is all the more reason to keep going further and see what you can do differently the next time around. Not to pack up and quit all together.

We shouldn’t place ourselves in the same scenarios or with the same people which resulted in the wounds either. It is really tough if the wounding came from people close to us, or people in general for that matter. It sucks because now we begin to attach the longevity and livelihood of our passions to people who are not us. They are not us. You are you.

And if the people are close to you then it presents a bit of a challenge moving forward for sure, but it must be forward movement. If the people are not close to you anymore, then allow this distance to be the ultimate signal that your object of love, the thing you love to do so much, doesn’t have to be attributed with them anymore.

The mind sucks at this because it thinks we are going to carry these people and those failings with us forever. But if they wounded our passion and they are not in our lives anymore, start a new forward momentum. They are not in our lives anymore. If they are people who are in our lives still, we have to be incredibly intentional by sitting down and taking the time to create boundaries between the amazing things we want to do and the people who have hurt those things. It has to be a therapeutic separation. Otherwise we will carry around a blurred future vision of what we love to do mixed with the pain inflicted by others.

We have to envision a future where, by the work we put in today, we inch closer to the incredible pursuits we have plastered to our hearts. The very things we love to do. The plaster, after all, is holding our damaged hearts together.

The Greatest Paradox Yet

I was not the best version of myself at all. There was still a lot to work on personally. And yet, there I was, living what I can only see now as a dream state. Part, but not all of, my dream even. Places I wanted to be, surrounded by the kindest people. In environments conducive towards igniting imagination and taking on great challenges.

It was other people’s dream states in fact. I was living other people’s dreams and taking it for granted. Because maybe I am right, maybe I was doing nothing I was meant to do which was leading me to destructive behaviors, which was killing me.

I was the worst version of myself.
Yet I was wanted and sought after.
How paradoxical.

Because now I am the best version of myself. I am the healthiest I have ever been. I am the closest to God’s heart I’ve ever been. I am more focused with incredibly productive daily rituals which allow me to be at my peak to take on all the projects in my life.

I’ve allowed my creative self to breathe life again. Fear is stripping itself not away but in lower quantities. Action steps are in place when I am confronted with fear. And I know now when my heart glows while doing something, TO DO MORE OF IT. Pretty simple but often neglected life-hack. But it is all coming together as I shed the roughest edges of myself. Putting on passions I’ve always had but just needed focused and refined.

I am the best version of myself.
Yet I am not wanted and overlooked.
How paradoxical.


Wait. But what if there was always only one Person who wanted me.

In Jesus, there is no paradox because no matter if I am out of place, no matter if I am not myself, no matter if the world wants me or no one wants me, Jesus wants exactly me. Exactly who I am.

Convenient Abandonment

I knew exactly what to do when my band came to an unexpected end while I was halfway through my undergraduate degree:

Triple down on getting a degree so you can start a career, so you can join the middle to upper-middle class the rest of your life, so you can do the responsible thing since you are already this far along.

No doubt back then. No more should I or shouldn’t I. It became clear as the view through the 28th floor office tower windows I could now picture myself looking through.20150313_181342

I wish it were as straightforward as that. But it wasn’t.

There are opposite forces at play in every interaction we have.

It’s very true when you apply this to inaction. Wise people constantly point out that lurking inside of inaction is, oddly enough, action. At the least a choice.

No action at all, playing it safe, actually leads to an opposite force’s favorite opportunity of all. The opportunity to seduce us into surrender through the distraction of a noble pursuit.

The moment we lay our guard down or simply stop acting we are not merely at rest. Resting is action and a signal to the opposite force to fill the vacuum with something else others will approve of.

And this opposite force at play strikes with great joy. You can hear the joy in it’s tone:

You want to give up on what you’ve always wanted because of a minor hiccup? That would be sad. Oh, but here, look over here! I found a noble distraction for you. Get a degree (which you would get regardless of anything you do on the side), but certainly don’t spend energy on a band again.

Twelve years later and I saw a 28th floor view once. I also have a clear, up front view of someone who swapped out their deeply ingrained identity for convenient pursuits.

We must pay attention to what makes our hearts leap and do more of it. We must value who we are at all times in order to do what we are. Otherwise, convenient fall back pursuits will fill in the void if we choose to abandon ourselves.

Finally, Three Years Later

Late May 2014, I intended the picture on the left to be a before picture. I definitely was reaching my fed-up moment and wanted to add some accountability, so I shared it with some friends. And I told them in 4 months, on my birthday, I’ll take an after picture of my progress. Well, 4 months later, I hadn’t lost any weight.

Today, 3 years later, I decided to follow up on that May 2014 commitment by taking the after picture I always intended. It’s not a ‘finished’ picture. It represents what I have accomplished in only a year and a half of actually following through with my commitment. It portrays a lasting change in lifestyle.

Even if it takes 3 years instead of 4 months, keep going.
If it takes another year and a half to get started, get started.

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May 2014
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May 2017

Below 200 – Press On

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Wash away what they thought of you, and press on, press on” – Underoath

I did it. But ‘it’ wasn’t even a goal. Just this past weekend I dropped below 200lbs for the first time since I was a freshman in college. And it wasn’t a goal. Let me explain.

When I finally said enough is enough and began to choose life, began to choose health, began to choose freedom, I set an incredibly fantastic goal. Last January I was inspired to clearly define my goals for the year and put something measurable to them as a way to keep track. I laughed to (perhaps at?) myself when I wrote down for my commitment to working out “Get to 215lbs.” That was outrageous. It was early January and I was 265, and I was saying lose 50lbs. Really, 215 just sounded nice at the time. It sounded manageable, something I could live with being at.

17240075_10154898191255428_233334846132695010_oThe picture of me at the end of February last year is someone who had something to smile about. I had already lost 25lbs since writing down my goal! A major confidence boost for sure. Those were new jeans and a new shirt because baggy jeans are not a thing anymore I guess. I was about to head to Florida and be the best man in my friend’s wedding. Things were looking good.

But here is the thing. When I got to 215 later on in the year, it was hitting a goal, but it was now cemented as a lifestyle. I found myself pressing on further. I found myself pressing on when things were going wrong all around me. I pressed on when a lot of other things have changed in my life. I kept going.

17192360_10154898191635428_8688502642195661125_oI was pretty happy last February. I realized I could change and start moving towards being unstuck. But the lesson is clear: keep moving, and keep moving after that. Goals are not only meant to be broken but smashed. You have to take your small victories and celebrate them when they happen and then wake up the next morning onward towards the next challenge.

I really never thought I would see a “1” in the hundreds column again on the scale. I actually panicked a second because I saw the “99” and thought I was at 299 somehow.

 

I’m pressing on, “‘cause my feet have the scars to show.

The Long Defeat

This song is an absolute highlight on Thrice’s album To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere. Drawn from J.R.R. Tolkien letters and concepts that he wrote about, ‘the long defeat’ is the belief that history is a slow march towards defeat, just when you think you are ahead you go two steps back, or really that all attempts at making progress seem to come up short.  The lead singer’s use of this concept throughout the song is haunted by a hope though, “I believe there’s a joy that blooms beyond these walls.”

This is the weighty perspective carrying me towards any real hope in doing anything worthwhile, because even though madness and death are all around, and even though a great victory has already been claimed but is seldom witnessed, all current signs of defeat will be turned around. Perhaps it’s the long part then, the time factor that weighs heavily on all of us.