Monthly Archives: June 2014

Tendons Throb

Tendons throb
To awaken sleeping hands
Aching, dull, yet ceaseless
There shall be no object
The tasks must be completed
And then? Ice, ice sounds good

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Reading: The Last Champions by Dave Simpson

Following the intensity of the last 2 books I read I almost took a break, but I decided that rather than take a break from reading I would move onto a completely different subject from Jesus & read The Last Champions by Dave Simpson. The book is a look at the 1991-92 Football League championship winning team, Leeds United. 1991-92 was the last season of the old first division before the formation of the Premier League, the invasion of countless fortunes and the slow transformations of the game I grew up loving into the almost unrecognizable entity that it is today.

I actually bought the book for my mother  when it first came out, she then brought it for me to read when she visited from England last year, and it has sat on my shelf until a couple of weeks ago.  The book would be of interest to sports fans in general in addition to those with an intrigue into management techniques and general human interest, but mostly to fans of the once great Leeds United.

This was the last team to win the top domestic football honor in England with an English Leeds United parade the championship trophy in 1992manager. It was a team assembled on a low budget filled with players who made “normal salaries”, the kind of money that today’s “superstars” make in a week, not a year.  Leeds United might not have had the greatest collection of talent that season, but what they did have was one of the all-time great work ethics and a genius manager whose depth of preparation and unique man management skills got a group of players to all peak at the same time, for a whole season, to achieve the impossible, something that only the richest of the rich can dream of today.

I say that they did not have the greatest collection of players, however don’t believe everything you read in the press about that team. Not the greatest, maybe, possibly the most underrated collection of heroes ever? In my opinion; absolutely.

LUFC ChampsNow, I am biased, I was a season ticket holder in 91-92, my third year of watching Leeds United. I used to stand on the west side the old “kop” on a plastic box (to make me tall enough), with my Mum and Uncle. Biased I may be, but I think that my experience of watching the team week in week out would also make me something of an expert on a set of players that the country / world did not see nearly as much as they would have done today. These were the days of one live televised game per week, although whenever we were on tv we certainly shined.

I could easily sit here and regale you with tails of Rod Wallace’s lightning pace, Chris Fairclough being better than Des Walker or Steve Hodge’s key contribution as almost a forgotten man in the legendary LUFC midfield of 91-92, but I won’t. Nor will I bore you of my teenage love of David Batty, the lad who grew up only a few short miles from me and went to the same high school. Maybe I will go into the beginnings of my Leeds United fandom on a future blog entry, but this is supposed to be about a book.

What a book it is too, it reminded me of the club I fell in love with, not the one I keep up withLUFC Champs 2 today hoping for a magical tweet of surprising good news, but one which, much like the sport they play, is virtually unrecognizable as the same entity today. It reminded me of a strange time in life, when football was an oasis for me, an escape from the horrors of high school. A time when I was trying to find my place in the world, Leeds United gave me that place. The team and the sport became my love, my passion, my community. Standing on the terraces I found my voice (literally), I could make as much noise as I wanted and instead of being scolded (when screaming at unfathomable decibel levels), I would receive only nods of approval. The atmosphere at Elland road in those days, especially on the kop was unparalleled, I don’t care the event or the size of the crowd, nothing can compare with that booming, ferocious cauldron that we created back then. I’ve been to old firm games, a cup final, different US playoff sports, only Celtic could get close, but even they, with all their numbers, could not match the atmosphere of eland Road in those days.

The book visits with many of my childhood heroes, sharing their stories and memories of not only that season, but the 2 prior, basically reviewing the first 3 years of my attending the games. Gary Speed (rip) made the statement that he was so young and he didn’t really appreciate what had been achieved; he just expected to always be that successful. I felt the same way, I am glad that I didn’t know then what I know now, although I would have savored it more, it would have tainted it somewhat.

It was certainly a different time, in many ways a different game. Back then the team was part of the community, I was too young to be in bars and see the players mingling freely with the citizens of the city, but the connection with the city and myself was just as real. These were not mercenaries, these were real people, who played the game in the manner that it is meant to be played and cared like fans, not just employees.

As a Leeds United fan I am lucky enough to have seen us be the best team in the country, I have my own tales to tell just like my Mum and my Uncle had from the Revie days. I am one of the fortunate few, I doubt there will be another generation that will be able to say the same thing. I am truly grateful to Dave Simpson for writing this book, taking me on a misty eyed journey through our shared history. The book keenly reminded me of what I once loved so dearly and also of what is rapidly going from not appreciating to utterly despising about the current era of the game.

Ok one memory – a quick contrast from then and now. Today players fall over at the slightest touch, begging the referee to give the opposition a yellow card or worse, gamesmanship, trying to seek an advantage at any cost. More than once back then I watched Gordon Strachan, captain of Leeds United, talk the referee out of giving the opposition a yellow card, getting up quickly from a hard foul, not a slight glance. Sportsmanship, fair play, respect and honor. Trying to win against their best with your best simply to see if you are good enough, because that is the point. That more than anything is what I miss about sport and more than anything what money has ruined about sport in general, not just association football. Read the book, hop on youtube and watch digitized VHSs and pine for the good old days, I certainly did.

 

Destiny – Alpha

And now for something completely different; This last weekend I was fortunate enough to take part in the PS4 public alpha testing for the forthcoming sci-fi FPS game Destiny. This was a pretty bold / confident step by the producers, usually Alpha tests are private, only occasionally are the later Beta tests made public. This is easily the game I have been anticipating the release of the most since I got my PS4 last fall. Although being part of the limited access alpha testing does not exactly make me special, it just means I read an email and clicked to register, hey bonus for reading 🙂

Now, my anticipation for this game is honestly based on not that much. A couple of game play videos and a few articles. I haven’t done any more research than that for 2 reasons, #1, I’m a grown man with responsibilities and a life etc, researching future games is just not high up my list of priorities, I mean, it would take away from my game time. The 2nd reason is that most of the games that I look forward to usually disappoint, not sure why, it just seems to go that way. There are exceptions like Red Dead, or Gran Turismo, but the annual stream of Call of Duty etc has become more a season of dread for what they are going to screw up next rather than anticipation.

So the game Destiny, while eagerly anticipated, is anticipated by me with at least some hesitation, at least that was before this last weekend. After a lengthy download, I first ventured into the game late on Thursday night, a little unsure as to what I was doing, but figuring things out fairly easily (as it should be). The first thing that struck me was that the controls / the feel of the movement felt just right. Not quite as loose as a COD game, but not in any way clunky or cumbersome. The second thing that struck me was the amazing graphics, it is one thing to see it on trailers, but it is not until it is live on the tv in front of you that you can really appreciate what a beautiful looking game they have crafted. The environment is perfectly dirty and gritty, but that is immaculately balanced by stunning lighting effects including a northern lights display in the evening.

The Alpha offered a small sampling from each of the game modes that will be in the finished product; the campaign, explore mode (endlessly generating missions), strike (grandiose co-op missions with crazy firefights), the multiplayer and the social hub where you upgrade your equipment. I began in the campaign section, looking around, figuring out the controls, shooting “the fallen” (bad guys) and generally having some simple exploratory alpha fun. I was not long in to this when something rather unusual happened, one of my PSN friends walked by in the game, in real time, doing his own thing. I called out his name to make sure he was really there & he was, we spent the rest of the evening (and a good chunk of the weekend gaming hours) playing the game together. I found this invite-less social drop in feature to be extremely cool. I’m not sure if there is a way to play non-sociably, other than signing out of the PSN, then again, this is only an alpha release. There did appear to be something of a proximity effect for mic communication when plying this way, so the rest of the weekend we formed a PSN party which worked flawlessly.

The game itself is extremely enjoyable, the freedom to roam and explore is just as you would want it, the skirmishes you get in moving around are enjoyable and can be challenging when the scale up. I only tried MP aspect once, but it worked well if not exactly groundbreaking the game mode available was a domination / capture and hold type affair. One of the funs things is that your created character(s) are available will everything you have equipped them with in all modes, so the time you spend in co-op will help you in MP with more than just practice. The RPG elements of the game were much less intrusive than I had initially feared and will, for me, lead to a good challenge and longevity as you try to build your character(s). I have gone from being hopefully expectant for this game, to being frustrated that I have to wait until September. If it is this good now, what will it be like then? I can see me losing many hours to Destiny in the last quarter of 2014 and beyond. Sometimes a game just feels right, it has that unquantifiable je ne sais quoi, well Destiny has that, more so than any game I’ve played in a long time, that more than anything else is what has me most excited about this game.

 

Healing, Your Story & The Journey – The JIBTYI Notes; part 7

The original plan was not to do a chapter by chapter break down of Jesus Is Better Than You Imagined (by Jonathan Merritt), although thus far I kind of have, as such I am going to stop and wrap this thing up today.  There are so many great thought provoking pieces in the book from Jesus’ baptism and the question of what it might have symbolized to finding Jesus in sacrilege, dealing with tragedy, fighting the impression of God’s absence in your pain. There is a great piece on the community of the church and what that means, I have written on community many times before and I’m sure I will again.  There is a great section looking at the use of sheep and the shepherd that will radically change your thought process.

It wasn’t my intention to paint myself as some kind of victim when writing my thoughts, all though in some respects I certainly I was. Those incidents were just the things that came to mind, more the things that happened to me to cause my brokenness rather than the choices I made as a result of my brokenness (a revelation previously that cured much of my guilt struggles).  It is written that he who is forgiven much will love much, I think the same is true of the one that is healed much.

The past is the past, for me it is dealt with, it no longer holds a controlling influence in my life. However my story is still my story and if my brokenness or my stupidity can help just one person, then it is not for nothing, this is the reason I share things. While I didn’t really learn anything new about the actual incidents from my past itself when revisiting, finally understanding that God was there with me through it all was worth the price of admission itself.

The great thing is that when we are connected to God, truly in relationship with Him, He can make all kinds of miraculous changes to us. The pain of my past is no longer an anchor that I drag behind me, it is my story, it is my history, but it does not define me. I found healing in Jesus, He brought me to the place and to the people that He wanted to use to help me and it has been an incredible journey. Getting healing is not easy. Facing your demons is a challenge, but when compared to experiencing the pain of being in those challenges it is nothing. Sure it hurts for a while, it is certainly not fun, but if you have survived what caused the wounds, you can certainly survive the healing. Once you survive the healing, that’s it, it is healed, there may be more to work on, but that is it, no longer a festering wound, but a scar that can point to your history. Now you get to face the next challenge of figuring out how to live life without the wounds you have used as a crutch or an excuse for your behavior for so long, that is a whole other kind of challenge right there.

The life of faith is not to be one of an introspective self-help course. There is of course a great need for personal healing in order to be fully free. However if you remain in the introspective process you will become trapped by a religion and not experience the freedom offered by salvation. Instead press forward through your infancy as you become healthy, this may take days or this may take years. However, there will come a time, a clearly appointed time if you listen to the Lord, when it is time for you to move forward into maturity.

For all the wonderful guidance and revelations in JIBTYI, life it always seems to come back to the things I know to do, no matter what book or what sermon. Keep your focus on God, make time for God, and guard your heart (be careful with how you live your life, one wrong step easily leads to another). Do these things, live life well and it will make sense. It may not go the way you would like, but if you are deeply connected to Jesus, if you have His peace, if you can find the joy that Paul writes about, then life works. This to me is the secret to the free life, the life after healing, the life free from the bondage of simply surviving.

It is not always easy to keep pressing, it’s not always easy to keep wanting to. It can be difficult at times to keep your focus on God when life is happening all around you. Sometimes you will forget, sometimes you will royally screw up, but He will use that, He uses all things. Sometimes we have to be reminded (hopefully briefly) or our capacity to fail and of how much we still need to be in relationship with God in order to focus, and really start to make progress. It is important to keep moving forward because any attempt to stay still will result in stagnation, attrition and a general reversal of progress.

The fun part is that this journey looks different for all of us. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa. We have to find what it means to be us, what it means to honor God with your life. Striving for some unattainable level of excellence, of righteousness, is not pursuing God, it is seeking to glorify oneself and leads down the path to become a Pharisee. God is glorified when we are authentic, not when we try to pretend to be what we think the world says that we should be.

We are called to a life of honor, a life of love, a life of mercy, a life where our faith is displayed by our deeds. For how can you truly say “I believe” if your faith and belief does not spur you into a way of life that was foreign to you previously. Instead of anger and judgment, offer love and grace. Instead of hiding behind business and stimuli, consciously make the effort to be aware, take time, even a short time to be still. For it is in the stillness that you will be refreshed and directed, not when the volume of your life is so loud that you can hear nothing around you.

When your story does not bring you to your knees anymore, when your relationship with God is healthy, then you are really ready to start using it. That is not to say you could not use it before, but when you reach some undefinable level of maturity, then it is time to really move. Your testimony is your story and the gospel of your life is a story that should be shared. People are desperate for community, deep meaningful relationships. Being authentic and transparent is the way to share your story, not with window dressing or exaggeration, nor recklessly. If you are a believer and want to lead people to Jesus, you should end with the bible, not begin with it, you begin with your story, you begin with a relationship. Most people who do not know Jesus will run from a “religious nut job”, however they will run to a genuine friend, so start with coffee, certainly not judgment. When that friendship allows you to share your story of redemption, that is when the seed is sown to allow it to become their story of redemption.

Now please don’t think that I am trying to somehow minimize the bible, the bible is unspeakably important, it is the written word of God, living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. However the bible is rarely going to draw in a pre-believer, the bible is where you take them after you have built the relationship. We need to be careful not to minimize God to a book, yes it is His book, but He is so much more than the bible, when we limit Him to just the bible we do Him a great disservice.

Community is something that must be built and entered into, not demanded on odd moral grounds. It is the purpose of life, it is the greatest way to bring honor to God, it is not just for us, it is a legacy that will be left.

Community is built on relationships, great relationships are built on mutual respect and compassion. Compassion is the choice, not the obligation, to enter into someone’s world & feel the intensity of their life, to share their pain, to offer a plan for relief. Not because you had to, or it was the right thing to do, but because you need to, you want to, because you love enough, because you are loved enough, because Jesus will always be better than you imagine.

 

The previous posts related  can be found here:

 

The book “review” for Jesus is Better Than You Imagined

Good Gifts – The JIBTYI Notes; part 1

Slow Down – The JIBTYI Notes; part 2

Limiting the Limitless – The JIBTYI Notes; part 3

Getting Mugged and Believing the Impossible – The JIBTYI Notes; Part 4

Bullying and Masks – The JIBTYI Notes; part 5

Waiting and Bartering – The JIBTYI Notes; part 6

 

notes

Waiting and Bartering – The JIBTYI Notes; part 6

Hopefully you’ve been reading all week and know what is going on here. If this is your first visit this week, welcome and thank you!

I recently read a book, twice, the experience I had reading that book was profound to say the least, the conversations I had with Jesus throughout will stay with me the rest of my life. So here is the story of my experience with reading the book “Jesus is Better Than You Imagined” by Jonathan Merritt.

In chapter six of the JIBTYI, the author broaches the subject of “encountering Jesus in waiting”. This is not usually something I do well with; waiting. God is outside of time, He is infinite, He has no clock. He can see all times at once, which incidentally confuses me because if we have free choice to do what we want, can God see all the possible outcomes of our choices at once? Or does he know what we will choose, because he is God, even though we are free to make our own choice? If He knows what we will chose is it possible for us to choose differently? Can we surprise God? The implications of predetermined destiny is something I need to look into one day, because I don’t like it, unless my destiny is awesome, maybe then I do like it.

Back on track, encountering Jesus in waiting, or as I wrote in my notes; dealing with God’s annoying patience, trying to understand His timing. My pastor at church describes God as a crock-pot God in a microwave society. I love that description because it is so accurate. So often we want things now, now, now. However God knows better, if he did everything now, then we wouldn’t appreciate it for what it is. Most of the time it is in the waiting where He is teaching us something. There is a purpose in the waiting; learning, growth, purpose, perspective. Sometimes our loving Father knows that we need to be left alone in order to receive what he is trying to teach us.

One thing that has struck me when reading the bible is how often I ignore the days, weeks and years etc between the parts of the stories. There was an awful lot of regular life lived in between huge biblical events. So why would it not be the same for us & our Godly events? Just because we live in the now age, just because I am in the now generation, this does not affect God’s timing. It is so true when they say “good things come to those who wait”. “Sometimes waiting isn’t waiting at all”

There was a time when I still lived in England, that I felt something inside of me that wanted to go back to church. This was in what I call my recovery period, I was living alone after a chaotic couple of years of living with “friends”. I felt this call, but I only went one time, on a Christmas Eve, I snuck in the back of the church and enjoyed the service before fining my Dad & step Mum afterwards. I’m not sure why I never took that step on a Sunday morning, part of me felt that it would achieve nothing, part of me felt that I had not business walking into a church and of course there was another part that just needed to sleep off the night before. It was around this time that the thought of the monastery came to me too. I also remember having a recurring dream of me coming out of water, standing up feeling alive and new, shaking my head & the water going everywhere. I always assumed it was some idea for a music video that I would one day make. However now I believe it was a vision of my baptism.

Around that time I have a clear recollection of praying to God while laying in bed. It wasn’t a great prayer, in fact I recall imitating a guy I’d seen on a soap opera once who didn’t pray but wanted to ask God for a favor for his sick wife, basically rolling the dice incase God was real. Anyway, at the time the woman who has now been my beloved wife for 12+ years, was just a friend in another country who I had met through work. Yet I knew I loved her, I knew that she was the one, I knew that somehow, my life would be better if I could just get to be with her. So I prayed, I asked God to somehow make it happen, and then being the faithless non-believer that I was, instead of asking out of love I bartered with Him. I told God that if He would just make this happen that I would go back to church, I’d go every week if He wanted me to.

Yes, we all ride cows to work ;)

Yes, we all ride cows to work 😉

At a rough guess I’d say this happened at some point in the year 2000. In March of 2002 I moved to Texas on a K1 fiancée visa, we were engaged in August of 2001 and filed our visa papers right before 9/11. We were married in a church, the faith of my youth, somewhat revived, but then again not really there at all. My conversation with Jesus that night back in 2000 was far removed from my memory. Fast forward to the spring of 2004 and I lost my job, it really wasn’t a bad thing, I hated that job, it made me so miserable that I had calculated how many days I had to go until I could retire, I was just about 27 when I left their employment. The scary thing about not having a job was paying the bills, I was pretty confident I would find work soon, but there was always that doubt.

At some point while I was working my notice my wife told me over the phone that she had been praying for me and the situation. At that moment I was grief stricken, this woman that I loved with all my heart was a good strong Christian woman, she has the most steadfast belief in Jesus of anyone I know, there is no hot and cold like you find with me, she is unwavering & I love that about her. Anyway, we had not been to church since we got married, because I had no interest in going to a church. Yet at that moment I was struck with grief, I told her that maybe we could go to church that weekend.

So we went to church, I wasn’t struck by lightning, the service wasn’t terrible & the building wasn’t miserable. We went back the next week and I think the following week was Easter, so we went again, 3 weeks in a row seemed a bit much to me but we went one more week anyway. I had intended that to be the last time we went until Christmas, I figured that we could start going at Easter and Christmas, that should be enough to pacify my wife right?

The internet tells me that the date was April 18th 2004. The sermon that day spoke to me in a way that is difficult to describe. It was a message on having a heart for God and guarding that heart, but the content is not really relevant here. What happened that day was Jesus spoke to me through one of His messengers. God caught my attention that day in a way that you can only understand if it has happened to you. The weeks that followed I was gripped by the sermons; God seemed to be speaking directly to me, specifically about me, with every word. You could listen to the message and not get that at all, yet that is what happened to me. Throughout that summer I wrestled with what was happening, as we got more involved, joining a small group, making friends. Was this something I wanted to do? Was this something I could do? If I were to make the decision to accept Christ into my life I knew I was making a rest of my life decision, one that I didn’t want to take lightly, although with hindsight it was inevitable.

Around Labor Day of that year we took a trip to England, spent a great time visiting family

Never before and never again have I looked more like an American tourist - 55 miles from where I was raised

Never before and never again have I looked more like an American tourist – 55 miles from where I was raised

and friends and enjoying being tourists in the beautiful county of Yorkshire. It was while I was there that I realized that my old life didn’t make sense to me anymore, it was while I was there that I knew that this new life was the one for me. I had made my decision, not in a moment, not in some great salvation moment, not even in church specifically, if anything it was in a pub and a football stadium and in traffic and in conversations with someone complaining.

The important thing is that the decision was made. I was baptized on October 31st of that Ludbrook, Chris 10-31-04 1 - 1200year. The date didn’t trigger at the time, but the sense of humor of God was clear for me to see later, He baptized one of His hell raisers on Halloween.

So that is the very much abbreviated tail of how I began to keep my part of the bargain I made with God. All that time, He just patiently waited and loved me. Maybe it is not us who are waiting on God at all, maybe it is God who is waiting on us.

If that is the tale of how I returned to God, what the bigger picture is, is that over a period of many years, one incident at a time the devil was attacking me and moving me slowly further and further away from Jesus. The innocent young boy that loved Jesus, but didn’t really understand Him or what it meant to be in a relationship with Him, was moved away from Him.

The thing I learned more than anything while reading this book, the thing that God finally got into my thick skull, is that throughout it all, no matter what happened, what I did or where I went, He was still there. Jesus is better than I imagined, because He never gave up on me, even when I had given up on Him, even when I denied His existence, He always knew better. For years I have struggled with the notion that because God has done all this for me, brought me out of such darkness and pain into such an amazing life with such an amazing family, that He must have some really big plan for me. That I must have some great mission to accomplish in order to justify what He has done for me. I felt Jesus smile when I finally realized that He did not do this under condition, that I do not have some holy bar tab to pay off. He did this because He loves me, that is the only reason, He loves me, just like He loves you! Now that is not to say that God will not use me for a big mission or whatever, He can do all things, even through me, that is just not why He saved me, He saved me because of love & I will be eternally grateful for that,

 

Bullying and Masks – The JIBTYI Notes; part 5

Sometimes something comes along that just rocks your world and removes any question of the status quo that was threatening to creep into your life. Something that prompts you to keep pressing and pushing for a deeper richer experience in life than you have ever had before. Sometimes someone shares a story with you the helps you to make a little more sense of your own story. Sometimes you have a blog and a place to share the thoughts that you had during that process. So here is the continuation of the story of my experience with reading the book “Jesus is Better Than You Imagined” by Jonathan Merritt.

Chapter 5 I noted was the darkest chapter, yet probably the most powerful. This is the chapter that I had read online that began the process of me reading the book. In this the chapter the author is forced to confront the demons of his past, the abuse he suffered and all that goes along with that. I wasn’t sexually abused as a child and I thank God for that. However as I read that chapter and the author’s painfully honest account of his young life memories of my teens came flooding back, the beatings, some severe, some not. The verbal abuse, the feeling of being alone, of being worthless, the feelings of hopelessness. It wasn’t just in school either, it was out of school too, I was terrified when I walked the streets at night, coming home from a friend’s house or my Dad’s apartment. The shame I lived with, somehow believing that I deserved it prevented me from telling anyone.  These wounds coupled with other events led to a dark period in my life that I was lucky to survive and needed the healing power of Jesus to get unchained from.

While reading the book I remembered  the worst beating that I took, it was at the hands of so called “friends”. Clearly it was my fault for trying to be funny, at making a joke that was laughed at but apparently also offended, just trying to fit in, just trying to find a place in the world. It was a stupid teenage quip that ended with me on my back rolling down a hill with I don’t know 5 or 6 of them kicking and punching me. I remember escaping when they stopped, I remember sitting on a park bench while the sun set, alone, crying. I remember a friendly young woman trying to console me, listening to me through my sobbing. I believed I deserved it, I believed in my heart of hearts that I deserved everything bad that ever happened to me, yet I have no idea why I believed that.

The hours I spent in tears that night were not just about that night, it was about all that had gone before it, from the bullying, from the name calling to the crippling lack of self-esteem. I used to think my pain had all begun when my parents divorced, that didn’t help, the pain from that that I wouldn’t process for another 20 years certainly added to the emotional mess that I was, yet there was darkness before that, there were thoughts of suicide long before that.

At the time I didn’t consider myself a victim of bullying. I don’t know what I felt that was, but I wasn’t being bullied, I was being toughened up, that is what they said as they hit me. Relentless violence and verbal intimidation were part of my life for the best part of a year during high school. I didn’t say it then, but I know now, I was bullied, viciously, because for whatever broken reason I could not defend myself, something internal was always stopping me. I believe today that was caused by my chronic self-esteem challenges, obviously the bullying didn’t help that situation to say the least. The toll this all took on my life is difficult to put into words and will most likely never be fully detailed here.

img072The grace and love of my Heavenly Father, who rescued me from my darkness, in His time, when I was ready is beyond explanation or comprehension. It was ten years ago that I was “saved”, 2004. However I knew God when I was a boy, I loved Jesus when I was young, to this day I cannot remember what it was that took me away from the church. I remember leaving the choir after my grandfather died, but I don’t recall what made me stop attending. Maybe it was simply having the choice, maybe it was a cold stone building, dreary music and boring sermons, somehow after I had heard slash play the guitar, a church organ didn’t slashquite have the same draw. Maybe subconsciously I was angry at God for taking one of the men I loved most in the world, someone who made me feel special, someone who made me feel loved. I don’t know, I don’t even know what I’m trying to say here.

In the book the author talks about the mask that he wore in public and that when he was forced to confront his demons he began to dismantle the mask and for the first time finally be okay with being himself in public.

theatre-masks-hiMasks – do we all wear them? I became an expert on making and wearing masks. In my early twenties, scarred by my life so far and afraid of the road I felt I was headed down I began to develop these masks. I learned how to fake being confident, aggressive, brash, how to have a hard exterior so that nobody could ever hurt me again. If I didn’t feel things then there would be no pain, or so I thought. It wasn’t so difficult to do either, after all that is what the world teaches us that a real man is. All I had to do was look around and imitate whatever I felt I wanted to be. So I became a confident aggressive (asshole), I developed over time coping mechanisms for life that let me recover from leaving high school at 16. I became a fully functional, fully assimilated man of the 20th / 21st century western world. I became louder and drank more and worked harder and started to succeed at “life”. Yet at the core of my soul I was rotten and broken and I still could not comprehend what the point in living on this planet was.

Jesus is better than I imagined because while I thought I was suffering and living this miserable existence without Him, and suffering the consequences of the choices I made as a result. He was aligning things to bring me into a new life, a better life, a life in the land of my dreams with an amazing wife and most importantly, in relationship with Him.

It makes be sad that this is such a broken world, a world that causes us to live lies so often.

“The irony of masks is that we wear them to appear strong – yet people are drawn to us when we take them off” (@note2leaders)

It is ok to be you. You are enough, you have worth, value. You are unique and beautiful in the eyes of God. Be the best you that you can be, don’t be the you that the world tells you to be, be the you that you were created to be.