A Pitfall to the Present

One of the many cool things going on right now is that we are (as a community) reading through the Bible together.

Sounds pretty boring right? Parts…. yes. Whats cool though is that there are lots of things in orbit around what we are reading including a blog, small groups, and the sermons. All of these more or less act as spurs and serve as reminders to engage the Bible routinely.

With that said, the part we are in now is a less encountered portion. Not long after some of the vastly more memorable portions (i.e. the Plagues, Red Sea) and in the midst of some pretty insightful miracles that happened comes the book of Numbers. At this point in the story the people God rescue become great complainers. And the question I have to ask myself over and over again is…. Would I not do the same thing?

We cannot live in any moment but the present. Sometimes that sucks. I know there have been many moments in my life where I would have loved to have a “Hot Tub Time Machine” and go back and relish in a point of comfort and confidence in my past and hold on to that in the present. Serving as memories though things seem so distant… There are also times where I wish I could jump to a hope I have for the future and rest in seeing the potential of a current situation fulfilled. Sometimes these hopes can seem aloof in the present… How do I stay confident in the now?

I don’t think the people in Numbers forgot what God had done for them. I think there is a detachment that comes with any experience over time if it is not revived or relived. I think the people had forgotten the power and the confidence and the trust that came through those experiences. They remember it happening sensorily but maybe not the feelings produced from those senses. Could they have been grumbling and complaining because they couldn’t reproduce the feeling of awe and wonder in themselves that they had experienced before?

How do we maintain our sense of wonder in this present moment and in every moment… or do we?

This is the question that I’ve been wrestling with as I read through Numbers. I do not think that I am any better than any of the people in Numbers. I cannot say that I would not have complained. I hope that I wouldn’t but I don’t know.  I thought I would give a glimpse into where I was at.

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Exclusion and Embrace

I’ve been hearing a lot about Miroslav Volf recently from several different people who I respect so I decided to pick up his book Exclusion and Embrace from Amazon this week.

I’ve always had a bent towards Sociology and Psychology and the motives behind the way people think and the way they behave. What causes people to believe what they do? What is instrumental in a change of belief? Why do people behave certain ways and not react in other ways? These are the type of questions that cycle through my head several time a day and in many instances of interaction and dialogue with people.

Lately I’ve been looking into trends in developmental culture. I spend a lot of time with people and am constantly fascinated by the way they think, operate, and behave. Where people are in adolescence socially, psychologically, and developmentally pushes me to learn and grow in my own life and presses me to constantly consider how I relate to people.

Along with looking at current trends in developmental culture, I am also looking at potential directions that it is headed. One of the theme’s that I am discovering and that I think will be huge over the next several years, particularly with teenagers, is forgiveness. Miroslav Volf confronts this in his book by proposing that the idea of embrace is the theological response to exclusion.

Should be a good read. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Indecision

I wish an undergraduate or higher education wasn’t so “expected” in our culture.

I have had a lot of conversations over the past year with friends and just people in general who just seem to be figuring out what they want to do just as they finish up four years of studying what they now know for sure they don’t want to do. It just seems like such bad timing in every single instance. Its “too late” to start over and usually by that point they are sick of school.

Its takes time and much trial and error for people to figure out who they are and much more so to figure out what they want to do with their life. Defining our purpose seems like a difficult and overwhelming task. The pressure that most high school students have on them when they graduate is completely ridiculous. They are expected to know exactly what they want to do with their lives and then to pick a university that is best equip to help them learn that “trade” or “career.” At age 17!!! Historically a child would learn the trade of the family and so by default they are equipped for that trade. Most of us don’t live in that world now. We live in the world of information and choices. Be who you want to be. Do what you want to do. Right? Are there too many choices or do we just not know ourselves well enough?

There has to be a better way to let people express themselves and realize their potential than funneling everyone through a pretty standardized four year institution. I’m not saying that college isn’t for everyone. I think it’s very helpful as a place to explore possibilities and get out of your shell a little bit. It’s just that most people don’t have the financial margin to just spend time exploring.  How can we do better at helping people reach this realization?

Snowpocalypse

So its official. This winter has eclipsed the winter of 1898 for the worst winter in the history of Washington DC. Dulles International Airport is reporting 72 inches of accumulation this winter. Out-freakin-rageous!

Here is a video of time lapse for the duration of the last storm. Pretty cool stuff.

Here is a pic of my car my before we got the last 15 inches:

Insane, needless to say I had to spend a significant amount of time with a shovel on this one.

I could really go the rest of my life without seeing another snowflake :-/

And oh yeah, its supposed to snow on Monday.

Becoming who you were….. unfortunately

Since the holidays (which were a while ago, I am aware that I have not blogged in some time) I have been meaning to post something along the lines of the grand return to the past. I haven’t been around my immediate or extended family for an extended period of time since I left for undergrad in Raleigh, NC. Which was a while a go.

I used to be the guy at all family gathering, including holidays and reunions, who would more or less clean up any leftovers. Remember this is back in High School days. Therefore every time I am around my family now they still think that that is who I am. The guy who cleans up the food. Every holiday I have more food offered to me for consumption. I try to explain that no I am not that same guy anymore who used to eat everything. Sometimes it works and sometimes I cave. :-/ Regardless of the result this last time I went home for Christmas I began to think of how I tend to revert back to the old me in a lot of instances. Especially when I am around the people who were around me all the time for that portion of my life. I see my family and I see my old friends and I fight not to become the old me.

We go home to our families and to our old friends and we behave in our old ways and argue the same old arguments even though mentally we have moved on and we have dramatically changed our person over the years. Why is this? Why do we fight to maintain who we are and not revert back to who we were?

The same is true with friends. When I spend time with some of my friends from High School or College more often than not it seems like all we have in common are “the old days” and we can unite in reminiscence for a few days and are then fed up we each other because we no longer have anything in common. If you’re reading this blog then I’m not talking about you 🙂

Part of what connects people so well, whether its friends or family, or even co-workers, is accumulating experiences TOGETHER. Since I have moved out from under my parents we don’t experience near the amount of things together that we used to. Since I have moved from city to city some of my friends and I experience less and less life events together as I meet new people that I experience more and more life events with. Often this results in a disconnect. Your life experiences are a huge part of who you are. When people cease to experience things with you it is hard for them know you.

So the question then is…. Is there a way for people to really truly know us when we aren’t around them often? And my answer is I don’t know….. My suggestion and what I try to do is to use it as a platform for a conversation starter or as an opportunity to explain the person that I’ve become as best I can and hope that in some way they can relate to my experience.

Because we possess the mentality that its pointless to try to explain to our family and friends that we are a different person than we used to be we just give it up and press into reminiscence and old arguments and experiences to relate to people that we used to have so much in common with. I think this is sad.

Christmas Music

When it comes to Christmas music there are only two categories. Mariah Carey’s christmas album and then everything else.

My top 5 songs:

1. Anything from Sufjan Stevens christmas album

2. O come o come Emmanuel

3 We three Kings

4. God rest ye merry gentlemen

5. O holy night

5. All I want for Christmas is you

I’m not that big of a fan of Christmas music. Most people know that.

The Wait

If you think about it not very many people actually pursue a season of waiting in their life. The mentality is that we go from one event to the next to the next. That’s how it is supposed to work. Waiting is wasting time. We never say, “for the next five years of my life I want to wait.” But somehow more often than not we find ourselves in seasons of waiting in our lives that can last months or even years. Most of these seasons are unplanned. We are waiting to hear back from a job we applied for. We are waiting to hear about whether we got into the school we wanted to or not. Or we are just generally waiting for a sense of calling or purpose to our life. We want meaning behind what we are doing and waiting is considered meaningless.

I recently heard someone say a bit about what expectations should be in different seasons of life. Simply put, there is MUCH waiting involved.

I think we should reconsider viewing these seasons of waiting as meddlesome and as being a burden and view them more as opportunities to shape and form our commitment and character.

I propose that we should embrace these seasons of waiting and take every opportunity possible. Not to the point where we never progress to whats next for us in our lives but I think we shouldn’t see these seasons as meaningless but rather as formative.

Here’s to waiting!