apathy

I Don't Care by Michael Nichols

Once upon a time, I found Jesus. More accurately, He found me. After spending a really long time not knowing how much I need Him, I finally saw myself for who I was, and I called out to Him in response to His call to me. That was almost seven years ago. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I knew that I didn't love, not truly. I knew that in order to love, I needed to accept His. I needed to really believe He loved me. So I did. My whole paradigm changed that day.

That doesn't mean anything else changed. I was already on a trajectory away from Him. I was on a road I didn't belong on. As an excellent Wavorly song says, "Turning around was never so hard til I found us far apart." At that point, I was really far away, heading further, and had no idea which way to turn. Imagine yourself lost on a dark night with a broken light and a broken compass, and nothing but two ears and a voice guiding you home. Even better: imagine yourself in the Millennium Falcon, crashing toward Starkiller Base, unable to pull up, not knowing the defector storm trooper was a janitor and new nothing about blowing the place up.

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I had no idea what was in store. I really didn't. I knew things would be difficult, but I had no clue of the depth of it. I don't remember being as bombarded with temptations and heartaches as when I started following Christ. Yet I don't know that I've seen more personal growth happen in me than when I started following Christ.

I'm not going to blather on about all the things that happened between 2009 and 2013. If you've read my blog before, you know. If you want to know, read it.

In one respect, I'm glad for how far I've come, but it hasn't been without cost. That cost has been my ability to care.

I don't care.

Those are three words no one wants to hear. "I don't care" is giving up. On what? Anything.

Have you been told that before? It hurts, doesn't it? Knowing that you're not seen, not heard, invisible, inconsequential.

I hate that about me, which is great because that means all hope is not lost. But right now, that's a problem. The whole reason I decided to follow Jesus was so I could love, not so I could withhold love in apathy.

I'm not sure entirely how I figured it out, but I suddenly noticed lately how much of what has been happening in my life indicates that I don't really care.

The stagnancy of my romantic relationships?

Because I didn't care about anything beyond the moment, escaping the rest of my life.

My lack of reading scriptures or praying in a meaningful way?

Because I didn't care about anything beyond the moment, escaping the rest of my life.

My isolation from people I claim to care for?

Because I didn't care about anything but my own problems.

My inability to focus long enough to do successful studio takes?

Because I didn't care about them as much as I care about the things distracting me.

My inability to loosen up?

Because I don't care enough about living healthily enough to stop obsessing over the things I want.

My jealousy?

Because I don't care about much else than what I want.

Why I don't try hard enough to change any of this?

Because I don't care to keep failing or hurting, which is, by default, keeping anything good from coming of anything I'm going through.

I don't want to run away from my issues, but I also don't want to run into a worse place. Another song, by Linkin Park this time, says, "Sometimes I think of letting go and never looking back, and never moving forward so there'd never be a past."

Relatable? Too much.

Good way to live? Not ever.

The irony of the whole thing is that we tend to stop caring because of the weight that caring becomes. But to stop caring means your heart has to stop working, and if your heart stops working, you really can't go anywhere. You collapse. You stay where you are. You die.

When you stop caring, you are dead. And it definitely feels the part. At least pain lets you know you're alive, even though it means you're fighting to stay that way. When joy happens, you know you're alive and free.

That's what I think is so powerful about the "joy of salvation" that people talk about. Not only are you alive, not only are you free, but you are now set on a path of becoming more like Christ until His coming, when everything corruptible in us will be replaced with something incorruptible, and we enter eternal life and eternal freedom, where all darkness ends and the light only grows, extending into every corner of creation. It's unstoppable. It's unstoppable good, unstoppable beauty, unstoppable life.

That's something that's actually worth caring about. When we lose sight of that, it's not hard to stop caring about things, especially the more we know about evil and hurt.

I guess that's what I've been missing. With something lasting to care about, whatever else is valuable to us, whatever else brings joy, although temporary, finally gains its true meaning. We finally have a reason to care about it.

A reason to care about him.

About her.

About anyone, anything.

But without context to something eternal, how can anything temporary have meaning?

"Our light affliction, which only lasts for a moment, is working toward an eternal glory that far outweighs anything else. That's why we look not on the things that can be seen, but the things that cannot be seen. Why? Because the things we can see are temporary, but the things we cannot see are eternal." --Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 paraphrase mine)

Head Shot: Alone by Michael Nichols

Do we alienate people because we hate them or because we hate ourselves?

Is it better to be surrounded by oblivious, apathetic souls, or to be alone?

At the end of the day, can you live with pushing everyone away for the sake of staying safe inside, free of criticism, free of failing others, free from the hurt of missing those absent?

...or is failure found in the alienation of everything and everyone we ever deemed important?

No. Failure means that there is no hope to change.

Is it worth the effort to believe and hope that genuine albeit imperfect love exists between two human beings? Is fulfilling our calling in Jesus' name a greater gain than the connections we lose in defying those who deny the dreams we've been given? Is victory over our own soul's shadows worth the struggle?

Yes. Undeniably, yes. It is worth it.

Extent of Encouragement by Michael Nichols

Think for a moment about everyone you know or have known and can still recall. Think. Think slowly, clearly, and thoroughly. Okay. Good. That's enough of that. Now comes the difficult part. I want you to pick which one of them most adamantly denies encouragement. Yeah. You've got it. You know.

During high school, I was definitely that kid. Despite constant bullying and exclusion during elementary school, I still had confidence in certain of my abilities, primarily academic. That having been said, between 6th and 9th grade, a transition took place that I didn't understand was even happening, nor did I recognize until recent years. That transition was into self-consciousness. It was the point where the back of my mind slowly began to realize that I was different, and that either made me invisible or a third-eyesore to people. I don't say this to mope, but it truly was the reality in which I lived.

During this transition, what I once perceived as mere perfectionism morphed to become self-enslavement. If I caught flak at some point, I gave myself hell. If I missed a note, I gave myself hell. After feeling that burn for enough time, you start to lose your senses, your nerves, your feelings. What once was self-enslavement turned into apathy, and I was still enslaved.

By the time all of this change had permeated my heart, I was in high school, doing my own thing, taking care of my studies and branching out into fiction writing, music (privately), and a little bit of art (sculpture, painting, etc.), so naturally when a few [crazy] people paid me compliments--well, frankly, I didn't care because there's no way those compliments could have been real, right? Certainly these people were simply setting out to deceive me, yes? But were they?

I remember one specific instance of denying someone's encouragement. More specifically, I remember their reply: "Just take it," said anonymous with a smile.

Those words stuck with me. The skeptic I'd become didn't believe in genuineness, yet aware of [and despite] my skepticism, anonymous insisted that I just take the encouragement and run with it. This person acknowledged that I didn't believe her, yet didn't try to convince me of her transparency, nor did she overcompensate by smothering me with more compliments, nor did she take back the words she said. What really happened is that she saw the bigger picture of who I was and what I was going through (even though she didn't really know specifics nor were we particularly close, but she understood what was happening). This allowed her to truly and genuinely encourage me in the best way. She knew she couldn't force me to believe it, yet she wasn't going to deny the truth, either. That's the bigger picture.

One can only encourage another to the degree to which the other accepts the fact that there are bigger things at stake in life than the problems we face in a day or even a lifetime. If that degree does not exist, our attempts are in vain until the person in question is shown otherwise. In that moment, I was the bigger thing at stake. It was my soul she was after, that also Christ in her was after. I encourage you to recognize something bigger in the moment that you're in, that the truth is the truth regardless of whether or not you believe it. This is true philosophically, scientifically, theologically, but most importantly personally. Take it. Run.