change

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.

hqdefault

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)

Flipping Switches by Michael Nichols

I can still remember a time when I had no internet. Strange. It's hard to imagine a world without the web. Our first computer was bought when I was five years of age. It ran one of the earliest versions of Windows. I can't remember if we even had a mouse for it. I was young, so what did I do? Play games. What else is a five-year-old going to do with a computer?

While the computers of my very young age rested atop a desk (hence, "desktop" computer), exponentially greater power rests in the palms--the palms of millions of hands worldwide. They're not that expensive, and they do basically everything. Smartphones not only call people, but they process more data more rapidly than the early Apollo spacecraft. It borderlines on miraculous.

Despite the beauty of a world more connected and more accessible than it has ever been, we find ourselves in a predicament. It was more obvious to people raised within a decade of my birth, because they really experienced the first wave of it. I'm talking about media addiction. Sure, resistors have always followed new technology of all kinds (electronics pun emphatically intended). But it was mostly about work at first. As the English proverb goes, "Necessity is the mother of invention."  Then something happened. Computing became about more than work. It became about leasure. Enter the gamer's world.

Atari. Nintendo. Sega. Sony. Microsoft. And let's not forget the countless software devs that work not only with countless hardware platforms but develop countless games for those platforms.

I'm not going to lie. I love video games. I don't play much now, but they're loads of fun. They can be simultaneously exhilarating and almost therapeutically relaxing if that's your thing. But just like anything we do for leisure, we are subject to being caught in a world. Sure, there are professional gamers just like there are professional athletes, professional critics, professional... everything, really. But as someone who has been there, anything can be allowed to get out of hand. Anything can become an addiction.

Let me be clear. Video games, work computers, smartphones, all these things--they're fantastic. They're beautiful. God made us beautifully, so you'd think we'd also make things beautifully, though not on His level... But we're also fallen.

Fallen man likes to create fantasy worlds. Fallen man likes to escape pain. Fallen man likes to walk the easier roads. While tech can be a beautiful conduit, it can easily suck us into itself.

Take social media as a somewhat ironic example. (I am posting this on WordPress, am I not?) Built to connect people with each other, and on a global scale. It has succeeded. Nonetheless, people have succeeded to add this to the shells we tend to put around ourselves. There was email. Then there was instant messaging. Then there was Myspace. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. And they just keep coming. It was just a quicker way to send mail at first. Then it became shorter, and more conversational. Then we could share photos. Status updates. Videos. Articles. Links. We could comment on them. Now we can "Like" them. Favorite, +1, upvote, downvote, pin. Heck. Many Facebookers treat their profile like it's their own personally written and edited news column... mainly because it is. Professionals and people in the public realm use social media on the daily to promote, promote, promote. We, the fans, show our support by following their accounts, liking their fan page, subscribing to their videos.

When a tragedy comes to our friends, we can now easily send them our condolences. They can easily notify anyone at any time about the big, the little, the good, the bad, the average, the special, the exciting, the utterly snoring-boring.

Now, I grant you that not everyone is connected on a deep level. That's okay. That's not a fault, especially when you take into account how social media for the first time makes celebrities easily accessible to fans, serving to somewhat destratify social classes.

But I want to ask you a personal question. Be honest. How easily does this tendency to show support via digital media erode the real-world connections you have? Some may be more prone to this than others. I know I am. When I first started out on social media, I didn't post much. I didn't say much. I had a profile picture, blogged sometimes, and messaged friends often. Then I realized how fun status posting could be. I could share any thought, no matter how small or quirky, with everyone. But despite the fact that this practice isn't necessarily inherently bad, albeit somewhat annoying, eventually, I started to feel cheaper, so I started posting less. The less I posted, the less wrapped up in the news feed I was, the more I lived in the real world with the real people. That should be the point of social media, but is it anymore? or has it turned into more of a personalized TV show, like TMZ for our own little lives. Just like we reduce celebrities in that kind of way, is it possible for social media overconsumption to do that to our own lives, and neglect the people in them?

How sad it is that our show of support to people has been reduced to flipping switches via a digital remote control! No longer do we need to pool efforts, nor make a journey, nor immerse ourselves in each others arms, nor speak words of life, nor give of ourselves. We flip switches. Ones and zeros. On and off. Oh, does this not speak so much about how we think of ourselves and our lives? We have reduced ourselves to the machines we use, but this is not who we are. We are not machines, and therefore, we cannot be fixed. But we can be loved. We can surround ourselves with each other. We can bear one another's burdens. We can encourage one another. But we cannot fix anything, and no, kicking each other will not make us work, as we seem to think is true of our gaming consoles.

They without knowledge cannot push a button to activate some hidden portion of their minds. They without morals cannot simply plug into a set of values that make them treat the world with as much value as Jesus treats them. They who mourn don't have the luxury of flipping a switch to make it all better.

Jesus inhabits us. He doesn't flip a switch.

Jesus heals us. He doesn't fix us.

We are not machines. We are souls.

Change and Constancy (2): Repeat by Michael Nichols

They say you get better as you get older. Wiser, kinder... Really, you just get "er," though. You become more of what your heart desires. It's like that song that becomes stuck in your head. Even though they say you can get it out by singing it or listening to it, most times, it just gets more stuck.

I've always had trouble being myself. It can take on so many forms. I can be a jerk because I don't want you to know how much I care. I can be arrogant because I know how small I am in the scope of things. It gets really bad when I'm convinced I'm going to screw something up. I'm torn between doing anything to get out of a scenario in which I'm terrified to fail, and doing everything I can to keep what I have because of how much value I place on those things. This fear can keep me stuck in a kind of limbo--I don't quite act like myself, yet I don't quite hide myself.

The question I always come back to is simple: which is worse--being myself and living with my failures that naturally come with that, or sacrificing everything that makes me marginally unique for the sake of not making things worse? And regardless of which option my mind chooses, will my heart let me get by with that? Here's an example. I have people in my life who expect/want me to do brainy things with my career. "You should be a mathematician, or design computer applications." Yeah, that's nice. I'm a nerdy guy. I could probably do it. Thing is, I have no desire to do so, nor am I convinced that I'd be utilizing my full potential. I'd be missing something. However, I'm pursuing a career in music. Why? Because that's where my passion lies, and that's where I believe I can be the most effective and do the most good. I have my reasons for that.

What if, however, I didn't pursue a career in music? What If I chose computers or math? Well, there wouldn't be anything wrong with that besides a few things: 1) I'd be defying my conscience, 2) I'd be defying God's calling for me, 3) I'm not the same person when I'm pursuing the head over the heart, caught more in perfectionism than love.

It's never just isolated to one thing, though. This mental limbo is like gravity: it affects everything within that system, only to smaller and smaller degrees as you travel away from it. While I no longer suffer greatly from career choice limbo, I find myself very often in social limbo. I know there are some people who I can be 100% myself around without consequence (or I've just become gradually more apathetic to those consequences); but then there are others whose relationships I value so much that it terrifies me to think that I could say or do something to disintegrate us. While moving on and going separate ways seems to be the modus operandi eventually with most relationships, there are always a few that we shudder to lose. The reason for that is simply that relationships like that are rare, like diamonds in the sand: how does one manage to lose a diamond back into the sand?

So it's worth thinking about to me. Do I build walls and keep people who could come close--keep them at arms length for fear of losing them to time, or do I bite the bullet and love knowing that inevitably I'm probably going to lose them? I think I lose more by creating distance, not calming down and simply taking them in like a breath of fresh air. Still, I find myself caught in the cycle of asking myself these same questions every single time I meet someone who I know could break me, wouldn't, but life might force that breaking upon us. I'm that song, stuck in my own head, looping, repeating, and it's always the typically-brokenhearted second verse that hits me. Why can't it be the bridge? Why not listen to the turnaround?

We're all sinners. We're all liars. We're all afraid of something. Even when we finally choose to follow Jesus in His perfect love, we run into some cycle we've been stuck in since we emerged in this life. Just like open doors are meant to close, though, cycles begin to end. For me, it always comes back to a choice: live alone and lose everything, or love and learn to live fully. Option two is the beginning of the end of my cycle. What's yours?

Revisited: Identity Crisis by Michael Nichols

What sets you apart? What makes you an individual? What is the basis for your existence? These are all ways we tend to define "identity," that thing that we hold so dear. It's the most personal thing about us. We like to call it the sum of everything we are and the difference between us and those by whom we are surrounded. At some point, and really through our whole lives, we're constantly working out who we are, and it's a necessary thing because we'd go bonkers if we couldn't distinguish ourselves and our lives and boundaries from that of others...

...but is it possible that we've become too concerned about our personal identities?

It's me. It's who I am. It's how I feel. It's what I do. Who are you to question it? (**REMEMBER this question.)

Part 1: The Question

We've all asked that question before, right? Or maybe it was asked of us. Let's be fair though--and I want to be fair for you as well, so you can ask this of those who challenge you. "Who am I? I am me." If you have the grounds as a human being to do what you want, then so do I when I identify us both as human. Consider the playing field level. So identity isn't confined to one and only one individual at a time. Identity is also collective. We can identify with each other. We can also identify too much with each other. That's something we call co-dependence, when we identify so much with someone else that it inhibits our ability to function on our own for sensible periods of time. We can use the same criteria to identify us that we use to identify me.

It's generally not a question of what identity is, but what are its components? What is it made of? What is its substance? Let me be blunt about the subtext of the question: is your identity made up of things that change or things that are constant?

Part 2: Your Identity Rides on Change

If you relate to that initial question, "Who are you to question me?" you probably feel like everyone else has at some point or another: feeling threatened. Someone observes you and probably has some kind of disagreement with you, or maybe a concern for you. If this is how you feel, you may identify yourself with things that change. Not long ago, I published a poll to see what people thought about what makes up their identity. Here are the results:

[polldaddy poll=7784543]

I purposefully selected those things, and left out other things, because the list could go on forever. None of these things are invalidly used to identify a person, but can they really suffice for the core of our identity? I've tried a few of these myself, and though I haven't been alive enough to personally experience them all, I have definitely witnessed them. Bear in mind that I don't make this list to make anyone feel bad. In dealing with my own identity crises, I've had to be extremely honest with myself, and that's why this list exists.

*Impulses and thoughts. (You may only have them for the moment as perspectives change with experience.)

*Substance abuse/addiction. (They always leave you wanting more, but more is never really enough, is it? and what is the cost to having a fuller, more satisfied life by satisfying our addictions and lusts?)

Actions. (You may regret them.)

Tastes and preferences. (They may erode with constant use.)

Physical traits. (Age and accidents happen, as does change in health.)

Personality. (Life events can radically change a person's demeanor and behavior patterns.)

Careers. (They can fall through with or without our consent, with or without the rest of the economy, with or without our health.)

Accomplishments and abilities. (Do they really stack up when death comes knocking?)

*Friends and family. (People change, whether they choose it or not. We are blessed to have them at all, let alone have them around until the day we die.)

Beliefs. (Someone may challenge them, circumstances can make you question them, and you may lose them.)

*Sin and sorrow. (Everyone makes mistakes and eventually sees a malicious side of themselves, and while they do lead to death, often in a slow way, and in both a spiritual and a physical sense, we're not dead yet. That goes for both the sinner and the victim. While we are still alive, there is always hope for recovery and redemption. We also all experience heartache, but I promise that it is not the end-all.)

(*These weren't poll answers.)

It's a lot to take in, I know. Maybe you're also reading this and feeling offended. I'm not one to apologize for the gospel, but if any of that is hurtful to read, I sincerely apologize. That having been said, I hope you will take time to think about that and ask yourself if something you read has some basis in reality. I am not the great corrector nor the judge of anybody: God is. Speaking of Whom...

Part 3: Your Identity Rides on Constancy

If the initial question, "Who are you to question me?" didn't upset you, you may identify yourself with something constant. At this point, though, you may have gotten through that list for Part 2 and had a change of comfort. So here's my only question for you: does your identity ride on something constant?

I'll tell you one thing I've learned in my brief two decades: identifying oneself is exhausting. Circumstances, weather, health, and people are so dynamic, so quickly changed or distanced. The most constancy a person can experience is their own life, and even that is tentative at best, but there is still hope.

Jesus' love, death, and resurrection are a fixed fact, giving hope to those who have a hard time believing it exists. When everything and everyone around points the finger to tell us we're hopeless, there is Jesus, interceding for us and lifting us up by the message of His cross and the power of the Spirit. When who we are crumbles and everything we've known is lost, He IS. He is the one that gives us our identity, and by resting in Him and in His constancy, we find peace for our souls and rest from our fears. Much peace and love to you, readers, in Jesus' name.

"My eyes will flow unceasingly, without relief, until the Lord looks down from heaven and sees. What I see brings grief to my soul because of all the women of my city. Those who were my enemies without cause hunted me like a bird. They tried to end my life in a pit and threw stones at me; the waters closed over my head, and I thought I was about to perish. I called on your name, Lord, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: 'Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.' You came near when I called you, and you said, 'Do not fear.'"

--Jeremiah the prophet to Israel (Lamentations 3:49-57)

Rev(ital)ised: Nothing Can Take It Away by Michael Nichols

This one was born of my struggle to accept things that I cannot change and live my life beyond that moment.

31 January 2009 at 3:41pm -- from Facebook Notes, revised 3 February 2014

I’m a very attentive person when I try to be. I try to take in everything I see and hear (granted, my short term memory span doesn't exactly help). I especially notice opposites: modesty versus immodesty, truth versus lies, depression versus joy, helplessness versus having a grip on life, etc. And I especially notice when people have changed and when they have something to hide.

It seems to me that, while most of the people I know are generally normal and okay with their lives, a few people have issues, and having been through stuff myself, I keep on asking myself, "What can I do to help?" and I think I have an answer.

I don’t know if you've ever been there, but have you had something that you treasured more than anything, then you made one simple decision for better or for worse, or maybe something happened that was completely beyond your control, and it was gone, in all likelihood to never be within your grasp again? I struggled with this myself, and even though you can feel the absence like a severed vein, I know one thing to be so true: nothing can take it away.

What do I mean? Two things, mainly.

First of all, nothing can take away the pain. It’s just not going to happen. Take any meds you want. Drown it out with substance abuse. You might get a high off of it, but it won’t change your life. It won’t take that situation you have and make it alright. And complaining about it definitely isn't going to help, though we all need to let it out every now and again. Making it a lifestyle for attention, though, isn’t going to help you. Sure, it’s great to ask people for advice and help when we feel helpless, but crossing that line to create drama only hides the real issues, preventing you from finding real help.

But secondly, there is a parallel to the fact that nothing can take away the pain: nothing can take away the memory. While the memory is what creates the pain in the first place by making you long for what you once had, the memory is also the one thing that can truly eradicate it. If you have that good memory that you wish you had back -- that girlfriend, that home, that church, that family member, anything -- you can say, "Hey, I had that. I was fulfilled in my life. I had a close connection with a person. I achieved that goal." Maybe somebody moved, passed on, you lost something precious, a friendship was shattered, your abilities have faded (mental or physical), but nothing can take away the fact that they were yours, and nothing can undo the past, good or bad. So if good is in it, find it, and hold it.

No matter how much you’ve lost, at least you can say that you had it, and remember that life doesn't end here even if one chapter does. Don’t lose sight of reclaiming what you can, but if you can’t get it back, even if it’s difficult to accept, please, for your own sanity, try. You will slowly start to see how good you have it and how good things can become if you refuse to let the past enslave you but instead let it propel you. Your life may not be a bed of roses. It might not even be a little rosebush. But at least you’ll have that one rose, and regardless of how many thorns have to prick your hand to hold it, you will still have it to nurture and behold its beauty.

Update: Pause by Michael Nichols

As you guys know, I've been testing the waters with regular posts, specifically "Entering Rest" and "Renewed Life" which sort of go hand-in-hand with each other. It's been fun, and it's also been brief, but I'm going to put those two on [see title of this post] for a bit. The only reason is that it's difficult and frankly droll to write about basically the same thing week after week after week.

So what's going to happen is you'll see these titles [or rather not see them] disappear from the routine, but you'll still be able to access them from the "Categories" hierarchy widget on this site's right sidebar. This way, if you enjoyed them, you can revisit them.

As a result, this change will also allow me to devote more time and thought and genuineness into the "Unhindered" series. It's not that these regular articles haven't been genuine or thought-through, but the way that life ebbs and flows-- well, it's the furthest thing from rigid, and it can't really be put into a box. Sometimes to rest, you need to just rest, and sometimes to renew your life, you just have to renew it. You just have to choose, and that is a constant. Anything is a variable, subject to change, not the foundation for life.

Thanks, as always, for reading. God bless, and I'll see you soon. Happy writing. :)

-- Michael N.

Entering Rest (3): Deep Valleys by Michael Nichols

"The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the [valley of the shadow of death (KJV)I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." -- David, the Psalmist and King of Israel (Psalm 23 NIV)

An almost cliche Bible passage at this point is Psalm 23. It's the one we've probably all hear a hundred times over, whether we're followers of Christ or not. If you haven't heard it in church, you've probably heard it quoted on a crime show by a cop that's trying to keep his faith or by a mobster trying to justify his crime. I've heard it said that it's just a Psalm about the Lord guiding David through some troubles. I've also heard it said that it's a Messianic prophecy (in plain English, that it was a telling of Jesus sacrifice).

I don't bring up the passage, however, to dispute doctrines or theories. I just want to confront this thing called a valley. I hear the word most frequently used to describe a low point in a persons life, something external that they're going through and that they [hopefully] will emerge from on the other side. There is another word for low point that brings a much greater sense of despair (of varying degree and duration), though, that needs to be confronted: depression.

Depression is that cloud that hangs over a persons head for a long time, the storm that doesn't have wind at its back to move it along, the unshakable feeling that nothing is ever going to change, a constant lack of energy/motivation/passion or at the very least the presence of a vacuum slowly draining that energy, a desire for change but without resolve to make it happen, a fear of failure or personal endangerment or loss, a reclusion from reality, dreams without fruition, the fear/thought of not "getting by," a lack of desire to excel, often but not always masked by feigned apathy and even bitterness to protect the part with the pain from being damaged further (which can lead to an abnormal silence from the individual in question), not a simple imbalance of body chemicals, but a state of being in which a person believes he/she is caught in a endless loop which can lead to the exhausting sensation of chaos and insanity and in the end an amplified preference to rest constantly rather than work. This is at the very least how I would define it because I've lived with it.

It can be a monster, and the thing that make it so difficult to fight is that depression is constructed within our own minds out of the things that make up our own lives. Not just a monster, but a monster inside of a dungeon inside of a hole in the ground.

The easy path is to stop trying to fight it and let it have its way with you. Rest, and maybe you'll be safe. Heck, maybe it's just a nightmare to wake from. That's how I've felt about it, anyway (I dare not say "you" without really meaning "me").

The irony of it, though, is that it's exhausting. You're not resting. You're constantly working to keep the walls from falling down, to save yourself, to hide your heart. What you once thought was rest becomes the slave driver at your back.

It's a fact that things can bring us down, and a lot of times we don't want to get back up and feel insane for it. It's a fact that we can pretend not to care, to go silent, to protect ourselves. Do we really want that for ourselves, though? Wouldn't it be better to let go and truly be able to rest?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYuGuxr7MB0

Update: The Regular and the Random by Michael Nichols

Over the past couple of weeks, I've published a few issues of "Entering Rest" and "Renewed Life" as a part of a refreshed, more regular version of this site. It's been an interesting experience, stretching the limits of my mind. Just having my feet in the water has been a needed and welcome part of becoming a better writer/thinker/person.

That having been said, I've put my normal posts on hold while I get used to this new found routine. I've been drafting like mad, but just haven't been publishing them. The simple reason is that I'm not sure how that fits into this new regularity -- whether I should give my other articles the same treatment or just let them flow as they form, like I've always done.

So, here's what I'm going to do about that. Almost like a "season" for a TV show, I'm going to post 10-11 articles, cap it off with an issue of "Change and Constancy," then break for a few weeks and start again. That way, you get the regularity without the rigidity. I plan to resume with the first issue of "Unhindered" next week.

Boom. There you have it. Thanks for reading, guys. I'll see you soon. :)

Change and Constancy: New Year's REVolution by Michael Nichols

The past year for me has been a stark contrast to the norm. On the eve of 2013, I didn't make a new year's resolution, I didn't get blitzed, attend any sort of calm or wild party. It wasn't anything spectacular, and I don't regret that. Not even in the slightest.

That having been said, what was to follow was nothing I expected, but it was everything I needed. At the end of 2012, I really started to take an inventory of what I had, checked my surroundings to see where I was, reached to see who was still there and who I might have lost along the way. What I found was a small room full of small things, a door with no lock but that I wouldn't leave. That's my metaphor, and I'm sticking to it.

So I spent the last bit of 2012 mending some things I knew I'd broken, and it took leaving that small room full of small things to do it. By that time I had left a million things unsaid like tiny shards of glass for people to walk on. I did my best to go forward making better choices and being better to people. In some respects, I succeeded. In many, I did not. That doesn't matter. What matters is that by the end of 2013, I had the opportunity to see what I am. I watched my actions and reactions. I can live with some of them of my own volition. For others of them, I have no other choice.

In the end, I've come to one conclusion: I need Jesus to a degree words cannot explain and feelings cannot comprehend. I have a lot of fears, and those fears feed into many of my failures. Most of those fears have to do with handling people well as they come close to me, which feeds into keeping them at arms length. I could make a long, in-depth, comprehensive list, but I'll forego that.

The real issue? Fear only wins when you rely on your own strength and not the power of Jesus Christ and His resurrection. So here I am, another year in, realizing that I really don't trust Christ as much I'd like to tell myself I do. It's not a lack of faith because I wouldn't have made it this far, and I've been blessed enough to have a few close friends to encourage that faith. 2013 has been a year of realizing that, and when reality blindsides a person like that, it's difficult to pick up the pieces without fearing injury, but injury is really the least of my concerns at this point. Like I said, I need Jesus to a degree words cannot explain and feelings cannot comprehend. Even if I am injured in the revolution that my life is beginning to experience, Jesus can make me whole again.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxIlR0TmOlg

Entering Rest (0): Issue ZERO by Michael Nichols

img_20131227_1610331.jpg

Being the first issue of Entering Rest, I want start it well. I don't have much to say, and that's good. When you find yourself deprived of rest, the last thing you want to do is keep up the chatter and clamour... or is it really?

I've found that most times I've found myself unable to sleep or nap is this haunting feeling of unfinished business, some item I've left unattended, a task I've left undone. It seems almost appropriate that this year has basically been the year of re-s. I've been rebuilding relationships, reevaluating the way I'm going about my career, revisiting old memories that I've ignores, rethinking how my faith works, even remodeled two entire rooms (actually mostly done by our contractor). At the end of the day, though, doesn't something always feel unfinished? Doesn't it make your body cringe and twist?

While this feeling of restlessness can be powerful, I want you to think about this one thing: no matter where you are, you aren't where you were. Even if everything isn't how you want it to be, take comfort in the fact that you're getting there. Jesus is always at work changing something about you to be more like Him. Sometimes that means you work hard. Sometimes it means you don't get it all done. It can mean realizing some things are out of your control, or that you've done all you can, or that change doesn't all happen overnight, or that we are not gods and cannot expect everything to work out perfectly anyway.

Everyone wants something to change, and the best place to witness that change is at the center of the storm, the place of calm where God is. He is constant, and in His presence, you will witness revolution happen around you and in you. It may be slow or sudden, and it may clear or cloudy, but you won't miss it.