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.

Keep Me Humble by Michael Nichols

Lately, I have a hard time waking up with my alarm. I ended up skipping my thyroid medication, making less-tasty coffee, and forgetting things on my way out the door--all of this simply to make it to work on time. It kills me that I do this to myself. I mean, this is insignificant stuff! Well, maybe except the meds part.

It's the little things that get under my skin when I'm dealing with myself. I tend not to sweat the bigger stuff because I tend to think I can handle it. "Think." I am mistaken. Little stuff piles up easily and becomes a big ordeal if left unchecked, ignored. In arrogance and ignorance, it's easy for me to say, "It's nothing. I can deal with it later." This, however, is not the case, and learning this fact can be humiliating to oneself.

In times like that, have you ever been guilty of using the statement, "I guess God is just keeping me humble"? Maybe it's not those words exactly, but do you know the attitude? Something happens in your life that doesn't go the way you planned it (meticulously or casually), and you become upset. That's not wrong, right? I'm sure most people mean well when they say that.

But really, isn't it generally with a hint of disdain? "God, why did you let this or that happen?" as though we know better than He. Isn't this an indication of hurt pride rather than humility? We reap the consequences of our actions.

It's supposedly a great "Christian" thing to pray for humility, right? In a sense, that acknowledges that, yes, I have pride, but it also presents us with a problem. What is it we think we have to be proud of?

We seek reasons to stand alone, be independent, and often times we do this in arrogance, without even realizing it. Do we not daily need the Lord? Is it not better to every moment pray that He be glorified, and pray this in honesty, rather than fall and be hurt along with our ego? God will take care of you! You don't have to go through life by your own strength. Though we must be responsible for ourselves, the Lord is our strength to be responsible.

It can be humiliating to fail, a crippling to the Achilles heel of our pride. It can even make a person hate himself. But that isn't what God wants for us. True humility is found somewhere between our arrogance and self-deprecation. Not everything is rosy, but not everything is bleak, either. You may live well one day yet be a complete mess the next. No, you are not bipolar, nor are you a failure. You are human. If God is who He says He is, He will do His part. Whether or not we humble ourselves and surrender to that, and follow Him, is completely up to us.

Renewed Life (2): Sing For Him by Michael Nichols

You may remember reading my previous post "Entering Rest -- Scripted". You may remember that I asked what your script is. Well, surprise -- another question: what happens when you lose the script? What happens when all of the premeditated thoughts and actions simply vanish when it comes crunch time? Matter of fact, if you've been out to do some karaoke, you probably understand completely what I'm talking about. Half way through the song, you completely blank on your line, so thank goodness the words are on the screen. Whew!

But what if they're not? What if it's all up to you to remember what it is you're doing? Simple. You have two options: leave the stage, or sing.

On the subject of stage fright again, a lot of times people will choke and forget the words simply because of the fear that they'll screw it up in some way. I think we've probably been scared of underperforming in some aspect of our lives, even if it's not an art form, something for which you must take the stage. Heck! Maybe you're just scared you're going to screw up a potential friendship, so you completely just black out everything you know about being a friend to avoid that failure, the letting down of someone we may grow to care for... but that was never really the point of friendship, was it?

Nobody is ever guaranteed a perfect friend, a perfect spouse, perfect parents, a perfect pastor, a perfect boss, president... We're not guaranteed a perfect world. Since when did that stop someone from doing what every fiber in their being wanted to do. I'm not saying, "Do what you want." Don't go around hurting people, or yourself for that matter. In fact, if what you want to do is curl up into a ball and roll off the stage and into some dark, riskless corner, I'd highly encourage you to do the opposite.

Everyone is going to screw up trying to live out love, speak the Gospel, be separated to God, be a friend to people around, hold a meaningful relationship. That's almost a guarantee, but an even better guarantee is that succeeding to do something good, especially your relationship with Jesus, is worth the risk of failure to get to the end of it.

Those questions from before: "What if I make some mistake and God kicks me out, or what if I'm laughed at for something I say?" -- I asked those questions once. I'd be lying to say that I have never asked them since. But now I know better. I know now that those are the wrong questions. The right question is, "Does Jesus really love me?" The answer is yes. The deeper you begin to accept the depths of His love, the more you'll realize that He's not looking for an excuse to push you away, and He's waiting on the other side of whatever it is you're going through, be it a hardship, or be it a sin you're trying to overcome.

So when you feel like you're on the stage and you're about to choke, just remember that Jesus loved you before you stood up, and He will love you still after it's over. Sing for Him.