moving on

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.

Beyond the Logic of Sin and Insecurity by Michael Nichols

The movement of the Holy Spirit is a funny thing. He's not just our heart rate during worship, nor is He just the force behind an armada of supernatural events, nor is He simply your conscience when your own sense of reasoning fails, nor is He just the lifeline that God throws to us when we're drowning in the world's system. He is all of these things and more. What I'm about to explain is what happens when we don't latch onto Him when He moves.

Like anyone, whether it's in my own mind, radiating through my fingertips, or lashing out through my tongue, I have, and, as certainly as the night will come, will deal with sin. Will every thought be corrupt? No. Will every thought be pure? No. Thankfully, I have a Heavenly Father who trains me daily in the way I should go despite me, and who reprimands me clearly yet lovingly when I need it.

I've said so before, but I'll say it again: I micromanage myself sometimes, especially with spirituality and sin. I'm hypersensitive and hypercritical of what I do and how I feel and what I think and believe, often times to my detriment. That having been said, it's easy to justify the sin, the distance, the lack of direction, the lack of passion -- really, without wanting to admit it, the lack of Him, in an attempt to quell hypersensitivity with insensitivity.

The fact about me -- really all of us -- is that I desperately, utterly need Him, but I don't always run to Him. I tend to make excuses, to justify what I sometimes do so that I won't feel as guilty, but the cover up that we impose upon ourselves is worse than whatever sins and insecurities we hide. We only start to make excuses when we run out of reasons, to rationalize when we've done the irrational, to justify that which is unjust, to fabricate false answers for the ones we refuse to humble ourselves to seek out... and after all of those simulations of salvation fall to pieces, we are left to either accept the truth or scream in its face.

When you get past the reasons, the justifications, the excuses, and finally dismantle a sin, and you can finally see it for what it is, something will happen. You'll ask yourself, "Why do I do these things?" to which you will quickly reply, "I don't really know." But since when was the purpose of sin to be understood? Sin exists for one reason: to kill you secretively. When all of the other "reasons" we ascribe to it fall away, it's okay to say, "I don't know," because that's the moment you realize you've fallen and need help to rise to your feet again.

Don't panic. You can rise to your feet again. To do that, we must latch on to God's hand. Sin's purpose may be to kill you, but your purpose is to kill sin, and the victory is already won. We often define our chances in life as the sum of our sins and insecurities, but these things are small, and they collapse eventually -- the Lord doesn't. Don't tell God how big your chances are; tell your chances how big your God is.

"For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me." -- Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:9-10 NIV)

The World Didn't Stop by Michael Nichols

Three years ago, I experienced something I really wished I didn't. Its echoes to this day deafen me sometimes. If you have read older posts of mine, you will eventually notice a sizable gap, or at least an extensive loss of frequency. Now, what in the world could have hurt so deeply to cause me -- someone brought to life by writing like nothing else does -- to stop writing isn't really the important part, believe it or not. It doesn't matter how I came to that place. I was there, and that was all that mattered... but I didn't look at that aspect of it.

What I wanted was a way out, and escape from everything. Do you find that understandable? Do you find it pathetic? Do you find it sensible? Because none of those was the case.

It wasn't understandable because life goes on. For the same reason, it is neither pathetic nor reasonable. No, these adjectives are useless for this experience.

What I failed to understand is that I wasn't as backed into a corner as I felt. The prerequisite I assumed for my life having meaning was the one thing I had lost, but once it was gone, what was I to think? I had nothing else to go on beside my faith in Jesus, and it wasn't like I forgot or truly abandoned that faith, but my desire for things to be different, especially the way I felt at the time, drowned out everything else. It hit me harder than I was willing to admit, so by the time I had stopped living out my dreams, I hadn't admitted to myself that I had done so.

I don't think that I was ready at that time to accept the consequences of my own actions, nor was I willing to accept the immutability of the actions of others. Without this level of discernment, I was complacent, wandering, wondering, cold, hungry, but unwilling to come home (so to speak) because I no longer believed in the concept, be it literal, be it metaphysical. Nevertheless, the presence of darkness doesn't imply that light is not close.

"Sometimes it's easy to let dreams fade into a nightmare --" that is a line from a song I wrote, called "Dreams." In my life, I had already experienced darkness, but not in the way this darkness fell. It felt like everything I had been working for in my life suddenly seemed vain. My dreams returned to the dust from whence they were built, and I had woken into a world of agony, meaning I had already been there, but I was unconscious. I wasn't aware of how truly dark, dangerous, and devastating the world can be. After this undesired moment, though, finally, I was.

I was awake, but I was confused, disoriented. I didn't have time to ask questions. I was merely concerned with getting out alive... but that isn't really living. That is paralysis of the heart, the death of the soul, and the withering of the mind.

I've missed opportunities to love, to live, to shatter the safety glass between the waking world and the world of dreams. I've been out of high school for two years and a half, back in college for one and a half. I thought I would be somewhere else by now, bachelor's degree in music education, but that isn't the way it went, and I have partially myself to blame. No, I'm not beating myself up over my mistakes, and I'm definitely not going to say I regret nothing. I'm just being fair. I could have resumed education sooner, made better life choices, but I'm here now, and I've learned something...

The world didn't stop for me. I was hurting going through things, and I wanted things to be different, but it went about is business. It won't fight for me. It won't make me walk through doors, take risks, fall in love, make me a better man -- it doesn't choose for me, and God doesn't force me to obey Him either, but He definitely is fighting ahead of me, making a path for me. It isn't going to be easy, but it is going to be worth it, and that is all I need.

Rationality -- Prologue by Michael Nichols

Your world just shattered like a glass floor beneath the weight of the world that you dropped because you could not carry it alone. The only way you could have carried it this far is if someone shared the load with you. You could not have forced them to help you because they had the weight of their own world to carry. The kindness of their heart is the only thing that could have possibly persuaded them to do this with you. Surely, if they were kind enough to do that for you, you would try to do the same for them. Somewhere along the way, however, you became separated. Maybe you know how. Maybe you know why. That part doesn't really matter. At the end of the day, how or why don't matter. How and why are questions of mechanics and motive. How and why don't change anything. At the end of the day, something else keeps you awake at night. It isn't your understanding of what happened, nor is it your understanding of the purpose behind the event, nor is it your understanding of what triggered the event, be it separation, be it collision, be it good, be it harm. It isn't the cirumstances surrounding the event that plunge their claw into the tissue of your mind and soul.

Rationality. That is weapon of the beast that haunts us. Is rationality bad? No, but it can only go so far, and this is where it begins.