purpose

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)

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)

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.

The Abandonment of Reason by Michael Nichols

Have you ever wondered "why"? I'm not asking a super specific question. It's simple, and it can be about anything. Why? For what reason? To what end? What are we trying to build up or tear down? What is the lesson? What are we trying to gain or give? What is the freaking point of this?

We've all asked this question, and we have every reason to ask this question. When a space is made in our minds which only understanding can fill, a desire which only wisdom can satisfy, we ask why. We attempt to make sense of things, see a picture bigger than our eyes can take in from such a close vantage point.

One of the implications of the question "why" is that you require someone to give an answer to the inquisitor. This is where things tend to become... personal. A rock generally cannot give an answer, nor can a tree, at least not when we ask questions of the soul, the heart, the mind. A rock knows nothing of pain, even if we create from it an arrowhead that can pierce flesh, bringing pain to man. The truth remains, however, that man destroys man, not arrows. Weapons are just the middlemen. It is definitely true that the accessibility of weapons tends to bring out a sense of power and aggression, but those traits are already there. They are a part of us. If we know they are there, and we know they are destructive, why release them?

The problem is simple. We don't know why things happen, so we do things to learn the answers. Sometimes, we just test the world, push it until it pushes back. Sometimes, we ask people who have already made that push and learn what makes it tick, be it a warm discovery or a cold one. Sometimes, we use other people as guinea pigs, pushing them to push the world so that we can see if they stand or fall. Sometimes, we just watch as people push each other of their own volition. Sometimes, watching gets old, and we don't want to watch anymore.

We are always just peachy with the idea of unleashing our full force upon the world in vengeance, a fit of rage toward the withholding of information and a consistent life from us, until we have to face the consequences of our actions, losing what little we had left to begin with. In a world where real treasures are hard to come by, we slowly start to realize that in chasing the past, we choke the future with a death grip caused by creating for ourselves a spiritually fatal present. Then we ask ourselves the only important question: die in love, or live in fear?

Fear is rational to the victimized. If something has been taken from you, odds are that you are looking over your shoulder, praying that someone doesn't come searching to rob you of what little sanity you may have left. Fear is logical, calculating, cold, heartless, empty, vile, selfish, hopeless, and fading. It makes sense to be afraid when you know that there are people out there looking to take what you have, and the only way you can be afraid is if you have something left that you don't want to lose. You are valuable, and you know it. If you are reading this, you have not entirely given up hope, no matter how bleak things seem. Sure, you may say that you have given up aspects of your life that you have been told or convinced through action will never come to fruition, but if you are still reading this, you know that everything awful you say you believe about yourself is a lie. There is a fire deep inside, a fire that you so desperately want to keep alive, but one that you know will burn out in time, when either your body or your soul can no longer adapt or handle the things and people it faces. That same fire is in all of us, and it is desperately gasping for breath. There is plenty of air around, and it is there for the breathing.

This, my friends, is the problem. This, my friends, is the worst part about it. Our very lives are raging flames, and they cannot be contained once they are set loose. Make no mistake: the scripture that says "our God is a consuming fire" was by no means a stretch of the imagination, and if that fire burns within us, I promise you, our entire paths will blaze. We were made to be let out. We weren't made to stop, to give up, not now, not when we have come this far.

When all the superficial things we surround ourselves with, when all the fluff and all the kindling burns away, all that remains is love, for love has the will to carry on when fear does not, and when you fall so in love with someone, or even with something like a career path, nothing will ever separate you - at least not for long, and not in the truth of your heart.

I'm not saying that you should go out and punch your neighbor in the face, get trashed, shoplift, run away, or anything like that, but quite honestly, answers only go so far. There comes a time when we see that it was true when the power behind the burning bush proclaimed, "I am that I am," and that all else tends to cease when it tries to surpass that simple fact. He is because He is. He lives and loves because He does. It is who He is, and it's how He made us to be, and He needs no other reason. Things have changed, but it's not over, and there comes a time we must face the abandonment of reason in favor of the real, and of the mere in favor of the miraculous. He left it up to us to decide for ourselves, and knew that even though not everyone would choose to love others or even Him, it would be better that they choose it that He do so for them, and I think that fact goes to prove that it is true for Him and us that in the end, we would rather die in love than live in fear.