worth

Head Shot: In the Same Sentence by Michael Nichols

I once asked someone if they thought I could make it as a musician. They told me they believed God could do big things with me. At the time, I thought they were just avoiding the question because they knew that I already knew that to be true. "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength," said Paul the apostle. See, I was saying, "I know God can do big things with me, but can I make it?" But my career success was never really the point of my life, was it?

I was asking an impossible question, and the wrong one, at that. Sure, I have some tricks up my sleeve, but who put them there, and what are they really worth if Jesus isn't directing them? They're just tricks, sleight of hand to get applause. A sentence doesn't have room for both our potential and God's. We will always rely on one or the other, and one will always run dry while the other will not.

Writing on the Mirror by Michael Nichols

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A mirror is a place we use to examine ourselves to see if we're prepared to go out, to see whether or not we look decent, be sure the hair is laying right or that you don't still have tomato sauce on your face from that delectable lasagna. It's also a place where we a lot of things wrong with us, question ourselves, and often times can be a source of negative self image (or pride on the flip side, if we're unwilling to see the important flaws).

I've never really been 100% confident in the way I look. I'm always asking for advice on different clothing, different hair. It may be that way because I used to be ridiculed for my face, for my slender figure (which isn't typically a man's desire, but hey, that's the way I'm built naturally). It doesn't help that I'm susceptible to the occasional anxiety attack. I don't know whether they are a result of the ridicule or if the ridicule I used to face simply exacerbated the anxiety that may have surfaced eventually.

About a week ago, I suffered one of these attacks. This one was triggered by my tendency to base my feelings about my relationship with God on my ability to make good choices and also to abstain from sins that are particularly tempting to me. When I have an anxiety attack, the worst symptom I experience is the racing thoughts. They just don't stop. They are many. They are negative. They are violent. The are self-deprecating. They are scary. They are also false. Even if there is something wrong with you, they are false and scary because they destroy.

... But why? Why do these thoughts happen? If God is good, why do I have the spirit of fear? Either one of two things must be true: either God is not good, or someone else gave me the spirit of fear. So I remembered something that I should not have let become trapped in a dark, unregulated corner of my mind: the enemy comes to destroy. Jesus comes to give life! So I prayed, "Lord, protect me from demons, protect me from the enemy."

The racing thoughts dissipated immediately.

I'm nothing special, but sometimes, the enemy tries to put us in a place where we think we're worthless because we're sinners. Jesus begs to differ. He died and lives for us. He knows what we need when we need it, so when we as His adopted and highly dysfunctional kids are scared and need Him, He will step in and say, "Child, I love you, and I will keep you safe from the enemy." I needed to remember that. I needed to be reminded that the One who's in me is greater than the one that is in the world. At that moment, I needed a miracle, and I wanted Him, my heavenly Father, back.

So since then, I've had this thing where I write on mirrors with dry erase marker. I write my sins, insecurities, and my remedy. There's something powerful about that to me. Maybe the words over my reflection help me to see myself in the context of Christ's love and truth. By doing what He did a week ago, He gave me a reason to give back into His Spirit and fight the spirit of fear in Jesus' name, because even though I'd never lost the reasons or lost my faith, I lost my fight and gained some doubts and baggage. But praise God that He is greater than any anxiety and greater than anything I see in the mirror.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCO8XLs5TOY

Semester Four by Michael Nichols

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Today, I think about how much of a procrastinator I am, and how quickly I either blame others, beat myself up, or become frustrated, or shut down when I fail at something, do something crooked, harbor hate, or anything else. Yes, I know that I'm taking one idea, the idea of simply putting off homework assignments, and taking it waaay out of context into something much deeper and darker than that, but that's the way my twisted mind works. I see darkness, and I think about other darkness. Thing is, I recently procrastinated to the point of being perfectly unable to do this assignment, and now it's sinking in, how great of a disadvantage I've given myself, and that is a lazy part of me, a part of my darkness. It's this sense of, "Wow, I seriously just did that!" which give me a reason to take this post the way I'm going to take it.

Whether someone pulls it out of you or you just sort of end up working it out either intentionally or by the way of something else, there is always something dark inside, that worst part of us that we forgot was really there, because we don't believe in monsters under the bed, and that's our problem. After all this time, I'm still trying to piece so much together from so many things I've dealt with. Now, I don't care how it happened or what spirit brought it about. Now, all I need to know is how it affected me and if I'm a whole person beneath the tangled threads.

It has been roughly three years since I left home, just over one since I returned. If you knew me back then, you'd know I was a dark person, devoid of any sense of joy or pride or anything worth living for so I thought. Some of you also probably know the reason I left, and others still know what my last two years of high school were like. The rest of you... well, I'm frankly not ready to talk about it yet, but the day will come.

The important thing for you to understand is that I didn't want to return. Beginning from the end of my junior year of high school, I was ready to burn every bridge connecting to the deserted isle upon which I lived, regardless of the repercussions because at that point, I had learned that nobody could be trusted, especially the ones you needed the most. No, everything I thought I'd know and I thought I could rely upon simply wasn't real, and I could stomach no more. All I could think was, "Get out, get out, and get out now!" That is to say, of my social circle, my school, my house.

Through an undeniably providential chain of events, I found people who cared, who always asked questions, who always backed me up, and were always around to catch me rather than to condemn me for any failure of mine, any shortcoming, any weakness. I started growing, like I was built by God to do, and would have been doing if anyone had the faintest clue as to who I was and who I am, and yes,only began to grow when I wasn't trying to be forced into the cookie-cutter of buyable Christianity (as opposed to the Gospel of grace.) When I started growing, I started seeing light! LIGHT! That's right, the thing that makes us see anything at all.

At the same time, I started seeing darkness for what it really was, and the more I grew to be able to see the lighter side of life and the good things therein, the more easily I and deeply I could see darkness, the hurt and the evils that bury the world. But that didn't make me want to grow. It certainly did not. It made me want to run, so I did.

I'm not just talking about from home or from a social circle. I mean everything. I was planning to attend college to be a music teacher, but I didn't. I thought by now I'd be out of school, maybe even married, with a decent job that paid decent money so I could have a decent life, not that I was really looking for a decent life, but rather a fulfilling life. I stayed out of school for two and a half years, working a dead end job and living a dead end life. Whereas I had once devoted myself on Scriptural knowledge and vigilance, I stopped reading, stopped praying, stopped praising. And the worst part? (As if it could have gotten worse for me,) it wasn't all at once.

Subsequently, I gave in to various alternate ways of keeping my sanity, which I'm also not willing to talk about yet. Did I forsake believing in Jesus? By no means! But when your mind and your heart have been maliciously cut over and over and over from day one, along with the occasional upheaval, all of which left marks, something eventually had to stop, so I ran because I felt small, because I had been betrayed over and over, and because I just wanted to stay alive and feel like I should...

The funny thing is that today is Suicide Prevention Day (and I wasn't taking that into account when I began writing this), when we remember that there are people in this world who don't feel like they should stick around, and there have been many times I've been in that place, where I honestly though I could just slip out without so much as a flinch from anyone in the room. Now, I realize that I've gone through every bit of this for a reason (that I was also completely wrong), and I understand where this mass upheaval started. I remember it like yesterday, the day I had my heart ripped from my chest, when I'd been betrayed worse than ever before at that time. It was like my heart had been ripped from my chest to bear every ugly, untamed, unholy part of me, and though I once blamed the ripper solely, I know now that even though they were in the wrong, those things were already inside of me, waiting to be ripped out, to breathe and live.

At this point in my life, I realize this:

  • I haven't measured up to the perfection that some people refuse to concede is impossible of mere mortals because, no, we are not gods.
  • I haven't been willing to compromise some things that I believe that other people feel are simply psychotic, but it's my faith journey, and no, they are not gods, nor could they be because they do not love like only He can.
  • I haven't accomplished everything I know beyond the shadow of a doubt I can do and was made by the Lord God of Heaven and Earth to do because no, I am not a god.
  • I haven't loved as well as I know I could and know that I should because I have had the ulterior motives of pleasing myself and pleasing a world that is not god, and that reflects upon my understanding of and my relationship with God.
  • I haven't had the faith in myself that others have shown to me, and that reflects upon my faith in them and in the God that made us all.

... And all of this gives me the ability to say this: I'm am over people because I know I'm just as screwed up as the next guy, but I'm not going to give up because of the simple indisputable fact that God doesn't screw people up.

Not even me.