on crying and stuff easier to keep inside

it’s always been easier for me to cry in front of people than to cry in front of the one/ones. what i mean by ‘the one/ones’ is those people that mean the most to you. it can be a friend, family member, the montreal canadiens. i’ll never let Pacioretty see me cry, no matter how much it hurts when someone slanders Carey Price.

but if i’m in a crowd, it’s easy to let my guard down. there’s something about being vulnerable on your own terms that makes it manageable; when speaking in church or addressing my youth crew. but when someone else tries to set it on their terms…screw that. that’s when things get tough.

when i was a kid, crying only happened on other people’s terms. when i was in trouble. when people made fun of me. which happened more than i care to admit. i remember hating it with a passion. i remember feeling weak and vulnerable. like when Troy kicked me in the chest. im so tired of crying on others terms, that i fight the instinct telling me to let it out. no matter the situation, it seems that i try my hardest to keep it all in in front of my loved ones, even when it’s reasonable to let it out. it’s as if my reflex has become to do the opposite of what my heart tells me to do.

lately, this has changed. my protective instincts are gone and i am wide open and vulnerable as if i’m a child again. i feel like crying all the time. luckily, the Canadiens are still in the playoffs, or I’d be a mess. like i said, Carey Price completes me (my wife and i have an understanding). everything is as good as it should be, but nothing feels good as it could be. so the tears come even as i fight to hold them back.

wrestling with depression has kicked me into the gutter. it’s subtle and sneaks up on me. the over reactions to minutiae; so small, it doesn’t warrant a notice, let alone a full fledged man cry. a new job and an early 30’s faith crisis have taken me to the brink of what i can handle.

i’m tired of holding it in. but i know me, and i will continue doing so until i break. learning to be comfortable in my own skin is something new to me. much of my life has been spent trying to be someone i’m not. faking my toughness so my man-card can get punched (yes, ladies. that is a thing). putting on a smiley face and pretending my faith is in check so i can be a good pastor and not freak out the children (even though i know that’s the opposite of what Jesus wants from me). pretending i know what i’m doing, even as I run like wile coyote off the edge of the cliff, unaware of my imminent demise and fall.

i keep telling myself, “trust in Jesus. have more faith. just pray.” and those are all true things that i should strive for. but no matter how hard i seem to try or how much truth is in those statements…it doesn’t take away the intense pressure chasing me down that says i’ll never measure up to God, who is so very, very disappointed in me. and so i feel like crying, knowing deep down this isn’t how i was meant to live, knowing that it isn’t even the truth. but feeling more entrenched than ever.

that got dark fast. get back to the love affair with Carey Price jokes, already.

i know i’ll be okay. my God and my family have too tight a grip on me to let the depression win. i started writing again to be honest. to share not only my stupid stories and terrible jokes with the world, but my heart and soul as well.

so there it is. not crying is overrated. time to start listening to my instincts and kick depression in the ass. write more. love more. open myself up more. pray more. play more. play with my kids more. play tennis more. date my wife more.

and give less attention to the lies…more. just felt like i had to add ‘more’ one last time.

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on missing my mark

My friend tackled an old man into the lake.

Ok, it wasn’t an old man. It was my other friend dressed as an old man. But it was definitely the most hilarious thing I’ve seen since Ricky getting hit by a car.

It was before the days of every 5 year old having a cellphone camera. I lugged the handheld mini DVD player down to Wascana Lake. I don’t remember why, but we got this brilliant idea to make a short film about us being the Wascana garbage collectors, taking out the human trash since 1991. I was the cameraman. My friend Ryan played the ringleader. My other friend Ryan dressed up as an old man. It wasn’t too hard for him, since his style mostly matched that of an 80 year old anyway. He only needed a cane to complete the ensemble.

The plan was to talk about the human trash residing in the park, and how it was our job to get rid of it. It was set up perfectly, with Ryan #1 angrily ranting into the camera about the ills of society. Ryan #2 took his place by the path along the lake. Ryan #1 said to the camera something about seeing some human trash that needed to be taken care of. He then proceeded to tackle Ryan #2, who had a fake cane and was far enough away from the camera to be mistaken for a stranger, into the lake.

It was perfect. The timing of the tackle…the gasp that left Ryan #2 as he flew through the air. We even asked another couple walking past to join the charade and feign concern for the old man as he splashed around the water.

It was around this point I realized I had forgotten to hit the record button.

I won’t rehash the look of disappointment on Ryan #1 & #2’s faces. Even the passing by couple was disappointed in me, shaking their heads in disgust for me having wasted their valuable time. You might wonder why tackling old people into a lake would be considered fun, and if you are wondering that, you have a solid point. I had recorded some speaking parts, but missed a few key portions, making the whole thing choppy and missing the climax tackle. If I remember correctly, they had to redo the tackle. Nothing was as brilliant the second time around.

I often feel like I’m missing my mark. In life, you only get one shot. Yes I did just quote an eminem song from 8 mile. And no, I don’t regret it. I feel like things are passing me by and I’m the oblivious bystander, fiddling with the record button. I had one job…

Anthony DeMello is a brilliant writer. His book ‘Awareness’ contends that to be alive is to be in the moment, seeing what’s happening all around you in people and events. So many of us sleepwalk through life, focusing on what’s next or what’s happened before. But he calls us out of the craziness of everyday life into paying attention to the deeper realities going on beneath the surface.

It reminds me of Jesus call to consider the lilies. To love our enemies and pray for our persecutors. To give to those who ask without expecting a return. To love God and love people. Jesus lived in the moment more than anyone. The beauty if a life well lived is seen in Jesus. I’m jealous of Jesus. Man, that guy had it soooo easy. Minus the crucifixion part.

I’m not Jesus. I’m Blair. And I have attention issues.

I can’t be Jesus or Anthony de Mello. But I can be me. It might not seem exciting, but it could be. I just have to start paying attention.



on resurrection
April 21, 2014, 4:41 pm
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FightClub6Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go.
Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

-Wendell Berry, “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” from his book of poems “The Country Of Marriage”

 

This poem kicks me around quite a lot. It speaks to the power of doing something new, of bringing life to death, of following the path that hasn’t yet been trodden. The world expects us to be corpses, separated from the lifeblood that comes from following a different way than the consumerism our world sets out before us. Take a look around you. Death is the norm. Life makes no sense. UNTIL you experience resurrection. Then nothing else makes sense.

Yesterday was Easter. I have no spiritual treatise to share. Only a longing for resurrection. Because as long as I’ve put faith in Jesus, resurrection has been at the tip of my fingers, yet felt just out of my grasp. I’ve tasted it, caught glimpses here and there, yet it remains just out of my reach. It doesn’t make sense. I’m sold on the devouring mentality, the way of death and mindless consumption. To live a resurrected life, to live the siren song, so appealing yet incredibly dangerous and counter cultural…It makes so much sense one moment, then feels impossible to grasp the next.

A man on a cross dies and comes back to life three days later. They even say this man is God himself. How believable is that? Not very to the logical mind. BUT, if it’s true…if resurrection is real and possible…not only attainable, but the place where TRUE life is found…If that’s even remotely possible, then we must not remain content to be bloated corpses, walking miserably and meaninglessly through life. How sad would that be to walk through 80 years, living for nothing more than the quick profit, the annual raise, paid vacation and that which is ready made for our ‘convenience’? As the great prophet Tyler Durden proclaims in Fight Club, Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.”

There has to be more than microwave ovens and TV dinners. If there isn’t, this is all just a cruel joke. Convenience and consumption kill our brain cells, one by one, telling us we are getting the deal of our lives when all we’re getting is more garbage to fill our houses. Resurrection offers something new, exciting and real, as unreal as it seems. I’ve yet to experience it’s true power, as culture has it’s grip tight around my throat. But if resurrection is possible…new life out of dead things…a counter culture like none we know…a way of hope rather than emptiness…then what have I got to lose? Why do I hold so tight to the grip of emptiness and hollow satisfaction? Isn’t it worth the risk?

As a Christian, I’ve never fully known the resurrection. I know the theology, the dogma and the story. But I’ve never truly KNOWN resurrection. Because if I did, if we did…then everything would be different.

This has become rather more preachy than intended. My apologies, I just needed the sermon this morning. I’m tired of living for the newest movie and to put gas in my car. That’s not resurrection. That’s putting one foot in the grave.

It’s time to do something that won’t compute, to ask questions that have no answers, and to not be afraid when they leave you with more questions. Resurrection is real. If you don’t believe in Jesus, believe in the power of resurrection. Because without it, Jesus is irrelevant. The power of resurrection breathes new life into these dry bones. Resurrection is my only hope. And if Jesus was resurrected and is the place where resurrection life is found, then all else is meaningless.



on being a peace maker (or at least, trying)
April 13, 2014, 1:23 pm
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I still cheer for hockey fights. Maybe not audibly, but definitely on the inside. And sometimes audibly, when my kids aren’t around. My convictions of non-violence don’t match the intense energy that comes from watching people pound each other. I lean in close and my attention is singular when the gloves drop.

I’ve long considered myself a ghandi fan-boy. but in truth, the only similarity I have to ghandi is the fact that I’m a skinny East Indian man respected my millions worldwide. Wait a second…never mind. We have no similarities. He mastered the peaceful protest. Whether it was walking head first into a waiting army with clubs, not raising a hand in the process. Or refusing to eat as a form of pressure against his oppressors, he had the courage of his convictions. Meanwhile, I have more in common with a hobbit, anxious for third breakfast by 10am.

Jesus says to turn the other cheek and pray for our enemies. I love this in theory, but in reality… Think about it.

Turn the other cheek. If someone hits you, turn the other cheek and let them strike you again. How would that go over in hockey? Probably great in some ways, because the other guy would get a penalty. But Don Cherry would sure be disappointed in your manhood.

I get it. I understand it’s about rising above and being stronger and beating violence at its own game. I get that Jesus showed what this is all about by dying on a cross. I get that. What I don’t get is how I’m supposed to follow that example. Because on some days if takes everything in me to not resort to violence and hatred, and that’s just when the internet is slow.

I attended a pro-love rally yesterday. It was about as hippy-awesome as you’d imagine. Tie dye tshirts, signs that said “free hugs”, bad renditions of John Lennon songs. “All you need is love” sung in the key of 50-60 enthusiastic hippies. In other words, bad. But it was pretty awesome. The rally was a response to vile and disgusting ideas geared towards the LGBT community by the guest speaker at a conference. His response was to counter protest with pictures of aborted fetuses and signs claiming persecution. Meanwhile, parents covered their children’s eyes and had difficult conversations before they were ready because shock value was the counter argument to pro-love and singing. Apparently, the goal is to give children nightmares.

Some people were angry and frustrated, but our group held their ground in a loving stance. Attendees, and even organizers, of the conference crossed the street to talk and understand why we were bothered by the message. They knew, but wanted to hear from us. Some of them even joined in our disgust at his message, as it had little to do with what the conference was even about. Hugs were given and common bonds were shared, just not with the person who upset us all in the first place.

And it was good and Kum-ba-yah and all that. But the truth is, I wanted to cross the street and bash some heads, straight up Georges Laraque style. At least one persons head.

Violence feels more effective because it offers immediate satisfaction. If this person does something we hate, knock out their teeth and have their jaw wired shut so we don’t have to hear them. Bomb that country over there so we can control the puppet government put in place. Shoot first, ask questions later. Violence is all that our society knows. An eye for an eye and a counter protest sign for a protest sign. A liberal news channel for a conservative one. Yes, because the only way to defeat a blithering bunch of idiots is with a blithering bunch of idiots, BUT with opposing viewpoints.

But no matter how disillusioned I become with the state of our world, I still go back to Jesus on the cross; to Ghandi starving for change; to Nelson Mandela forgiving his captors and oppressors. No matter how unlike these examples of goodness I am on the inside, I’m still drawn to their beauty. There is a counter-revolution to the way of violence perpetuated by our society. And it’s gorgeous. No matter what my temptation is, I pray that I’m always drawn to non-violence. Ironically, it’s the only way to feel long term peace. Violence offers immediate satisfaction and long term turmoil. Non-violence offers immediate moral high ground and long term confidence that you rose above.

To make peace in this messed up world is the only thing that makes sense. While my primal manliness gets jacked when fists start flying, I know there’s a better way that I’m called to.

Jesus says to pick up our cross and follow him. Am I crazy enough to do this? What if more people did? Jesus carried his own cross to his crucifixion. To the non-believer, it seems stupid to do so if he had a choice to fight back, and they would even say he had no choice, as he was clearly a prisoner. But to me, he did so willingly when he had every choice in the world to bring down the hell-fire.

But he didn’t. And if I’m paying attention, that speaks to me. Because my temptation is to do the opposite. To raise my fists, weak as they might be. To do the opposite. Fighting against oppression is a good thing, but if we use the same methods the oppressors use, are we really offering anything different?

Non-violence doesn’t offer immediate satisfaction. But it offers something better. A chance to create something beautiful.



on why I write
March 28, 2014, 4:15 am
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Is it really necessary? Another guy with a blog? Because there aren’t enough white, Christians whose voices are heard in North American society…I need to stand up for the little guy. If I don’t, who will? Oh yeah….everyone.

So the question is, why bother?

I’ve been dying to write the past few years, but the words never seem to come the way I want them to, or at least as easy as they used to. so I just quit. Blogging, stories, writing in my n’Sync diary…I just stopped. I got tired of fighting a blank page. But the whole time I stopped, I felt as if there were things I couldn’t express any other way. I’ve become a pent up ball of energy. Thoughts, ideas, jokes, theology, books. It was all inside me. I just grew so tired. I’m still tired, but writing is therapy for me, so I’ve decided i need it. even though myself as my own therapist is a terrible idea. Or as anyone’s, for that matter.

As an 8 year old, I wrote a 52 page book about a spaceman named Kenneth. He was the janitor on a spaceship and when he went outside to clean the windows, the jerks took off without him. He fell to earth in his spacesuit that turned into a spaceship and visited all my cousins. It was pretty legit for an 8 year old. At the end, I think he was about to die, and all my cousins were so sad, then he turned into a real boy when their tears fell on his face. Pretty sure I stole that part from Pinocchio.

That creativity has left me. Now I’m an old grump filled with arrogant opinions and distrust, with a hint of Jesus when I’m not too self-absorbed. I’m so wrapped up in internet arguments that the joy of writing has been stolen, ironically by myself, and it all feels so pointless on most days.

I’m not 8 years old, but I still act like one most days. My faith is weak, but I love Jesus. I have an amazing family, wife and kids, and am luckier than I deserve. Most people would kill for what I have. But I’m also whiny and take all the good for granted on a regular basis. Call it the ‘consumer condition’, or maybe that’s just an excuse. This is who I am.

I decided to try something. To just write every day and be as honest as I can. There will always be a little self-deception in my writing, because I’m just delusional enough to think others actually will care what I have to say. So I’m just going to write, for myself if no one else. Writing feels like about the only way I can let things out.

We can go for coffee, but I’ll be an awkward mess and probably cough on your dessert. I can preach, but I’ll just read notes off a page in a monotone voice. Plus, my preaching might be a little too preachy these days.

So here I go. Another caucasian, 30ish year old Christian with an outlet for all my frustrations and passions. Thank you, internet. Hear me roar. Katy Perry is my inspiration. Katy Perry fans will find my blog and be so disappointed.

Don’t expect well reasoned arguments all the time. I can’t promise that. I can promise Vanilla Ice references, and jokes about how it’s really MY milkshake that brings all the boys to the yard. Take that, Kelis.

I just need to write for my own sanity.



dry-ness
August 28, 2010, 8:11 am
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i don’t think there’s supposed to be a hyphen in the word dry-ness, but i like the ness. so i wanted to emphasize it. you could put a ‘ness’ on the end of anything and make it ten times cooler, automatically. awesome-ness. blair-ness. loch-ness. see? way better. that’s my theory. or maybe i’ve just been smelling the rank fumes of my dog’s insides for too long and i’m going insane. because literally, if he farts one more time, i just might go insane. insane-ness. makes going insane sound 10 times cooler, i heard.

i’m awake at 1:29 AM on a friday night partly because of my dogs rank-ness, but mostly because my brain won’t let me sleep. something just doesn’t feel right, and i can’t sleep when things don’t feel right. my brain has felt pulled in a million places lately. i haven’t blogged in a millenia because i can’t focus enough to write anything down. it all feels like a big jumble of meaningless gibberish when i start typing. that’s probably not that much of a stretch if you just read my first paragraph. but my brain won’t let me sleep because it felt like i needed some therapy. and what better therapy than the meaningless void that is the internet…mostly because it’s free. but it’s not meaningless because a few people that care about me read my blog, so thanks for listening to my meaningless void of a brain ramble for a bit.

i think the thing that is weighing on my mind the most right now is that i am not content. that is no surprise to those that know me. i’ve written about it before, talked about it before and sung emo love ballads about it before. for some reason, i am just not a content person. and i think i’ve figured out where my discontentedness (i was going to just say discontent, but the ness had to make the cut) is coming from. i don’t know how to follow, and i don’t know who i am.

when i decided to give my life to Jesus, it was an epic moment for me. i usually make fun of teenagers for using the word epic, so please feel free to mock away. i’ve been talking to a very close and dear friend lately who is thinking about being baptized and i got the chance to share my story with him. a teenage life of drugs and alcohol and broken relationships with friends and girls and family…and i decided to go to bible college. logical choice, right? it was only because i didn’t want to work and mom and dad said they would pay. for some reason, the student leaders asked me to speak at the college retreat. they clearly had no idea who i really was, because i was no speaker and at the time i had no faith. i hated campfire devotional songs, and they decided our weekend theme was going to be based around a stupid campfire devotional song, one of my least favorites. so they asked me to speak on ‘let me be to you a sacrifice.’ i don’t know why i said yes. the cheesy christian part of me wants to say that God had a plan in mind and so he ‘called’ me say yes even though it was illogical. the more honest part of me needs to admit that i was a phony and a fake and i was desperate to uphold the image i thought whoever i was around wanted me to be like at all costs. maybe a little of both were involved. i debated what to say for days. and when the day came, i still had nothing. i debated faking a migraine or taking a hammer to my hand to really sell an injury, but i was out of time. and so i was honest. i told them i was a liar. a druggie and a drunk. a thief. an empty soul. and that was all. i just told them. i was just honest. i think i shocked a few people. not many were expecting confession hour with blair, especially since i hardly knew anyone on a deep level. it was the first time in years where i didn’t feel the pressure to pretend to be someone i wasn’t. i was always acting one way for my girlfriend, another for my friends, another for my family, and still another in front of the church. honesty broke something inside of me. it felt like i could finally be honest about who i was. i was lost in sin and doubt and emptiness, and i had this confession moment where i just knew that i needed to be in relationship with God. i knew he was waiting to fill the emptiness of the life i had lived up until that point. i wasn’t sure i believed it with my head, but my heart told me to shut-up and do it, so i did. it was clear enough to me in that moment. and that night i just decided that even though i was still empty, i would give God an honest shot. because i had blocked him out for so long, that an honest search had never happened in my life. so i was baptized.

i guess i expected in that moment that a peace would overcome me. and it did for a few days. but i didn’t quite understand the ‘give your life to Jesus’ part of baptism, because i don’t think i’ve ever really given it to him. i felt joy and happiness. belonging and conviction, lots of really great feelings. but those are all things that come and go regularly. if your faith is based on feelings, pretty soon you will not have much faith to hold on to. i feel like much of my walk with God has been filled with me being discontent. and i’m usually pretty honest with people. i’m not one of those people who when asked how they are doing will just say fine. i’ll usually say mediocre, or average. or great, or crappy, depending on the day and whether the ROUGHRIDERS won or lost. but i suck at articulating why i feel that way at that time. i’ll usually say things suck, but i’m not always honest about why. i try to be honest because it’s worked for me in the past, but the longer i’ve been a christian, the easier it’s been for me to sneak back into that default mode of wearing a mask, being who people want me to be. the honesty that saved me has too easily become another mask that i wear, telling half truths to myself and others to keep up appearances. i’ve been walking with Jesus in my life for 9 years almost, and i am tired of being discontent. and i’ve realized something important about my faith. i’m very good at reading books about God. i know a lot about God. i know a lot about the Church, more than i want to at times. i’ve been moved by worship and into worship at certain points in my life. i’ve felt God near to me and far from me. i’ve watched friends and family come to God and fall away from God. i’ve seen lots happen in 9 years. i’ve experienced a lot in my walk of faith. but the times have been rare where i have really let God lead me. the times have been rare where i’ve trusted God for guidance. and i think the reason i feel so discontent, the reason i lack peace in my heart is because i know God is with me, but i don’t know if i’m being who he wants me to be. i’m not being honest about who i know i need to be. and i feel like God is waiting for me to turn to him and say, ‘okay, your turn.’

my life has been filled with movement. not movements…those too, but let’s not get into that. moving from one thing to the next. and i live my faith the same way. i always want to be moving. from one good book to the next. from one spiritual high to the next. from one activity to the next. but i think i need to just stop. everything. i need to just stop and BE. i think the thing i missed when i was baptized was that i wasn’t just proclaiming that i wanted Jesus in my life, but i was stating that i was becoming a disciple, and i haven’t really lived the disciple part. a disciple follows. and i mean, they really follow. they hinge on every word from the one they follow. their actions mimic the actions of their rabbi. i need to just stop so i can really follow. i’m tired of leading the way. and i think maybe that is why i’m discontent. because when things are hard and you have doubts and struggles, and all your counting on to get you through is a spiritual high, you will almost always leave disappointed. but…what if i could really learn to follow my rabbi? i think when you’re following your rabbi the way a true disciple follows, it doesn’t matter if things get hard. doubts will come and go. joy will come and go. but whether things are good or bad, your eyes will always be on the one that’s leading you and they will take you through anything, even a constant feeling of being discontent. and disciples still mess up. they still abandon their leader and misunderstand his meaning and doubt his words.

but they always come back to him. i think that’s maybe why i can’t sleep tonight. so i think i might let God try leading for a while and quit pretending i know where i’m going. i’m thinking my discontent might fade into the background.

i have lots of friends who are christians, probably reading this and saying ‘preach it, brother!’ i have lots of friends that aren’t christians that will shrug this off as crazy old blair, but know my heart enough to understand where i’m coming from. but i have other friends to whom i have misrepresented Jesus because of my fear and stubbornness. friends that will read this and be shocked that i would be thinking something like this. and so i want to say sorry to those that might read this and think i’m full or it. you are right…i am full of it. i have been for a long time. and i hope to change that. sorry for showing you a false picture of who i am. hopefully this makes sense tomorrow morning. much love.



when i was hungry…you lectured me about my work ethic
January 27, 2010, 8:52 pm
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isn’t that how that verse goes?

i’m reading a devotional right now. i’m not much of a devotional guy. most of them just try to re-affirm that we are right in what we believe so we can go to sleep with a warm fuzzy feeling, knowing we are right. i’ve been wondering about that idea lately, about being right, and how important it is, or whether its all that important. because you can be right…yet so wrong at the same time.

the devotional i’m reading is about a guy and his friend who decided to live homeless for 5 months as a social experiment to see how it felt to live that way and to have people treat you that way. and for the most part, they were treated like dirt. kicked off property and out of buildings. they write about their experience, and try to encourage christians to actually live out the teachings of scripture. what a novel idea…to follow with our heart the things we know in our head. i have no idea what it means to be homeless. the closest experience i’ve ever had would be when i went on tour with MEANS in the summer of 2005. none of us had lots of money. we were a small band, so there were no contracts or money guarantees at each show. so most of our money was poured into food and gas. we depended on the kindness of teenagers at shows who would call their parents and ask if some strangers could sleep at their house. we depended on the kindness of friends of friends, who often took us in with little to no questions asked and treated us like gold. there were a few nights we slept in the van. one memorable night, matty g. decided to sleep outside in the grass with his sleeping bag. we were in some random parking lot, and were too tired to check our surroundings. i woke up early and went to Tim Hortons. i came back to see a policeman pulling up to the van. he asked questions, like “why is that guy sleeping next to a dumpster beside a daycare?” it was then i realized our surroundings, and thought maybe it would be a little scary for a toddler to see homeless guys sleeping in a van next to a dumpster. there was about a week out of that month where we either drove through the night, or simply slept in the van. it was hard. you don’t sleep well. you get grumpy. at least i did. the kindness of strangers means the world to you. but i don’t mean to compare ourselves to those fighting homelessness. because we were far from it. at any time, we could have called our parents, and they could have rescued us. not to mention our thousands of dollars worth of musical instruments in our possession. we were still rich even when we were poor.

the most memorable night came about halfway through our time on the road. i remember being fed up. i was tired, we had no place to go, no shows for a few days, and it felt like i would never be home. it was a sunday night, so i decided to seek out a church. so i walked until i found one that was open. i went and sat down. it was just any old church. nothing too exciting. but having not been to church in a while, and being someone that was hoping to find a place to sleep, i thought it would be a good place to be. i went and got the guys and we went back. matt and i sat in the service. it ended soon after we arrived. we just sat for a bit, unsure of who to approach. at this point, we looked pretty homeless, even though we weren’t. a lack of showers/clean clothes/long greasy hair can make you look that way. few people talked to us. finally, a guy in front of us acknowledged our presence and asked what we were about. we told him our story. a christian band from out west looking for a place to sleep. i hoped we had hit the jackpot. i hoped we would have someplace to sleep for at least a night or if we were lucky, two. he smiled at us, and made small talk for a bit, almost as if he dodged the obvious. when it came up again with another person who had joined us, the awkwardness really set in. the first gentleman was at least honest with us. maybe a little too honest with us, but at least he was honest. apparently, the building next to the church was theirs also. it was full of couches, as they were in the process of setting up a youth center. but (that word that always comes after those too good to be true sentences) they didn’t know us, so they couldn’t trust us to stay there. i would have been less angry had they not mentioned the empty building full of couches next door…i could have understood them not wanting us to stay at their homes…but it felt like a slap in the face. they gave us $20, prayed over us, and walked away. we walked away with our $20 unsure what to do. a few moments later, we got a phone call from a friend of a friend who said he called his friends mom, and she said we could stay there. she was a sweet lady. she set out bedding for us. made us breakfast in the morning. matt and i played in the slip n’ slide with her granddaughter. she was a saint.

i’m sure you can all (and by all, i mean the 2 people who read my blog) see where i’m going with this. the people who should have helped us kept us at a distance. the hospitality of a complete stranger showed Jesus more clearly than the church had. i was thinking about this experience this morning, and felt ashamed. because at the time, i was full of self-righteous indignation. i knew that i would have done better if the roles were reversed. but it’s 5 years later…and i’m not any better. i still go through my days being afraid of the uncomfortable. i still often drive past that person digging through the trash partly because i am in a hurry, but mostly because i am afraid. because to live the things we believe requires us to abandon our plans and fall in line with God’s. to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner and to shelter the homeless. i refuse to believe those were only suggestions. i believe they are commands. why is it that we see so few homeless people walk through the church’s doors? that is a rarity, unless of course the church is set up specifically to serve them, like the Good News Chapel and the amazing people who run it in Regina. those places are amazing, but why isn’t every church that open to serve those who are different? why are we afraid to welcome people into our buildings that aren’t like us? the problem is we must love God and love others enough that we aren’t doing it as a simple obligation. if our love is real, it will naturally flow out of us. i am working on that today. and i hope i can do better starting right now. because i like my life comfortable. but that’s not good enough if we are following God.