Camper is moved for the winter. Weekend run was a success. Laundry is finished. Dishes are washed. Lessons are planned for the week. Bonus: fever has finally broken.
Camper is moved for the winter. Weekend run was a success. Laundry is finished. Dishes are washed. Lessons are planned for the week. Bonus: fever has finally broken.
Between passes of chips amongst the tables, around the salted rims of margaritas, and underneath the bowls of salsa was found laughter, humor, and smiles abroad.
Over 20 people; from different walks of life, lined the tables for a feast and an evening of company. Work, family, politics, all major themes were in play through the monthly dinner at the local eatery.
People spoke of future adventures, heckled each other for being ‘too hurt to run’, and inquired with newcomers on which wind blew them towards this strange, close crew.
A refill of water, a new plate of chips; the night passed on for the tiresome group. As the night began to settle, the laughter transitioned into final farewells;.knowing that they would see each other once all too soon. Bringing the evening to a close.
It’s true to what many say about the lines of family and friends easily being blurred. I’m fortunate, blessed to be surrounded so frequently of this unique hybrid that leaves my heart full and content.
I have always been interested in the unique word sojourner. To understand what the word, not necessarily the historical name, actually means takes a bit of research and some creativity. Even in the Bible. a few translations make reference to being a sojourner throughout the land. Slowly but surely I’m beginning to have a better understanding of what this word means, and how it applies to me.
Perhaps, I should begin by offering a heart-felt apology to so many people. I feel guilt. Shame. Abandonment even. It may not necessarily make sense at the moment, but please believe me when I state my aim is not to create hate, but instead confess my own confusion.
I do not understand this world.
I do not understand this society.
I do not understand the people.
While not impossible, I do firmly question how hard it is to be a Christian within the society that I currently dwell in. Maybe that is too broad of a statement and/or question. Perhaps I have not tried hard enough to emphasize my thoughts, God’s will, or Biblical interpretations in relation to last weeks election.
*crowd throws tomatoes*
I am sorry. This is where my heart hurts. I see one side of people thrilled about an elected leader who is going to ‘change the status quo in Washington’. I see another side that is full of fear, sadness, and anger. I’m stuck in the middle because I feel sadness for both sides. I cannot look at any person, any group of people, and suddenly feel threatened by their power. God is a lot bigger then what we measly humans can conjure up. That realization, that fact, that truth is what I hold onto on a daily basis. In fact, literally this is something I carry on me in the form of in on my left shoulder:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
I did not get a tattoo just because I wanted one. I received one because I wanted that reminder with me. Originally, I thought it would serve as a reminder of what God has done to protect me coming out of a horrific divorce. However, five years past those tragic days I see that God’s message holds true in many uncertain events.
Reality is understanding that bad things will always plague this world. We have done this to ourselves. History demonstrates that to us on a daily basis. We will always have leaders that strike fear throughout the masses, and there will always be groups of people trying to rewrite the laws of society. This is not a situation within just the United States, this is a situation that resides within the global community.
I have watched friends, colleagues, people of faith, and people without, tear at each other for the past seven days. I tiptoe around every conversation I can, barely giving recognition to the results of the previous week. Why? Because I’m not spiritually swayed one way or another, there is no line for me. I follow the government as instructed, and I follow the God that created all of it. I try to keep my regulations and rules to a minimum, and simplify thoughts so that I do not become lost within ‘red tape’.
However, the problem with the information stated above is that it does not sit well with anyone within society anymore. I can say the things above because I am “a middle class, white, male who owns personal property”. I’m ‘entitled’ to live life risk free because of elements that I cannot control within my own identity. With that said, if I do choose to take a side, most likely either viewpoint will immediately conflict within the Biblical principles that I am to hold myself accountable to. I can gain the whole world, but in turn I can also lose my soul.
I feel like a wanderer, a person without a home. I feel the urge to apologize to every person I come across since last week because there is not a camp that I fall into. I don’t understand how Christian’s can take such polarizing stances on any specific political topic inside our society. So much of everything conflicts with the governing nature of God, Himself. I know what Christ said about government, I know what God warned about in relation to government, and I know that the direction is at all times to trust God, love like Christ, and endure the world that I currently live in.
Currently, I am not mad, angry, or frustrated with any group of people within the United States. Extremists, political groups, advocates, social media stalkers, etc…I’m sad because inside my soul; I can tell I do not belong. I feel isolated and alone because I did not take a side*, pick a camp, or reside with specific people that have the same political views. I chose none of it because none of it made sense compared to the teachings that I have immersed myself in. I do not need Church leaders to tell me who to vote for, who to be afraid of, or when to panic. I need a body that is willing to focus on what and who is important and recognize that the kingdoms of this world with come and go. Only one will forever remain.
In conclusion; I am sorry that you do not find me with a safety pin, and I apologize that I do not join you in jokes about protestors, immigration, and racial charged groups of people. I apologize that I have very little share on social media, and my ‘political education’ appears to be turning up nothing of value for fuel of those looking.
I am sorry that this one time I will agree with former teachers, leaders, parents, and everyone else; I cannot resist but to go against the grain and not follow the standard norm. I am a sojourner; this is a land where I realize I will never belonged.
If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. John 15:19
*Note: As a citizen within this society, I would like to go on record of stating that I did vote within the election. Should be stated just as an act of clarification.
Do you or someone you know have a social media addiction problem? Great news! I have a solution for you.
Have the poor soul log onto Facebook. Have them read their newsfeed one hour per day; specifically after a major, political election.
Not only will they give up on humanity*, they will also give up Facebook. Also effective for Twitter.
With this patent pending method of psychological medical procedure you can get back to your busy life of work, taxes, and flat tires.
*antidepressants sold separately
There are so many reasons that I love the school that I am able to teach in on a daily basis. So many instructors are insanely creative, administration tends to be very supportive with the wild endeavors, and the students come from every, single walk of life. While it can be crazy at times, it is also a beautiful experience.
Friday demonstrated one of those moments.
I teach social studies in our school. I am teamed up with another social studies teacher who loves to push the limits of young minds. It is inspiring, motivating, and easy to follow along with. Our school, through her guidance, did take part in its own ‘mock election’ yesterday. Students voted on President/Vice-President, Governor, Senate, and House of Representatives for the respective area. All three grade levels voted, with literal booths borrowed from voting establishments, actual “I Voted” stickers, and a registration sheet for students to sign-in on at their arrival. All things considered, it was very professional and reflected strongly what a polling place looks like.
Personally though, it was not the event itself that truly made my heart swell, it was the remark of one specific student:
Our school is incredibly diverse; students come from all different backgrounds; ethnic, racial, religious, etc…A few weeks ago I received a new student, they were originally from a country located in Central America and had only been in the United States for aa few years. Her class was to vote at 12:20 PM on Friday, she came to see me around 10:30 AM and created a fascinating dialogue…
Student: Are we voting in class today?
Student: As in, we are going to select political officials?
Me: Yes. It is not real because you are not of voting age, but the simulation is real.
Student: So I get to choose someone?
Student: I can tell my family I voted?
Student: *tears in eyes* I actually get to do this? I can vote today? This is a real event that is going on in school? I’m so excited. I have heard of people doing this, but I do not know what it is like.
Me: You get to vote today.
Later in the day, after they voted, the student actual ran from their voting booth, exclaiming, tears running down from their chestnut colored eyes…rather loudly in the polling place…”I voted! I got to vote!”
Not as a teacher. Not a social scientist. Just as a citizen, I wish I could have bottled up that raw emotion, that passion, that unknown opportunity and distribute it out amongst the bitter masses that have polluted so much of sociological existence within our culture.
While I do frequently try to avoid topics about politics on here; I would at least challenge you to exist as a citizen with the heart of a 12 year old.
The interesting adventure that is known as teaching comes with many strange opportunities with the territory. Just from the past year and a half I have worked retail, coached, debated over anime characters, and also ensured that students were attempting to be successful in class.
I suppose it comes with the territory of teaching; you wear many hats.
A new path opened itself a few weeks ago, a student came to me wishing to know who was in charge of the debate club inside the school. I gave them the information and quickly ushered them out of my classroom prior to the bell ringing to start class.
The instructor from last year cannot do it this year because they are teaching college courses. They said you should do it.
Adding to my hat collection…
Honestly, this is rather exciting. After some work behind the scenes, countless pieces of advise from other instructors, and tapping into the debate network at our local high schools; last Thursday we actually had our first debate club meeting. Students have opportunities to digest current issues around the world, analyze the high school challenge topics for the year through the debate circuit, and even heading into the rest of the year perhaps an opportunity to challenge themselves against high school opponents.
I’m not 100% sure the entire direction of this program, but it is rather exciting, as a former competitor, to be able to give back to the community that gave so much to me.
Resolve: Middle school students should have the opportunity to expand their knowledge base on current events; articulating discussion points in order to persuade a panel that their path is the correct one.
Life continues to be a world of ‘firsts’ throughout the 2016 year. So much of it has revolved around running, friendships, and breaking away from the standard system that I had grown to accustomed to over the years. The truth is; I think I am growing, and at the least I am beginning to think on my own versus accepting a reality that has been preprogrammed into my soul.
Perhaps I will say the wrong thing, upset the balance of acceptance, or maybe just rub a reader the wrong way. I would apologize for such strange ideas, but in my life, that tends to just be the direction of which my heart flows.
I am happy and sad all in the same mindset and my soul struggled to comprehend such explicit emotions…
I had an interesting weekend. Darco and I traveled north to Omaha, Nebraska. We were traveling with a group of 14ish other people with the same task; run. My challenge was a 21 mile trail race Sunday morning. It did not go quite as planned. I finished, but I finished with a limp, a waddle, and nearly a crawl. My body gave out early and I truly struggled to finish the race. Afterwards, I was not in a good spot. My body hurt, my heart hurt, and the only thing I knew I did not want to do…was to run. That is how extreme the course was in my perspective.
After a rough night of trying to sleep, and lounging around in the classroom through the day, I decided to head back out to the trails Monday night. In celebration for Halloween, our running group had decided to have a ‘costume run’. Meaning, I was on a trail between a unicorn and a clown. I told myself, I told my wife, I told my mentor/coach that I was just walking for a mile. That was all I wanted to do, still slightly disgusted with myself on the day prior.
Something happened though; perhaps it was lacing the dirty, crusty shoes, or feeling the October evening breeze, or perhaps even just kicking up a little dirt, but even in my soreness I had to run. I started running, painfully, but I kept moving. It became fun, each step, each breath, each conversation with the people that I have grown to love. A mile and a half passed by and I finally stopped for a drink and to catch my breath. I felt better. I could discuss the chemical reasons and reactions for why I felt better, but honestly my heart felt better. Even walking the mile back down to the trailhead I sang to myself, walked in the dark, and just embraced the moment. I felt clean. I felt pure. I felt free of guilt and disappointment.
What a strange sensation.
Life taught me that being dipped in the water, raising your hands, and following the chords of a guitar was to bring about that feeling. Laying hands, eating crackers, and clapping to a 4/4 beat was to bring about joy. Ensuring that you were in your seat at 8:30 Sunday morning, not leaving the building until 7:00 PM Sunday night, plus Wednesday night from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM, that is what was to bring about glory and peace. Listening to speakers discuss fear and politics, and voting strategies because God doesn’t know what He’s doing was the norm to bring the mind under control.
I cannot be tied down anymore. I have to escape.
The biggest joy in my life is knowing that God is amazing, patient, and never gives up on me. It is so humbling, terrifying, and inspiring; it’s something that I do not deserve. It does not make sense, it is not scientific, and at last check it is not necessarily politically correct.
But it is mine, and mine alone, and my heart feels so light because of it. What a beautiful gift.
What a beautiful gift I almost lost. What a brilliant joy that I almost forgot. What a marvelous prize that I almost gave up.
I love God. I just can no longer stand the institution.
What I witnessed last night was the beautiful benefit of God’s love through the element of friendship. Friendship that is not tied to work, and not tied to the Church, but tied together with heartstrings. I could not walk into a church, complain about feeling down after a race, and expect to find grace. Instead the pain tends to get buried under budgets, and bureaucrats, and business transactions that illuminate stained glass like the office lights along Wall Street. I’ve searched, I tried, and I have torn my heart apart to find what is so wrong with me for the sake that I cannot seem to locate a building, an institution, a congregation that can put down the Facebook posts and ignore the campaign signs and just breathe life.
Likes, shares, and retweets aside…simply I ask, why did Christians choose to make being a Christian in this society so difficult?
Maybe shoes instead of pews could change a lot of lives.