Looking Back: One Thing Remains

Looking Back is a series of posts that reflect on my first semester of college.

Whether it’s down the street or 869 miles down I-35, transition is tough. Looking back, I realize why people say the first semester is the toughest. It’s in between.  It’s uncomfortable and insecure. And every day that you’re in this flux, a choice is made. Am I going to take my insecurities and my homesickness to God or am I going to get back into the life boat?

The life boat is a metaphor Donald Miller uses to describe the human condition. The premise is this: it is our natural instinct for humans to obsessively compare ourselves to each other. It’s as if we are in a sinking life boat and we all are desperately trying to plead our case for why we are better than the next guy. We try to plead our case for why we belong and why we matter but stacking ourselves up against the person next to us.

I wrote this in my journal during a vulnerable moment this semester

8/17/12

I feel like I’m back in the lifeboat. I find myself comparing myself to others, feeling like I don’t have what it takes, and caring too much about what people think of me…I just want to love others and know that Christ is sufficient for me.

Christ is sufficient for me. That’s why the song in the video above was my anthem for the semester. That’s why I wept yesterday when we sang it in church. His love never fails. Comparing myself to the guy next to me, finding my worth in what Billy or Suzy or Professor X or Y thinks of me, that fails. Resting in God’s love, knowing that it never fails or never gives up or never runs out on me, that’s what I want to choose to do every day.

On the eve of Christmas, it should be easier. It should be easier to stay off the lifeboat. Every carol, every gift you give or receive, it serves as a reminder of the person of Jesus Christ:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!  Philippians 2:6-8

Christmas is when we celebrate the beginning of the best love story of all time. Join me in worshipping the very image of love, Jesus Christ, as we celebrate His birth. Let us be so enamored by His crazy love that we don’t need the lifeboat anymore.

Looking Back: Express Yourself

This is another post in the Looking Back series which reflects on a lesson-filled first semester of college. 

There’s nothing wrong with being typical, I guess, but theres is nothing fundamentally right about it either. – Bob Goff

My roommate Nate and I went on one date this semester. Well, that’s if you ask me. Nate refers to it as a forced hangout. Anyways, Nate and I pulled up to pick up Jamie and her friend Emily. A little back story on how we were in this situation, Jamie worked part-time at the dining hall and I saw Nate talking to her one night. This was notable because he ordinarily ignores that entire species although I’m convinced he’s just playing hard to get.

After seeing that, my friend Jared and I realized that we HAD to get Nate on a date with her. I asked Nate if he wanted to go on a double date with me and Jamie and Jamie’s friend Emily. He replied with an adamant “no.” I then immediately went up there and asked Jamie if her and Emily would want to go on a double date. Nate sometimes needs a little prodding with these things.

Anyways, four days later on a Monday night, we pulled up outside their apartment. Nate and I knew that this was just a low-key thing, and we had decided to be ourselves, meaning be as goofy as possible. We had placed our finest room decoration, a canvassed painting of a spanish conquistador named Pierre Jean Louis in the middle of the back seat. When they got in, we asked if they minded Pierre coming along. “He doesn’t get out of the room much, since, well, you know, he’s a painting,” Nate said.

I cranked up the song Express Yourself by Charles Wright on the stereo. The last minute and a half of that song is Charles just improvising; yelling, screaming, repeating meaningless phrases. Nate and I joined him on that section. Around the minute mark, I think Jamie and Emily joined in. We were quite a crew when we pulled up at U-swirl and brought Pierre Jean Louis in to find a seat.

We sampled just about every flavor and filled the nearly empty restaurant with laughter for nearly an hour. Nate told a ten minute  long joke about someone’s first date and then forgot the punchline. It was probably better that way, though. Then Emily told the most horrific first date story I’ve ever heard(by horrific I mean hilarious). It had something to do with his fly being down the whole time and her head being on his shoulder when he realized it and somehow her hair got caught in there when he zipped it up. It ended with the theatre manager coming in with scissors.

Anyways, we had a blast that night, like we do most nights, because we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We aren’t typical. The script for the night is usually to go wherever with whoever and be weird, wacky, and contagiously joyful and loving.  I don’t know when it became the fad to strive to be just like everyone else around you, but conformity is big in our world today.

My buddies and I, we don’t want to be typical. We don’t need to compare ourselves to the person next to us and find our validation or self-worth through that. We want to express ourselves like Charles Wright does at the end of his song, screaming, yelling, bellowing, and laughing.

I’ve never read in Genesis that God created “typical” and called it good. Instead, I think men who were bored made up typical and called it, if not good, at least acceptable. People who follow Jesus, though, are no longer typical…Jesus lets us be real with our life and our faith. Maybe my BB gun doesn’t shoot as far as the next guy’s  but it doesn’t matter to me anymore. What Jesus said we could do was leave typical behind. We could leave all of the comparisons and all of the trappings and all of the pretending of religion. – Bob Goff