I don't know if anyone can relate to this, but I am someone who gets really passionate about ideas and projects, and gets so many different things going that it is hard to finish (or stay consistent at) any of them. That's not to say that I can't finish a project - by God's grace I have many times. What I am saying is that without some form of external accountability, I am likely to jump from thing to thing rather than stay focused on something. This website is a great example of that. It has been a source of constant shame for me that I started this thing, paid money as an incentive to make me do it, and then have basically failed once again to follow through with it.
There are many reasons and justifications that I can drop for it. I am really good at rationalizing my behavior. School started back up and the first semester is always more overwhelming than I think it is going to be. I was finishing up TUMI (The Urban Ministry Institute) classes and helping run them. I was helping to get our Spiritual Growth Classes up and running at church. Not to mention moving twice and starting to prepare to be resource parents. Every week I would think about writing something - and every week I would find an excuse not to. And every week I would feel more guilty.
Then there was the second semester. I came back from break and I had a ton of ideas. Lisa and I had a new dog , and a whole bunch of stuff was in my brain. We were seeing some good movies and TV shows, playing some DnD and other video games, and school was draining but going well. We were in our final two classes for TUMI, we were jointly teaching a class at church, and I was full of ideas to write. And yet, every time I sat down to write, I found an excuse not to and walked away guilty.
Finally, we got to go on our trip to Hawaii with our friends. This was my first vacation with friends and not family, this was my first time to Hawaii, and it was a break that I NEEDED. My mind, heart, soul, and spirit were tapped out and dry, and I had been dying to just get away for months. The trip was exactly what I needed and while I was there I actually wrote things. Not here, but on paper. And I was full of energy to come back, and jump back into this with a whole list of ideas to talk about and connections to make. And the day we landed the WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. And all my plans about writing about lazy rivers and sunsets and miscommunications seemed stupid and pedantic. It seemed like all that I had to offer in that moment didn't fit the moment. So I put off writing some more, allowed the guilt to grow, and moved into the social distancing life.
Now, I'm sure this is an utter surprise, but I basically love being alone. A week into the working from home stuff, I found that I really liked it. Two weeks in, I was enjoying being able to have my snake and dog around all day long. Three weeks in I was honestly thinking that if I wasn't married, I could easily be a hermit. I had time, I still had thoughts, and was really coming to grips with a lot of things in my heart, my mind, and my walk with God that needed to be addressed. I kept thinking about writing. So I would open the website up to write and nothing would come out. So, the guilt would grow, and the feeling of failure would deepen. If I couldn't write during this time, when would I ever? It's not like time was the issue anymore. It's not like there wasn't plenty of things going on in the world to talk about.
But that was the problem (excuse). There were too many truly serious and terrible things going on in the world. People are still getting sick and dying in droves. People are out of work and struggling to feed their families. Students are missing out on significant milestones. Families are isolated and lonely. People are demanding their conveniences be given to them rather than sacrificially limit themselves for the sake of the most vulnerable in our society. People are buying into conspiracy theories rather than listen to facts and evidence. People are protesting for their "rights" rather than lay their lives down for others. And racial, economic, and gender injustice still plagues our country. In the midst of all of that, what could I write about that wouldn't be pointless and stupid? And to top it all off, isn't that what people like me were offering anyway? Stay home and produce content? The sheer volume of Christian content being produced is staggering. Every church I look at is trying to make sure that people feel connected, and in so doing are producing soooo much content. What could I do but add to the noise? And so I step aside, and do other things.
Then today I was convicted by the fact that my reasons are merely justifications to make myself feel okay about sin. What is my sin? Faithlessness. It's easy for me to rationalize and justify all the reasons why I didn't do a thing, or why I let a thing go, or why it's just not right or time. And who knows, many times things do need to die. Not everyone should be a writer. Not everyone should be an artist. Not everyone should be an engineer. We are fearfully, wonderfully, and masterfully designed by God so that we do not need to be everything. Nor should we aspire to be. We should aspire to do the good works that God has prepared in advance for us to do. When we are struggling to do the works of someone else, we are depriving the world of the good God created us to do. When we give in to jealousy and envy, we rob ourselves and our world of joy and beauty. There needs to be an honest accounting of whether we are good at something or not. If not, it is best to let it go and focus our efforts where we can be most effective. But that kind of accounting can only be done when we have given the honest, faithful effort. If I exercise once and don't see any change in my health, it isn't because I am not good at exercise, it's because some things take time and effort to establish. I bounce from thing to thing and cover myself in the excuse that something did not come easily so I wasn't good at it. That's not wisdom, that's a lack of perseverance. And the best intentions in the world mean nothing without faithfulness and perseverance backing them up to be something real.
I don't know if this story or these thoughts will be of help to anyone other than me. And I am definitely not looking for any sympathy or comforting. What I am hoping for is that if you are someone like me, someone with good intentions and a lack of follow through, that you will be able to take a short-cut. I pray that you will come to God and ask yourself if your lack of follow through is really a lack of faithfulness, or if it is Him guiding you in a different path. It could be either, it could be neither, it could be both! I don't know. What I do know is that it was a longer journey for me than I would have liked it to be for me to realize which it was. Rationalizations do not justify disobedience. Faithfulness and perseverance are aspects of the character of God that His people need to embody. That doesn't mean we just always do the same things and stay in the same place and only have the same friends forever. But it does mean that when we set something aside, we need to be doing it for the right reasons - and that should be accompanied by peace (even in the midst of pain), not guilt.
This may be the last blog post I make. The renewal fees on this site are coming up and I don't know if it is worth another investment. What I do know that that it has been a wonderful vehicle for me to explore things that I love, and for me to explore the parts of me I actually like. I hope that if you have read anything here that it has been a tool for you to explore the goodness and bounty of the Creator and His Creation. Our world is a beautiful thing. It is a work of art. And just because it has been broken, does not mean it is not still wonderful and beautiful. It is in the healing and in the redemption, and in the restoration that we see a power evil. It is easy to destroy, it is hard to repair, it is miraculous to restore. And that is the powerful work of God in this world. That is the glory of the cruciform life. That is the challenge of walking in the Gospel. I don't know about you, but I have the intention to follow Christ, whatever that means and wherever that leads. I want to be like Jesus in the Garden, ever saying not my will be done, but yours. I want to be like Paul who will boast in nothing but Christ and Him crucified. I want to be like Dave Rutledge who always looks for the better way, because he is desperate to offer to God his best. And I want to be like my wife, who continually fights the never-ending struggle against her own mind and heart in order to reach out to other people and try to show them love, because she knows it is what God wants her to do, even when everything inside of her just wants to respond with judgment and vengeance. I have the best intentions of moving on from here and growing in faithfulness and perseverance. I pray that this day, it will be more than intentions. And I pray the same for you.