The Soul

Happy new year!

Last night I spent a good amount of time looking back at my journal and saw a few threads that ran through last year:

If 2011 was a year of risk-taking, then 2012, I’ve summed up, was a building year, a year to build a rhythm and establish a flow. It was a full year at Blurb, commuting back and forth from SF. Keeping up the same routine at Regen. Stephen Ministry on Mondays, Circuit training Tuesdays, Wednesday mornings with Jeff, home group on Thursdays, Saturday morning runs, Sundays with Betty. Routine and rhythm. It can be good for you.

Knowing who I am, building a flow can be something to settle into but the risk is that I can get too comfortable.  But I found myself up against the reality that your ideals often have a hard time matching up to your reality. So on a serious note, last year was also the first year that I felt like I was just… coasting. And it felt horrible, the thought and feeling that the kind of life I should have been living should be filled with more risk, more Jesus + his presence. I’m learning that I can oftentimes fall into routine and forget myself and why I’m here.

There was a season — I remember it well — last year when I sat down and wrote down everything I was feeling — frustration with my life, honest doubts about my purpose and my faith and a slew of questions for God or Jesus or whoever it was that was overseeing my life. Life in Christ is filled with joy, right? Then why wasn’t I feeling it? I was tempted to give it all up again.

The intersection of your faith and your daily life can disconnect sometimes, and things had derailed for a long time before I noticed it. The cynicism was subtle, but would crawl into things and inner dialogues. It would rebel against pat answers I saw people giving around me, or the cultural disconnects I’d see between the church and Real Life, and a broken world.

The burnout was palpable, but here’s the thing: it was something that I didn’t do anything about. I kept up the same routines, held the same smiles and had the same answers. But inside there was a gnawing question that reappears from time to time: what is real about my life? Where was that sense that the world is on the brink of something glorious that I felt so often when I was younger—when things had a surety about them, and answers were more black and white, and joy was real because you were laughing, too? What about the intersection of dirt & the divine, miracles I used to see, or evidence of the supernatural? Where does that stuff just go when you’ve lived without them for so long?

Talking to Jeff, I was reminded that the times I felt alive in Christ were the times I was taking risks. So a lot of last year was about asking myself — where am I going? Where are places I can grow and risks that I can take? And there were a few themes: living in Oakland, identifying with the broken, friendships and brothers, youth & community, silence & solitude.

To be honest, a lot of that has not materialized, and a lot of that were gushy ideas lacking structure and thought and a strong heart.

God, I want that for this year. I want more faith, more experiences of your grace. I want courage to fight for people I love and defend the things I believe in (and vice versa). I want to run toward conflict instead of away from it. I want a stronger, more compassionate heart, and I want to run with people that show that too. But I mainly want to sense your nearness and know you with the familiarity of a son.

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