I know that change is hard. I also know that this fact is not news to anyone. How one deals with change, however, can drastically modify how they move forward after life-changing events. The first step in my change path was the realization that every day holds the possibility of a life-changing event and even small details can change the course of a day, a week, or a lifetime.

For me, I think it is time for a change. I got back from Italy, rested and ready for new challenges, hoping for a fresh look at everything around me: work, home, etc. Some changes in these areas are easy. Lexi and I want to rearrange our bedroom, we want to rethink our artwork, we want to take better care of the house and do so in more realistic timeframes than the old we’ll get to that later” adage. Others of these changes are hard. I want to try to challenge myself in new ways, I want to spend more time doing things about which I am passionate, I want to be more purposeful in deciding how my time is spent, and I want to stop being so worried about the future. These changes are what I like to call habit-breakers.

I am a nail-biter, almost by trade. I have been biting my nails since middle school or just before and I could never quite figure out why. It is probably because I am a chronic worrier. I worry about everything and in addition to everything, I am a perfectionist, so I worry some more. In other words, I bit (note the past tense) my nails for two reasons: 

  1. I am stressed or worried about something (anything).
  2. Once I start ruining a nail, I have to get it to a point where I don’t mind how it looks.

As one can see, this is a vicious cycle and often ends with nails that are too short for me to do anything but wait for a new canvas to fail to paint well.

What I realized shortly after my return from a relaxing vacation, traveling around beautiful parts of the world, was the fact that my habit-breakers are in fact part of a larger whole. For instance, if I decide to make a difficult change to affect all other changes, it should be in the not-worrying arena. I personally need to sit back and realize that I am very often (if not always) not in control and as a generally religious person, I have to believe that there are greater things at work that will take care of those things that are not within my control. Also, if I have trouble with worry now, how will I ever function as a parent or expect to survive in higher-stress working environments.

Currently, I have little to no stress at my job. Funny enough, it is often one of the things that I complain about most because I equate low-stress to boredom and a lack of responsibility. But what makes the difference is the feeling of lacking a purpose. When I don’t feel purposeful, I am not fulfilled and when I am not fulfilled, I become a less likable person, something about which I care a great deal. Something’s gotta give in this respect. I need to find new and innovative ways to challenge myself or else my brain will atrophy and since my place of employment doesn’t seem to have any intention of giving me more responsibility, the challenges and innovations must come in other ways. But I have already begun the change of not sitting stagnant waiting for others to provide for my own fulfillment.

As I work to change what I can, I intend to document the steps that I have taken or plan to take and the results to how I feel. If I quit my job, I’ll document that. If other life-changing events occur, I will discuss them. I continue to be amazed how writing things down here has helped with my information overload. And as I recently discussed with a good friend, thinking through things and talking things out helps in unforeseen ways.

In the end (the moral of the story, as it were) is this: what I can control, I should change and what I cannot control, I should pray that I, myself, change to better deal with the situation. I will say this, however, things will change and I will work to make sure that no matter what, I see those changes in a different light, one that is positive and looking forward, instead of regretting the past or fearing the future.

Read, Think, Share, Repeat

The Challenges of 2020

TL;DR: Follow this link.

One of the craziest things about Christianity during the protests of the last few weeks is the fact that there are churches out there not discussing the issues honestly, not taking the time to have the hard conversations, not devoting their Sunday services to betterment of the world and people around them. If you’re church isn’t talking about racism right now, if they don’t mention that black lives matter, instead focusing on platitudes that equate to the all lives matter” sentiment, it is time to start looking for a new church.

My wife and I meet with my home” church virtually via Zoom since the pandemic is still a thing. Kimball Avenue United Church of Christ & La Iglesia Episcopal de Nuestra Señora de las Américas (KANSA, together) combined in a collaborative way to create a single denomination focused on the needs of their community. They follow Christ together toward the vision of love, reconciliation, peace and justice. The justice looks like the demolition and rehabilitation of an old church building and its grounds into a community garden and labyrinth open to all who seek peace through contemplation.

I give this elevator speech to mention that COVID has not been kind to faith communities in general. Budgets have been slashed, funding and grants have been cut, and congregations in need are also working to serve those in need, who are less likely to be able to financially support their church in these times. KANSA in one of the good ones. They speak truth, they have the difficult conversations, they preach in a loud voice every Sunday that black lives matter, that racism has no place in the church, that the LGBTQ community deserves respect and support, and that Jesus was a social justice warrior, who fought for the least of these no matter who they were, where they were from, what they looked like.

In fact, Jesus was most harsh to those who had the means to help and decided not to answer the call.

These systems of oppression we are protesting have been around a long time; they have screwed up a lot of lives, they have been the reason for revolution and the downfall of entire civilizations, they don’t work. We need to find a better way to live by supporting each other. And support has to come in systemic, social, financial, and political ways, both national and local.

I am not local to KANSA anymore, but I support their mission, the way that mission manifests in the world, and the simple fact that they follow Jesus no matter how ostracizing that position can be at times. Which brings me to the point:

Thanks to a $10,000 matching gift’ from an anonymous donor, the challenge has become an opportunity. Over the next two months, we plan to raise at least $10,000 to meet the challenge. Through August 31, 2020, every donation we receive toward our 2020 Challenge” no matter how small or how large will be doubled by the matching gift.

KANSA is hurting financially and needs support, they do good work and are unabashedly progressive in their approach to our world. Donate now and see your contribution matched to keep one of the good ones fighting the good fight.

Thank you for your consideration.