Editor's Note: This blog is intended for people I haven't seen or kept up with in the last handful of years. While some of you may find this poignant or a tab bit abrasive, know that the spirit behind this post is actually full of love, grace, and learning. My future posts will be back to my usual self, which focuses more on life lessons and the joy of of meeting others - and how to leverage that to become a better person.
Hello. It’s me.
And it’s been a really, really…damn long time. Nearly three years ago, I packed up my bags and drove north up The Five. I quit writing and posting blogs. The Process, as I’m going to dub it here, included four major moves to 4 cities, a handful of couches made for surfing, and dozens (if not hundreds) of new acquaintances and memories. The culmination of my life prior to The Process and the subsequent events led to a climax of opportunity (or the perfect storm, depending on your judgmental-ness…er, moral compass).
THIS past December I arrived “home” for Christmas (my first Christmas in the Pacific Northwest since 2012), and many people had (or still have) no idea where I am, what I’m doing…or even who I am. The wild child, the prodigal son, the successful one, the student, the mysterious rebel without a cause who talks with bravado and disappears for years on end – I heard it all. Most accurate, yet none conclusive. This left me alone many nights, drinking whiskey on ends wondering, “How did I get here, and where the hell am I going?”
For the first time, I was on the outside, looking in, staring at the same judgmental eyes that I had been freely shooting at everyone else.
WHEN I left Biola University in 2013, I was struggling to reel in everything I had been given; I didn’t know where I stood on the morality of life because I hadn’t experienced a damn thing. There were “foundational” beliefs swimming in my head, usually boiling down to a simple equation: does this feel this right or wrong, and does that lead to guilt or joy.
Yet I had zero idea of what dictated right or wrong. I had this ultimate question of does Jesus (or the Bible) (or the church/Church) really say that? Due to a circumstances that nearly resulted in legal action (don’t ever try to sign my name to something I didn’t write – thanks Biola!) I was – for the first time – one of those Christians given the burn notice. For the first time, I was on the outside, looking in, staring at the same judgmental eyes that I had been freely shooting at everyone else.
Being on the outside of the community you spent 23 years being a part of sends you through the five stages of grief. Yet, in the end, I found it ultimately freeing. I was lucky (and cursed) to join Teach for America Detroit. After flaming out, I went to a major mortgage lending company in Cleveland. That led to meeting individuals who pointed me to graduate school, where I’m a pursuing my M.S. in Applied Intelligence.
The last 2.5 years have been full of some incredible highs: rooftop bars, courtside seats, traveling outside the US of A, and partying in some of the coolest cities in America (here’s looking to you Vegas, Nashville, and NYC). I did things I never did before, I reinforced things I’m good at, and attempted to become decent at the things I’m shitty at. I bought a new car (Hey, hey, hey, living like we’re Renegades). I’ve drank a lot, both whiskey and coffee.
There have been incredible lows too – sitting on my floor, unemployed, wrestling with the deaths of four family members and a buddy I grew up with. The grapple between nostalgia and agnosticism, pain and emptiness, doubt and anger was far too real. It’s real for many of you. And that’s OK. I hope that this blog helps you accept that. SIDENOTE: If there was (is) an album that captures the “feelings” (more so than ideologies) of my state, it’s Halsey’s Badlands.
That giving love, feeling love…there’s something to that.
EVERYTHING that I went through: the highs, lows, the learning, the growing, the mistakes, the deaths…none of it felt like I was taught it should feel. “DON’T DO THAT! THE BIBLE SAYS SO!” …but wait, does it? “DON’T DRINK THAT/DATE HER/GO THERE/BE HIS FRIEND BECAUSE IT’S NOT WHAT CHRISTIANS ARE SUPPOSED TO DO!”…but is it?
What I learned from the last 2.5 years is that I needed – and need – to make decisions based on personal beliefs that I’m still growing into. I’m learning that we don’t need to accept everything at face value from a spoon out of the pulpit. We can question – that’s healthy – and we can seek answers. This doesn’t come by reading someone else’s “how to do life based on AUTHOR’s interpretation” of the Bible. Those can help, but they can’t be our only digest. No, we need to pursue the truths of what we “believe” and then question them, test them, and figure out if the truth remains true (oh no, scientific method type talk, I’m really going to hell now).
FINALLY, there is a quote I’ve sat with and now adopted from John Mayer on his “Where the Light Is: Live in Los Angeles” album. He says, “I’ve done everything in my life that I’ve wanted to do except just give and feel love for my living. […] So, I’m gonna experiment with this love-thing. Giving love, feeling love. I know it sounds really corny but it’s the last thing I got to check out before I check out.”
I live in Erie, PA now. Erie is the smallest city I’ve ever lived in. It’s two hours away from the nearest (major) airports. I can go months without driving on the freeway (think about that). There’s one Target, a few Walmarts, and a handful of Starbucks. A lot of local businesses. This is the kind of place I would hate – but I love being here. It’s the first place where I have been myself from Day 0. I have let myself get to know others, spending time with them, working with them, doing life with them. I’ve let others get to know me. I’m my typical loud, somewhat obnoxious, try-to-be-witty, love-anthropologie-because-I’m-weird, self. What have I found out so far?
That giving love, feeling love…there’s something to that.
I'm a former Bible-school grad with a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Biblical Studies. I've lived in five cities in five states since 2009, and had a lot of adventures. I'm now searching for The Renaissance in all of us. You can learn more here.