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Too Good To Be True

“It seemed too good to be true. That’s grace.” - Judah Smith

In the last twelve months, I’ve spoken, written, and learned more about grace and mercy than the previous 25 combined years of my life. For a long time, I think I confused the two for being essentially the same. Today I would like to purpose to you the simplest, truest definition I’ve found for both that has cleared it up for me.

Now why focus so much on grace and mercy? Because I have seem first hand the power of both in my life. I would be neither who, nor where I am today if God and so many others had not shown me copious amounts of grace and mercy. Not to mention how I’ve seen it impact my father’s life when I had the opportunity to show him that same grace and mercy I have been given. These lead to forgiveness, and being able to forgive is the greatest give you can give yourself. No matter the situation.

Maybe you’ve been hurt emotionally by someone. Maybe you were physically/sexually/verbally abused by someone. Maybe you were abandoned as a child. All of these situations are things you can’t control, but are all opportunities for you to choose grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

Ghandi said that forgiveness is an attribute of the strong. I know this first hand to be true. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, but it’s much easier to do something angry than it is to do it afraid, and it’s nearly impossibly to forgive out of anger. It’s rare that someone bestows mercy towards someone they are also angry with. Allow yourself to give into vulnerability, into the strength of forgiveness.

The way I see it, mercy and grace- not fair at all. Forgiveness on the other hand is just. I can choose to forgive just about anyone because of the forgiveness I’ve been shown. It’s only fair that I not withhold that from another person. I say all this to put forth this simple definition:

Grace is getting what you do not deserve.

Mercy is NOT getting what you DO deserve.

Perhaps that’s too simplistic a viewpoint on two such great endeavors that I think we all wrestle with. But, I’ve been known to have quite simplistic views on most things; life, love, the gospel, politics… I’m interested to see what you think though. What do grace//mercy mean to you?

Real Magic

"Art is magic delivered from the lie of being truth." - Theodor Adorno

    Do you believe in magic? My friend Jared asked me that this week. My immediate response was, "Of course!" He seemed slightly taken aback by that, asking, "Wait, for real?" Once I explained what I meant, I think he understood.

    As a child, I was always into traditional magic. Dai Vernon, Harry Houdini, David Blaine, Penn & Teller, and so on. Even as an adult, I find myself watching highlights of Penn & Teller's "Fool Us" show more often than I would like to admit. I've seen every performance of Ricky Jay that exists, but that's not the magic I believe in. 

    Real magic, to me, is standing inside of the century's old Cathedral Basilica in Mazatlan. It's basking in the immensity of the ocean while standing on the shore, knowing that for hundreds of years, no one knew this land existed. Real magic is the sound of a Hammond B3 organ. It's the feeling I get when I hear Beyoncé's key changes in Love On Top. It's a museum of ancient paintings. It's the nostalgia of watching 90's era Disney movies. It's the sound of applause from the cast and crew on a film set after hearing "that's a wrap." Real magic is moving a thousand miles away from home, and finding community you never thought possible. It's a first kiss, a last goodbye, and a new life-long friend. 

    I believe life is full of "real magic", but too often we're thrown by the world's misdirection. Do yourself a favor, and stop trying to figure out how the trick is done. Instead, take a moment to live in the mystery; because that's where you'll find real magic.

    What is real magic to you?

Home

"Home is where one starts." - T. S. Eliot

    I wanted to take a break today and talk not about how I'm feeling, but what I'm doing. Side note: how you're feeling is not how you're doing. Don't get tricked into being led through life by your emotions.

    Okay... Where were we? Ahh yes. The idea of home. So last night, I went to dinner with some of the greatest people I know. They're intelligent, creative, hard-working, and kind. 

    This isn't to disparage any friends I've made over my 25 years here on this flat earth, but in the last 5 years, I've met the people who would become the biggest influences in my life. People who would open me up in way is didn't think possible. I am so lucky to get to do life with people whom I love dearly. I don't know if you know what it's like to call your friend on the phone to congratulate him on his son walking for the first time because you teared up watching the video on Instagram. It's incredible.

    I don't know where life will take me. I don't know where life will take you. My advice, however, is this: be all in. You may be where you are for two more days, or twenty more years, but for whatever length this season is, be all-in. I'd never made connections like this before, because I was discontent and always looking for the next thing; always looking for a way out. But the moment you decide "this is where I am", that can change your life!

    People will surprise you if you let them in. The community in which I've found myself, the friends that I've let in to see all my blind spots, these are the people with whom I want to go into my next season of life.

    These are the people I call home.

3 Thoughts on Vulnerability...

"Vulnerability is the glue that holds relationships together." - Brene Brown

    Let's be honest. No one wants to hear about vulnerability from anyone who isn't Brene Brown. That's fair. But if you would, humor me and read a few brief things I've felt are worth sharing. Also, not only feel free to, but please comment on this and let me know your thoughts on vulnerability. I really want this blog to become a conversation.

 

1. We All Have Blind Spots

    Being vulnerable doesn't (for me personally) mean sharing every detail of your life with everyone you meet. I can be a pretty closed-off person, and I am very selective of the people I let into my "circle". The problem I found was that I wasn't being open, or vulnerable, with even those few. At some point, you'll have to recognize that the people you've chosen to surround yourself with have your back. If you don't have people that you can be real with, then you don't have good friends. It's that simple. I've been discovering more and more the importance of community and it's changing my life for the better. 

    When you have people in your corner who want the best for you and want to see you succeed, they'll speak into your life and make you aware of things that you otherwise would miss. Since letting people in, I've found that I'm more willing to fight for myself. If all you do is ignore how you feel, good, bad or indifferent, you'll never see you own worth and value. Sometimes it takes a bird's eye view from someone else to see what you've been missing all along.

 

2. Let The Light In

    I've been more vulnerable and have had more difficult, yet necessary, conversations in the last two months than ever before in my life. I rather dislike confrontation and have managed to avoid it for most of my life. The problem is that avoiding something doesn't make it go away. It most certainly doesn't resolve anything. For a long time, I held this belief that time heals all wounds. Unfortunately that isn't true. If left untreated, time will only cause a wound to fester and become far worse than it was to begin with. What heals wounds is light and air. I feel like this is best summarized by John Green in his book Paper Towns...                                                             

"When did we see each other face to face? Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours. Before that we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade, but never seeing inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out."             

    Of course it's uncomfortable, but so is never being able to be a whole person. I've learned the hard way not to shove down your emotions. Eventually it builds up and becomes fear and discouragement and animosity and pain. So do yourself and everyone around you a favor and allow trusted people to see you. I mean really see you.

 

3. Vulnerability Is Not Weakness

    This is something I've wrestled with for a long time. I grew up with a mother who cared too much, and a step-dad who didn't care enough. What I witnessed from a young age is that when you care, when you're vulnerable, you allow yourself to be hurt. You open yourself up to disappointment. You open yourself up to heart-break. By age 10, I'd seen my mother weep more times than I could count. I think subconsciously, I'd begun to close myself off to people because I didn't want to be hurt. What I've come to realize, is that if you close yourself off to other people, eventually you'll begin closing yourself off to your own self. This is such a dangerous place to be.  Sure, you avoid being hurt, but you'll eventually avoid being cared for as well. You have to decide if it's worth it.

    I feel like I'm in a place now that I'm able to talk openly about how I'm feeling with people. Not a lot of people, but ones who I know truly care. This certainly has not made me a weak person. In fact, I've never felt like a stronger, more wholesome person. Vulnerability is not for the weak, it's for the humble. it's for people who come to a crossroads and say, "This isn't working. I can't do this on my own." My hope is that you are able to find community with people who are willing to fight for you, and who will challenge you to fight for yourself.

 

    Below is a section for comments. I'm curious to know your personal journey involving vulnerability. You can comment anonymously if you'd like. Just know that I am for you, and I am here for you. We can let the light in together.