Archive for March, 2015

The Story of Your Life

I recently read an article about a young woman who has spent the past six months backpacking solo around the world.  Her main bit of advice was to do what you want, and not do what everyone expects you to do.  Don’t go to all the places every traveler ‘should’ go, but do the things that make you happy.  This is the secret, her advice.

The secret is making your own story.

Through words.  Through actions.  Through love.

We make our own way through this world.  We are flawed.  We mess up.  We get lost.  But that is all part of the experience.  We fall, rise back up, and continue onwards, writing our own story.

Recently, I came across the band Black Veil Brides while on Pandora, and their song “In The End” stood out to me.  Listen to the lyrics and you’ll understand.

In the end
As you fade into the night
Who will tell the story of your life
And who will remember your last goodbye
Cause it’s the end and I’m not afraid
Not afraid to die

Who will tell your story?

It’s a question that we ask ourselves each and every day.  We ask if we are good enough to be remembered. If our actions will speak for themselves. If others will notice.  Who will share what we have experienced, what we have done, when we are no longer here to tell the story ourselves.

Some people write.  Others put it onto film.  Videos.  Photos.  Essays.  Paintings.  Music.  Expressions that are shared by hand, over the internet, by word of mouth.  We share parts of ourselves in the hopes of having our stories passed down,

In a sense, this is why I write.  This is why I share my thoughts and adventures with the world.  To be remembered.  To be an inspiration.  To light a spark in the darkness.

The hope is that we don’t have to do any of this.  The goal is to live a life so powerful that your actions, your story, is remembered by those who cross your path.  That others see how we live and it changes them.  That they are moved to follow in the same footsteps that we do.

The secret:  You have already made a difference.

Oh, I know what you are thinking:  I’m a nobody.  Nobody will remember me.  I’ve never made a difference.  I used to think the same way.  But I tell you, you are wrong.  If you have made one person smile, you have changed the world.  Your story is written on their lives.  You will be remembered.

They may never know your name.  They might not remember your face.  But they will always remember how you made them feel.  And this is how we share our stories.

This is the goal.

We may never know how far our story spreads, or who speaks of the things we have done, but it is written on the hearts and in the lives of those we have touched.  Good, bad, and the ugly.  Our story is written with every action (or inaction) and every spoken (and unspoken) word.

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Oh, the Stupid Things We Do

I’ve done some stupid things in this life.  And I regret none of them.  The most recent was placing a GoPro directly in the path of a falling tree.

You see, I’ve been gathering videos of members sawing, mainly for training purposes, but also because it is just really fun.  I set out this week to get some great shots of trees and snags coming down.  As I placed the camera on the ground each time, I told my teammates not to worry, I would not hold them responsible if they hit it.  I just never expected them to actually hit it.

Long story short, the camera got creamed by a tree.

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Well, the camera survived.  The casing on the other hand.  Well, that is a little brokened.  The lens cover is shattered.  The remaining casing is undamaged.  Maybe a little scratched, but unmarred.

At least it made a pretty sweet video.

Maybe one day I will grow up.  Until then, I will continue to do stupid things.

The Silence in the Night

I read an article recently that stated that the internet and social media were slowly killing us.  We, as a society, are loosing the battle against our humanity.  We no longer interact with one another, but through a computer screen.  We don’t know how to relate to one another.  Have a conversation like we used to.  We live digital lives that are killing us.

We don’t see one another any more.  We don’t see the struggles and the pain of living.  Our walls and boards and posts are filled with highlights, while we hide the darkness of life from prying eyes.  Nobody knows our struggles because we want to keep up the appearance of being strong, being brave, living the good life.  Our friends no longer see us for who we truly are, they just see what we want them to see.

It is a mask.  A lie.

I was once a part of a community who loved unconditionally.  We fought for one another.  Lifted one another up.  We were brothers and sisters.  Over the years we drifted apart.  Our paths have taken us away from one another, but yet we still keep in touch, ever so loosely.

Over the past week, several of my brothers and sisters in faith have reached out to ask for prayers.  They have opened their hearts and revealed their fears, doubts, and the darkness that they face.  One asked if there was anything they could be praying about for me.

It took me off guard.  And I stumbled.  And I realized that I don’t have it all together, unlike what I’ve allowed people to see.  What I’ve wanted people to see.

19 The Darkness Within

I recently downloaded the newest album from one of my favorite bands, Red’s “of Beauty and Rage.”  I’ve been listening to it almost constantly because it is such a powerful movement of lyrics and music; the classical strings juxtaposed against contemporary rock.

The leading title of the album is a song titled Darkest Part.  A song about the darkness that we keep within ourselves.

I never wanted you to see
The darkest part of me
I knew you’d run away
I waited but you never came

You see, we all have this darkness lurking beneath the surface.  The true self that we don’t want anyone else to bear witness to.

I’ve been struggling.  Over the past several weeks, I’ve been having a hard time being still before God.  It’s like I can no longer hear His gentle whispers.  I’m going through a time of waiting as I wrestle with thoughts about the future.  It’s a darkness that scares me.  A silence that is deafening.

I lay asleep at night and my thoughts consume my sleep.  I pray and it feels as if nobody is listening, even though my heart reminds me that God is still present.  I read the word of God, and I still feel empty.  And it scares me.

I’ve never tried to hide from the darkness, for it is part of me.  Part of who I am.  And yet I fear it.

I spilled my heart out to one of my brothers, asking for prayers.  And I’m still waiting.  The darkness hasn’t faded.  Nor has the silence turned to celebration.  But I no longer feel as if I face this struggle alone.

We are each surrounded by individuals who believe in us.  Brothers and sisters who constantly fight for us.  Family and friends who embrace us in love for who we are, even though they know the darkness that we keep hidden.

#DearMe (A Letter to My Younger Self)

If you’ve been on Twitter today, you’ll notice that one of the big hashtags for the day is #DearMe.  It is International Women’s Day, and many people are writing notes to their younger selves.  To be honest, I’m not sure if I get to connection, or maybe I’ve missed something.  I guess the idea is for women to speak out to the younger generations, to give them strength and courage to stand up for what is right.  It’s not just a “feminist” thing, many people are writing to their younger selves, giving advice that they wish they knew all those years ago.

In honor of this trend, I too wrote a note to myself:

I would like to expand on this, so here it goes:

Dear Me,

You’re an idiot.  You believe you know all about the world that surrounds you, but the truth is that you haven’t even begun scratching the surface of your journey, your story.  You have lived as a shadow of who you were created to be and I urge you to discover who you are, who you will be.  The sooner you do this, the sooner you venture forth, the quicker you will learn who you were created to be, why God has chosen you to follow Him.

Open your eyes.  See your brothers and sisters who surround you.  They are your strength, courage, and inspiration to venture forth to confront the darkness that lingers within you.  They will shine their light in your life, allowing you to shine as well.  It’s going to hurt, it’s going to be painful, but it is for the best.  Embrace it.  Allow them to strengthen you, to build you up, to temper you through fire and love.

Be brave.  Take courage.  Don’t be afraid to love unconditionally.  Live with reckless abandon.  And don’t worry about the consequences.

Love, Me

 

Warriors of Peace

As children, young boys are taught about warriors.  History is full of men-at-arms, knights in shining armor, and evil men who must be stopped.  Our society if full of images and ideas of what it means to be a warrior.  The armed forces sell it as a brotherhood.  Movies make it glamorous.  And our hearts tell us to stand for those who cannot stand for themselves.

As a child, I yearned to be a warrior.  I had toy guns, plastic army men, and a culture that built up men (and women) into members of the armed forces.  I grew up a military brat, moving from base to base.  I learned about the Civil War by walking on the battlefields, watching reenactments, and pretending that I was standing alongside those same men who lived and died on those fields.  I was raised surrounded by soldiers, warriors.

As I grew, I became fascinated by the warriors of the past.  Knights on horseback.  British Longbows.  The Samurai.  The barbarian hoards.  Celtic Woad Warriors.  I was drawn in by the weapons, the fighting technique, and the styles of armor and display.  As I looked closer, there was something more to the warrior: a lifestyle that defined them.

Honor.  A code that they lived by.  A lifestyle.  A passion.

This is what draws us, as young men, into the lives of warriors.

50 years ago, another breed of warriors were born into our society.  Selma, AL.  Bloody Sunday and the Civil Rights movement.  Warriors who followed a path of non-violence who stood for freedom, equality, and love.

We don’t often think of warriors in such a way.  Our society has taught us that warriors draw blood, fighting till the last breath.  Warriors kill.  And die.

But like so many things, we are wrong.  The men, women, and children who joined the marches and stood (or sat) in the face of inequality show us another side of the warrior: peace.

Not all men or women are born to wield a sword, draw a bow, or raise a gun to defend what they love.  I was told several years ago that it is easy to die for something you believe, harder yet to live for it.  Not all warriors are called to die fighting, but all of us have been called to be warriors.

We have been called to stand side by side with our brothers and sisters in faith.  We have been called to love unconditionally.  We have been called to care for one another, despite our differences.  We have been called to live with honor, letting our lives reveal the courage and love that pours forth.

I no longer seek the glory and fame of dying on the field of battle.  I pray that I grow old and raise a family.  I pray that when the time comes, I will have the strength to stand and fight for peace, no matter the consequences.  I pray that God reveals how each of us are to be warriors for His Kingdom.