Archive for Faith

Defeat is No Longer an Option

We’ve all lost battles. I’ve suffered defeats. Sometimes, it feels like no matter what we do, we never win. I’ve walked (and ran) away from so many things in life. I’ve given up on countless people and turned my back on opportunities without giving them a chance to flourish.

We learn to live with the shame of defeat. Society tells us to submit, so we don’t put up a fight, even when we know in our hearts that we should fight. We compromise our values and our beliefs. We step back and let others rise because we feel that we could never be that artistic, articulate, or knowledgeable.

I learned that it was easier to accept defeat than to face my fears and persevere. It was easier to walk away. To let go. To step aside. To fail. To sin and ask for forgiveness.

There is something humbling about admitting defeat. But there is power in standing up to the fight.

Late at night, I end to blast my music while working on sketches and drawings. And I heard a line in a song that made me pause. In the song Destroy by Worth Dying For, there is a line that states “Defeat is no longer an option.” I heard those words and I thought to myself, if I truly believed that God has already achieved victory through the death of his Son on the cross, why doesn’t my life reflect what I believe?

Victory. It is more than a simple word. It is the belief that God has achieved something we could never accomplish ourselves.

There is a freedom in victory. Freedom from fear. Freedom from mistakes. Freedom from second guessing ourselves. From failure. From defeat.

I feel that so many times we see how many times we have been defeated and broken by the world that we turn to our faith and feel the same way. We question if we could really love our coworkers and neighbors that surround us. We compare ourselves to others and see how ‘blessed’ they are and struggle with accepting who we are in Jesus. We are reminded of how many times we have come up short and question if we could ever overcome the sin in our lives.

And that is where we discover that victory has already been achieved.

Our faith reveals to us the love of our Father, poured out through the sacrifice of His Son of the cross, has already given us victory. God has given us His Spirit who lives in each of us, pouring out His love into our lives so that we may also love unconditionally. This is the love that reminds each of us that we have been accepted by God, not by something that we have done, but because of who He is. This is the love of forgiveness, that has washed us clean of our sins. Not just the sins of our past, but the sins that have yet to come.

This is the victory that brings us freedom. The freedom to love unconditionally. To love those around us, as well as ourselves. The freedom to accept grace that is offered to us. The freedom to forgive. The freedom over temptation. Freedom from sin. From death. From not knowing our identity.

The victory that allowed us to be in a right relationship with our Father.

The beautiful thing about this victory is that there is nothing we are able to do. It is already won. The battle has already been fought. And victory has already been achieved.

The choice we have is not whether or not we will fight. But will we stand in victory or turn our backs to the grace that has been offered to us.

And once we learn to stand in our Faith, the battles we seem to face in our every day lives fade away into the background. And the defeats our world and society throw in our direction wont affect us, because we know who we are in Christ.

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Just Another Comic

For years my grandfather had a painting in his office in the basement of his home. It was a series of tiles that he had painted many years ago that told the story of a cowboy and his relationship to God.

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Part of me always loved this piece because I felt that I could relate to this cowboy. For the past several years (ever since I served as Summer Staff with Young Life up at Saranac Village in New York, the summer of 2007), I feel closest to God out in the wilderness. During my time in AmeriCorps, I would seek him out in the mountains and forests while we served.

I think there is a natural longing to be closer to creation that draws us out into the wild. I know that when I’m away from the noise and stress of city life, I can hear God more clearly. I can still myself in His presence.

Every time I would visit my grandfather, even as a child, I would sneak down to his office to look at this short comic.

Several months ago, my grandfathers health started to fail and he has since moved into a full-time healthcare facility. His home now stands empty, except for memories that were experienced within those walls. The comic on those tiles has been removed and has found a new home with one of my uncles.

One night, while doodling in my sketchbook, this comic strip came back to me and I started drawing. I pulled up the only image I had of my grandfathers work and started the process of transferring it in an attempt to preserve the images for my family.

I started drawing it, and when I shared some of the work in progress with my dad, he laughed a little and told me that he believed grandpa copied it from a comic that used to run in the newspaper.

Well, this sparked my interest, and after a quick search through the power of the internet (using the two characters who had been named) I discovered that it had been copied from a comic.

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It’s from the comic Rick O’Shay by Stan Lynde that ran from 1958 to 1981.

While I couldn’t find the original date that this specific comic was published, finding the original story made this process of drawing so much more fulfilling. I recently finished the drawings and have gifted them to my father for Christmas.

(Note: They are on two separate pages, each approx 15 x 15″)

And while some people may look at it as just another comic, it is so much more than that. It is a memory. And a statement of faith. And a piece of family that we can hold onto.

Being Thankful

On Monday, my community gathered together for Friendsgiving, where we shared food and our lives with one another. We laughed together. We celebrated together. And we shared our struggles with one another and gave thanks for the opportunity to come together. We smiled through tears of thanksgiving and held one another in loving arms. We prayed together as brothers and sisters and gave thanks to God through worship through songs and friendship.

A couple days earlier, I got to listen in as one of my coworkers and partner on city radio walked a young woman through the steps of becoming a mother. She helped walk this young couple (and the girls mother or mother-in-law) through delivering a child, as first responders raced to the residence.

And while the fire department got on scene before the newborn child (by about 5 minutes), it was a beautiful and frightening moment to listen in on.

This past year hasn’t been easy. Learning a new job has brought a completely new form of stress into my life. Every time I answer the phone, it’s something new, something different. You have to be prepared for anything and everything.

One of the things that I have been learning over the past year is to be present in each moment. To take each breath as an opportunity to ground myself in the moment and to give thanks for each moment that comes.

It’s harder than it sounds. In a world that screams at you for attention at every opportunity, it is difficult to find those moments to be still, to take a breath, to pause, to give thanks.

We live our lives going 120 miles per hour. We don’t want to slow down because we might miss something. But the reality is that we are missing everything except what we are expecting. We don’t know how to live in the moment, or at least I never knew how.

When we pause and learn to give thanks, we learn how to live in the now.

Yesterday, we celebrated Thanksgiving. I had gotten off the night before after a 12 hour shift and slept a majority of the day to prepare for another 12 hour shift. When I awoke, one of the first things I did was to thank God for another day (or night) in which I have the opportunity to be thankful, to experience His grace.

I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to continue to serve my community. While I miss my time in AmeriCorps, I am thankful that I discovered another way to serve. I’m thankful for the adventures that I’ve had, the opportunities to explore the world around me. To meet new people and to pick up friendships that span across the world.

I am thankful for all those who have supported me; friends, coworkers, supervisors, and family. I am thankful for everyone who has challenged me to grow, to seek out new opportunities, and to force me to be the best that I can be.

Earlier this morning, I answered the phone to hear the plea of a mother whose child had stopped breathing. In that instant, all the panic that swelled up within me became a steady calm as my training kicked in and (with the help of my coworkers) I walked the parents through CPR.

Just before first responders arrived on scene, the child started breathing on their own. And in that moment, I was thankful. I was thankful in knowing that I was exactly where I needed to be.

I shared with my community during friendsgiving that I am thankful for being present. For knowing that I am exactly where I need to be. For being present.

I am thankful for each breath because I know that the next is not guaranteed.

 

The Sun Will Rise

A year ago I was heading to a restaurant to eat dinner with my grandparents. Just before walking in, I happened to glance down at my phone to see the initial reports of an attack coming out of Paris. Later that evening, back at my grandparents house, we sat and watched the world try to make sense of the chaos.

And the next morning, the sun rose on a changed world.

Sunday evening, a year after the terror attacks in France, I joined members of my community after our church gathering as we headed downtown to grab a bite or two to eat at Mellow Mushroom Pizza. We ate a meal together. We shared stories. We laughed. We smiled. And when we departed that evening, we embraced one another as brothers and sisters.

And the next morning, like the hundreds of thousands of mornings before that, the sun rose once again on a changed and changing world.

And the world continues to turn.

And another year has passed by.

In some ways, it was just another day like any other. The world is still in the grips of chaos. There is still unrest. There is still hatred and fear. And anger. And love.

It was just another day, unlike any other.

It was a blessing. A reminder. And a promise. It was a beautiful day because, despite the smoke that blanketed the air and the fallout of the election, it marked the passing of another year of life.

It is beautiful because I am reminded that each day, every passing breath, is a gift. Every moment that I am able to spend soaking in the beauty of creation is a reminder that I am loved. Each day that passes allows me to smile and grow closer to God.

Part of me doesn’t like celebrating my birthday. I don’t like the attention. I don’t want the focus to be on me. I’d rather spend some quality time with people who are close to me than to throw a party. I’d rather spend time spreading love.

And when the next morning comes, the sun will rise again. And we will be blessed with another opportunity to accept love and pour it out unconditionally to those around us.

With each sunrise and sunset, as the skies above us are painted in light, know that it is a gift from our Father above. Take a moment each day to bask in His beauty. To still yourself before Him. Listen. Take it all in.

And know that you have been given another opportunity to change the world around you.

Stop Calling Yourself Pro-Life

In high school, I joined my church’s youth group as we skipped school and headed up to Washington D.C. for the March for Life. I was the kid that wore shirts that made the statements “pray to end abortion” and “some choices are wrong.” I proudly wore the badge of Pro-Life as I made it known my stance against abortion.

At the time, I was deeply apposed to all forms of abortion. I was under the banner of overturning Roe v. Wade. Cut funding to Planned Parenthood.

I have always believed that life is precious. All life is precious. Including the life of an unborn child. I believe the miracle of life begins at the moment of contraception. And from that moment forward, we have a duty to protect it until life’s final breath.

I still believe this to be true.

My faith calls me to treasure life. All life. Each one of us has been made in the image of God. Each one of us is a temple to the Spirit that dwells within us. When the Son of God became man and died on the cross, He washed away every sin that we have committed against Him. And every sin that has yet to come. Through the shedding of His blood, He poured out His love into every single life. And when Jesus rose from the dead, He gave every single one of us victory.

My faith reminds me every day that the miracle of life is something beautiful and sacred. Every life. Young and old.

In my travels around the world and throughout my time with AmeriCorps, I have learned to open my eyes and see the world. In that time, I have seen suffering. I have seen death. I have seen the struggle to survive. And I have seen life lived to the fullest.

Recently, during a conversation with a small group of individuals, I had to stop and sit back when someone claimed that they were pro-life. They opposed abortion. But in the same string of sentences, they shared that they support the death penalty. They support the notion of taking away health care and “allowing” people to choose to take their own life.

In my head, I started questioning if they were truly pro-life or if they were just anti-abortion.

You see, being pro-life is more than just having an opinion on a single issue. It is valuing all life. The child in the womb. The child living in poverty in one of the wealthiest nations. The pregnant teenager who was raped and has nobody to turn to. The woman who must make the gut-wrenching choice, knowing there are consequences for either choice. The parents whose child’s life is sustained only through technology and the science of medicine. The kid you barely knows who is struggling with thoughts of suicide. The criminal sitting on death row. The patient who begs the doctor to let them pass away so they don’t have to live with the pain.

Every one of these lives is part of the bigger picture.

I personally believe that abortion is wrong. I believe that the life of a child is something to fight for. But the fight does not stop when they take their first breath of air.

I learned a long time ago that being pro-life is not as black and white as we wish it would be. It is bloody. It is messy. And sometimes, there are no “right” answers.

Though my wanderings, I met a beautiful woman who had a heartbreaking story. When she was young, she was taken advantage of and came to bear a child against her will. Because of her family’s beliefs, she had to make the choice of carrying the child to term with their ‘support’ or terminate the pregnancy and loose her family. She choose to carry the child within her for 9 months, learning to love him despite the painful reminder of how he came to be. She was warned by doctors that, due to a complicated medical history, his changes of survival (as well as her own) were slim. Medically, she died while bringing him into the world, only to be brought back herself. Seven days later, she buried her son. She still struggles with the loss, all these years later.

Five years ago, I held my God-daughter for the first time. Born premature, she and her twin brother spent the first months of their lives under the watchful eye of the nurses and staff of the NICU. It was in that instant that it hit me how precious life is, as she rested in the nook of my arm.

Sometimes, the life we have to fight for is the ones that are right in front of us. When we take away the choice and the medical options available that could save a life, can we truly fight under the banner of ‘Pro-Life?’

If we don’t fight for every life that we encounter just as fiercely as we fight against abortion, can we truly call ourselves Pro-Life?

If we don’t shed tears for every life lost to self-harm, violence, or some messed up form of justice, do we really have the right to call ourselves Pro-Life?

If we force women to give birth, but then refuse to support them, to care for them, to love them, how can we even begin to speak about this concept of Pro-Life?

If we are willing to allow people to be put to death for the crimes that they committed, we have absolutely no right standing on the pedestal of Pro-Life.

I have learned, though the laughter of my nieces and nephews and each individual story that I have had the privileged of crossing paths with, that the only way one can embrace the thought of being pro-life is to pour out love, even when it hurts. Especially when it hurts.

Slipping Backwards

Earlier this week, I gathered with my community group, a collection of powerful men and women who have taught me so much about what it means to fight and live for God, and found ourselves discussing the path we take as we grow closer to God.

A lot of times Christians see their relationship as a plateau. So many times I hear people talk as though there is a point where we come to know God as our lord and savior, and then there is nothing more. We level out and become comfortable, telling ourselves that there is nothing we can do to bring ourselves closer to God.

In a sense, this is true. Once we have accepted God as our lord and the redemption that was paid in full through the blood shed on the cross, we know that God has adopted each of us into His family.

But there is so much more to this relationship with our Father. Over the past couple years I have learned over and over again that this relationship is something that continues to be explored. It is something that continues to grow throughout our journey with Him.

Instead of a single step to knowing God, it is a constant journey. An ever-progressing movement upward in a relationship that is alive and growing.

There was a moment in the conversation last night where someone stated that sometimes it feels as though their life does not feel like a constant staircase upwards, but more like a growing mountain range with peaks and valleys, highs and lows. It was the concept of sliding backwards in our relationship with God.

I sat there looking at it, trying to put words to thoughts.

Part of me understands where this comes from; we are human. We constantly fall short of God. This is the concept of sin.

There are going to be days when we fell like we have drifted away from the relationship we have built with God. There are going to be days where it feels like we are in the darkest of valleys or standing in the desert where nothing can grow.

But it’s a lie to say that, in these moments of failing or feeling disconnected from God, we slip farther away from God.  Our relationship with Him remains the same. And a lot of times, those moments of darkness allow us to grow deeper in our relationship to our Father.

When the writer of Psalms cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (see Psalm 22, read the entire thing) do you think his relationship with God had become distant? If we look at human relationships, I would say yes. But God is so much more.

When we commit to a living relationship with our Father, we invite the Spirit of God into our hearts. We chase after Him with all our soul. And even in those moments of doubt, if we are truly embracing a relationship with our Father, we will never loose footing in that relationship. We will forever be drawn closer to one another, even in the silence.

I’ve discovered that it is the beautiful lie of the deceiver that convinces us that we have or are slipping backwards in our relationship with the God who knows us by name.

Our Broken World

We live in a broken world. We live in a world of pain and suffering. We live looking over our shoulders, hoping that we are not the next target. We live in a world where terrorism is not a foreign concept, but a reality of life. We live in a world of fear.

Every day, it seems like there is another attack. Another person shot. Another bomb that has claimed lives. Another child killed. Another police officer ambushed. Another protest. Another night of violence.

Every night that I work, I am reminded of how broken our world is. I listen to the pain and the suffering of those who plead of help. I can feel the fear in their voices as they cling to hope.

I’ve been told that to succeed in the long run in the dispatch center, I have must distance myself from those that I serve. But I’ll be honest: I can’t do that. I refuse to do that.

Every day, I am reminded how broken our world is. Every call reminds me of my own brokenness. And every morning when I get home and climb into bed, I find peace and calm within my brokenness. I fall asleep knowing that God has chosen me to be His own, restoring me through His love.

This truth is what drives me to live a life full of unconditional love.

Yes, we are broken. Our hearts have been shattered by pain and hatred and violence and death. We have been broken by sins committed by us and against us. We are witnesses to it every day.

But we also are witnesses to something much more powerful.

The healing power of the acceptance into the family of God. The restoring power of unconditional love that has been poured out over each of us. A love that has taken every piece of our brokenness and reformed it; made it new.

God has chosen me to be His own. And through that adoption of love that made me a child of the Lord I too have been made new.

This doesn’t change the world we live in. But it changes the way we relate to the world.

We still feel the pain and the suffering. We still fear for the lives of our brothers and sisters. But we react with love and compassion, empathy and healing. We become the calm in the storm. The beacon of light in a dark world. A steady voice that people can hold onto in the chaos. The lifeline of unconditional love that eases the pain and wipes away the tears.

We are more than the body of Christ, His hands and feet in this world. We are also His adopted children; a physical representation of unconditional love.

And, as a broken individual, this is the hope that allows me to live and love to the fullest.

It Is Well With My Soul

This morning, we woke to the devastating news of the mass shooting in Orlando. They are calling it the deadliest mass shooting in American history. Two hours of terror that ended with over a hundred dead or wounded.

I woke up this morning and saw how close this hits to home as I checked social media. I immediately turned on the news and watched it diligently as I waited to hear from the last of several friends who I knew were down in Orlando.

Even now, there are more questions than answers.

I almost didn’t go to the Gathering this evening, but I decided that I needed to be surrounded by the community that has become my family. Right before I left, I checked my phone one last time and was relieved to see that the last person I know in Orlando had checked in through Facebook to let family and friends know that they were safe. Another good friend had located their significant other who was in the club at the start of the shooting.

One of the things about the Radius community in Greenville is that we don’t always act like a church. The organic nature of this community has led us into a study of prayer and growing closer to the Spirit and Truth of prayer. Tonight, we reflected on how our worship leads us closer to the truth about God and our connection to the Holy Spirit, focusing on the songs we sing.

And through this process, I remembered that no matter what happens in this world, whether it be a natural disaster, act of terrorism, or a struggle of faith, God is there with us. And no matter what, no matter how strong the winds or the waves get, if we focus on God in those moments, we will find the peace in the storm.

We live in a world where acts of terrorism have become part of every day life. We live in a world where people hate others who they have not made the attempt to know as individuals.

But I also know that we live in a world where there is hope found in love.

One of the last songs we sang was a modern rendition to the traditional hymn written by Horatio Spafford, “It Is Well With My Soul.”

And through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
And through it all, through it all
It is well

It was a simple reminder that even though the world is suffering, my soul is at peace because of my trust in the Lord. And the best weapon we have against violence is unconditional love.

And right now, that is what the world needs. Love

Trickle of Water

This past Sunday, we celebrated Pentecost. You know, those events that happened in Acts 2, where tongues of fire came down on the Disciples as they gathered together and they began their journey of changing the world? Fifty days after the death and resurrection of the Son of God, the man we know as Jesus Christ.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language. … we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”

Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
– Acts 2:1-8, 11-13

On Sunday, I joined the Radius community for the weekly gathering and they made some connections that makes this event much more beautiful. You see, this is more than a single act in the larger story, but the start of something so much bigger than we could imagine.

One of the things I’ve realized is that God rarely shows us the larger picture in one go; it’s a story of discovery and a trail of small pieces that lead us to something so much more.

Ten days before Pentecost, just before He ascended into heaven, Jesus dropped another little piece of the story.

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
– Acts 1:4-5, 7-8

Jesus tells his followers to wait. Something was coming that would fill them with power and the ability to change the world. He sets them up to be in place for something better. To be filled with the waters of eternal life.

And as his followers were gathered in the Temple and received the Holy Spirit, they become a trickle of water from that spring of life. And our entire relationship with God changes.

Before Jesus was crucified for the sins of the world, he tried to explain what would happen to a Samaritan Woman at the well. (See John 4:1-26)

You see, so many of us think exactly like this woman. She came day after day to Jacob’s well, a specific spot on the edge of the Samaritan town of Sychar, to fetch water. This is everything she knew. And sometimes we see our relationship to God in the same way: we must find Him in specific locations, like in the church pews.

When Jesus tells her that he will provide living water, she still doesn’t understand that he is no longer talking about water that we drink, but water that sustains eternal life.

“Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
– John 4:19-24

Jesus is telling this woman that the relationship that we had with the Father was about to change. He tells her that the location of our worship will change forever. No longer will worship be centered in the Temple. No longer will the priests be the only ones to enter the Holy of Holies, because the presence of God will be within each of us. Jesus tells her of the Holy Spirit that will come.

There is one more nugget of this story that was hidden from me for so long. It is a prophecy that is still in the works, but started that day in the Temple when tongues of fire carried the Holy Spirit down to the chosen few and began a movement of believers that continues to move us today:

The man brought me back to the entrance to the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was trickling from the south side.

As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led e through water that was up to the waste. He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in – a river that no one could cross. He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this?”

Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so whee the river flows everything will live.
– Ezekiel 47:1-9

Do you see it yet? That moment in the temple? When tongues of flame came down? This was the trickle that was foretold. And soon this flood of water will flow into the deadest areas of our world and fill it with life.

There is so much more that I could dive into, how sometimes we must wait or go back to the beginning of the story, but for now, I’ll just leave it at this; the story of Pentecost.

Learning to be at Peace

I work in an extremely stressful environment. A dispatch center is full of chaos and each call could be a matter of life and death. We handle all calls for emergency services; Fire, law, and EMS. And we dispatch for the City, small towns, Sheriff’s Office, city fire, and EMS (county fire has someone sitting in the dispatch center as well, and we have to transfer some calls over to the Highway Patrol).

It’s a fast paced, balls-to-the-walls environment at times. It’s loud with the phones ringing, people shouting out information, and (sometimes) people yelling for assistance.

I work with some strong individuals, people with powerful personalities. Where I am comfortable being the unknown face behind the scenes, they are more outspoken, louder, and sometimes overpowering. Part of it is that some of them have been there for years. They are used to the stress of 12 hour shifts, multiple calls holding, and officers who are extra vigilant with their excessive traffic stops.

There are times where I struggle. When I feel overwhelmed. Where it seems like I am just trying to keep my head above water.

But even in those moments, I know I am at peace. I’ve learned to manage my emotions. To keep a level head, to know that even though I may feel off balance, I am still present. I’ve been told that I seem at peace, calm, almost meditative at times. I don’t get angry at calls that come in. I try not to raise my voice at my coworkers. Even when I really want to call them out on their stupidity.

It took me years before I discovered how to be at peace with myself.

Many years ago, a friend of mine was reading a memoir from a monk in a monastery who had devoted his life to prayer. In one conversation, my friend shared that the monk lived in a constant state of prayer. He prayed at all times, especially while he worked. He lived his life and devoted everything he did, big or small to the glory of God. I found it interesting that his biggest struggle was devoted prayer time at the monastery, when all the monks set aside a time of day to devote themselves to prayer.

This monk questioned why he needed to devote a certain time of the day to prayer when every action he made in his life was a constant prayer to God.

Ever since hearing about this monk, I have tried to follow his example of prayer.

This has gotten me through some rough times. It has helped me to manage the stress of disaster response with AmeriCorps, long days on the trail doing conservation work, and the chaos of the dispatch office.

I meditate. I pray. I do breathing exercises. I make sure I recenter myself and constantly rediscover why I do what I do.

And through all this, I am at peace with myself. At peace with the chaos that surrounds me. And at peace with my relationship with God.

My faith is the only reason why I haven’t collapsed under the stress of this life. And prayer is the only strength that has gotten me through some of the darkest nights. When I learned to be still before my God, El Roi, the God who sees me, I learned that everything I do is a form of worship, a praise to the Father above.

I won’t say that the stress ever goes away. Neither does the fear. The worry. The constant questions if I’ve done everything that I can. All of that still remains. They will never go away, but I’ve made my peace with them.

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