#60 Honest to God

The truth of the matter is, we all come to prayer with a tangled mass of motives— altruistic and selfish, merciful and hateful, loving and bitter. Frankly, this side of eternity we will never unravel the good from the bad, the pure from the impure. But what I have come to see is that God is big enough to receive us with all our mixture. We do not have to be bright, or pure, or filled with faith, or anything. That is what grace means…

— Richard Foster, Prayer – Finding the Heart’s True Home

I’m constantly wrestling to be okay with who I am versus who I should be. I’m always evaluating myself and my situation to determine what qualities I should be expressing and displaying. I’m always asking myself,

“What does this situation demand?”

And rarely asking myself,

“How do you feel? What do you need?”

It’s just part of my nature. Or more honestly, it’s just easier to ask and answer the first question. It’s so much easier to answer an essay question than it is to simply express myself. I just give them what they want. I still don’t know what I want, much less how to obtain it.

The same thing happens when I pray.

I know scriptures and forms, I know what to pray for and who to pray for, but I seldom come to God to ask for what I need. I ask for rest when I’m tired and I know how pray my way through money trouble, but I don’t pray for my deepest desires to be fulfilled. I don’t pray for my little insecurities or my fears, I don’t even pray for joy or success. I typically don’t pray for things that wouldn’t matter to people outside of myself because I don’t want to seem selfish, wasteful, or trivial. But God accepts all of these things. He wants to hear them and wants me to stretch my comfort zone to share them. It’s difficult and uncomfortable, and I don’t always feel that I’m good at it, or that it’s really worth it, but like Richard Foster said,

“That is what grace means, and not only are we saved by grace, we live by it as well. And we pray by it.”

#18 M.G. Perkins

What a terrifying, yet beautiful and necessary thing it is to have an older man look you in the face
expose your weakness
and nurture you to life.

If enough people say you’re wise, you really begin to believe it,
Forget that you’re only 20-something and still learning,
That you don’t have to be so serious,
That there’s no need pretending you’re holding everything together,
Or that anyone does.

“Man, please. His life is a train wreck just like yours.”

That losing things is okay, and that anything we give up will be restored ten-fold.
It takes a man who lived through a divorce,
stage 4 cancer,
and losing a 6 figure salary saying

“I lost everything and it was the best time of my life.”

To make you understand that you can live past this moment.
The only thing between you and growth is knowing this:

There is beauty waiting to be born from your brokenness.

If you don’t eventually lose your
They will eventually lose you.
There’s only one thing we should completely put our hope in:

“I lost everything and it was the best time of my life. I was finally open to hearing God.”

I’ve got all I need.
I’ve just gotta keep listening.

Principle of Overload: Why We Can Never Be Happy

Having a 8GB iPhone has taught me several important lessons:

1) 8GB is NOT enough.

2) I can actually live comfortably with only that much space.

3) Next time, I’m still getting 32GB.

Every time that little alert pops up telling me I’m almost out of space, it actually makes me slightly infuriated (or disappointed depending on the day) and  helps me understand that this $99 phone wasn’t meant for my love of music, it just can’t handle it.

The same thing occurred to me as I was writing this poem about how we get little glimpses of heaven even in little life events today. As I came to the end of the poem, it dawned on me that I have no way to explain what never-ending pleasure is like because I’ve never felt it. Continue reading

The Strength and Allure of Honesty

There is something profound about the moment when a person you admire gets down to your level and opens themselves up to you. Whether it’s being a child and listening to your mother tell you that she gets scared sometimes, hearing your pastor admit that he sometimes has a quick temper, or watching a celebrity you respect saying that they struggle with self-confidence, it can have a powerful effect.

That’s actually why I can relate to this poem so much. Anis is all at once a brilliant poet, an idealistic mystic, and an average guy. A guy who still hasn’t completely figured out what it means to be a man and is still searching for God; a man who wants to see everything as it really is, a man who sees in more tones than most of us are aware of. All at once, he’s somewhat far beyond us but still right next to us, trying to find the same things we are. That’s something we all want to feel as people. No matter how great any we look up to is, they are still a human being and though part of us likes to forget, it’s essential that we know that we are capable of as much magnificence as they are. The people who look up to us need to know the same thing too.

I don’t mean to boast, but I’ve been taking special care to be transparent in my personal interactions lately and it’s been incredible. I’m often astounded at how strongly people respond to that type of thing. Whether it’s being honest about my writing struggles or my failing with my purity, my honesty has been encouraging and empowering people. Even more than that, it’s been changing me.

As I’ve been sharing, I’ve been getting help, I’ve been finding answers. People have been encouraging me, they’ve been sharing themselves with me, admitting that they have some of the same questions and issues. We’ve been working through things together, holding each other accountable, challenging each other, even competing to see who can do better or last longer. Admitting my weaknesses is making me better.

It’s like going to the gym, I’ve learned recently that my left arm is a lot stronger than my right arm, so when I bench press my right arm gets tired way before my left one and it severely hampers my ability to finish well. I never knew that, I always assumed (like everyone else probably) that there wasn’t such a big difference between the two. But now that I know, I spend extra time working on that arm, it’ll be just as strong as my other one soon! [read: In a few months maybe lol]

You’ve got to admit your weakness before you can make significant growth towards strength. Honesty is essential, for you, for them, for all of us.


I don’t think people believe me when I tell them how impossible this can be sometimes.

I know you told me to pick up my cross and follow, but all of this weight is just becoming too much to take

But there’s no way to walk away from being a slave is there?

They tell me freedom ain’t free and so many have paid with the life I’m trying so hard to make last beyond all these tragic stories of people gone too soon

But who am I choose?

This ain’t my life.

A friend of mine came to Christ recently, I can still remember how she searched my soul with her infant eyes and told me she was mad that I didn’t tell her she was choosing to be a captive though she did admit it was better than the alternative

None of us are free.

There’s not a single person on Earth who’s exactly who they want to be

Think about it, there’s something out there you just can’t stop saying yes to.

Me? Everything beautiful speaks to me;

Landscapes beg me to take pictures of them, moments and quotes insist on becoming poems, and music swears it’ll lose its mind if I don’t. I’m fighting hard to see women as more than an artful collection of body parts and thoughts, but as hearts that hope and hurt, heavy burdens for weak arms like mine. My part-time jobs don’t pay enough for me to afford it though part of me still just wants to charge it anyway. In the same way mosquitoes are attracted to bug zappers, we’re chained.

In all my talk of being wise, it seems my eyes are bigger than my mind:

There’s only one Light that leads to life

And I’m trying to stay focused but seeing stars through the city lights is getting more and more hopeless

Most people don’t even believe me

They tell me streetlights, TVs, and computer screens are the only lights we need and I’m starting to believe them, there’s no point in seeking something more.

I’ve seen skyscrapers in every square inch of pride and lust goes leagues deep, envy is a highway with a speed limit of “I bet you can’t break me” and greed goes from 0 to 60 faster than Sonic the Hedgehog times the speed of light and I love to drive

If I got lost in all of this, I wouldn’t need those stars; if faith needed sight, I’d be several years past belief driving blinding speeds down that highway between skyscrapers, submerged in total darkness continually one second from death

But I’m still holding on to this anchor, my faith in my savior keeps me afloat.

So I still die to those passions every day, but sometimes it’s like I don’t quite come back to life.

I’ve never been strong enough to hold all this together but somehow it doesn’t fall apart

I’m afraid this fire burning inside me might consume me but it doesn’t, so I’m a burning bush could you please speak through me?

To this world where kids are all in a rush to grow up and yet boys rarely become men

Where we’ll crusade to save marriage from gays and ignore rising divorce rates

Where God is found either on pages of paper or in the weary eyes of your neighbor but never both

Where people die from the side-effects of trying to cope with life

And I know I’m kind of a screw up

But your words keep cutting through me

And I can’t always see the stars, but you swore on them to Abram and I’m proof it came true.

I’m so sure that you know me better than I do and you prove your love again and again;

Where else can I turn to?

You have the words of eternal life.

And people don’t really seem to believe me when I tell them how incredible this can be sometimes, but then again, they can’t even see the stars, of course I look bizarre.

via Lights of the city at night: photo pictures galleries of Christian Stoll