Just Rodney...

I'm a 24, a teacher, and these are some of my thoughts. I'd love to hear your comments - hopefully their nice ones - but I'll take anything.

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Location: Tomball, Texas, United States

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Learning to self-differentiate

Lately I've been feeling purposeless. Maybe I should read the purpose drive life - then I'd know my purpose...right? This feeling usually surfaces after I explain to someone why I came to Texas (very awkwardly - I'm not really convinced that I even know why I'm here - it just feels right - I just followed my heart). Different people have different responses.
One guy asked, "So where's God in all this?".
I awkwardly spurted out an answer that I knew wasn't really what was on my heart, it just sounded better than I don't know - or worse - He's not! I felt invalidated, and well....purposeless, like God wasn't behind anything in my life at this point because I couldn't articulate it.
Another guy said, "That's cool. So what's your plan now?"
"Uhh. I'm subbing to make money and get on my feet financially. And I might join a seminary my pastor is putting together, but I'm not sure when that will happen. I'm just focusing on subbing, becoming a 'real teacher', dialoging with my church, and playing music."
"That's cool man (smiles), I'll pray for you."
Then he explained that he would pray that God would give me some direction.
Why do so many people feel like you have to have your life charted out 30 years into the future to have any 'direction'. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but it just makes it hard for me to do what I'm doing right now when I feel like everyone thinks I'm not on the right path or that I need to figure out what my 'ministry' is going to be.
Here's what I believe: I'm on a path that God has blessed. I believe that God is waiting at the end of many, many paths with his arms opened ready to embrace me. I believe that it's more important to try to be true to who you really are and to love like Christ taught regardless of the path you choose. I don't believe that there is one set path that is God's will for me and that I'm out of God's will for making one 'wrong' decision. Being a follower of Christ has more to do with out you live your life on that path rather than the path itself.
So if that's what I believe why do I feel so purposeless? I think it's because I'm still very broken, and that I really believe that I'm only important and significant to God if other people think I am too. If I really believed what I mentioned above, then I wouldn't be feeling purposeless. I suppose those are things that I'm striving to believe for myself. When I first got here Ken told me he though my greatest weakness of a lack of self confidence and that I would need to learn how to self-differentiate (to know the difference between what I believe, what someone else believes, and that it's alright to believe different things). This is really hard for me because I've spent a great deal of my life 'earning' my self-worth by making others happy. Despite my addiction to approval - I was able to follow my heart out here to Texas and decide to stay indefinitely against what some thought was best. Brenning Manning put it well in Raggamuffin Gospel:
"The ragamuffin who sees his life as a voyage of discovery and runs the risk of failure has a better feel for faithfulness than the timid man who hides behind the law and never finds out who he is at all."

I believe I'm in a good place and that God will take care of me. I believe there are people in my life that are here for a reason and that my purpose it to follow Jesus - love God and love people that is (journey to find out what that means!). I believe I'm doing this - or at least trying to. I'm grateful to the people who are helping me along this journey and hope I can help others on their jounrney.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

My first haircut in Texas! I can't wait for it to grow back!

Apparently "I still want it long - just not so bushy" means something else in Texas. I'm guessing it means one of the following:
1. Could you cut my hair like Jim Carey had his cut for Dumb and Dumber? You know - the classic Llyod Christmas look?
2. I'd like my hair to look like you put a bowl on my head and cut across the edge of it. I felt that I'd rather pay you money to do that instead of doing it myself. Thanks.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

In honor of the Notorious B.I.G....

Biggie put it well when he said, "I'm going, going....back, back....to cali, cali." Not for good, just to visit for a while and to get some of my music equipment. I was going to have my bass guitar shipped out here, but my Dad offered to pick up half of my plane ticket - so there 'ya have it - I'm going back to cali! Plane leaves two week from friday.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Girls: The thing Don wrote about the thing that Tony said
In case you haven't heard my story; I came from a church background where I was encouraged not to date. Although I value the progress I made spiritually at that church, I honestly regret not dating. It's not like I feel that I have missed out on something as much as I feel very weird and out of the loop on relationships with the opposite sex. There is this strong tension that exists in me between the parts of me that desire a girlfriend and the parts of me that still believe dating is wrong/unspiritual/etc. There's a part in Don Millers "To Own a Dragon" that I really enjoyed. It's a long selection, but I resonated with it (not sure I understand it fully - but I feel like there is a profound truth for me to eventually grasp in this particular chapter). The first part of the chapter is Don explaining this situation where he was able to see a girl break up with a guy at a coffee shop (he was listening in/watching this go on), then watch the guy leave, then watch the girl go over to another guy and begin to mingle. Later that day he was at another coffee shop and happened to see that SAME GIRL do the same thing to a completly different guy!!! That sucks! After describing what happened Don writes this:

And this is the part of the story where I tell you what it is a girl really wants from a guy, what it is that stops her looking and has her facinated with a particular boy, you or me, for example. But the truth is I don't know. I really don't.
I know some guys turn girls on and some guys don't. I know some girls play games and some girls don't. I also know it feels good to be tired of it. I only say that because there was a day when I would be attracted to a particular girl and yet the attraction would have nothing to do with her. What I mean is, I would be attracted to a girl, and feel very real feelings for her, only because she was a challenge and I wanted to know whether I had what it took to be the one she would end up dating. Most of the time I wansn't, and worse; if I was, I lost interest shortly after she became attrated. I guess that's why they call it a game.
Watching the woman at the coffee shop made me realize how shallow the game was, and that my soul was more than a bit tired of it. For the forst time, perhaps, I didn't want to play anymore. I wanted something else, something better.
I learned to put words to what I wanted from my friend Tony. We were having dinner at a Mexican place a while back and I had just started seeing a girl. I was telling Tony how much I liked her, how I liked her honesty and the feeling I got when I was with her. I like that she was a girl I wasn't uncomfortable praying with, and this was something different from past relationships. Tony said he thought she sounded great. But then he asked if I thought I deserved to be in a relationship at all.
"I don't know," I told him. "What do you mean?"
"Do you feel a girl would be grateful to have you in her life?" he asked.
"I've never thought about it," I told him. In relationships, I had spent most of my time wondering if the girl liked me, and moreover, if I was likeable. I think Tony was asking a different question.
"What are you getting at?" I asked.
"I don't know," Tony said. "It's just that with my wife, with Aimee, I've come to the conclusion I don't deserve her. I really don't. And the fact she would want to spend the rest of her life with me strikes me as incredible. I'm grateful, is all I am saying."
"Do you think I'm not grateful?" I asked my friend.
"Not saying that," Tony stated. "Just saying that I think we can use other people, romantic stuff, to validate ourselves. It has nothing to do with love. And when you find love, or when you are mature enought to understand it, the feeling you get is gratitude. I'm not saying I am mature by any means," Tony continued, "but when I wake up in the morning and look at my wife sleeping next to me, I am sometimes overcome that another human being would want to share her life with me."
The thing Tony said stuck with me. And I've started to wonder if what I was really lacking in my understanding of relationships was humility. I don't mean to sound mushy or weak, because that will kill a relationship too, but I wondered if love stemming from the ego and love stemming from the heart were very different things, and what was happening in my soul was a kind of transition from immaturity to maturity.
I really like this passage. I liked it enough to stay up at 1:40 am and type it up. I'm even wondering if anyone will take the time to read this long entry. I doubt it, but it doesn't matter. I think this is a good way to process things. So what does it mean to me? I honestly cringe when Don says that he's tired of it. The thing is, I can see what he's saying; I can see that there are A LOT of people caught up in this stupid game of validation. Where girls play games with boys so they can feel pretty and desireable, and boys play games to make themselves feel validated and feel like they have what it takes to get a girl. I want to be like Don and be able to say I'm tired of it all. In a way I am because I understand and agree with Dons description of the game. In fact, I recently read a guys story in a blog that was talking about this crazy relationship (I won't go into too many details in case somebody finds out who it was). This dude is totally crazy for this girl (or is it for his own validation???), and everything else hinges on whether he is with the particular girl or not. His view of God, his view of ministry, his overall view of life hinges on this one girl (or could it be other girls too???). One minute he's thankful that God is going to grant his request to bring this girl back to him. He's restoring his relationship with God and deciding to devote his life to ministry. I don't mean to bag on this guy. I'm glad he's able to be honest with what he's feeling - and I can even empathize with him - because as embarasing as it is - I have and do struggle with the same kind of thought processes. I think it's important not to allow your so called feelings for a girl to be the hinge that your life pivots on. But still it's hard for me - because I want to be validated. I'm not where Don is - not if that means passing up a girl that I have feelings for and that I can somehow 'win'. I guess what I'm hoping for - what I'm praying to God for - is courage. Courage to be like Don, and be tired of the game. To not only want to be validated - and to love from my ego - but from my heart. My fear is that in this mindset I'll become 'weak and mushy' like I've always been and never pursue a relationship out of self pitty or something like that. This is all confusing and scary to me, but I hope soon God will bring me someone that I can connect with. Someone that will journey with me - that will put up with the awkwardness that I can't seem to get away from - that I would somehow be thankful to be with - and be filled with a healthy kind of humility. God bless you if you read this awfully long blog. Welcome to the mess that is my head and my heart.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Another stab at blogging...
I just had a nice talk with one of my best Texas friends (I have two here in Texas - and many more in California). She is going to make a great pastor...ehh...actually I think she is a great pastor - so I guess that means I have two great pastors now. She's a great pastor because I felt I needed somebody to press my buttons and help me start thinking about the shit in my life. I know it's there and I say I want to deal with it and that I'm the kind of person that is 'real enough' to go deeper than most, but when it comes down to it I hate pain. I think I understand that it's something that I have in me - and that I have a choice to cram it down and move on, or I can deal with it the best I can with the help of God and good friends. Tonight my friend whom I am considering one of my pastors since that's what she says she wants to be and to me she stepped up to the plate for me and asked me some tough questions that got me thinking about things I feel I need to address, but I'm not really sure how - or that I can even begin on my own. I'm talking about stuff that happened to me that shapes how I act, think, and relate - probably on a daily basis and under the radar. Issues with submitting to authority, what that looks like, what's appropriate, and some of the assumptions that I carry on the topic. I'm trying to figure out if the seasons I've went though with different leaders/mentors are healthy or unhealthy. Do I move on from one mentor to the next because it's what's best for me or because they pushed buttons that I didn't want touched? Or is it something else? I don't know at this point, but I really am grateful to have a friend that seems to have a gift at balancing love/truth/grace/etc to help a friend out.