the dust of the Tetons

March 20, 2010

Rob Bell has this thing – I guess you’d call it a “signature talk” – titled Covered in the Dust of your Rabbi.  In it, he describe the path to being a rabbi, which includes following said Rabbi so closely that you become covered in the dust his sandals kicked up.

What really stuck with me was the experiential nature of the lessons.  Sure, Rabbis talked but for the most part, disciples would glean wisdom and knowledge from just observation and participation.

I realized the other day that I’m covered in the dust of the Tetons.

About two weeks before I shipped off to London to start my MBA, I was visiting my friends parents in Jackson Hole, WY.  We went for a hike on a trail they had been wanting to try.  We knew it was going to be challenging from the library of books and guidemaps they have about the range.  I remember praying that morning – and really that whole week leading up to the weekend – that God would give me an insight, a peace, a word, or anything to hold on to about the forthcoming academic dive into grad school.

While I somehow managed to pull it together and get accepted into a Top 10 MBA program, I’ve NEVER felt smart.  Actually, I can only remember from pre-k onward feeling very very very stupid.  I struggled in school but for a variety of reasons, personality, pride, absent parents…I was able to slide by without anyone ever knowing.

So I was nervous about starting school, at a really good school. Terrified actually.  And off we went for our hike.

To be honest, I think I was expecting to have some grand chat with them.  They’re always the right mix of encouraging and challenging.  But, part of me just didn’t want to bring it up and part of me just didn’t feel like it was the time.

So up the mountain we hiked.

and then we got lost.

for six hours.

Now, at this point, I didn’t have the heart to explain to my Harvard-educated friend’s dad that we were probably lost for a purpose so he probably wasn’t going to find the right way any time soon.  I knew this day was answering some of my most difficult questions.

Don’t we all struggle, and I mean, viscerally, with whether or not we have what it takes?  I’m sure a lot of people with many initials behind their names could explain why this is, but I’m more interested in the reality than the theory.

I stare at huge mountains everyday that I’m desperate to climb – and there is almost always a voice saying “yeah, right, this is you we’re talking about.”  I’ve tried so many things – convincing myself other people or circumstances are the blame as to why I haven’t conquered; I’ve rationalized that maybe I really don’t want to go that high; I’ve taken a few steps and asked who I am kidding for even trying.  But the reality remains, these proverbial mountains are deeply seeded desires that I didn’t make up.  Assignments, callings – name them what you will – but they are there and they are not going away.

And I constantly feel the weight of the distance between me and the summit.

Had you told me that morning the endurance and physical strength it would have taken to hike, I would have told you I didn’t have it.  And I probably didn’t!  Because, as I learned that day, the conversations we have at the bottom of the mountain are important – but even more so are those that we have on the climb.

But that day, after wandering through the woods, my twice repaired leg twitching and being totally lost – I realized I have no idea what I’m capable of – UNTIL I try it. I realized I tell myself the most horrible things the second something gets hard and I might fail.

I was stuck on that mountain.  The only way I was getting off without becoming a moose snack was to keep going – to fight through conversation in my head about the inadequacy of my efforts.  And you know what I found  out?

I’m more than able.  Everything I believe about myself was untrue.

The introduction of that kind of cognitive dissonance has literally reshaped my experience at Duke.  It’s not just a school – its travel – its people – it’s time management…and since that day in Jackson, I have literally watched EVERYTHING in my life be stretched to the absolute  limit.  Mentally, emotionally, financially, professionally, relationally, personally, physically, – name it – and the past 9 months has taken it right to or over the edge.

And I go back to that day.  I sometimes look at the running shoes that are still brown because I wouldn’t let my friend’s mom wash when we got home.  I remember what I know or think about myself may be the most evil attack the devil has ever waged and the only way to learn the truth is to stay close to Jesus, to follow Him into the crazy situations and places He’s leading – and let experiences, not information, instruct me about who I am.

I’m covered in the dust of the Tetons.

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my pet rock

March 14, 2010

In the center console of my car is a small rock.  It’s smooth, clean, nothing terribly remarkable – although my friend Derrick did once ask why I had a pet rock.

When I fly to foreign countries, I take it with me.  No pomp or circumstance, I just slide it into my backpack and inevitably run across it while I’m running across the globe.

Yeah, I know it’s weird

But, it’s my boundary stone.

The old testament has a lot to say about stones.  It’s bizarre actually because you think God would have a lot more to talk to us about than rocks.  But no.  I have a favorite rock story too.

Yeah, I know it’s weird.

In Genesis 28, we interrupt Jacob on a journey.  He’s left his family and his home in search of a wife.  You can tell he’s nervous.  A kid that age at that time wouldn’t really leave his family.  Communities then were about more than just friendship, they were about physical safety, financial security, and spiritual consistency; but, Jacob had a rough home life and everyone figured it would be best for him to get away for a while.  At one point, he curls up for the night using a stone to rest on and has a dream.  It’s a wild dream; a vision of God like no one has seen yet.

He sees a God that is for him.  A God that knows him.  A God that is making a way for him. A God that says He’ll lead him…back home.

“I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

This is a radically personable God and Jacob knows it.  He immediately says “Surely the Lord is in this place…” and he takes the same stone he slept on, sets it up…and calls it the House of God.  the Gateway to Heaven.  And then he continued on his journey

It must have been some rock.  I wonder if it’s still there.

My rock is in many ways the same as Jacob’s.  I picked it up a few years ago out of a stream bed in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  I was there because, like Jacob, I had to leave home too.  Mine no longer existed – it crumbled a long time ago.  I found myself there on the road to somewhere else.

My best friend’s mom had gone into town and her step-dad was working in his office inside.  I started throwing rocks down a frozen stream and discovered the coolest noise.  I ran inside and got him.  You HAVE to hear this!  I’m sure I sounded ridiculous.  He obliged though.  We probably hung outside for an hour – we made a competition out of the rock throwing (he won) – we talked about the weekend – about some decisions I had coming up; about some bad ones I had made – about everything and nothing…

It was the most ridiculous and childish thing.  Had I actually thought about it before I dragged him outside, I would have.  It was uncool, unpolished.  That’s the kind of thing you do by yourself.  You know, the awkward, nerdy, unpresentable side of yourself….you don’t invite someone into that.  But as soon as I realized how I’d epically failed at being acceptable in his eyes – I realized he was right there with me anyway.

And I finally got God.  The God of Jacob who says “I am with you…”  The one who shows up in the middle of a road to somewhere else and totally redirects.  Sovereign.  Kind.  Engaged.

And with a promise…”I’m here and I’m not leaving.  I’ll lead you on an incredible path.  I’ll bring you home.”

That’s the thing about God.  He’s always in it.  He knows why we’re not where we should be and all the stuff that led us there.  He knows the person we are trying to be and the person we should be.  He sees the distance between the two.  He gets its.  But he’s unfazed.  And he’s there.

I didn’t really get that until that day.

So I grabbed a rock and slipped it in my pocket.  I keep it with me.  Because sometimes I just need to remember He’s here with me – even when I didn’t invite Him or think that’s the case.  It reminds me He can interrupt at any time because He knows EXACTLY where I am.  It says I can try to fool everyone else and pretend I have it all together, but He’s never confused about who I am or why.  It lets me feel evidence that He’s orchestrating time and circumstances to shape me into the person I need to be – and that He won’t leave me until He’s done what He’s promised…

“Trust in the Lord forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.”

casting

March 10, 2010

There’s a part of the bible that gets tossed around from Sunday School to senior citizens, “Cast your anxiety on Jesus because He cares for you.”

Maybe it’s spun as “cast your cares” or “cast your burdens” but it’s the same deal…and I’ve heard it ad nauseam.  It’s just one of those things church people like too say

Too bad I haven’t ever really known what it means or what it actually looks like to cast anything (except a fish net)…

My hesitation is that cast denotes an abdication of responsibility.  Where’s the line between my personal responsibility as someone made with infinite creative potential and my rights and privileges as an heir of God?  What do I have to do myself and what will He do for me?  Surely, you can’t just say “ok God, I have cancer, so I’m going to cast that on you and not worry about it.”  I’d probably just go to the doctor, you know?

But yesterday it came together.  Buz is the dad of the Turner family.  The Turners aren’t my family but they are pretty close.  In 5 years I’ve learned more about the way a family acts, reacts, and interacts that I could have ever imagined.  They’ve welcome me, challenged me, comforted me, corrected me, pissed me off, celebrated with me, and given me more than I will probably ever give back.  They are a family in the best sense of the word.  And Buz is the rock.  Quiet, smart, loaded with common sense and a work ethic that would blow your mind – he’s even. Always.  Nothing phases the guy.  I’ve seen the craziest things happen and every time he remains freakishly calm and says “let’s do this”.  Every time.

He’s the person I’m least anxious around.

The only way I can explain it is to say I feel safe riding in the car with him.  I know, I should feel safe riding in the car with most people – but I don’t.  When I got a car at 15, I never looked back (yes I drove w/o a license for a year).  Finally, I was independent: in charge of my destination and the way there.  Ever since, I have HATED riding with other people.  Where will they take me?  What if I need to stop? What if I want to go a different way? What if they leave without me?

I get anxious thinking about it.

Counting on other people to consider me, my needs, and do something about them isn’t exactly an instinct of mine. It’s not something I plan on; if anything, I actually plan on people NOT considering my needs and having to fight for them on my own…life leaves a residue like that, you know?

So when our neighbor and I went to meet Buz for dinner last night and he said he’d be there a few minutes before me – I got it.  Things would be handled.  He’d get a table and probably order me water – we’d sit down, order, talk…  I knew the drill.  He knows me well enough – I know him well enough.  Time builds relationship and relationship builds trust and trust builds predictability.

Exactly.

Scripture isn’t talking about some back-door plan for us to have all of our problems fixed by God if only we’d “cast” them on Jesus.  Too often I’m guilty of thinking and praying from this place of “if only this was set-right, I’d be at peace” when in reality, nothing can be further from what God’s trying to say here.  But maybe (hell, mostly) God isn’t trying to fix our problems at all.  He’s trying to fix us.  Casting requires us to direct our anxieties toward God and in doing, we engage in a conversation with God about really visceral things.  It strengthens a muscle.  We have quirks and we voice them.  We get to hear His response; His heart toward us; His character.  We get to know He has heard…

In that interplay I see Him differently; and I even start to see myself differently too.  And that changes everything…

Over time, the feeling that I have to fight for my own way in life, that no one will take me into consideration has waned.  It folds somehow into a God who calms me down not as much by His actions but by His character, by the value He continues to insist I have.  My anxiety has decreased not necessarily through circumstance; but through the confidence I have in that relationship with Him.

There are definitive times I’ve prayed about something bugging me and miraculously, supernaturally, it’s fixed.  Other times, I have a clear sense that I need to get myself together and do something about it.  It’s the same way with Buz.  Sometimes he just takes care of stuff for me if I ask him, and other times he laughs and says, “grow up.”

Oddly enough, if you read the verse in context (1Peter 5) it’s talking about the relationship between young people and old ones.  Like “hey, trust the elders, they’re wise – they love you, so trust that they’re good people because it’s not so stressful when you know someone’s there to hold you and lift you up.  someone good. someone who loves you.” (sarah revised version!) And then Peter says “cast your anxiety on Jesus” so I have to imagine there is an invisible LIKE YOU DO THE ELDERS right after…

You know, as much as I want everything hard in my life to just go away, God never billed Himself as a magician or a winning lottery ticket; He said He was our Father…a perfect one.  And I’m discovering how calming that fact really is…

Sexy Bitch

March 9, 2010

So I’m at the gym this morning, and “Sexy Bitch” shuffles on my iPod.  It’s one of those songs I listen to and think, “I probably shouldn’t like this song.”  But, it’s good and I do…

not to mention it takes my workout up a level or two

i get the song.  I mean, I doubt Akon and David whatever-his-last-name-is had any intention of creating a larger sociological conversation, but that’s what this song is.

Girls are funny – and one of the best explanations of my generation and younger is in Courtney Martin’s book, “Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters.”  All told, it is a book about eating disorders but it speaks to a much larger thesis that our mothers (of the feminist movement), after fighting for women’s rights essentially said to the girls of our generation: you can do anything.

we translated it: I have to be everything

It’s a brilliant book – but the problem remains.  Or should I say the larger problem remains, we can’t be everything!

Yet we live with a deep defeating sense that we aren’t enough.

We must be pretty, smart, athletic, successful, a good mom, a great wife, personable, social, musical, well-read, funny, the best – at everything – all the time.

Who are we kidding?  Nobody but ourselves…

but we keep going, to be “nothing like a girl you’ve ever seen before”

even if it makes us a sexy bitch

life in 3 dimensions

February 24, 2010

Quarrels among friends are rare.  There are the hiccups and the growing pains; but, the really deep cutting fall-outs are few and far between.  They happen though.

And they hurt.

I found myself catapulted into one this week.  The result of misgiving or just miscommunication, I’m not sure.  I’m honestly still not entirely sure where things went wrong, but I do know people matter.  And to me, they matter a lot so I don’t care so much if I am found totally innocent or absolutely at fault, it just matters how to pick up the pieces and go from here.

At lunch yesterday, with a friend who knows the situation well enough for me to divulge even the news that I’m at odds, I said nothing.  Over and over in my head kept playing the words of Proverbs 16:28:

…gossip separates close friends

Sometimes I think we assume gossip has to be false to be gossip.  But gossip, defined, is a report of intimate nature.  No qualifiers on the truth or falsity of the claim.  More so, the derivative of the word is godsibb…with sib being like “sibling” or “kinsman”.  It suggests, by nature someone close enough to be in the know.

We have two choices in sharing intimate information.  It can be shared with the person with whom you are intimate…or not.  So, while there is something to be said about the weight of this passage in a 10th grade girls’ locker room – I think what we read is something profoundly more human.

People engage in friendships with their whole selves.  Their history.  Insecurity.  Fear.  Frustration.  Joy.  Passion.  Quirks.

Those things are expressed, rightly, in relationship.  In touch, time, service, conversation, gifts, thoughts, jokes, tears…intimacy

how could we ever share about an event or argument with someone who hasn’t engaged all 3 dimensions of the other person?

We can’t.

So in gossiping we run the risk of inadvertently creating them as 2-dimensional characters.  We can make them flat.  We talk and talk and talk and in doing potentially boil them down to only an action or reaction – not a human.  And that’s a dangerous place to be.  It’s NOT to say that we can’t seek wise counsel – often, that’s really the best thing to do.  But I’ve noticed the best wise counsel usually avoids playing referee and instead draws back to the notion that the other person is just as complex and valuable.  Compassion is really easy to have for a 3-dimensional person; it almost doesn’t exist for those with only 2.  I think what scripture is saying is to tread lightly on gossip – not because it’s sin but because it could make another person seem inhuman 

and make us inhumane too

achievement

February 22, 2010

I love watching Bode Miller ski.  He’s great, of course…and arguably the media is hyping him to the 9s – but that’s not why.

He and I share a knee surgeon.  Which seems like kind of random reason to feel connected to someone, right?  Only if you haven’t had knee surgery.

We’re a brethren; and sharing a surgeon is like disciples who share a rabbi.  You get conditioned and shaped in a certain way.

So I watch, partly with an understanding of just how impossible what he is doing in post-op terms but also with a deeply seeded hope being watered.

Achievement is my drug of choice.  I never liked running as much as I liked the ability to defy what I thought was possible one step at a time.  I never needed the gold or the statue or the bank balance, per se, but I knew where my lines were and the ability to propel myself beyond them was pure satisfaction.

At least that is what I was thinking about yesterday, watching strangers and friends finish the National Marathon to End Breast Cancer.  I thought maybe I could be like Bode too – come back from staggering injury and embarrassing defeat to win proverbial gold.  Maybe I could, despite the insistence of the world’s best knee surgeon to the contrary, run a marathon one of these days.  I really miss those types of achievements; but, I have some other types to purse now as well.  Arguably, they are wider and higher.  Top 10 MBA program.  Recovering from the knee surgery that landed me on the sidelines. Traveling the world.  Becoming a person of integrity.  Financial freedom. There are a lot of moments, things, milestones – maybe not as definitive as a finish line, but I can’t deny they exist and I hit them.

But I’m still not happy.  Worse, each finish line is ever more unsatisfying.  Why?  I sat and considered that yesterday.

Isaiah 30:15, “…in repentance & rest is your salvation. in quietness & trust is your strength.”

oh.  that.

What do I think the thing is that will save me? Yeah, I say the right answer.  But I’m increasingly confronting the reality that this Puritian work ethic and American dream have somehow tainted my pursuit of happiness.  And don’t get me wrong, there’s a pretty strong likelihood that I’ll achieve the ultimate aims of American life –  beauty, power, and wealth.  And hard work is a very spiritual thing.  I just don’t want to mistake it all for life, for the path to happiness, or for the thing that saves me.

And I have.

The truth is that I like achievement as salvation because I can control it.  If I win or lose the gold, if I cross the finish line or stumble, it’s on me.  I’m responsible.  It’s a sick form of selfishness really. 

But when salvation enters an arena of grace, it becomes beyond my control and I start getting nervous.  I can’t control God.  Hell, I can’t even understand Him.  In repentance & rest is my salvation? Are You kidding?  NO!  Screw You God.  Tell me what I have to do. Tell me who I have to be to get what I want.

There are things I want…very deeply and I don’t have them…  And I don’t know how to get them.  And I’m learning I will only ever receive them.

That’s a hard place to be.

Receiving is not an achievement.  You can’t manipulate or woo or pester God into being gracious.  Some preacher will tell you that you can.  Many will tell you how there is a “worthy candidate for God to pour out His blessings” all while leaving out the fact that you may get spit on to heal your blindness.  [insert unenthusiastic ‘yay’ here].  I’m glad God is this way, as hard as it is.  I don’t want a figurehead; I need a Father.  I’m glad He knew that would be the case.

So repentance? Rest? God, I have no idea how to even do that.  I know how to strategize and work.  I know how to achieve, not receive.  God help me.

Acerbic thought, I know, but God is not in the Jesus business – at least I don’t think so.  Let me explain.

Our marketing professor went over sort of the basics of corporate vision & strategy the other day.  More importantly, he tied it to the products or services a company would sell.  Automobile companies for instance, are in the business of moving people safely and comfortably – but not necessarily the car business.  Cars are a way they do that, but to mistake the “game” for just cars is to lose a ton of market share.   Cosmetic companies, for instance, are not in the make-up business.  They are in the business of making women feel beautiful.

Maybe God gets this and we don’t.  God is in the life and freedom business.  Jesus said himself that he came so that we might have LIFE, and that he sets people free.  Sure, Jesus is the way God went about doing that – but there was a great end-game in mind.

The same way that kind of mental shift changes the way we do business, it also changes the story we tell about God.  Are we hocking Jesus? Shoving Him down people’s throats and walking away with a sale, forgetting God’s heart is for life, transformation and freedom.

marble walls & barbed wire

January 30, 2010

It’s 5am.  I’m 16 stories up over looking the Presidential Palace at the nicest hotel in Delhi, India.  There’s literally a marble wall covered in barbed-wire surrounding the hotel grounds.

This is the nicest section of town.

Coming here, it was clear from the stories of friends who have been that there’s a tremendous culture shock.

more like culture tsunami. of all the things I heard about India, I actually thought I was over-prepared.  At one point, in frustration, I said, “I get it but it can’t be that bad.”  It is.  The poverty is pervasive & desperate.  Every glimpse outside of these marble walls is full of indescribable images of a people who have lost their humanity.  India may be its own circle of hell.

And this isn’t the poorest part of the country; nor the planet…

and I’m behind a marble wall topped with barbed wire.  If I wasn’t here, I would have left a long time ago.  Hopped a plane, 24 hours in flight.  Gone home.

Was I scared? not really.  Did the poverty just offend me that much? not exactly.  When I landed, I went two straight days out “there”.  A few friends and I drove south to Agra, then east to Jaipur then back to Delhi – all in 36 hours.

My eyes were on sensory overload.  My stuff was in bags.  The next meal or bathroom or safe drinking water was indiscernible to us.  My heart was exploding and shutting down.  I was sick, tired, vulnerable, weak.  I just wanted to go home. I had nothing left to give.

Robert Frost said, “Home is the place that where when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”  I could not disagree more. – I like Oliver Wendell Holmes version better, “Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”  – Jane Austen actually nailed it, “There is nothing like staying home for real comfort”

I guess it’s safe to say I’ve thought a lot about what “home” is, what it means, where to find, how to build it.  There’s nothing I want more than to have the kind of home where strangers feel like friends and friends feel like family and family have a place of disarming rest in the security of love that’s fueled by the creator, the source of love.

Crawling behind these marble walls & barbed wire in India, I started to feel better – to catch my breathe.  To be honest, I was disappointed with myself on a lot of levels (i’ll explain more in the next few days).  In this case, I wanted to not need protection and safety.  I wanted to go without peace and rest and still have something to offer of value.

What was I thinking?  We all need marble walls and barbed wire.  We all need homes to run to, lean in to, & feel in a warm embrace.

In some ways, when my family, my home crumbled at 13, I resolved to no longer need home – to be strong enough to protect myself or to create it for myself.

I was foolish to believe that home existed a block off the ocean in Florida – or in a boys arms – or in friend’s places – or finding new parents…I’ve looked everywhere.  But for the past 6 months and for the next 6 to come, I’ll be trotting around the planet.  Feeling awkwardly, experiencing the new, seeing the stuff that knocks the wind out of you.  The stuff that makes you want to go home to process it all, to figure out what it means about you, life, what you need to be responsible for about it, and where to go from there.

And in all of that, more than ever, I realized it took trips around the world to find home.  In Psalm 62 it’s so clear,

“To [my enemies] I’m just a broken-down wall…Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my…fortress where I will NOT be shaken…He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. Find rest, o my soul, in God alone…”

Do you know what that means? Can you even imagine the seismic shift this is in my life – or anyone’s?  God is the marble wall & barbed wire that never leaves, that forever protects, into which I can always find refuge.  He is my home.  I have a home here, anywhere, always.  I’ve never been able to say that and now I can never lose it.

Selah.

pathways

January 26, 2010

So i’m sitting in the airport, embarking on this journey to india and nepal.  There are people running around, as I’m sure I will see in Paris and Atlanta too, and watching them, especially on THIS day, I can’t help but stand in awe of how we get where we go.

Four years ago, I had a knee surgery that set off a course of events that changed my life.  Three years ago, I had a 2nd that ultimately healed my knee.  I don’t know why both were scheduled for January 26th, but I know that this day is a “stone” (Joshua 3 & 4) to me – a memorial for the ways in which God orchestrates a way for us to move into real life and freedom.

I will never stand on this day without realizing the course of events that transpired were out of my control – and ultimately the way that I found healing (for my knee and my heart!) was beyond it as well.  I love that.  It reminds me that God is God.  He’s sovereign.  He’s aware.  He is not so worried about the stuff I am; instead, He’s confident in how everything plays out – and ever delighting in my (and our) lives.

Erwin McManus said once, “God is celebrating the wonder of your life.”  I feel that today – as I remember and also as I leave for India, a place I certainly never thought I would go.  I will probably not actually believe I am flying around Mt. Everest until I’m staring at her peaks with my own eyes.

I’m leaving for and going places I’d have never thought to dream of.  I have been places and become someone in these past 4 years that I never imagined.  I know today, in my bones, that God is faithful, He loves perfectly, He is always with me…

And that makes this road worth traveling.

saved.

January 25, 2010

12 years ago, maybe 13, I remember sitting in a sleeping bag on the floor of a sunday school classroom in North Carolina.  It was early and I had been thinking.  These church friends of mine – who dragged me to build houses in NC for a week kept talking about some moment, some prayer.  It wasn’t quite “turn or burn”; but everyone seemed to know of and discuss a moment when they “accepted” Jesus.

To be honest, I didn’t understand what they were talking about.  In some ways, I still don’t.  But I thought maybe I needed a moment too.  So with folded hands, I said “ok God, You seem like an OK guy.  I’ll do this.  I’ll give you a shot”  Maybe it wasn’t so poetic, but I did make a conscious decision to pursue this Jesus character for myself.

Life moved on.  Through college, my first job, my sixth promotion, a new job, family drama, and boy after boy after boy after boy. I stumbled through rape, through churches growing up as much as I was, through travels around this country and foreign landscapes dotted with different looking people, with new friends and old ones who were no longer the same.  Life shaped itself compliments of many many vodka cranberries and a cacophony of new perspectives, new things to consider, layers of me being added and pulled away – and a friendship that informed it all.

I sincerely came to love and adore the one called Jesus.  The truth of the Gospel was actually the only thing that made sense of it all.  It pulled together bliss and despair in a way that was beautifully human.  And I marched along, no longer a curious observer but a devout follower. I knew enough to know He knew life better than me – so it was easy to be humble and obedient.

Imagine my surprise, at 5:22 am yesterday, when I woke up…slightly dizzy from having lost count of the number of margaritas at dinner…and started reading through my journal.  Stories and words from years ago read like breaking news.  Granted, many a vice manifested itself to a lesser extent, but in a moment life seemed meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

“Something is wrong with this picture,” I wrote.  “I should be different.  I am different, but I should be a different kind of different.”  I heard a familiar question ringing between my ears, “what are you trusting to save you?”  Where the collage of answers past have been boys, sex, booze, money, beauty, the word sputtered out of my mouth surprised me:

Wisdom.

It had never been so obvious.  Wisdom will change a person and it had.  Not radically, but slowly.  I was better for it; but there was something better for me.  Change isn’t salvation, it’s just change.  I believe God healed me in internal and external things – but healing doesn’t mean the Messiah has come – even Peter’s shadow had the power to heal.

Plainly, I knew…for a decade I had drawn close to Jesus but without having asked Him to save me.  Maybe I had assumed He knew.  Maybe I assumed I didn’t need it because I was around Him often and part of the posse.  Maybe the cycle of slight change and short-lived resolve deceived me into thinking He was saving.  I had a glorious run – getting to know Him, question Him, trust Him.  He proved faithful, trustworthy, magnificent.  I love Him more now that I ever thought I could; in my 12 year journey, He’s unquestionably become my best friend and most intimate relationship – but savior?  never-the-same again kind of saving? No.

So quietly in my room, after years and relationships taught me that all the people way back when who discussed such a moment really had no idea what they were talking about. There was no card to fill out or box to check or aisle to walk down, this was just me and Him in perhaps the most intimate conversation I’ll probably ever have and the details of which I’ll probably never share.

In that moment, I met Jesus the savior.  Hosanna in the Highest…