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January 29, 2012

It’s nice to come back to Ashland every once in a while.  Most of the time it’s for family gatherings, and the irony of those is you never get to spend much time with any one person.  I came back for Christmas and was only able to stay a few hours.  It went by so fast I can barely remember it.  So it’s been pretty nice to hang out with my mom and eat her food and fix her computers.  I went over to my uncle’s and saw his new electric car and ate some gumbo, and watched basketball.  And it is so quiet here, I got home and fell asleep like, effortlessly.  And slept for over 10 hours.  No infomercials blaring in the next room, no clanging of beer bottles, no playstation, no snoring, no cars driving by, no roommates knocking on my door at 4 in the morning to see if I want to go get breakfast.  Just quiet.

I still consider this place home, even after all this time, and even after my parents divorcing and selling the house I grew up in.  I won’t have a “home” of my own till it’s just the way I want it, ya know.  Someday soon I really want to live in a suburb near a decent sized city.  Cause I like the feel of the city, and I like the opportunities there,  but it would be nice to have a home far enough away that I didn’t hear trains and traffic and wasn’t scrunched in with a bunch of other people in an apartment.  I want a yard that has to be mowed.  I love yardwork, mowing, raking, putting down fertilizer, mulching, pruning, all that stuff.  I guess that’s kinda strange.

Ashland’s not like it was, though.  The population is aging and most of the young people are like me, they move out and just visit every once in a while.  I really wonder what will happen to this place in 20 years.  The biggest employer is the hospital, so ultimately the biggest sources of prosperity for this place are medicare, social security, and pensions.  That’s not sustainable.  I hope this remains a good place to live for my uncle and mom, and grandfather.

 

I’m gonna lay a little truth on ya here.  

See, even when I decided that I wanted to try to follow Jesus, my opinion of God was something like:

“All right God, I keep hearing everyone say that you love us, that you love me, but the world is a really shitty place, and my life could be a lot better.  People are so cruel to each other, a lot of bad things happen to me, and there is so much within me and so much about my situation that I want to change, and I hear people say we should “live in victory” or whatever, but even though I’ve asked you to help me change all these things about myself, and asked you to take away these things that hurt me and that separate us, you really haven’t done it.  And I can’t do it on my own.  God you say you love us, but the only way that could be true is if I’ve completely misunderstood it.  What is this ‘love’ supposed to look like?

I think most people come to this point in their search for God.  I’ve been there, and it’s hard to hear someone you trust be so insistent that God loves you, but at the same time you know that it doesn’t match the reality of your life.  So we get to a point where we give up.  We say, this is too hard for me, I’m not good enough, this isn’t good enough.  I’m going back to the way it was, I guess this isn’t for me.

Thing is, and this may seem awfully strange, failure and giving up are very important in dealing with God.  Like Mr. Rogers would always say, to anyone who would listen, “God loves you just the way you are.”  God made us!  We are the way we are, and there is no better way to be.  If our lives will get better, together, we have to trust each other first.  And how can we trust him if we stay angry and disappointed?  If we keep going through the motions and waiting for something to change?  Giving up is the best thing I ever did.  Because I knew his opinion of me didn’t change.  I finally understood that he loves me for reasons I can’t change.  All the tension melted away.  I wasn’t mad at him, and I understood that he wasn’t mad at me.  We had conversations.  I knew, more than ever, that he was real and he was there.  And all those horrible problems in the world, maybe a few of them are there for us to solve together.  And all those problems with myself, I’d like them to get better, but it’s not my highest priority anymore.  It can wait, honestly, cause I have a life to live.  Giving up is an amazing thing.  It’s all right, because he never gives up on us.

And I really think it’s like this for a reason.  I can’t really point to any particular reason that God loves me.  So when I deal with others, I quit looking for reasons to love them.  I just do, you know.  I have a lot of love to give, because I understand how much I am loved.  I really hope, no matter what else people think of me, they think, here’s a guy I can be myself with.  When I’m around him, I can rest.  Cause that’s where it all starts.

Jesus says this:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

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