So it's 1:40am and I think my insomnia is returning. I'm not really that tired...maybe a little bit, but I'm going to write anyways because I can. Cool. Glad we got that out of the way.
First things first...Brazil update - I've just been doing some work, getting prepared for some stuff that we have coming up. I'm supposed to be going into town tomorrow, which will be really good. I'll be talking with some locals and getting stories from them. If you want to know more about it, get in touch with me through the internet or just talk to me when I see you next. Something really cool that happened the other day though - I saw some monkeys. That was cool. They were jumping through the trees, a whole bunch of them. Very cool.
Now on to the essay...
So, I think it's interesting talking to people about a fear of the future and regret. I remember when these things used to consume me. They were, often times, the only things I could think about - regretting what I've done in my past, worrying about how it would affect my future, wondering if I would ever get a good job, a good wife, do something I was really proud of, whether I would become someone who simply forgot about their dreams and died on the inside or if I would seek out my dreams with everything I could...but in this, would I jeopardize anyone by putting anything on them (like school fees getting dumped on my parents cause I wanted to tour???) and the list could really go on. I don't know that I could honestly pinpoint the exact moment when this wasn't the only thing clogging my brain, but over time, I started to see things in a new light.
There were always two choices. Most people still think their are only two choices. You have the correct choice, the one that we are supposed to choose; the path that we are meant to be walking down. On the other side of this we have the wrong choice, the one we chose out of selfishness and ignorance, the path that we weren't meant to go down, people who voted for Bush, and all that sort of stuff (Okay - before you call the lynch mob to come tar & feather me, I was just kidding. It's a joke...if you know me, I could care less about your political affiliation, so just accept it as a joke and move on. Thanks) so we have two choices. Right? What if I proposed there were more? What if we could have more choices to choose from and whichever choice we made couldn't be wrong?
My faith is important to me. Right off the bat, that's just how it is and that's who I am. I've had a strong belief in God for a long time and really strive to follow him in all that I do. Do I fail? Absolutely. Have I hurt people along the way? More than I'd like to say (if you are reading this and you are one of them, please know that I really am very sorry for whatever I did. If I can make it up to you, let me know. I would hate for there to be any bitterness between us because I'm an idiot. Please forgive me.) Regardless of all that though, I am thankful for the love God has shown me and the patience (oh, how patient God is. Thank ... well... God for his patience) that he continues to show me as I continue to distort and take apart all that he has made.
Following the words of Paul the Apostle in the book of Romans (I believe), I want to do good but do just the opposite. And for me, I'm pretty good and doing the opposite. It still comes down to my faith though and the grace that I've been shown. I'm no different than any person, alive or dead - no better and no worse. ALL are created equal, and I believe that. So - with all that being said, I really have a strong belief in God. My faith is incredibly important to me. Forgive me please for sometimes distorting the truth of God.
So what does any of that have to do with the choices I was talking about before? Well, in order to understand what I believe about the choices, you need to understand my faith and the only way for me to do that was to just put it out there and tell you. Now when I'm talking about this, I'm talking about non-destructive decisions. Decisions that, to us, seem like a right and a wrong thing, but to others, each choice seems like a good idea. Our futures are the best example to go off of. Which University? What should I do for a job? Should I go to YWAM or work for Invisible Children (this was mine...)?
I really hope I'm making sense. Delirium could be setting in and I could just be rambling. I hope not. Here goes...
So now that you understand that my beliefs are important to me, I think I can explain my belief in the choices. So how can you make a choice about what you doing and it not be wrong? I think that when you are seeking God with all your heart, whatever decision you make will ultimately be right. Here's what I'm getting at...
So, you are seeking God with all your heart and you come to an area in your life where you need to figure out what to do next. We can spend too much time debating what this will look like, but the ultimate understanding in all of this is that you love God and are truly seeking to follow his will. So, in front of you, God puts 4 paths that you can choose from and tells you to pick your path and that none of those choices will be the wrong path. If you are like me though, you would probably sit there and think of every scenario in every way possible so that you can come up with the best solution, the right choice (even though it's already been established that there is no wrong choice.) This is where logic comes in and we assume that we could never do this or that choice because we don't have that much money to do this or we don't have enough experience to ever achieve that. We bog ourselves down by letting our (poor) logic take place and decide what we can and can't do.
For me, I had some different options after graduating from the Art Institute. The two biggest ones that stuck at 1 and 2 till I finally made my choice were to go to YWAM or to work full time for Invisible Children and be a roadie/office assistant/whatever they told me to do. So there are my two choices. I really was prepared for both, but actually starting leaning more towards Invisible Children and getting everything together I needed to send them so that I might be accepted as an Intern/Roadie. I changed my mind in this process however and chose to go to YWAM instead. YWAM seemed like a choice I might not ever get the chance to do again, while with Invisible Children, I could still help them from where I was. I didn't have to stop volunteering just cause I wasn't going to San Diego. I could keep promoting them, doing rallies and events and screenings for them, and not really stop anything I was doing already in Pittsburgh.
So I chose YWAM and went to Hawaii for my training school and now I'm in Brazil doing work. Pretty freakin' sweet, yeah? God has definitely blessed me with my decision - but I think God would have honored and blessed a decision to go to San Diego and work for IC just as much. I don't think either one was the right or wrong decision. I was seeking after God, wanting to get closer to him and help people also. Both of these gave me that chance, but I think because I was seeking after him, that either way, I didn't make the wrong choice. Things would be different, most definitely. The blessings would be different, circumstances, tribulations...a lot would be different, but I think God would still have blessed me.
So now we come back to the 4 paths. We are fully seeking after God and we have a few different options to chose from. So which do we chose? God said none of them were the wrong way to go because all are things we want to do and paths of things we can enjoy. So, we evaluate our options and choose the one we feel the best with. And no matter what, it's the right decision because it all comes back to our hearts. We are seeking God and striving to get closer to him, no matter which choice we make. If we are following, he will lead - so how can we make a wrong choice here? If we are following after God, when we make our choice, he's going to see our hearts and motivations and he will honor us...because we are seeking him.
NOW - This is NOT meant to be taken literally. This is meant to make you think. I'm not saying there's no right or wrong, but I want you to take this for what it means to you. For me, thinking about this kind of thing helped me follow and pursue my dreams. This is something I think everyone should do. Too often we try to tell ourselves and even get told by others that our dreams can't happen, they're to unrealistic and I say that such talk is absurd. Listen to your heart and follow your dreams.
That's what this story, this analogy, means to me. It helped me to realize that God knows me and sees my heart. He knows that I'm seeking him and, though I make mistakes, still desire a closer relationship. I desired that before I chose YWAM as my current future, and I really believe he would have honored me just as much if I went to IC. I don't regret my decision (though sometimes I do wonder what it would be like to be at IC and hope to still do a tour with them one day...) It is also kind of along the lines of something that St. Augustine said.
"Ama Deum et fac quod vis"
which is Latin for
"Love God and do what you want."
Love God and do what you want? How does that work?
I think this statement is profound and beautiful and deep on so many different levels. It may be my favorite quote. St. Augustine does explain this a bit but I'm going to paraphrase it and how what it's meant to me. We aren't going by a western standard of love in this quote, but the actuality of love as it's described in the Bible. A love that is giving and thinking of the other instead of ourselves. Thinking of love as an action. So if we love God, then we're doing things for him, which means our decisions and morals are going to be influenced by our belief in God and what he says. By loving God, we're aligning our heart with his. So to do what we want is to do what he wants. To love God and what you want doesn't mean that we can say we love God but go and do everything our flesh desires, but that by loving God, the things we want are the things he wants! And that's how it fits in this story of the paths. That, regardless of the number of choices we get thrown our way, when we are seeking God, we want what he wants and he will honor us and lead us down the path that will be most suited for us. It's still our choice though (and now theological confusion ensues as we could start to circle the past 2 sentences for hours and hours).
Some of you might actually be sitting there reading this, wondering if what I was getting to finally was that God will lead us down the path he deems right for us, then why the other paths? Did I do all of this just so I could write a really big post and confuse all of you? Well...yes. I rather enjoy both of those. Haha. Truth is though, that we're never given one path in life. We will always have to make decisions and choices, and a lot of those are going to be decisions that, no matter what our choice is, it's a positive and helpful choice. In choosing a college or university, you may get accepted to 4 of the schools you most want to go to. Each school has amazing academics for you to get involved so none of them are a bad choice for you. But you have to choose one. That's why I place the 4 paths.
You have to realize that this story was meant for me. This story helped me look deeper into the heart of God. I analyze and think of weird things like this to try and get a deeper understanding of the grace that God has shown us all. I share this in hopes that you will do the same and not feel so bogged down by whatever decisions lie in front of you (this only applies to constructive decisions, NOT to destructive ones like doing drugs or not. Obviously the destructive decision isn't good. It's destructive. So I'm in no way condoning destructive behavior and saying God will honor that...) But yeah, I'm hoping this helps any who read it. Even if it helps one person, it was worth staying up till 2:30am and writing.
Thank you for reading. Blessings.