Archive for the 'Worms' Category

Nov 26 2008

The Poor Aren’t At Our Parties

Published by under Life,Worms

I’ve got a broken heart right now.

There are so many things which compete for our time, attention, and money.

During the holidays, one thing we hear about is poverty and hunger. According to this Anderson Cooper blog entry, 1 in 8 Americans got food assistance of some kind last year. As food banks struggle to keep up with demand, we can only assume more are in need of food. That doesn’t even broach the subject of world hunger.

Here’s why I have a broken heart. Because I’m so heartless.

One of the women in the story talks about how many of us spend as much on ONE MEAL as some people need to eat for one DAY…OR LONGER! That prompted me to ask this: “Why do I go out to eat at all? And if I do, why go to such expensive places?” In effect, I’m saying this: “Oh, yeah, I know there are poor people who need a meal. But I need this $20 steak more.” And there is no argument anyone can make to me that will convince me this is not morally deficient. MORALLY deficient. Our consciences (or maybe more accurately, volition) are fine with all of this. Every day.

We go to all these parties, creating elaborate themes and costumes and dishes, drinking wines and beers, eating dips and cheeses, watching football and movies, listening to music. And most of us, myself included, rarely think about poor people.

Having fun is no crime. I’m not hating on parties. But that doesn’t let us off the hook! Abandoning huge segments of humanity while focusing entirely on ourselves is a huge problem. It is selfishness in its highest, ugliest form. And we wear it like a garment. Daily. It looks so good at all our cool activities. But aren’t we just whitewashed tombs? Won’t we be exposed some day? Are we so sure we’re living life the right way in this regard? I wonder if this is one reason why many of us secretly hate our lives. Maybe we weren’t supposed to live this way.

Here’s the worst of it…we may be sympathetic to the poor, but we never have time to do something about it. We’re so booked with our cool activities. And, even if we think about helping, the thought of actually doing something about it really bothers us. We get uneasy when we think about it. Often, the poor are weird. They smell strange or say weird things or generally creep us out. That’s honestly how I feel in my heart. And I HATE it! I feel like there’s nothing I can do about it. They offend our sensibilities. I wonder which of Jesus’ sensibilities I offend.

Sometimes the “poor” are white collar folk who hit a bad patch. Why are we more inclined to feel ok with helping them? Because they’re more like us. They’re familiar and comfortable and “normal.” In essence, we don’t believe that all men are created equal. We don’t believe that they are created with certain inalienable rights (among which I’m SURE food is one). We weasel out of things, rationalizing our way to the next event we’re attending. “I’ve earned this” or “They need to fight for themselves. I did.” The truth is: we didn’t. Other people have fought for us our whole lives. Who will fight for the poor? I know there are some great people doing great things with the poor. Most of us don’t, but should.

I wonder how many parties I’ll remember when I get older. I wonder what the quality of my life will be like. I wonder what regrets I’ll have. I’m hoping right now that neglecting the poor is something I can say I stopped doing when I was 28.

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Nov 20 2008

Softballs and Close Calls

Published by under Uncategorized,Worms

Meatheads and Hosses
40 degrees here in Nashville tonight and my brothers and I were playing softball. Pretty chilly. We played two games tonight in the tournament. We won the first. In the second game, we played a team we lost to by 1 run in the regular season. The team we played is called Social Pipeline. They’re a cool group. I was thinking during the game how easily our judgments of people are formed and switched. When you look at a lot of the guys on the team, they’re cut. Their the ones Under Armour was made for. Guys built like me don’t exactly fill that stuff out.

Anyway, earlier in the season, seeing these guys for the first time, I thought, “What a bunch of meatheads.” Turns out the team is a ton of fun to play. It’s not like we’re joking around all game but a laugh here and a, “Nice hit” there can totally change your opinion about someone. So now these meatheads are just hosses (no, hot hoses…hosses…they’re big and can hit the ball far). A meathead is someone who is 1. bigger than you and 2. stupid and/or 3. drinks protein shakes at every meal and calls it muscle milk and/or 4. someone you have animosity toward, probably for one or more reasons above. A hoss is someone who is 1. bigger than you and 2. talented. There is a difference! Well, the team we played has a bunch of hosses – guys who can hit the ball very hard and very far. The first game against us, they hit 4 home runs farther than anything I’ve seen in a while.

The Games
From the time our first game began, I kept having this thought over and over again (I’m not telling you what it is yet). I pitch for our team so every few pitches I would have this thought. And it’s strange because every once in a while during the season, I think this thought, but not so many times in one night. Well, the first game ended and nothing became of my thought. Then we came to the 3rd inning of game 2. One of their hosses came to the plate. I had the thought again. I pitched the first ball. It was perfect. And he just watched it. Strike. “Weird,” I thought. “Why didn’t he bomb that thing?” Pitch 2. The batter swings…

The Hit
I’ve played baseball/softball for a long time. I played outfield in baseball and I pitch in sotball. When a ball gets hit, there is only one trajectory that’s difficult to judge. This guy hit it. “He hit the ball,” I instantly thought. “Why does it seem to be moving so slow?” My reflexes kicked in. “Because he just hit a line drive at you, dummy!” (My reflexes talk to me.) In all the time I’ve played, I think I’ve only had one other ball hit so hard at me. Line drives are so tough to judge because there is no frame of reference by which you can judge its speed. You just know its direction (at you).

The Aftermath
Is this just some melodramatic, not-so-interesting storytelling exercise? No. See, this guy hit a screaming line drive right at my head. That recurring thought I was having? All night long up until that point, I had been thinking, “You’re going to get hit in the head tonight.” I got my glove up and the ball didn’t quite hit in the webbing. Actually, for those keeping score at home, it hit me mostly in the first metacarpal (the index finger bone just below your actual finger digit). Stung like a beast. There were a bunch of people waiting to play the next game who were watching. I heard a collective gasp. The batter said, “Oh, sh!t” and came running out to see if I was ok. I always feel bad for batters when they hit a ball right back up the middle at me. They don’t intend to do it – it’s just part of the game. We slapped five (the bro five) and I said, “Ain’t no thing, man!”

But that’s just it. It WAS a thing to me. See, I’m scared to die.

Even though I’m a Jesus follower, I’m still scared to die. “What if that ball HAD hit me in the head?” Truthfully, I may not have died, but I’ve got to think it would have cracked my skull. And I mentioned this is the only the 2nd hardest hit ball. Last year, one of my friends hit a ball just like that. I got my glove up a split second before the ball hit my heart. Back then, I remember thinking about how trauma to the heart (via ribs) can cause it to beat irregularly or stop beating altogether.

On December 19, I’ll probably catch a flight back to Michigan. I’ll go and hang out with my family and eat good food and tell good stories and laugh a lot. And there’s no doubt in my mind I’m going home. It doesn’t scare me. It’s home.

So if, as a Christian, heaven is my true home, what does it mean if I’m scared to die? Does it mean I am UNSURE of what Jesus actually did on the Cross? I’m inclined to think, “I’m just a human. It’s normal to be scared of all that. I’ve been home hundreds of times. I’ve never been to heaven.” Ah, but that misses the essence of faith. The classic Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being SURE of what we hope for and CERTAIN of what we do not see” (emphasis mine). The author goes on to talk about all the people in the Old Testament who just trusted God. They took Him at His word.

The Truth
I’m afraid to die. That’s just the way my life is right now. Yes, this sometimes makes me wonder if I’m a Christian at all (I think I am, by the way – according to the gospel interpretation commonly accepted in evangelical circles, I’m a Christian). And, yes, some people reading this might feel sorry for me. But I’m beginning to be ok with all these things. Don’t get me wrong. There would be no greater Christmas present (or Tomorrow present) than understanding I really AM forgiven and I really AM going to heaven when I die.

In chapter 12, Hebrews says, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

The Purpose
Is it possible that all the frustration and all the questions and all the doubt in our lives is producing a “harvest of righteousness and peace”? If God lets us wrestle with these questions (which can be painful), does that mean He’s disciplining us in some way? I don’t know. Maybe. Here’s what I wrote to my friend, Annie, today: “I wonder if people who always say life is awesome are just deluded or trying to delude others. Deceived or deceivers? And if they legitimately live on Easy Street, are we so sure we’d want to be there, too? See, I wouldn’t. And that’s interesting to me. A life on Easy Street scares the junk out of me.”

And THAT is why I don’t mind wrestling through the fact that I’m afraid to die. Should I be afraid? I don’t know. I don’t think so. But I am. And this is another Worm of mine – something it scares me to admit. My name is Andy. I’m afraid to die. And Jesus is going to help me not be that way anymore. I trust His Word in Hebrews. I trust Him.

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Nov 18 2008

Why I Feel Like Eating Worms

Published by under Worms

I have to be careful when I write. Way too often, writing becomes a means for me to try and impress people.

Blogs are strange things. You learn a lot of cool stuff on them. I suppose some waste your time. A lot of times I’m reluctant to write on my blog because I feel like my motivation is wrong (trying to impress people). Sometimes I just don’t feel like I have something to say that is worth another person’s time to read. But the incredible thing is that even when you have a self-deprecating entry, you can still be trying to impress people with humility or the fact that you know yourself. I’m not doing that tonight.

Yeah, I Swear and Have Anger
But so caught up am I in impressing people that a lot of times, I don’t write what I feel like writing. I don’t write about how I was working on a computer program this weekend and pounded my fist on the desk and yelled the F word. (Actually, I did that 3 times this weekend). I don’t write about how I have these feelings sometimes of wanting to smash my car into someone that cuts in front me. I think, “If only I had a big police car-ram thingy on the front of this.” I don’t write about how I make my brothers mad every week because I play music all the time (and way too loud). I don’t write about how disappointed I am that the 28 years of my life have amounted to very little. It’s all self-preservation. I want other people to think I’m awesome so I never tell anyone those things. But tonight, I realized something…again.

We had a co-ed flag football game tonight. On the last play of the game, we needed to stop the other team from scoring. They were on our 2-yard line (close to scoring). The ball got snapped. People started running all over the place. I saw the quarterback look right. I knew he was going to throw it where he was looking. He launched the ball. I turned and looked to see who from our team was in coverage over there. Not a soul. The other team scored on us as time expired. Our undefeated season came to an end in the semi-finals. I was furious. My brother, Dave, was the closest to the play. I asked him in a forceful voice, “WHERE WERE YOU!?!?” He said, “I slipped.” He quickly added, in a dejected but offended tone, “Dude, c’mon, don’t be like that.”

Like what? Isn’t my reaction just normal? It seems so. But it bothers the heck out of me! I could tell you of 5 other things I did today very similar to this. It’s a pattern.

O, Anger, Where Art Thou?
We stayed to watch the championship game and I asked myself, “Where does all this anger come from?” See, in those moments, I treated Dave like he was subhuman. He was a pile of crap that stunk up my day. I could try and reason to myself all kinds of things to prevent the anger: Dave tried his best, it’s not like he WANTED them score, everyone makes mistakes, it’s only a rec league co-ed flag football game, he’s my brother and he deserves to be treated better. But none of it makes a difference. My heart reacted so strongly and so quickly. I didn’t have time to think.

And that’s why I’m writing this blog. Because this is me. This is part of my life. For all the posturing and all the image I want to portray, this is part of me, too. And it bugs me. And that’s why I feel like eating worms. If people knew half the things that go on inside me, no one would like me. We sang a song when we were kids. Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll go eat worms.

Cheer Up, Bucko!
Inevitably, someone reading this with a much better heart than mine will want to cheer me up. I hope you do! :) But this entry (and entries I hope to make in the closing days of this year) are more about the WHOLE me…not just the good parts. Maybe people won’t hate me. Maybe some people will see things in their own lives and start talking about them. Because what I realized again tonight is that most of us AREN’T good people. We consistently do a bunch of bad things we can’t even really explain. But we never share any of these things with each other. We share the good times (and that’s great) but, even with our closest friends, most of us don’t talk about the inner places of our heart.

Who Are You, Andy?
I think that sharing these things is going to force me to reckon with the core of who I am. I have a lot of fears about this, in honesty. I wonder if down the road some girl I think is cute will read this and think, “Um, no. Not this guy.” But if this is who I am, won’t it come as a shock later on to find out I’m actually a dirtbag!? Might as well get things out in the open! Or maybe an employer will read this and say, “Uh, no. Not this guy.” This might make people think I’m a jerk or a freak. You may be exactly right!!! And that’s the whole point! I’d rather be a freak who knows it and can work to NOT be one than a “nice guy” who has all this mixed up stuff inside him but keeps living life with a smile on his face like nothing’s wrong. That’s not the life I want.

The End
I was wrong with my brother tonight. I told him I was sorry. I told him I didn’t want to be like that. And I don’t. I so badly want to live an authentic life. Authentic doesn’t necessarily mean everyone likes you or that you’ve got it all together. An authentic Famous Amos cookie doesn’t have chocolate chips hiding somewhere on the cookie or in some 4th dimension (this is weird, I know!). The chips are out there. I want my life to be also.

“Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’.”

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