Saturday, December 31, 2011

This One Doesn't Warrant A Name

Well it happened again. I let myself get busy. I hope you all had a relatively stress free holiday season. This one is going to be a short post. An interesting thought came to me yesterday and I just want to share it.

My first response to hurting someone or something is to avoid that person or thing. So if I get in an argument with a friend and upset them, I do my best stay away from them. When I mess up a transaction a work, my tendency is to want to leave the counter and go in the back. I've never given this pattern much thought until recently. I realized that I do the same thing with God, and I think a lot of people do. When we do something that we feel or even know that God is displeased with, we avoid him. Innate human reaction dictates that we run from it. My thought was this: at what point would we not run from God? When we're absolutely perfect? That was my first assumption, but as I thought about it more, I rejected that notion. If we were perfect people we would not need God at all. He sent a savior for the broken and hurting; for imperfect people. Why would we need help if we were perfect?

I truly believe that in the the time following our failures, we all turn to something for solace. I also believe that God is keenly aware of this trend and opens his arms as wide as they can stretch. Why then do we run? Would a dehydrated runner turn away from a glass of water? I've been there and no they would not. Neither should we turn.

I would like to share something that I've been working on lately. I think it applies. It's part of an Ellison's Cage song. I actually haven't shown the other guys in the band this yet (sorry boyos...), so feel special:

I wish the oceans weren't so deep when the rains came.

I wish my thoughts weren't buried so deep inside my brain.

I wish this house wasn't cold all winter long.

I wish I had the nerve to sing another song.

But we all change.

In ways we cannot understand.

We all grow.

Like a grain of sand becomes a pearl.

I don't have much more to say, I just wanted to share a thought. I hope that we all learn to accept outselves as God does and understand that every failure is a blessing in disguise. I pray you each have a safe, blessed new years.

(As always, thank you for joining me here. I typed this on my phone so please overlook and typos :) hit me up on my new Twitter name @MattHillEC.)

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Trees and People

Hey everyone! Sorry that it's been so long since I posted anything. I've been  pretty busy with life, but here we are again; together in the virtual world of words. That was weird, I apologize. I feel like words are oxygen to me, and I feel like I've been holding my breath lately. So allow us to breathe together and perpetuate the lovely lives that we lead. That had nothing to do with today's topic by the way.

Here we go for real now. Lately I've been noticing that a lot of areas of my life have been thriving on stop and start patterns. What I mean is that I have a tendency to dig my toes into something, and then jump right back out; get excited about something else, and then drop it; over and over again I fall short of the longevity that I need to continue these things. I am grateful that I've gained the cognizance to realize that this pattern is forming, but still I lack the understanding necessary to climb out of this hole. I'll be honest with all of you guys, I'm kind of struggling with this right now. Most of the writers and blogs that I follow tend to propose answers and theories, and I partake in my fair share of that, but today I really don't have any answers. Only questions.

Did you know that it takes a minimum of 70 years for pine trees to reach maturity? Some take up to 250 years. I'll admit that I did not know this until I just googled it. That is an impressive fact to me though. I commonly look at trees and marvel at the fact that such huge, dense creatures came from mere seeds that could rest easily in my palm. I wonder how many people looked at those trees before they reached their prime though? How many eyes brushed over them as they slowly reached their potential. 70 years is a very long time. In the time that a baby is born, grows up, grows old, and subsequently passes away, a pine tree has only just begin to live. And some take 3 lifetimes to reach the age at which they can begin to thrive. Want to know something else interesting about pine trees? I knew you would (or you're questioning whether this blog has any point and you're considering getting on Facebook, and I understand.) The tap roots in pine trees often grow between 5 and 10 feet down into the ground, and can grow up to 20 feet downward if the conditions are right. The support and nutritional systems of these trees are largely unseen. I think there are some powerful parallels that can be drawn between those trees and my own life. If, over the next few minutes, you find that my extrapolations from tree life to real life are going off the deep end, feel free to stop reading. Let it begin...

Sometimes I think that I pretend to be a fully-grown tree when my roots are only a few inches deep. Imagine a 50 foot pine tree whose roots were only 5 inches deep. It would only take minutes for the wind to topple a giant tree that was loosely rooted in a few inches of soil. This idea seems silly to me, yet I choose to root myself so shallowly in my own life. I pretend to be a mature tree and I reach for lofty places, but I ignore the fact that even the slightest breeze can offset my balance and bring me down. To hone back in on reality, let me put it this way: I get excited about pursuing God seriously, or being more productive in Ellison's Cage, or even taking more initiative at my job, which are all very good things to long after, but again and again I seem to jump into the thick of things and then choke out. I reach for the heavens in my faith walk, but fall back into sin as soon as temptation arises. I set goals for writing songs, but succumb to the draw of tv or going to the movies. I resolve to sell more at work, but take every chance I can get to sit down and waste time. My intentions seem to be grounded in truth and sincerity, but I lack the patience to dig my roots deep enough to sustain my ventures. Maybe I don't even fully understand how to go deeper in my roots. I wrote last month about change, and I think I am beyond wanting to change right now in my life. I can see change so clearly, but it's behind bullet-proof glass and all I have is a water pistol.

How can I focus on digging deeper into the soil of life instead of reaching for high goals? This is where I am right now. It's midnight, I'm tired, I am uncomfortably cold for some reason, and I don't have an answer. For a lot of years I thrived on words and always having something to say, but I've come to learn that words are like cars sometimes; they can run out of gas. I feel like I've made some significant steps to overcome the downfalls I experienced this year, but still I want something more; something deeper. 

To be honest again, I have no plan for the rest of this blog; I'm just writing what comes to heart. Ernest Hemingway said "Write hard and clear about what hurts." Sometimes it's a good approach, sometimes it becomes rambling. I feel like I've used that quote before, but it still remains true. I just searched "deeper" in my bible app on my droid (I wonder what Jesus thinks modern conveniences) and came up with this: "They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built." (Luke 6:48) The part that sticks out to me is where it says "Dug down deep." That implies effort. Have you ever dug straight down into the earth? It reminds me of a time I was helping a friend wire the electricity for a house and we had to dig a round hole to place a power pole in. It's incredibly difficult to dig straight into the ground. Lots of effort was required, and progress was made very slowly. To again extrapolate, what does digging down deep mean in my life? I think it means that there is a lot of dense, hard material that is covering up the place that my foundation needs to be. There are some emotions and some scars that are most likely inhibiting me from being solid. I thank God even right now that he forgives my misgivings and mistakes, and that he understands my difficulty, and I pray for strength to remove that which blocks me from knowing him deeper.

Patience seems to be pretty key to this process. I cannot become firmly rooted overnight. It is going to take time and it is going to take effort. A fact about trees that sticks out to me in hindsight is that they don't all grow at the same rate. I know I already said this, but it can take anywhere from 70 to 250 years for them to reach maturity. I think I am on the long end of the spectrum. It takes me a while to grow, but deep down I am growing. I hurt for those of us who have a hard time appreciating small steps, and who judge ourselves very harshly. It is a flaw of mine, and I know other people struggle with it as well. So know that these words are about my own journey, but are meant for many different people. I want to end with a few words to our heavenly Father:

God, you know that I love you, and you know that I struggle. Give me and give us all the strength to see beyond the here and now into the days to come. Help us to put in the effort needed to build our foundation deep and firmly upon you, all the while appreciating and learning from each step in the process. Help us to love you and love one another. Amen.

P.S. This is unrelated to the post, but I am doing an experiment if any of you would like to participate. All you have to do is share this blog with one friend who has never heard of it before and encourage them to read a post. I am writing a post around the experiment, and I'll explain it further then. I'd appreciate your help :) 

(Thanks for reading my rambles today. I love and pray for you all. You can find me on Twitter at @matthewormand if you want to chat.)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

10 Days Project

This post is going to be a little bit different. I just want to share with you all a project that I have been working on called 10 Days. It is a fiction project and this is just a small part of it, and is not indicative of the whole, but let me know what you think of it!

Fog. Breath that becomes condensed and inhibits vision when formed on visors. Why am I looking through a visor? Suddenly I can see and hear and feel so many new things all at once and I cannot remember how I came to be in the place in which I now am. I don't even know where I am. I have no point of familiarity around which to formulate an idea as to where I now find myself. A calm sensation washes over me, but I know panic is not far off. Have you ever heard of people who wake up from sleep walking in strange places and have no idea how to react? I think that's happening to me right now. My senses are on overload. 

All I can see is a muddy path with hardened ruts that stretches on for miles. There's a dead smell in the air. My helmet must have an air filtering system as I can distinguish smells, but it also appears to be thoroughly sealed. I don't even know what air filtering systems are come to think of it. My vocabulary is adapting to whatever delusional experience I am currently in. I know that I am wearing a full body suit to accompany my helmet. How cute. I bet I look fantastic to the people walking towards me. There are people walking towards me! Maybe they can inform me of where I am. I try to speak out, but my mouth refuses to form words or sounds. I want so badly to call out to them. They are closer now. They look intimidating actually. Objects foreign to me adorn their suits. Weapon-like instruments are in their hands. Fear twinged with panic explodes through my veins into my brain as the figures draw ever closer. They could hurt me. They could kill me. Whatever system that is in charge of my respiratory processes fails me. My new body is receiving no oxygen, or whatever substance I am breathing. My vision becomes unclear and I stumble to my knees just as the two solemn creatures march deliberately past me. I can see the dull, metallic greens and grays of their uniforms. Their boots are so close to me that I am afraid of being trampled. Then they are gone. I didn't even receive a glance from them. Is it possible that they missed me? Of course not. I had been directly in their line of sight for the better part of 45 seconds. Why did they not stop to help me? Oh well, at least they didn't hurt me.

I struggle to regain my composure, pull my self to my feet, and keep wandering down the path with a heightened sense of awareness. As I walk, I begin to take notice of my surroundings. Barren wasteland dominates my entire view. There is no vegetation of any sort. No animals. No water. Nothing at all. The sky is devoid of life. The clouds are so low that I feel claustrophobic. All around me seems to have had the life sucked out of it. I am looking at the hollow skeleton of a world. I can remember watching black and white TV shows with my mother as a child and secretly thinking that they looked depressing, but not understanding why. I originally thought it was due to the lack of modernity, but now I realize it could simply be attributed to a lack of color. Where color is, there is joy. And the same can be said of the opposite. Oddly enough, I think I smell just a hint of salt in the air. There doesn't seem to be any signs of an ocean or salt water anywhere. Strange. I must have been imagining it.

Suddenly. I glance up and an old woman dressed in the same suit as the first two men is only three feet away from me. Startled, I quickly sidestep to my left to avoid a collision. How did I miss her? She seems to have appeared out of nowhere, and as she ambles through the spot at which I stood only seconds before, she too fails to even so much as look in my direction. I need to run back towards her to get her attention, but when I turn around she has vanished. Frustration consumes me. All I want is to be noticed by someone so they can help me. I take off at a brisk jog down the path in search of someone else. I see a group of five or six figures emerge over the horizon, and I take off at a full sprint towards them. It is only now that I realize how heavy my own suit is. It appears to be completely made of ancient steel. It creaks and groans as I urge it to move faster. At one point it must have been painted a vibrant red, but the aftermath remaining is something more like a rusty, dull red with many silver spots showing through the decaying paint. It fits in nicely with the lack of color all around me. My legs feel as heavy as my suit as I close in on the people. I wave my arms frantically, but all of them keep advancing towards me an a constant pace. None of them appear to be speaking to one another. They all have on the same greenish suits as everyone else I have seen. I wonder why mine is a different color. They are close now. Very close. How can they not see me? They must see me. They are all playing a terrible joke on me. They are mere feet from me now. I refuse to budge. Hit me if they must, but I am going to contact someone. Right before the crash into me, I can see into the first figures visor. It is perfectly reflective. I see the cold, dank landscape around me, but something is missing. I cannot pinpoint it at first. The dirt and clouds and sky are all there. It hits me hard and disturbingly. My reflection is not there. Somehow his helmet left me out of its reflection. It is as if I don't exist to him. Then, suddenly, my thoughts are interrupted by a different sensation. I feel a deathly cold so deep in my soul that I cannot describe it. An emptiness the likes of which I have never felt rakes through my body. I again am unable to breathe. Something is happening to me, but I don't know what. And they are gone. They walked right through me. They and I occupied the exact same space at the same time. How is that possible? It's like they stole my space. I spin around, but like the old woman, they are nowhere to be seen. It feels like the figure stole part of me when he walked through me.

Wildly, I tear myself from the path and careen into the wide open space in search of something. Absolutely anything; a rock, a deviation in the footing, a poisonous snake to bite and kill me. My lungs are screaming at me to slow down, but I refuse to acknowledge the pain and continue at a breakneck speed. Eventually I am forced to concede and sink to the path. The path? I left the path two minutes ago. It is impossible that I am still on it. I jump to my feet and spin around frantically trying to piece together what is happening to me. I see only one path; stretching out in a straight line forever. Panicing, I run completely perpendicular to the path off towards nothing. I want to be away from this place. It seems empty and expansive at the same time. Both terrifying and terribly dull. Ordinary but completely foreign. My eyes briefly find the sky. It looks exactly the same; low, pressing clouds that threaten to pour down rain or hail or whatever they were holding. I would love for a change in the weather. But like every other element of this dreadful place, the sky is taunting me. I know there will be no change. My eyes drift back down. I again see the same, rut-infested, dirty path. This is impossible. I curse at the hollow, empty sky. I feel like I am in a science fiction movie where the laws of time and space have been altered, and I have no power to control or even understand this place. Tears come. I cannot stop them. I am devastated, scared, hopelessly lost. Lost isn't the right word. I have no frame of reference to even be lost. I'm misplaced. A growing sense of panic builds in my stomach. This world seems so big and overwhelming, so I lay face down on the horrid ground.

How long I lay here I cannot determine. It feels like seconds. But the seconds feel like months. I feel like when I stand up I should be the same person, and an old woman at the same time. Rather when I pull my head up, I see a mirror. Life floods my body. It is the first bit of familiarity that I have experienced here. I pull the reflective surface closer and peer into it. What I see makes no sense. I see a tree; healthy and large; on a hill. All around it is an expansive meadow. Flowers and plants of so many colors that I cannot distinguish them all make up the scenery. It looks like a melting pot of artful landscaping. So incredibly many different things, yet they all come together in tasteful harmony The sky is magnificently blue. Almost like a picture of the ocean out of a travel brochure. The sight is breath-taking. All of the plants and flowers are pointed at the huge tree. Under the boughs of the tree I can see children playing on some sort of structure. At first I cannot make out what it is, but as I continue to stare it comes into focus. It is a fort built of metal. The pieces are a reddish color. They appear to have once been a vibrant red, but the years have taken their tole on them. The pieces are not very large. Perhaps they once made up a small vehicle. Or maybe a piece of furniture. Or a suit that could be worn to protect someone from that which they feared. Nevertheless, the pieces seem to have found their perfect place. They are indeed messed up, but beautifully constructed at the same time in a structure on which the children are enjoying themselves. One of the children points at the fort and then points towards me. Surely he can't see me can he? Maybe he can. It is a penetrating gesture. I feel like he is touching my heart and soul. Then all too soon, the scene vanishes, replaced by my current surroundings. Again, I cannot see my reflection.

I let my head sink back onto the hard ground. I will lay here until I die. What did that mirror mean? I cannot get over the haunting gesture and stare of that small child. Suddenly the ground is now shaking violently, which forces me out of my mind and back to my weary feet. What now? What more could possible go wrong in this god-forsaken wasteland. When I finally stand up, what I see is horrifying. There are more people in suits. Hundreds of people in suits. Probably thousands. An army is advancing on me. I'm so confused and tired that I cannot process what to do. Their footsteps thunder across the still ground towards me. I want so badly to lay down and be trampled, but I can't even seem to manage that. So I stand and await. As they come upon me, everything goes into slow motion. I don't mean that it feels like slow motion, things are literally moving by at a snail's pace. I am slowly surrounded by as many people as I have ever seen in one single place before. Seconds are thick liquid pouring down over me. I struggle to avoid being trampled, but it isn't necessary. I can simply step out of the way of these slow-moving warriors. The scene is actually comical. I risk a glance at a visor. No reflection. I am still not real to them. I meander about through the crowd observing these people. They are all equally stoic. None of their visors reflect me, and none of the seem to know I am there at all, yet as I move, they constantly reposition themselves so that I am in the center of them. It is as if they are trying to attack me, but they cannot see me. 

Without warning life speeds up significantly. Figures are running by me at incredible speeds. Colors blur into a scene made by an artist who used far too much paint, but all sound cuts out. Where is the sound? Why can't I hear anything at all? Violently I am knocked to my knees. I quickly try to get up, but am knocked right back down. I can't move. I reach up but my arms are swallowed in the people. My stomach is in knots with panic. I need out. All around me, these warriors are closing in further and further. My breath comes in choppy spurts. I can feel my mind slipping into unconsciousness. I am so closed in. I can't move at all. I can't think. I can't feel.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Don't Waste Pain

I recently heard a really interesting quote from a lady at the church I attend. Those of you who go to the same church that I do will recognize it. She said, "God doesn't waste pain." The simplicity of that statement is marginally misleading I think. There is a lot of depth packed into those four words, and they have led me to many thoughts that I cannot ignore. It entails that pain is currency. Pain can be spent and used for things that are inherently good, and God is a wise spender. While going through pain is obviously not ideal and is avoided in most cases, the outcome can lead to things that we cannot imagine. So is pain good? I'm not making that claim, or at least I don't think that I am going to make that claim; I just want to take an honest look at this very insightful observation. 

I am not sure if I fully understand the idea yet, but I can't get it out of my head so I decided  to write about it now. Let's think about it and discover it together. I'm no stranger to pain. I've done some pretty stupid things in my life, and have faced some pretty bleak circumstances. I know that God never planned for me to deviate from his path, yet I think it is entirely possible that he can use each and every mistake that I have made and every hardship I've encountered to strengthen his plan for my life. If I could go back and redo some things, I would definitely choose different routes, but time travel is unfortunately impossible. Instead I want to be able to embrace the negative parts of my past and allow them to be crafted into a story that I can share with people who have faced similar struggles. 

So how does pain become something bigger? Something beautiful? I would be lying if I claimed to understand that conundrum in its entirety. I cannot speak for anyone else, so I'm just going to look at my own story, and see if I can find the beauty through the pain. So here is a little look into my life. As I said, I've struggled with a lot of different things in my life. I've written here about my struggles with understanding God and who he truly is, and in the segments of my life where I walked away from God, I found myself in some very dark places. For a long time, I didn't believe that God was real. I resigned to face life alone, and whatever circumstances came along I would deal with. I separated myself from everyone that I was close to in an effort to forget God, but what resulted was a deep loneliness. A loneliness that I tried to fill with worldly things; Sex, alcohol, lust. Anything and everything that the world assured me was the gateway to wholeness, but I never found anything that felt deep or real. So many things in this life thrive on surface level connections, but fail to establish any sort of solid foundation. It's like a farmer planting all of his crops in soil that is only an inch deep. It might appear that all is well, but there is simply not enough earth to sustain bountiful crops. The same goes for what I was looking for. One of the darkest nights of my life was the night that I realistically considered the possibility of ending my life. I'm not trying to be dramatic or squeeze sympathy out of anyone, I just want to paint a picture of what I've faced. It has been a painful journey. Some days I think of all the people I've hurt and used up along the way in order to feel good. Or to feel anything. It's disheartening to say the least. I am fully aware that many people have faced far worse than I have, and I'm not downplaying people who have faced less than I have, I only want to establish my story so we can look at it. 

The journey home was long. Actually it IS long; it's far from over. Admitting that I was at fault and that I needed people to stand beside me and help me was not an easy task for me. But slowly over time, I became aware that I could not continue to live alone. It was killing me, and it was killing those who were trying to reach out to me. So there's a little bit of my story. I'm still not where I need to be. I don't think I ever will be, nor do I think anyone can be. A restlessness for continual change is healthy and necessary in an adapting world. I never want to find myself in a state of complacency.

How do we go from that story back to the fact that God never wastes pain? I think the best way is to share where I'm at now. I had a conversation with my parents not too long ago wherein we discussed reaching people. My mom said something that really affected me. She made the point that the circumstances we have faced affect who we are called to reach. Maybe all the months and years of searching that I did will one day help me share my story with other people who are and have been searching. It was such a revolutionary idea to me. The idea that not a single moment in our life is wasted. Every second that we are alive is part of our story. The band that I play in is planning some big things for this upcoming year, and I know that sharing our individual stories and our collective story is going to factor into everything that we do. That is where I feel called to go, and I am aware that some of the people I meet will be in need of hearing a story like mine. I think of a good friend that I met at one of the first shows our band played. I really connected with him and he began to open up to me that he struggled with understanding God. Over the course of the last year I've seen him grow in his faith, and have had the chance to have some very deep and meaningful conversations with him. I cannot wait to see that story replicated over and over again as I move into my future. 

As I've said before, I understand that some people who read the stuff on this site believe in God, and some do not. And, as always, I welcome you all here. I really feel like someone who reads these words needs to hear them in a special way today. Maybe some of you need to share this message with a friend who needs it. Whatever the case, know that these words are for you and that I care for each of you.

So is it worth it? Is it worth experiencing the pain in order to have the opportunity to see other people change? For me it is. That is not a conclusion that I came to lightly. It took a long time for me to see that God is not random. He has a plan more intricate and elaborate than we can fathom, and every second of our lives is part of it. Every high and every low will someday make sense and will someday be useful in sharing our stories. Don't lose faith at the sight of pain. I can be excited now that my pain is being transformed into something beautiful. It's the shadows that prove that sunshine exists, after all. On occasion, we have to see the negative elements that accompany a lack of God to realize how good it is when he is close. Sometimes we need to be content with not understanding, and be excited for the stories we will one day be able to tell.

(Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day. Follow me on Twitter at @matthewormand.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Who is God? That statement insures that this blog is going to be interesting. It is probably one of the most questioned ideas in all of time. I'm not going to debate whether I think God is a literal person, an idea, a nirvana-esque achievement, in inner strength, or any other concept. I'm open about the fact that I am a Christian and believe He is a creator. So instead I want to take a look at the nature of who God is.

This topic has been a huge stumbling block for me in my own journey. Growing up in church and in my family, I often heard God described in different ways. In my mind, God was angry, loving, vindictive, jealous, happy, providing, protective, passive, involved, detached, omnipresent, all-knowing, and judgmental all at the same time. These characteristics seemed starkly contrastive, and nearly contradictory to me. I could not manage to wrap my head around just who exactly God was. How could a God be angry and also be the source of true joy? How could God kill people but be the ultimate example of love? The picture of God that I had in my head was something like a montage of magazine clippings glued together and grossly ill-fitting. That sounds horrible, but it was true. I had no cohesive image of God in my head, and it lead to me to a lot of doubts and struggles as I grew up. God seemed to be a collection of different people, each with their own personalities and nuances, all casting themselves under the title of God.

I think this is a point of confusion for a lot of people. Creating a summation of God is a leviathan task, and one that cannot be adequately done with a mere collection of adjectives. Imagine trying to sum up your best friend with a few words. I have a great friend named Wes. He's funny, deep-thinking, a talented musician, and very kind-hearted. There, now you know him too. In that context, we see how impossible it is to glean everything about someone in a few words. You know hardly anything about my friend. His upbringing, likes, dislikes, appearance, friends, behavior, even his last name are foreign to you. God is the same way. We can share his qualities with each other, but you cannot pretend to know him only by memorizing his traits. All of those qualities that I mentioned earlier can be attributed to God. He displays them throughout different parts of the Bible. I think one of the most important steps to understanding God is to cast off any pre-conceived notions of who you think God is before you really try to get to know him. In the same way that we can construct false ideas about people before we meet them, we can get a faulty picture of God if we just learn about him through other people's words. This is where I failed. I was afraid to get to know God because he sounded intimidating and scary. I didn't want to know a God who was angry and wrathful. It didn't sound like a savior I needed to know. It took me a long time to learn that God uses those traits for good. He protects his people from enemies. God sees and knows more than we ever can.

Think of it this way; an infant has the ability to process only basic, primitive thoughts. It knows how to cry to signal to parents that it is hungry, tired, in need of a diaper change, or just downright needs some attention. (do I ever want kids...hmmm) Now those parents, on the other hand, have fully-functional thought processes. They might be thinking about advanced calculus (who doesn't love derivation?) or how to make a bird-feeder for the back yard, or an important collection of documents they need for work; there's an infinite number of things that grown adults could be thinking about. In the same way, God is constantly processing things that we cannot even fathom. We are infants concerned with very primitive thoughts and needs, and God is contemplating things far beyond our grasp. Imagine a parent trying to teach a 3 month-old child how to properly wire the electricity for a large building or how to recognize the difference between a complex and compound sentence. There are very few things that have probabilities of absolutely zero, but I am fairly confident that is one of them. There is no way that a small baby can even understand those words. They go in one ear and out the other. And your poor kid is still ready to eat.

So even if God is operating on a thought level beyond our own, how can we justify his seemingly contradictory actions? Here's how I think about it: we have no place to try and understand God. His protection is not like our protection. His anger is not like our anger. His judgment is not like our judgement. His joy is not like our joy. I don't meant to imply that we should not approach God or try to learn about him. Those are great things, but at the end of the day, we cannot grasp God in his entirety. Trying to arbitrarily assign a few of his characteristics to represent his whole self is futile. God is more than we can ever imagine. Sometimes I like to think about God like a huge forest. There are an infinite number of components that encompass a forest. Thousands of species of animals, millions of insects, more plants and trees than can be counted, soils with different nutrients, streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, leaves, sticks, mountains, valleys, birds. The list is exhaustive. There can be no end to the things that are included, and there can be no end to the list of things that describe God. So don't be discouraged if God seems far too big to understand, because He is far too big to understand. But the beauty within that is that he longs to be close to everyone of us. "But now, like a woman in childbirth, I cry out, I gasp and pant." (Isaiah 42:14) This sounds pretty strange offhandedly, but it comes from a passage in Isaiah where God is describing just how desperately he longs to be close to each of us. That is a pretty powerful desire.

This might sound opposite to what I said, but I truly do believe that if we ever have to capture God in a word it would be this: love. We as humans experience love. We choose to love people. We fall in love with a special person. We love music and movies and nature. But God IS love. Any picture that we have of love comes directly from him, and that underlies any characteristic we find of his. His anger comes from a place of love. He disciplines because he loves. His love is not like our love though. "Everyone who lives has been born of God and knows God...because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." (1 John 4:7-12) There's no way to ever grasp God in his fullness, but we can accept his love in it's fullness. A perfect, complete, nonsensical love that makes us who we were meant to be. Whole.

(Thanks for taking the time to read. Follow me on Twitter at @matthewormand)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

More Make-Up Than Character

Jealousy. Fashion. Sex. Popularity. Culture. Beauty. It must be exceedingly hard to be a female these days. I often stop and realize how thankful I am that God made me a little boy and not a little girl. There are so many signals that the media and culture send our ladies that it appears impossible to remain morally intact. Movies push picturesque relationships down their throats, music portrays sex as easy and fun, celebrities seem to be able to get away with the craziest of behaviors, and magazines set unrealistic physical standards as the entry point for a life of success. I've gathered that girls' image of themselves does not always run a parallel course to those titillating sensations of becoming like their favorite famous people. It is an empty pursuit. So men, how can we help our gender counterparts see beyond the realm of the celebrity lifestyle? Let's try to find out.

One of the most important things to realize is that  what we see in the media is not always real. Shocking I know, but it's true nonetheless. We can't all pay thousands of dollars to have personal stylists and curling irons with more technological prowess than space shuttles. (do people even still use curling irons?) There are a plethora of opportunities for the images that we see to be altered before they meet our eyes. Consumerism thrives on perfection, and the products we receive never fail to be in tip-top shape. It is crucial to realize that you cannot base your judgement of yourself solely on what you see in the media. Is it wrong to want to look like Jennifer Lopez or Jessica Alba? (Oh how I hope that was relevant.) On the surface, no I don't think it's wrong. It becomes detrimental when foundationally, your judgement rests upon  goals that cannot be reached. I don't mean to say that you ladies are less attractive than celebrities. Nothing is farther from the truth. What I mean is that you all are not products. You don't spend $1000 on jeans. You don't go to night clubs and get flocked by paparazzi. You are not celebrities. I think girls that can thrive in a life of moderation are much more attractive and desirable than those who choose to chase clothes that they shouldn't wear and hairstyles that are more ridiculous than they can realize. Maybe I'm simple and/or old-fashioned, but I think at the heart of the matter most guys who are worth catching want to find a girl who is real. And I'm sorry if I offend you, but fancy clothes and dogs in your purse don't make you real.

Now that I've more than likely hurt some people's feelings, let me try and rectify the situation. I completely understand that most girls want to fit in. We all do. They want to look presentable and garner the attention of that special someone, or maybe just feel good about themselves. With all of the messages we receive in today's culture, I don't blame anyone for falling victim into that trap. It is easy to pay a high price for the things that the world assures you will make you popular and happy, but the years of  consequences cut so deep. The fact of the matter is this: sex sells. It always will sell, and we cannot change the fact that the manufacturers of all things American will exploit this trend until the end of the age. It is tricky, though, to decipher all of the confusing signals we receive and pinpoint what we should and should not seek. Jon Foreman said it well in a very, very old Switchfoot song, " Concrete girl, don't fall down in this broken world around you."

Women of today, stand strong. Don't let the media convince you that you have to buy into the hype and fads in order to be beautiful. I cannot even fathom the pressures that are associated with being a girl, and I understand that the reason the system is in its current state can be partially allotted to selfish men who enjoy using women for their own means. I apologize on behalf of our crudity and lack of tact. We are a primitive bunch, and most of us do not realize how deeply our actions can affect your minds. So badly I wish that you had an easier time determining your worth, but I realize it is hard to establish a cohesive image of yourself without referencing pop culture. The perfect guys with huge muscles, a Gucci handbag (maybe?) and a bottomless shopping budget cannot fulfill you. For one thing, you never see the reverse view of the "glamorous" life. There are struggles that accompany any existence, but also I truly believe that no culmination of material possessions can fill your soul. It's like trying to fill a cardboard box with water; initially all appears to be well, but over time the water will weaken the cardboard's structural integrity and leak out until the box collapses and there is nothing left except the ruins. Fill yourself with worthwhile things.

One thing I want to stray away from is blaming any one party. I've heard a lot of people spew venomous, negative words towards pop stars or bash them for the way that they negatively influence girls today. I, too, believe their actions to be morally stagnant, but I cannot bring myself to hate them or to bring negative words to them. It boils down to the fact that they are people too with the same feelings and desires as we have. They long for acceptance and a place to fit in; they just do it in front of millions of people. So when our fingers fly towards them in accusation, let us remember that our hateful words are no better than their actions. Do they have a lot to answer for? Perhaps they do, but they need love just as much as you and I.

I hope that this wasn't a washed up collection of words. A lot of people have opinions on this topic, and I never want to be irrelevant or boring. let me end with this, ladies: chase your dreams. Wear cute pants and do your hair fancy, but never forget that those things can never define who you are. Remember the cardboard box from earlier? Let's pretend that you filled a small cup with water and set it in the box along with your other things. It's the same water, but taken in moderation and contained in a handy plastic cup, the water cannot hurt the box. There's nothing wrong with having nice things and being attractive, but guard your hearts. Be smart and cautious about what you choose to consume. Stand strong in the face of a hurting culture and be the one to enact change. You don't have to be content to slide alongside every other girl who wants to be Katy Perry. (I'm 99 percent sure I nailed that one...) You are beautiful exactly how God made you.

(Thanks for checking me out. I'm on Twitter at @matthewormand)


Saturday, November 12, 2011


Why is it that some people claim to want to change, or to be "good people" and then feel like that claim doesn't require them to actually make any tangible steps? We make grand statements, and then live the exact same lives as we did before. If a baseball coach talks to his players and tells them that he wants to make some significant changes to his starting lineup, but then sends the same 9 men to the field as he normally would, we have every right to question the sincerity of his decisions. He did the opposite of what he said he was going to do. He stayed the same. Why then is it that we feel justified in making a proclamation that we want to clean up the dirty areas of our life, and then doing absolutely nothing?

Let me give you an example. Jerry is a boy; a great guy, but he has some habits that he is not fond of. Namely drinking too much alcohol, smoking, and doing drugs. Jerry makes the decision to turn his life of partying around, and confides in some friends that he will be making some extensive alterations to his way of living. That Friday night those friends all see Jerry at a bar, drink in hand, living the very same life that he has always lived. Jerry has no integrity, and was not serious about his decision. Reading this, it is obvious that he did not mean what he said, but don't we as Christians do the same thing? We promise to address our lust, yet we watch R rated movies full of sex. We are serious about getting close to God, but our bibles are as dusty as the top shelf of our closet. We trust God with our finances, but most of us don't even know what tithing is. Why do we treat our commitments with such nonchalance? Why do Christians talk a great game, but walk into the arena blindfolded and ill-prepared? Our strategy makes no sense at all.

I am not a sports guy, but allow me one more reference. If a football player desires to be a star quarterback, he has to work out tirelessly day after day to even get a shot at trying out for that position. There are countless drills to run, plays to memorize, exercises to do. But the end result is a well-trained athlete. All too often, Christians seem to look past all of the work to the end results that they desire. We long for rounded lives and seasoned faith, but we are not willing to put in the grunt work that leads to these goals. Does God in Heaven look down and commend us for our half-hearted efforts? I dare not say he does. How could he? We promise so many things every day, and then make following him a tiny part of our routine, if it is included at all. I'm not trying to be judgmental because I am included in this group. I would love to be a strong, devout Christian, but I often feel like I fall short. The steps necessary to making a real change seem daunting, and I can often convince myself to postpone starting.

How can we change this? How do you change anything? Work. Therein lies the root of most people's problems. We love the idea of being different and following God, but we don't love the practical application that leads to this fulfillment. We're all onboard with change, until we are forced to actually...well, change. Our boxes of comfort have become far too large and lavish. We live in a culture that is dependent on ease and laziness. I apologize for my negative words, but it is amazing to me how many people thrive on shortcuts. If there is an easy way to do something, we do it. The patterns that we form in one area of our lives affect every area of us. If we look for shortcuts at our jobs and in our families, we will seek shortcuts with God. I hate to burst your bubble, but God doesn't have shortcuts. He is always available for us to talk to, and constantly closer than we can fathom, but he does not approve of taking the easy way out. Change is the byproduct of pain. Change is rarely if ever simple. Sometimes it is forced upon us; sometimes we have to enact it, but it will always come with adjustment and some degree of discomfort.

I realize that not everyone who reads these words believes in God like I do. And I also realize that, for some of you, part of the reason you don't believe falls to the fact that you see Christians acting in the way that I have described. For myself and for all of us, I apologize. Deeply and sincerely. We have amazing opportunities to let our lives be instruments to share God's love, but we are more concerned with other things. It is a confusing conundrum, and I don't blame any of you for being misled. That being said, I want to encourage you that there are genuine Christians out there. I am trying to be one myself. Don't give up faith.

Maybe this sounds like a sermon to you. That is not my intention. I want only to help us see how foolish we look at times. I imagine God saying, "It's so simple. Just trust me and do things differently." We were not called to be like the world. We were called to invade the world with our transformed lives. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--His good, pleasing, and perfect will." (Romans 12:2) No part of that involves blending in. The longer we try to assimilate, the harder it is to come back to the life we know we should live. If you send an ant into a large group of ants and expect it to be able to garner the attention of the entire crowd and enact a change, you are only leading yourself on. For one thing, ants can't talk. I hope you already knew that. But on a serious note, the ones in this world who can effectively change things are those who do not fit in and appear to be just like everyone else. Jesus certainly didn't fit in. Neither do I don't want to fit in. I realize that I do settle for fitting in a lot of the time, and I am working to change that. One day at a time. Join me if you'd like. I pray that we would all have the strength to be different.

(Thanks for reading today my friends. You can follow me on Twitter at @matthewormand)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How Much Am I Worth?

I had a very interesting conversation with one of my very good friends recently. We were eating in a restaurant when he noticed that some girls were staring at us. He, being much humbler than I, didn't make much of the situation until we were talking afterwards in my car. He commented on the fact that the girls looking at him had made him feel bad. I was on the verge of questioning his mental health when he expanded his thoughts. His reasoning was as follows: he felt that he had wanted their attention too much. That his need for attention in that manner was unhealthy. These words took me by complete surprise. My friend is in a very healthy dating relationship, he is a secure individual, and I look up to him, so the fact that he admitted to wanting attention from girls was strange to me. I thought a lot about his words as I went home and even as I considered my next topic for this blog. All of his views and thoughts boiled down to this for me: there are things that we all seek to construct our self-worth upon.

What all in this life do we turn to in order to boost our self-confidence? Our appearance and how others perceive us, how many friends we have, our number of followers on Twitter; it comes down to this I think: people create products out of their life, and attempt to have the most consumers. That sounds incredibly trite and pedantic if taken off-handedly, but give me a chance to explain myself. As humans, we desire to have people want us; want our talents, our passions, what we have to offer to the world. We want people to look at us and wish that they could be more like us. And more than that, we want others to look at us and accept us. We want to feel like what we are offering is good enough for people around us. Maybe in appearance or attitude or drive. To be completely honest, I wish more people read this blog, and that more people would share it with their friends. I wish that I had the opportunity to share these words with more hungry eyes, and that people desired to be more like me. At the heart of that argument is purity and truth. Wanting to share what is most important and sacred to us is very noble, but when we begin to gauge our opinion of ourselves based on how well people respond to that sharing, we flirt with disaster. Let's say that this blog tanks after a few weeks. People become disinterested in what I have to say, and absolutely no one reads it. Does that mean that my self-worth should parallel the success of the blog? If I walk into a store and a very attractive girl catches my eyes and immediately turns away in disgust, should my view of myself plummet accordingly?  I don't think it should.

As I dug into my own life and image that I carry of myself, I came to some startling realizations. I lean far too heavily on material and interpersonal interaction to be the foundation for my self-worth. Those girls looking at us in the restaurant didn't make me feel uncomfortable at all. In fact, they made me feel good. I felt better about myself because some random girls apparently found that my friend and I were worth glancing at. Deep down I think I expected her to look at us. That was nothing more than pride, but underlying the pride was a true desire to be wanted by total strangers. I toe a very thin, dangerous line when the status of my self-esteem is dependent on factors over which I have very little control. I can dress nice or fix my hair in a cool, trendy way, but at the end of the day, I cannot make anyone like me any more. I can't make more people read this blog. I can't make myself any more attractive. All I can do is promote those products tirelessly. Some days I might win the battle, but is it worth the days that I come up short? Is it worth feeling like a failure until someone else comes along and give me a brief moment of recognition? That question has been throwing hammers at the walls of my mind ever since the conversation with my friend.

In essence, placing your worth in things that you cannot control is letting someone else control your life. This is an area that I struggle with to be honest. At times, we all fall victim to selling the products of our life more than we should. If only we could step back and see that we are worth so much more than how we look and how many friends we have. Those things do not define us in the least. We were breathed into creation by a God who handcrafted a plan for each of us. Whether you believe in God or not, I think you are special. Whether you can look deep within yourself and see innate beauty or not does not change the fact that it is there. I hurt for people who define themselves based on how others view them. Largely because it has been such an obstacle in my own life, but also because I can see those people who are already great but refuse to acknowledge it themselves. Maybe this is nothing more than a ranty, low self-esteem pity party blog to you. I don't totally disagree, but for anyone who connects with longing for someone else's approval to fuel your approval of yourself, hear this: you are worth infinitely more than anything that we can define in human terms. You are worth the life of God's son. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16) That is perhaps the most known bible verse of all time, and maybe rightfully so. The gravity of that statement keeps me awake at night even still. Each one of us is worth so much that God let his perfect, flawless son be beaten and killed so that one day we will have the opportunity to spend all of eternity in his presence.

My friend had it right that day. The number of followers we have on Twitter is insignificant. Girls looking at me will have no real impact on my life. Our worth and hope comes from a source that cannot adequately be described. This is a battle we fight every day, and I pray you have the strength to see yourself as God sees you: beautiful.

(Note: I deeply appreciate you all checking out my blog. I do not derive my worth from this, but you can find me on Twitter at @matthewormand #hypocrite.)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Shipwrecks and Love

We live in a culture enthralled by the concepts of love and sex and happiness. All of those things are beautiful elements of life, but they only coincide at very special intersections. Those of us who come from the youthful generation of today have tough decisions to make when it comes to falling in love. Harder, I think, than any generation that has preceded us. It takes nothing more than a simple glance at a television or the internet or even a magazine to garner the world's idea of what love is. Love is easy. It happens when we want it to. It conforms to our ideals and preferences. It cannot hurt us, only make us happier. Sex is fun and has no consequences. These monumental claims are solidified in movies, music, art, TV; anything and everything that culture has to offer. Though once foreign, these ideas become embedded in our thought processes, and change how we view love.

Glancing from the outside, it can be assumed that these ideas are true. Hollywood's finest appear to be very happy, rich individuals. Music super stars have beautiful spouses and love interests. I only wonder what they would have to say if I had the opportunity to talk to them one-on-one. I refuse to believe that their portrayal of love is the correct one. Falling in love on our own terms destroys our view of what love was designed to be. One of my mentors once told me, "It's easy to make yourself love someone, but it's impossible to make yourself fall in love with someone." His words have stuck with me for so long because there is no simpler way to put it. People who "fall in love" before they are ready to do something of that magnitude are only making their lives miserable.

I'm going to hone in on my point now I promise. What if we looked at falling in love through this lens: falling in love is equatable to giving yourself away. I think it is a fair standpoint to take. When we truly find someone who completes us and becomes our other half, we give our self to them. Not just physically, but on an emotional, psychological level. The deepest connection we can ever make in this life, apart from one with God, is to have another person know us just as well as we know our self; the way we think, our patterns, our strengths, our flaws, our struggles. That is an intimidating thought. There are things about my own person that I'm not quite ready to have anyone else know just yet, and I think that is what I'm trying to say. When you give yourself away before you're ready to, you run the risk of deeply injuring yourself. The world is full of people waiting to take advantage of you. I hate seeing people who fell in love too fast or with the wrong person because their souls almost audibly cry out to me. I can see that with every ounce of themselves, they want to be whole again. I wish I could put some magic words on this page that would help us, myself included, realize that we need to take time to truly know ourselves before we can give ourselves away.

Permit me to use an illustration. Suppose a company builds a beautiful ship. It is equipped with all of the latest technology and ready for a sea voyage. But when the time comes to set out, they choose a captain who has had no formal training, and knows nothing about the ship. The most substantial thing he has ever piloted is a canoe. He has no idea how much fuel the ship holds, how many passengers can fit aboard, where any of the control rooms are, how to operate the ship, how to contact land; he simply knows that he wants to sail from New York to Greece. Would you get on his ship? No of course not. For all you know, the ship would get stranded at sea, lost, or even sink. The choice is obvious when you look at a simple story like this. Your course of action would bet to go look for a captain who has had years of experience on the sea, and knows his ship like the back of his hand. It is obvious. Why then do we jump into shipwreck love situations without truly knowing or understanding ourselves? We are all capable of being the best captains the world has ever seen, but we choose journeys that are too big, and we choose them at the wrong times.

I am not trying to convince you not to date or make anyone feel bad for the mistakes that you have made in the past. Everyone lives and learns when it comes to love, and the lessons that we learn prepare us for future love endeavors. I just hurt for those of us who have given ourselves away too soon. To give you a little bit of insight into my story, I gave myself away too early on several occasions. I'm not just talking about having sex outside of marriage, though I do believe God's plan for us is to save ourselves for marriage. It goes so much deeper than sex. Our emotions and self-worth are deeply tied to the relationships we put ourselves in. I allowed people to get to close to me when I wasn't ready to have anyone know me that deeply. My wish for you is that you would take time to get to know yourself before you let someone else convince you of who you are. God created us all with a special gift to give to someone. That gift is you. You are a completely unique creation. Don't let just anyone unwrap that gift. Let me end with a piece from one of my favorite poets:

Love is our only art,
And we give it away.
My head pushed through the atmosphere
In search of a satellite--
Of substance,
Around which to fall is sway.
I saw them all,
But one of them took me,
For what I was worth.
Too much I let slip
And too much did she take.
Soaring down over time,
Towards the material teeth,
Set to kill.
Not the dream--the drug.
Holding hands with danger,
Because she saw me,
As I wanted to be seen.
But it was dead.
Love is my only art,
And I gave it away.

(Note: I deeply appreciate every one of you who took the time to read this. You are the reason I share my words. You can find me on Twitter at @matthewormand.)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Face Your Facades

"He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away." -Raymond Hull

I can remember my first day of public school like it happened this morning. It was the 7th grade because my loving parents decided homeschooling would be the most beneficial education solution prior to that point, however I digress. Walking into Bryant High School was like walking into a freezer from a sauna. My day-to-day dynamic would be altered for the next 6 years. Words I had never dreamed of became common objects to my ears. People I had never met became my best friends. My entire person changed within those walls, and I came to understand the concept of wearing a mask. It came first to me as I observed people behaving differently in different settings. There were people who would be attentive, studious individuals in class, but act like fools at lunch or after school. Having been raised in a Christian home, I had integrity modeled for me my entire life, so I did not understand this lack of cohesion in my friends' lives at first. Oh but I would come to know it all too well.

I hope that a bit of my own story will not bother anyone, because here it comes. As I grew and learned, I began to adapt to different groups of people. At the root of my intentions, I sought, as we all do, acceptance. And this acceptance did not always come readily due to the fact that I did not initially find a place of comfort within those groups. It was like entering a foreign nation. I desired so badly to become someone that other people desired to be around. So I started to pick up little traits from these groups. Words, phrases, actions. Some of them were harmless. Others made a much deeper impact. Prejudices, bad habits, things I would come to deeply regret. To avoid the risk of boring anyone with my entire life story, I want to just unwrap my point here. The things I comprised slowly, one bit at a time, became my foundation. When you mix oil and water, the heavier substance, water, will sink to the bottom of the solution. The result is two separate substances; oil and water. In this same way, as I accumulated more and more detrimental elements in my own life, they became too heavy and sank to the bottom of who I was. I separated my life into factions created for different settings and people. I had created a new foundation.

Let me pull out of the story for a moment and say this. I fully understand that childhood and adolescence is a time of incredible growth. We all go through personality and life changes as we are discovering our likes, interests, and passions, and it is a very healthy thing. My failure came in assimilating to to other people's standards instead of those which I knew were benevolent to me.

That being said, as I entered high school, I did not have a cohesive idea as to who I truly was. I had masks and facades for every situation. Every person I encountered got a different version of me. Looking back on those days, I realize that the postion I found myself in is one that a lot of people live in far beyond their youth. It is so incredibly disheartening to me that society preaches the message that walls create intimacy and closeness. It's such a counter-intuitive way of thinking. The idea that in order to connect with someone or fit it, you need to put a wall around who you truly are. What do two walls standing against each other look like? A wall that is twice as thick. Not a true bond.

Taking my masks off wasn't an easy thing for me to do. I don't want to downplay the process in the least, I instead want to encourage anyone who might be in the same place that I was. Know this: God created you with a purpose so unique that you cannot grasp it yet. He created me with a purpose as well. Neither of those purposes include building a shelter around ourselves and pretending to be someone we are not. People hurt us. Life hurts us. But hiding only isolates us further. You and I have the potential to be great. I wish you all nothing but the best in your separate journeys, and keep one thing in mind; no matter where life takes you, there will always be at least two people that love you. God promised never to stop loving you, "...the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6) And though we may never meet, I will always love you. These words have been orchestrated for you, and I pray for the people whose eyes find them. Never forget it.

(Note: Thank you all for taking a moment to read these words. Each one of you is a special blessing. Check me out on Twitter at @matthewormand if you wish.)

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How Much Love Is Too Much Love?

I am fully aware that I struggle with focusing on technicalities. Let me break that down a little bit. Let's say, for instance, that I am driving to work and I see a woman with a stalled car on the side of the road. On one hand it seems like I should stop and help her, and in doing so demonstrate love to her and all those who are watching. Many people would stop at this point at say that helping her would be the Godly thing to do. Whether they would actually help her or not is a different story. I, however, tend to look at things from the other side of the equation all too often. Let us remember that I am going to work. At this job I have a boss. When I began that job I made a commitment to my boss to not be late to work. In stopping and helping this woman with the stalled car I run the risk of being late to work; which is compromising the integrity of the promise I made to my boss; which is wrong. So what is the right thing to do? It seems that either path I take, I am leaving someone behind. I am either passing up the opportunity to help the woman, or being unfaithful to my commitments at work. Neither option seems right, yet both seem right.

Through all of this argument, I have not once stopped to examine why I would stop and help the woman in the first place. I get so caught up in the fine print of religion that I don't even know what I am debating about. I think a lot of the time, if I would put my stupid arguments aside I might see that the options seem much clearer. Jesus called His followers to do some pretty simple things. "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Mark 12:31). Is helping this hypothetical woman, or pleasing my boss best fulfilling what Jesus meant? I cannot pretend to be Jesus, or know how He thought, but I can do my best to unpack His actions. In a scenario such as this one, I believe Jesus would reach out in love. Love is helping those who are in need. Love is not fighting with a boss who is upset that your are late. Love is explaining why you stopped to help someone. Love is taking a punishment if one is given, and not judging the boss who dealt it. Maybe I am assuming things that are not true, but I do not think I am. I can't find any stories or accounts of Jesus turning his back on people who are innocent and in need of help.

We face decisions every single day, and sadly I think that I pass up a lot of opportunities to help simply because I can justify not helping. I can justify needing to be on time to work, or any other situation I am faced with. What I believe Jesus would say regarding this dilemma is simply, "Do more. Love more." I want to be aware of people around me. Be aware that there are stories behind every set of eyes that I see. This blog is a place of honesty, and honestly I do not do a good job of this. I go to class and get rushed along in the fast-paced environment, then I rush to work, then I rush home, then I rush to relax. Where are my thoughts and my eyes all day long? On myself. This is not a "stick it to the man" statement. I don't want to promote doing things out of assumed love just so you can test whether or not your boss will reprimand you. That in and of itself is not loving. I rather want to examining in what attitude I approach loving and helping those in need. At this point in my journey, I think I am a selfish lover. Which is to say I might not be good at loving people at all.

What can I do to change this? I can do more, and I can love more. What can we all do to change this? We can do more, and we can love more. So many of life's tough decision seem so simple when we break them down. Is it plausible that I could get fired for being late to work? Yes. Yes it is, but I wish I was bold enough to take that risk. Don't you?

(Note: Thank you all for taking the time to read these words. Follow me on Twitter @matthewormand.)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Darn You To Heck

First let me personally welcome you all to my blog. I hope that you enjoy these words, and that they will cause you to think in a way that you previously have not. I don't claim to be a great writer, I just enjoy thinking. Thank you for spending your time reading, and please share these words if you wish.

Our culture is full of people who voice their opinions on profanity, its acceptability in public, and whether or not it is wrong to use strong language. I have heard people make the argument that there is a difference between profanity and slang or strong language. There is a certain level of depth to this standpoint, and I understand where they come from, but for me the issue comes in having to justify why they use certain words and phrases. One of my mentors once told me that if you have to stop and justify what you are doing to yourself or to others, there is a good chance you should reconsider that action. This is not to say that justification has no place. Obviously there are times when you should be accountable and open to other people asking you why you are doing certain things.

My problem with swearing and using profanity comes from a faith standpoint. I want to establish from the beginning of this blogging journey that I am a Christian. Not a judgmental or hypocritical follower of Christ, but a firm believer in loving God and loving people. That being said, I have issues with saying words that could cause people who do not believe like I do to question the validity of the Christian faith. If my actions do not match up with what the world expects to see in a true believer, I have fallen short. You can make a point that we should not try to live up to the world's expectations, and I agree with that; what I am saying is a little bit different. I think I am right in saying that most people who do not believe in God view the Christian faith as largely hypocritical, and there is plenty of solid ground to make that case. I also believe that there is a picture in the minds of many of what a true Christian would look like. I don't want to merely dance on the line that separates true believer from false believer, I want to run as far away from that line as I can into the true believer realm. In order to do that, the words that come out of my mouth can never suggest to people that I am just like the world. When people hear me speak, I want them to realize that I am different. Not better, not pretentious, not a jerk. Just different. I want people to be confused by and attracted to the difference, just as people were by Jesus' words.

With all of that in mind, I am not judging anyone who chooses to use profanity. "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." (Matthew 7:1) I do not seek to condemn anyone or come across as overly righteous. I just want to be accountable to the world that I choose to be different with my vocabulary. If any words that I say cause another person to stumble in their faith, or have a skewed view of Christianity, I have dropped the ball big time. Can anyone be perfect at this? Of course not. All men have failed, including me. And I will always be susceptible to failure, just as we all are. But I want to rise above the social norms of this world and choose to let my words be kind and gentle.

"Kind words are like honey--sweet to the soul and healthy for the body." (Proverbs 16:24)

(Note: Thank you for taking the time to read. You can follow me on Twitter @matthewormand)