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.)