Monday, September 10, 2012

The Chicago Blues

This is going to be a short one.  I’ll start (as it seems I always do) by apologizing for not writing in so long. I let m life become too busy too often. Now on with the show.

I was in Chicago a couple of months ago, and some events transpired that gave me a case of the heavy heart. I had a few hours to myself one day, and I ended up taking a walk through the northern part of the city. I was letting my thoughts ramble around my head, and didn’t even notice myself smile and nod to a man who was in his front yard. This type of thing is not out of the ordinary in Arkansas where I come from. I wasn’t trying to intrude on his privacy or make him uncomfortable, I just enjoy acknowledging other people. What I received from him was an indescribably cold stare. He looked threatened and defensive as if I was challenging him to a fight. It caught me completely off guard. I lowered my eyes and kept walking. I decided to try the same thing again a few minutes later, and I got a response similar to the first. I didn’t understand at all. I wasn’t dressed offensively; I had no motives; I couldn’t see any reason for them to have treated me as they did. As I walked more, I made it a point to make eye contact with other walkers. I never once got a smile or a nod back. Women looked at me like I was a rapist, men gave me hard stares and moved quickly by.

As I thought about it all later, my heart hurt. Not because people had been cold with me. I have something of a titanium spirit at this point in my life. I’m used to opposition, and it no longer bothers me as it once did. Instead, I hurt for those people. Either something had happened to them that made them so unreceptive to human contact, or they had been raised to not trust other people. I understand that Chicago is a much different place than Little Rock. There are far more predators on the streets, and it is a more dangerous place. Still, I hurt for those people who didn’t seem able to receive a loving smile or a genuine greeting. It seems unnatural to me that human connection can come across as a threat. I hurt for people who cannot see it as genuine. I hurt for our world where we are brought up to shun actions of true kindness and look for the ulterior motives that are sure to be found.

I’ve had a phrase in my mind the last few months. “Let no man or woman live unseen.” It is only seven simple words, but to me it means everything. If I had a mantra, this would be it. I think it is our duty as humans to love one another. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39) Whether you believe in God or not, this advice is solid. To love those around you just as much as you love yourself is a powerful notion. Whether they receive that love or not is not the issue. We must continue to give it. We live in a terribly broken world in desperate need of people who are willing to give instead of take.

Maybe this all sounds too trite to you. Love people? Of course we’re supposed to do that. We’ve been taught that since kindergarten. I agree, but I don’t think very many people actually do it. How many individuals do we pass by every day and not see? Try something. Try to keep your eyes open and count how many people you see every day. It soon becomes an overwhelming task, but do it anyway. Then count how many of these people you have interaction with. It is incredibly convicting to look at the results. We see so many people every day, and so often we let them slip past us unseen. Not all of us have lived the unseen life, so we can’t fully understand how much it hurts to be passed over. I have lived that life though, and it cuts so deep to honestly think that everyone who passes over you places more value on their daily tasks than on your human life.

This is a problem; a big problem. Our world is a decaying place. It is full of people trying to advance themselves. It is daunting to imagine changing the way that things are. To be honest, you can’t. You cannot change the entire world. There are seven billion people on the planet. Based on the average life span, you would have approximately a quarter of a second to speak to each person on earth. And that is assuming you start from the second you are born and never sleep for over 72 years.  It is impossible, but that isn’t the point. You cannot change the whole world, but you can change your world. You can affect the slice of earth that you dwell in every day. How? See people. Truly see them. Talk to the guy that you order your lunch from, the girl crying at her locker in the hallway, the man who looks overwhelmed at your job. What is the point of living a selfish life?

“Let no man or woman live unseen.”

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Sunday, July 29, 2012


I'm going to be very honest. I'm going through a lot of tough stuff right now. Life isn't what I thought it would be when I was 20 years old. It is supposed to be fun and carefree, but it's not. It's been almost two months since I've posted here. I just haven't felt like writing. I haven't felt like doing anything. There are so many serious, adult things going on that I never foresaw. I guess this is what growing up does to you. (I promise you this isn't got to be as emo as it sounds. At least hopefully.)

Life becomes a very complicated thing as we grow up. The last few months have been hard. I've seen people fail that I really looked up to. I've failed people that I really care about. I've gone back to habits that I thought I'd never go back to. I've been stuck in a stagnant state. There is nothing as disheartening as not growing. There are so many things that I want to accomplish. I want to grow closer to God, discover His plan, become the man that I need to be; but I've been so stuck in a rut. I get in these cycles too often, and it kills me. I have to watch the people that I love and care about move on with their lives, and everything in me wants to be right beside them. For some reason, though, I sit idly by. I've been letting life pass right in front of my eyes without saying a word. I feel like I'm behind a glass wall watching everyone live their lives. 

Needless to say I've been on a journey since I last posted. I'm really not as depressed as I sound. I don't sit at home in a dark room and drink whiskey by myself or anything like that. Life has just been throwing me some serious curve balls. Things have started changing though, and I've finally taken steps to grow in my faith and as a person. I'm beginning to grasp the concept that change is normally not an instance, it's a process. It takes time; it takes failures; it takes incredibly hard learning experiences, but it can start to happen. What I really want to say is this: I've seen some of the lowest, darkest places in this life, and I hurt for those of you who get caught up in those places. I know how hard it is to be free of that trap; I really do, but it is worth every day of pain that I takes to find a better life for yourself. It is so much better to look back upon the days of being stuck rather that being in them. There is a God above us that is dying for us to take his hand and allow him to lead us out of the valleys of this life. 

We live in an imperfect, broken world. Every day that we're alive brings us one day closer to the day that we'll die. My worry is this: I don't want to waste the time I have left here on earth by digging myself deeper and deeper into a dark hole. I hate that I've done that, and I hate where it's left me. I've hurt so many people; ruined friendships. I've hurt myself and gotten so far off-course. I'm so completely in love with a girl that I can't be with because of what I've done. It hurts to mess up our lives; I understand. Sitting around and letting ourselves grow more and more desolate in our pitiful traps is not the answer though. 

Please know that I'm not trying to judge anyone for what you've done or where you are. And I know that where we are in life is not always completely our fault. I've been there. I am there now as a matter of fact. All I want you to know is that you are so deeply worth fighting for. Never let anyone tell you that you aren't. You deserve to get up and change how things are. Don't settle for what you've become if you know that you were meant to be something more. 

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

Thank you for reading, and may God bless you all.

You can find me on Twitter here

Monday, June 11, 2012

Change Part II

Let's be honest, how many of us have had problems with getting over an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend? I think that is an experience that a lot of us can share. If not, God bless you. You are an incredibly lucky person. It's rough though isn't it? The smallest things can remind you of them: TV shows or movies, certain restaurants, even smells or tastes. It is evidence of just how close two people can be intertwined; how deeply we can affect another human. 

Sometimes I look at myself as being two separate people. It is childish I know, but I look at the good side of myself and the bad side. Almost an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other scenario. While I know that it is more complicated than that, it doesn't change the fact that it helps me to frame my thoughts. There is a part of me that wants to grow; to change; to fight new battles and see old ones conquered. This side of me is the good side. It longs for new places and people; longs to see God's plan come to fruition in my life. There is also the side of me that holds me back. The side that reminds me of my failures; that is comfortable in the past making the same mistakes. This is the bad side of me. It sees no value in change.

To jump back to the beginning for a moment, I sometimes wonder how deeply the halves of myself affect each other. It is so hard for me to let things in the past go. It is almost like breaking up with someone in a way. In order for me, or for anyone, to separate with the past (the bad side of us) we must lose a part of ourselves. It's hard. It's painful. Often it leads to losing people and things that are dear to us. I know and understand this well. So many times I've made efforts to change things about myself only to run back to them when I'm lonely or upset. It's human nature to find things that are comfortable and that we feel safe around. But there are times in life when you reach a place and you know that things have to change; when you understand that you are in a unhealthy pattern and you want to get out of it. These are the moments that feel like we are breaking up with ourselves. In a lot of ways, it is worse than breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend. It changes everything about your life. You have to change the people that you hang out with, places you go, maybe even jobs. Or maybe it's not that severe for you, but you're ready to change habits or tendencies that you know are not healthy. I know how you feel. Anything and everything reminds you of your old ways. It is impossible to forget the past, but even separating from the past is incredibly difficult.

These moments define our lives. All too often we change momentarily, only to fall back later. I've done it time and time again; most of us have. This example has helped me to think more clearly about these moments. Imagine that you have a friend who is in an unhealthy dating relationship. She is dating a guy that is clearly no good for her. He is pushing to her to do things that are hurting her. She's pulling away from you and her other friends, even her family. The patterns that she is forming with him are hurting her life. Nothing hurts worse than seeing situations like these. You do everything that you can to reach out to your friend and let her know that she deserves better and that she could be happier and healthier without this relationship. Why is it so hard to see similar patterns within ourselves? It is a baffling question, but one that could prevent so much pain in our lives. What if we all pretended that we had two halves, a good side that wants to change and a bad side that does not (please...just humor my childish examples.) If we lay out all of the decisions that we make, and honestly examine the evidence that our lives create, I think we would be startled to see that the halves of ourselves are in a bitter gridlock. The trade win for loss, but in the end both cannot have a significant foothold in our lives.

Just like it's not easy to part with a significant other, it is equally as hard to part with habits and patterns in our lives, but it's necessary in order to grow. I don't want to seem like I think that I have it all together. I surely do not. There are things in my life that need to change. I just want to share how I'm thinking about change, and how I'm preparing my own life in this state. Know that you are not alone in this life journey. Never be afraid to let the past die. It doesn't deserve to have a hold on your life that slows you down from change. I know that we don't all believe the same here, and, as always, I respect that, but just know that I believe there is a God who sees us as we are, and loves to help us change. Don't be afraid. 

Thanks for reading today. Connect with me on Twitter: @matthewhillec 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tonight. Love.

Tonight. Tonight I'm thinking about love. Tonight I watched a movie in which, as in all movies it seems, two people fell hopelessly in love in some grossly misconstrued recreation of reality that could never happen in this (the real) world. Love is something that I never write about, because I didn't believe in it for a long time (And because I'm not Cory Copland...Sorry I love you dude); at least I didn't believe that it was for everyone. Sure, people find other people that make them happy and start families with them. My parents just celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. There are happily married couples all over the world. I've just been in too many unhealthy, failing, and plain bad relationships to not see that there are negative aspects to love. I couldn't list the number of people I've wronged and hurt through relationships. The relate part of the word is what has caused me to stumble. I'm great in a relationship until I get to the moments where things get deep and serious. Insecurities come to the table. Girls find out that I'm an emotional, thoughtful, sensitive guy with who's prone to crying in movies, not talking for days, and general moodiness (I just shattered any chance of meeting my future wife here.) Things end up not working out, and yet I fall for the same type of girl over and over.

Now that I've ranted a bit, I'm going to shift gears. I'm still shooting from the hip, and this will be a very raw post, but I'm going to be a bit more organized. I've wondered so many times why the girls that I fall for, do not fall for the kind of guy that I am. I think I'm relatively good looking, I play guitar in a band, I ride motorcycles, I buy girls nice things, I dress cool, but nothing seems to help (I promise I'm not being conceited, there is a point to this.) A thought sticks out. I have these lists of good and bad points, but in my own experiences, they have not really led to me being broken up with. In fact, I have never been broken up with. I've always ended relationships, or they've ended mutually. I wonder then if girls are my problem or if I am my problem. I say that I'm emotional, sensitive, quiet, and often incredibly hard to read and understand, but I am the one who always bails out of relationships. I say that girls don't fall for me, but maybe I don't let them. This is getting pretty girly pretty fast, and I apologize. I do need to get this all out of my system though, so please bear with me.

Here is my thought: what if the things that we are most insecure about in our own lives are the things that prohibit us from having healthy relationships? I know that there are a few of you perfect couples out there who talk about each other's problems at length while you braid each other's hair and eat grapes (what the heck? I shouldn't write this late at night...) but for the rest of us HUMANS, it's not always that simple. I think one of the main reasons that I don't do well in relationships is that I'm scared of myself. I'm scared to make the same mistakes that I've made in the past; scared of hurting people. But I'm also scared of my own flaws. I'm scared that my emotional tendencies will ruin more relationships; worried that my thoughtfulness could again be seen as condescension; scared to return to unhealthy patterns. Am I insecure? Definitely. Have I ever admitted that? No. Well actually yes, now I have to all of you. I always said this was an honest place, and I will continue to make it so. Because this is hard for me to write about.

So where does that leave those of us who are too scared of ourselves to fully open up to a relationship? I'm not sure to be honest with you. We've all heard that we need to "get to know ourselves" before we date. I believe this with all of my heart, but I think it is easy to know yourself and hard to find the next step. I think and write everyday. I know myself so well that it hurts; too well probably. I'm painfully aware of my every good and bad point, so there must be a step beyond simply knowing yourself. Perhaps it is defining yourself. What I mean might be better explained with a story:

Say you've created a product; a vacuum cleaner (purely arbitrary.) You know this product through and through. You were present at every stage of its development: the initial designing, prototypes, all the way to its completion. You know its every success and failure along the way. The thing is, now you have to market it. You have to take the hundreds of tedious bits of information that you have on this and transform it into something that people can understand. Instead of telling people about the speed that the belt turns or the capacity of the tank in cubic millimeters or how many man hours goes into making ten units, or how many prototypes you went through before arriving at this final product, you would want to tell people something more helpful like, "Hey this machine will clean your carpet. It's stylish and relatively cheap." You don't have to be worried that it will break or fall apart like it did in the developmental stage because those issues have been fixed. 

I think the same could be said for our lives. ( Just to clarify, I don't think we should turn ourselves into vacuum cleaners.) Instead we could stop overemphasizing the small flaws that we have. We could be okay with our ineptitudes and not let them throw a wrench into our relationships. You know what ladies? I am emotional, but I'm also a guy who is eligible to date. I love baseball, I love big cities, I love boots. The same can be said for girls. Maybe you've been really used by a guy or you have issues with your father or you think you're too emotional or whatever, but you also love volunteering at a pet shelter and you love to paint and deep down you still love Avril Lavigne. Why can't those things be just important to us as the failures? I don't want anyone to be conceited, but own your strong points. Ladies, be excited to tell that cute guy that you love to paint. Guys, be excited to tell your lovely lady that you love baseball instead of being scared of letting your emotional side shine through and having to end another relationship. 

(Just to come off of my rant for a bit and clarify, I don't think you should do anything you feel is wrong. If you have issues that you need to work through, by all means work through them. That is part of the getting to know yourself process I think. Don't skip to the definition stage if your aren't ready. Don't put yourself back in a situation where you could get hurt again. that is counter-productive and will only hold you back. Now back to your regular programming.) 

We should not be so scared of getting to know a new person at a deep level that we run from someone who might be good for us. We should not nit pick other people's lives and find small things to justify ending or bailing out of a relationship. Don't date someone who isn't right for you, but don't be so quick to assume that someone isn't right for you. And don't be scared of getting to know someone new. 

Why do we have to be so incredibly attentive to the things in the past that ended relationships, when we could instead be excited about future ones? There is always room to grow. I'm still not sure how I feel about love. Some people say you only love once, some say you love many but fall in love with one. Some of us have no idea (that would be me.) But regardless we were all created with the ability to love and be loved. God put inside of us the potential to care for others deeply, and to share a marriage with a person that he created. Have my emotional tendencies ended relationships? Yes. Will they end every relationship I'm ever in? Absolutely not. Some girls will not like it, but one day I will find a girl who does. I'm not broken, and none of you are either. We all have flaws, but that should not and does not disqualify us from being happy. God loves each of us with our flaws and failures, and we should learn to love each other with our flaws. Chances are, we will never find a perfect, suitable significant other, so don't look for one. Look for someone who sees every part of you and loves it. And in turn, see every part of yourself and love it. (There's the Oprah Winfrey ending we were all waiting for.)

Thank you for reading my rambles. You can follow me on Twitter at @matthewhillec

Monday, May 28, 2012

There's A Wall There....Trust Me (Part II)

I will say it again on this post, if anyone catches the classic animated film reference in the title, mad props. It was time again this week to learn a lesson in trust. I ride motorcycles with my dad a lot, and as cliche as it may sound, there are a lot of lessons to be learned on the road.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, my dad and I got the chance to go for a ride one evening. As we rode out of Benton, a string of thoughts started forming in my head. I immediately knew it was forming into a post, so I payed careful attention to what was happening (and the road of course.) We were riding on a road that had a speed limit of 40 miles per hour, and I really wasn't paying attention to my own speed as I was following my dad. I did happen to glance down at one point though, and I noticed that we were going 10 over the speed limit. It is uncharacteristic of my dad to speed, and shortly thereafter we did return to the speed limit. In that moment when I realized we were speeding, an interesting thought came into my head. I wasn't in the least bit worried that we were going to fast. I trust my dad more than anyone in the entire world, and I knew that he was being careful and "monitoring the situation" as he puts it. I knew that we wouldn't get pulled over, and if we did he would take responsibility. I was completely comfortable riding within the safety net of my father.

As we continued to ride, I noticed other nuances about our riding that I never took the time to think about previously. We always ride in staggered formation. He is always on the right and I always take the left; every time. I find myself following his path around bits of sticks or gravel in the road without even having to notice them myself. I mirror his movements, and thereby avoid danger. I don't always have to pay as meticulous attention to where I'm going as I would if I were alone because I don't have any fear of getting lost with my dad. Every other time that I've ridden bikes with someone, I've been in the lead. I don't trust anyone but my father to lead me. I don't feel comfortable following anyone else.

Towards the end of the ride, something landmark happened. We were a few miles from home when my dad made an unexpected stop. He pulled into a parking lot, and I was 75 percent sure that I knew what was happening. Let me frame the story a bit. My dad has an incredibly cool Harley Davidson, and I ride a slightly less cool Kawasaki (Okay, it's significantly less cool.) It's always been that way, and there are no hard feelings; he just looks way cooler everywhere we go. I had never riden any of his Harleys before then. Not because he doesn't trust me, it's just a whole different kind of riding when the bike weighs over 700 pounds as compared to the 400 pounds mine weighed. Bearing that in mind, we pulled into a parking lot, and in the way only my dad can, he simply said, "wanna switch?" I was floored. On the inside, I was so nervous about the potential to wreck his prize bike that I nearly lost control of my bowels, but I pseudo-suavely got on and pretended to be nothing short of confident. The next ten minutes of my life were some of the greatest I can remember (okay that might be a bit severe) but in all honestly, it was incredible to finally ride a real man's bike. As I stepped off the bike in our garage, I couldn't stop thinking about losing my Harley virginity (okay I'm sorry that was raucous...) But I couldn't stop smiling. Most importantly, I was completely in awe that my dad entrusted me with his motorcycle.

Though the experience alone was superb, I couldn't overlook the deeper implications that had been bouncing around my head as we rode. I wonder how my faith journey would be different if I looked at God like I like at my dad when we ride? How badly does God want me to accept his safety net just as fully as I accept my earthly father's? I put up no walls when I'm around my dad, and I know that I can be the same with a God who has no sense of condemnation; only a love that knows absolutely no boundaries. He is ready to trust me with his plans, and his gifts; his spiritual Harley Davidson if you will. My dad knows that I've made a lot of mistakes in my life, and I haven't always respected him like I should, and yet he overlooks those things and chooses to be my mentor and my friend. Our Heavenly father is no different. He is begging us to trust him and follow in his footsteps; his tire treads. He wants to be the only one that we trust enough to follow.

God loves us more than we can understand; more than we can accept at times. I've run from it; we've all run from it. That doesn't change the fact that it steadily follows us into the darkest places we can find, all the while retaining as much candor and intensity as it ever has or will. While we choose to follow people and things that have underlying agendas and will take abrupt turns without warning, God shows us his path from the beginning. It is straight and flawless. We can follow him around the obstacles that the world throws in our path. Often he doesn't reveal the intricacies of his entire plan at once, but it doesn't change the fact that his path is set in stone. Just like my dad may not tell me from the beginning where exactly we're going to ride, I never have to worry that it will be on unsafe roads or in places that we should not be. How he leads does not change, and God is the same way. We can cease our worries about getting lost. And most importantly, we can appreciate the fact that, just like our motorcycle trips, every step and every mile takes us closer to home.

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)

I really appreciate you all taking the time out of your day to read. God bless each of you. You can follow me on Twitter at @matthewhillec

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Danny Roberts Theory

I've had something on my mind for a while that I haven't been able to fully think through until a couple of days ago. My friend Danny and I recently had a conversation about originality. I made the point that anything that the world deems original is really just derivative of previous thoughts and ideas. In the moment, I was probably getting a bit pretentious with my thoughts, but we were really having a meaningful conversation, so the idea stuck with me. I spent a lot of time pondering the implications of what I had said. Do I really think that there is no way to be truly original anymore? Have all of the good thoughts and ideas been used already? Initially this was my conclusion, but as I gave it more thought I came up with a new idea: originality necessarily must be derivative to be significant. Let me explain with some examples.

Think with me for a second. I think most of us remember when the first iPhone came out in 2007. It was revolutionary; mind-blowing; the first of its kind. If asked, anyone would say it was completely original. It began the smart phone arms race that has led to the most technologically-advanced cell phones of all time. But think about something else with me. The iPhone changed so many things, but it was still a cell phone. It still operated under the premise of text messages, phone calls, and emails. There were many aspects of the phone that had been used in many cell phones predating it. This is where my point comes in. In order for the iPhone to be as significant as it was, it had to establish reference points so that consumers could grasp what it entailed. It had to have a tangential point of contact with ideas that people already understood, or else it would have been useless.

Imagine someone inventing something that has no reference points. You see a commercial on television for a new product, but it is an unidentifiable shape, the commercial is in a language that no one on earth can understand, and at no point does it visually describe what the product is or does. This manufacturer has created something completely original, but at the same time completely isolated it and eradicated any chance of making money. There were no reference points in language, comprehension, comparison to other products, or even how to purchase the product. In essence, there is no way of spreading this "originality."

This concept makes me think of Delaunay Triangulation. You might be wondering what that is, but you actually know (I promise.) We've all seen a movie where brilliant CIA agents track a cell phone call to catch a criminal. They use this triangulation method to do so. Basically cell phones connect to the closest cell masts that they can find to make calls. To triangulate a call, these agents just reference the signal that they are picking up to the closest cell phone masts determine a location. (It's actually a bit more complicated, but I don't think any of us are going to be doing this anytime soon.) To get back to the point, this method takes a signal that is in an unknown place, and makes sense of it by referencing it to know points. I think truly original ideas should work like this. They stand alone upon first examination, but they can be compared and referenced to known ideas in order for them to make sense.

This brings me to what I really wanted to say. French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once said, "No finite point has meaning without an infinite reference point." If all physical ideas must be predicated upon previously known building blocks, it makes sense that in order for us to live original lives, we too must have a reference point. To be significant, we must be compared to significance. I think Sartre hit upon a brilliant thought. How can anyone view our lives as great if someone before us hadn't done great things? The notion of great had to come from somewhere. You could compare an extreme act of courage to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; an act of humanitarianism to Nelson Mandela;  or any other of the thousands of examples that history provides. These are all valid reference points, but where is their reference point? Where is the origin of their originality, if you will? Sartre spoke of an infinite reference point. The interesting thing is that he was not referring to God. Sartre was one of the founding fathers of existentialism and believed that every human was responsible for themselves and their actions; "condemned to be free" as he put it. He did not believe in a creator or ascribe to religion. His idea then seems to have fallen short. He didn't seem to have an actual infinite reference point.

To consider any one person, idea, or concept as an infinite reference point is falling short as well I think. Every one of these has come from somewhere. Every idea is predicated upon preconceived building blocks, every person influenced by those who came before, and every concept conceived my those individuals who have been influenced. That leaves the question, what is the infinite reference point? You don't have to agree with me, but I know what my infinite reference point is. It is faith in a God and a love that predates all origin; that IS origin. There is no other example of  a thing or person that has no predecessor. Again, you don't have to agree. I welcome disagreement wholeheartedly. I know that I have tried so many things in life to find fulfillment, to reference my life against, and they've all fallen short except faith. It is available for all who are willing to receive.  

Thanks so much for reading today. God bless you all. Follow my good friend Danny on Twitter if you want to find a truly intelligent, gifted individual @xdannyrobertsx. And, as always, I'm at @matthewhillec

Saturday, May 12, 2012

I Want You

I had an interesting thought last weekend as I was walking around the beautiful campus at Hanover College in Indiana. Have you ever been in a relationship with someone and truly wanted that person? Not in a perverted or sexual way, but in a way such that you desire every part of them. You want to have their attention; their thought space; their love; their laughter. Every fiber of you wants every fiber of them. Maybe that's creepy or obsessive, but I think when you truly love someone, it is an accurate description of what you are feeling. Let me interject here and make it clear that I am not a relationship expert. In fact I am a relationship saboteur. I have dated far too many girls, made a lot of mistakes, and ruined some great friendships, but I have been in love once. I don't want to delve into what I believe love is; suffice it to say that she was a friend who's bond to myself could only have been formed through years of shared experiences. But I digress, that was how I felt about her.

For whatever reason, that idea was bouncing around in my head as I walked. I had a lot on my mind, and I was in an incredibly quiet, contemplative mood. Out of nowhere I had a heavy thought: what if God wants us with an equal desire as I just described. What if he truly, deeply yearns for every part of us. Often in relationships desire can be masked by surface-level emotions. Sometimes I can want someone so bad that it induces anger or sadness or frustration. Those emotions are not a summation of how I feel about this person, rather they are byproducts of my desire and the obstacles that stand between us. That was unclear, so let me try again with a story. Say you really like a girl name Jane. She is everything you want, but she is sending you mixed messages. You want so badly to be the only guy that she's thinking about, and sometimes it upsets you. Other times it makes you mad because she tampers with your emotions. But, underlying all of these emotions is desire; the desire for her to be yours, and it drives you through all of these emotions.

I think the same can be said of God. He is a jealous creator. He wants us so desperately that he can resort to extreme means to garner our attention. I wondered, as I walked, if we mistreat God in the same way that we mistreat each other in relationships; sending mixed signals. Being flippant with our emotions. How frustrating must that be for God? It drives me crazy when people are unable to make clear decisions. I know that not everyone is driven by the desire to be cut and dry with their whole lives, but decisiveness is needed in some cases, and I think God is screaming loud that he wants our attention. Wants us to make up our minds and stop second guess our every decision.

As I continued to let this thought simmer in my mind, it developed a bit further. In my own experiences, I've found that unrealistic expectations are often to blame for failed relationships; guys or girls that expect far too much from their significant other. When, however, a relationship advances to the point where you truly want someone, these expectations begin to fade. You don't so much care if they're perfect or if they've made mistakes. The negative becomes less important and is masked by your infatuation with the positive. Again I think the principle parallels with how God sees us. He doesn't focus on the reasons that we've run from him or the times that we've stumbled. His eyes are set on our potential to love and be loved by him.

I've yet to find a lasting, true love in human relationship in this life. Perhaps I will or perhaps I won't, but I've placed that secondary to finding a true love in a God who is infatuated with the future; not the past. People will always fail; always change, but there is a God and a love that are the only true constants we have in life. And they are free. God wants each and every one of us. He gave up his son so that ALL people would have the opportunity to have true life. ALL people.

"...God our Saviour, who wants all men to be saved..." (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

Thanks for reading. If you love Twitter, chat me up @matthewhillec

Monday, April 30, 2012


Why is it that we so often look back fondly on events that, while happening, were incredibly painful? I recently went on a backpacking trip with my very good friend Christopher. We mistakenly trekked a two-day hike in about seven hours, camped in a completely sketchy campground, all while toting 45 pound backpacks. We finished our trip tired, sore, mildly dehydrated, and completely worn out. During the many strenuous miles, we complained hard and thoroughly about how tired we were; how hungry we were; how much we wanted to find the lake and make camp; how much we missed our moms (sadly that is not a joke); how scared we were of coyotes; etc. Yet, even with so much pain inflicted, we're already fondly telling and retelling stories from our trip. We're planning our next trips as well, and still completely enthralled with backpacking. How did our mindset change from incredible discomfort to blissful reminiscing?

I think some of the joy comes from learning. Hindsight always brings such a sense of clarity that the moment itself never can. Looking back at our trip, there were a lot of learning moments. We discovered that waiting until dusk to make camp is not a good idea at all, packing way too many things that we really didn't need just served to weigh our bags down (there's a whole blog hiding in that point.) And perhaps most importantly, sleeping on a hill in a child-sized tent is something that I will absolutely never do again. (Actually I'm not sure why that happened at all...) Christopher and I came to grips with the fact that we are definitely NOT Bear Grylls, as much as we so dearly want to be. These lessons may not have been fun in the moment. In fact they were absolutely not fun. We woke up so incredibly sore and tired on our first morning that I honestly wasn't sure if I would ever walk correctly again, but now I can appreciate the small things that we learned. They will make us smarter and stronger backpackers on our future trips. Both of us are completely glad we went, and I wouldn't trade that trip for anything.

Another beautiful aspect of hindsight is the gift of separation; the ability to disassemble the experience and compartmentalize events into categories. I can look back at the fun times we had as a whole without having the physical burdens of hiking to accompany those joys. We can talk about finding and subsequently drinking out of a waterfall (okay it was more accurately a water trickle), the incredibly beautiful overlook we spent the afternoon at, talking for hours and hours about girls and music and life. Separating the pleasant from the unpleasant in the actual moment is difficult to say the least, but from hindsight's perspective, it can achieve deep clarity. The memories that we made will last forever, and the stories that we can tell are priceless. We enjoyed two beautiful days in God's nature, and they could never be replaced. The ability to hone in on those aspects of our trip is something so special about hindsight.

Here's the pivot point: how does hindsight help us in life? I was once of the persuasion that hindsight was merely for overly-optimistic people trying to ease the pain of their mistakes. You cannot change the past, and I saw no point in dwelling on things that I was not proud of. Looking back, that was an ignorant way of thinking. History, without examination and correction, is destined to repeat itself. If a race car driver is circumnavigating a track and goes through the first turn too fast, would he foolishly take the same turn at the same speed on his second lap? Of course not. Unless he was a terrible driver. Why then would we not examine the past and look for clues as to how to better prepare ourselves for the future in our own lives? Could we look at a mistake we've made, pinpoint the place where we deviated off-course, and prevent it from happening in the future? Absolutely. There is not doubt in my mind.It is obviously easier said than done; as are most things. Something that I tell people when they ask for advice on the guitar or with writing is this: make new mistakes. It sounds like a negative piece of advice at first, but it makes sense if you think about it. In making new mistakes, we learn new ways of combating the struggles that come our way; learn to be stronger in areas that we repeatedly fail in. Notice that the advice is not make new mistakes while still making old ones. The idea is to constantly grow and learn. It gives  me the mental image of laying a rail road track. You turn behind you, lay a cross tie and a portion of track, turn back around and move forward then repeat.

Life is a constantly-moving journey, and our pace must be slow when we're learning new things. Looking back on situations is necessary to see how far we've come. And just like Christopher and I looked back on our painful trip, we can also isolate the joyous moments and be glad that we experienced them. Hindsight can be a painful tool, but it it opens up a whole new world of learning if you control it well. Don't be afraid to look back and gain vital information for moving forward. It doesn't make you weak, it means that you're smart enough to use everything you can to succeed and thrive in the future.

Thank you all so much for taking a little time to read. You can follow me on Twitter at @matthewhillec, and my friend Christopher at @RobertMorley6. He is hilarious, poignant, and takes incredible pictures.

(By the way, this is where Christopher and I backpacked. It was beautiful.)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Focus on What's Close

"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards." -Soren Kierkegaard

I was recently eating dinner with my family at a reasonably nice restaurant. For some reason, I was pretty tired and not feeling incredibly well, so I took off my glasses and put my head on the table. Embarrassingly, it was right when the very attractive waitress walked up. Quickly I raised my head and looked into her stunning eyes (this is completely tangent to the point of today's post by the way) and ordered my meal. An interesting thought struck me as I was surveying the restaurant with my semi-blind eyes. I could hear many conversations happening, and it was evident that there was a packed restaurant environment thriving all around me, but I couldn't see it clearly at all. My eyes are bad enough that everything was a blur. All I could see was my family.

The thought that came to me as I was sitting there was this: sometimes life is exactly like that restaurant. Often I've noticed that in my life that it is difficult to focus on things in the distance. It is almost as if our minds cannot make out the shapes of the events coming. What is to come seems to captivate our minds, even when we have no inkling as to what it might be, or how the future will unfold. I wonder if this parallel between the restaurant and life can be taken a step further. What if the things that are close to us in life can be seen very clearly, even when the future is unclear? In the midst of stressful life situations, can we choose to focus on what is near to us? Maybe college seems like a daunting obstacle in your path. You don't know if you want to go, where you want to go, where the money will come from, etc. Or perhaps you've been laid off from you job, and the foreseeable future seems to be filled with financial struggles, stress, troubles of all kind. In times like these what can we focus on that is close to us?

Maybe it is the things and people that we love that we should be focusing on when life throws us a curve ball. How many marriages have ended as a result of a husband getting too concerned with work? How many times have you seen two outfielders charge towards the same fly ball only to collide because they weren't paying attention to what was close to them? You cannot drive a car by only looking far off in the distance; you have to closely monitor the stretch of road in front of you. This certainly does not mean that we should ignore those things in the distance. Not at all. Life centers around achieving goals. How much greater would those goals and accomplishments be, though, if we were more aware of our immediate surroundings? I am going to immediately regret this, but I think a quote from Star Wars could help here. Anyone remember what Qui Gon Jinn told Obi Wan Kenobi in The Phantom Menace when Kenobi was focused on the future? Of course you don't. He said, "Keep your feelings here and now." (I indeed do regret that decision.) They were in a fictional story, but the principle remains the same.

Is there a healthy balance of focusing on things that are close and things that are further away? Probably. Will any of us find that balance and stick with it? Doubtful. Life is a constant game of balance; a matter of trial and error, and no man or woman is immune to failure. So don't try to be. Just never let you eyes stray too far away from you immediate life for too long. You never know what might change while your eyes wander. (Sappy ending sentiment....check.)

Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter here if you'd like.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Today I am grateful to be alive. I realize that sustenance is a gift; a precious gift at that, and not all are so fortunate to have it. Not all souls are so lucky as to type words into a computer, at their job, in a safe city, in a free country. War of the flesh and mind run rampant, and yet I escape. Not all escape. Not all survive. I manage to survive, and for that I thank God above. I am thankful for food and for a home. Friends and family. A car and money. Gifts and talents. For love and life, but I subsequently hurt for those who know nothing of these things; know very little of ease in life. I respect those who fight harder than I do, and they do it out of necessity  to  live.

Today I am humbled by the overbearing, gravity-laden notion that my life is simple and easy. I complain about so many things, yet there are others who lead such toilsome lives; such burdensome existences. I am so often unhappy while many others rejoice in having a fraction of what I take for granted. I am wrong. I am selfishly consumed with myself. I have typed the letter "I" in reference to myself 15 times thus far. Out of 221 total words, "I" is 7 percent of my word choice. There is no excuse.

Today there are no more rose-tinted glasses. No more seeing through a lens. No more running away. No more lies or pretending. No more looking past what is so evidently in front of my eyes. The world is scarred and broken; bleeding, hurt, and in need of a doctor; a healing hand; a savoir. He is Elohim, Shekhinah, God in Heaven. And He is here.

Today I am truly grateful to be alive.

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." John 14:18

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Giver

First, let me apologize for neglecting this for so long. It's been over a month since I posted. I've been pretty busy, but that is no excuse. That being said, this is just a little something that I've been working on lately; a piece to get us back into the rhythm of things. I hope you enjoy it.

Capture my soul
Piece by piece
Ribbon by ribbon
Tie them to your rope
Until I'm all strung out
And I can see myself like never before
From my back I can see you as you soar
High above you're a kite
While I'm barely six inches of the ground

Let me go if this is all love means to you
Let me die in peace rather than live in pieces
Stop carving beautiful words into glass houses
With dull knives that everyone is tired of

You've got me for now
Alone in this cell
But I've got a plan
I've got two hands
You never listen
Which gives me an edge
I'll slip away at night
You'll be so busy at the stern
Surveying all that your hands have collected
To notice your vessel weighs one man less
It's dangerous
But it's is necessary to keep living
So I'll slip over the edge and hold my breath
That the sea welcome me

I'll let myself go
Become a stow away on a ship where I belong
And come to find that the sharp edges I once glimpsed from a distance
Were fingertips reaching for the ceiling
Forgiveness is like air here
It flows like birds and parachutes
Calms me down and brings me to my roots
When I look these people I've stopped seeing myself
And my mistakes like trophies across a shelf
There's a soul here for every two eyes I can find
And piece of a whole for every peace of mind

(Thank you all for reading. You social networkers can follow me on Twitter here: @matthewhillec.)

Monday, February 20, 2012

I Really Hope So

Have you ever lost something? I'm constantly losing things. As I grow older, I find myself losing more and more it seems (probably not a good sign for my old-age years....) Something that really interests me is this: we rarely notice that we have lost something until we need it. We don't realize that we don't have our car keys until we are outside of the car door in the pouring rain. Our wallet doesn't cross our mind until we're in the drive through at Arby's and we have no way of paying for our meal. I guess it makes sense because most of us don't take a constant inventory of what items we are carrying with us, but the trend extrapolates to more important things I think. The process of losing something doesn't happen quickly, and it is normally not noticed at first. Take a marriage for example. Most marriages that fail do not fail instantaneously. There are small things that lead to bigger things that lead to real issues. Couples probably do not consciously think that the small arguments that they experience could be precursors to divorce. That is probably irrational in the moment, but looking back, I have heard many couples chock up the failed marriage to the "little things." 

Time for some life story (enthusiasm ensues.) The biggest thing I ever lost was my faith. That is a bit of an overused phrase that means a lot of different things to different people. I did lose my faith in Christianity and stopped attending church, but it is a lot more than that. I lost my faith in people and in the world; in an innate goodness that I once believed people were born with. No longer did I look at people and see creatures capable of good, I saw hypocrisy and underlying motives and selfishness. Partly because all of those things were present in my own life, and I assigned them to the other people that I met, but I also experienced some deep hurts from people. To digress, I lost my faith in the world. It was not a decision made in haste or overnight though. I didn't wake up one day and decide to be a bitter, cynical, depressed jerk. It was a long process of events and walking away that led to where I was. And I didn't admit to myself that I had lost faith in everything until I was in the darkest place of the journey. I think that's how it goes when we lose things. I didn't fully realize that my hope was gone until I reached for it and it was gone. I needed a handle to anchor me, and it was gone. 

The scary part of the story is that I didn't know it was gone. It was almost like one of those falling dreams where you get that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach and then wake up. I leaned my life back and there was nothing to catch me. 

How does this apply to anything? It seems so easy. As if we merely acknowledge that we have lost something, and then go find it. You realize that your car keys aren't in your pocket, so you go back inside and find them on the counter. You reach for a wallet that isn't there so you drive all the way back to work and eat up (pun intended) half of your lunch break and silently curse the world (yeah, this happens to me at least once a week..) But what happens when you  really can't find what you're looking for? When you spend hours looking for it. It's maddening isn't? There is nothing worse than scouring a house for an item that cannot be located. I remember once at band practice I lost my car keys, and we looked for almost 2 hours before I found them...on the dash of my car. I was so incredibly furious. Where does this leave us in life when we can't find what we're looking for? Is there a kitchen counter of life where all of our problems can be found? For a long time, I didn't know the answer to that. I searched high and low for an anchor, but came up empty. 

Eventually, just like my car keys, I returned to the source to search for my lost faith. It was the most sensical decision I have ever made. If I had lost faith in people, I needed to return to people, not alcohol or sex or any of the other routes I tried. Just because one person hurt me, it doesn't mean all people will. Losing your keys on Monday doesn't insure that you will lose them again on Tuesday. Life is an imperfect organism that is constantly dealing out ill-conceived situations, but it doesn't have to drive us to give up. You can't find God or hope when  you aren't looking for them. It's as simple as that. If you put on a blindfold and intently stare at a mirror, you will not see yourself. No matter how desperately you concentrate, you cannot see through a blindfold. In the same way, I could not have found my faith by continuing to wear a blindfold. 

I hurt for those of you who struggle with locating hope and faith. It is a battle I know very well, and I understand how desperate and bleak it can be. I'm definitely not an expert in this, or any, area of life, but let me offer this one thing I have learned: look at what you are looking for. It seems trite and too easy, but it makes so much sense if you dig deeper. If you are looking for a mountain, you can't stare at the ground and merely wander around. You might get lucky one day and walk into it, but the odds are slim. Instead you could look up, and see which direction you need to walk. It doesn't change the fact that you are far from the mountain, but it does give you a direction to walk in. The same goes for life. When you raise your eyes from the ground, you will not instantly be back to fine, but you can enjoy the hope of having a new direction to walk in. 

Don't give up, friends. There is always hope, we just are not always looking at it. 

God, give us the strength to lift our eyes and look for hope and faith.

(I really appreciate you all reading today. You can follow me on Twitter at @matthewhillec if you'd like to.)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

There's A Wall There....Trust Me.

I think the only person in the entire world that understands the reference in the title is my older sister. It will come into play though, I assure you. Have you ever noticed that trust seems to be making itself very scarce these days? It seems like hearing that "trust issues" were the culprit in a failed relationship is an almost daily occurrence. I certainly cannot speak for anyone else, but in my own life it has been a huge stumbling block for me. I think at the root of the issue, trust is nothing more than knowing another person; knowing someone, but also becoming comfortable with that other human knowing you. The last half of the definition is the kicker for me. I love getting to know people, but people getting close to me scares me to death. And I know I am not alone in that regard. We are a protective race. This protective nature leads to us guarding our deepest self. There are obviously people who are more comfortable with opening themselves up to trust, but I think, on a certain level, a majority of people are nervous about letting someone else get to know them on a deep level. 

As I personally grew into my adult years, I never gained a firm grip on how to trust people. I chose instead to construct safety barriers. As people grew closer to me, they become acquainted with pre-determined answers and traits that I was comfortable with and that I could control. The thing about barriers is that they become taller and more complex as life progresses and and soon they become walls. Further down the line, they close all around you. What does it mean to be walled in? For me it came in the form of distance. Distance from people who I wanted to be close to, but for some reason I could not make myself grow towards. Distance is a quiet menace. It hurts, but at the same time it is incredibly difficult to pin down. It can be felt, but not seen. People who attempted to get close to me could definitely feel that there were walls between them and me, but there is nearly nothing you can do about someone who closes their self off from the world. Since those days, I have made steps towards becoming someone who trusts, but still there are things that I do not understand about trust. I think that trust is a process though. Perhaps it is not all meant to be grasped at once. Trusting too soon can lead to being hurt and betrayed, but refusing to trust leads to bitterness. Somewhere in the middle there is a healthy place that we are all looking for.

My dad and I work together (and by that I mean I work for him) so we spend a lot of time together during the days. One day recently I was loading an axle into the back of a customers truck. Let me frame the scenario a bit. The truck was brand new and very fancy. By my best estimate, it was probably worth roughly 60,000 dollars. The axle going into the back of this truck was worth close to 1,000 dollars. I was driving a forklift worth several thousand dollars, carrying the axle towards this brand new truck. As I approached the back of the truck I saw my dad. He was standing to my left. When I was in position to load the axle into the truck, something unfortunate happened. I had to raise the axle to such a height that I could not see the truck at all. Without prompting, my dad appeared at my side and said these simple words, "Come on in. I've got you." So without a clear view of the truck, axle or even people for that matter, I began to drive forward. In fact I took my eyes off of the ground in front of me and focused all of my attention on my dad's hand. He was slowly waving me forward and directing me. In that moment I realized that I was learning what it means to trust. There was a ton of money at stake if I hit something with the gigantic forklift, and yet I wasn't watching it at all. I know my dad on such a level that I knew he would not let me hit anything. 

I think trust can work like that with anyone. For a lot of years, I could not make myself believe that anyone would ever care enough to put me in front of themselves. That is a vital component to trust. That day, my dad put me in front of himself and took control of the situation. He was the one making sure that the truck, the axle, and everyone involved stayed safe. I was only watching his hand. I often wonder of God in heaven is begging me to take the same approach with him that I take with my dad. What would my life look like if took my eyes off the things that I think are important and instead watched for God's hand; slowly waving me away from danger. It's a powerful thought to say the least. 

I know that I am not the only person in history to ever build walls around myself. It happens all the time. I am learning every day what it means to trust people, and how to deconstruct those walls. I look forward to meeting and trusting new people, and I know that we all have the ability to trust. Don't rush into it or out of it. Trust is a lot like a turtle (just wait my friends...) slow and steady wins the race. Just start the race.

(Thanks for reading today. Follow me on Twitter if you wanna chat: @MattHillEC.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

There Goes My Hero

I find it strange just how similar I am to my dad. We think the same, act the same, we even have the same handwriting. My dad is my absolute hero, and if I turned out exactly like him I would okay with it. For some reason, I was thinking about this a few days ago, and it really made me wonder how my dad became my hero. I know that there are a lot of small boys who idolize their dads and want to be just like them, but how and why is it that we become just like them? Well my friends, let's find out.

My dad and I work at the same place; and by that I mean I work for him, so we're around each other 40 hours a week (unless we work overtime...which we do...because we're men.) An outsider looking in might not notice anything peculiar in the way that my we interact, but underneath the obvious appearance there is a lot going on. For instance, when my dad is talking on the phone to a customer, I can tell by his word choice, inflection, tone, and facial gestures what kind of person he's talking to. Without even speaking words to each other, I can tell when he needs me to get him a calculator or a pen. I don't recall sitting down and studying my dad's habits in such detail that I can understand them as I do, I just spend an inordinate amount of time with him. There have been times when people read notes that we make and cannot tell if I wrote them or if he did. We can both clearly tell the differences, but to outsiders it looks the same. I understand that genetics plays a heavy role in common characteristics in offspring, but having a hero goes so much deeper than that.

Some of the things that I have in common with my dad are by choice. From my earliest memories growing up, my dad absolutely despised ranch dressing. He won't eat it on anything. I hate ranch dressing; I genuinely cannot stand the way it tastes or smells for some reason, but the first time I refused it was not because of my opinions. It was because I wanted to be like my dad. The same goes for Dr. Pepper, milk, lengthy board games, people who talk too much, and so on. It is fascinating to me that some of my core likes and dislikes are direct copies of my dad's preferences. They're deeply seeded in my character, but they came from outside of me. My adoration and respect of my dad shaped who I am. I know that Dr. Pepper and board games are not integral aspects of my character, but they are part of who I am; and the areas that my dad has influenced in my life go much deeper that surface preferences. My dad has the softest heart of anyone I've ever met. He feels things incredibly deeply, and cares in ways that I cannot understand all the time. Over the years I've come to realize that I feel things like he does. We don't even have to discuss it, but our reactions to situations are very similar. I haven't always acted on this tendency as well as he does, but I am growing as we all are. 

The fact that we are able to copy another person is amazing to me. It is also horrifying in a way. I think of all of the people in this world who people are copying and it hurts my heart. There are some people out there who do not need to be imitated. I, as always, am not going to judge anyone. I understand that we all have setbacks and areas that we struggle in, but I hurt for the youth who are copying individuals who live in ways that are unhealthy. I love my dad and he understands me like no one else. How does the dynamic change when we don't know our heroes? When we can't question them and work with them and come to know them inside and out. I have nothing against heroes that we will never meet. Jon Foreman is and amazing person. I love his outlook on music and writing and life, and I draw inspiration from him, yet he will never mean as much to me as my dad does. Jon is an ethereal hero. My dad is a tangible one. I wish so deeply that everyone could have tangible heroes as amazing as my dad is. I understand that this is not possible, and I cherish my dad close to my heart. 

Find heroes who are real. Be a hero to someone who needs one. End your blogs with very feel good sayings. And have a wonderful day everyone.

(Thanks for reading today. Follow me on Twitter @MattHillEC if you want to chat.)

Saturday, January 14, 2012


I'm going to write from the heart today. As usual, I might become incoherent and lose my train of thought, and I applaud anyone who makes it through all of this (whatever this may become.) Hypocrisy is something that both fascinates and annoys me. Obviously I don't like the fact that some people claim to be one thing and are evidently something completely different. My heart breaks when I see Christians who proclaim the love of God but are some of the rudest, mean-spirited people I've met. Hypocrisy is the arch-nemesis of integrity. It is acid rain on a forest of respect. At the same time, I am deeply intrigued by the thought processes that precede moments of hypocrisy. 

At one point or another, we all have fallen victim to hypocrisy's clutches. It is highly improbable that any of us are perpetually upright individuals who never act in ways contrary to our previous statements, but I believe that often we don't even realize when we are being hypocrites. Let me restate that: I don't realize when I'm being a hypocrite. Being all-inclusive in that is judgemental and hypocritical in some fashion. Imagine this with me for a minute: a man has been hurt by some careless people's misguided, ill-thought words. His reputation has suffered the shrapnel of human conversation, and he has been deeply affected by what was said. Now these individuals who hurt him had all claimed and appeared to be outstanding people; the man would never have suspected them to slander his name. Nonetheless their actions appear contrary to their claims, and are thereby hypocritical. Here's where I begin to lose my cohesive grip on the subject. If he tells anyone what has happened, is he not too being a hypocrite? How can he be upset with those individuals for talking about him, and then go talk to someone else about the same people? It's like seeing some people smoking cigarettes in a non-smoking park and running then turning to a friend to bring it to their attention while you yourself are smoking. Now I don't have anything against smoking (Although it can probably kill you. But I used to smoke.... hypocritical, parenthetical statement. Wow.) but the principle can be extrapolated I think. It's hard to not be hypocritical.

I don't want to appear as if I have no hope in humanity or think that everyone is a huge hypocrite; far from it. I've just been hit really hard lately with the reality that often times the people that I am the most upset with probably have solid ground to be upset with me in return for the way I handle situations. If you're talking about the "lying psycho who went behind your back and cheated on you" to a friend, that lying psycho might be talking about the "crazy girl who never could keep her mouth shut and spreads stuff." It comes full circle. This topic has really been weighing heavily on my heart of late. I'll be the first to admit that I have been hurt by people. It is relatively easy to be in that group. Though none of us want to fall into this next group, most of us are included in its ranks just as easily. The "I've been hurt by people, but I've probably hurt people as well" group. This is rough stuff for me. It's not fun to realize that I am my enemies. I've been gossiped about. I have gossiped about. I've been lied about. I have lied about. My reputation has been cut down. I have cut down reputations. I don't want to lump us all into one group. I understand that everyone deals with this differently, and I really respect those of you who remain integrity-enriched through episodes of hypocrisy directed at you. I wish I was as strong as you are, but I realize I have lengthy ground to cover. I am not a good example of how to not be a hypocrite. 

My heart is running out of words, so it looks like this is going to be another short post. Maybe these are better. Sometimes wading through shallow water is better that diving off of a cruise ship into the ocean. Everyone needs their fair share of bite-sized pieces of life. (My Oprah-esque moment has now concluded.) I hope that these words never feel judgmental or feel like I am trying to tell anyone what to do. I certainly don't have life figured out. There are countless areas that I struggle with. I just hope to spark thoughts and conversations. People figure things out together better than they do alone. That being said, I am going to go ride my motorcycle at breakneck speeds to burn some agression off. Have a wonderful day everyone. God bless you.

Oh I forgot that I have some exciting news. Sometime in mid to late February, I will be having an entire week of guest posts. It's going to be fun for everyone. I get to have some of my good friends and mentors sharing their thoughts and stories. Can't wait for it!

(I aways say this in parentheses at the bottom, and I don't know why. Anyways, thanks for checking this out today. You can leave comments or chat with me on Twitter at @MattHillEC.)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Just A Little Something

This one is just something I wrote. Hope you like it, and I hope it means something to one or two of you.

That year seems to have divided my heart and my head.

Good intentions only take us so far, we've all been misled.

One day I'm coming back home to show you my hands.

Until then just know I'm sorry, and I'll do what I can.

My mind is the culprit no one knew.

But my blood still bleeds for you.

You could fall in love with someone else.

But you've got nothing left to prove.

I was a hunter you were my prize.

But like a good father you opened my eyes.

Like a good mother you saw the inside.

Like a good lover you gave me your time.

Would you believe my skin is a wall.

Oh but your words are the bomb that makes the bricks fall.

I'm alive because you are alive.

I'm complete because your eyes don't see indecency.

Only dreams.

Thank you all for spending some time with me. Have a beautiful day.

(If you want to chat, leave a comment or follow me on Twitter here @MattHillEC.)

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Thursday, January 5, 2012


Imagine something with me for a moment. Picture yourself in charge of building a house. You have the blueprints, the work is contracted out, everything is ready to go. Now imagine picking up the first hammer and going to work (since you are evidently a hands on owner of this construction company.) Suddenly, the hammer becomes very rubbery and is unable to retain its shape. The wooden handle melts in your hand, and is rendered completely useless. What do you do with that hammer? You throw it aside into the scrap pile and get another hammer better suited to accomplish your task.

Story number two. Imagine that you are a NASCAR driver. You're enjoying a substantial lead and preparing yourself to take home a trophy, when something very uncharacteristic happens. Your tires become stones. Literal stones. Obviously this is a severe hindrance on your driving abilities, so you quickly pull into the pit stop and get some new tires that are actually made of rubber (or whatever they make race car tires out of these days.) The rocks were of no use to you, and they held you back.

Here's another one (there is an end in sight I promise.) You are the CEO of an investing firm. Your company is hours away from completing a huge merger which will lead to grand pay increases and deep growth for all involved. You have assigned your right hand man to oversee the happenings, but on the way to the meeting in which the official papers will be signed, he decides that he is better suited to be a fry cook and quits on the spot. Wendy's on his mind, he jumps in his car to reevaluate his life's calling.

If you're looking for a thread running throughout these stories, search no more. Objects or people that choose not to function within the parameters set out for their purposes are more often than not discarded and replaced with suitable alternatives. A hammer that cannot drive in nails is useless; tires that are made of rocks will simply not suffice on vehicles; and a corporate executive who has a hankering to flip hamburger patties will never belong in the financial world of business. I wonder what the world would look like if we all realized this. How hard would we work? How much more attention would we pay to our duties and responsibilities? There is no way of knowing, but what I also wonder how miserable it would be to live life constantly in fear of slipping below the line of appropriate adequacy and being replaced. That is a terrifying thought; never knowing if today will be your last before you get tossed into the same scrap pile as a flimsy hammer. Everyone will inevitably fail and be less than their best at one point or another, and the thought of not getting any free passes is very scary. It gives me the image of an almost 1984-esque dynamic. How horrible. Still, in the back of our minds I think we all realize that making a decision to be less effective than you can be, or to attempt to thrive in ways that are not set out for you can and maybe will end in losses for you. Hammers that are not hammers are not hammers (wow...that's deep.)

So where is this all going? Let's find out. I don't know how all of you feel about having a purpose in life. I'm sure some of you think we do, and some of you think we don't. Humor me for a minute regardless of your view if you don't mind. Why do we, in clear sight of our purpose in life, choose to morph into shapes that pull us away from what we know we should do? I don't want this to just apply to Christians who feel like God is calling them to do something. That is definitely one area that you can apply this to, but I think it can go beyond that as well. What does your heart beat fast for? What stirs you? Why do we often run from these things? It doesn't make sense to me. I'm going to use some more literal examples to help me hash this out. A girl notices that her school is a breeding ground for bullying. It is an everyday occurrence, and it is disintegrating the social integrity of the school. She feels like she should be a voice and try to make a change, but she chooses instead to focus all of her efforts on excelling in her classes, and being quiet; quieter, perhaps, than before she felt led to make a change. Here's another: a young man feels God calling him to become a missionary. This young man proceeds to let his relationship with God falter, runs from the prospect of leaving behind his comfortable life, and accomplishes nothing. He is worse off than before we felt this calling. One more can't hurt (unless it can.) Just kidding, I can't really think of another one so let's move on. How deep are the effects of turning from purpose? We may never know. There is an endless number of people that have the potential to be affected by your actions. If you are steady reader of this blog, you might remember that I asked you all to share a blog with one friend a few posts ago. It was all connected to this. I'll just share one story from it. One of my friends told me that she had shared the blog with a friend who really liked it, and I believe that friend also shared it with a friend. Everything we do can have ripple effects, and it takes just one rock to start it all. Another thought is this: what all are you missing out on by choosing to ignore your purpose?

Let me digress a little bit. We talked about the world's tendency to discard those who do not live up to their expectations. I want to introduce you to my own personal view of how this works in my own life. I truly, deeply believe that I have a purpose in life. I also live in fear of losing that purpose from time to time. I fear that if I deviate far enough off course or apply my attention to the wrong areas, I will be discarded and someone else will receive my purpose. I'm going to incorporate faith for a minute. I do understand that God cannot use us if we are living in sin. He cannot use people that are living in ways opposite of what he instructs, but he can absolutely turn anyone around and then use them. Every step we take away becomes part of our story, and subsequently an aspect of our purpose. It is never God's plan for us to fail, but unlike the world he does not offhandedly discard us when we fail. We can always come home to him, and always get back on track with our purpose. God is the master of making hammers that are not hammers become hammers once more (...I have no words. And I am done with hammer illusions.) What scares me the most is the possibility of missing out on some amazing things while I choose to do my own thing and put purpose on the back burner.

Where does this leave you? As confused as you were five minutes ago undoubtedly, but hopefully you can begin to see that following purpose yields rewards both to us and to those around us, in spite of its difficulties. Be a hammer made of wood, not rubber (I was obviously not being truthful earlier.)

This is again unrelated (and probably petty advertisement) but Ellison's Cage is finally off of hiatus! So if any of you are in the Little Rock area, feel free to come out to our first show at The Friction House on February 10th. Here is a link to the details

(Thanks for taking some time out of your busy day to read. Follow me on Twitter here @MattHillEC .)