Talents

There’s this phrase I like to use to describe myself. It’s well known by many, but also misunderstood I believe:

“Jack of all trades, master of none.”

On the surface, this phrase seems a little poignant. You’re saying to the world: “I’m not really that great at any thing.” and that thought used to make me shy away from it. I was afraid that people would think I was looking down on myself, that I lacked confidence in what I talents I have.

When you start to dig deeper into the meaning though, something beautiful happens.

You see, I used to be jealous of the people out there who were great at something. They had this one thing that drove them further, this one passion, this one desire that kept them on track. They knew what they wanted out of life and they pushed toward that everyday.

And then there was me.

I’ve felt the call of music ministry from the age of 16, “This is it!” I said to myself. But I believe God had something different in mind.
At 19, in response to my love for art, I enrolled in art college for photography.
I kept my options open, I continued to learn what I could in the realm of music (A story for another day), and I continued to pursue the arts. I painted, I taught myself some graphic design and videography, I got involved in performing arts and discovered a love for musical theater, and I started writing. I loved it all. But where was my one passion?

I believe one of the hardest parts of life is choosing what to go after.

In fact, if there is one thing I’m great at, It’s probably self-awareness. The ability to not be able to lie to myself. To be able to see the harsh reality at all times without rose colored lenses. It’s more like a curse, really. 🙂

I look at every single one of those things I love and can truthfully say that I am not great at any of them.
Why? I would ask God over and over. Life would be so much easier if I just knew what I needed to pursue!

I slowly realized that maybe I wasn’t called to be great at any one thing. God began to challenge me… What was so wrong with that?
Did he promise me that ‘my calling’ would be one thing? Why should my calling happen like everyone else’s? Why shouldn’t I have many talents?

I’ve been so caught up in finding my calling, my special talent, seeking my passion, that I missed the point.

— — —

Today, I was thinking about the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30.

A master leaves money (talents) with three servants. Each servant knows their master is a certain kind of man. He values profit. Yet, clearly he values his servants enough to entrust them with his money. He gives one 5 talents, another 2 talents, and the last servant he gives one talent. He leaves for a while and comes back to find that the servants who had the 5 and 2 talents invested them and multiplied them. The servant with the one talent was scared that he would lose his money and be punished by his master, so he buried it.
The master returns and he praises the first two servants for taking what he gave them and multiplying it. But the third servant he scolds and throws out into the darkness for not having multiplied his one talent.
I’ll admit this story has always seemed a little harsh to me. I mean, he didn’t lose the talent, he could’ve went and spent it, but he didn’t. Was it so bad that he was scared that he would fail his master?

But I realized today that that’s not the point.
Multiplication of one’s talent is a side effect of one’s view of the master. The first two servants knew their master, knew that they had been given a lot of trust, and they knew the weight of what their task was. The third servant didn’t understand that. He let his misunderstanding of the master cause him to dwell on all the wrong things. He was more worried about the talent than he was worried about his master desires.

— — —

God has been showing me lately that I’ve had that one passion all along. That one passion is, and always should be, Him. He has given me many talents, and has entrusted me to use them for his profit, his kingdom’s profit.
I’ve felt that weight from the very beginning. But it’s so easy to become the servant with one talent. To get caught up in what I have to offer, maybe even comparing what I’ve been given with others, hiding my small abilities because they didn’t measure up.

God’s message in the parable isn’t that some people have more than others for any particular reason, his message is that no matter what abilities he has given us we should love him enough to want to use them for his gain.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that having more than one ability is better than having just one thing you’re good at. It’s all the same. As in the parable, it is not the amount of talents that mattered at all.

At the end of the story, The master tells the third servant that he doesn’t deserve his one talent, takes it, and gives it to the first servant. Then he says: “To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.”

I’m finding everyday that if my passion lies in my talents, then I am doomed to fail. But if my passion is for my master, the talents I have are just a tool to please him.
It’s a beautiful thing to be a jack of all trades and master of none. God has richly blessed me with abilities, entrusted me to gain interest for his kingdom. To be a master of nothing isn’t a poignant matter. It means that I’m ever learning, ever growing my abilities. And the truth is, I’ll never become a master of my talents. For my talents are not mine to begin with, they’re his. I am merely holding onto them, using them well, striving to increase them for my master’s hand.

Reality: People Do What They Want To Do

I have a statement that keeps popping into my head… probably for the past year, in fact, that I can’t seem to shake. As I did with my ‘Dating is Selfish’ post, I want your input on it.

“People do what they want to do.”

I have personally decided this statement is true, but I also see an opposing side that I can’t look over. You can take this as deep or as shallow as you want. But I want a jumping off point to be where I find the seeming contradiction, in Romans 7:15: “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”.

Have at it, ladies and gents.

The Dance With Death.

“Keep your vision all-inclusive, never allowing it to lock on any one thing…look everywhere at once, see nothing to the exclusion of all else—don’t allow the enemy to direct your vision, or you will see what he wishes you to see. He will then come at you as you become bewildered, looking for his attack, and you will lose.
Instead, your vision must open to all there is, never settling, even when cutting. Know your enemy’s moves by instinct, not waiting to see them. To dance with death meant to know the enemy’s sword and its speed without waiting to see it. Dancing with death meant being one with the enemy, without looking fixedly, so that you could kill him. Dancing with death meant being committed to killing, committed with your heart and soul.”

– Terry Goodkind, Temple of the Winds

This passage comes in the context of a warrior in battle. A warrior whose only objective is to eliminate the threat. To obliterate the enemy at all costs.

As my life unfolds, I find that I possess the power to read into things way too much. This is sometimes detrimental, but other times is useful for seeing symbolism and metaphor where there is only normality. To find minute distinction in the hopelessly ordinary. Revealing the nuance in the prose if you will. 😉

Once again, I find myself sucked into another one of Terry Goodkind’s genius stories involving Richard Cypher and the Sword of Truth. And, once again, I recognize the spiritual undertones of it all.

[WARNING: The following text contains extreme nerdiness.]

In order to understand it fully, you must understand the way the sword works in the story. The Sword of Truth is a sword of magic. It’s used in it’s ideal purpose only by the noble and true of heart, warriors who are not corrupt, not selfish. It possesses the knowledge, feelings, and abilities the previous owners sustained. When the sword is used, the person gripping the hilt at once becomes one with the ancestors of the sword, using the same power those before him used. That power is his for the taking.
Richard calls this summoning of power, this art of war, ‘The dance with death’ … as it mimics dancing in footwork, and results in the impending reaping of life.

So it is in the spiritual realm.

As disciples of Christ, we already own this ‘sword’. In a previous blog, “I Just Want to be a Woods Guide.”, I explained that the sword is a symbol of the word of God, the bible (Hebrews 4:12). I also mentioned how accepting the title of ‘disciple’ opened the gateway into the power that the sword gives. Richard gains power through the sword itself, as we do with the words of God to guide us through life. He also gains power through the ancestors before him, who wielded this very sword. Those ancestors to us are not only the prophets and disciples accounted in the bible, but also those generations before us, who blazed a trail into the world we know today. We are given power by their heritage, by their strength. (Acts 1:8)

By this we know that we are fully equipped to fight the enemy. We have the power necessary to obliterate any obstacle and overcome any trial.
With power comes skill. Skills that we learn on the battle field, skills we learn through heritage.

That’s what the quote is all about. It’s advice for the warrior on how to kill.
I’ll break it down for ya.

“Keep your vision all-inclusive, never allowing it to lock on any one thing…look everywhere at once, see nothing to the exclusion of all else.”
When fighting the enemy, our first instinct is to focus on them. But when we focus too hard on the enemy we get tunnel vision, and can miss more foes on either side or even solutions to the problem. One of Richard’s favorite quotes is: “Don’t focus on the problem, focus on the solution.”

“Don’t allow the enemy to direct your vision, or you will see what he wishes you to see. He will then come at you as you become bewildered, looking for his attack, and you will lose.”
When we are focused so much on the enemy and the problem at hand, we are focusing on the exact thing Satan wants us to focus on: Him. And when we’re focused on him, we aren’t focused on God. We lose sight and direction from who we’re fighting for. Before we know it, we’re so lost in Satan’s will that we become confused and disoriented, primed and ready for yet another attack.

“Instead, your vision must open to all there is, never settling, even when cutting.”
Even when we gain ground against the enemy, it’s easy to have ourselves a little victory march and forget what’s going on. This line means to never stop anticipating the next move. If you allow yourself to freeze on even the smallest gain, it could be detrimental to yourself and those around you (Nehemiah 4). To never settle is to never become desensitized.

“Know your enemy’s moves by instinct, not waiting to see them. To dance with death meant to know the enemy’s sword and its speed without waiting to see it. Dancing with death meant being one with the enemy, without looking fixedly, so that you could kill him.”
To fight the adversary is to know the adversary. In battle we are to move by instinct, and that instinct is based in knowledge received from past experiences and by what the word of God tells us. Because we are equipped with the knowledge of the enemy, we shouldn’t have to wait for his attack in order to fight back. We know which route sin could take to get to us, and what level of attack it will be. It is up to us to be ready for the attack we know will undoubtedly come. The quote calls it ‘being one with the enemy, without looking fixedly’ … This reiterates the previous advice to not put your focus where the enemy wants it, but to keep enough focus about the enemy in order to predict his next move.

“Dancing with death meant being committed to killing, committed with your heart and soul.”
Bottom line: If you aren’t fully committed to fighting against, and ultimately destroying, the sin in your life, you will succumb to the the wiles of fleshly desire and find yourself defeated. You must be committed to the fight with your heart and soul. (Mark 12:30)

— — —

Are you ready for the dance with death?

Dating is Selfish.

I can’t get that phrase out of my head today.
It popped in my brain and I’ve been trying to think of a correct way to go about writing a blog about it all day.
I almost didn’t write about it because I fear you’ll take it the wrong way. But I can’t stop thinking about it.
I want to know what you think about that statement, and how it is true (or false) in your own life.

Thanks for your input.

Unity is Painful.

What do you think about that statement?

I heard this statement said during my retreat to “GO”. It was a 2 day retreat for college aged students that was completely thought out down to the minute by our leadership at GPC and no student attending had any clue of the agenda. For all we knew we where going to be planted in a bitterly cold campsite, with nasty bath houses and no cell phone service. It turns out we had no cell phones or any electronic connection to the outside world…but it wasn’t because we were in the country. In fact, we stayed in the city of Nashville the entire time.
I grew up here, and there was only two places we went that I’d been to before, which was downtown on Broadway and McDougal’s restaurant. All of the other places I experienced for the first time, and enjoyed them all incredibly.
Let me start by saying that the contents of this blog are only the first to be taken out of my trip to “GO”, It’s impossible to write an entire blog to explain it all, there are way too many categories of life and change I’ve experienced to write and think about it all now.

But I wanted to start with that statement. Unity is Painful.
I’ve seen the subject of unity in a whole new light. A painful light.
The truth in this statement threw me for a loop, knocked me backwards and pounded my spirit.

I’ve always thought about unity in a sense of my brothers and sisters, joining hands, tuning into each others minds and spirits… all to a chorus of The Beatles’ “Come Together”.
I was wrong. Unity isn’t easy like I thought it was. It’s not natural like I thought it should be.
The statement in question hit me hard because I realized that it is my flesh that battles unity.

This trip was a spiritual awakening for me in more ways that one and one of those ways was the topic of unity. We learned about Judaism from a an Orthodox Jew Rabbi, listened as he spoke of the disunity between the other types of Jewish doctrine. We listened to a Christian missionary to Muslims speak on the traditions and beliefs of Islam and learned about the ridiculous hostile disunity among different types of Muslims. And finally, on our own accord, we went to a christian church service that was had in a coffee lounge. We watched as radical versions of our own values were displayed before us in dances and disorder.
I judged them at first, and then my spirit immediately checked itself with these verses:

John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.” ~ Luke 5:49-50

Yes, our apostolic doctrines are different than these people. But while what they were doing was foreign to me and my friends, they had a freedom of worship that I’d never seen, that I hadn’t even felt comfortable to express in my own church building and certainly hadn’t felt the liberty to express it in a coffee shop.
The service “ended” and one of the worshippers took the stage mic and started to exhort to the crowd gathered. She spoke of needing forgiveness from her brothers and sisters because satan had planted evil thoughts in her brain against her friends. I realized right then that I had done the same thing. Not only to her and the people in the building, but to the people sitting next to me, the ones I called friends. It was her who said that unity was painful.

I felt so angry at Jews and Muslims for feeling hostility or contempt for the ones closest to them in belief. I realized through many ways that I was united to those religions in different ways and yet another way I found out last night was that I felt anger and judgment for my fellow Christians. Disunity.
We ended the service at the coffee shop by joining in a circle with the members of the church to sing and pray about unity. I felt atonement for what I’d thought. and I felt annoyed because I knew my friends had those same judgments in their hearts. Whether they resolved any such issues in their hearts as I did, I don’t know… but I won’t judge them for judging others. We discussed our opinions later as a group and I felt like they understood what I’ve just told you, and I understood where they were coming from. And once again, I felt united with my brothers and sisters. Not just my friends. But all of them.

I have more to say on the subject of unity, but as it falls into another subcategory, I’ll leave it for another day.
Thanks for reading!

Exclusions.

I can’t sleep. All I could do was lay awake and think. So now I’m laying on my stomach, typing in the dark, hoping to make since of the last 30 minutes I’ve spent pondering over my current situation(s).

I’m just going to throw this out on the table: I feel excluded. Not from anyone’s doing or from my own doing.
But upon mulling the meaning of the word ‘excluded‘ over in my head, I’ve come to the realization that it’s God who’s excluding me. I wasn’t sure why at first. Or even if it really was God who was letting it happen. But since there are no coincidences and I know neither I or anyone I know would purposefully excluded me…it has to be a God thing.

Then I started thinking about Joseph. I’m about to finish his excerpt of a life in the bible and have been rehashing the subject of dreaming from the last time I read through his story. I spoke in my first post on here about legacies and after hearing a quote that said, “In the end, all you really own is your story.” I have to conclude that Joseph had one heck of a story. The funny thing is that soon after his “story” crossed my mind I realized… He was excluded for most of his life.

As with most seasons in my life, it never happens suddenly, it creeps up and then when I finally realize what’s going on.. BAM! New season. And this season shall be entitled: Exclusion.

I feel God has called me into exclusion right now. It’s not something I’m completely at peace with yet, but as I’m figuring it out, I’m realizing that it’s been happening for a while now…and I’m accepting it slowly.

Details: (Feel free to skip if you prefer the general side of blogs)
I just had a visit from a really good friend. She is the only person I’ve ever given the title of BFF and really meant it. We don’t have that title anymore, for various reasons, although we are still good friends. I was thinking just now about how since moving to TN I haven’t found anyone else that I can truly give the title of BFF in my life. I know it sounds stupid to say it like that, but the truth is, I’m not close to much of anyone lately, outside of my family I live with. I have plenty of friends, but none that I have a really deep relationship with. And I’m not okay with that.
I feel an exclusion from my youth group too. This is the most hurtful one. I was angry at first, I had a few people in my mind I was capable of blaming…however, once I checked my spirit, I realized that it was no one’s fault. I don’t know how to explain it, I just feel like I’m not needed anymore by the people around me.
My age group is odd because I’m no longer a teenager and not quite considered an adult…and somehow in the weird middle area… I’m living my life.
What it all boils down to is that in every aspect of myself in relationship to other people, I am excluded.

Here’s my conclusion: God is drawing me out of the comfort zone of having friends.
If I have people I can go to when I’m in a public area, or people I can rely on to be there in awkward situations, or even people I can confide in…I will get comfortable with just having those friends and never want to branch out.
Ergo, God wants me to branch out to other people. To people that aren’t in my comfort zone. And how should he do that? By removing that comfort zone.

It’s painful and it’s trying, but Joseph sure got through it. And look what happened to him! He became the ruler of the lands, directly under Pharaoh himself. And eventually, the comfort of his family came back. Eventually he was reunited to his deep relationships to other people.
I can rest in the hope that once this season of exclusion is over, I can return to the arms of a few kindred spirits…but right now it looks like I’m being pulled from a pit and sold into slavery.

Who knows though, all of this is just the conclusion of a restless brain. A flesh-ridden brain at that. I guess we’ll see how this dreaming turns out. 😉

Thanks for reading.

Incandescently Happy.

That pretty much describes me as of right now. =)

Things aren’t perfect, no. But they are as they are supposed to be. I can’t help but be encouraged even as things around me are discouraging.

Part of this can be attributed to my just finishing for the first time Jane Austen’s most famous novel: Pride and Prejudice. It’s quite easily one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read. I prayed to God today: “One day I know I will find the Mr. Darcy you have planned for me, God. Even if I have to face pride and prejudice head on. I’m willing.”

It sounds foolish, but in context, I am perfectly serious. I believe fully that God will grant me that. He told us he would give us the desires of our heart, but in that we should be so in love and in tune with God that our desires for our lives become his desires for our lives.
I sincerely pray that my desires be in tune with his and hope that one day his desire is for me to have my Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Is it immature to think so? Then so be it. =)

On another note though, I have received the absolute delight of inviting a most beloved friend from school to go to a bible study with me, and she’s coming! Words cannot express how happy I am about it! God’s doing a work! And I’m excited to be a part of it! =D