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The holiday season is here!  Thanksgiving is only a day away and Christmas is right around the corner.  Usually the holidays are one of my favorite times of the year, but lately I have a hum-bug inside me.  Don’t get me wrong, I love being with my family, but it seems that the holidays are not so much about being with my family anymore, but more about what is missing from my family.  Thanksgiving and Christmas have become a reminder of how much life has changed over the past few years, and how much I miss the way things once were.  I am not one of those people who thinks all change is bad.  Change is a necessary part of a healthy life, but I feel like there has been so much change (especially over this past year) that I can’t quite get a grip on everything.  I guess you could say I’m overwhelmed.

A lot has happened this past year:

  • both of my brothers have gotten engaged (which means I have two more people in my family)
  • my mother has a boyfriend
  • I graduated from seminary
  • I moved back to Alabama
  • I moved away from my friends in Texas
  • I have a new (an a little unstable) job
  • I have traveled across Europe
  • And, I have spent the majority of the past six months alone

This is just the beginning.  So much has changed.  So much is still changing.  I can’t seem to keep up with it all.

I want to be focused on all the good things in my life:  The fact that I have a job. That I follow a God who is full of grace and forgiveness.  I graduated from seminary!! I have gained two sisters.  I am actually with my family this year.  I haven’t had to write a paper in seven months!!  I have a place to live and food to eat.  But for some reason, there is this longing in my heart, like there is a vital part of my life that is absent, like I am missing out on something important.  I don’t know why I feel this way, but I do.  And the worst part is that I still think that if my father were everthing would be better.

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I have this thing about me that whenever I get close to something, my gut reaction is to run away.  I have always been this way, and it has take me a long time to get to the place where I can fight that desire to run away from everything.  I am at this place in my life where I am having to face the future head on.  I thought I knew where I was going and what I wanted, but now I’m not sure anymore.  I thought God was leading me in one direction, but it definitely hasn’t worked out the way I thought it would, and now I have no clue what the next step may be.  I am afraid.  I want to run away from all of this.  I am so tired of being confused.  I am so tired of being in limbo.  My heart is overflowing with uncertainty and fear.  I wish that it would stop.  But, as much as I am tired of waiting and being unsure about things, I have gotten pretty good at it.  I am a pro at not knowing….Is that something to be proud of?

I was born and raised in Opelika, AL, just a few minutes from Auburn University, and today was the first time I have ever attended a AU football game.  I woke up this morning, thinking it would be another normal Saturday, then I was offered two free tickets to Auburn’s homecoming game today.  Now, normally I would say “no” to something like this, because I’m not really a big football fan, but today I had nothing to lose.  I took a chance and said yes.

AU Football Game

I don’t think I have ever been to a sporting event with that many people.  It was like a tidalwave of orange had burst into Jordan Hare Stadium, and I found myself intrigued and disgusted all at the same time.  As I looked around a grown men waving orange and blue pom-poms, I couldn’t help but think about God (leave it to me to get all philosophical at a football game).

In the South, football is a religion.  In Alabama, families are torn between “War Eagle” and “Roll Tide,” and don’t even get me started on what happens when a family in Texas is divided by UT and A&M.  I have never really gotten caught up in the hype (call me crazy, but it’s just a game), but I know people who spend a lot of their money and life supporting their team.  Today, as I stood there getting caught up in the excitement and fervor of the game, I began to wonder what people would say if this same excitement and fervor, the same shaking of pom-poms and waiting in line for hours just to park, were found in the church.  Football fans aren’t mocked for being crazy.  Often they are praised for their outstanding support of their team.  Maybe that’s why Christians aren’t more passionate about church, they are afraid of being called crazy Jesus fanatics, but I don’t think that’s all there is to it.

The church doesn’t have the same excitement and intensity that a football game has, becuase that is not how people feel when they are at church.  As I looked across that crowd today, that pulsing sea of orange, I realized that it’s not really about the game at all.  People think its about the game, but it’s not– It’s about identity.  People want to belong to something, something bigger than themselves.  College football brings people across all ages and walks of life together to share in moments we cannot create on our own.  It is that fire that burns within us to be a part of something real that fuels people to come together in celebration, even when their team is losing.

Until today, Auburn has had a five game losing streak, yet that stadium was packed with fans.  Why do people stick with their teams when they are failing miserably, but bail on God the first time it seems He has let us down?  The identity we find in supporting our teams fuels us on even when the going gets tough, we know that we are not alone in the fight, and the hope that they will win the next game keeps us screaming out “2 bits, 4 bits, 6 bits a dollar…” from the stands.  Church services don’t look like football games because people don’t find this same force of nature in their faith.  We have failed to fall in love with God the way people have fallen in love with their football team.  We don’t love Him the same way because we don’t stake our identity in Him.  We don’t love Him the same way because we don’t take the time to know Him and adore Him.

Me and my brother Phillip

Me and my brother Phillip

Just something to think about….at least for myself.