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Rest(oration) and Relationships

I just realized that WordPress asks what’s on my mind when I open a new Quick Draft window. Ho boy if only WordPress knew… But that’s beside the point, because I’m really just here to call it quits. Not writing, no, this is too much of a release for me to stop. But rather seeking out a relationship. Or trying to be in control of my life in general. I know the topic of relationships seem to pop up in several of my posts lately, and for good reason. For the lack of a better way to put it, I have been pursuing a romantic relationship, mainly through online dating services, for the better part of the past five years. Yes, this means both an investment of time and money, and not a small one either. So why this admission now? Because I feel that is one of the many convictions God has placed on my heart, that I have abandoned my focus on the relationship with my ABBA Father in the hopes of finding a helpmate and spouse. This is not to say I have neglected my faith, for I have still made strides in my theological and spiritual growth during this time. However it is my direct connection to the Creator of all things that I have lost hold of.

There are some factors as to why I am suddenly facing an abyss within. First, as one might guess from having spent nearly five years pursuing a relationship, I have not much to show for it but heartbreak and hard lessons. Not to say that the lessons I have learned were not needed, but if I could go back and change some of my decisions, I can only imagine where God might have been able to use me. Second, the slow but steady fracturing of my social foundations. While my circle of friends has fluctuated frequently over the past few years, I have been living in the same house with the same person (my cousin Jake, who I consider also a close friend) for much of that time. This is about to change come the middle of August as he and another friend are headed to Dallas Theological Seminary. My heart has been aching over the departure for the familiar that I am facing, as I am a more sentimental than most people might believe. Not only this, but I am still in utter confusion what my life will look like in two months time, which brings me to reason three. Third, I am greatly desiring a teaching position so I might pursue my passion for working with young people and learning yet nothing has really turned up. In the meantime I have found a good job, but is by no means something I could do long-term (out of personal preference and comfort, not ability), and it is merely holding me over (at least in my mind) until I find a steady teaching position. And it has been this job search that revealed to me a saddening truth, that I might need to uproot from the little ground I have staked here in Warsaw, IN and go elsewhere. It dawned on me that at age 29, I really have no semblance of stability in my life. I have yet to hold a job for more than a couple years and have only begun to truly involve myself in a community. Yet it is the ties I have formed thus far that sharpen my desire to remain where I am at, and finally have a reason to “settle down”. Fourth, epic Scripture smackdowns. Y’all. The Holy Spirit hits hard. Like Mike Tyson left-hook hard. Like Bruce Lee flying kick hard. Despite missing more church services than attended since the school year came to a close, God has spoken to me every time I have set foot inside my church. I have always appreciated my pastors and the way God speaks through them, but these past couple weeks have been laying it on thick.

 

Point 1: God invites me to rest

I’ve said it before, but my spirit has been experiencing a time of weariness for some time. Like I’ve just been burnt out. And then Matthew 11:28 pops up at church. /Facepalm. Like, how easy is it to forget this? To just get so caught up in life that I forget that there is literally an open invitation from God for me to crash at his place. And boy do I need rest. My current work schedule is the graveyard shift, and I’m finding it harder and harder to sleep when I get home. This is on top of working basically 7 days a week for at least 8 hours a day. Sure the money is good, but the exhaustion is not something I’m used to. And in my attempt to go cold turkey with Mountain Dew (and those who know me personally know how big of a deal this is) means I have little to fall back on in terms of energy reserves right now. So rest would be good. And this is one of the convictions I have facing, to legitimately let God take the reins while I lie down for a while. It’s so frustrating to want things so bad, and not see any visible progress take place. But perhaps this is the lesson God has for me in this time, to let go and let Him steer my life.

Point 2: Faith demands Works

James is perhaps my favorite book of the Bible, and this idea is central to what James is teaching the church. I made the decision at the end of the school year to take a break from volunteering regularly at my church, in the interest of pursuing teaching opportunities and freeing up my schedule. Ironically, the opposite has happened, as I am busier now and miserable because I’m not nearly as involved at my church. James makes the point that faith without works is dead, which can also be taken on the flipside to mean that faith with works is alive! And honestly, I felt more alive serving in my church than I do now. I’ve always been someone who thrives helping in the background, facilitating the good work done by those gifted in evangelism and presence. And having not done much service lately, has noticeably effected my livelihood. And it isn’t just the church in which I wish to serve, but my community as well. This desire is a large part of why I desire a teaching position in the community I already reside, as it would give me greater opportunity to be involved in the lives of the people here. Faith is not just about saying the right things and knowing the right things (which btw knowledge is my thing) but doing the right things. Matthew 25:31-46 is the perfect example of what this will look like come judgment day. Our faith will be proved by the lives we blessed through our service, not through our words. It is not nearly enough to wish someone well, but to give them aid as you are able. This is something God has convicted me of lately.

Point 3: God knows

Something I struggled with is uncertainty. I’m not someone who can stand not knowing something I think I should know. This is a point of great stress and anxiety in my life. Yet as I’ve recommitted myself to reading and studying Scripture, and edifying my brothers and sisters in Christ with my knowledge, I am continually blown away by how impossibly vast God is. Like immeasurably unknowable. And to think He already knows all things, this just blows my mind. And all He asks of me is faith, and through this I am justified through Christ, and sanctified through the Holy Spirit. And if God knows exactly what is ahead (see Jeremiah 29:11, Matthew 6:25-31) and is more than capable of caring for my every need, how much more should I stop all my worrying? This points back to my conviction on faith, but even more so reveals I struggles with control. I have walked a tightrope between blind faith and utter control freak most of my adult life, and this struggle is one-sided. That is to say, I’m struggling against myself here. This is one of the tests God has given me, to surrender all control to Him so he can use me in the accomplishment of His good work (Romans 8:28).

 

Now that I’ve spent nearly 75 minutes pouring conviction into script, I need to let my heart and mind rest. Not just today, but every day. Dear readers, I encourage you to do the same. Let God holds the reins of your life, they are much safer in His hands, as they are already big enough to hold the whole world. It’s a silly thing to think that trusting God with something so small takes so much faith, but then perhaps that is the difference between accepting Christ as our Savior, and accepting him as our Lord. We must die to the self daily, put our faith into action, and let God be glorified in us and through us. Cheers and amen.

 

 

 

S.D.G.

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A Temporary 4th Down and Goal

I was almost tempted to walk out of the school today with my arms outstretched in a symbol of triumph. But honestly, that level of personal fanfare would have been in highly egregious taste. All things considered, this final week of this temporary substitution assignment went well. The students (well most of them) seemed disappointed that I would be done after Friday, though I wonder how many of them just weren’t friendly with the original teacher. But that really isn’t my concern, I put in a solid month in the classroom as I was asked and hopefully the students learned a thing or two. And the experience will look good on my resume and I should have a decent reference from the school in the future. Now on to the daily reflections:

 

Day 16-

In some ways I hate Mondays (as I should, being a self-proclaimed Garfieldian) but in others I look forward to them. Often, the students are more subdued because of their weekend wariness and generally less disruptive. However, I am also just as tired and can drag my feet for most of the day. I told all of my Science classes why the previous week had been so packed with activities and assignments, and many of them seems to acknowledge the reasons and accept the explanation as a form of apology for working them so hard. I still have an underlying problem of disrespect from some students, and sadly many of these students I have in more than one class. I actually busted out the “coach” voice to silence my 7th period. Many of the students seemed astonished that I could be so loud, or project my voice so well. As middle schoolers, they usually don’t realize how long they are being until you raise the volume one step further. I don’t like yelling at anyone, much less students, but sometimes you need to be a drill sergeant to get respect. The thought crossed my mind today that I might be very disappointed if I need to come back after Spring Break is over, even though that two week break would be nice either way.

Day 17-

Today was a whirlwind. I had two boys get into a scuffle (some might call it a fight, but there was little real aggression involved) during my 2nd period which quickly resulted in a bloody nose. Both boys spent the day in the office but I doubt either felt sorry for what transpired. Even if they were just goofing around, as soon as there’s blood it’s gone too far. My Science classes did an activity with sugar cubes and although they struggled to keep track of all 64 given to them per bag, I don’t believe anyone ate one. Which to be honest would have been rather disgusting because the sugar cubes have been handled by who knows how many grubby hands and picked up unknown bacteria from the table surfaces. I had a girl (one who has never show me respect and obviously doesn’t like me) mouth off to me in Math Lab, so I wrote her up and sent her to the office. Her attitude isn’t likely to change or improve, but I drew a line and she crossed it. And probably not for the last time…

Day 18-

The home stretch is within sight! With only three days left, I can feel a change in my spirit and attitude towards each class. On one hand, the students are starting to anticipate Spring Break and getting antsy and on the other, I’m ready to get back to the crazy life of a day-to-day sub. Most of the classes this week have been fairly low-key and the Science classes are keeping pace with the content I had planned for the week. I’ve hung the “carrot” of a fun day on Friday to encourage them to stay focused on taking notes and completing their work, but there are still students falling behind on their homework. My PLTW class is been very enjoyable to teach and so far I have been impressed with their Invention presentations. One student is a little behind but he also missed the first day the class had to work on their presentations. The Math Labs are basically a study hall as the new students only received their logins today and the rest of the students have kinda burnt out. As long as they are doing something productive and not running around the room like animals, I’m content to play monitor. This also gives me extra time to grade and even read. Since grading and planning have been minimal for this week, I should be able to wrap up the week pretty quick. I’ve warned the students that any missing work not turned in before Spring Break could result in a zero, but what I didn’t tell them is that not doing the work would also mean they’d miss out on the “Funday” Friday. And to be honest, I don’t want to leave a lot of missing work for the returning teacher to track down as soon as she returns after Spring Break.

Day 19-

In most of my classes, today was the final day of actual instruction, except PLTW. Tomorrow will just be a fun day and I told students to feel free to bring in snacks or card games to play. I decided to make Friday a fun day partially because it will be my final day as their temporary sub and also it’ll be Spring Break and I really didn’t feel like planning another lesson. I really this makes me a little lazy but with all the late and missing work to track down, that gives me enough to worry about. It’s basically like pulling teeth with some of these students because, despite giving them the equivalent of lunch detention for more than one day, they still haven’t turned in much of their missing work. I’ve already written up one student for failing to do his homework and will probably write up a couple more before I leave the school tomorrow. I’m actually starting to look forward to not worrying about grading and missing work, as well as no longer having to deal with some of the poor attitudes and lack of responsibility some of these students have displayed.

Day 20-

Last day, last day, last day! As today is a “Fun day Friday”, I literally sat at my desk and read my book while students played card games or on laptops. Any student who had late work got sent to the library to work on it, and this realization seemed to motivate many of them to actually do the assignments. A couple students still dragged their feet and accomplished almost nothing, and these are the same students who have given me headaches the entirety of this temporary assignment. At least I can say I tried to get these students to do their homework but ultimately it is not my responsibility to make them do it. If they want to be defiant, then they must accept the consequence of a failing grade. I made use of my extra time to do all my grading and got the returning teacher caught up with each class’ progress and highlighted any special considerations (such as students who might give her trouble after Spring Break) before turning in my keys and leaving the building. The weather outside was absolutely perfect and matched the warm feeling I had walking away from what proved a challenging but enjoyable experience.

 

Well that wraps it up, unless something drastic happens to the returning teacher in the next two weeks that prevents her from returning and I’ll need to step back in. I’m praying that won’t happen, but I guess if it does then you lovely folks will get a bonus round! Hopefully you’ve enjoyed these reflections, and if this is the first of my posts you’ve read feel free to check out some of the older posts as well. Cheers!

 

 

S.D.G.

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Warning: This Product Not Yet Rated

I honestly couldn’t think of a better tagline than a vague warning as to the nature of this post. At the very least, it would attract the attention of a casual bystander or two and if you be one of those people, you have no reason to continue reading. For this post is about to dive into the how and why of my introversion and the immersion of which my entire psyche has been built. The simplistic version is to say that I am a fiercely independent (even stubbornly so) introvert who, by a division of emotion and intellect, projects a calm and genteel nature whilst seeking to aid my fellow man. At this point, unless you have some vested interest in my person or crave a journey of psychological proportions, feel free to close this page.

 

Having now supplied all necessary precautionary warnings, what is to follow should be read with extreme prejudice and an open mind.

 

The nature of my independence is the culmination of a few influences, each of which I hope to address, how ever briefly. Firstly, I was raised to take care of myself. I was taught all necessary skills to be self-sufficient, that is to say I am fully capable of cooking, cleaning, sewing, repairing, building, and maintaining whatever I have need for. So to this end I view myself as a fully self-reliant person, not needing or desiring the aid of another to see to my daily needs. Secondly, I was raised with the instruction to never owe anyone anything. While this compounds upon my previously mentioned self-reliant nature, it provides a secondary nature to my appearance as a lone wolf. Because I have no desire to be indebted to anyone for any reason, I shy away from seeking help, even when I might be in desperate need of assistance. This predilection has led me to some very strenuous situations in which I hit rock bottom out of my selfish desire to not involve others in my problems when a simple request for assistance at the beginning would have avoided much of the damage caused in the end. Lastly, I have come to distance myself from others as a means of protection, for the sake of both parties. The amount of sorrow and pain I have experienced is more than perhaps the average person will have felt, and this understanding has led me to internalize all manner of negative emotion. As I said before, I strive to owe no one anything, and an emotional attachment can cause a bankruptcy of feeling if improperly handled. This leads to a debt of insecurity and confusion, one I have witnessed all too often and have no desire to ever feel again or cause in the future. To conclude this paragraph, due to my self-sufficient outlook on life and my reluctance to get attached to others by any means that may cause a debt to be owed I have created space in my life that has furthered my nature to be in the crowd but never truly part of it.

 

Despite my lone wolf nature, I desire a connection with a community in a way I can only describe as one of human nature. Much of what I do is out of necessity, I work to have the means to live in a way that burdens no one with my existence and prevents me from needing the assistance of others. However this often puts me at odds with the physiological and emotional necessity of human companionship. As an introvert, I do not readily seek companionship but have an appetite for it nonetheless. This causes a paradox of social proportions, for often unless invited, I habitually return to the safety of my solitude. Yet I am eager to meet new people, learn from their experiences, and drink in the knowledge found within their tales. And I do not shy away from conversation but rather wait until the proper subject has been raised that will allow me to fully commit to speaking my piece.

This drive to meet, observe, and learn made the transition for the necessity of additional employment much easier. While the task may be slightly monotonous, the wealth of knowledge that presents itself as one observes the human race go about their daily routine is not easily passed up on. To this end I must say I actually enjoy having a second job at the present. Not only does it supply the income I find necessary to further my independent standard but it gives an outlet to the observer within. Perhaps the biggest downside to this current lifestyle is the drain it places upon me physically and mentally, forcing me to withdraw when I truly need to immerse myself in a more social scenario instead of that of the observer.

 

Part of my solution to handle the range and scale of thoughts, emotions, and feelings I might experience at any one point is to maintain a healthy separation between what I know and what I feel. As I briefly alluded to in the previous post from last month, I have, at some point (likely around my freshman year of college) learned to segregate the feelings of the mind from the feelings of the heart. As a highly logical and analytical person, I strive to first understand before I allow feeling to occur. This can lead to a false presentation of emotion, generally in simplistic forms such as a causal smile or a jovial laugh. More than not, this occur not because I feel anything from the heart but rather that my brain as decided it is the best response to the situation. However this is not to say I am incapable of feeling genuine emotion, but rather to say a truly emotional response is crafted through a gut instinct that informs my cerebral outlook on a thing, person, or situation.

I often wrestle with emotion in ways that are bewildering to me, and even so I strive to separate a true feeling from a logical conclusion of the empirical data I have collected. For example, say I went on a date and I truly enjoyed myself; meanwhile my data hungry mind will have absorbed the words, deeds, and subtleties of my companion to determine whether or not I could like this person. This response is one entirely comprised of a logical progression of yes/no inquiries. If enough come back positive then my obvious response is to conclude I do, in fact, like this person and would enjoy spending time with them. However it takes considerably longer for this process to make its way down to my core, where the true emotion resides. So in my case, the line between “like” and “love” is considerably large and not a transition made overnight but rather a progression of careful deductions and lengthy reflections. Yet once that switch is flipped, it has the power to overwhelm the mind and allows the sincerest form of emotion and feeling to reach the surface.

 

Finally to address the manner in which I present myself to the world. It is no stretch to say I am a quiet and thoughtful person, who strives to make action precede word. However there’s greater truth in the fact I am a listener by habit, and an observer by nature. My primary method of learning is to see, hear, and do, in that order. Try to rearrange the narrative or instruction and I may completely forget what I was trying to learn. This inevitability has caused me endless frustration, for often I feel as though my usually impeccable memory has failed me. But in actuality, the failure has come in the method of delivery of information, thus hindered my mind’s ability to commit it to memory. To this end, I will also observe those around me, listen to what they say (and to what their actions speak), and act accordingly. To categorize me as a “people-watcher” does the title some justice, but only captures a shade of my true nature.

Due to my habit of internalizing all negative emotion, I project an image of the genuine and of calm, despite the fact I might be far from at peace. Genuine is not something one should attempt, but rather something that occurs when you are able to shed that which has no place in your mind and heart. This has been my creed as to the way I present who I am and why I do what I do. For I truly believe myself to be a compassionate, caring, and giving person who, if given the opportunity, will go out of my way to aid those in need or to supply a solution to a need as I perceive it. However my perception is not always perfect and while my intentions may be pure, the response, due mostly to lack of understanding of my person, cannot necessarily be what I expect. And it is instances like this that cause a reaction best described as an emotion flinch. Upset at myself for failing to correctly perceive and disappointed in the response of others, I suppress the emotion that wishes to reveal itself and lock the passage from mind to heart to avoid a negative emotion to cultivate.

 

At this point, if you as a reader have managed to survive the thousands of words I delivered, and are not lost, I congratulate you. Perhaps with this knowledge will aid you as you interact with me as a person, or perhaps you were an inquisitive soul who does not know me personally but can perhaps benefit from a look at the mind of an introvert and potentially translate something you learned towards your interactions with the introverts in your spheres of influence. And with that final thought I bid my readers farewell for now.

 

S.D.G.

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A War of the Mind

For those who know me, saying I am an intellectual person is like calling the kettle black. However, I am willing to admit I am even more so a cerebral person. I really can’t pinpoint the transition from emotion to intelligence but I wager it happened sometime early into my college years. A couple months into my freshman year, my grandfather on my dad’s side passed away unexpectedly due to a heart attack. The following depression could have been the beginning of my emotional escapism.

Perhaps one of the hardest things about being cerebral is I fail to understand how my emotional state (or lack thereof) is perceived by those around me. For I have a greater fear of my internal perception of how others view me than of what that actually is. For it is the unknown that I fear more than what I am aware of. For whatever reason, this fear of the unknown has lead to my reluctance to approach others, despite my desire to be included. For it is easier to observe, analyse, and predict.

The analytical side of my person thrives on knowledge, as trivial as it may be. Input data, store memory, identify patterns, and predict actions. Despite all else, I desire understanding and that which confounds me the most is the frail state of the human emotional psyche. This drive, paired with an incredibly awkward social presence, leads to many a misunderstanding with friends and acquaintances. For while I have every good intention, my actions cannot always convene that which I feel. This failure to translate has led to rifts between me and those with whom I would desire a relationship, often irreparably so.

So this battle of mind over matter is not one I am truly adept at, for the mind is fickle and the heart is cold. Naturally my forte is intellectual and engaging me requires some level of shared knowledge or interest. However once the initial barrier is breached, the war to conquer my fear of the unknown can slowly be won. Let the lesson be learned and the walls of emotion be erected to reinforce the stronghold of intellect I have so firmly rooted my identity.

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