Grace Over Grave

The world will crush your bones,

Dry up your spirit.

It will promise pleasure, but you’re still thirsty.

I’ve got the truth – but you won’t hear it.

Too busy getting stuff done,

That you forgot about the Son.

But hey, me too, so I guess it’s fine.

We can just say “hey, your sin is more than mine.”

Compare our righteousness to others,

“Ha! If you only knew my brothers…” we say.

Brush the judgment day off our shoulders,

Feel abandoned this side of heaven,

Go out looking for attention, getting “bolder.”

Only to learn that this world’s colder.

So we numb the pain with something fake,

If it feels like love, then it must be it,

Besides, the loneliness of this world is too much to take,

So even if I settle, so be it.

And that’s the lie that you believe,

A lie so well-spoken by deception,

That it seems to bring about relief,

But don’t be surprised, then, at pain’s reception.

Because it will arrive.

And choke what you thought was thriving,

Then you’ll look back for hope,

And realizing it’s not there, as your relationship with it is what you were depriving.

Living in “liberty” but a captive,

Free from “the law” but shackled to regrets.

Hope came to set you free.

Hope has a name.

Hope hasn’t given up on you or me.

Hope has no desire to leave you in shame.

So the next fool’s gold that catches your heart’s attention,

Do as my wife (the teacher) would and send it to detention.

And work on your retention of love over hate,

Grace over Grave.

flowers-in-snow-1

A Pre-Vacation Reflection

It felt liberating to write Honesty Hour. If you haven’t had a chance to do so, you should. There’s no need to hide within the confines of your heart any longer. My favorite thing about marriage is the freedom it brings to open myself up to my bride and share my fears, anxieties, longings, and overall heart with her. Sometimes my heart troubles her and other times it brings joy, and still others, it requires her to pray. But allowing her to see into my soul is true intimacy; it’s not the fabricated, romanticized Hollywood love but it’s the real love, the kind of love that would do anything for the betterment of the other. Because the other is more important than yourself.

This weekend we are heading to Table Rock Lake and Branson, MO for a brief vacation and I’m stoked. I suppose you could say I’m burnt-out – Harvey, our beloved, adorable, goofy, and also extremely needy beagle-puppy has worn me down with his whining and the constant attention he needs. I’m ready for a retreat. They said kids are even worse, so I suppose this is good training since I’d love to be a father someday (in the future). Harvey thinks I’ll be a great Dad – he just brought me his hamburger chew-toy (a boy after his father’s heart – love me a good burger) so we could play fetch before we go. I’ve hit the “pinnacle” of success at work and entered a club I didn’t think I’d reach and then right after experienced a decrease in ability to sell – but such is life, I’ll get it back. I think I’m just tired and need some rest so vacation here we come.

I’ve been thinking lately about purpose. What does it mean to have a purpose and where does it come from? What and who are you living for? Most of us work to make a living, but do we live? We wake up, go to work, come home, pay the bills, and then wake up the next day to do it all over again – but for what cause or purpose? Things have seemed…grey, as I’ve found myself in that vortex of logic, lacking a purpose or passion.

The beauty of being married to a woman as beautiful, strong, kind, and compassionate as Allie is that I can share those grey days with her and she listens. Obviously, her preference is charming, joyous, and whimsical Justin but when she gets the discouraged and disarrayed one she loves him just the same. And I prefer the flirty, spontaneous, ready-for-adventure Allie but when she’s anxious about finding a job and discouraged by lies from the devil that few enjoy her company, I love her the same and gently remind her otherwise.

I guess I’m writing today to share that I’m excited about Vacation, I’m filled with gratitude to be married to a woman that loves me so much. I’m thankful for my brothers and sisters and I’m excited that my brother that lives with us is going on this trip with us – it’ll be a sort of housemate bonding road-trip and vacation. I’ve already compiled a Playlist of favorite, upbeat jams. A little Ben Rector and Ed Sheeran, mixed with Lecrae, Usher, NSYNC – you get the picture.

My heart needs the gentle reminder of reasons to be thankful, like the fact that by working hard and pushing myself out of my comfort-zone professionally I’ve probably doubled my income over the last year alone. I’ve got a dog snuggled up to my feet because he can sense that we’re leaving and he’s gonna miss us. When we got married, Allie saved up some money and bought us an espresso-machine because she knew I loved coffee. And on the first night we had to spend apart so she could take care of her Mom recovering from surgery she kindly put together a care package with a card that melted my heart, because she knew I’d have trouble sleeping without her (I’ve shared a room with someone since I was a kid and have never done well sleeping in a room on my own). So I’m grateful. I’m blessed. And I’m excited to allow Jesus to speak his word into my heart as we go on an adventure and find some rest.

Tyler is back from work and jumping in the shower, so I suppose it’s time to go. Keep the prayers coming for safe travels and personal growth.

Table Rock Lake

Dear Friend

Dear Friend,

I love writing letters. They’re my absolute favorite form of writing – the easiest method for me to portray my heart for another. So I’m going to write you a letter, today.

Marriage is awesomely hard and beautiful. I highly recommend it. To avoid marriage for the sake of maintaining the “juvenile liberties” I mentioned in my “I Decided” blog the day before our wedding is, well, juvenile. If you’re ready to man/woman up, then buckle up and commit yourself. “But don’t expect it to be easy.” I heard it a million times in pre-marital counseling, bars and coffee-shops, at work, and just about anywhere else I would find myself out. “Marriage is going to be way harder than you think.”

“Thanks…” I’d think to myself, wishing for one time in my life that someone would hand me an empty hearted, positive platitude of “it’ll be perfect.”

I’m learning that ‘perfect’ is fake and that Allie and I are beautifully broken, but wholly redeemed, renewed, and renovated by Jesus. Now THAT sounds like one of those platitudes. An empty Christian cliche when speaking of relationships. But I’m absolutely serious. It’s when her and I are both edgy, spent, and ready to fight or retreat from one another that Jesus makes every bit of difference. We look at each other, apologize for the hurtful thing we said or did, ask for forgiveness, and then take it to Jesus. Or maybe we don’t even know what exactly is wrong at the moment, but we pray about it and the Holy Spirit starts to counsel us. “Hey Justin…remember when you made that judgmental remark about her makeup…that’s why she’s sad.”

You’ll never find a better mirror for your selfishness than living in communion with another. You’ll also never have a better chance to be more giving, selfless, and kind. My wife is awesome – I’d say she’s on the giving, selfless, and kind side of the spectrum about 90% of the time, and that’s not exaggerating. I admire her for her servant-heartedness and her tender and gentle care for my heart and soul when I’ve often done little to deserve such pure, innocent, genuine, earnest love. It’s beautiful and screams of Jesus work in her heart and life. Her life proclaims His name; her actions and hard work, her evangelism.

And that’s worth it all – ya know? That’s why I recommend getting married if you’re willing to give up your individual “freedom” – because it’s within the “confines” of marriage that I’m gradually learning so much about true freedom. To lay there naked and feel loved, attractive, and securely know that she’s not going anywhere is Cloud 9 awesome. To pull back the veil and let her further into my heart, while also initially scary and difficult, is always so rewarding as she always finds a way to love and accept me exactly where I’m at. And then, by the natural Law Of Reciprocity within relationships, I get to know more of her.

Do we cry? Heck yes! Do we disagree? For sure, especially when one of us is in our selfish-mode and not thinking about what’s best for the collective.

But friends, when we are in community with Jesus and with each other and everything is firing on all cylinders and we are more concerned about the wellbeing of the other than of ourselves, that’s when the fireworks start. That’s intimacy like you’ve never experienced before. Far better, hotter, more pure and beautiful than anything you’ve ever found within the sphere of dating and “friends.” I’m so, so glad that I Decided to marry her.

Marriage gives you a lot. It gives you love, someone that always has your back, a partner-in-crime/partner-on-mission; in my case, it gives me amazing, home-cooked dinners and pre-cooked breakfast burritos and a newfound ability to make homemade lattes because my wife is a beautiful (part-time/seasonal) barista (was always a ‘fantasy’ of mine – to marry a barista – and I did…God is too good to be true sometimes). What fun we have!

Marriage also takes a lot. One of those being your time. Part of the purpose of writing this “Dear Friend” letter is to share my gratefulness for marriage and to be a cheerleader for others to dive into the growth-vehicle that is commitment. The other aspect is to apologize for my inability to be as fully-vested in friendships as I was prior to saying, “I do.” As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I can’t always reply to text-messages within 5 seconds like I used to. And I can’t make as many phone-calls as I used to friends that live in different places. That’s because, working in sales, I’m tied to my phone for the 9-10 hours a day I’m at work anyways. So I’m pretty tired of it by the time I get home. Also, because Allie deserves as much of my heart and attention-span as I can offer. And, having moved into a place with Allie only 10-15 minutes away from work makes it difficult to call a friend I haven’t connected with in a while and then shoo them away 10 minutes later when I’ve reached home and my pretty wife is waiting inside to kiss me. I love you guys and all, but man-to-man, those kisses take a higher priority a majority of the time. ;P

So friends, if you’re married, kiss your spouse and tell them why you love them. Think back to why you married each other and renew your commitment to increased intimacy. Love them because they need it. You’re not always going to want to, but it’s then that Christ shines through you – when you choose to love them anyways.

And if you’re not married, get honest with yourself. What is it that you’re afraid of? The lie I always told myself is that I wasn’t ready. Well duh, no one is ever “ready.” If I had waited until I was “ready” and perfectly pruned and refined, Allie would still be waiting at the altar. Perhaps it’s because your heart is tied up in the lie that you’ve got more freedom outside of commitment. I promise you that I’m learning every day how untrue that lie was and how much freer and safer and more content and loved I feel within the covenant of marriage. Get honest with a brother in Christ and share your heart with them, pull the weeds of your insecurities and your sin problems, and then pursue a woman worth loving and committing yourself to. And then get in the fight for bringing His Kingdom to Earth together.

My letters get long sometimes. Thanks for reading (and for loving me) anyways.

Your Friend,
Justin Meyer

dear friend letter

Release

I’ve had this mental picture for the last few days and I want to share it with you because I feel my heart experienced some freedom this morning. And it was glorious.

The last few months I’ve been in what I’d equate to a “winter funk” – a sort of seasonal depression that hasn’t lifted much. I’ve been defensive, confrontational, frustrated, and fear-filled. Scared that I wouldn’t be a great husband. Scared that I’d never live up to my own expectations.

It got to where I didn’t want to open the doors in my own mind and so I kept them closed for fear of opening the wrong door and discovering something ugly behind it. Instead of addressing the dark corners of my heart or letting the light in, I shut myself up in the living room and peered out the window – watching the world move on by and have a good time – while I stayed inside for fear of catching a cold (and then I caught a sinus infection). I’m being metaphorical here, though.

Strangely enough, it was as if I was living in my own prison. I’d put myself in timeout and declared myself “bad” – because I was my shortcomings. (I hate the lies the enemy tells us. I hate more so that I allow myself to be so easily swayed and convinced of such filth.)

Something happened this morning though that was different. Instead of militantly forcing myself to go to the gym because I was “bad” for not being fit in time for my wedding, I found myself flying down the highway to my soon-to-be bride’s place of residence. I missed her deeply, despite having just seen her the night before. (Engagement is rough like that. Good byes and good nights are her least favorite thing; having to drive all the way back to my parents house and THEN go to bed is mine.)

So there I was driving down K-10/I-435 and praying. “Lord Jesus, would you help us? We’re just human, and sometimes we’re unfairly harsh with one another. Would you help us be gentle? Would you teach me to love her well? God, would you give me the strength to forgive and love myself? Would you heal the hurting places in both of our hearts?”

I felt something changing in my heart. Instead of stiff-arming help, I was asking for it. Pride’s walls were slowly melting for the benefit of the collective good.

Last night, I wrote out a massively long text (basically a letter to Allie, because I couldn’t sleep). I explained that I’d gradually learn to die to myself for our collective benefit. That I’d learn to pursue her like Christ pursues his Bride – the Church. I promised to never quit. To always get back up. I told her that she was beautiful and the most Christ-like woman I’d ever met. That I couldn’t wait to see the look on her face when we started conquering collective goals (like becoming debt-free).

Turning into the neighborhood HyVee, I found the prettiest yellow roses and purchased a dozen of them. Then let myself in (because engagement has its perks – like your own key) and surprised her with them. I let my heart love without reserve. I let myself cry and ask for forgiveness for being so uptight lately. I let myself walk out of that prison cell.

I have problems, but I’m not the problem (that’s a lie I’ve wrestled with since adolescence). I can be hard to love sometimes, but I’m worth the work and I shouldn’t apologize for my heart being my heart.

Like Adam in the Garden of Eden, I’m grateful the Lord has handcrafted such a beautiful Helper for me. We just fit. 24 days to entering a covenant relationship with the woman that’s taught me more about love than anyone else. Words just won’t do it justice. But I’m thrilled.

In Deep Love & Gratitude,

Justin Meyer

yellow-roses

 

Ascending Stairway

An ascending stairway to somewhere beautiful,
Clouds that tell tales of storms being plentiful.
Onward comes the dark, lonely night.
Yet the sun simmers down, but will again bring light.
Today may hold sorrows two-fold.
But who knows what tomorrow could hold?
So we climb, we heave, we lift our feet;
One step at a time and then repeat.
For the promise of what tomorrow holds;
And a trust that it’s tale needs to be told.
Don’t fail to take the steps that lead,
To glory’s view and Heaven’s deed.
So let the storms come and do as they wish;
Because light will come again in a pinch.
Hearts will be healed, redeemed, and made brave.
And eyes doth gone astray can be set back to remember that day.
The day that glory met night,
And darkness fell to Light.
So here I am trusting, dreaming.
But it all starts with truly believing.

stairway

Parable of the Prisoner

The Parablethe prisoner

Etched into the barren, stone walls are the words, “I am…”. Two simple words – two words that were once spoken by an Almighty God to describe Himself, as He said, “I am, I am.” But as you sit in the cell, contemplating the words on the wall, you can’t help but assess yourself. “What am I?” – your mind wanders, like one lost in the desert, attempting to make meaning out of the “nothingness” of your existence.

Sitting becomes difficult, as your mind races in a million varying directions, so you begin to pace the small cell – back and forth – until your feet hurt. All the while asking yourself, “What am I?”

Whispers come…

“You are lost…”

“You are worthless…”

The dust beneath your feet becomes wet, and as you look to see if the old pipes in the cell have begun to leak, you realize the wetness is your tears. You believe those whispers.

“You are insignificant…”

“You cannot…”

“No one hears you…”

The dust has become mud now, as your tears cannot stop – they will not stop. You realize that you’re on your knees now, wondering if this is all that you really are. Are those words true? Has it really come to this? Are you truly lost, worthless, insignificant, incapable, and mute? The walls of the cell seem to be closing in on you now, as one final accusation is whispered…

“YOU. ARE. ALONE.”

Although a whisper, the words seem to have a cutting force this time – much deeper and more powerful than the previous blows to your heart. Your vision clouds, and your body seizes, as you collapse – paralyzed by fear. Because you very well believe all that was said – and you are, indeed, alone.

Hours pass, and you attempt to fall asleep. It’s useless, as your mind is taunted by all that was whispered and by the words on the wall that simply say, “I am…”, and find in yourself the desire to answer that question.

Who am I?

What am I?

Who have I become?

Soon, it’s morning, and sunlight shines through the dank cell-window – the light blinding your tired eyes. Footsteps can be heard in the distance. You can finally ask to be released from this torture-chamber. Standing up and brushing yourself off, you prepare to meet your jail-keeper, the one that holds the keys to the prison that you’re in.

The sound of footsteps is much closer now, and anticipation grips your heart, as it beats wildly, ready to plead your case for freedom. At the cell-door now, stands a figure staring back at you. Your heart has stopped, and your feet pace no more.

The individual staring back – the jail-keeper – is you.

The Explanation

If there had been a sign at the entrance of the prison described in the story/parable above, it would have read, “Prison of the Mind”. Unfortunately, many of us are inmates within this prison on a daily-basis. Many of you reading this right now are sitting in that prison, believing yourself to have no power – no freedom to walk out of the cell.

The whisperer – the accuser – was satan. Lurking in the corners of our mind if we allow him to, or simply drifting ideas through the wind of the changing seasons of life, he likes to silently destroy us. If he can keep us silent, then he wins. And if we believe ourselves to be worthless and mute, then we remain silent.

Do not remain silent.

Do not sit imprisoned, listening to lies.

When Jesus conquered death, He conquered sin. The accuser has no power other than that which you give him. When the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost and bestowed upon the believers there the gifts of the spirit, He gave you and I the power to overcome the evil one – not just power to be defensive, but to go on the offensive as well.

You are NOT powerless. You are NOT alone.

You ARE heirs. You ARE filled with the Spirit (His power to overcome). Most importantly, YOU ARE NEVER ALONE. You are, however, constantly pursued, looked after, loved, cherished, and lead toward redemption.

What are you waiting for? Take the keys. Open the door. Walk out of prison. Walk into the light. Strike your heel upon the serpent – the accuser – the evil one. Fight. Live. Breathe. Love.

YOU. ARE. FREE.

The Communication Gap

Today, we live in a world that is infinitely connected, yet farther away from one another than ever before. I have missionary friends in India that I can video-chat with via a variety of platforms, yet we find it difficult to communicate honestly, heart-sensitive issues with close friends, family, or coworkers, in a face-to-face, interpersonal setting.

Why is that?

It seems the majority of my peers would rather text than talk on the phone. Enduring the occasional ‘awkward’ silence and carrying on a conversation have become complex, laborious tasks that we would much rather avoid, if at all possible. And if we have to endure such a hardship, they better by golly know that we love them.

This mindset baffles me. There are many reasons behind the veil of communicative safety that we place ourselves behind, and I get it, to some degree. As an apt conversationalist, with a primarily extroverted personality, it is much easier for me to talk to anyone I want to, and much more difficult for others. I’m aware of that. I’m also aware of the ways in which I will often attempt to separate myself from any concrete connection to the words I speak, for fear they will not be fully accepted, or taken seriously. An example of this would be discounting a rather bold statement with nervous laughter afterward, or saying something along the lines of, “that’s JUST my opinion, anyways.”

Is this an acceptable and healthy way for us to live and interact with one another?

I argue that, “No, it is not.” There is nothing safe about trapping all of your innermost worries, burdens, desires, aspirations, dreams, crushes, and the like. Precautions should be taken to protect your heart. Absolutely. However, I believe that we are in an era that must call the twentysomethings and older to a higher standard of boldness in communication. After all, we are adults, and there is no reason to behave as passive-aggressive children anymore.

So, how do we bridge this communication gap that permeates the deepest levels of our culture?

If I were to have to choose between a bite-your-lip-and-keep-it-all-in communication style or a just-say-it mentality, I would choose to just-say-it, every time. Sure, it’s messy. Sure, you’ll say something stupid. Sure, someone might get hurt. Yes, you’ll make mistakes. But guess what? You’ll be living! You’ll have actual, meaningful relationships with actual, real people that probably actually care about you, because they’re still taking the time to talk to you, aren’t they? And we’ve already discussed just how difficult that is.

A just-say-it culture would be entirely different from the passive communicative setting we currently have ourselves used to. It would call for men to honestly state their feelings in relationships with the opposite-sex; it would require a bolder scope of dialogue; it would mean a lot more communicating, and a reciprocal level of increased community. Suddenly, an increasingly isolated, lonely, confused generation would be pressed closer together, because they’d be going deeper with one another.

I don’t think people should be so afraid to be themselves. One of America’s most revered freedoms is the ability to express oneself through the freedom of speech. Are we really free if constantly pressured to avoid entire honesty due to exterior pressures like the government or interior pressures like family, the church, and work? I’m an advocate of being yourself. Opposition to this idea would say that this encourages bad-behavior through word and deed, because that sort of freedom can lead to rebellion. My counterargument is simply that people will always do what they want to do; I simply think it is time we say what we want to say, and learn to productively, lovingly, and humbly deal with the consequences. Whether ‘good’ or ‘bad’, at least we will be brave, rather than cowardice, living rather than dead, and in communication rather than isolation.

But, these are “just my thoughts” (remember what I said earlier?), what are yours?