A Moment Of Inspiration

“I’m going to write a book,” one of my friends said. “Oh yeah – why?” I asked. “Writing is one of my biggest opportunities, so I figured, why not write a book?” The individual I speak of is someone who puts his mind to something and goes after it without over-analyzing everything. Sure – it can have its setbacks and disadvantages but I admire the tenacity and the faith in oneself to get the job done, learn well from mistakes, and develop into a more holistic individual over time.

I found myself inspired by the courage and thought that it was worth sharing with the world. Because my initial impulse was, “Well then, I guess I could too!”

I struggle with sharing moments of inspiration or declaring that I will do something because then I know there is a chance that I may not. I may not make it to the gym; I may not write the book; I may not read the twenty books I’d like to read in 2020. It’s true, I may not. But then…I also might.

To paraphrase one of my favorite authors Bob Goff, “Quit waiting around for a plan (vision, purpose, details sent down from a stork from the Lord as to how to do the very best thing with your life) and start loving everybody, always.” (Everybody, Always is a ridiculously well-written, thoughtful and thought-provoking book by the way, and I strongly recommend adding it to this year’s reading list.) What is it about us that deems we must have everything mapped out by the time we are 25? Enough money in the bank to retire by 35? And what makes us believe we can do all of these things without a big, powerful, incredible God?

We refuse to rest, sleep, and eat healthy, balanced meals with our families for the sake of hustling hard to earn a good living to not really live at all. As Jefferson Bethke writes in “To Hell With The Hustle” – #TeamNoSleep is not for me. Cultivating a life that has a steady, purposeful rhythm that dances to the beat of rest and sabbath is not something easily acquired. And yet it’s from that spirit of steady, slow, patient, relationship that Jesus walks. I’m betting it’s at that pace that we will hear his voice as well.

And if Jesus always walks, then what makes us think that we have to run everywhere and do everything and accomplish it all before we go to bed tonight? “If I leave that one thing unfinished today, then that’s the end of my success. I didn’t follow-through with my goals today, so I guess I will never accomplish them.” What a twisted sort of thing to prophecy over oneself. Yet our words do truly display our hearts, don’t they? O the doubt, the cynicism, skepticism, and inner battling that must occur in the heart to make progress.

How can God accomplish His great resurrecting work within our hearts if we cannot sit still long enough for him to operate? Just as quickly as we’ve been “put under” (think anesthesiologist) by the spirit of worship in Church, we return to the cauldron of entertainment in the living-room or the many tasks to be accomplished at home. Rarely allowing the time necessary for the truth to sink deep; for the silence to shake us up a bit. To hear the voice of God again.

Hiding behind the curtain of evening’s out, movies, video-games, workaholic natures, and perfectionism, we evade the Lord’s call. To go out and love everybody, always. Everybody…including ourselves. Whom we could love all the more if we believed in the power of Christ long enough to admit that we have dreams, goals, aspirations, and inspirations.

Today, I’m inspired. Tomorrow, I may not be. And that doesn’t make me any less human. In fact, I’ll be stronger, better, faster for wrestling and resting with those moments of inspiration than if I had just let them pass by in a wave of apathy and I guess I’ll catch-on to that lesson next time.

So if you’re taking the time to read this today, you have time to love someone. That’s the plan. Go and do it. Be encouraging. Shine a light. Give them a hug. And be inspired.

And then chase after your dreams, goals, and aspirations. Don’t be afraid of them. God placed the fire in your heart for a reason. The world needs the light and warmth within.

Labels, Pretzels, And Feelings.

Labeling things always seems so dangerous to me. I’m sure you can relate. Do I really want to label my issue with such-and-such an addiction? Do I really want to label this relationship abusive? Or the ones that I struggle with presently would be…do I really want to admit that I’m 50 lbs overweight and living in depression?

I suppose admitting you have a problem or placing a label on something can be freeing as well. For me, deciding Allie was the one I was willing to give my life for and to has reaped the benefits of freedom and love that I could have never fathomed before. The label of faithful commitment called marriage has been well worth the cost.

However, for many of you, in the present-world of dating, everyone has so many options. Swipe right, swipe left – go on a few “dates” and watch a little “Netflix” – okay, now I’m bored – let’s swipe some more. Placing a label on things seems…dangerous…to some. Placing a label on things may cause someone to avoid making a decision altogether (perhaps that is why some people date 5+ years or end up in 3+ year engagements). Committing to another now takes all the other options off the table and that risks making a bad decision.

I don’t know about you, but I hate failing.

Failure is one of those things that drives me crazy. If I put myself in an unfamiliar scenario and say “I’m going to lose x-number of pounds by y-date,” or “I’d like to make z amount of money by 2025,” then I feel paralyzed. Admitting that I have a goal or getting it out into the light is one of the most proven methods for success. Let others know where you’d like to go and surround yourself with an energetic team of others that are already going that direction – be okay with leaving the stragglers behind, because that’s not where you want to be anymore, yourself.

If that’s the method for success, then why is it so difficult?

To place the label on oneself as writer would probably mean that one should write something…right? Hence this silly blog airing out my internal spider-web of feelings.

And feelings…aren’t they just so complicated? I really, truly wonder how anyone makes it through life without therapy/counseling and some kind of stress-release outlet (for me, it’s coffee and reading or disc-golf on my days off). If it weren’t for my own weekly counseling and “me-time” outings, I’d be a pretzel of feelings. I pray for those of you that have yet to have the courage to admit that you need help.

It’s insane that we all thought at the age of 18 that we knew so much and would be conquerors of the world. To have some of that confidence back would be amazing, but perhaps tempered with the wisdom of years of realizing just how much anyone always has left to learn. Remain humble and you will be lifted up, in due time.

One simply has to be themselves to get anywhere in life. You are unique and different and important and you add value to the world around you.

As my counselor put it – “you don’t really have to change or be any different for anyone other than yourself, if you want to.”

Another friend put it growing up, “you will always do whatever it is that you want to do.” It may have been his way of spurring me on toward a more obedient faith during times of abundant apathy and cynicism, but that truth remains.

You will do what you want to do.

What is that, exactly?

I’m still trying to find the answer, for myself. I think I grew up in such a way that I wanted to be perfect and pleasing for others. Focusing my energy on ensuring I was setting the right example – or rather, obsessing over the times I obviously had not set the correct one. Being the oldest of 5 siblings places you in that sort of dynamic by birthright. It’s no one’s “fault” really, more so just where you end up.

Wasting all this energy on wondering what others want of me has proven unsuccessful. So I now find myself beginning to ask the question of, “what do I want for me?”

Sounds selfish. But it’s not. The times that others have been the most blessed and enthused by my presence are the times that I’ve loved myself.

What are your thoughts? How have you personally come to peace with who you are and decided what you wanted for yourself? How can I pray for and encourage your own life-journey?

pretzel

Race Against The Battery

I was just meeting with a friend for coffee and talking with him about his pursuit of becoming a better writer. It reminded me of a time when I blogged far more regularly. I would participate in a thing called “Five Minute Friday” – where there would be a topic and you’d have five minutes of writing, without editing or worrying too much about your thoughts – you wrote about the selected topic and shared them with the world.

There’s something fun about not holding back. Scared of not measuring up to what readers may expect, I will frequently discount my voice and shy away from sharing what I have to say. So this morning it’s a race against my MacBook’s battery (because I forgot the charger and probably won’t have any free time to finish writing later). Let’s see what we can do with 12% – I mean, 11%….

Life is kind of a race against the battery – isn’t it? You wake up fully charged most of the time and some days you didn’t sleep that well – you forgot to plug yourself into the bed early enough and wake up at 50% and you’re like, “Welp – today is gonna be fun.” And then even on a normal day, by the time lunch rolls around you’re running near 50% or less, just wondering how you’re going to get through the remaining 8 hours.

As I sit here in Black Dog, that’s kind of how I feel about my life right now. Lots of variables and unknowns in life currently and lots of dreams and things being prayed for, and having pursuits of becoming healthier – exercising more and eating right – but then the subzero temperatures hit and the fridge runs out of fruits and vegetables and you find yourself digging into a greasy burger and beer at Johnny’s after work.

Conserving battery life – time-management, money management, stress management, crisis response are all a part of this wild journey that we call life. And at every turn seems to be a reminder that we need to get better at more than one of these areas. And it’s overwhelming if you let it be.

I frequently look at all the areas I need to improve in and want to curse myself out. “You should have x-amount saved for retirement, and you should have a house, and you should be 50 lbs lighter, and able to lift y-amount of pounds, and your sales should be so much better, and you should be reading the Bible every day, continuing recovery homework, and writing your book – you should be doing all of these things, every day.” It’s as if I’m looking down on myself and lecturing myself into a comatose state. “I guess this is it – I’ve failed. I’ll never make it.”

8% left…

And that’s how I feel. 8% left. Stuck in the same patterns, plugging into the same old, crappy sources for strength.

And then it hits me. God loves us so much that he’s offered us Living Water! And those that have tasted it should thirst no more! And here I am, in a “thirsty” culture that lusts and covets everything – allowing myself to be poisoned to the point of death. And my Lord and Savior is saying, “Here – come and drink! Let the children come to me.” And it’s in those moments where you’re on the floor in tears and feeling helpless and hopeless like a little child that we can truly remember what faith is, what it’s like to realize we need something, someone, some God – because we will NEVER be enough, on our own.

The self-help industry and all of it’s nooks and crannies wants you to believe that you ARE enough and that you WILL get better, and maybe you will get better. But at the end of the day, if your heart doesn’t change, you’re not going to remain changed – because you’ll always be yourself. The only one capable of changing your heart is God. And that seems to be what we all run from the most. Allowing ourselves to feel exposed and vulnerable and ready to listen to the Living God, like a child experiences when they’ve messed up and their parents are rebuking them. But not for the sake of rebuking them and making them feel awful – for the sake of their personal development and growth, that they wouldn’t grow up to become that type of person.

6% left…

What if we remembered we were offered eternal life, living water, a source of strength and substance that doesn’t know limits. Never runs out. Never needs to be recharged. What if our dreams were no longer limited by fear, resources, and other’s opinions? What if our current state didn’t have to determine our future?

What if we cashed in on God’s promises? You have a better plan for my future? Cha-Ching! Show me! You have a hope and I’m fearfully and wonderfully made? Cha-Ching! Show me! Show me, Lord – how I am desirable, beautiful, handsome, and made to do good works.

What if….

Battery is gone. Gotta go for now. Be blessed.

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Turn The Page

My wife cleaned up her 5th Grade classroom for the last time on Wednesday. We checked her out of the school and brought a few of her teachery things home. But for the most part, we donated them to other teachers or discarded them in the trash. I could sense the mix of emotions in her heart – relief that such a burdensome and taxing year was over and sadness that uncertainty and loss of work-friends lay ahead as time apart separated them gradually (the reality of adulthood friendships).

I looked on, fighting a cold that’s sort of lingered over me all week long and refused to leave just yet. While helping carry boxes to the car and driving us to the store to run a couple more errands before the day came to an end, I found myself leaning into prayer. “Lord, help her – help us. It feels like we’re just here sometimes and perhaps that’s just it and we need to be okay with that. Please help our hearts to be content and place a new vision on hearts and minds, new dreams for the future that lays ahead. Renew our joy in the ordinary and the every day. Be a light unto our feet and a guide on our directionless path.”

I think in life we expect everything to be mapped out, by fate or by God, and it just doesn’t seem to work that way. It’s more like a good book. The author has brought the story to a certain point and now there’s a cliffhanger of uncertainty. It’s a scary moment and you’re not sure what’s going to happen and it’s going to take effort – you’ll have to continue reading and investing time into it, but there is more to the story. It is time to turn the page.

And I believe that’s where our hearts have sat this week – at the end of this chapter and ready to turn the page to the next. For Allie, that may mean investing in her event-planning desires. For me, it may mean taking more time to retreat by myself with good books and invest in small windows of opportunity to write, if even just for myself to increasingly become better at succinctly expressing my heart. Collectively, it would mean business planning or dreaming up a ministry plant of some kind.

Regardless of the outcome, I’m not scared anymore. There’s no point in being restless and laying awake at night, anxious about the day you’ve already given your all to.

Here’s to turning the page.

turning the page

 

Special Thursday Edition: Dad Wants Me To Write A Book

If you know me, you know I’ve been restless vocationally. My Dad asked me – “Didn’t you want to write a book?” To which I said, “Yes, it’s a goal of mine to write the first three chapters this year.” He then said, “Well you need a topic and you need to work on it. Justin, I’m on your team.” My father believes in me – what a blessing – do you?

I think one of the greater obstacles for a writer, or a young man aspiring to be one, is that they don’t believe they have anything worth sharing with the world. Which is just a load of crap. Because you’re reading this right now. So SOMEONE is interested.

That lack of self-confidence and lack of decision-making/ambition is just gonna have to take a hike, because this guy doesn’t have time to waste with it anymore.  I’ve set goals for myself and I’m sticking to them. And I CAN accomplish my goals. (It’s been a while since I’ve been ‘successful’, but that doesn’t mean things have to stay that way.)

So selfishly, I’m curious…what writings of mine have encouraged you through a hard time? What have you related to? What topics would you like to hear more of my heart on? How do you believe I could become a better writer?

I welcome your constructive criticism, warm feedback, and loving hearts with open arms. Let’s do this thing. Let’s dream. We’re Embracing God’s Grace and asking Him to propel us forward, into something we never knew could be possible. But we won’t get there, if we don’t ask.

Brotherly Love

I spend a lot of time with my brothers. Our parents have stayed married and we’ve all lived in the same house for the majority of our lives, aside from the five-year spans that Jordan and myself went to K-State and earned bachelors-degrees (I’m not sure what for though, as the current job-market is oversaturated with college-grads working jobs they’re overqualified and underpaid for, but I digress…).

When you spend that much time with people, they start to see you – the whole you – all of you – there is literally nothing that you can hide from them. I can tell by the tone in their voice or the language they use if they’re upset; I nearly have a sixth-sense, particularly with Tyler, if he’s distraught about something and wants to talk about it but hasn’t gotten up the courage to bring it up yet; and I can tell when Jordan’s anxious when he doesn’t want to leave our room.

Something happens when you know people that well – you really learn how to push each others buttons. Nobody can make me madder faster. From jolly and jubilant to fuming and eager to get out of the house for the day in two-seconds flat.

There’s an interesting element of this button-pushing, I’ve discovered – it’s the tension that comes with varying ideologies, differing levels of relationship with God, and a colorful variety of moral ethics. Our parents can no longer force us to read our Bibles every day and college and adulthood has challenged our thinking and taught us to learn things for ourselves. And we’re all starting to learn some lessons, at our own pace, the hard way.

The Good News? God is a loving, patient, kind, and Good Father.

The Bad News? We’re impatient and fickle with each other.

One thing we all hate is being questioned. When you live in the same house as seven other people, you often end up having to give a reasoning for your decisions seven different times. And when you’re working towards independence and struggling to feel like a man of your own making, you become defensive. Usually by the time the third person has questioned us, we’ve shut down and are done with the conversation.

“We lash out to defend our pride, but is it worth the damage? Severing heart wounds take a long time to heal and words can’t be taken back.” – was the thought I posted on Facebook earlier this week after a particular debacle broke out in my car on the way home from seeing the movie, Deadpool, with the bros.

It’s difficult to watch the ones we love and are close to make decisions that we disagree with, or believe that we have the best practice or answer to. So our first response is to share our solution with them. “Here – let me fix you!” – is the message portrayed as you share the remedy. However, it’s often a deeper, more penetrating heart issue that shows its face as a surface struggle. And what you believe to be loving advice is only going to be taken as an attack on character, if their heart isn’t ready to receive it.

There is a significant importance in finding the right people to give the role of counselor or accountability-partner in our lives. However, if you haven’t been invited into that role, it’s probably because the other person doesn’t want you there (yet). Chances are, however, if the life you’re living is above reproach and you’ve got strong character in an area that I don’t, then over time, I’m going to invite you into that counseling role more and more because I see that your way is good by the fruit that you produce.

Perhaps that’s why brothers can be so critical of each other. They hear each other’s goals, platitudes, statements, and what they believe to be learning and then they witness first-hand the lack of fruit in the current season that person is in. But we often aren’t patient enough to witness growth. We pester and persist that they change this or fix that, in order to become more “successful” like us, until we push them away. Their hearts go into hiding because they don’t believe they are loved as they are. The message actually received is – “I can’t love you now, but I will if…”

And if we profess ourselves to Christians (and every member of the Meyer household would proudly profess to be), then this is no way to love. And I’m one of the first to admit my heart needs renovation. I’d take a bullet for Mom, Dad, Jordan, Tyler, Caitlin, or even Brianna (she’s in this hyperactive obsession with Justin Bieber period of her life right now, so it’s hard to say that ;P – but really – I would).

So why do I share this? I’m not calling any particular member of my household out. Nor do I wish to deface the moral values instilled by my parents that have raised each of us up into golden reputations and a for-the-most-part stellar backbone when it comes to crucial ethical issues. I simply share this because it’s what was on my heart this week. And because perhaps, your family could relate.

Maybe we start with prayer? And we ask God to teach us daily, how to better love those in our lives exactly where they’re at. Because after all, that’s how he loves us.

I think the fruit will come once the seeds are planted. But sometimes you have to wait for rain. Other times you have to pull the weeds. Perhaps there will be a flood and you’ll have to replant. Maybe there will be years of drought. But really, the deepest thing our family needs to know is that we are there, and they are loved.

And brothers, you are loved.

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Taking Steps Toward A Renewed Life

Mindsets are difficult to change. That’s nothing new – we all know that old habits die hard. So how does one change their frame of mind?

Winter brings about colder days and longer nights, and for some of us that spend the majority of our days in cubicles – that means we only see the sun on the weekend – which can lead to depression.

But how did we get there? Your body isn’t getting enough Vitamin D, chemical imbalances in the brain due to diet, genetics, and internal/external sources of stress are all considered potential causes.

Stress and anxiety are what I’d like to focus on for a moment.

I’d argue that the leading causes of anxiety are relational conflicts, money troubles, and feeling as if you’ve lost your grip/control on life. In other words, everyone has been anxious at one point or another in their life.

If you consider the aforementioned causes, then you’ll realize that lack of control plays a role in every source mentioned. So how do we regain control of the steering wheel?

We have to change our mindset. First and foremost, you have to be willing to extend yourself grace for the past. Second, you have to gradually rebuild your faith in yourself and your ability to attain your goals. And third, implement new lines of thinking and measurable methods of improvement.

Gradually, we can shift our minds from recognizing obstacles as inescapable problems to seeing them as opportunities to develop a new skill-set. “I’ve never been good with money” is no longer a viable excuse, because I can recognize that there is no time like the present to learn how to effectively budget my resources.

A friend of mine has been helping me set attainable goals for a healthier me. I was previously drinking sugary lattes AND soda, daily. We have taken steps to gradually decrease my sugar intake and I’m SLOWLY, but SURELY seeing the results. Instead of 3 Diet Cokes, I’m drinking one. And instead of a caramel-macchiato, I’m drinking iced or regular coffee. It’s interesting – now when I “cheat” and go for the sugary latte instead, I can feel the sugar on my teeth and find that even minimal amounts of added flavor make it too sweet for my liking. In other words, I’m making progress! (Measurable by caloric intake, weight on the scale, and also just feeling better mentally AND physically on the days I stick with it.)

The next “opportunity” (sounds cheesy and cliche, I’m well-aware, but I’m doing everything I can to mentally push myself in that direction) I have is the necessity of a new car. “Old Faithful”, my beloved pick-up truck has served me well for nearly a decade, but I believe her time has come to be laid to rest – for a variety of reasons. Due to my previous lack of healthy saving-habits, I made a budget this weekend so I can set aside $300/month to start saving for a down-payment, which will then roll over into a monthly car-payment. By doing so, I’m setting myself up for future success, rather than allowing that to become yet another source of anxiety due to a lack of control.

It’s interesting how biblical concepts like self-control and hard work have real-world value when you surrender and let them impact varying areas of your life. You don’t have to be a Christian to recognize their validity and unprecedented effective nature.

God isn’t limited by out past or present shortcomings if we are willing to humble ourselves and let ourselves be shaped/molded. He’s making all things new – so why not you? When wanting something to change you have to “Do Somethin’ Bout It”, as STL-based hip-hop artist Thi’sl would say in his album, “Fallen King”.

Success in reaching any goal – in the work-place, in fitness, in relationships, and so on – does not happen on accident. You have to work toward it. You have to take steps, no matter how small, toward attaining your goals. Need to bridge the gap in a relationship? Write a letter asking forgiveness and a new start. Want that new promotion? Be more than “just there” at work and find ways to make yourself indispensable.

The bottom line – you aren’t getting anywhere if you just stand there.

It’s time to start taking steps toward a renewed life.

Taking Steps