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

Identity: Christ-Is

We will always be dissatisfied trying to find our identity in anything other than Christ. So, my advice? Stop wasting your time attempting to find yourself in the things of this world and start looking to the undeniable presence of something greater. The truth? We’re all nothing without Christ. Without Jesus as my Lord, Savior, and Redeemer, I’m a sinner deemed unworthy of anything but death. Thankfully, God saw it fit to have His Son die in my place and I am now co-heir with Christ and one of His children. How cool is that?!?!

Grace is certainly a difficult concept to comprehend. In fact, societal norms have taught us the very opposite; we have to EARN everything according them. But God did the unfathomable and extended His hand, mighty to save, and offered us His mercy and salvation. Perhaps the key to understanding this phenomenon is surrender. In fact, I would argue that it is indeed surrender. Think about it…if you are willing to deny yourself and admit that you are nothing without Christ and then allow yourselves to live in His light, then you are indeed God’s children. And if you are His children, then you are also His disciples and His disciples are indeed His friends. Keeping in mind that we can be Christ’s friends, we can take a look at John 15:14-15, which says:

“You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you”

He will make EVERYTHING known to us! Along the same lines, Scripture leads us to the conclusion that the prayers of righteous men are powerful and effective (James 5:16) if they align with the will of the Lord and He will be faithful to give us anything we ask (Mark 11:24). So my friends, seek the Lord and ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Keep a prayer journal as a record of the things you ask God to show you and be amazed as your prayers begin to be answered, and as He begins to reveal His glorious self to you.

Strangely enough, there will come a point when you are okay with being nothing without Christ. Because the truth is that He’s become your everything and is all there is anyways. You will begin to realize that you are a part of something so much bigger than the small time-line of your own existence. And slowly, over time, the heart within you that you thought was in comatose will come alive! It’ll be alive because it’s doing exactly what it was created to do in the first place; worshipping God and enjoying Him forever.

Frustration: Let’s Get REAL!

One of the many difficulties I had grasping the concept of following Christ with EVERYTHING that I had early in my college-career was the fact that all of the so-called Christians seemed to have everything together. There was NO WAY that I could be like them. Not a chance…I mean, I had problems. And they all seemed to hold their own. They attended their campus ministries, had regular church attendance, had Scripture memorized, knew all the wise things to say in various situations, and were even looked up to by a decent portion of the student body.

Well, as an upperclassmen within the body of believers on the K-State campus, I refuse to be viewed as that Christian that has it all together. In my own opinion, the body of believers must remain authentic and real in all they do. There is an unstated pressure to be perfect; to constantly model the values of Christ without fault and if we do come to fault, then we better brush it under the rug and keep smiling. Let me make something clear before continuing…I love Jesus Christ! There is not a single doubt about that. Without Him as my LORD and Savior there is nothing worth living passionately for; at all. Nothing else will satisfy like His undying, unconditional, perfect, unconditional; love, grace, and mercy. BUT just because I am a follower of the Most High God does NOT mean that life suddenly becomes perfect. Nor does it require that even as an individual that is now slightly older and “more experienced/wise” than my classmates, that I pretend to be perfect.

So, let’s get REAL! You’ll notice that an undying theme within my writing, speech, and person as a whole is the concept that being authentic is the more valuable asset an individual can have. If you’re doubting; then tell your friends that you are! If you don’t believe you’re saved; then why put a front like you are? If you don’t have a conviction on a certain set of “Christian values” (drinking, smoking, movies, etc); then don’t pretend that you do (I’m not currently stating my position on any of the aforementioned; just saying that we should be REAL. Don’t PRETEND). So let’s do this thing! Let’s get real.

I am currently very frustrated. For those of you that have been around me the past few days; I’m NOT frustrated with you. But I am frustrated with myself. Oh so very frustrated. Romans 7:19-21 says, “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” I would say this verse does an excellent job portraying the current state of my mind and life. I am well-aware of what I need to be doing, the steps to take to defeat sin, and to live free from the bondage of my own hurtful thoughts but the battle against my flesh is never-ending.

Does this mean that I am doomed to a life of failure? No…Peter, who is revered as the rock that the church was built on, struggled. In fact, he denied knowing Jesus three times in one day! Before the Holy Spirit revealed Himself to Simon (Peter), he was a slanderous, envious, murder of Christians. How on earth could a man of his nature be considered worth of building the church in which we now worship Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior? And then to add the cherry on top, as a son of the Most High God, Peter DENIES His Savior, denying ANY association with the man whatsoever. He’s still saved.

It is BY GRACE that I have been saved. It is BY GRACE that Peter was saved; along with the rest of the 12 disciples, the majority of which became martyrs for their belief in Jesus Christ. I pray that someday my faith will be that strong. Similar to the faith of the young high school students at Columbine High School that stood up for what they believed in at gun-point. That’s faith!

Okay, back to my point, I am not perfect and I am frustrated. I’ve been poured into by countless people, I’ve been raised in a household that took me to church, furnished each of us with a Bible, displayed biblical values, etc and I am still NOT perfect and I am still frustrated. Why?

I’ll tell you why: My GPA is pathetic compared to what I am potentially capable of from observing my high school GPA and my previous comprehension capability. My weight is dreadful. At 6’3”, I have some room to be big, but I shouldn’t be the monstrous 270 lbs that I am. I’m EASILY 60 lbs heavier than I was as a 6’2” high school graduate almost 4 years ago. I know the detrimental effects of sin; yet I still go there. I’m convicted and have even written and taught that you either love God and hate sin or you love sin and hate God. But there are still days that I decide that I love sin more than I love my Savior!!!! If there were ever a time I’d like to cuss myself out due to frustration, it’d be now. One more reason, would be that I’m SURROUNDED by people that love and care about me but I will often choose to isolate myself, which leads to depression and far too much time to remember my own flaws.

So there ya have it…Friends, family, followers, readers, and whatever other audience I am potentially forgetting. I am not perfect. I am frustrated, but I am a believer in Jesus Christ as my LORD and Savior. I cry. I love. I sin. I fear. I struggle. I fight. I lose.

This leads to the next chapter of my learning process as a believer though…as mentioned in “The Battle: Dying to Yourself”, I mentioned that the personal pronouns such as “I”, “Me,”, “Mine,” etc were detrimental to us dying to ourselves and allowing Christ to dwell and live within us. So, I will close with a request. Pray that Justin Meyer dies to himself.

Jesus Christ of Nazareth was crucified, buried, and pronounced dead, but He conquered death and was victorious over sin when He rose from the grave!!! If Christ has the reigns, if Christ takes the flesh that I have and uses it for the glory of His Kingdom, then Christ WILL be victorious and I will have been saved from myself. THAT is salvation. That is the truth of the Gospel. That is what makes 2 Corinthians 5:17 possible.

Blessings Family!

P.S. I encourage you to join me in this battle of dying to yourself and allowing Christ to live within you. It truly is a never-ending battle until the day that we are sanctified with Christ upon His second coming, BUT we can experience, freedom, and victory within our lives. It won’t be glamorous, perfect, or pretty. There will be pain, bumps, bruises, and the occasional extra 50 lbs of flesh that needs to be lost. But ask yourself…have you find anything better? Has sex fulfilled you? Has alcoholism made you happy? Do drugs make your life better? Are you saved by self-infliction or self-glorification?