It has been a joy to write in this format this season, and I only hope this routine will grow and blossom further in coming years. But this year has not been without pain and tragedy. As many know, and most misunderstand, it held its fair share of heartbreak and sacrifice. My wife and I have discovered that some of whom we thought to be our friends, brothers, and sisters were a collective of sycophants and malcontents. We also discovered those who truly love us, pastor us, and whom we may have overlooked in our own selfish ambitions. And still further, we discovered just how blind people tend to be in a world of distractions.
Pride has been wrought from my soul, dangled in my face, and shown me how disgusting of a demon it really is. It held its wings wide across my face and smeared its feces down my chest. Humbled and humiliated, I wept when I understood how foolishly prideful I had been for years, blind to the beauty and wisdom of some I may have overlooked. And that pride—that very demon’s ugly face—smiled and hugged through the faces and arms of others that I thought I could stand beside for a lifetime. Of course, I’m being dramatic—as Josh Ellis would comment. But I think perhaps I’m not dramatic enough. Isn’t this pride and insecurity the destruction of us all?
Nonetheless, the year has been finished with just as much beauty as its disgust. While I lost many friends, influence, tradition, routine, and community, my family also acquired the depths of something I believe to be far grander. We found each other! We wrapped our arms round one another and held each other tighter than ever before. My wife and I dreamed again and realized how miserable and despondent we truly had been. Our dreams had been left on the shore, flopping and suffocating, waiting for some fisherman to stab through the heart and finally finish us off. But now they are blooming and carrying our hearts. Joy and Hope stand at the door in anticipatory grace. And now we laugh far more than cry. Though the sacrifice of community is abhorrently devastating. We yearn for people again, like never before, and our next step will involve people at a greater volume than that before.
I know I oft speak in riddles in these texts, and that is because I require the cathartic experience, but also the honor in my soul that would not betray, speak idly or ill of a brother or sister, and would aim to improve the future.
However, I can say that honor is something that ruins my soul; it is so strong in my heart. One of the grandest pleasures in my life is honoring an individual and celebrating both their life and legacy. To see my family so ridiculed not by words, but by the lack of them—the mere absent attention and a flippant waving of the hand—butchers my heart with a dull steak knife. How I wish I could remove that knife from one of our backs and stick someone else with it! But I know that my honor is in heaven when I see Jesus face-to-face. And all that we did was never for men’s honor anyway, but for the Lord’s.
Twenty-Twenty-Two is nearly closed. And my thirty-fifth year just past. On my phone, I have a collection of writings that I muse throughout my yearly patterns. When a new thought, proverb, story, or dream pops in my head, I jot it down and hope to bring it to light one day. Sometimes they turn into stories, other times sermons or poetry. But because the year is closing, I thought it à propos to spit out the collection of them in a format that someone can appreciate. If nothing more, they will be a reminder to myself of what the year meant. Some of them have been repeated or altered in other writings, but the whole of them were written “as is” throughout the months prior. They are what Bryan Moore and I simply call: Nuggets.
There is this thought that we will achieve our dreams once we have money to obtain them. But I believe we will achieve our dreams once we realize money cannot obtain them. Our dreams are found in the heart of our souls where money has no access. So why do we keep chasing after more money when we should be chasing after more meaning?
At any moment, a man can be proud of himself, and the next ashamed of his pride, and the next, too proud to ask for help.
What is fame? What is glory? What is walking around hoping to expand and become something great? Are not these things simply fool’s errands for a dream born of greed and status? How far does my heart chase after growth before it becomes barren? How long do I assume and second-guess motives before I am a tyrant?
We beg for miracles. But they are at the bottom of the earth. Right before death, on the edge of Hell. And sometimes beyond it. There is where the miracle lies. We have to be ready for the hard life if we want miracles in it.
If I would understand all the “good” moments in life are because of Him, and all the “bad” moments are a product of faith’s necessary struggle, I wouldn’t be so eager to hold them up as a reflection of my worth. Instead, I would hold them up as what they are—promises kept by God and promises in the making.
The hardest parts of leadership are seeing the people you love most fail or quit. Even harder still is sacrificing the people you love most because it’s what’s best. Even hardest is sacrificing yourself. Most people are afraid to confront these, and that is why they do not lead well.
On leadership: if you only give public praise and private correction, the people following you will fear privacy with you and distrust your public praise. You must praise in public and even more in private. Let the private person always be the more intimate person. Relationship and followers thrive on intimacy and vulnerability.
On the way to the Mount of Olives, Jesus, Peter, James, and John sang a hymn. (Matthew 26:30)
My purpose is not determined by my hundred years on this planet. Such a small life can not weigh or sum it. Instead, regardless of what I accomplish or briefly see on earth, I have a purpose and design made for eternity. I cannot begin to fathom what purpose such a life will entail, and likewise, I cannot believe that someone’s life on earth will be lengthened or shortened because of a greater or lesser calling here or there.