Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Dear Warrensburg,

Words cannot express the times I have had abiding here. I came to you a naive, confused, self-conscious 18-year-old kid who thought he had his adult life planned out perfectly. I came to you in chains- dragging along my religious, personal, and emotional baggage. It was here, that I gained the closest friends I’ve ever made. It was here that I learned to accept who I am, and be at peace with that.  It was here that the moral-system I upheld so zealously (and blindly) was continually challenged and transformed. It was here that I experienced some of my lowest points. It was here that I realized how utterly broken I was, so that I could accept the grace-rooted life of Jesus Christ. It was here that I laughed, cried, hugged people, ate, played music, sported like 8 different hair cuts, helped people, dated, started protest rallies, drank lots of coffee, philosophized, socialized, made a bazillion Taco Bell runs, and learned how to truly share life with people.

In the last four years there have been a number of people who’ve invested in me and spoke wisdom into my life. These people have had made a difference in my life by how they live and how they interact with others. (Disclaimer: none of these people are perfect, nor would they prefer to be put on any kind of pedestal).  Most notably Roger Brant, Sara Johnson, Mark Bliss, and Carson Conover.

Carson and Roger were one of the first few people I met here at UCM. Carson was a senior and a student leader at the BSU. Roger was the new campus minister at the BSU. (They knew each other before-hand). I always kinda looked up to Carson because he was a few years older than me. It was one of the first times I had met a young Christian who lived the Christian life with a non-judgemental, loving attitude everywhere he went. Not to mention he’s a pretty intelligent dude (though he tries to hide it with quirky humor). Carson, obviously didn’t stick around long because he graduated in 2008. I did however get the chance to hang out with him and chat a handful of times later down the line. Every one-on-one conversation we had was profoundly meaningful and surprisingly casual. This helped set a foundation for many other things to come.

Onto Roger…Roger is a very peculiar man, but one I’ve grown to love and respect. He’s got a lot of deep layers to him, that I’m not even going to begin to tackle. Roger is someone who has seen me from the day I was a freshman to the day I graduated. He saw how I changed, struggled, and grew. He was never someone who tried to spoon feed me all the right answers, but instead tried to ask the right questions. Roger helped me look at my faith seriously and honestly. He is no longer at the BSU, but instead the “leader dude” at Wayfare Church in the Warrensburg. This is another community I’ve gotten the joy of being a part of since Sophomore year (2009). I will dearly miss Roger, and his wisdom, quirky/sarcastic humor, and mandolin skills.

Sara Johnson was my Residence Hall Director/Boss in Fitzgerald Hall and Nickerson Hall, while I was a CA in those buildings. I can’t honestly say that I was always completely open with Sara (til the last month lol). But her humble, hard-working, optimistic characteristics were an inspiration for me. I admire her persevering faith. She taught me to “Choose my ‘tude” daily. She taught me to not overload myself, but to roll with my creative inspirations. She was always a great listener and always someone I viewed as a friend just as much as a boss.

And Mark Bliss…Oh Mark. Dude, I’m gonna miss you. Jam sessions. Waiting on you to show up somewhere. Sociology classes. Solving the universe’s problems inside Java Junction. Though you may not be the most organized person, you are definitely a friend I can count on to lend a helping hand (as long as I call you spontaneously and not ahead of time lol). I admire your heart and respect you like crazy man. Best of luck to you on whatever you end up doing in life.

…like I said there are a TON of other people who’ve invested in me, loved on me, and been a huge part of my life. Every year here (and almost every semester) has been different. It’s been a blast. So thank you to everyone else. It was the people at UCM that made my college experience special and memorable.

So long UCM! So long Warrensburg! I’m gonna miss you like crazy. Seriously.

Next time I return I’ll be Alum… Weird.

Here’s a few updates in my life right now. (for the 2 or 3 of you who actually read this lol)

  • I graduate from college in a few weeks. In case I haven’t previously mentioned it I’ll be getting a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology. I also minored in Graphics. It feels good to be nearing this milestone.
  • I also just celebrated being with my girlfriend, Melissa, for 6 months. Which surprisingly marks the longest I’ve ever been with someone. She graduates next May (2012). She’s a pretty cool gal, and if I haven’t introduced you to her I’d be glad to do so. **Shameless plug she JUST started a new blog–> http://ananeo.wordpress.com (ananeo is the koine greek transliteration which roughly translates to, “to renew in the mind”).
  • Which brings on the most common question I get these days…What am I doing post-graduation career-wise? Well I’m not entirely sure. I’ve kinda realized that the things that make my heart pound are not necessarily things that will get the bills paid. For instance, I’ve developed a passion for helping people realize the truth about who God really is, exterior of the lies they’ve been told. And I’m not exactly feeling a sense that this is supposed to be through a paid-pastoral role. My experience shows that “I don’t need a three-piece suit to argue the truth” (Bret Dennen). I also don’t want to just start spitting out answers, as if to say I have it all figured out. I just need to follow Christ in my every day life and point to his big picture for wisdom.
  • I have a rough draft plan for the next year, based on the previous bullet point. I’d like to explain in the next couple paragraphs (bear with me).

Since coming back from El Salvador, and announcing to my friends and coworkers (in University Housing) that I would not be going into the Student Affairs profession or going to grad school in the fall;   I’ve been in a perpetual state of waiting for God to reveal the next step for me. Some days were harder than others, but in waiting I learned a number of lessons about who God is and how He is working on me.  I learned the true meaning of allowing God to unveil things to me in His perfect timing, and trusting that His timing is a lot better than mine. Specifically I realized that some things God has for me to accomplish for His Kingdom are better introduced when my heart is mature enough to receive them with courage and zeal, rather than fear and apathy. God knows that if anything is revealed to me too early I either tend to forget about it or tend to get too worked up about it. Along that same line of thinking, I also learned that God won’t reveal it all to me at once. It looks more like minute to minute, conversation to conversation. The more I think about God and the life He is teaching me to live, the more I am put in situations were I’m given the opportunity to live it. I could go on and on and on about many more things I have learned in the last semester about the nature of God.

So here’s my tentative plan for the next year. (I am careful to not set anything in stone, because I can hardly predict the next steps God has for me. I am also satisfied in knowing that He has the end in sight, and that if I follow Him I will finish the race.) The glorious plan is to move in with my parents in Lawrenceburg, TN for the summer. I’m working on getting a part-time summer job, so I can make a little money and save up for the fall. Sounds like a genius plan eh…

The next step is Nashville in August. I am currently job searching for 9-5ish jobs in the Nashville area, specifically in (but not limited to) graphic design. The goal is to start a job by August and save up enough money to eventually get my own little place. At night in Nashville (from 5pm-12am) I will try to network and play music anywhere I can. And that’s it. Get a job, and play music at night. Sounds so ingenious and original doesn’t it? Someone of you may be thinking, “Jordan, your just going to become another starving Nashville-bound musician. This doesn’t sound all that great.”

Well remember when I said that my motives for the next step were not entirely based on my career choice. Here’s how. God has been writing things on my heart rigorously for the past few months. In doing so, He’s placed people in my life to express these amazing epiphanies to (mainly to Melissa, I must admit). The rhythms of learning who God is and what He is about has made me more compassionate to the people I come in contact with and eager to share pieces of God’s love story with them. I’ve realized that I have a passion for the streets. For proclaiming truth in the way I live my life, in my words, and in the lyrics of my songs. I believe God is leading me to a city (possibly Nashville?) to help people see who God is and what He is doing. I’m not going there to become a famous musician. I’m not necessarily going there to start this big social movement that will mark me as a hero and a saint. I’m going there to love. I’m going there to be a friend. I’m going there to grow and to help others grow and/or join the journey of Christ; so that they too can experience the grace I have experienced which has changed my life and so many others.

To backtrack, there are also a few opportunities brewing for this summer, which explains why I’m gonna be in Lawrenceburg. I am planning on taking a second trip to El Salvador from June 18-24th. This time Melissa gets to come with me!! 😀 Also I might be helping out with a few events with my dad’s church family, New Prospect Baptist, like Youth Camp and Music Camp.

There a number of reasons behind this decision to which I’m not at total liberty revealing online (although I totally would in person). So for all you planners out there, this decision was not random or spontaneous. For once, I put a lot of patient thought behind my decisions. (Just ask Melissa…for real)

Anywho, that’s my post-graduate tentative plan. Nothing seemingly life-altering. Just the next step…and a step I can get excited about!

(WARNING!! This is a loaded post. Brace yourself, because I’m about to go all over the place.)

So much of my life gets caught up in movements, in ideas, in moral values. I think it’s safe to say that most people around me get caught up too. It’s a certain religious belief, or  a sociological theory, or the viewpoint that ‘being gay is okay’; it’s critiques on society’s increasing reliance on technology; it is  “for or against” a bureaucratic society at large and in everyday life; it’s capitalism or socialism, pro-life or pro-choice, conservative or liberal, radical or moderate, Pepsi or Coke… this list could go on for a long time.

In my everyday life I am confronted with issues in our world, and a large part of me feels incline/encouraged to choose sides. In the midst of all this chaos, may I ask, who is right? What is truth? Who among us can reveal truth in a genuine and humble manner? Those are questions many (including myself) often wonder? I don’t know anyone who does not, deep down, want to know truth.

I often wish I could just be able to sit in the presence of God, and listen to Him audibly explain the mysteries and depths of his kingdom, and of the world. Most Christians will roughly say (and I’m not necessarily denying this) that the Bible emphatically explains the heart of God; and his heart/Word was personified through Jesus (being both God and man simultaneously). Jesus himself had quite a number of things to say about truth. Once he said “I am the way, the truth, the life; and no one comes to the father except through me.” Another time Jesus told Pontius Pilate (the Roman Governor of Judea at the time),”You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” Pilate’s response (much like many of us) was, “What is truth?”.

Many of you know where I stand, and what things I have stood up for (if not feel free to ask). However I must confess, it is very easy for me to get caught up in day-to-day discussions (which are not necessarily bad) without keeping into account what (I believe) truth is. It’s easy for me to get into arguments with people about human rights, sociological theories, and musical taste; based on my personal opinions. And it is even easier for me to try to persuade people to believe the way I do. But what do my opinions matter? Do they really hold that much weight? Do they convey any truth? In the context of pursuing truth, how I go about pursuing truth is going to look a little different from how my neighbor pursues truth. Are all these paths righteous? That is not for me to determine. But who am I to judge how someone else pursues truth, even if it is inherently wrong? Who am I to judge is someone wants to ignore truth? These are hard questions to cope with, because it is very easy for me (and others) to scrutinize the journeys of others. We all ask the same big questions: Who am I? What is my purpose? What direction should I take? We just seem to react to these LARGE questions in an infinite amount of ways. In the context of this truth journey, even though I stumble a lot my focus and underlining goal is grow closer to God, and to know/love him better. Given that most journey’s are defined by the object or person being sought after, my journey is defined by God (Father-Spirit-Son). How I’ve gone about that journey, seeking after Him, isn’t necessarily a suggested way or anywhere close to the ‘universally perfect way’ of seeking after God (truth). I also don’t believe there is one cookie-cutter path we should all adhere to. If we are in the pursuit of righteousness (which is only attained through divine grace), and more so truth, then God will guide our individual journey’s so that we can each understand the depths of his love.

I don’t really have a big conclusion or theory to wrap this post up. However I will say this: if I am going to pursue Jesus (truth), I want to pursue it in a loving and humble way. If I have ever tried to convey my opinions or convictions in a contradictory way, I am sincerely apologetic. My heart aches for the injustices and self-righteous judgements I imposed on my friends and peers. The best way I know how to right my wrongs is to show love for the people I come in contact with from here on out. The grace that I’ve been given by God is far greater than anything I deserve; and for me to misrepresent that love Christ has instilled in me, is wrong. So whatever that looks like as I continue my journey with Christ, I can’t predict. I just know  I want to take every step with love in my heart.

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”
Paul the Apostle (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

I’ve been thinking a lot about the crescendoing academic buzz on social media, texting, and other means of technological communication. We’ve talked about it on more than one occasion in Sociology and Philosophy classes. I’m not gonna lie. I’m very social media-ified. I have Facebook, a MySpace Music page, An Official Music Website, A Facebook Music Page, a Twitter, and a WordPress account. Wow, writing all that down seems a little much. But that is the culture I’ve been engulfed in. Not gonna lie though; I think I use all of these (except for maybe Twitter) as a means for promotions for events I am involved in (my Music, UCM Housing, etc.). As much as I loath the inauthentic cyber-reality of social media, I recognize that it can be pretty useful in advertising for events. Call me old school, but I often long for the return of word of mouth. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that telling someone word-of-mouth about an event or activity creates a MUCH higher likelihood that they will attend.

But beyond promotional endeavors, why do we like social media? I know all the conventional answers- “Because it helps me communicate with my friends better”, “I get to keep up with my long distance friends”, blah blah blah etc. But is that really the answer? Or is our American culture just increasingly becoming more standoffish. Our physical comfort zones, as big as they are seem to keep expanding. Even though we long for personal interaction, we settle for cyber interaction (including text) because it’s convenient, and because we (for some odd reason) feel more at liberty to say whatever we want behind the cover of a computer screen or a cell phone.

Quite hypocritically, I have noticed myself becoming increasingly engulfed in generating cyber-popularity- having lots of Texts, Tweetbacks, WordPress stats, Facebook notifications, etc. I don’t like to talk about it, because it’s really quite pathetic. It’s almost like the inner-high-school Jordan, that was uber concerned with impressing people and getting attention, is being sneakily brought out in the cyber world. There are days, where I won’t get a notification or a text, and I get this strange guilty feeling of loneliness. This is getting really pathetic, writing all this down (I hate vulnerability). I’m really tempted just delete all of it (again…yes I’ve done this before), and live as un-cybernetic as possible. I wonder how many people are also (un)secretly obsessed with their cyber popularity. I wonder how many people would be willing to admit it, and take the steps to fix it.

So, do I hate technology? No. I have a Mac. I just don’t like how my generation is becoming increasingly communicatively relient on it.

Am I becoming Amish? No, but I do admire them.

Here’s the continued delemna, and connection to the first paragraph. I keep needing social media and texting for promotional endeavors. I keep telling myself, it pays numerical (unfortunately not financial) dividends. So I press on, and I pray that I, and furthermore my friends, start becoming (de)progressively concerned with other people’s ‘actual lives’ than our cyber popularity.

“The authentic self is the soul made visible.” -Sarah Ban Breathnach

just a few thoughts I’ve been having lately:

– Tennessee barbeque rules. well actually, pretty much any food here rules.

– I never want to live in Montgomery, AL. Too much racism there…on both sides.

– I feel like I have an explosion of words to say, but no way to eloquently and cohesively saying them.

– Everyday for the past month seems like a new set of crossroads. All kinds of decisions being made that could potentially be life changing. That is both exciting and scary. I’m  sure most everyone around my age goes through something similar.

– I feel like I’m just continuing down one path (Student Affairs, working with college students as a career), just waiting for God to snatch me up and thow me on a new path. I mean I like college students and student life stuff. Just don’t know if I’m cut out for it long-term. I’d rather be playing music for a living and doing mission work in foreign countries and making t-shirts that raise money for kids in Africa. blah….but I continue on, with a blindfold over my eyes and a forceful hand on my back and an eager ear waiting for the whispering voice of direction.

– Life is hard. For Everyone. Why not ease the load for someone else?…that is if you can handle carrying anymore yourself.

– There are many days when I doubt whether people truly love me. I can see it in their eyes. Hear it in their voice. It’s not hard to tell if someone authentically loves you for who you are. Whether out of pride or shyness, I’m not one to beg for friendship. But, community and friendship so valuable. It provides a sense of home and belonging. I don’t really have a “home”. I’ve moved around from place to place all my life. They say home is where the heart is. Well, I’m not really sure where my heart is.

– I don’t plan on dating this year. Not enough time. I’m leaving town for who-knows-where in a year. Not to mention I’m broke. Ladies, I’m off-limits. Sorry.

– I want to start writing songs again. Unfortunatley, I have writers block (refer back to bullet point 3).

– I want to learn more Blues chords

-I need to read my Bible more. seriously.

-I also need to excercise more. Me and Sam are going to do P90X this semester. Sixpack? naah.

– Sometimes I get frustrated when no one reads this blog. I see the stats. But then, I think “Well, I really hate promoting this blog. Promoting is so vain, and overrated. Plus, I’m more vulnerable on this blog than I am in real life. What to do..”

-Thank God for music, and how it can communicate volumes to me every day. And thank God for skilled lyricists.

Monday morning I was up really early…5am early. And I was feeling pretty awake. Not sure what got into me, but I guess my body decided I had gotten enough sleep throughout the weekend. So I was not in the least bit “having a case of the mundays”. Around 7:30am I headed over to get some breakfast and coffee from the Hornet Express on campus, then I headed over to the ResLife office to check and see if I had gotten any mail lately. While there I said hello to Cass, the ResLife Director. He’s a pretty cool guy. We casually talked about how the summer was flying be so fast, and how I only had a week and half left in Emporia. I then joked that I hadn’t really been keeping up with my P90X like I had planned to this summer. Big Surprise. As I was about to depart from the office I said, “I guess maybe I’ll go work out or something,” thinking out loud of something to do during my empty morning. And what Cass said in return took me way off guard. He kind of switched from casual buddy mode to teacher/sensai mode. He said (and I can’t remember the exact quote), “Now when you say that, use more direct and firm language. Don’t make casual plans that you know you don’t really mean. Say what you mean. And do what you say. Now, what are you gonna do again?” Jokingly and afraid to make any commitments I didn’t want to be held to so I remarked with a snarky sip of my coffee, “I’m gonna enjoy my coffee.” And with that he smiled and said, “Enjoy your morning, Jordan.”

WOW! Slap in the face. But a much needed one. I’ll be the first one to admit that I make a lot of personal plans that I don’t live up to (it’s embedded in my e/INFP personality). I either wimp out or get too lazy to actually complete my goals.  If it needs to get done, I’ll usually get around to doing it. But I’m rarely proactive or use my time productively. (((Food for Thought: How often have I done this to God? How often has my laziness got in the way of carrying out God’s plans?))) Cass’s comment also taught me to be more firm and direct in the things I say; not passive and wishy-washy. By being more direct in my decision-making and acting on what I say, I become a person of integrity and a person worthy of respect- two things I have not been in a while.

Needless to say, I’ve had a pretty productive week so far. 🙂

Sometimes I get in these odd, out-of-body, super-perceptive trains of thought. Usually they are late at night, while I’m alone, after I’ve watched some horror film or read something that makes me think. Tonight the culprits are Red Bull and the movies, The Men Who Stare at Goats and Shutter Island (AWESOME movie). The term, “God works in mysterious ways” takes on a whole new meaning tonight. And yes, I’m aware that this is a strangely odd combo of ‘psychiatric’ films….don’t judge.

While getting uber-creeped out and feeling super aware of my surroundings in the dark night of campus and downtown Emporia, jogging the movies back to Family Video at 12:15 am, I had a small revelation. About connections. This sparked it- George Clooney’s character Lyn Cassady in The Men Who Stare at Goats said this:

“Bob, have you ever heard of optimum trajectory? Your life is like a river and if you are aiming for a goal that is not your destiny, you will always be swimming against the current. Young guy who wants to be a stock car driver — it’s not going to happen. Little Anne Frank wants to be a high school teacher — tough titty Anne, it’s not your destiny. But you will go on to move the hearts and minds of millions. Find out what your destiny is and the river will carry you.”

Maybe that “river” is God. God the very creator of my being, of everything, has a plan and a destiny for each of us. Many of us fight it, because we get confused along the way and don’t want to trust him. We wanna trust our own knowledge. We can only trust what is in front of our eyes. But when will we open our eyes and let go? Heck, when will I do this?… When will we/I stop worrying about tomorrow, and instead live today to the full? Do I look like I know the answers to the universe. I hope not….but God does. Why can’t we/I just trust Him? A Bob Dylan lyric from “Blowin’ in the Wind” comes to mind- “How many times can a man turn his head, and pretend that he just doesn’t see”.

Okay now to the connections thing I was getting at, pertaining to that previous movie quote. Growing up Southern Baptist I always heard a lot of talk about metaphorical doors opening and closing in life. I’m not sure why Baptists chose doors. I guess it makes some sense. I just don’t like it when un-metaphysical doors are slammed in my face. Anywho, basically this concept boils down to taking the events (small and big) in our life and rolling with them, because they push us toward our next destination, our next step in life.

Recent example… I tried to invite several of the Summer Staffers over tonight to watch Shutter Island. I didn’t really get a straight answer from anyone on whether or not they were coming. I just figured they were (A) busy, (B) not wanting to see a horror movie, or (C) tired. I wasn’t too offended. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to invite people over to watch a movie or hang out, and nobody really wanted to come. Kinda sad I guess. But because no one gave me a straight answer, I decided to give up on inviting people over tonight. And because no one came over, I watched movies anyways by myself. And because I watched them by myself without distractions, I got really into it….I entered into deep thought. Plus, I went on a midnight jog around campus alone, racing in thought. Something I would have never done had their been people around. And had I not been deep in thought, I probably would not have been in a position to notice what God was leading me to. See how “one closed door” can lead to another “open door”. I’m not sure if this is the best example, but it is relevant to tonight.

Well, here was the “ahah!” moment I had while walking back on the dark Emporia State Campus after returning my movies. Here it is. God has a lot more control over our lives than we give him credit for. Sure, people make decisions and choices that affect others’ decisions and actions. But how is it all so intricately connected? How come some things work out and others not? Why, in my life, have certain events or the lack of certain events triggered small breakthroughs between God and myself? It’s as if His will takes precedent in my life, guiding me into exact situations (without me knowing it), so that he can reveal a snip-it of himself to me. Tonight was one of those snip-its. Naysayers will call God a control-freak on this one, but that is out of rebellion. God (the Creator of all things, the Holder of the universe, the Author and Perfecter) has the audacity to love US, the mere imperfect specs in the universe, and be a part of our lives. And what kind of an ignorant fool would deny a God so loving. A God that wants to reveal himself to us sinful, small humans. God cares about each step we take, and wants to show us why he created us. Tonight I fully realized that God really DOES have everything under control. He holds EVERYTHING in is hands. Even when I think I’m just on my own. Even when I don’t notice Him walking right beside me. He’s not just the creator of the universe up in the sky, big and mighty, distant and uncaring of all our little idiosyncrasies. He cares about every detail. And he cares about each and every one of us. Every one.

It’s like a young boy who is sitting in their dad’s lap in the driving seat with his hands on the wheel. It’s quite obvious that the father is controlling the pedals, and has one hand on the wheel underneath (just in case). But the kid doesn’t notice it. All the while he exclaims, “Daddy look at me! I’m driving.” The Father just smirks and says, “Take it easy sport… steady. Keep your eyes on the road.”

    Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
    Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)