jbb selfie shadow pencil

You’re Not Like Others, Are U

Around Christmas time I was having dinner with a fellow Biola graduate and we were talking about the future plans of the church we both attended and whether I was going to take a job offer to teach college in Florida. It wasn’t life and death stuff, but pretty important, nonetheless. A few minutes into my sharing my observations and my friend surmised, in a somewhat surprised voice, “You’ve obviously been thinking about this a lot,” then added something about not being a deep-thinking person himself. That pretty much took the air out of whatever else I was going to say at that point. A fellow Biblical-studies graduate from Biola and I’d mistakenly made the assumption that he approached life questions like I did. Oops.

Maybe this comes from working with group-conscious pre-teens and teens, but I was pretty embarrassed by my mistaken assumption and felt the last few remaining links to my current expression of faith being severely weakened. Relationship woes had already taken it’s toll on connecting with God’s promises, but this made me feel like an outcast among those usually considered outcasts themselves. I really felt like there really isn’t anyone who would understand me.

“It’s a weird world we live in, it’s funny every day
half the world prays like a preacher, other half don’t even pray
So no one understands you if you pray in your own way…

“Now I’m stuck here in the middle, everything is in a jam
I’m stuck right in the middle, doors on both sides seem to slam,
No one seems to want me, only God would take me like I am…

“Well, my brothers criticize me, say I’m too strange to believe
and the others just avoid me, say my faith is so naive
I’m too ‘sacred’ for the sinners, and saints wish I would leave.”

Stuck In The Middle from the album “Stop the Dominoes” by Mark Heard

I remember when this journey began, I opened my Bible for the first time in 15-years and I found endless examples of how God wanted us to experience faith in the supportive cocoon of community. It was an amazing revelation to me. Being in love meant being with that other, which somehow led me to want spiritual intimacy in my life and that meant “God,” and somehow that meant hanging out with Christians (not logical, but that’s how my mind works). Western individualistic West-Coast culture being the way it is, I could experience this at my own comfort levels without having to own up to the contradictions of being in love with a married woman or any of my other non-Christian appetites. Conservative legalists would no doubt point to that as being the source of my failure. I said that I valued the community aspects of Faith but I still lived largely like a unattached rogue.

Many a time I pondered with Juls on why it was that I never went to church with those close to me when I was at Biola. Before going away to college I resorted to going to Biblestudies with my friends secretly because my parents disapproved me hanging out with “Jesus freaks.” Maybe that started a pattern in my life of overly compartmentalizing things in my life. Funny thing is that as long as I can remember, even during the pre- and post-divorce days, I said that I wanted to unify all the areas of my life (one reason why I didn’t want to stay at the phone company as my career… again, not really logical…). I don’t know. But somehow, having learned and believed in the importance of community connection and having spiritual intimacy with ones significant other, I have neither one and the best option that I seem to have is to just leave.

So when I think about this move to Florida (yeah, there I go again, thinking) I wonder about whether my five-year Christian experiment will make the journey with me to the other end of the continent. What I mean is that I seem to be at a loss at expressing what my faith has meant to me and this is not compatible with my drive to try to use my gifts to make a difference. That is, I’m not sure but that I should just be Joe the computer/media educator when I relocate to Florida and let the whole music ministry/teaching ministry thing become another past chapter in my life. I really am stuck in the middle, even as I find myself moving into a life on the other side of the world. Damn, if I haven’t carved out an impossible complicated path for myself… once again.

I do wish that I could just settle down and be that mellow comfortable Christian dude, but life just seems to shit all over the little cookie-cutter boxes and I’m tired of trying to make it all fit. It is what it is and I’m going to move forward with the opportunity set in front and pray that I don’t fuck it up or ruin it for anyone else. But I’m done with moaning that it didn’t work out the way I had hoped. I did what I could do, gave what I could give, probably over-stayed my welcome by at least two-years. Sorry about that, those whom I’ve inconvenienced and unintentionally annoyed with my persistence with what i had wanted here. My bad. I’ll just take my computers and guitars and go. jbb

“Well, my brothers criticize me, say I’m too strange to believe
and the others just avoid me, say my faith is so naive
I’m too ‘sacred’ for the sinners, and saints wish I would leave.”
Mark Heard (1951-1992)

Stuck In The Middle from the album “Stop the Dominoes” by Mark Heard

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