Sunday, September 30, 2007

the greatest day

Today was crazy good.

It started with a whim. I'm car-less at the moment, so alot of things that I had been doing on a regular basis, I'm not doing anymore. Chick-fil-A is one of those things. I've biked there before, and it's a pretty easy ride. But this morning I had sudden urge to really beat my body into shape. One of those empowering moments when you really believe you can take your health in your own two hands and resuscitate it by sheer will. So I decided to run to Chick-fil-A. (Not even going to broach the irony of that statement.)

I made it 4.83 miles. Chick-fil-A was an approximate 2 miles further. I stopped at my friends' house and he had to drive me back. Still - 4.83 miles after not having run a lick about a year ain't bad. So despite my now-aching legs, I was pleased with how I spent the morning.

Then it was on to the Adams Avenue Street Fair, a big annual music event here in San Diego with tons and tons of vendors lining the road. It was there I re-discovered the joy of Mentos (the Freshmaker). They were handing them out for free. I went back for seconds. Also, I recommend a band from here in town called "The Drowning Men" (their MySpace here).

Then it was onto the Stone Brewery in Escondido with my new friends Damian & Tim. Tim was the only beer aficionado amongst us, but we all had a great time on the free tour this brewery gives. Hearing about the passion that goes into good beer-brewing was well worth the trip. Not the mention the 4 free glasses they gave us at the end of the tour!

Then it was off to La Mesa, a city just east of San Diego that I had never visited before, to play a gig at Cosmo's Cafe. We had a great turnout, I sold a few CDs, connected with a few musician friends, and got to talk with Jason Turtle of the Turtle Project (whose music I HIGHLY recommend - though they don't have a CD yet... MySpace here - I'm stoked about getting him down to Java Jones and hopefully playing a show with him myself sometime. It's always great to get a compliment from another artist you really like & respect. Jason's the man.

Finally, it was back to San Diego, to the House of Blues on the block where I live where I had a ticket to a great show: Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers (MySpace here). I saw these guys back in the spring when I was volunteering for the Mocha Club at a concert they happened to be playing. They put on an impressive show then, and so it was a no-brainer for me when I found out they were playing next door for a mere $12. I wasn't disappointed - such a great band. What's awesome about them is that they're 4 guys who are clearly best friends, love each other, and having the time of their lives. There's nothing more fun to watch than great music coming from friends like that.

It was a hell of day. Now to rest my aching body - and dread getting out of bed tomorrow morning...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

happy birthday goobrit

My brother is now in college and celebrating his 19th birthday. I hope it's happy, turd-face.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

stand up tall


Been absent from this blog for awhile, but now I'm just a whole mess of things to talk about.

Emphasis on mess.

My last post was one of frustration at my situation. (Hey, I'm not a rhyming songwriter for no reason.) It's the same sort of thing that's gone on with me since high school. This is the biggest "Duh!" statement ever, but I hate finding myself on the outside. I want to belong.
Fit in.
Be one of the guys.

There is never a moment when I'm not afraid of being left out. This is a big time confession for me! I don't think I'm the only one, but so rarely do any of us talk about it or admit it. My inability to cope, though, is probably a little more severe than most people's. And it's almost like I'm scrutinizing my environment, actively seeking out circumstances that prove I don't belong. Why would anyone spend his time looking for ways to prove he doesn't fit in?

I've been bailed on before, in a big way. It's over, in the past, forgiven - but it doesn't take much to remind me of the sucking-spiral-down-the-drain feeling that I had the day a best friend told me we weren't friends anymore. It stung a mad hornet sting. To squish a whole lot of psychological theory into a summation of my experience: I believe I'm still very much afraid that it could happen again - that I could once more find myself the object of a close friend's disaffection - and so I find it next to impossible to trust that I am loved. At every turn, my fear of rejection rears it's malformed little head (gurgling slightly) and I'm lost in believing that what I've perceived is undeniable evidence that my friend is not my friend.

So this week I'm trying to do this daily Bible reading thing (novel idea, right?) and yesterday's was Exodus 33 where God is all "So, Moses, I made this promise to Abraham that his descendants would live in this sweet-action Promised Land, so I need you to take the Israelites there. But they're stubborn as hell, so I'm not gonna go with them 'cause you know I've got this temper problem and there's a possibility I might, oh, I don't know, get pissed and wipe them off the face of the earth." (Hey, this is my blog - if you have a problem with how I paraphrase God, go tell her about it.)

So the people don't get to be with God. Instead, God descends on the "Tent of Meeting" and speaks to Moses "face to face, as a man speaks with his friend" (actual direct quote), while all the people stand and worship from the entrances of their own tents.

Question of the day: who would you rather be - Moses, or the other Israelites? "Hi. My name is Matthew and I am banned from the Tent of Meeting." That's how I look at my life! I so much do not want God to be this giant cloud that I can't approach. I don't want to watch Moses from afar and worship from the outside. But I'm so afraid that's how it is! That, like the Israelites, the only reason I'm able to tag along on the God-train is because of some promise he made to the people he really cares about - maybe my parents or grandparents, or maybe someone who's prayed for me, maybe Father Abraham. God cares about those people, the people in the Tent of Meeting. But I am stuck worshiping from my own tent and will never talk to God face to face, as a man talks with his friend.

I don't want to be on the outside.
I want to belong.
Fit in.
Be one of the guys.

Jesus was pretty good at making people feel like they belonged. See, this is one of many reasons I'm not an advocate for a literal interpretation of the Bible, or someone who believes that every word that we have today is "inspired, inerrant, and infallible." The God of the Old Testament so often looks more like one of the Greek gods - capricious, hot-tempered, moody, and vengeful. God looks like a human interpretation of deity based on what is perceived in the chaos of life. But Jesus represents a different God. Not a selective, reactionary deity, but someone who talks to you face to face, as a man talks with his friend. An inclusive God. A God without a Tent of Meeting.

It's probably how God always was. But the Israelites, and the writers and record-keepers of Scripture, didn't seem to perceive that God was inclusive. They felt they were on the outside. They believed God loved Abraham, and was merely keeping a promise to Abraham when choosing to lead the Israelites to the promised land. They felt like tag-alongs on the God-caravan (they didn't have trains back then, you see).

There's a lesson for me somewhere in here... If I could just... figure... it out...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

fears i can't fight

I will apparently always deal with the same nagging, frustrating fears.
A friend hugs everyone as he is leaving - except me. I'm given a hasty high-five. Immediately, I am deep in fears that have plagued me for most of my life. "Did I do or say something wrong? Why am I not worth a hug? Is my friend through with me?"

I hate, despise, detest these fears in me. I hate that I can't function normally in social situations. That fear is always just beneath the surface. And all it takes to send it surging upward is a high-five.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

do you love me?

Do you truly love me, more than these?

Someone had to ask it. When love betrays you, how do you recover? How do you believe you are still worth loving? How do you even hope that love conquers all, that it is the most powerful magic, that love is all you need when it was the very thing that betrayed you?

The most painful betrayal wasn’t the kiss in the garden; he already suspected it, anticipated its coming. No, the most painful betrayal was the Great Denial – the thrice-issued public disowning marked by curses and sealed with the haunting cry of a barnyard rooster in the early mist of morning.

Do you truly love me?

Three years together. Traveling, teaching, talking. Three years they walked from village to town to city. He had watched the man called Jesus do unimaginable things: life-long cripples had actually stood on once-shriveled legs and moved about freely on their own; there had been terrible visions of what can only be called pure evil being splintered from the souls it possessed; a man 3 days dead, embalmed, buried – he returned to the land of the living. And he had been there, right beside the man who did it all. In his posse. One of his twelve chosen.

God, were ever men more intimate than this? To not only have witnessed the paradigm-shifting life, but to have been invited into the journey? To share meals, long trips, days and nights for three years long? Jesus had even healed his own mother.

Do you love me?

Proudly, defiantly, perhaps desperately: “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” If someone said that to me, I would know it was love. If someone defended me to the point of drawing a weapon against my enemies, I would know it was love. If that is not love – what is?

But betrayal came. It always comes. Not merely once. Not merely a flippant comment overheard. Three times. Emphatically. Well within earshot. “I’ll be damned if I know who that man is.” The man who loved Jesus, denied him.

I’ve always been told that when Jesus appeared to the fishermen on the beach, cooked them breakfast, and then asked Peter that hard question three times, it was Jesus’ way of reinstating Peter, forgiving him, bringing him back into good graces. That’s not the whole story though. It can’t be.

Betrayed by love. By someone you trusted. Cared for deeply. Had invited into the deepest parts of your life. Don’t tell me Jesus didn’t experience in that moment the same pain I know – the same pain I suspect you do, too. The moment that love fails you is a bitter, terrible moment that strips you of the thing that sustained you and kept you going. When you are loved, it means someone believes in you. Can you even believe in yourself when no one loves you? How? Tell me how, because I can’t.

Jesus wasn’t merely reinstating Peter. That couldn’t have been the whole story. Jesus asked the hardest question to ask in that situation. A question that makes us feel weak, needy, desperate. But he asked it: Do you love me? He needed to be loved, he needed to believe this man who had walked with him for three years still believed in him. After going to hell and back, Jesus needed to hear the words, “I love you.”

If he had to ask three times… if he had to hear it for himself… If Jesus’ need for love was so great that he risked it all by asking the question, Do you love me – are you and I any different?