HeartSupport http://www.heartsupport.com Hold Fast. We Believe In You. Fri, 22 Aug 2014 03:43:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 iMatter Festival: The Superhero This World Needs http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/imatter-festival-the-superhero-this-world-needs/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=imatter-festival-the-superhero-this-world-needs http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/imatter-festival-the-superhero-this-world-needs/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 17:02:02 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=15863 “Play us the song! Play us the song!”

The crowd roared in a unified chant requesting for the drum instructor to play a run-through of their hit track. Well, they were actually chanting for him to play anything at all because he continuously refused to.

“No one wants to hear me play the same boring beat over and over again for three minutes. We’d be better off just having some more questions…”

He swept the pressure under the rug and called on the next person who raised their hand.

“Would you play us one of the tracks off your upcoming album?” The crowd cheered, supporting his request. But the drummer absolutely refused. Over, and over, and over. And he left the crowd of seventy-five onlookers disappointed and sad to see their hero drained of such self-confidence.

I went up to the drummer later in the day and asked him why he wouldn’t play for them, and he said, “You know, there are just so many better drummers out here. I’ve never done one of those drum clinics, and I’m just not qualified to do one. I play the simplest punk beats, and I figured they’d be disappointed in what I had to offer. I’d much rather have just answered questions about tour life or something.”

His comment shocked me because when I looked out into that crowd, I saw seventy five faces of people who believed in this guy, who saw something great in him, who looked up to him for hope. If he could have just seen the way they looked at him…

But I think that’s just it…I don’t think he was looking at them. He was nervous because he was looking at himself. He felt insecure about what he thought he looked like compared to the drummers he thought they knew. He felt inadequate because of what he felt was the appropriate level of expertise to be qualified to teach.  He didn’t believe in himself because he thought what he had to offer was going to bore them and waste their time. He didn’t see them at all because he was looking at himself…

And he missed out on the opportunity he had to impact them in that moment—to teach them, to love them, to focus on them and give what he could, to give them a glimmer of hope, to distract them from their circumstance. If he had just picked his eyes up from the man behind the kit and looked out into the crowd of eager faces looking up to him in admiration, he might not have missed out on the opportunity to imprint their lives with a memory they would always remember…a glimmer of hope in their day…a second of escape from their circumstance…He might have been able to cut through the crap in his own life and find that one thing he could have left them with that gave them something to think about and uplift them…but because he was focused on himself, he missed it all.

I talk to people all the time who see the opportunity to help someone at their school, or comfort someone at work, or lift someone up at a coffee shop, but they don’t take it because they think:

I’m not ____ enough. Cool enough to help them. Funny enough to speak up. Social enough to step out. Smart enough to pipe in.
I’m too ____ to do that. Fat to be their friend. Ugly to smile back. Shy to encourage them. Scared to walk up.
They’ll think I’m ____. Stupid for trying. Weird for coming up to them. Awkward. Just plain….awkward.

And at the root of every one of those thoughts is selfishness. Not the malicious kind, but all of those thoughts happen because we’re looking at ourselves. But what if we were to stop looking in and start really looking out. Abandoning how we’ll look or what we think will happen and embracing what we could potentially do for someone else. What if that kid who sits by himself every day is that way because his dad beats him every time he walks in the door? And what if by sitting next to him you tell him for the first time he’s worth something? What if that person at work that pisses everyone off is going through a divorce and feels completely alone? And what if inviting them out with you gives them the comfort and strength they need to get through that? What if that girl hiding her tears is about to kill herself the next day? And what if one conversation, one email would tell her she matters enough to keep fighting?

Later that day at iMatter, I saw two girls do that for someone else. They listened as this girl they didn’t know cried and shared how worthless she felt. She told them all of the negative thoughts that haunted her and kept her believing she isn’t enough. And they told her she was beautiful. That she matters. That she has a purpose. That there’s a God who loves her beyond her wildest imagination. They shared their own personal stories and spoke to the tender part of her soul that needed to be loved. They prayed for her. They gave her space to be vulnerable in the moment she needed it the most. And then they gave her their contact information. That might have been a pivotal moment for that girl to begin to believe that maybe she’s more than what she used to believe. It might be the anchor place of an identity change where she starts to believe she’s beautiful, to believe she matters, to believe she’s worthy of love. They changed her life in that moment because they looked up, and they did something about it.

You don’t need to be the best. You don’t need to be perfect. You don’t need to be healed. You don’t need to be qualified, degreed, or merited. You just need to look, and when you see,act.

Consider this your official knighting. I hereby decree that you’re 100% everything you need to love someone who needs it. So get your eyes off yourself, go, and freaking do it. Because someone around you needs it this very moment.

The superhero this world needs isn’t actually a superhero. It’s someone who’s willing to say yes to an opportunity when they see it. It’s you.

 

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Trying to be Batman http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/trying-to-be-batman/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=trying-to-be-batman http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/trying-to-be-batman/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 20:40:49 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=15844 Train wrecks always look cool in movies; the way the cars just keep coming and crashing.

They aren’t as much fun in real life though.

A couple years ago I was engaged to be married while wrapping up my senior year of college and also leading an awesome youth group in the same town as my school. Everything was going my way before the train wreck; there were no fiery explosions but suddenly everything changed.

After months of slow realizations I called off the engagement that summer and decided to take on another year of college. That fall I received a call from my academic advisor congratulating me on graduating; it turns out I had already met my major’s requirements and so that December I found myself with a degree and no clue what to do next. I had loved getting to lead the youth group so I figured I should probably pursue being a Youth Pastor. I had a friend who worked at a church who had mentioned needing for a youth pastor so I jumped in feet first. The actual job turned out to be quite different from what I had initially expected and so after seven frustrating months I resigned and with my faith in deep decay I moved out of state. I ended up teaching 6th grade math for a year which is a humbling experience for an English Major.

This was the past two years of my life and looking back now it feels like another person lived through all of that. You can’t go through those sorts of events without something changing inside of you and it was my faith that ended up taking the hardest hit. Growing up in Midwestern Christianity often leads to the belief that God has promised you a significant other and a fulfilling job and if those fall through it’s either something you did or it’s God’s fault; I had been working in churches for years so I definitely believed it wasn’t my fault. During the worst days I felt as though I rested alone at the bottom of a deep abyss and there are still days where I feel abandoned by God as I process what’s happened the past couple years. Some of my hurt is self-inflicted and some of it is from others and in confused anger I have placed my blame at God’s feet. I still pray and go to church but it so often feels weighed down with disbelief and a sense of “Am I doing this God thing right?” I feel a lingering distance from God and my faith which used to both be huge passions but have now died down to lingering embers that can’t spark into a full flame yet.

I use “yet” because despite all my cynicism and accumulated baggage I still feel an undefinable sense of hope. Out of the train wreck I have grown to be a cynical and jaded believer but there is still one way that never fails to make my heart come back alive with faith.

God still calls to me from stories and it’s Batman that has reminded me most of this.

If you’ve spent any time around me you’ll know that I’m hopelessly nerdy and I’ve made peace with that. I will obsess over any books, movies, and video games that catch my attention; especially if they tell a good story. The Dark Knight Rises came out when I needed it most; I felt like I was right there at the bottom of the world with Bruce Wayne after his back had been broken. There he is, the guy who used to be Batman, now broken and lost but it’s what he decides to do that is so important to me. He claws his way out of hell from the bottom up, not before failing several times, and it’s his perseverance that hit home for me in a big way. That image of Bruce Wayne fighting to escape and to hold onto his soul is a large part of why I was able to keep my head above water the past couple years. Stories of perseverance are what I need these days, whether it’s movies like Gravity or The Grey or even games such as Dark Souls, because as I go through these stories I’m encouraged by the thought that God is using my own challenges to make my life a better story overall. However, feeling hopeful and encouraged is great but you need to act on it.

For me that’s attempting to be vulnerable.

Cynicism is an illusion of safety; it tells you that you can only be disappointed so it’s best not to risk anything. If you keep it up long enough you’ll wake up one day inside a lonely and suffocating cocoon. Vulnerability is painful and terrifying and something that I often resist. Meeting people and opening up about my life scares me like nothing else and I’d love to do nothing more than stay in my room listening to The National while feeling sorry for myself but I know that if I did that I would slowly lose myself from isolation. So I make myself go to things like the gym, events with friends, and even church; it takes effort to maintain any relationship and the same goes for what we have with God.

I’m still a huge rebuilding in progress; some days I feel nothing but scared and cynical about everything but then there are days where little things like a message from a friend or stepping out of my comfort zone makes for a much needed glimpse of hope; it’s probably the same for a lot of people going through their own train wrecks. There are parts of life where we simply can’t stand on our own and God knows this. It’s one reason why we need to embrace stories and other people because sometimes all we need is to be shown how to rise again.

 

Cover Photo Credit (With modifications): Flickr Creative Commons

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Chris Mora of Darkness Divided on Depression and Suicide http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/chris-mora-of-darkness-divided-on-depression-and-suicide/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=chris-mora-of-darkness-divided-on-depression-and-suicide http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/chris-mora-of-darkness-divided-on-depression-and-suicide/#comments Thu, 14 Aug 2014 23:03:31 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=15786 Chris Mora of Darkness Divided stops by HeartSupport to talk about his personal battles with depression and a suicide attempt

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Why Suicide is Really an Accident http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/why-suicide-is-really-an-accident/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=why-suicide-is-really-an-accident http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/why-suicide-is-really-an-accident/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 20:17:13 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=15753 “Your daddy’s death, honey……it was an accident.”

My friend stands in the corner overhearing the grieving spouse talk to her four children. He can’t help but think how hard it’s going to be once the kids grow up and realize that it wasn’t an accident. Their father took his own life was the truth.

“You see, your daddy took his life, but it was an accident.”

Wait…how does she plan to explain this if she just told them the truth?

“Your father, he had these thoughts all his life. You saw his good days and his bad days. And on his bad days he really wanted his life to end. But he’d work through it. He’d see you…..his precious children and realize he didn’t want to take his life and was really glad he didn’t. But then sometimes it would return, and he’d have to fight again. And he’d always come out glad he didn’t take his life. And he would remember the good. But this time he forgot. And it was an accident. He didn’t really mean to. Because if he had made it through he would have been glad he didn’t.”

In the wake of Robin William’s death there’s been a lot of talk about suicide and mental health. I’ve struggled to put the words on paper without sounding cliché and offering up what other organizations in this battle have already said. I think the fear for most people writing on the subject is that if they don’t draw a hard, clear line in the sand, then it will cause other people to take a dive off the point of no return. If they don’t offer hope, then the person reading their article, who is suicidal, will find justification to kill themselves. So maybe I’ve already done the unthinkable by labeling suicide an “accident”.

Whereas I might have simplified the cause (an accident**), the reasons behind suicide are not as simple as some people make it out to be. Everyone’s reason for wanting to kill themselves is different and you can’t label them all under one roof. You can’t say “this person killed themself because they were unhappy, things were dark, and it was a permanent solution to a temporary problem in their life.” I wanted to kill myself because I couldn’t deal with the guilt of coming home alive when my best friend was killed in action. Seven months ago my wife told me she didn’t see the point in living. For her, depression has always been a constant battle and possibly linked to a chemical imbalance. For others it’s the failure of repeated addiction and the drain they believe they’ve become on others. For some it’s the pain and suffering and guilt they’ve experienced and see it as a way out of the suffering of this life. Everyone’s reason will always be different.

I think part of the problem why mental health and suicide is so epidemic is that when we try to help those around us to see the sun once more we don’t take the WHOLE person into consideration. We want to boil it down to emotional, physical, or spiritual. And we separate the very things that make us whole into categories we think we can treat individually as opposed to connected. In my life I’ve noticed that when I’m emotionally empty it easily affects my physical. The way I sleep. How much I eat. And of course that spills over into my spiritual. God hates me…he’s allowing this……if he really loved me he wouldn’t allow this…

But each of us will tend to treat individual aspects as opposed to the whole person.

Suicidal? Let’s pray.
Suicidal? Here’s some meds.
Suicidal? Let’s get you around friends and cheer you up.
Suicidal? Let’s get you out of this bad situation.
Suicidal? Just believe God will get you through this.

The parts that makes us who we are get disconnected from the sum total.  Mental health and suicide is never as simple as treating aspects. But when we treat it in fragments and miss the entire person, then we continue to end up with these horrific accidents.

And the accident, just like the mother in the beginning pointed out, is this:  When our world is at it’s darkest, we tend to forget something as simple as light exists.

But even a sliver or spark can make us remember the dark isn’t all there is. We just forget. And when we forget we can fall prey to the greatest accident of all. We forget that the sun will eventually rise. And I think Robin Williams and others like him just accidentally forgot that.

Those of us who’ve seen the sun have a responsibility to remind those that have forgotten. To carry those towards the light in the midst of the endless night, and give them a little glimpse of the sun, no matter how short that glimpse of sunlight is. And sometimes those of us that try to help will forget the sun too. And other people will have to carry us.

We must ALL remember that the sun will set and rise and set again. But the night is never endless. There is always dawn.

 

**Author’s Note – I realize I may have completely oversimplified the issue of suicide as it will always boil down to a choice people ultimately make. Chemical imbalances, past wounds, and extenuating circumstances all play a part but is still a choice an individual makes. For the sake a brevity and to avoid repeating the hundreds of other blogs floating around I chose to look at it from a different aspect and is not meant to make light or belittle such a serious and complicated issue. If you are struggling then please visit our page on suicide here

 

Cover Photo Credit (With modifications): Flickr Creative Commons

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Why I Can’t Finish My Book http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/why-i-cant-finish-my-book/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=why-i-cant-finish-my-book http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/why-i-cant-finish-my-book/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 21:58:00 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=15699 A few months ago, I finally said it out loud (and online) that I was working on a book. If all goes well and according to my tight deadlines, I should be finishing up a first draft of the book within the next six weeks.

That means all those medium vanilla Dr Peppers, all those words, all those naps/brainstorming sessions on my office couch, all that work will finally see the fruits of labor and at the end, I’ll have a rough manuscript.

But I have to be honest. I can’t finish it. I’m stuck.

Somehow now, all of the words I write seem silly on the page, and I end up deleting more paragraphs than I write, and I’m frustrated because I’m not hitting my daily writing goals.

The other night, my husband and I were talking about it, and I realized what was keeping me from finishing the book. I asked my husband what would happen if only two people read the book? My mom and him? Or what if maybe 100 people read it and only two people like it? What if I fail? What if this ends and I realize I’m not cut out to be a “writer?”

Because here’s the thing about this book. It’s not a fictional story about vampires or teenagers or magic. It’s about me and my own struggles with fear and faith. It’s my story, and I’m afraid you’re not going to like it. You’re not going to like me.

Because I’m cool when we’re at dinner. I’m nice and I smile, and if you come by my house, you’ll find it squeaky clean and perfectly organized, but this book shatters all that. It’s about being broken and young and scared and crawling back to Christ. Again. And again.

What if you don’t like that story?

So I’m stuck this close to the finish line, thinking maybe I should wait until my story gets a little better, until I have it a little more together.

Maybe you know this feeling, like you’re not good enough to be a songwriter or designer, like you’re not qualified for that medical field, like you’re not cut out for finance, like you’re scared of failing because you’re not enough.

A few weeks ago, I read over the chapters I already have written and considered ditching the project because I’m not the great writer I want to be. I’m not a theologian or a bible major. I don’t have a popular blog or a Pinterest feed. I’m just a girl from East Texas writing a book about faith, and sometimes I think that’s not enough.

Then I remember something: God hasn’t called me to tell a flawless story. He’s called me to be a little faithful, a little braver.

That’s what’s beautiful about God. He shows up on the days when I can’t find the right words. He reminds me that I don’t have to write the perfect book, and you don’t have to have the perfect plan either.

This world is so good at beating us down and telling us that we’re not as creative or smart or beautiful as we should be, and I love that if I look hard enough, God shows up in that and tells me I’m enough.

You’re enough.

In whatever it is you’re working on, you’re enough. If you fight a little harder, if you get a little braver, God makes up for the rest.

So I’m showing up at my keyboard every day. I’m drinking more Dr Pepper and praying over this book. I’m writing faithfully. And where I fall short, God makes up for the rest.

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The Indifference of Good Men & Women http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/the-indifference-of-good-men-women/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-indifference-of-good-men-women http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/the-indifference-of-good-men-women/#comments Mon, 11 Aug 2014 20:13:54 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=15688 “…They all just watched as Kitty was being stabbed to death in broad daylight. They watched as her assailant walked away. Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most…and that is the indifference of good men!”

~ Catholic Priest, The Boondock Saints

 

I remember the first time Leanna told me she was being sex trafficked.

I closed my email and began to rationalize: “I’m going to pretend I didn’t see that. Maybe if I ignore it it’ll go away. I am DEFINITELY not qualified to handle this and someone with more experience needs to deal directly with this. Hopefully she’ll reach out to someone else.”

And that’s exactly what I did. For 3 days I did nothing. I even convinced myself she was making it up for attention.  All the way a nagging, gnawing sense of betrayal to humanity burned internally.

When I deployed to Afghanistan as a scared, 21-year old I was informed I would be going to an area where the fighting was most intense. I begged my team sergeant to let me work a desk job and stay in Kandahar.  I manipulated and coerced for 2 days until my boots hit the soil near the Pakistani border.

At my core I am a coward. I’ll always look out for my own self-interests and choose to do the things that require the least amount of effort and keep my hands clean.

I wish I could say I’ve changed, but the truth is this still happens every time I’m faced with a decision to DO something that may cost me some skin and energy. Like when someone tells me they’re going to kill themselves. Or that they’ve been raped, victimized, or abused.

Even sitting in a tent during Warped Tour the last couple of weeks hearing people’s stories of hurt and pain my thought was always, “What can I really do?

It’s a term coined the bystander effect. When tragedy or injustice strikes we sit by and think one of two thoughts: 1) “How can I possibly help and what if I get hurt in the process?” or 2) “Someone else will surely help.”

Currently, two religious groups – Christians and Yazidis – are being systematically slaughtered wholesale in Iraq. Five hundred Yazidis are reported to have been buried alive and their wives taken as slaves. Christian children are being beheaded on playgrounds and wives are being raped. Children fleeing into the Sinjar mountains have been found dead of dehydration. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have given them the option to convert, pay a fine, or die. Even when both religious groups pay the fine, they are often still executed. A report by Humans Right Watch found that homes in Mosul, Iraq were painted with the Arabic letter “N” for Nasrani (the Arabic word for Christian) and is reminiscent of the way Jews during the Holocaust were forced to wear the Star of David.

Arabic-Nazarene

The Arabic letter for “N”  - short for Nasrani

And what have my thoughts been on these atrocities happening?
“Well that sucks….hope somebody does something about it.”

I love being a bystander. I love my comfortable little life. I love not having to fight against injustices. I would rather spend my money on things that make me feel good than help finance people that are fighting against injustices like this. In fact, I can often justify buying a pair of jeans as opposed to financing justice because, “how do I really know that money’s being used for good?”

I heard a statistic recently that if every Christian in the United States gave $60 we could free every sex slave in the world.

Instead the oppressed and marginalized have to BEG the world to help. And those that are trying to help have to beg people to finance them to do good. “Please send me to India so I can help build an orphanage! Please give towards the refugees fleeing the border in Iraq so they can get water and food! Please help us fight sex trafficking! Please encourage a girl/guy on our forum struggling with suicide!”

But I’m cool. I’m comfortable. I got a new 70-inch flat screen TV to buy because my 42-inch just isn’t cutting it anymore. I just don’t know if I can afford to finance justice because this new shirt is just so dope. I can’t volunteer my time because it sounds really messy and hard and I’m just so busy.

We should all fear evil as the priest stated in the opening quote. But he’s right. The evil lurking in my heart to do nothing is far worse, because while I have to power to do something, I choose to stand on the sidelines and hope someone else runs into the game and helps the guy bleeding on the field.

Please don’t read this as a plea towards your wallet. It’s a plea towards your heart and our indifference that allows evil to further spread. We, as Millenials, are already accused of being the most socially aware and the least apt to do anything about it. And because we’ve had our parents and society hell bent on teaching us consumerism and materialism only to bitch at us about how selfish we are, the only cure to our apathy is going to be action. With our time, resources, talents, and yes, even our finances.

Let’s show them they’re wrong. Let’s start a chain reaction. Our grandfathers were known as the “Greatest Generation.” Just what if we became known as the most “Generous Generation?” What if we didn’t just have one Mother Teresa, but we had hoards of them?

Imagine all the good we could accomplish…..together.

***For those wondering what they can do to help the atrocities ongoing in Iraq, here is a small list of things that you can accomplish: 

  1. Pray. For the country. For the people. For justice. And especially for the Christians and non-Muslim groups being persecuted by a terrorist entity.
  2. Contact your local congressman. Sign this petition to send U.S. aid to the refugees fleeing seeking asylum.
  3. Research organizations sending aid into Iraq for refugees and give financially.
  4. Rattle the sabers. Get the awareness out there. Post on social media. Get your friends involved. Change your twitter and facebook profile photos to the symbol used for Christians shown in this post and use the hashtag #WeAreN to show your support.

 Many of you may have other ideas as to help and we encourage you to spread them. Not just for Iraq. But for all people groups and the oppressed.

 

Photo Cover Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

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Ask Jake Anything – What do you do when you feel low? http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/ask-jake-anything-what-do-you-do-when-you-feel-low/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ask-jake-anything-what-do-you-do-when-you-feel-low http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/ask-jake-anything-what-do-you-do-when-you-feel-low/#comments Fri, 08 Aug 2014 19:44:36 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=15627 Q: Jake, when you feel at your lowest, what do you do to bring yourself back up?

 

A:

When I am at my lowest, chances are I’ve done something stupid. It’s because of my own personal expectations or standards of “Who Jake is” or “Who I’m supposed to be” that I end up whipping myself on the back and shaming myself with the guilt of having not done the “right” thing. Most of the times I reach a low in life because I can’t comprehend what is really happening around me. I make a mistake and because of that mistake I want to correct myself but a lot of times I do that by shaming myself. If I were to really take a step back and analyze what I did and why I did it and where it comes from I could then get a better grasp on what needs to happen in order to fix the issue.

I’ve learned that I am a broken dude; a messed up one that doesn’t have the solutions to the problems that are within the walls of my own heart. We as people are reactors and the reasons we do things all come because of something we’ve seen, done, or heard around us; we are a product of our surroundings. I think this is why God speaks about idolatry so much as a sin but not just a sin against Him but also against ourselves.

For example: You were raised by an alcoholic father? Statistics and studies from psychologists and researchers show there’s a good probability that you’ll be prone for alcoholism. Were you raised in a very argumentative home, one with yelling and screaming? If your parents lacked grace and forgiveness for one another chances are you’ll end up doing the same with your significant other because you learned that growing up.

When we do these things we get angry with ourselves because we are doing exactly what we don’t wish to do. Funny enough, our friend Paul in the Bible has the exact same issue as he explains in Romans 7:15 that “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” So we have it in us to want what is pure, right, and good. Yet just like Paul we struggle and do the things we don’t wish to do and so we end up suffering by feeling ashamed of what we’ve “become”. When I get to this point, when I’m thinking to myself “Damn it Jake, you’ve done it again.” I know that I need to go to my faith.

I go to the God that has created me, the One that I know isn’t full of pride, resentment, selfishness and that I need to ask Him for forgiveness. I’ve come to the understanding that if I believe that Jesus died on the cross and all of my sins are washed away then I am blameless through the eyes of God because of my faith in Christ. This shows me that I should not beat myself up because if I do then I am just undermining the cross. I’m basically saying that His sacrifice on the cross wasn’t strong enough to cover the faults and sins in my life and that I must reprimand myself for my sins. So in a sense when I beat myself up I am contradicting my own belief system. What does that make me do?

It makes me see God with awe of what He has done and brings me yet again closer to Him because of how huge His love is for me. It makes me want to follow Him even further and deeper in building that relationship. Once again I can’t even correct my wrongs or redeem myself from what I’ve done. God does it and it is His grace that carries me through the hard times and His mercy and everlasting redemption that drags me through even the worst of times. He did what no one else could have done by dying for my sins and He is still beside me wanting me just as much as He did before I do something stupid.

So, to answer your question, when I am at my lowest I remind myself of the greatness of God and what He has done to finish my sin. I have the gift of Christ and because of that I am forgiven and am not my own to judge or redeem. I have to ask for forgiveness and for His help to heal me, guide my heart, strengthen my mind, give me wisdom and grace to change my mind on how I view myself and the situation, and how to move forward in His grace and wisdom rather than relying on my own. Remember Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

 I hope this answers your question. Thanks for sending it into Heart Support and God bless you.

Jacob L.

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That Awkward Moment When You Get “Spanged” http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/that-awkward-moment-when-you-get-spanged/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=that-awkward-moment-when-you-get-spanged http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/that-awkward-moment-when-you-get-spanged/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 16:00:40 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=15529 Great, another homeless dude wants money from me.

My family and I had just finished eating dinner downtown, and as I was walking back to my car, this homeless dude caught my eye and came over to me. I could feel the words on his lip before they leapt from his tongue. I knew he was dying to ask me–like a soda bottle shaken one too many times–and he was going to pop any second with the question: “Do you have any spare change?” This is what the homeless call ‘spanging’.

And I was so pissed that I got flagged again. It’s like the homeless dudes have a “sucker” radar, and I blip within a 50 foot radius of them. Well, screw you, dude! NOT THIS TIME.

But something was different about this guy. I paused for a moment and realized I was lumping him into the “dirty hag” category I threw all the other homeless people in. Maybe this time, I’d listen. Maybe this time, I’d love…

So instead of just answering his questions, I started asking them. His name was James, and as he answered my questions, I started to piece together his story. I asked him all the normal ones: where he was from, what brought him here, why he was on the streets. But in the back of my mind, I was looking and listening for something more. I wanted to see the truth about this man and not just what I assumed.

Instantly, James and I connected. As I listened, the stereotype started to melt off the outside of him like a wax coat, and I started to see James as a human being…a human being who has been through hell.  It was gut wrenching to listen to what he’d been through.  He said he went bankrupt after paying medical bills for cancer and ended up on the street.  He’s on parole because he beat the crap out of a guy that was molesting his daughter since she was 11.  He hasn’t showered in days, let alone had a decent meal or changed clothes.  He’s addicted to alcohol because he doesn’t know where else to turn. “It numbs everything for me,” he shared as he reflected on his hellish history. He started to tear up, and I felt like I stepped into his shoes for a minute. It felt like life was smacking me in the face like Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, just trading blows like they would do in their prime, and I couldn’t do anything about it.

And what I realized in that moment was if I wanted to help him, I had to get dirty with him. I couldn’t pinch my nose, pat him on the shoulder with a rubber glove, and disinfect my hands after. If I wanted to help him, I had to get knee-deep in his story, in his hurt–and yes–in his stench. But…I think we’re supposed to get dirty with people; that’s where the work is.  If you’ve ever played sports, you know your best practices were the ones that left you gasping for air, drenched in sweat, and smattered with dirt and grass stains all over. Truth is, unless you’re willing to put in the work, you’re never going to improve.  And in that moment, I knew I would never improve if I took the easy route and shrugged off my compassion. So I rolled up my sleeves, and I dove in.

You see, what happens when we actually invest our time into the people around us and start to see them as the way that we’re supposed to see them, we see the truth and the hurt that comes along with them.  And, I think that’s what we’re really meant to do when we love them in the same way that we are commanded to love someone: non-judgmentally and without any casting of doubt. A true love for someone knows no boundaries.  That’s what James deserved and when I gave it to him, and I think he could actually feel it.  He smiled and instead of taking my $20 and running, we continued talking together.  I know my family was standing two blocks away probably thinking, “What in the world is taking him so long to pick us up?!” But, in this moment, James was in front of me, and he mattered most.

Before I left, I also handed him a piece of paper with my name and phone number on it and told him to call me if he ever needed to.  He told me where he usually hangs out and that he’d like to see me again if I could. And in that moment, my stereotypes started to creep in again: Do I really want to see this man again? He’s probably lying, and I’ll come by, and he won’t be there. He’s better off without you helping him because he can’t be helped.

And mid-thought, he snapped me out of all of that by saying something so simple, it almost made me weep in front of him.  He asked if he could give me a hug. Instantly, all I could do was wrap my arms around him as he whispered, “Thanks for talking with me. I just wanted to feel like someone loved me.

Cover Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

]]> http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/that-awkward-moment-when-you-get-spanged/feed/ 1 Freaking Ask Her Out Already http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/freaking-ask-her-out-already/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=freaking-ask-her-out-already http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/freaking-ask-her-out-already/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:59:15 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=15504 “I’m too chicken! I don’t have the balls to do it!”

He wailed into his hands as they shielded his face from the invasion of embarrassment he felt encroaching around him. He just took a bet and lost, and he knew the wages would make him look the absolute fool.

My friends and I sat there and laughed. And laughed. And laughed.

We hunkered in a corner booth at a hotdog joint downtown for his 21st birthday. We ate and drank and joked, and all the while, birthday boy had his eye on our cute waitress. He was making her laugh and flirting her up, so I nudged him and said, “Dude…freaking ask her out already!”

He shook his head, stomped his foot, and swore he wouldn’t. So, I decided to make a bet with him: “How about this…if she’s from Michigan like you, then you have to ask her out on a date.”

And as a betting man, he played his percentages well. We’re in Texas, 1400 miles southwest of Michigan. We’re on polar opposite halves of the north-south divide of the U.S., so chances were, she shouldn’t be from there.

With his hand in mine, we had a deal, and the night raged on. As the alcohol consumption continuously increased, so did the amplitude of our boisterous conversation. By the end, we were hooping and hollering, and as we were winding down our meal, I called the waitress over, told her how to divide up the check, and popped the question.

“Yeah, actually, I am from Michigan. That’s a strange thing to ask me though–how come; what’s up?”

After she left, my friend immediately burst into sorrowful woes and the rest of us into side-splitting laughter.

 

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We watched him wrestle with the prospect of his punishment. He hadn’t made a habit of asking out attractive women he didn’t know from Eve. It was miles from his comfort zone and felt more like he was laying his head out on a chopping block and asking for someone to drop the guillotine. She was out of his league, and we all knew it.

As the minutes dragged by, the dread began to billow in his gut, and he continued squirming as we described the reality of his pending punishment. He couldn’t take it anymore, so he stood up, took a deep breath, and puffed out his chest in faux confidence. “I’m going to do it,” he declared.  As we watched him, we simultaneously cringed and laughed quietly to ourselves as our friend was led like a lone sheep to the slaughter.

“Well…?!” We said in unison when he returned with a big grin on his face. He left us in looming anticipation as he kept the news to himself until we cleared the front door threshold and earshot of the restaurant.

He turned around to face us and said, “She said no.” We all smiled and groaned with him as our expectations were confirmed. “But,” he interjected our laugh-moan and continued, “she said it took a lot of guts to come up to her and ask her out. She thinks I’m kinda cute, and she added me on Facebook so she could hook me up with some of her friends.”

And the heavens rejoiced. We all cheered uproariously. It was like he won the Super Bowl or something. We slapped him on the chest and gave him a round of high fives, fist bumps, and slap-asses each.

 

The coolest part of his victory is that he did something most men nowadays don’t do.

Scientifically, if we were to chart the recent course of the evolution of man, we would see that something has gone terribly wrong over the past decade. Their feet seem to have sprouted fur, and they are beginning to resemble the form of felines. At this rate, if they keep avoiding women they’re attracted to, they’ll be coughing up hairballs that are more real than the pair between their legs and forever be doomed to a new species of pseudo-man called the pussyfoot.

Risk is a part of the DNA and design of the soul and heart of men. And somewhere along the way we seemed to have lost touch with that about ourselves. Instead of embracing risk and facing danger head on, we nestle into the comfortable “make sure she likes me” phase for many miserable weeks. Then one day, we wake up from this ego-preserving hypnosis and realize we’ve crossed the point of no return in the place where all attraction goes to die: the friend-zone. We trade risk of rejection and momentary sadness for a long-term I.V. of cowardice that slowly sucks out every drop of confidence we had. Over time, we shrivel into this brittle, wrinkly, shell of a man who has been reduced to some puppy-dog obsession over a woman that now forever sees us as her nice, timid little brother.

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Have you ever caught yourself checking a girl’s Facebook or Instagram several times a day to see what she’s posted between now and an hour ago? Have you asked friends to help you decode the love encryption she probably didn’t embed into the last status update she posted? Have you texted her one, two, three times after she didn’t respond to your last text?

I have. There’s no shame here in what we’ve done in the past. At one point, we all fear rejection because it stings. But it’s time to acknowledge there’s got to be a better way to doing this. We’ve got to try something different than creeping social media and sinking into sadness when she doesn’t give you the affirmation we all so desperately want. Because the fact of the matter is, there’s a better way. But it’s not without risk. It’s not without danger. It’s not without fear. However, when you choose to act in spite of all of that, you not only avoid the senseless self-pity, but you actually come alive.

 

You weren’t created to coddle your keyboard and count your crows as the cowardice overcomes your confidence. You were woven with wildness in your heart. And when you touch that part of your soul, you’ll feel a rush that well-outweighs the risk. 

 

The best part of my friend’s story was that the waitress actually wasn’t from Michigan. When he went to the bathroom, we prepped her to tell him she was. And even though my friend got rejected after this dubious omission, he was beaming uncontrollably because he felt his heart beat in that crazy fast way it does when you face your fears. He wrapped both of his arms around danger and wrestled it to the ground. He jumped from comfort and splashed into the adventure below. And when he surfaced, even though he didn’t get what he sought, he got something better: the rush of his heart fully alive.

So take this as a challenge–not from me but from your heart. Because it longs to reunite with the wildness it was created for. And who knows? You might just be the knight to rescue your princess because you risked it, followed your heart, and made the climb.

 

Cover Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

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My Gateway Drug http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/my-gateway-drug/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=my-gateway-drug http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/my-gateway-drug/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 14:59:36 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=15392 I pushed open the heavy door from the girl’s locker room and slid my back against the wall to sit on the floor. I was in high school and had just finished a tough cross country practice. I riffled through my mesh backpack, looking for a sticky honey bun I’d packed when a friend came through the locker room door.

“I’ve got it,” she said, plopping next to me and unzipping her bag.

I gave her $17 and she slipped me what I’d been waiting for: the latest Eminem CD, the explicit version.

My parents wouldn’t let me buy Eminem CDs, and so I had friends with “cooler” parents buy them for me, and I’d pay them in crumpled bills in the hallways. Oh there could have been worse things we were exchanging, but whatever the case, this all posed one very big problem: I changed.

I already had what my mom called a “smart mouth” back then. I wanted to get the last word in and always wanted to win the fight, but my choice of music made it worse. I started cursing all the time and started arguing with my friends. I was combative and angry all the time. I rolled my eyes and talked back. I didn’t feel good.

Maybe Eminem spoke to my high school soul. Maybe it made me think I was cooler than the skinny girl I really was, but the truth is I started sinking deeper.

“Who are you even?” my friend asked me one day at lunch.

I was staring at her over a peanut butter sandwich and wondering why I was so mad, so I took all my Eminem CDs and snapped them each into two pieces. The plastic popped in my hand and fell into the trash. I haven’t listened to an entire Eminem song since. If I hear his snappy voice on the radio or while I’m flipping channels, I don’t stop to listen because Eminem was a gateway drug for me, and it made me angry and a liar and not the person I was meant to be.

Now here’s the important part. This post isn’t about giving up “bad music.” I’m not anti-rap or explicit CDs. I don’t just listen to wholesome Christian pop. I’m not asking you to give up “bad” things because “it’s the right thing to do.” This is about figuring out the things that make you worse, the things that drug you into believing you’re something you’re not.

Maybe it’s the drink that used to be a nightcap and has turned into an addiction. Maybe it’s the relationships that have turned into a need for you to feel whole. Maybe it’s the gym or the calorie count on a box of cereal that has become an obsession about your body.

Music. A drink now and then. Relationships. Working out. None of those things are “bad,” but when a good thing turns destructive, it’s time to give it up. When it’s changing you for the worse, it’s time to let it go.

There are thousands of things in this world that tempt us into changing, but don’t buy into the drug. I was a skinny girl with ratty T-shirts and jeans, who spent most of my free time reading and writing short stories in a purple notebook. And that should have been enough, but I let some three and half minute songs tell me that I needed to be edgier and cooler.

Temptations tell the sweetest lies, and they’ll change you. That’s the brutal part. They’ll break you and snap you and tear at you until you’re not the same.

You are enough right now, and you are loved by a God that doesn’t want you to hide behind things that cut you down.  This isn’t a call to become holier or more “Christian” by giving up something. This is a call to get rid of the things that are killing you.

Because I will never forget that awful crushing feeling in my gut when I realized I’d changed, and today, I’m not going back.

 

Cover Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

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