Anxiety sometimes has the better of me

I am typically an individual who isn’t anxious. I go with the flow of life, but I am not defined by the current. But I’m prone to bouts of anxiety, heavy soul-crushing don’t-want-to-get-out-of-bed anxiety.
Because of how infrequently I suffer from anxiety, to a certain degree I have control over it rather than the anxiety having control over me. I do have my moments within the throes of it that I think thoughts of rather being in bed than whatever I’m doing at the time.

The thing is, my anxiety is very much in my head. Consequently I wrestle with it, argue with it, talk about it, and ultimately, I fight it. Yes there are some days where it gets the better of me, that the fictitious “what-if’s” are (at least then) seem insurmountable. This past month I’ve been under the thumb of my anxiety, and most of it stems to going back to school in the summer to get my Master’s degree.

I look forward to going back to school, I really do, but the shift of what the education system has become has made me intensely anxious. It’s not a shift that has happened in my time, but over the last few 100 years. Education, for most of the part, was about learning and passing on what was learned to those who couldn’t get a proper education. Nowadays so much of it seems to be about getting that 8×11 piece of paper as a means to convey:
1. I know more than the average person
2. I deserve to be paid more
3. I have value
4. I have additional debt
And granted I want to know more, paid more, have marketable value, have debt…well, maybe not the last part. I know I have to play this game, it’s the nature of the beast nowadays, but when my anxiety gets the better of me I only see this through the lenses of cynicism and skepticism.

But with a breath of fresh air, a lengthy talk with my roommate, a lengthier talk with God, I am not bedridden with my anxiety. Every time I am out of the fog and funk of anxiety, I have more of a sense to my purpose and calling in life. I have a broader sense of I am taking a path that will be frustrating as hell, but even more rewarding. The good outweighs the bad, I smile more often, I am able to see good in myself and others, I see God in others, I realize this is not the end of everything I hold dear.

As I’m prone to offer up a quote in opportune moments, the one that sticks to me is actually found in the Bible. Deuteronomy 31:6 says this; “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (emphasis mine.)
I know I am not going at this alone. I know I am made for better things and getting there takes work and patience. Anxiety is a hell of a stumbling block, but it can be worked through provided I put in the work, provided I let go of the notion that I can resolve it on my own. I need people, I need community in my life to go about and get through this life.

So here on the edge of January ending, I move onward and upward.

Nathanael 1, Anxiety 0.

2015 was a good year

I think the highlight of my year is that I have started the preliminary work required  is that I’m going back to school next year to get my Master’s degree.

This is exciting, and I am thankful to God for having a roomie who has been the impetus to me finally moving in this direction. You see, what I want to do in life requires a few more 8 x 11 pieces of paper to signify that: 1. I can be paid more 2. I know more 3. I can handle more 4. I have the qualifications to counsel others. This is how it’s done and so I shall as well.

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Another highlight to my year was another year spent counter-protesting the protesters at Chicago Pride, heck I ran into Jesus :-)

I am proud to be an ally, and I’m proud of the progress made in our country when it comes to marriage equality. There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done, but I know God will meet me where I am at.

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Another highlight of my year was spending time with my family and rekindling some relationships with certain family members. While I am taking a break from some of my family members, I am more than confident that I’m getting to where I need to be to engage them healthily and holistically.

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Another highlight of my year was crossing the 1 year mark with my company. I love what I do, and yes some weeks the 40 I put in feels like 80, but I take it all in stride and make the most of it. Change is gradual, and sometimes it seems non-existent, but I keep striving and pushing to make things better for my students.

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I am looking forward to 2016, it will be the best one yet! :-)

~Nathanael~

Christmas Holidazed and Confused

As we near Christmas, I realize more and more that I dislike the holiday. Now Advent Sundays, the weeks leading up to Christmas are some of my favorite weeks within the church calendar, but I have a certain disdain for Christmas.

A part of me dwells on Christmases past; some years were good, spent with individuals who weren’t part of my immediate family, and some years it was lonely and depressing, Christmas spirit was extinct in those years. There’s also the part of me that dwells on Christmas present, and while I am content with my life I still want more out of it (why I’m going back to school among other things).

I can’t pinpoint it on these alone, there’s the part of me that abhors the commercialism of it all. Now don’t get me wrong, I love giving gifts (more than receiving them) and watching the “wow” in their eyes, but when the reasons for the Christmas holiday are misaligned, I’m prone to seethe a bit.
When it comes to gifts and receiving, I might / probably come across as ungrateful, but at this time in my life I would much rather the money used to purchase things for me go to a charity or organization of my choosing rather than some new bauble to entertain me for a short while.


I do what I can not to dwell on the haves and have-nots in my life, and when it comes to Christmas it isn’t any different. I am still pushing forward to make a better life for myself, hoping and desiring and working for Christmases to come when I’m not so dazed and confused by it all, rather I choose (because everything that is comes from choice) to transcend the bullshit and learn to accept Christmases in stride. Taking it all in and eating the meat and spitting out the bones.

This Christmas will be a meaningful one after all! :-)

Onward and upward,
Nathanael

In the land of the blind…

An acquaintance of mine wanted to offer up his 2 cents about what happened in Paris on Friday, so I offered up my blog as a means to convey what he wanted to say…

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In the land of the blind, would they truly follow the “One-Eyed King?” Or would they embrace the comfortable existence they have grown accustomed to in their darkness?  What is sight to them if they are blind? Who can blame them should they refuse to trust that this King sees something beyond their understanding?

I suppose this would be the true test of faith. For if they do not reach deep inside themselves and find the courage to jump into the unknown, they will allow the One Eyed King to travel off into far and distant lands without them.
Though they know he can provide new pastures and opportunity should they go with him, they are unwilling to risk escaping what they have worked so long to build: a bland and tasteless life of stirring in emptiness.

Morning Meditation 11.15.15

Morning meditation 11.15.15

Islamophobia and bigotry towards Muslims is unChristlike. To accuse Muslims as the ones responsible for the attacks on Paris on Friday is ignorant and operating out of fear. What happened was under the guise of Islam and Muslims, but it’s a farce.

Do not give in to the notion that you are to retaliate, to get your “just desserts” by personifying the evil committed because your appetite will never be sated, take the violence out of circulation within your heart, and let that ripple effect move outward.

Take time to engage in dialogue and conversation with Muslims in your community. For in doing so you will grasp how much there is in common, how much overlap in our humanity and how we treat others.

If we take what Jesus said seriously, take time to dwell on this verse found in John 13:34 – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

Let love win within our hearts and flow outward onto our Muslim brothers and sisters who have been misaligned as the ones responsible for the attack on Paris.

~Nathanael~

Don’t let fear and ignorance win!

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In times of great evil my advice is simple; don’t let fear and ignorance win. With the horrific event that happened less than 24 hours ago in Paris, we need to realize that it wasn’t our Muslim brothers and sisters who were behind the attacks, and yet that might be the lie we tell others and one we ourselves might buy into.

How sad that Islamophobia and other religion-based phobia are very prevalent in our world today. To give weight, to have convoluted thoughts and lack sound judgment and rationality and go on and accuse Muslims (or any other religious people group) of doing something in the name of their God because supposedly that’s what s/he demands.

As a follower of Christ, I know that Christianity’s history is at times patchy, dark, and reeks of evil. From having a hand in modern Palestine and Israel to The Crusades, but just because something was done in the name of God does not mean in the SLIGHTEST that it was God and that religion, only the guise of God and religion.

I stand in solidarity with my Muslim brothers and sisters because I realize that what happened does not reflect true Islam and faithful Muslims across the world. I also stand with them because that is what Jesus would do and it is my desire to be Christ-like in my words and also my actions.

~Nathanael~

If there’s a heaven; Of unanswered questions, my grandfather, and Adolf Hitler

Earlier today as a personal exercise I examined myself from the inside as to what I’d like to do if Heaven exists. I realized as I was writing it that I slightly presented hell but not one of eternal conscious torment, but one where the fires lap at our human imperfections like dross from gold; a removal, an extraction of what isn’t good until we’re able to be reconnected with ourselves, with others, and also unto God.
With that being said, here goes something…

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If Heaven does in fact exist, and if I am allowed to partake and enjoy it with God and all of humanity I want to do the following 3 things:

1) Find my maternal grandfather and catch up with him for an eon or so.
At this point in my life he is the number one person I miss the most of those who have passed away. He passed away when I was younger and I miss him a lot; I miss his stories, his humor, the weird twitching of his bicep when he’d flex, and so on. I do honor him now when it comes to All Saints Day and also when I meditate on the “cloud of witnesses” of saints who have gone before during my time of prayer. I hope that I am able to do this when I myself have passed away.

2) Present to God all the why questions I have.
I don’t know if I will have inner peace or satisfaction in asking all my why questions, but I’m going to give it my best shot. I realize that if given the opportunity it will take some time, but as the musician Chris Rice aptly put it; “it’s a good thing forever’s forever.” Yet maybe even still all I might receive is a hug and a resounding but comforting “I know…I know…I know” and that will be it. If it happens to be the latter, I am hoping that will be enough for my wearied mind.

3) If Adolf Hitler is already there, I want to forgive him.
If Hitler is already in Heaven, if he has already been removed of the dross that separates him from himself, humanity, and God, and provided I am dross-free as well I want to let him know that I forgive him. If, as Alexander Pope put it, “to err is human, to forgive divine” then I want to do that because I want to aid in reconnecting Hitler with his humanity and his Imago Dei-ness if at all possible. I realize the reason behind this is that I believe within every cell of my BEing that no one is able to fully resist the love of God forever because the very essence of God is love. It might take years or eons to “get it” and accept it, but love will win eventually. May the dross that separates us from ourselves, each other, and our creator be quickly stripped away!

Onward, Inward, and Upward!
~Nathanael~