Thank God for Atheists in my life

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While it might seem like a funny phrasing, or a malicious/bad taste plan-on-words, I am sincere in my statement:

Thank God for the Atheists in my life.

One is a person I only know via Facebook, she is one of the most endearing, kind, open, loving, supportive and active listening people I know! We have invested in life together, sharing of what’s going on, the good and the bad, and everything in between.  She does a good job at active listening which I appreciate. She dives deep into what going on in my life, and she is sincere.
When I think about my friendship with her I think what makes it work so well is our transparency with one another, and in addition to that she has a good knack of knowing when to speak and when to listen.

The other individual is someone I used to work with, a guy is amazing at his job and meeting individuals who have mental illnesses where they are on their terms. I am proud of him and how well he does his job which is sometimes very thankless. Apart from being a good worker, he is articulate, thoughtful, and very caring. He recently joined me to and from our mutual friend’s wedding and it was great to converse with him, but more so to the point, share life in community with him.

***

So why do I say all this about my friends who are Atheists? Because I have removed myself from the framework that says I will listen to good counsel solely from Christians; I am no longer a fan of the tribalism that Christians produce, the us vs. them paradigm; I consider myself a follower of Christ but I will take good counsel from those who are outside of my faith and beliefs.

Even still as I examine my own faith and beliefs I realize they aren’t what they were 10 years ago, or even 5, or even 1 for that matter. I think God has been leading me to be more intentional with my life, in the way I spend it as well as the way I invest it, and as a result I figuratively as well as literally choose to prepare an open table for all whom I come into contact with. My friends who are Atheists have never been legalistic or dogmatic about their views, nor have they have never come across as rude and aggressive. Take note Christians, that you can love God and love others holistically as well as faithfully by simply doing good to others and this can be pointed back to God. As St. Francis of Assisi said; “preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”

It’s good to know people in life, in community, who are doing what they can to make the world a better place. It might not look like how I do it, but if it betters humanity holistically I for one will not be bothered in what’s being done regardless of what a person believes or doesn’t.

~Nathanael~

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I see resurrection all around me

Disclaimer; I am exhausted but want to convey resurrection in my writing. I admit that my writing today isn’t fluid, but I still want to write so please forgive me for any standard I’ve set up in my writing when this piece kinda flies in the face of better-ish writing. If you benefit from it, well, I guess I did something right. 🙂

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Resurrection. Life coming forward out of death.  I’ve seen a lot of it as of late; in tattooists making something beautiful out of a regretted tattoo, of the sacrifice of selves and transition into mutual submission in the context of marriage, and so many other examples.

And it overwhelms me to the point of tears. It shatters me to my core and instills in me a sense of where I am and where I am going and what I honestly and earnestly want for myself, and yet how all too often I get in the way of myself. Time and time again in my prayers and in my meditating I ponder and question in silence as well as out loud, “how long O Lord”. I won’t get into details here why that’s on my mind and heart, but it does in fact have to do with resurrection of self.

I am happy to be a part of life, I’m still an ambivert (between extrovert and introvert) by nature but still I enjoy the duality of being empowered by being around others as much as I do when I am by myself. I find that when it comes to my outlook on life, I am more of an optimist than I’ve ever been in my entire life. The cup is half full and it is constantly getting filled.

***

My bro and friend got married the other day, it was a joyous occasion and I enjoyed the vows, and from my perspective as a groomsman I saw from the side the love in his now wife’s eyes for him. Having worked with him and been in his life for a while I know some of his story, and there was just so much resurrection. I kept my shit together but I admit I was on the verge of crying (I am okay with displaying my emotions, even tears of joy). Resurrection…sweet sweet resurrection, and in many ways it will be a constant in my life; in the viewing, in the partaking, in the giving, and in the receiving. It knocks me hard and deep, and slips me off my feet…and I am okay with that. I am okay with countless innumerable times I have “died” and “risen” in issues in my life, in problems, it ethical/moral/spiritual issues. Some times I have laid dormant for longer than others, but God has seen me through it all and God will continue to do so every time resurrection needs to take place in my life.
I have hope even when I am hopeless, I have to some degree strength in times when I am weak, I have power in my powerlessness, I love even when I do not feel any love myself.

Thanks be to God for resurrection time and time again. In seeing it firsthand, but also experiencing it as well.

I have seen, and I believe.

~Nathanael~

Today I am an obstacle to myself

Today I have come to a wall in my job hunting and even to a large extent my life, and that wall is myself. I am an over-analyzer, an over-thinker, and these attributes aren’t necessarily a bad thing and yet I have spent way to much fucking time dwelling on my last job and my role there. I had identity in what I did. I loved what I did. I realize that the trappings that people get bound up in when it comes to “work” weren’t issues for me and it wasn’t work per se to me, but finding ways to make the lives of others better to the best of my ability on their own terms.
But that chapter is closed, and I am somewhere between bargaining and depression when it comes to the 5 stages of loss and grief. It’s an odd thing, this up and down feeling, it exists/persists/insists one day and the next day I have the drive to give it my all when it comes to looking for work. I have looked for work today, but I admit it has been half-assed as I’m caught up in thinking about what was and is no more.

Hope is there, I get it and see it as a twinkling in the distance, that someday..hopefully soon (provided I get my ass into gear) I will be able to continue on in this line of work, as I know this is where my aptitude for work lies. Yes I will look for other types of work if it comes to it, but I know myself well, I know most of my strengths and weaknesses, and some jobs I’m not cut out for simply because of what I know about myself.

Writing has and always been a source of comfort for me. I wrote in journals when I was younger and still do time-to-time, but I also don’t mind exposing myself in writing here. It does seem that I have solace in what I have to write, and perhaps ripple effects of me-too’s will come from putting my thoughts out here…time will reveal all things, not just some things.

***

As much as I don’t read the Bible on a regular basis, I am reminded of Psalm 40, in particular the first 3 verses:
I waited and waited and waited for God.
    At last he looked; finally he listened.
He lifted me out of the ditch,
    pulled me from deep mud.
He stood me up on a solid rock
    to make sure I wouldn’t slip.
He taught me how to sing the latest God-song,
    a praise-song to our God.
More and more people are seeing this:
    they enter the mystery,
    abandoning themselves to God.
(The Message)

I know I am not the audience David wrote to, but regardless I resonate with this, me too David…me too. I hurt, I ache, I “waited and waited and waited for God”; that longing, that suffering, that’s where I am now and yet I say God be praised in my suffering not despite of. Yes I will weep and wail in my own way, I will probably be an obstacle to myself yet again some other day, but God is with me in my own ditch, my own deep mud circumstances. Some days I will take hope in these words and other days I will tell David to leave me the hell alone, but through all these things I realize down to my cellular level that God is here and he loves me and he is guiding me through all this.

Somehow, someway, onward and upward!
~Nathanael~

A new beginning of sorts

As of last week I was terminated from my job of over 2 years. This is where I will start and finish about my old job…

But here, is where I start again, start anew in figuring out where to go to from here.

When it comes down to it, I know what I want to do with my work life; I want to work with individuals who have different types of mental illnesses, working with them on their terms as well as any IP’s they may have. I’ve fallen in love with what my last job entailed, and certainly the individuals I worked for, I have love for them as well. Unfortunately the reality that is at hand is that Illinois, when it comes to funding Social Services (both in those who work my last job and supporting those who need that help) ranks near the bottom; 48 out of 51 for the last two years. If that wasn’t enough of an impetus there’s also the fact that Illinois is an expensive state to live in, and so my thoughts…as well as time looking for work…has brought me back to seeing what’s available in Tennessee, Memphis in particular.

I know what I am capable when it comes to work, I know a good deal of my strengths as well as my weaknesses, and I plan on using this time to be productive in finding more of the same as to what I’ve been doing work-wise over the last 2 years. I will be honest, I am excited and frightened, hopeful and scared, as I know what it takes to do a good job but the nature of building a professional relationship with anyone takes time and I have “new-guy-on-the-job” syndrome with every job I’ve taken. I guess it serves me well in being cautious and deliberate, but my ambivert nature gets perceived as being an introvert, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

So maybe my bro Carlos was right in this being a blessing in disguise. Maybe I was there for a season to go on and find something better for myself, time will tell but I am full of hope and ambition.

Onward and upward!
~Nathanael~