Spiral Dynamics Blues (and Yellow and Green and Orange and Red and Purple and Beige)

I don’t buy into Spiral Dynamics completely, but it has helped me see the world in a different way, a way that makes sense as to how people think, act, and interact with one another…

With that being said, here goes something.

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I am on eHarmony, I mentioned this in my previous post, and things are going swimmingly with connecting with women, finding out about them and their interests and their passions, but then I propose my 3 questions in the dig deeper portion of the guided conversation set up by eHarmony.
I will be gracious in this, I am coming in contact with a lot of women who haven’t given much thought to my questions in an abstract way. Sure some responses I have received pertaining to the LGBTQ Community and God, Heaven, The Devil, Hell are very concrete in nature, but I have grace for them because I once was there as well.

It’s not that my life’s journey is somehow or somewhere better than theirs, I’m just coming from a looking back in hindsight perspective.

Still, I carry on. My roommate thinks I rush into these questions too quickly, that I should ease up a bit before going for the jugular heart of the matter. Maybe I do ask these questions too soon, but frankly I would rather know the answers to these questions, whether in concrete terms or even abstract ones, now then cultivate a possible relationship with someone only to ask these questions at a later time to only, well let’s be frank, cause a rift in our relationship.
I rather take my chances and put my cards face up on the table.

This hasn’t been too hard or too easy, I still feel like I’m baring my soul when I ask these questions to the women I engage with on eHarmony every single time, and I have to sit beside myself after I put myself out there because I don’t like feeling vulnerable; whether that’s something I do to myself or being put in a position of vulnerability.

But life and its wonders and its magical moments, I’m making headway! I know that when it comes to my questions I am not alone, and yet (and this is where the Spiral Dynamics part kicks in) I feel so alone sometimes / a lot of the time because of these things that are of utmost importance to me. I might seem very black and white about these issues, but I think know I want to connect with someone, someone I can evolve with and love, and having someone who’s more of the green yellow turquoise variant will make things easier for us as individuals as well as a couple.

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Yet I realize there are issues that arise from Spiral Dynamics, it’s formulaic and life doesn’t always go by the rules, this categorizes people, creates/fosters paradigms of people…but still, there is something to how people attract similar minded and hearted people, and I realize in my life that there are people I gravitate to and people who gravitate to me simply because of our commonalities.

Which is why I still press on, why I still ask questions that make or break, still waiver a bit before hitting send but I hit it anyway. I want to believe it will pay off, whether here in eHarmonyland or offline!

Onward and upward,
Nathanael

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Grace will set you free (if you’ll allow her)

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Grace is a beautiful thing for both the giver and the receiver, it turns the law on its head, it makes life healthier, it makes engagement with others easier, it helps to see both the human and divine in others…but grace, grace will set you free if you only allow her to.

The thing is, grace doesn’t ask for a lot, in fact it gives of itself without expecting anything in return. This can be frustrating at times for those who don’t comprehend it because so often of the time we want someone to get what’s coming to them, we want someone to experience retribution- by our hands or others.
Yet grace frees us from that, it frees us from wanting the worst in someone and it helps us to start to see the best in someone, which goes beyond human comprehension, but that is what makes grace so magical.

In my own life, I realize that grace has won me over and continues to do so. It is God working through me working with grace to help me realize my fragility, my need for being okay when it’s okay to not be okay. But it is also because of grace that I realize I have value and I don’t need to hang my head and think I am unlovable or undesirable.
As a result, I am able to extend similar if not the same grace unto others.
Grace has set me free because I allowed her to do so, won’t you let her do the same?

~Nathanael~

Entrusting God with my 30’s (and beyond)

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On Sunday I will be turning the big 3-0 and my knee-jerk, gut reaction towards my birthday is oh hell I am a year older.

I am not a fan of my birthday most of the time because I over-analyze and overthink it and I find myself doubting my self-worth and what I have done with my XX years of living. But, and maybe it’s senility taking over (I kid), I am coming to terms with surrender and entrusting God with the journey set before me in its rawest form; the journey of simply living and BEing.

I am going to be as optimist about it as I can be, but not the blind optimism that bares a fake smile that seems like the byproduct of a Botox injection gone awry, but the optimism that says God this is my life, this is my journey, help me to trust in you with my life now and forever. It’s not a revised “sinner’s prayer” but a prayer in the breath-as-a-prayer form, a breathing in…a breathing out, an entrusting for what I see in front of me and even for what I don’t see, as my vision is limited (interpret that as you will).

So with that in mind, I embrace my life as being 1 year older, first year of my 30s, wonderful years I have yet to experience but God is here and God is near in the midst of my good times and even in times where I utter a fuck this shit under my breath or out loud. God sustains me and provides, and so I trust and turn towards open-handed faith instead of clenched-fist belief, opening of myself in a posture of surrender and human feebleness.
I know I will be met on this journey, and even if I don’t see much in front of me, I am okay with that I really am. So here’s to the journey called life, here’s the journey called my 30s.

Pax perfecta est in terram,
Nathanael

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P.S. In lieu of a birthday present, would you mind consider donating to The Marin Foundation. I believe in their ministry and their continual effort in building bridges. Thank you very much for considering doing this, I appreciate it and I know they will as well.

My personal rules of engagement

Earlier today one of my former youth ministry students informed me that he will be visiting a Hindu temple in my area, he asked my insight since I visit different places of worship every now and then. He asked me my insight and I gave it to him, I asked his permission to repost what I sent him and here it is.

1) Take time to listen – it might be obvious, but I truly believe it needs to be done.

2) Look for common ground – I think too often followers of Christ (I speak as one of them) are under the impression that people of different belief systems are 180 degrees from Christianity. Yet as you listen to their stories, you’ll hear how they want to do unto others, they want to feed the poor, they want to honor God, etc. As followers of Christ as we listen, we can find out that we have so much many more commonalities than differences!

3) Dialogue over debate – If you think about how debate works it’s about 2 sides coming up with the most compelling argument so as to defeat the other, the one who has the better argument “wins” and the other person “loses”. In life going by that model will only take you so far, and it will actually be the grounds of alienation between yourself and others. When you dialogue with others, regardless of where you’re at and wherever they’re at, it allows room to talk despite the differences that are present. Dialogue isn’t about about “winning” it’s about communicating, it’s about expressing yourself and allowing others to express themselves as well. It is better to make peace than be “right”.

4) The norms of other belief systems are their own norms – When you think about the Hindu belief system, one thing that you’ll get pretty quickly is their polytheistic belief system. As followers of Christ we might perceive that as wrong, but is it “wrong” or is it fact their norm? It’s what they perceive as normal, so who’s to tell them otherwise? Instead of going with the models of missionaries and colonists in the past of having a particular group of people go with their self-imposed norms, why not engage people where they’re at. Surely, God is big enough to work within the framework of a polytheistic society. Be with people; true incarnational ministry isn’t about bringing in your model of thoughts and ideas and discarding what their norms are will not go over well, let God lead you and guide you, don’t leave your faith at the door, but sometimes you need to step back from Christianity in order to move forward with God and those you’re interacting with.

5) Engagement over judgment – Avoidance is sometimes a problem for followers of Christ; instead of engaging the people around them, they choose to come up with assumptions and sometimes hurtful statements without actually getting to know that group of people. Walking a mile in someone shoes, getting to know them on their terms and in their territory needs to be done. Too often I see followers of Christ who sit on their haunches and wait around with the air of “well when you get your act together, we’ll help you out then”, but as I read the parable Jesus told of a Prodigal Son, it is the father who sees his son off in the distance and runs to him and embraces him. The son’s the one who screwed up royally, in fact he was going back to the father to simply see if there was an opportunity for him to become one of the servants, he didn’t come back with the expectation of being taken back in as the son, of being in good standings with the father, he was expecting to be treated as the lowest. Yet the father takes him back, takes him in as he is and not as how he should be, and if we as followers of Christ can emulate that behavior, our witness will go a lot further in a positive way.

6) Love wins – 1 Corinthians 13, while so often deemed The Wedding Chapter because it’s used as such, should really be a checklist for followers of Christ. By going by what Jesus said as recorded in John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” We are called to be his witnesses, not the jury or the judge, because God alone knows our thoughts and our hearts. We at the very core of our beings should live out that love to everyone, not just among those who get along with us, but to EVERYONE! It takes time, it is very difficult, but we are instructed by Jesus to do so.

7) It begins with God and it ends with God – I believe in a God who is so big that he will meet us where we are. I am not saying that all roads lead to God, because I believe we have to go through Jesus to get to God, but within that framework I don’t believe it’s tied down to Christianity exclusively. We as followers of Christ do not bring anyone to God, God alone brings people to God, and it is our freewill to accept or not. But when does the average person run out of chances of making that choice? I honestly don’t know, some people might speculate and say the obvious answer is that someone dies, then and there is the “last time”, but again, we don’t know from this side of eternity if death is indeed the final call, that is God’s business not ours. Should we share what we have faith in with others? Absolutely, we’re called to be disciples and disciple others, but again it begins with God and ends with God. When it comes down to it, God doesn’t need us to help him out, but he invites us to! Ministry shouldn’t be so much wrapped up in the person who’s leading it, it should be about what God is doing through the ministry, and sometimes that means stepping out of the way and letting God do what he’s going to do. That might be a hard pill to swallow, but I’ve been learning in youth ministry, that sometimes that is the place I need to be.

Lastly I say this; when you choose to interact with people who might not be coming from your viewpoint, don’t go at it with “Christian eyes” but with the eyes of God, with the ears of God, and with the heart of God. If you don’t have love, what good are you? I don’t say that accusing you of something you’re doing, but keep your reasons in check, if it’s not out of love, then you will only go as far as a mere human being can go…but if you go with the love of God, you will go a lot further than you imagined, it might frighten you because at times that can lead to unexplored territory at times, but it needs to be done, following the tracks of what “everyone” else is doing will leave you with the same results. Choose to be a leader so that others too can learn from your example and blaze an unmarked path of their own, to God be the glory in all things!

~Nathanael~

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