The One That’s Pretty Shitty

Disclaimer: This post contains language that some readers might find offensive. The word choice has been made for the sake of making an argument. Ye be warned. 

Some friends and I got together last weekend for some pizza and board games. We’ve all been friends since middle school, so it’s safe to assume that we’ve grown up together and experienced so much together.

We’ve seen each other through the horrible middle school haircuts. We’ve seen each other hurt. We’ve seen each other cry. We’ve seen some of us have children of our own. We’ve seen each other through breakups and makeups. Through the years, we’ve created a safe environment between us in which it’s okay to be you, and even then it’s okay to suck at it sometimes.

In our conversation, one of my friends said something that had me thinking on it for a good week.

“Jonathan, you just really seem to have your life together.”

I raise the bullshit flag on that one.

Maybe on the surface I may seem like I have it all together, but, you know what? I’m nearly 21 years old and I’ve never balanced a checkbook. I’m nearly 21 years old and I STILL DON”T HAVE MY DRIVER’S LICENSE.

You know what else? It wasn’t until six very angry emails from the admin at Trinity that I finally declared my major. (That was after changing it four times.)

The blatant truth is that I struggle with lust, just like most men my age. The truth is that in my past, I’ve been a compulsive liar. The truth is that I use sarcasm for two reasons: to be funny, and to put people down so I don’t feel so inadequate.

To say that I’ve never struggled with porn would be a lie. The truth is that I constantly feel the need to top other people’s stories with my own. The truth is that I’ve compromised my convictions in the past in order to fit in.

It’s safe to say that I’ve dealt with abandonment issues. It’s safe to say that I sometimes have a hard time trusting people. The plain truth is that I’ve stepped on and over people in my past to get my way.

What is it about me that makes me so scared to be open and upfront about these things? Why do I constantly feel the need to paint the picture that I have everything together?

Because I’m ashamed.

Shame is a gross thing. It’s a poison. It travels from your brain through your veins and arteries to your heart and back again. Once infected, it’s an endless cycle of self-doubt, guilt, worry, fear…which lead to turning you into a manipulative jerk that puts people down to make you feel better about yourself.

But, you know what? Self-doubt, guilt, worry, fear, and manipulation are NOT Fruits of the Spirit.

You know what else? It’s okay to not have your shit together just yet. We’re working on it. I’m so thankful that God is a god of the process. I’m so thankful that He grabs me by the hand and is gracious enough to help me work through my issues.

When I say I’m scared, my Jesus tells me I’m brave. When I say I’m guilty, He calls me innocent. When I doubt myself, He assures me of my righteousness. When I worry, He holds my hand just a little tighter.

When we realize that becoming a Christian does not equal immediately having everything together, and that it’s okay to be transparent and open with each other about it, we begin to create a safe community in which nothing is hidden.

My goal for this post is for people to know that it’s okay to not have your shit together. I hope my being open with you will help you realize that being honest with yourself and people you can trust is just one step you can take to being free from shame.

I am on the leadership team at Living Word Church in San Antonio, Texas. The view expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views or vision statement of Living Word Church.


The One About Labels

I’ve always thought the hardest and most awkward aspect about social media is the little blurb you have to write about yourself. These little blurb things are mostly on Instagram and Twitter. 

I never know what to write in those things. I hate talking about myself, and I most definitely hate labeling myself. I could say stuff like: Keyboardist, songwriter, worship pastor, photographer, Christian, etc.

The truth is that all of those adjectives and many others have all been in my “about me” section at one time or another, and if you’re anything like me, it’s never easy to figure out what should be in that ever-so-important box of info so other people know everything about you.

That little voice in my head spoke to me today. He said, “Why do you have so much trouble labeling yourself when it’s so easy for you to label others?”

I started thinking about all the people I label and stereotype just based on what I can see.

She likes Nacho Libre? – What horrible taste.

You’ve never heard of The Civil Wars? – Ignorant fool.

Is that guy really wearing Crocs to class? – You’re tacky and I hate you. 
They don’t like the Spurs? – What is wrong with these people?
You don’t believe in Jesus? – We have nothing in common.
I started thinking about how big of a jerk I am. I started thinking about how many friendships and relationships I’ve passed up because I create borders where there are none. 
It’s happened to me, too, I’m sure. I’ve met with people for the first time and the very first thing they ask me is my political leaning. 
“I’m too conservative for my liberal friends and I’m too liberal for my conservative friends,” I’ve learned to say.
They ask what denomination of Christianity I belong to and I say, “none.”
They ask how I feel about women being leaders in the church and a part of me feels sad as to why we’re still having this discussion about women in leadership to begin with.
I think about all the times people have wrongly labeled or misjudged something about my personality or my beliefs. I like to think that I’m more than the sum of my Instagram shots and my tweets.
I’m beginning to realize how much those labels have changed over the past ten years, and I wonder how much more they will change.
I’m sorry if I’ve labeled you. I’m sorry if I’ve never given you a chance because you don’t like Taylor Swift. I forgive you if you don’t like Star Wars. 
Let’s be friends.
*Disclaimer- This post reflects my personal opinions and thoughts. I am on the leadership team at Living Word Church in San Antonio, Texas, and this blog does not necessarily reflect the opinions or vision statement of Living Word.