I remember the moment I believed I’d finally become a mature, God-honoring Christian. I was in a multi-million dollar, cushioned-seat, air-conditioned sanctuary, where the pastor had just invited another member of his leadership team to the stage to give a ten minute sermon about tithing before the actual sermon began. It was right after the rock band performance (they were excellent, by the way) where the worship leader said in the middle of his power ballad cover of a David Crowder song, “Close your eyes and put your hands in the air. It’s just you and God here,” even though his face was plastered in true 1080 high definition on two 15 foot screens hanging above the platform. “God?” I asked, looking up at him. “I can see your pores.”
I have recently and rather unintentionally fallen into a sabbatical regarding writing about my life and my faith in intelligent design, immaculate conception, Bigfoot, and his Arctic cousin Sasquatch. Please don’t be alarmed. This is not a cry for help. I am not depressed. My faith is not in crisis. However, my ability to write about it currently is. I am unable to produce the voice you are looking for without sounding tired and worn out. Even writing fiction, which I hold dearest to my heart, makes me queasy and sea sick upon this unsinkable Titanic that is the Internet. So I wouldn’t read this if I were you.
I’ve considered this the adventure of a lifetime, a road sign along the way to the truth, the art of losing myself.
I never meant it to be the answer, just a great place to start looking.
Because I don’t know what you have been through.
And I don’t know where you’re going.
But I know sometimes faith can be a rope that hurts to hold. And I want to tell you, “Don’t let go.”
I am sick of leaving Los Angeles.
Three days ago I walked through the front door of an apartment, standing in an empty living room attached to a lease in my name after being homeless for 13 months.
I’ve slept in over 50 different beds, air mattresses, and sofas since November 2010. Last night I slept on the floor of an apartment in Hollywood that belongs to me.
I’ve used over 72 different showers, sinks, and bathrooms over the course of a year. Yesterday I painted my own bathroom and even purchased a set of towels.
Everything I own has been uncomfortably crammed into the close quarters of a duffel bag, and for the first time in 13 months I hung my clothes in a closet.
My wife steps out from the shower and finds me in the other room doing sit-ups; an episode of The Office is playing on my computer propped up on the couch in front of me. I’ve got socks pulled up to my knees. She stands in the doorway, her hair still wet around the shoulders. The shirt she’s wearing belongs to me. I stop at the designated “sit” part of my exercise. She appears to be in shock. In all the time we have spent together, she has never seen me exert strenuous physical motion intended to improve my physic.
“What are YOU doing?” She points an accusatory finger at me like I’ve been caught staring too long at a Victoria’s Secret commercial.
I was getting married in six hours, standing in the middle of the “family planning” aisle of the grocery store.
I thumbed my finger where a ring would soon be. “Has the selection always been this vast?” I turned to my friend Clint. He’d flown in from California, and was wearing orange pants.
“I think there’s been some developments since the last time we had sex,” he answered. “How do you even use this? It doesn’t seem pleasurable.”
142 days ago I hit the road. I was homeless. I was an orphan. I left Los Angeles in search of faith in America. In search of God in the streets instead of the church on a Sunday morning.
“Why do you think we are reluctant to fear God?” Dave asked two weeks before I was scheduled to leave. I sat back in my chair, a room full of young faces engaged in a Bible study looking back and forth at each other for the answer.
I responded. “I’m reluctant to fear God because I do not know God.” This was not so much a statement as it was a world-wrecking fact. Suddenly it was all so clear. Oh shit. Maybe I’m no going to Heaven after all…I grew up in the church. I’ve been saved three times. I serve at my local church. I give money to the homeless when I have a spare dollar. I attend Bible studies. I lift my hands in the air during worship. How do I not know God?
I wasn’t going to write anything today.
I did not want to write about how two weeks ago I didn’t write anything because I had a full-blown mental breakdown from reality. Or maybe it was a full on collision with reality. I don’t know which is worse.
So I won’t write about how I just want to get home. Wherever that is. How I am tired of living on the road. And how I desperately just want to wake up to four walls that belong to me. That I worked hard to get. I just want to be able to walk into the kitchen without pants.
Exactly one year ago from this very blog post, I put a couple of intimate thoughts and truths down on the Internet, pressed publish, and told everyone to Consider This Your New Pornography.
I never wanted to be a blogger. Blogging was for suckers. I viewed the world of blogging as a complete cop out and an early, pathetic grave for any writer. Respected writers live off the grid getting paper cuts from all the rejection letters they have floating around. In fact, I was so cool I wasn’t even on Facebook or Twitter, and I’d never even heard of Gmail until June of 2010.
13 months ago I quit my job managing a Starbucks in Beverly Hills. I talked my way into the position six months prior with about as much experience in management as an Art School dropout. Which is precisely what I am. The only thing I ever scheduled were the hours I needed to be sober. But I walked into that interview confident and desperate for money. You’d be surprised at how far looking good in a tie and a firm handshake can take you in the corporate world.
Consider this journey the art of losing myself.
I didn’t like the man I often saw in the mirror before I hit the road. Not what was on the outside–though, I am unhappy with my hair all too often–rather, what I could see lurking just underneath. Just out of reach.
I hated the ways I found satisfaction in this world. I hated the way I needed pornography to feel loved, and I hated that I made promises I couldn’t keep. I was never a man of my word, and I was a coward.
But I was desperately in love with God, uncertain though, if He loved me back. He must have had enough of me and my ways. In the book of Hebrews God clearly states, “Vengeance is mine, and I won’t overlook a thing.”
That is a God who deserves to be feared. He doesn’t need me. I am the worst sinner of them all.