I don’t know why someone got paid to write a book on this. I’ve been doing it for months and no one has offered me a dime for my thoughts. On Fridays I usually write. And I usually do this on the other six days of the week too. I eat three meals, sometimes four. Also a weekly thing for me. I see friends, but I never limit that to just Fridays either. And if I’m feeling a little rambunctious, I like catching new release movies with Lauren Lankford in the afternoon to get the bargain matinee price and avoid the lines.
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?
Truth. What is truth? Truth is the original.
“I am the Lord, your God.” EXODUS 16:11-13
“Behold, I make all things new.”REVELATION 21:5
Truth is love.
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.
There was once a time that I considered myself a true gentleman. Not only that, but I thought I was a pretty darn good Christian too. (Even though I’ve been saved three different times. The third time was the charm – I think is what they say – but I haven’t found it anywhere in the Bible yet.) I went to church, and I thought Jesus was a pretty stand-up guy. I knew how to hold the door open for a lady, when to tell her she was beautiful, and when to spend an evening cuddling instead of seeing Die Hard 4.
But something wasn’t right. Women weren’t responding to my chivalry and respect, or my new-found belief system. In fact, they even got a little offended if we’d been seeing each other for a few months and “…you haven’t even tried to grab my ass, not once,” as one woman so delicately put it.
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.
Whenever I am walking along a crowded city street, pushing my way through shoulders on packed sidewalks, I often daydream about where people are headed. Are they late for a business meeting, or having drinks with friends? Does she have a blind date? Is he going home to an empty apartment? Are they headed into work, or is the day finally over? I often overhear ecstatic conversations about all the parties that night. I see people dressed in their Sunday’s best and their Saturday’s sexiest skirts. If it’s a Friday, the city blocks vibrate with the excitement of the weekend.
And I think to myself, “What would this look like right now if every one of these individuals had just quit everything and started following Jesus?”
It would be a celebration. There would be music. Dancing. And hugging. Lots and lots of hugging. Laughter. You would know everyone and actually like them all too. You’d have all these inside jokes with them, and enough energy to last you all weekend.
Sometimes I wonder if that’s what heaven will be like. It’s always the weekend there.
And sometimes I wonder if that’s what God originally intended Earth to be like before that whole incident with the snake and the apple and Eve. (And in Adam’s defense, what man has ever thought clearly about anything with a naked woman in his direct line of sight?)
I’ve got this idea where if I could be anyone, I would be John McClane or Indiana Jones. But I don’t have a fedora or a whip…or muscles for that matter. Just the fingers of a Jazz pianist from all this typing.
I’m only a writer. But I spend my days imagining car crashes, mysterious assassins, natural disasters, damsels in distress, flesh-eating zombies, and me: an unwilling, average man, thrust into the role of a hero. All the elements are there. A near perfect story full of action, suspense, romance, and a zombie apocalypse. I wonder how I would handle it all, and if I could even handle it at all.
My arsenal consists only of John McClane’s sarcasm, and only a third of the witty one-liners of Dr. Jones. These are the weapons most often bestowed upon writers. But sarcasm never killed any Nazis.
Why do I find myself daydreaming about these characters and scenes, putting myself in their shoes? Is it because my life isn’t exciting enough? Am I not living a good enough story?
Are you happy with the story you’ve been given?
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.
I am sitting outside Cafe Helios in Raleigh, NC, having just finished reading an essay by Ricky Gervais published in the Wall Street Journal about why he–an Atheist–is a better Christian than most Christians. He follows all the rules in the Christian rulebook. (I am not sure what he’s referring to there. I must have skipped the class where they passed out this syllabus full of rules when I became a Christian. #justanotherheathen)
A few tables over from me sits a young man lounging back and smoking Clove cigarettes, slurping down copious amounts of coffee. What appears to be an anthology of C.S. Lewis’s greatest hits sits a top the table, and in his lap: the Bible, which he studies intently. Me, I get up and walk over to this guy’s table. I introduce myself. We shake hands. His name is Paul. I ask him without any prelude, “If you could change anything about the current state of Christianity, what would you change?”