It's always been difficult for me to connect with God during a worship service. I'm not sure why -- I am a musician after all, so you'd think it would be my first choice of meeting God. But for some reason it's rare that I really feel my spirit connect with God's during the musical part of a worship service.
This Christmas season, I found myself at St. Andrew's Church in Mt. Pleasant. I owe a lot to this church, having gone here often in high school and always coming away a better person, as well as being continually impressed with their community. It was actually on a St. Andrew's trip to Creation Festival that I made the public declaration of faith that changed my life. Sixteen years later, I still see the light of Jesus in this place.
Despite the tremendous quality of this church and its worship team, as I stood in the pew with good friends singing Christmas carols and worship songs, I still felt disconnected. We might as well have been singing Jingle Bells! In fact, they gave everyone a little bell to jingle on the way in, which was fun, but didn't help with the worship experience as far as I could tell. And so I started asking God why I've rarely been able to connect during these services; what was in the way?
And then something cool happened as the worship leader explained why we were all given the bells. It symbolized everything we needed to let go of in life (I don't remember why, to be honest...maybe because the jangy-clangy noise?), and so we were all to think of whatever it was that was blocking us from God and toss it in a basket at the altar in lieu of Communion.
Letting go has been a theme in my life for the past several years, and I'm sure it was no accident that this was the theme in that worship service where I felt I couldn't connect with God. The striving that has marked my life for about a decade now has slowly been eroding away as I learn to let go of career, finances and what it means to have a home. I still have so, so much to learn and even more to let go of, but that night I think I got some answers as to what is blocking me from knowing God better.
Maybe you have some of your own things to let go of. I don't have a digital jingle bell to send you, but consider writing whatever it is down and throwing away the piece of paper (or burning it on a Christmas candle, if you want to be dangerous!). Even the simple act of clenching your fists, imagining that detrimental thing and then opening them up can be a powerful reminder of what it means to hand all of that over to God, trusting Him more. Give it a try and let me know what happens in the comments! (Unless, of course, you start a fire. You're on your own then...)
How come pot pie never works? It takes forever to cook, despite being counted amongst the most prevalent of frozen entrees; and when it's "done," it's either still frozen in the center or so hot you can't eat it for another hour. I'm not sure why this is the case, but it seems to be a universal truth. And so, as I chomp on my piping hot Trader Joe's pot pie, I am wondering if there are any other parallels that this long-time American staple could relate to (I'm always eager to relate food to theology you know). The first thing that came to mind is a big idea on our purpose in life.
Have you ever done something that just doesn't work? Maybe a job or relationship that goes wrong at every turn. It's like wearing a shoe a half-size too small -- you could get by, but every step is uncomfortable and rubs against your little toe. Perhaps this experience is your pot pie in life. It will get you by, but something just isn't right.
So what do you do if you're in one of these circumstances? First, try patience. I cooked this pie in 12 minutes in a 700-watt microwave oven. I'm sure if I had elected for a 400-degree conventional oven, it would have tasted much, much better (and wouldn't have oozed out watery filling halfway through cooking), but it also would have taken about 5-times longer. If you are feeling off about your life, hold on! God may just have you where He wants you and so it's worth it to wait around and see what happens next.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
The second idea is to stop eating processed food and get yourself a new lunch. Yeah, sometimes you're late for work and just need to grab something quick as you head out the door (hence today's meal). But high-sodium, packaged foods are just not the best, no matter how many frozen peas fill the mysterious spaces within your entree. It would have probably been better to have woken up a little earlier and taken some extra time to make a nice proper lunch -- I didn't and now I'm burning my tongue. Likewise, it could be time for a new job, a cheaper car or more quiet spaces in your life. Whatever is off might be solved through a little time with God and/or some common sense.
As for me, I don't like to waste food or money, so I'm going to finish this pie and probably feel kind of sick afterwards. I'd say that puts me in that first category -- I'm not sure what God has for me right now, but I'm going to wait it out see what's next, finishing the pie I've been given. Hopefully there will be some proper homemade pot pies in my future, the sick feeling will be gone and it will be another year before I write another ridiculous blog post like this one...
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12)
It was a big day at Redondo Beach, which is rare. The waves were breaking hard and fast on the south side of the jetty, while smaller and a little more predictable on the north side. I paddled out south along with about ten other guys who were already out, or filtering in. You could catch rights or lefts here, depending on how close you were to the jetty. But it was a steep drop no matter what, and so I hung out in places where it looked like I could get a good corner.
Wipeouts abounded before I caught an amazing left. Big, long drop. I was flying - one of my fastest waves ever. My body was wound up perfectly to travel up the wave and do a big snap at the crest. Not that I'm great at doing snaps, but I've been learning. Unfortunately, on that day though, I enjoyed the drop and the speed so much that I didn't want to waste my ride on what would have likely been a failed snap. And so I absorbed the drop, tried to keep as much speed as I could, and rode it out. Unfortunately, this killed all my momentum and the wave caught up to me lickety split. Before I knew it, the wave was over.
So...it may be a little obvious what I learned that day -- no risk, no reward. I took the safe route in riding and it ended up being lame. I've replayed that wave in my mind a few times since then, and every time I would have tried to do the snap. It may have failed. I might have even gotten hurt. But the attempt would have been well worth it. Hindsight is 20/20 I guess...and a sick maneuver.
And so, as you navigate your own waves - or your life - don't be afraid to take the risk on a big drop. Keep that momentum going and go for the maneuver. Ask your boss for the raise. Get married. Move to another city. Sell everything and start a Christmas tree farm. Whatever it is you're contemplating, now just may be the time to act.
I love letting our two year-old pray, because it's mostly a bunch of jumbled words that don't make any sense, with an occasional "real" word; usually a family member, friend or Daniel Tiger. Tonight she was praying and it really sounded like she was saying, "Thank you God for when we go big." A girl after my own heart...
Go big or go home, as the saying goes. Or maybe, sometimes going big may just lead you home.
This was the first thing I heard from my wife this morning. She has been following this election and been quite involved, which I'm proud of her for doing. We're both in disbelief really, and as I got ready for work and exited into a world that seemed changed somehow, I wasn't sure what to expect. Would there be rebel-rousin' folks driving around celebrating by shooting guns into the sky? Or would riots fills the streets of disappointed Democrats, lighting cars on fire and drinking forties? But as I drove in normal traffic down the streets I travel every day, I found nothing unusual, and that feeling started to leave.
It seems drastic to have such an extreme man as our president, which leads to my drastic thoughts about what he may or may not do. Will immigrants be sent out forcefully? With The Wall actually be built? Will Muslims be put in concentration camps until they are deemed "safe" by the government? Extreme examples, but my mind goes there. But then there's the drive. The traffic. The normal routine. The reality of it is that things change slowly, and should any change actually happen, it will do so in increments. Or even not at all. That's the great thing about our government I guess -- checks and balances.
I write all this for myself as much as anyone who cares to read, to ease the worries that the world as we know it is not over because we the people gave one of the highest powers possible to a man who I, and many others (though not the majority, I guess), feel is extremely unqualified. It's scary in a way, handing over the keys to someone with business sense, but seemingly not much else to offer, politically speaking. Still, I take solace in two things. The first is that God is in control. That may sound cliche. But it's the truth. No leader is elected without God knowing it beforehand, so though I am surprised, He is not.
I listened to a great Judah Smith sermon on the way to work this morning that really put things into perspective. What may happen, should our worst fears become reality and the racism and bigotry that appears to be so rampant does seep its way into American culture, is that a large void will be left. Mercy, inclusion, empathy, generosity and unbiased justice will dissipate as hate sets in. But who better to fill that crucial void than Christians, people who claim to follow the ultimate Includer? If our leader claims that all Muslims are terrorists, then we need to be there to love the ones that aren't. When families are ripped apart because of immigration laws, we need to step in and be the family for those left here. If the man of color is ostracized, we need be the one to include him. What Judah says is that this may just be a great call for the church to step up and love like it never has. And I agree. (Check out that sermon if you get the chance.)
There's a darkness upon me that's flooded in light In the fine print they tell me what's wrong and what's right And it comes in black and it comes in white And I'm frightened by those that don't see it
When nothing is owed or deserved or expected And your life doesn't change by the man that's elected If you're loved by someone, you're never rejected Decide what to be and go be it
There was a dream and one day I could see it Like a bird in a cage I broke in and demanded that somebody free it And there was a kid with a head full of doubt So I'll scream til I die and the last of those bad thoughts are finally out
Whether our lives change or not is, in a way, up to us. We can be the same person with or without Trump as our leader and influencer. We can love others and teach our families well. We can fill the void that, even with social programs and a "tolerant" society, is still wildly present in today's world. The void may expand in the future, but that only means more people to love, and I hope that you and I can be there together to do just that -- love in the spaces where its needed the most.
If you're like me, you still listen to albums. Full albums, not pieces of albums shuffled together (I still shuffle too; no judging). There is just something about a succession of songs in the order the artist intended for them to be in that tells a story, has an arc, creates a feeling that one song just can't accomplish. And sometimes, one of these albums speaks to you in a way that really connects with your life -- like the artist just lived what you are living right now, and gave you this great accompaniment to make it a richer experience. This could be something as light as an album that makes you feel like you're riding to the beach with the windows down; or it could be heavy, like therapy on a cloudy day in an even cloudier part of life.
The first time this happened to me in a memorable way was Emery's I'm Only a Man. It's an album about sin and shortcomings relevant to humanity. Divorce, abortion, infidelity, even murder -- from both sides of the story. At the time my parents were going through their separation, and even though the songs didn't really provide a lot of answers for me, it somehow brought a sense of healing; as if just knowing that someone else had struggled with the same topic and wrote these songs as a result made me feel better.
Right now the album that heals is The Avett Brothers' True Sadness. It's been a rough summer moving cross country with a lot of unexpected turbulence along the way. As things seem to get worse in some ways, better in others, these songs keep coming back to mind. It's not because I am "truly sad," and even some of the things on the album have nothing to do with my situation; but I think when I'm taking in art created by someone else who must have been truly sad, listening is sharing the sadness. This album is particularly great because it deals with tough issues in just a light enough manner to make it palpable. It's not doom and gloom, but an honest expression of life's struggles with a tinge of hope to get you through.
This whole discussion reminds me of this bible verse:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds,because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)
We can find joy in our struggles, which often times comes through sharing them with others, be it through music, writing, art or personal interaction. If you're going through something, I hope you can find what you need to get through it, whether it's scripture, a friend or even an Avett Brothers album.
I didn't go to a normal high school. It was the School of the Arts, and we all had to audition for one of several art majors just to get in. We had no sports (although a fledgling tennis team was started at some point while I was there), about half the teachers had weird eccentricities that kept us wondering who they were outside of the classroom, and vocal majors would walk the sidewalks singing between classes. I guess it's about as close to living out High School Musical as you can get.
I went there from 6th grade until 12th, but when I got to high school, I had thoughts of bowing out for a more "normal" high school experience. I wanted the football team with cheerleaders and the marching band. I wanted big classrooms and nice facilities (SOA was literally in the middle of a project neighborhood). Ultimately, I just wanted something a little less strange, and a little more like everyone else. In the end, my dad talked me into staying, and I'm so glad he did because my high school experience was super fun, educational, community-driven, and spiritually maturing because of the friends I had. But I'll never forget how close I was to trading something special for what everyone else had: normal.
So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to leadus, such as all the other nations have.”
But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.” (1 Samuel 8:4-9)
I was reminded of that choice so many years ago when I read this story today. Israel had been governed by judges the past 400+ years, with God as their true King. But there came a time when they saw every surrounding nation with their human kings and started to desire what they had. They asked their judge at the time, Samuel, and he only told them how bad a king could be: taxes, military service, forced public service, slavery. Nothing good. But here was their response:
But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us.Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”
When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.” (1 Samuel 8:19-22)
The results would later lead to disaster, but God has a way of sometimes handing us over to our consequences when we insist.
So what am I saying -- normal is bad? We should never seek to be "like all the other nations?" Not at all. There must be normal. If everyone were pursuing only the abnormal, it would become what is normal and therefore no longer unique! What I think is important here is that there are times in life where we may be called to something outside of what is ordinary, and we should try our best to be okay with that.
Maybe you're supposed to raise a kid in a one bedroom apartment right now. Maybe you're supposed to work three part-time jobs instead of one full-time. When everyone else is getting married, you may be called to singleness for a while. When everyone else is sipping their sweet tea from a Yeti, maybe you should be reasonable and not spend $30 on a cup! You could certainly force your way out of all of those situations, but if it's not the right time, the results will likely be similar to the Israelites' -- disastrous. (Maybe not with the Yeti cup...)
There are inherent sacrifices when you go against the crowd. I saw and experienced a lot of this while living in Los Angeles. We had two kids under two in a two bedroom apartment. It was far less than ideal, but God provided and we were able to make it. My personal conflict in writing this is that we left that situation for another, in order to have something more normal: a house and family nearby. I remembered my dilemma all those years prior in high school when we were considering the move, but that's just reiterating the point that sometimes it's okay to be normal.
The important thing to do is always seek God when you're making these decisions. If you're following Jesus, you will be called to abnormal circumstances at some point in your life. Just read the gospels and see some of what Jesus asks his disciples to do -- it's ridiculous! So why would we be any different? That's why we should be ready to reconcile with the bigger picture of what God is doing in and around us.
"I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father." (John 14:12)
The "greater works" might be something very normal, like encouraging a neighbor, or you might be called to minister in Thailand with some monks. Either way and in between, we're okay as long as we're following in step with God. Normal or not, a richer life will always result.
Maybe you've noticed (or maybe not), but my blogging has been rather light this summer. Part of it is because of a tumultuous move, but another part is that I've lost part of my inspiration. What is that inspiration, you might ask...surfing! (big surprise?)
This is the surf report I've seen far too often this summer, and unfortunately, when I'm not surfing, I'm not writing. Maybe that doesn't make much sense, because you'd think if I'm not surfing, I'm doing something inside like writing. Not the case, particularity when I aim to write about surfing!
This isn't the first time this has happened to me. Years ago I wrote for StoreYourBoard.com and was loving it. Then we had our first child and life became about the baby. I surfed when I could, and wrote when I got ideas. But without the former, the ideas were infrequent and therefore so was my writing. They didn't fire me so much as I resigned, but I do miss getting paid to write... (Donations accepted!)
The point of all this -- surfing is inspiration. It's more than just a sport, more than a lifestyle. When you're out in the water, trying to survive against behemoths or build your skills on easy riders, it sparks something in you that, for me and many others, flames into creative output.
You may notice (or maybe not), that I've written more in the past two weeks than the past two months. Well, we had a tropical storm drift off the coast of the Carolinas early last week and I was able to catch a moderate morning session with a good friend of mine. Later in the week, Hurricane Hermine passed through and we tried to hit the back swing of the storm. It ended up producing only tiny, clean shore breaks, but I still had a blast. And here I am, writing my third post in wake of it.
The same is true for writing about spiritual things too. If I haven't connected with God much, the Inspiration section of this website becomes light. But when I'm reading the bible frequently and spending time with God, the words start flowing!
So if you're feeling a little down and draggy as we head into fall, maybe just paddle out and catch what you can. Ignore the surf report and take a dip despite the conditions, and with no expectations. I think you'll find a spring in your step and energy to your day that only surfing can put there.
My aunt bought me one of these pads years ago. I'm not sure I was aware of it then, but I guess she was...I'm pretty bad at making decisions.
I remember one time sitting in my living room when I was in high school and staring at the wall. My sister walked in and asked what I was doing. "Trying to figure out if I should play video games or go skateboarding," I replied. (Oh, the hardships of youth...) My sister said that was dumb and walked away. She came back about 25 minutes later and I was still sitting there, undecided. "You're ridiculous!" she said, and she was right. I had spent so much time deciding what to do, that I could have probably done both things with the time I wasted.
Where does this come from? Over the years I've come to realize that this indecisiveness is rooted in fear. I'm afraid to make the wrong decision, and so I spend way more time than necessary to make the right one. The folly in that should be more obvious, but it took years to hit me: If I never make a mistake, then I'll never learn anything. As some guy I've never heard of said, "Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes."
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (1 Corinthians 12:9-10)
What a great attitude to have towards the things we avoid in life! And what trust in God to make all things right, even when we go wrong. That's what it boils down to: trust. Do I trust God enough to guide me through my weaknesses, allowing me to make only the mistakes He knows I am able to grow from? If I do, then the fear that binds me is gone, and I am free to decide knowing I'm taken care of no matter what the outcome.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whohave been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
I had a professor once tell me that art is making something out of nothing. If that's true, skateboarders are the best artists around. Here's why: I've walked past this empty parking lot dozens of times, and every time I think to myself, "I need to skate that." Why?! It's just an empty parking lot! Maybe to a typical bystander, but to a skateboarder, even an empty parking lot is full of possibilities.
A curb, a ledge, a handrail; stairs, loading docks, walls...it's all fair game to a skateboarder, not just as an obstacle, but as a platform for creative thought in action. Many skaters feel that the way they skate is self-expression, because one skater can see a ledge and think one trick, while another will think of something entirely different. It's all open, and up to interpretation, combined with ability and practice. The end result is something normal transformed into something special, which is always valuable to humanity, and often hard to come by.
Here's a video with some very creative skating on varied terrain, featuring one of my favorites: Kristian Svitak.
My sister was lucky enough to become friends with some former pro skaters, and it was no wonder that many of them turned to visual arts after they "retired" as a means provide and express themselves. Here's an example. After all, decks are covered in someone's art (even if to only be destroyed); stickers, shirts, hats and socks are covered in someone's graphic design -- the two go hand in hand.
So (just to add a point to this post), if you're looking for a creative solution to a problem, ask a skater! In the midst of the mundane, he or she will show you something you probably never saw, but may just be what you're looking for.
It takes a humble man to admit it, but in most cases, your wife is probably right. The longer I'm married, the more I realize this. I had one of the more significant revelations about this topic lately, one I think is worth sharing and proves the point well.
Recently we decided to make the move from California to the east coast, where we're both from. As we examined our moving options, my wife did a little research and decided it would be best to rent one of those portable storage units, sell everything we could and fill it with what was left in our Prius. Unfortunately, selling everything included my beloved Subaru Baja, which I did not want to do.
Well, I decided to do some of my own research, and found that it would actually be cheaper to hook up a 5x8 Uhaul trailer to the Baja and sell everything we couldn't fit in there and the Prius. It would be a stretch, but we're kind of into downsizing, and so we decided on that option.
It worked -- we sold just about everything thanks to my friend Aaron, and packed the rest into the tiny trailer. The problem is we packed it too full, which I didn't realize until it was too late...
As I was cresting the mountains southeast of Los Angeles, heading into Arizona, I was disheartened to find my car overheating. I let it cool, sitting on the side of the road while watching the sun set over the mountains, wondering if this was a big sign we weren't supposed to move. It worked, and eventually we made it to Flagstaff. My dad and I managed the overheating all the next day until we got to Texas, where we changed the thermostat. After that, no more overheating! Problem fixed...
Wrong! Later that day, somewhere in Oklahoma, my car started shaking, particularly up hills, and later simply shut off. Thank God for AAA, because we got towed to a shop and spent the next night in Shawnee, OK, hoping we could get out before the wave of storms (including tornadoes) was set to hit later that day. The shop found a bug that had clogged one of my sensors, which had caused the shake -- kind of random, but we were happy to have an easy fix. Unfortunately, the overheating had started again, and they found what was about the worst case scenario had happened: I blew a head gasket. A $1200 fix and 4 days is what they told us...or we could put a nasty little fluid called Blue Devil in the radiator, which might fix the leak long enough for us to limp home. We were already a day late because of the previous problems, and so we opted for the quick fix to just get home (and avoid the tornadoes).
Well, it worked for about two hours before the same old problems returned. After a desperate 3-hour job fixing everything we could in the parking lot of a gas station in Arkansas, we gave up on the car and decided to rent a Uhaul truck, towing the broken and battered Baja. Having already maxed my budget, this did not make me happy, and it only got worse as we walked in our hotel and found ours to be laden with bugs! It had been the most stressful trip of my life, and was only getting worse by the hour.
But the next day, a dim ray of hope shone through! The lady at Uhaul told me that I should never have been allowed to tow that trailer on a 4-cylinder car, and that Uhaul may cover all of my damages. Awesome! I made the call, put in the report, transferred the load to our new truck and headed off, encouragement anew! It was just enough good news to make it all almost worthwhile, and get us through the last leg of our trip (where I also happened to catch a small fever).
Eventually, with about a third of the country left to cross and a short sleep in a Wal-Mart parking lot, we got home! Finally! It was the most stressful week of my life, but if they fixed my Baja, it would have maybe, just maybe been worthwhile. Unfortunately, I got news a week or so into it that Uhaul would deny my claim, saying it was my fault for overloading my trailer. The car is now sitting in my driveway, and I'm not sure what to do with it.
So what's the big lesson? Why did all that happen to me? To be honest, I'm not really sure. There are a couple things I can say I've learned from this experience, the first I already mentioned: your wife is probably right. If I had listened to her, sold the Baja and shipped our stuff, I would have made more money selling it in California (probably), skipped all the stress of this trip and had a nice drive with my dad across the country. Of course none of this is guaranteed and something else could have gone wrong, but you never know...
This isn't the first time I've made a purchase my wife had reservations about, or made a decision contrary to her advice, and she ended up being right. Women know stuff. It's weird, but I guess we should listen to them.
Last stop before home!
The second thing is that, even in the climax of bad things that happened on this trip, when I was lying on the sidewalk in a hotel parking lot yelling to my dad that I couldn't afford to pay for a room because my car was destroyed, I had a feeling deep inside that everything would be okay. I didn't know how, but I just felt like all this stress and yelling would eventually be for naught. And it's true -- we got home alive. We still have all our stuff. We're not broke. It certainly could have gone better, but it certainly could have gone worse also.
We're never promised smooth sailing (actually, we're told the opposite), and we're not even promised another breath; but as long as we're here, we are told that we'll have enough. At the end of it all, I guess that's all we can ask for, so why stress when everything blows up in your face? It's hard not to, and I'm sure there's grace when we do, but hey -- grace is something we weren't guaranteed in the first place, so even with that, we're ahead!
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25-34)
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)
I've found that when you want to do something, it's best with people, but also best not to wait around for those people. This applies heavily to skating and surfing, particularly in your 30s.
I'm notoriously bad about planning a little surf excursion and then inviting everyone I know to join. What ends up happening is I stress over organizing times, places, carpools and board-borrowing, which leaves little time for enjoying surfing. Sometimes a simple trip with a couple friends is all you need for a good time, and honestly, my best sessions are like that.
However, sometimes you invite all your friends and no one wants to join, or everyone is too busy, or it's cold and the waves are bad. In these cases, it's easy to call it a day and play surf video games instead. But too much of that, and you've lost all the surf-muscles you've built up, and before you know it you weigh fifteen pounds heavier and have watched the entire series of Home Improvement. No good. There are times you just have to pave your own path, surf alone and enjoy it for what it is. Who knows...maybe you'll meet a new surf friend out on the water that also enjoys tiny surf and cold mornings.
I'm sweating as I write this because I just went skating at 9PM by myself at the old middle school I grew up skating. Had I waited for a like-minded friend to join, I would have likely fallen asleep early after a particularly busy day of work, the carbohydrates from my dinner and dessert freely bloating inside. Instead, I went out and started working on a new trick! I don't think 30 qualifies as an "old dog" in the real world, but in skateboarding, I'm semi-retired; and this "old dog" is still learning new tricks. So follow me if you can, and let's shred into the night!
That would have been a good ending to this blog, but I wanted to tie this concept in spiritually: this same principle applies to our faith. There is no need to wait for someone else to "help me" get spiritual or bring me closer to God. I can do that right now with the help of the Holy Spirit. Now don't get me wrong -- I believe firmly in our need to grow in our faith as a community and in no way endorse "Lone Wolf Christianity." That verse in 1 Corinthians above requires a leader and a follower, I'm just saying sometimes you are might be the leader. Don't be timid about it, and if God is there, press on! Shred the...sky?