Pain and Silence

Dearest reader,

Welcome to my blog! I may not know who you are but I'm very happy that you chose to click on this page, especially when there are so many other incredible posts to look at on this website. It is truly an honor that you would give me some of your time and I hope to make the most out of it.

So if you don't know me (and even if you think you do), let me explain why this page feels so mellow and dark. "Pain and Silence" isn't necessarily the best title for someone who considers himself to be living one of the best lives known to humanity. I'm recently married to an amazing woman, I have a stable income, and I'm living downtown in the greatest city in the world. What's not to love?

So let me clarify: I am not experienced in pain, at least not at the level that many others have dealt with. I do not know what it is like to be ignored or rejected because of the color of my skin, biological sex, or my sexual orientation. I do not know what it is like to settle in a new place where I don't know the language or the culture. I do not know what it is like to have my home destroyed by soldiers or have my family taken from me. I have not yet experienced the death of a close friend or relative nor have I seen a loved one shipped off to war.

I am certainly privileged; I cannot deny that.

But I have experienced things that have dramatically influenced the person I am and have shaped the way I understand the world. My family was homeless throughout the Spring and Summer of 2010. My mom and dad divorced during my senior year of high school, leaving me, as the oldest of 9 kids, as a father figure to many of my younger siblings. My family struggled to get food on the table some days, struggled to pay bills to keep the electricity and water on, and we rarely had a means of transportation because our vehicles seemed to always have an issue.

I grew up in an Non-Denominational church which has been very important to me as many of its church members have helped me walk through the tough times. My relationship with God was strong back in high school and I dedicated my life to knowing more about the One who never let go of me. I was that kid who would stand and raise my hands in the front row during worship at youth group. I had many emotional and even spiritual experiences during those nights and I knew that God was there with me. I had a mentor who encouraged me to dig into the historical roots of the Bible and learn the ancient languages of Hebrew and Greek so I would be able to interpret and defend the faith with precision and skill.

All of this is why I went to a Baptist university to major in biblical studies. What I did not expect was how God would shape me over those four years. I was broken and rebuilt in every area of my life as God revealed himself in new and sometimes terrifying ways. Every new revelation challenged me to change my worldview and my actions to in light of the Trinitarian God. I had to grow up in both faith and in life, so a lot of my previous theology had to be left behind.

Yet the God I know now is the same one who was with me in high school. He is the same God who I prayed to, hoping that my family would be restored. He is the same God who met me in my pain and told me to forgive. The only difference is that I see God in a different light now and he is more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.

The God I knew in high school met me in the sanctuary during powerful worship songs; the God I know now meets me in the silence. The God I knew in high school pushed me to overcome my pain; the God I know now is pain.

That is why I am writing to you.

As I sit at a resting point in my life, I realize that I can be useful to those of you who are trudging up the hill that I just climbed. My understanding of God has shifted dramatically and it has not been without its bumps and bruises. There have been days when I screamed at God because he would not answer. There have been days when I thought that God did not care about all the effort I had put into my Christian life. Yet, there were days when I would go to him crying for forgiveness because I failed in certain areas. I have not read my Bible consistently; I have not prayed consistently; I have not pursued holiness consistently.

If you are anything like me, you will have struggled with these things as well. Perhaps you think that your "spiritual life" is in shambles because of them. You go to church, most likely an Evangelical one, and you no longer hear the pastor's words as clearly as you once did. The worship is fine but the Spirit doesn't awaken your heart to sing. You committed a grievous sin last night, possibly pornography, so you keep telling yourself that you need to get it right with God. You just need to make more of an effort so that you once again feel that "spiritual high" and everything will be okay. You feel the eyes of church members bearing down on you and wondering if you are really who you claim to be.

I have been there my friend; allow me to be of assistance.

For those of you who are on fire for the Lord right now, as I know many who are, this blog is not for you. What I will say may at times sound demeaning to the faith you cling to, and that is intentional, but I promise you that it is not meant to destroy. For those who have been where I have been, it will hopefully be understood in a positive light and push them to grow in faith when they do not see a purpose for it. For anyone else, it might sound like I'm trying to stand against God himself (and believe me, I'm not ready to pick a fight with the Creator). It is sort of like trying to explain a funny experience to a friend: sometimes, you just have to be there to understand it.

Let me be clear: if you have not been there, good for you! You are in no way "less mature" because you don't get the jokes, it simply means that you have been blessed to not walk this path. A man whom I admire most dearly and strive to imitate has the simplest and most childlike faith I have ever seen, and it is inspiring. He walked his own difficult road before coming to Christianity, and his faith makes it evident that he does want to return there. If you never have a crisis of faith, consider yourself honored; I hope that your faith will continue to touch those around you. And if you ever do reach that moment where the spark is gone, come back here and read what I hope will get you to the end of the tunnel.

My goal with these posts is to encourage and challenge those of you struggling to maintain your faith to push onward. Do not try to return to the faith that once enlightened you, but let that faith be the driving factor pushing you to one that is stronger. Let your early faith change you when you are in a different place but do not let the change break your faith because you are not willing to adapt it to what you see now. As my Old Testament professor repeatedly points out, the Bible always discourages going back because it is continually pushing us forward. Do not try to return to Egypt, for it is only a place of slavery.Do not try to return to Eden, for it is not our final destination.

If you are anything like me, the road you walk feels uncomfortable and the locations you once knew look very different. Let me familiarize you with your surroundings. Let me show you a better way so you do not trip in the same spots that I have. Allow me to help re-awaken your heart to the profound beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Let me show you the God of Pain and Silence.