Monday, December 27, 2010

I don't have new ideas

In early-mid-July, I switched from the sort of training section of my company to being placed on a real project in a real office. You can tell, because a week or two later I wrote a post called "Change" and then, if the title of this blog is true, didn't feel like writing for a long time.

It's not entirely true, though, because I've wanted to write. I've wanted to throw some ideas out there and put them into somewhat well-formed sentences and see what you (yes, you! ...whoever you are) have to say about them, if anything. I have opened the posting page several times and written nothing, because I haven't had the words. I haven't had the words, because I haven't had time to think.

I haven't had time to think, because I haven't made time to think. I haven't made time to play the guitar. I haven't made time to pray. I haven't made time to read, and those are all things I think are important for me to do. If you feel like you've read this before, maybe you read the post I wrote just before graduating from college.

Sometime in the last year, I went through several piles of old notebooks, full of writings and drawings going back as far as 3rd grade, saving only a few highlights and throwing the rest away, because I do not need to carry a giant pile of notebooks with me through life. My descendents either won't care or won't have time to look through it all, and, even if I became famous for some ridiculous reason, it will just make me more mysterious which is probably good.

I haven't written a lot of songs as of late, because I haven't been playing guitar (see above) and those tend to correlate (whether or not I'm not writing for guitar), but I sure did write a lot more songs in high school, in the throes of adolescence - what a surprise. I'm not claiming those were very good (some were real woofs), but as I looked back at them I realized that, despite the ways in which I've grown and matured, some of the struggles and themes were the same things I deal with today. It was a little bit too much like the beginning to a Caedmon's Call song, I guess.

One of the great things about a blog is that it's super-easy for me to look back at what I wrote in the past and realize that I still have the same problems, which just confirms my observations of my 16-year-old songwriting self. I'm not saying that I haven't changed, that things haven't gotten better, but it looks to me like the root causes in the heart are the same.

I don't read the Bible much, outside of my weekly Small Group Bible Study, because I don't make time for it, but I remember that back in my adolescence I was a huge fan of the end of Romans 7. This is probably one of those things unique to certain kinds of Protestants, but the problem of feeling like I want to do the right thing and then doing the wrong thing was a major concern in my life. I can't tell you how many songs I wrote about that. Paul says this:
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
I've tried a lot of things to change myself and overcome my problems. I don't know where to draw the line on the great continuum of trying to fix yourself and just sitting around doing nothing saying "Well come on God what is taking so long" and I feel like I've done both at various times. If you feel like you've read this before, maybe that's because I have written all this before.

A year ago, I was in St. Louis at Urbana 2009, and no, I still haven't committed to intentionally serving Christ in a cross-cultural context in the near future, and that was far from the first time I thought that was a good idea. I still haven't done all kinds of things that I sometimes I think I ought to do, like learning to make time for things, and fixing one of those things would probably fix all the rest: changing myself to be a better person, whatever that means. Michael Jackson may have sang about only needing a mirror to identify and fix his problems, but I've been staring at myself for years and I think it takes more than deciding to change. If you feel like you've read this before, maybe you read the ending of the post I made last on this blog.

If I can't change myself and God is taking so long, what can I do? Try harder, try different things, or be patient. I've tried the first one, I'd do the second if I wanted to, and the third option is so difficult.


Matthew said...

Who have you invited to help you change? There have been maybe a handful of important good changes that I've made in my life without either actively asking someone else to hold me accountable about that change or sharing daily/weekly with p...eople who making the same sort of change. Examples that come to mind right away: my parents paying me $100 every year to read the Bible every day until I didn't want the money anymore, living with a team in Kenya and debriefing our day together over dinner, e-mailing someone every time that I masturbated until I stopped, or taking guitar lessons so I would practice every day for 45 minutes.

I think that asking God to help you change is a great thing and being patient is hard; I would humbly suggest that God has already answered your prayer by sending you a family, friends, and a church.

Peter said...

hmmm. I feel like you just wrote everything I was about to say to Matthew over the phone.

Also, I feel like Matthew just wrote everything he didn't know he was about to say to me over the phone.

I agree with him, of course. I also find that, at times like this, I am pretty spectacularly good at finding ways to avoid the accountability, even once it has been 'established.'

Ryan said...

I know what you mean.

In my life, this kind of situation always arises because I want it to. It's hard to admit, but my life goes static because I allowed it. I'm scared. I believe things about myself, life, and/or whatever that roadblock my mind.

What I'm saying is that I've found that the problem is always me. I have a choice to change or not, but the decision to change for the better is always the hardest to make.