Circle Encircles the Earth

How does one face one’s childhood bully? I’m thinking of two extreme responses in my case: smile, give her a hug, and then punch her in the face, or; smile, give her a hug and simply let the past stay in the past. Forgiveness.

It’s a pretty messed up situation because her parents were absolutely wonderful to me, treated me well, and went above and beyond giving me opportunities to learn different things outside the classroom—swimming, computer, even music. They widened my tiny little world just by being themselves: friendly and helpful and foreign. One parent was from Canada, the other from New Zealand, and somehow they ended up running a successful business in Belize and having a family there.

All my childlike mind could understand, though, was that these were really nice people from far, far away who let me play in their big house and hang out with their daughter who was super cool and pretty and smart.

I never fathomed in that time that my relationship with this girl would be my undoing and the source of pain, brokenness and trauma for years and years to come. Now, centuries later, I’m presented the opportunity to possibly see her again. And, I’m gauging my response.

I know the Christian response. I know what Jesus would do. Because I’m thinking not about the fact that He died for me, but that He went through all that, and I repeatedly, in my sinful manner, throw that in His face. Yet still, He comes to me with love, not vengeance. Understanding, not righteous hurt. He comes with reconciliation and forgiveness, not the fury that would have me suffer measurably for all that I’ve done against Him. [give a listen to Circle by Flyleaf]

Now I have to bestow all of that grace on someone else. Given the magnitude of the kind of forgiveness that I continually receive, I realize it’s something that I can’t give to others while using just my own strength. My own strength is only strong enough to want to destroy her, quite honestly. I’m not strong enough to forgive.

As I wrote this, as I reflected, and as I listened to the lyrics of ‘Circle’, I recognized a literal circle of forgiveness that I have never perceived before. Christ died and paid the price for her sin, just as He paid for mine. Therefore I must forgive her because Christ already did. Holding on to this pain does me no good, does the Kingdom no good, and though I still suffer the consequence of her sins against me, Jesus already paid the ultimate price. It’s not my place to make her suffer.

In my years before accepting Christ, I caused others immeasurable pain as well. I’d hate for any of them to come at me in self righteous vengeance when I’ve made it so far from the person I once was. Funny, because when I had started to write this post, I was convinced that I would do something horrendously violent against this girl if I were to see her again.

But, given everything—her sin against me, my sin against another, and their sin against another, I realize I have no right. I prefer meditating on the circle of forgiveness rather than the circle of pain that we inflict and perpetuate.

A tough lesson to learn, indeed. Painful because it’s so counter-cultural. But at the same time I feel a kind of peace in finally facing up to the pain of the past, and starting to truly get past it.




[A close read of Matt 18: 21-35 also helped me out. Just a suggestion.]


More Than You Are

She’s a temporary flower of a thing
Grown to think tall with her face to the sun,
The earth below nourished her roots to spread wide
Her garden wasn’t all there could be

But the flowers in her garden were

“Prettier than her”

Their perfume

“so much sweeter than hers”

So blinded, she couldn’t see how they looked at her

Oh, she’s a temporary flower of a thing,
Wispy and light, with her eyes full of light,
He’s fallen in love with her dream-like view of life
Who wouldn’t, if they saw what he sees?

Oh, what a tragedy
People never see what others see
They’d be surprised at their own beauty
But they prefer mediocrity.

Oh, if you saw clearly,
You’d never deny your own mastery
Have courage, have faith,
You are more than you are

More than you are

Los Angeles-20120406-00078




“The worst thing I could have done was write about the lows of a breakup while in the throes of the emotional instability that comes with two hours of sleep while sitting in a boring lecture. The worst thing I could have done was write. Write about my heart. How it hurts. How I ache. How no one can do anything about anything because it’s nothing they can control or even influence. I’m just left, alone, holding on to everything. 

I wonder if I have a chemical imbalance. A mental imbalance. My emotions are oftentimes a riot. I oftentimes can’t do anything. And sometimes, not often, I want to die.”

An excerpt from my journal. I’ve been debating how up close and personal I want Daily Sojourner to be, and I realized that though I don’t want to divulge all the nitty gritty details of the chaos that would be anyone’s life, I also don’t want to tell half a story.

And this is my story as I sojourn this course I’ve decided to take. As an artist, my highs are as high as my lows are lows, and I see in color and emotion. Luckily, I’m old enough to understand this, and sit in Grace when the darkness creeps in.

I write this because I want to document this moment, and perhaps share a drop of encouragement. My testimony. I’ve been in a storm of darkness and spiritual warfare lately, and as it sought to consume me, I sought to write it into music and turn that darkness into a weapon against itself. It has worked on every occasion. Glory to God. He does not leave us without tools to defend ourselves.

I wrote this ditty the very next day:

I could be chained by regret
by all of what I ever did,
I could die with this heaviness
Of a heavy, heavy heart.
No, I must own up to my sin,
the price of which was paid by Him
I will rise from this undead
And pray that you are saved from it…

(Part of a song, “Heavy Heart”, coming to you soon)


Funny How Things Change

They aren’t kidding when they say that God transforms once you leave your comfort zone. My perception of God certainly has.

Photo cred to: Abarah Joy

Back in LA or wherever else I happen to be where I actually understand 100% of what’s happening and what’s being said around me, I see God as Jesus, and I see Jesus as my homie; that cool older brother who tells me what to do because He’s got the ultimate big brother wisdom. But in Brazil, where everything is uncertain outside the four walls of my room, I’ve learned to see God as God the Father—as an actual parent. Big brother is still hanging out, but I hear God the Father far clearer than I ever have. I’ve been given challenges that only a father could set, and I’ve had to rely on a strength only a father could give.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Matt 8:20, which says that foxes have holes and birds have their nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. I truly respect Jesus for being the ultimate expatriate. He would stay in a town for only days at a time at most, teaching the Word. I bet He met some pretty awesome people wherever He stayed, wherever He went. Yet, He continued the lifestyle of saying hello and goodbye in practically the same breath for the sake of His mission.

I’ve never quite understood it, really, despite knowing the importance of the mission (saving our souls is only pretty important). I’ve always wanted to put roots down in a single place, and I’ve never been really okay with Jesus’ call for us to be an ambassador on earth, to not get attached, because our country is Heaven. St. Paul literally tells us not to get too comfortable [1 Peter 2:11].

But, funny how things change. I’ve been traveling to different parts of Brazil at every opportunity since settling into school life, and I’ve met a host of people with colorful stories. The summation of what I’ve learned is that there are far more people than I ever realized who have left everything behind in their homeland because they discovered something grander in Brazil. Like the man who sold everything he had in order to buy the field in which he found treasure [Matt 13:44-45]. Those people actually exist in real life. I’m not talking about the typical Christian missionary (though ya’ll are awesome, too). I’m talking about people who don’t even necessarily believe but felt a tugging in their soul (guess who be tuggin’?).

On my trip to Búzios, I met these fools and ended up making sweet, sweet music with them.

On my trip to Búzios, I met these fools and ended up making sweet, sweet music with them.

After traveling so much, I’m finally beginning to understand the lifestyle of transience. And, I’m beginning to be okay with it (surprise, surprise, I see you, Jesus lol). I’ve learned through experience that spending time with new people is wonderful, but when it’s time to say goodbye, it’s time. No use prolonging it. Especially when there are more people ahead of you to get to know.

Meeting such colorful people at every stop, and having to eventually say goodbye after a short time, was at first painful, but over time it has taught me that my heart must ultimately be in Christ. My hope is not in people specifically, but in what God is doing in them and doing in me in meeting them. There are wonderful people who I’ll never see again, and that’s perfectly okay.

Funny how things change. I now consider goodbye with joy, rather than with the pain of pulled teeth.

“Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation.” -Rumi


Consider This…

2011-02-03-seedlingThe sheer magnitude of strength that a seedling has in bursting forth from the earth. Consider the magnitude of strength it takes to first break the casing of the seed. And, even once it’s free, consider just how hard it is to be hit by the reality of gravity. Breaking out of the seed was hard enough. But, the unrelenting weight of gravity continually pulling it down, when it wants so desperately to go up, is harder.

Combine the weight of gravity with the pressure of the soil compacted above. Consider the sheer strength it takes for the seedling to fight against gravity pulling it down as well as the earth trying to keep it down. A mere seedling. A baby.

And yet, it rises. It bursts forth, dotting the earth with the beauty of victory and the beauty of new life. And it keeps reaching upward, skyward bound, despite the elements and despite gravity. It rises.

And rises.

And rises.




Consider you, the seedling.