Since September of last year, I have become heavily involved with my church's youth group. I've spent the majority of my last 42 Sunday nights with a small but fantastic group of high school kids. I've played games, laughed more times than I can count, formed a few great relationships, and I've even led a bible discussion or two.
Sunday can be an incredibly busy day for me and despite the lack of free time on one of my days off from work, I always look forward to it. I get to pour into others and doing so has been filling.
It feels right.
It feels normal.
It feels natural.
I have a bad habit of shifting my focus of thought onto myself. I find a constant dwelling on my own problems, situations, and what I perceive as "needs" to be unproductive. But there's a certain feeling that comes about when I divert the efforts of my mind - and heart - onto those around me.
It's a simple thing really. You don't have to break your back in order to pour into someone else. It can be as straightforward as giving someone a ride in your car, buying them a cup of coffee, asking how their week has been.
Or even sitting down and listening to them for a few minutes. Believe me, you'd be surprised how valuable a listening ear is.
I'll admit, it's not always something I've jumped at. I've definitely had my share of wasted opportunities. However, every time I've followed through, I've never regretted it. I've felt inspired at the end of every music lesson I've given. There's been a smile on my face whenever I've asked someone about their week and they've had something positive to share. Every trip to the movies with a few youth group kids to see the latest Marvel movie has been an absolute blast. And, most of all, I've loved writing words and putting videos together for others, whether they've wanted those things or not.
Others pour into me as well and it's much more often than I realize.
I'm poured into when someone asks how I'm doing.
I'm poured into when someone wants to spend time with me.
I'm poured into when someone listens to my music.
I'm poured into with every act of unconditional love from my parents.
I'm poured into when I receive a funny message from my sister.
I'm poured into when I get a text from a friend telling me they enjoyed something I wrote.
Countless people have poured into me and looking back on it all, I am truly grateful.
Now here's an unfortunate mentality I can get caught up in from time to time. There can sometimes be a lack of appreciation from those who are poured into. And despite the wonderful feelings that come with putting others before myself, it can sometimes cause me to not want to put any effort into pouring into them again. Especially when they seem to not care about what has been done for them. It's discouraging when you consciously try to love someone through your actions and you aren't even given a simple "thank you". I'm sure you can relate.
I'm no exception to this though. Showing a lack of gratitude is a very easy thing to do.
However, I shouldn't pour into others because I expect something in return. I should do it because I am called to do so and I would want others to do the same for me.
And they have.
What follows are two verses that I read earlier in the week. To put in bluntly, they were words I needed to hear.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Have a good weekend.
About 8 months ago, I had written a blogpost regarding my intentions on writing a book. Eventually, a table of contents was created, specific sections were mapped out, and a handful of rough chapters were written. While I had a fantastic time trying to figure out how to construct a piece of writing that spanned 55,000 words, I came to an unfortunate realization as the process went on.
The vast majority of the writing was overtly weak.
Sure, some sections were great. I was pleasantly surprised with the way certain moments dealing with childhood and early 20s life turned out. A lot of those topics I hadn't thought about in a very long time and looking back on those experiences in such a deep way allowed me to view them in a much more sophisticated mindset than when I was first going through them.
But then there were the writings that dealt with more recent events.
To put it bluntly, those sections completely failed for one simple reason - I lacked the benefit of hindsight.
I couldn't think of anything constructive or creative when it came to the events of the past year. And as time went on and I got further into the process of writing, I realized that there were specific things that began to not matter as much as they once did.
It's difficult to write about something that no longer has much meaning to you.
However, through this process I've learned a great deal about the importance of the things we hold onto, whether they be positive or negative. Either way, they mean something to us, they're important to us.
Each of us has been given a set of unique experiences, but some experiences stay with us more than others.
That's not to say that current events should never be written about, in fact, I wholly encourage it. But there is an odd benefit to holding off and waiting for a period of time. I've found that the farther removed I am from an experience the more enlightened my thoughts on it tend to be.
I've written about memory before and how much of a gift it truly is, but with memory also comes the blessing of time (which none of us like to see pass). It's true that time is something we can never get back, each of us knows this. But when was the last time you thought about its benefits?
Time can provide growth, healing, and maturation. We don't normally acknowledge that.
I'm more of a fan of myself at 26 than at 20. There wasn't anything "wrong" with me in my younger age, but time - and everything I have experienced within it - has helped me to become an even better version of the person I was created to be.
The book will be written someday, but in the meantime, I'm on a book writing hiatus.
There's a whole lot to write about when it comes to the last 2 months, but I've been waiting to reflect on those things and will continue to do so.
With the benefit of hindsight, there will be a lot more to say when the time is right.
I had no intention of putting together an EP this week, but it happened. For whatever reason, it happened.
Three pieces of music in three days. This is the result.
Each track was made with a single instrument.
Track 1 with a synthesizer. Track 2 with a guitar. Track 3 with a piano.
The EP can be downloaded for free at www.projectatlantic.bandcamp.com.
Thanks for listening.