Which End Is Up?

It’s hard to write an entry like this and not feel like the next 300 words will be seen as bitchy or complaining.  Either way, I have to admit, that here, in this present time and place, I am not where I want to be or where I imagined I would be at 24.  Let me explain.

I Completed High School in 2002.  Great.  My Senior year of High School I was voted by my peers  “Best Christian Character” and was also made Class Chaplain.  Everything seemed good.  I worked my ass off to get together enough scholarship money to attend Southern Wesleyan University.  Did that for two years, majoring in Christian Ministry and minoring in Youth.  I was on the fast track to achieve what I thought was my calling, my dream of being a Youth Pastor.  I sat in classes dreaming, thinking of the day I would have a Youth Group of my own, having teens over to the house, pizza parties, and leading trips to overseas countries.
I left Southern Wesleyan in May of 2004 and enrolled at Columbia International University, still with a goal/calling of becoming a Youth Pastor, but things around me were quickly falling apart.  I was faced with a personal sin struggle and the scars of coming from a family that was less than perfect.  My mom was/is great, but I still had to deal with and face shit that no kid should ever have to go though.  Everything caught up with me.  Everything hit me all at once.  All the emotions, the fear, all of the shit from the past could no longer fit under the rug.
I somehow tried to balance 18 hours of classes, a 30+ hour a week job, university required hands on ministry, as well as personal counseling.  It was too much.   I decided that the fall 2005 semester would be my last at CIU.  I felt the “okay from the Lord” to step away from school and to simply live.  At that time I thought this would be working full time, at that time for Starbucks and doing some intensive counseling.
Fast-forward to today.  January 24th 2008:

It’s been 2 years of no college. I’ve toyed with the idea of going back, but I have no desire to become a Youth Pastor.  To be honest, I hate teenagers.  I find them to be annoying, disrespectful and unappreciative.
I’ve done a few counseling sessions here and there, yet I’m still not “repaired”. So far I am on my 8th counselor.  I get scared every time I start getting into the deeper issues.  I don’t think my counselor has any idea.
February 6th will mark the start of my third year working at Wachovia. Wachovia isn’t my dream job, but my benefits did cover my major back surgery last year that totaled over $120,000.00. (Yeah, you read that price right!)  I have over a month and a half off paid vacation/sick time each year.  I am respected by my coworkers and my boss, including senior leadership of the company.  It’s a great job and I have been shown much favor.  It’s just not where I dreamt I would be at 24.
I currently facilitate a House Church (Conversations) that meets weekly at my house. Attendance is anywhere from 2 to 12.  I feel like it’s moving forward and people’s lives are being changed as a result.
I’m single. Have been for months.  Some days I have a desire to date, or to at least make out with someone.  Yet, other days I am perfectly content being single.  I enjoy the alone time.  It’s cheaper.  Honestly, the idea of being responsible for a wife and caring for her financially, emotionally, being a spiritual leader— all of that scares the shit out of me.  Caring for an 18 month old yellow lab named Killian is enough responsibility for now.
I say (or type) all of this because of this one point: THIS ISN’T WHERE I THOUGHT I WOULD BE AT 24.
I thought things would be different.
I thought I would have finished college and be working on my career.
I thought I would be dating or maybe even married.
I thought that my past wouldn’t still haunt me and have such an effect on my present.
I thought things would be easier.
I feel like I am stuck.  I often find myself very discontent and feeling as if I am complacent.
My mom continually says she is proud of me.  I often sit silently on the other end of the phone until she is done.  During those times of praise the word “failure” continually repeats over and over in my mind.  Tonight I question how I got here, what I am doing here, and where to go from here.  Yes, there have been many amazing opportunities and blessings over the past several years.  Wachovia has been a huge financial  blessing as well as providing me with excellent medical benefits.  My job has also taught me how the manage my money more effectively and laid groundwork for financial literacy and budgeting wisdom.  My House Church has had lasting spiritual impact not only on myself, but on the others that come weekly.  I love the house I rent in downtown Columbia and my roommate Rich has been more than a roommate, he’s a friend and a spiritual brother.  I have the best dog a guy could ask for.  (As I type she’s asleep next to me.)
Yet the word failure and the feelings of discontent and never amounting to anything replay over and over.  I don’t think I’ve found my “it” yet.  The “it” being the motivation, the passion, the thing I am supposed to go after and accomplish.  Why for so long did I feel called to something, now to only feel a since of hate toward the group I once felt so passionately I was called to minister to full time?  I feel like I am lacking direction and discernment for my own life.  It’s easier for me to speak truth into someone else’s life and to hear from God for them rather than hear the voice of the Lord concerning my own life and His will for me.
I will keep walking- but it would just be nice to have an idea of where I am going.
Anyone else understand how I feel?  Comment below.
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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Magnoliawhispers says:

    Hi James,
    Sometimes we have to take small steps. But you are moving forward, just not as fast as you thought and that’s ok. Don’t hurry your life along. Counselors don’t always work, I have found that having deep talks with friends or God works better. I still have issues at 54. It’s the bbrokenness that makes us turn to God anyways, othe wise we’d still be in lala land. Drive to Camden sometime and see my thrift shop called The Red Door at 1104 Campbell St. It’s the bomb.
    jan k.

  2. Anonymous says:

    James,
    I was browsing facebook (typical, right?) and came across your blog.
    I have a lot to say (stuff I agree with/also want to offer some encouragement about), but I feel like that would turn into an overwhelmingly large comment.

    So I’ll just leave it at this: I love the honesty.

    Real honesty does more than just make you a “real,” authentic person. It’s healing for you and anyone else who gets to witness it.

    Catch you later,
    Toni

  3. JosH says:

    James, Rue, Jamison….choose the one which you like….

    Success…how is it measured? by riches and wealth? Your occupation? by your wife and kids? how many places you visit and see?
    In all actuality there are countless ways that people try to measure success and the sad thing is that most of these are meaningless and futile.
    If I were to have to choose a way in which one should measure the success of their life, the way in which I want to measure it in mine, it would definately have to be by the amount of lives touched, changed, and revitalized through our own.
    It is so easy for us to place an imaginary bar in our lives that we try to reach…..and for what? There is no standard or one way to measure success for every individual. This is impossible. I don’t think that we ever really come to a point in our lives where we are totally satisfied and deem ourselves “successful”.
    Look at Bill Gates, he has all the money a man could ever want but I promise there are things that this man longs for that money cannot buy him.

    Try and look at this scenario. 2 men. We’ll name them Dan and Lee Roy. Lee Roy has a wife and kids, Dan is single up to this point in his life, he’s around 50. Both men love the Lord and have committed thier lives to him. Lee Roy lives your typical suburban life with the two story house, nice wife, 2 kids, and a dog or two. He’s fairly successful at what he does but his family holds him back from taking any huge leaps with the ministry.
    Dan on the other hand is single. He has dedicated his life to the Lord. He spends his entire life taking the love of God into other countries around the world to people who have never heard it before. He is saving lost souls but is theoretically alone, he has no family.
    I say all this because both men long for what the other has, they are both satisfied and happy with their own life but they still have other desires and wants.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is that basically no matter what we have we are still not going to be totally satisfied and that we really cannot measure our own success truthfully and fairly.
    It’s not fair for us to compare ourselves to other people because WE’RE NOT THEM and THEY’RE NOT US. God created one of each of us, one James, Rue, or Jamison Combs(you’re awesome).
    We were all put here for our own individual purpose, God’s purpose. That’s where things start to get shaky,scary, and can down right piss you off if you don’t put your full trust in God in knowing that he has the best plans for your life, plans to prosper you and to give you the desires of your heart.

    God isn’t just going to make you happy, he’s going to grant you the desires of your heart, take hold of that.

    God has his own plan for our lives. When we start comparing our plans with God’s plans things often don’t match up and we can deem ourselves “unsuccessful”. The hard thing is that we don’t know what God’s plans are for our lives or what his timing is. The timing issue can be the most frustrating probably. We live in a fast paced world where we want everything right away and we have to learn to be patient with God and to put our trust in him.

    As far as wanting to know what ‘it’ is, good luck. I believe that it is not something that we will know when we find it, but that will be apparent down the road.
    You’ve got the right frame of mind, just keep walkin, keep spreading love, winning souls, revitalizing people, and “flipping” lives.
    Step into all that God has planned for you instead of trying to analyze what you should do in order to be deemed sucessful by the world or by yourself. By doing this you will find true success.
    And remember; Life was not made for analyzing, but for living.

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