“God has wisely kept us in the dark concerning future events and reserved for himself the knowledge of them, that he may train us up in a dependence upon himself and a continued readiness for every event.” — Matthew Henry
I have done a marvelous job of participating in and contributing to a world that judges one’s life by goals achieved. But in my Father’s world, the most beautiful of things are not achieved, but what one becomes through the becoming.
A wise man will never believe he is wise, but will continue to search for wisdom.
A humble heart will never selfishly turn, and say it is time to be served.
A lover will never see his beloved, as yesterday’s glory.
A sinner redeemed will never accept the grace poured, as deserved.
I have been called to blindly pursue and it is never up to me to judge the work of my Potter’s shaping. I am called to let Him spin me on the wheel. To accept the forming that will suit His liking. The truth is, is His vision for me is beyond my comprehension as I often dream to be a sow’s wallow, as He wants me to be filled with the finest of wine for the King.
This paradigm is one that has radically shattered my vision, but in doing so, has given me life. I have longed to be free of judging eyes. I have tired of striving for the impossible, always failing by comparison. My heart has become weary by basing my success on what I have not yet attained. Then He spoke and revealed that the only shackles are the one’s I choose to hold onto. This life I have been given is about the pursuit, not the attained.
I long to pursue my Savior. To become more like Him. To have the same heart. But the closer I get to seeing His face, the more I see how far I still have to travel. How much more fire I must rejoice in as He hammers me out. I am realizing that this is what life is, the definition of daily picking up my own cross. I will never achieve becoming Christ, but in my obedience and acceptance of His finger’s forming, He will reveal Himself through me. And that is what the world will see as I accept it to be.
I long to pursue a woman, to love and cherish. But I will never arrive. I will never achieve her. It is about the pursuit of the things that will never be caught. But in the pursuit I believe the crazy love will reside. The pursuit of two for each other. For in the pursuit, will two know God, will two be known, will two experience the daily washing of the other’s feet. The pursuit, must come from a humble lover’s heart, with no expectation other than a plea for the acceptance of their gift. Like the clay potter’s wheel, love alive, and love so rare, and love so safe, and love so freeing will manifest itself. From that will come children of the same heart, and community who have seen the face of God. There may be milestones for two to look back from and humbly see how far they have come, but the rewards are the manifestations of the pursuit of the destination. Not reaching the destination itself.
I long to know my future, to know what to expect, but that is not faith. I am called to live daily by what I cannot see, so I will choose to trust that my Provider will be just that. To free myself of expectation and live passionately and fearlessly…..blindly. Through living in this surrender, life will be deeper, and richer, and the impact will resonate even if it is for a brief moment in the scheme of time. This will have to be chosen one moment at a time, but I am realizing as I am beginning this pursuit, that He is carrying me all the way.
I once lived a life as an observer of pain, not a recipient of such. Until recently I could conceptually grasp brokenness, but did not understand the depth of the experience, the piercings of the season, or the hopelessness in the darkest of nights. It took going through a divorce, unmedicated, to be able to speak to the pain and see the slivers of other’s lives that lie strewn around. It has always come fairly naturally to me to encourage and listen and empathize, to speak into and be leaned on, but until one has been prostrate with their face on the floor, hoping and hoping not for another breath, is one able to speak to the life that comes with rebirth. The laughter returning to the deepest part of one’s belly. To speak to the hope that life can come back stronger. To reveal one’s own life mural, their mosaic. To be living proof that one can….overcome.
If one opens their eyes for a mere fraction of a second, brokenness and disfunction, bleak realities and addictions, gasping lungs and bleeding hearts will reveal themselves. Choices gone bad, injustices committed, tragedies, trust not cherished, and the innocent betrayed by their protector. This reality surrounds, it drowns, and most often it can not be explained nor reasoned with. It is the platform for which life’s blinding placebos are sold. The drug of choice. The bitterness, the chemicals, the isolation, the hardened heart, the choice to stay broken. It is where the stunning believe they have no redeeming beauty, where the innocent take the blame, the sane question their clarity, where the priceless begin to see themselves as disposable, where the single parent wonders if being cherished and protected can actually be a reality. It is the wave that takes a house from its’ foundation leaving one with a bathroom sink and the occasional picture retrieved from the neighbor’s yard after the tide recedes. The ship on dry land, water not seen. And that is when the string of trajectory setting choices has to be made.
I have learned that brokenness must be, just a season, a process, the beginning of the mosaic. It is not what defines, but what is brought forth from the defining. One must see it for what it is and not medicate, not attempt to belittle through thinking and not feeling, not gloss over the pain, and most importantly, not believe the loudest of lies. Sometimes this reality is a result of one’s own choices, and just as often, the result of the choices of those who we entrusted with the freedom to pain us where we most intimately can be cut. And that ushers in the all too often most draining and difficult choices, to begin picking up the shards. To let those who love us, in, to help us, to be our eyes as ours are too often blinded by the tears of pain and anger, of despair and denial. To let The Carpenter rebuild our days.
I have learned that in all uncertainty, there is one truth. There is hope. But hope has to be accepted and most importantly, chosen. It is a paradigm one chooses to view life through. One chooses to step out in faith with. The truth one accepts, as the Healer mends. It often is revealed in our service, and not in our sulking. It is the acceptance of what is, and was, and now will no longer be. It is the embracing of the fact that our reality may be shattered, and we may be hurting, but that we are resilient. Grace and mercy will whole again, but it must be daily chosen, daily accepted. It will take the largest of grit, the most vulnerable of hearts when the walls could so easily be laid, brick by brick around our heart. Strength will begin to reveal itself in its’ willingness to be weak, its’ disregard for the lies, and its’ daily choice to see beauty in life. We are not defined by a moment, by a season, but by what we do and become having gone through the moment, the season. And that reality, that mosaic, is what will reveal our true character, what will reverse our cycles, and what will give those around us the breath when they are laying on the floor gasping. I have learned that by what we choose, we can not only experience life, but even more importantly… give it. .
In an age where one does not know the name of the family next door.
Where the doors are locked and the intentions of the walker are not assumed as so by the watchful eye.
In an age where the neighbor dies
And is not realized until the new ones move in.
In an age where the widow shovels her own drive
And one does not have the lender of the egg or the cup of milk.
In an age where the giggling streets are quieted
And the training wheels deemed too much a risk.
In an age where families eat alone in their sealed kingdom
The moat, their own indifference to invite another to commune.
For fear. Fear of being known. Fear of knowing. Fear of vulnerability and disappointment.
Relationships come by way of intentionality.
In an age where the pursuer has to decipher the intentions of a friendship
The feelings, whatever they may be, by the emoticon, the exclamation point, and the like.
In an age where the break between two is simply just buttons and a screen away
Where the boy hides behind the screen, no risk of rejection, so to say.
In an age where tea time and” let’s have coffee” have to be carved into the schedule.
The horse that saddles the rider.
In an age where idle time is dreaded, because it brings out the discomfort of reality,
That one does not know what to do with another, unless they are entertained.
In an age where two lovers settle for the wireless space between and the memory of what used to be
As the heart dies for lack of cultivation and sunlight.
For fear. Fear of being known. Fear of knowing. Fear of vulnerability and disappointment.
Why is it, that we rarely treasure that connection anymore?
Why is it acceptable that a father describes his son by what he is scheduled to and not by his heart?
Why is it tolerated that a family of four sit at a restaurant and the only spoken word is the order?
If it takes a village, what does it mean that we cannot even sit across a table and carry on the matters of the heart, looking each other in the eye?
Why is it that the mother asks the teacher how he is going to teach her daughter how to be a homemaker, a mother?
Why is it ignored that society is crumbling, but many a finger are pointing at another, longing for a program to save it all?
For fear. Fear of being known. Fear of knowing. Fear of vulnerability and disappointment.
So, my son, my brother, my sister, my fellow traveler on this hamster wheel,
Let us be radical. Let us change. Let us create change.
Let us be intentional in each other’s life. In our relationships with those who matter, who should be dear.
Let us cast off our fear of risk. Create opportunities to cultivate, to peel back the layers. To expose what longs for light.
Let us be part in the shaping of each other’s hearts. The sharpening of each other’s souls.
For in the end we will be defined by not that which burns, but by how we poured our souls into another.
Let us learn to let go of our selfs, of that which saddles us, of our fears, and daily choose to wildly risk what has too long been guarded,
The beauty of a woman is beyond what can be summed up in a sitting. It overflows what pages can contain. It is more than what can be uttered in every nation’s tongue. The placing of words on a page in summary, is itself an injustice. So I focus on a mere drop of the iceberg. You will learn by watching me, more than listening to what I say, and through this process I will also show you how you must treat them, and for what you must long for. Not beauty that will complete you, but that which will grant you inspiration, joy, and the deepest of travelling companionships. It will bring you closer to God and give you a better understanding of who He is. The importance of this is paramount to the life I hope you live. How you see beauty, and instill beauty, how you respond to beauty, beauty you settle for or the show that you will not accept. This principle will likely more than anything else control the trajectory of your days. It will decide your happiness, your fulfillment, your freedom or cage. It will help you conquer the world or it will steal your ability to simply breathe. Pursue the beautiful. My son, the beauty of a woman is one of life’s heavens, but misguided perceptions lead to living your days in a barren desert.
You must not listen to the voices of society as they are ever changing and will leave you empty hearted with that which is temporary. But first, we must change our world and instill the beauty that gives life. We must define it as boyfriends and husbands, as teachers and coaches, and even now at the ripe age of five, you have the power to give and identify beauty where it is due. We must let them know what we see, and what we long for, what a woman or girl is worth, and eventually this mirage will fade and the absurd will be seen for the lie it is. This misconception of beauty has imprisoned the stunning, has stolen the shine from the sun, demeaned, and broken many a soul. Many a home. But it starts with me. It begins with you and our definition of a beautiful woman.
This video illustrates a few aspects of beauty that I long for myself to have in a woman, and pray you choose and be granted the same. Beauty flows from the heart, and from that heart flows the direction of her and your steps. Beauty is strong. Beauty is not afraid to be weak. Beauty protects. It is humble. Beauty is brave. Beauty is willing to sacrifice. It is fierce. Beauty is honest. Beauty is a happy heart. It lives a passionate life. Beauty dreams. It sees that it comes from her Maker and not of that which ages. Beauty accepts it being acknowledged for what it is. Beauty is confident. It gives life. Beauty does not hide. Beauty fights for what matters. True beauty is not defined by the gloss nor size, but by the beholder with clear eyes. The lie has been defined in order for it to be marketed to the hurting, to the masses, to the empty hearted who are searching for a place to find relevance and for the blind to identify them as acceptable. That lie has been our society’s disease.
So, my son, go and give value and identify in those around you what is beautiful in them. Be an instrument of peeling back the layers of what has to daily be applied, so that it can shine and be believed as what really is. But make sure that when you long for a woman’s beauty, look first at her heart and treasure it. Hold it closer to you than you hold your own dreams. Protect it and invest in it as your most cherished of priorities. Cultivate it and it will grow to break that which contains. And life will come. The beauty of a woman, my son, will reveal itself in layers as you pursue it, as you long to learn it. And I promise you, you will not come to find the floor of its’ depth. For a woman’s beauty comes from the Potter’s hands himself.
Dear son, friend, or fellow entrusted one,
It is amazing to me how my mind works and how my heart is spoken to in the most unsuspecting of places. How sad that it has to be the most unsuspecting place, because those are the rare times that I am quiet enough to listen. A parable Jesus taught about the talents, out of Matthew 25:14-30, randomly but I am sure intentionally, elbowed its’ way to the front of my mind the other day. I have always thought of the talents as money that I have been trusted with, or gifts that have come through nurture and nature, but most often there was an overlying fear of what I did with them for fear of being thrown into the dark where gnashing teeth reside. But today it resonated quite differently.
I believe that everyday I am trusted with moments, with time that I get to fill, with relationships I pour myself into or am indifferent towards, with choices, with sacrifices, with habits, with cycles, with interactions, with stretching my heart and will exercises, with investing opportunities that will pay off visibly or may have to settle with accepting the peace that comes with obedience. I am feeling convicted about how poor of a steward I am with the little choices and talents. I was reminded today that I need to invest myself, I need to be willing to look the fool, to do the unordinary, and to throw off the fear of pain, discomfort, and of irrationality. A story that chose me comes to mind. A story that only those closest to me know. So, Son, I tell you this in order to encourage you to risk it all when the deepest part of your heart is battling with whether or not you should step out of the boat and walk on the choppy water. But don’t do it for fear of gnashing teeth. Do it for freedom, for life. That is what the Master yearns you choose.
Around Thanksgiving time, I dropped you off with your mother. A time of family and celebration, but for me, and I am sure many of the people around us, it was a time of struggle and grief. I was driving down a side road downtown on a brisk 15 degree afternoon. My mind wandered and tears still clung to corners of my eyes. Then, I saw him, Greg. A man stumbling into the bushes of the home he was passing. I looked back as I passed and saw a man in a sheet whose eyes were acraze, his matted hair gray and wild did the best it could to fear me away. To pass on the other side of the street so to say. And in this unsuspecting moment, this man was my Samaritan, my opportunity, my talent entrusted. The voice was clear…..”Give him your coat.” I wish I could always say that I live with this abandonment of myself, but I can’t, but on that day I did. I drove around the block and as I got out of my warm truck, my coat in hand, I walked up and said, “Sir, please let me help you.” We were both standing in the middle of the road, he was confused and disoriented and I placed my coat on him. I took off my winter hat and covered this man who had a mere pair of torn jeans tied with a shoestring and had a sheet to cover the rest. His feet had socks on them, but his shoes were gone. Then he began, “I am not always like this….” and he started to defend his situation. I quickly stopped him and said, “Sir, it does not matter how you got here. I am just so thankful that I am here with you. That I can help you.”
As he got into the truck, he began to sob as he lay on all the heat vents, the realization of being snatched from death’s jaws sunk in. I placed my hand on his shoulder and said, “Sir, you are safe. Let me take you home.” He gathered himself and asked if I went to church. “I used to be a Mennonite and believed in peace, love and happiness.” I said I did too. “I know that Jesus went through a lot, but I don’t think he had to deal with the cold.”, he finished, and we laughed. While getting out, I asked Greg if I could pray for him (another moment entrusted), and again I placed my hand on his shoulder and he squeezed my leg. I prayed that he be granted wisdom, and protection and that he would be blessed. I left him with this….”Greg, every time you put on my coat and hat, know that you are loved. I understand that life is often beyond cruel, but you are loved and God loves you. And I am so thankful that I made a friend today.” With that, he walked inside his government housing and I do not know if our paths shall ever cross again. But in that moment, two men were alive.
The next week was another exercise for me as I went without a winter coat so that I may be able to relate just a little bit more to the world of lacking. As I reflect on that story Greg was in, not his complete story, I make sure that I continue to reflect on my days, my choices. Not for fear, but for life. Not for covering all my obligations, but for fulfilling my life’s purpose. Not for being a nice and good man, but to become a man alive who intends to change the world. And just like that day in late November, the process of stewardship, radically changed mine.
I wrote this my first year teaching. It was an exercise to place myself in one of my favorite, but most troubled student’s circumstances. I once had a wise man tell me that one cannot get angry when splashed by a drowning person. So, I try to be cognizant that many of those who surround, are drowning. I have highlighted many of the frustrations that are coming from both ends. Students carry many a need that we are not equipped to meet and as teachers. As teachers, it is difficult to be able to connect and be able to give what each of our students need, but the challenge is to not look at each, as “just another”. Fill in the blank with the stereotype they fit. Be real, and the conversations will present themselves, and your perspective will be different when things we cannot relate to, go down. When I taught at the high school, I would read this to my class without them knowing the author. Each kid would underline the line that resonated most with them, or that “they saw in a friend”. It facilitated many different perspectives and once I told them that I had written it, their perspective of me changed from not understanding them to me having a deep care for their wellbeing. This lesson transcends beyond the classroom. It is a perspective that if maintained, will make a better human, a better citizen, better father or mother, and a person who will have the opportunity to be apart of another’s life. And who knows, it may just break someone’s cycle….love, transparency, and understanding between two people are the instrument for which the Healer speaks the deepest.
i once said that i could not wait to be 16, so i could quit school.
You quickly replied that i would be a fool.
You say that education opens one’s eyes.
Well, i have seen more than anyone should ever have to see.
You once said that i have so much potential, but i have never done a thing right.
You try to teach me love, but the only love i have ever known makes me feel worthless.
You try to teach me how to handle money. i want to know how to handle my rage!
You try to teach me how to care, but i have never seen anything worth caring for.
You try to teach me Shakespeare, but you cannot read my fear.
You expect me to be open, to place my heart on my sleeve
But you do not know that the only way to survive, is to not let a thing through to me.
You say that i need to know my history.
All the history i know, is half my friends will be dead or in prison before their 21st, and history will probably repeat itself.
Every hand that has ever reached out, has been a closed fist.
Every favor given has expected one in return.
Every one of my childhood dreams were crushed at my birth.
i was never a child, instead i raised my younger siblings.
i was born into the cycle. i do not know of any other way to live, but many expect me to.
The bell rings, but i do not want to go home.
My mom and I always fight, but she taught me how to make these choices.
i act up because i would rather look tough than dumb, and my teachers do not understand.
You ask if everything is fine, but honestly, you are afraid to listen to the horrid truth that anyone else’s lies cannot match.
So, criticize me. Put me down. i guess i am like the rest.
Teach me things i will never need to know.
Try to break me. i am already shattered.
i don’t blame you for passing me on. i would do the same.
Some say fate is predestined. i often believe the lies, but sometimes i hope not.
i do want to see the epiphany that will be my salvation, but my mind is never clear, my heart is never peaceful, and my eyes cannot see for the dark.
i try to get your attention, but you say cutting my wrist is not the right way. So, you place a band-aide on it and excuse my absence.
Sometimes i hope i would die in an attempt for something better.
i saw a peek of you before, but you were afraid to be real too.
i have nothing to offer, and i know that i am of no benefit to you.
So, overlook the bleeding heart, the silent cries, and the needs my parents will never fulfill. Needs a school is not supposed to meet.
Get angry at my attempts for attention and lack of motivation.
Continue to do your job and we will go through the motions.
i will sit here with my head on my desk, and you will miss the chance to make an impact on Me, but you will never see what you missed because i was just another……
It would just take one of you, but i will resign,
i will fulfill the prophecy i was born to fulfill, as i live this life…….dead.
Many a times the last couple of years, I have been “comforted” by those dearest to me with the cliché, “bad things happen for a reason.” The phrase does not give perspective nor healing. It does not facilitate a deeper understanding of life or injustice nor does it bring two friends closer who can be a part of their Healer’s wholeing. It does not give peace nor does it take a load off the hurting’s back. It does not answer any questions nor does it acknowledge loss or tragedy. It does not bring one closer to God nor does it bring forth truth.
What it does do, is dismiss pain. It alienates one to not think they can be understood. It is an attempt to place blame on the shoulders of the invisible and shackles an individual with “perceived control” in order to find the reason, for closure to come to fruition. It fights the acceptance of what can not be fought. Reality does not change with one’s refusal to accept what is….loss. It is a shallow method to not have to recognize the somber reality that we humans have very little control. We live in a broken world of sin and decay, of disease and famine, of luxury and loneliness, of world changers who don’t have enough time to change the world. We live in a world of the happy family who has their innocence shattered by the inexplicable. A world that does not discriminate who it devours in order to feed its’ unquenchable hunger. But here we live, and here we struggle, and here we love, and here we comfort, and here we carry, and here we sacrifice, and here we listen, and here we bear our souls as we plead to be carried by our One Hope.
But, “God is good. God is great.”, is not enough. Spiritual cliché and hollow words of a well intending tongue do not sustain, and often they push the broken hearted further from the only Source of Strength. They do not give life. They do not heal. They do not give hope. They do not prop up those who cannot stand on their own. As a follower of Christ, having grown up in the church, I can spit it with the best of them, but that does not sustain if I don’t see the moment for what it is. And that is the challenge.
Christ never said that life would be without tragedy. “God is good. God is great.”, or “Bad things happen for a reason.”, would not have meant anything in Gethsemane. All He asked for was for those He loved, to be present with him, and their own physical needs prevailed as sleep overcame. So, let us be real. Bad things don’t happen for a reason, but there can be good and lessons learned from the fire. We can experience God in a different way. We can learn how to love in a different way. We can also show that in our tragedy, our Hope that is not of this world can sustain. He can heal. He can carry. He can provide. He can move mountains. And He can love, but that most often does not come by words. It comes through our actions as hands and feet and ears and shoulders. It comes through our choice to listen to another’s pain, and have no answers. It comes through understanding and our humility as we accept the fact that we cannot solve or take away the pain, but that we are willing to walk with our friend. To cry and to feel the pangs one cannot carry alone. We must be willing to place our needs aside and stay awake and pray and wipe away the blood sweat off His brow. Christ is not revealed in us in our haughty spirituality if we are not even willing carry the cross for Him, to quench His thirst as He hangs awaiting his last breathe. My friend, let us go be part of this world’s wholeing. Let us be willing to place our self aside and trust that in the most hopeless of places, if we are willing to be our Healer’s instrument, He will give us the inspiration to hurt with, to carry, and to love another in a way that is not of this world. But most often, it will require placing ourselves in the mire with those who have…. inexplicable loss.
Today is your mom’s birthday. A day that is special to her. A day that you can truly make her feel loved. A day she can experience your adoration. A day of celebration. A day that…… But you are four, and who is going to teach you that you should respect her? Who is going to teach you that you should love her? Who is going to teach you that you should celebrate her and that this is her day? Who is going to teach you what to say and what the expectations are?……I will…… This is not the reality that I had ever wanted. Not the reality for how I dreamed I would model living for my son. But this is our reality and I will embrace it. Someday you will read this and know that I am just a man, a struggler, a heart hurting fool who wants so much for his son to grow up and be the man I dream he to be. I want you to be able to love unconditionally, and protect, and cherish, and trust, and be vulnerable. I want you to be able to forgive in the most difficult times and humbly accept forgiveness as you own your own wrongs. I want you to be comfortable in your own skin. I also yearn that you learn how to treat a woman, to serve a love, to lead a family, and to be a Godly man. As each day passes, each learning moment arises, I understand that how I live quietly, speaks more to you than I realize. Most of the time I embrace our time, but today, your mom’s birthday, I am struggling. I am having a hard time giving you the words of love and adoration, of respect and celebration. I am praying for help and internally battling how deep forgiveness must go. But then I look up and I see your innocent face. I see your childhood and the heart that is being shaped, and for you I lay myself down. Today I will fight for the family that you will someday have. And I pray that whether or not you remember this day, you remember this lesson of forgiveness and sacrifice. My son, lay your life down and you will experience life. It may be the last thing you want to do, and you may have every right to do otherwise, but lay it down just the same.
I love you and I hope you celebrate your momma’s day, like only you can.
While putting the date on the board in roman numerals, I seized the teachable moment. I asked if any of the class of ten knew them. One brave soul raised his hand and replied, “No, but I can make ramen noodles.”
In trying to motivate the dudes in my math class, I told a what I wish was the truth, “There isn’t a girl who likes a boy who is lazy and doesn’t have dreams nor wants to apply himself.” The hardest worker in the class meekly responded, “Ok, Mr. Corry. I will try a lot harder, because I want to be really attractive.”
A girl who is a serial tardier and always looks for a reason to get out of class asked to go to the restroom as soon as the lesson started. I firmly told her that it wasn’t happening today…. She then began her usual whine. Then another student raised her hand and said, “Mr. Corry, you need to understand that she is on her question mark.” I pointed to the door. (If I were to disguise it, I would have used an exclamation point. There shouldn’t be a question nor pause/ comma.)
On a wild whim, I shaved my facial hair not realizing the impact on my students. Now I am known by students whom I don’t even know, as Mr. No Beard and then slowly it has become Mr. New Beard.
- Many a year ago, in the age of portable compact disc players, I had a student who made it a habit to ask me for double A batteries. After several consecutive days of meeting his request, I asked how in the world he could possibly use that many batteries. His simple apologetic response, “Sorry, Mr. Corry, I am addicted to the taste of alkaline.”