life

The Age of Comparison: Or How To Reject The Temptation to Do What Everyone Else is Doing

The pressure to "do what you love" is at an all time high.

Just "follow your dreams" we all tell each other.

Make a website. Change the world one kickstarting, water well at a time.

But how long can our self-gratifying, do-goodedness keep us feeling warm and fuzzy? To what end will our efforts continue if only to change with the next bandwagon that comes along?

We live in a world driven by fear. Duh! Even our walk with Christ begins, and ends, with fear. But a Godly fear is unlike the world knows fear. Side note: I still don't totally grasp how the two are different. I only know that one leads us to wisdom while the other leads us to folly.

So then how do we learn to move past the selfish fears we have that keep us in safe places? How do we find the boldness to explore the unknown? I'm finding that we can't do it alone. We weren't made to be individuals. However much we want to believe that we are special and unique, it just isn't the whole truth. I am like you in more ways than I am different. I am the annoying little voice in your head that says I am no good. I am the sleepless walk to my daughter's bedroom at 3 in the morning when she won't sleep. I am the cold and freezing air that bites your face to the end of the driveway to take the trash out. I put my pants on one leg at a time.

When it comes down to it we need those around us who will lift us back up when we fall, who will call us on our shit when we're not acting right, and who will, above all, love us in action and truth. We weren't made to be together to compare ourselves, we were made to live together in the hopes that we would share each other's burdens and celebrate each other's victories. This is the only way I know how to move past selfishness and really do what it is I love.

Embracing this Messy, Beautiful Life

Ask anyone who knew me growing up and they would tell you the same thing, I was a neat freak. That term alone, "neat freak", says a lot doesn't it? I've never really felt normal, for a lot of reasons, but one of those being that I've always been obsessed with order. Order in my closet, order on my plate and even order with the friends I have. For example, I would go to sleepovers at my friends house and clean their rooms... for fun. Totally normal. I feel like I was living from this place in my heart that said, "If I can just have control over these small areas in my life, then maybe I can control the rest of the chaos going on around me." Order and control really go hand-in-hand.

I've never had anyone tell me I have OCD. Maybe I've just always been a highly functioning OCDoer. Maybe that's why I succeeded in the military? Whatever it is I still feel out of sorts these days when things aren't in their right place. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The Struggle is Real

For the first few years of marriage I was really passive aggressive about letting my wife know that I did not approve of her messy habits. Instead of using my words to communicate how I felt (INFJ's are you with me?) I would just rather do it myself. (Struggle!) Because God knows my way is the best way, and if her work didn't measure up to my high standards then I would just have to redo it anyways. So I might as well do it all myself. (Struggle!) And even when she did offer her help, to clean or organize or what have you, my heart was wrapped in a cord of criticism and self-doubt that I couldn't accept the gift she was to me and appreciate her help. (Struggle!)

The struggle, I've found, isn't really about the order of things, or the way in which my wife cleans, but more about the position of my heart. If my heart is seated on a couch of criticism then nothing will ever be good enough.  I feel part of the blessing and the curse of being creative is that 1. I am highly critical of myself first and 2. it's easy for me to be highly critical of others. The self-criticism exists, I believe, to give me a meter reading on my work and the intuition to know when something I'm working on is complete. Under the right direction, mainly the Holy Spirit, I feel like that can be used for good. But to criticize oneself just for the pure pleasure of it is unhealthy. And then the criticism of others is just something I have to constantly repent of.

Enter Parenthood

Although I know we've made major stride in our marriage in the past couple years, many thanks to those in our life willing to speak truth in love, I don't know if anything really prepares you for life after a baby. The very axis on which your world spins gets totally flipped, twisted and spun around. The notion of anything "normal" is all but a brief memory in the rearview mirror quickly fading on the horizon. There is nothing but uncharted terrain ahead and you never know where the next road leads. But it's exciting! Even for someone still caught up in his struggle with order. All the unknowns and unorganized parts of life now aren't just stacking up against me, I feel like they are helping establish trust between my wife and I and helping pave a way of greater faith in God. And sure, as much as I still try and keep my daughters hands and face free from snot, drool and food there is nothing I love more than her little messy embrace.

One final thought

This past year has brought a lot of new changes in our lives. Having a baby, like I mentioned, has been one of the biggest and brightest changes I think I'll ever know. We also moved in the middle of summer to a new home. This process of settling in hasn't been easy. I wish it were. I wish I could be that person that "rolled with the punches" and not let the little things bother me so much. But I do. And I think I have to admit that to move forward. But I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I can choose to be thankful for where we are, smack dab in the middle of this beautiful messy life, and take things one step at a time.

The Journey

If there's anything I've learned it's this; The greatest part of life is found along the journey. The sweat, the blood and the tears are where we find our truest strength. The mountain top experiences are short lived. Yes, reaching the top of the summit is truly rewarding (as it should be) but you can't expect to stay there for long. Soon you will find more mountains to climb, and thus, the journey begins all over again. But you pack up your experiences, and failures, and head out on the next phase of the journey. You grow. You get stronger. You learn to pace yourself. Be careful though to think you must journey alone. Nothing great is ever achieved alone.

Heart Space

Why does it so often feel that our life in Christ is stumbling over rocks more than walking on water? Have you ever wondered why we still experience doubt as born again believers? And why would God, the great I AM, allow us to suffer through all these emotions? I'm convinced we're a people who live entirely too much out of our head space rather than our heart space. Knowledge isn't a bad thing, but it isn't the only thing worth seeking. Do you think it took all of Peter's gut wrenching courage or book smarts to step out of that boat and walk on the water? Yeah, me too. But trusting your heart isn't any easy task. Especially when we have verses like this thrown at us from the pulpit:

"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" Jeremiah 17:9

I don't question this verse, I believe it holds truth in its proper context. But I also believe that after we accept Christ he begins to change our hearts through the power of His Holy Spirit. Not to say that in an instant all our past heartaches and troubles are over. But I can say from my own life experiences I have begun the journey to take back ground in my own heart. From sex to work to love God has moved mountains in my heart. The following verse has been a consistent prayer of mine for many years now:

"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24

When it comes to living more from our hearts I don't think there's anything to do but find/create space to be still. Embrace the moments of quiet space you have every day, and work to create some new quiet spaces in your life. Fight through the urge to "do" something when all you need is only to rest and trust. Don't be scared of doubt and fear, as those are totally natural to us humans. Arm yourself with Hope and fill your cup with living water. This, I believe, is how we become more in tune with our hearts. And over time our hearts will learn the drown out the distractions around us and focus solely on the One who created it.

Friday Food for Thought P3

Welcome back to my irregularly scheduled blog post series. By the time you read this I will hopefully be up to my eyeballs in freshwater trout. I am writing this prior to my fly-fishing camping trip this weekend. But I've had a lot on my mind lately and don't like going for long periods without sorting out my thoughts. So here goes nothing.

Things Are Changing

For those who haven't heard, I am stepping back from full-time work with Over. It was a mutual decision, but one that I ultimately believe is the best step forward. I will continue contracting with them for the next 3 months, but I will no longer be in charge of creative direction for the app itself. I wish the team all the best.

Our house has now been on the market for a whole week. The anticipation and faith required in this season of life is truly great. But, I for one, am always excited by the challenges of the unforeseen. I've really felt more empowered lately to just trust God, I mean like really trust Him. There's a certain point you reach where you know you've done all that God has required of you and then it's totally up to Him. Now we just get to watch and see what happens next.

My wife has felt our baby move a few times, me not so much. I tried keeping my hand on her belly the other night to see if I couldn't feel anything... nothing. Patience is a virtue though. So we continue on in the planning of parenthood. I really enjoy getting to watch my wife grow into a new mother. There is a certain beauty to it all that's hard to explain. Sometimes I look at her and it's like I'm seeing her for the first time again. This is definitely a season I don't take for granted.

Things I'm Challenged By

If you truly love something let it go. Don't be afraid to fail. Just sit down and do the work.

All of these things swirl around my head. They are good sayings, inspiring even. But what does it mean to me in the next season of life? Sure, it's easy enough to go in to default mode of what I know I can do, but I would much rather feel what I should do. Really it comes down to being quite and learning to listen to my heart. The last thing I want to do is make the "safe" decision.

Words. Words are never enough. The word "love" is never going to change anything without legs to walk and arms to hold and mouths to kiss. I feel like the same is true with work. The word itself is good and noble, but never does any good without breaking a sweat. I'm finding it really difficult in this season to draw upon a newness in my work. It just feels like I've been labeled as one thing, and so I should just stick to that. When really I feel like I have so much more to offer.

Things That Inspired Me

The pursuit of anything worth pushing past your own (dis)abilities. A smile. Belly aching laughter. Delicious dark chocolate. The smell of a campfire. The great outdoors. A day of rest.

My Year with WELD

In the midst of preparing for our big move to Colorado this summer I wanted to take time to reflect on the past year of being part of what I'm claiming as the best thing to happen to Dallas in the last 25 years, WELD. From stumbling upon the space one day with a friend, to working alongside some of the most talented/caring people in the world, it has truly changed my perspective on what it means to work alongside others.

From the Beginning

Austin had sent me an email a week or two before I first stepped foot in the door and I didn't even have time to respond to him. But cut me some slack, I had just started working for myself and was super focused on my work. So on the day that I met Austin at WELD it may have been awkward had he been any other kind of person but awesome. Instantly I felt at home and knew that the space I was standing in was something really special. That was also the same day I was reunited with Trey Hill.

Within a week of meeting Austin and seeing WELD for the first time, we were already dreaming up a plan to paint this huge mural in the entryway. Austin has this certain fervor about him that's infectious. He's definitely a doer more than he is a talker. Personally, I'm more of a dreamer so it was awesome to meet somebody like Austin and begin to move forward with the mural right away. And then, just like that, in the matter of a single day I sketched, scanned and painted the mural while Austin filmed it. There was something magical in the air.

Fit like a glove

There really wasn't any sort of awkward "fitting in" period like you might find in some other co-working spaces. It all just felt really natural. Everyone that was there before me, and even the new people that started to show up, were all super awesome. Being at WELD just fit like a glove. The spirit of collaboration was definitely in the air. When you step foot inside WELD, even to this day, there isn't that competitiveness that's so prevalent in our society (especially Dallas). Instead, you're greeted with warm smiles and hot delicious coffee.

Now I could go on and on about all the wonderful perks of being a member, but I'm not a salesman. Instead, I just want to share the most important part about being at WELD, the relationships. It's not even really so much that everyone is a talented creative person, which they are, but more that everyone is down to earth and warm hearted. Before finding WELD, Dallas has left a bad taste in my mouth with how segregated it all seemed. But that taste was soon replaced by delicious friendships with people like Austin, Tiffany, Trey, Paul, Esther and Tyler. It's simple, learn to invest in people and the rest will work itself out.

Onward and Upward

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, my family and I will be moving to Colorado this summer. Without going in to too much detail, we feel this is the next step for us and believe whole-heartedly God calling us there. Hence, onward and upward. But I know in my heart this isn't the end for my relationship with WELD. I have great peace about things in the future with WELD and me and Colorado.

I am excited to be a part of bringing WELD to probably one of the more unassuming parts of Colorado. But that's the thing I love about it. For example, if you didn't live in Texas you would probably assume WELD should have been started in Austin, right? Well the proof is in the pudding over this past year that WELD doesn't exist because of what city it's in, but more because of the people it draws and the community it builds.

Call to Action

WELD has just launched a new campaign to GROW outside of Dallas. Check out the website, grow.weld.co, and help create WELD in your community. You can also check the hashtag #WeCreateWELD by following @WELD on twitter.

Friday - Food for Thought p2

It's another beautiful Friday. The past couple weeks have been both rewarding and challenging in new and different ways. I had the pleasure of spending a few days in Austin with my wife for my birthday. And we, at Over, continue the challenge of working across continents with each other. But in everything we experience in life there is wisdom to be gained and mistakes to learn from. These are a few of my own.

Things I'm learning

Don't believe the hype. The new car. The new gadget. The new (fill in the blank) all become outdated the moment we take them home. I remember as a child watching commercials and believing the emotions the advertising agencies were selling me. If I had "this product" then I would feel "that way" about myself. The "hype" of anything new, other than life in Christ, is overrated. So don't put your hope in the hype because it will only leave you empty when dust and scratches cover it.

Be the first to smile. When you're walking down the street or walk in to a restaurant always be the first one with a smile on your face. I'm convinced there's not a person on earth who won't respond to a warm, friendly smile. In my own experience I feel like I've always been the one responding to people's emotions with equal or lesser value. You never know what someone else is struggling with in that moment when you meet them (whether they're serving you drinks or passing you on the street)... so show them some teeth and smile.

Things I'm struggling with

Biting my tongue. It's hard to keep your thoughts to yourself in a day in age when we've all been given a platform to do just the opposite. Everywhere I turn it seems everyone has a comment. Negative or positive, we've all been given a voice. I have had a difficult time in the past keeping my tongue from slipping and saying something stupid, and it's something I'm still working on, but the more I see Jesus the more I see value in putting thought before my words.

Things I'm inspired by

Reading The Hobbit. I don't know why anyone never told me to read this book earlier. I literally wake up thinking about it and go to bed reading it. My wife can attest to the fact that I'm not a very avid reader, but this book is so captivating. To me it feels more like a piece of poetry, at times, rather than a narrative. I would highly encourage you to pick up a tangible copy, feel the pages between your fingers, and read it this summer.

The truth. We live in a world where so much of what we hear and see on a daily basis is founded in deception and self-gratification. But when the truth comes and shines its light, you can't help but smile. That's why I love when my friend Doug Roberts writes about the Church. It is not self-seeking or deceiving, but it is the simple truth that Jesus himself proclaimed and spoke about. Or in simple terms, it's like a cool spring on a hot summer day. Read it for yourself in three parts: Part 1 : Part 2 : Part 3