Hand Sanitizer: Only 99% Effective

Every Sunday, a homeless man sits a few pews behind me. This man has stained clothes, long greasy hair, and hands speckled with dirt. I was very unsettled with how I first viewed this man. The dirt on his hands and feet immediately put up a barrier between myself and a fellow brother in Christ. My first instinct forced me to focus on myself. Not the needs of this man. Not the desire to help. Not the desire to worship with him. But every thought geared to separating us.

A part of me wanted to sit next to him.

Shake his hand.

Ask him about his life.

Another part of me was afraid.

Saw the dirtiness.

Was unsure if I could connect.

I came across the passage in John this week where Christ washes the feet of His disciples. I have read and heard this passage hundreds of times in my life. Yes, it seemed great and all but I never REALLY thought about it. I never asked myself what this REALLY means for my life?

How can I live it?

Lets break this down real quick:

Our Creator.

The God of the Universe.

The Alpha and the Omega.

The Eternal.

The Everlasting.

The All Powerful.

Humbled Himself.

And.

Scrubbed dirty human feet.

Wow. 

Yet, here I am hesitant to shake a hand?

In Max Lucado’s work Fearless he points out:

“Prudence washes with soap. Paranoia avoid human contact.”

In order to serve just like Christ we must be willing to get our hands dirty.

We must remember the importance of human touch.

In reality, I do not think it is the dirt that unsettles us.

I think it is our fear to attack head on…

Our lack of courage. 

Our heads swollen with pride.

Our ungratefulness.

Christ commands us so simply!

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”-John 13: 14-15

Can our loving Creator be more direct?

Friends, I encourage you this week to look at your own hands.

Are they too clean?

If so, does this outer cleanliness make you believe your soul is squeaky clean?

Hug a friend. Grab the hand of a homeless man or women and pray with them. Feed the poor. Visit the elderly. Do service work in your community.

Get your hands dirty.

Because in reality.

Dirt is nothing to fear.

But a pride-stained soul should be our greatest fear.

And I can assure you.

Hand sanitizer is not going to work. A dirty soul falls in the 1%.  

The Struggle Ship

So, I

I have just….LIVED.

However, in light of the all the positive vibes portrayed on my social media and daily conversation, college has also been a struggle ship.

What do I mean by this?

Well, “Hop on the struggle bus” is a common expression. However, I don’t really think a bus will do. To me struggling involves a lot of different components. I think a ship works better.

When I struggle…

  1. I feel like I am lost at sea.
  2. I feel like I do not always have control of my ship. 
  3. I feel fatigue (think dehydration).
  4. I feel alone.

Furthermore, in college I’ve been on the ship for a variety of different reasons.

1.Grades- Am I lost?

My sophomore year first semester, I had a hard time adjusting to the workload. Freshman year my GPA was great so sophomore year I shouldn’t sweat it, right? Wrong. I took on so much all at once and my GPA suffered.

This struggle was a big moment in my life because it started causing me to pose questions about my career path? Was ______ what I wanted to do? What is my purpose? Am I lost?

2. Faith- Who is in control?

Throughout my undergraduate experience, I have had a problem with the concept of control. In college a lot of things become out of your control—even small things. One example is being in the library without a car, walking out, and seeing that it is pouring rain. Another example, is being far from home when a family member is experiencing health issues. As a young adult, the need for control is so strong. We have grown up in an era that does not “go with flow.” Everything must go according to plan.

This struggle caused me to ask myself, “Am I really ever in control? If not me, than who is in control?”

3. Dehydration- What is draining my zeal?

Water is important (obviously) and being dehydrated can do some not so great things to a person. One of the main symptoms of dehydration is fatigue. In college, I have had moments of extreme fatigue. It was not necessarily laziness or sleep deprivation, but rather a numbness to strive for greatness. I felt as though I had nothing in which to fuel me. I was like a car running out of gasoline. I was a writer with writer’s block.

This struggle caused me to ask myself, “Why am I so mentally tired? What is draining the life out of me?”

4. Alone- Who is your refuge?

Being alone feels like the apocalypse to me. If anyone is a fan of Myers Briggs I am an ENFP. This being said, sometimes (a lot of the time) in college I will feel all alone on the struggle ship. My first reaction is to destroy this feeling of loneliness with talking to girls. My mind tells me, “Find a girlfriend Nick, and everything will be all good.” These thoughts of my need to seek refuge in another have caused me to struggle with finding my own personal identity. Whenever I felt alone, I would change who I was in order to befriend/impress another. The desire for acceptance was weighing me down. Through this struggle I became even more distant to myself…hence causing me to feel more alone (an endless cycle).

This struggle caused me to ask myself, “Who will never leave you? Are you truly alone on the ship?

_____________________________________________

How do I exit the ship kind Sir? 

     Today, I am reminded that though I am on the struggle ship, I am not the captain. Though it may feel like I am in control God is guiding me to the island. My struggle ship experience has shaped my character and has allowed me to consider myself a sailor for Christ.

     Throughout college, when I felt lost, I found my true passion. Whenever I felt as though I had no control, I reminded myself to TRUST in Jesus and His plan for me. Whenever I felt the zeal drain out of me, I realized I was not filling myself up with the love of the Holy Spirit but rather the pleasures of the world. Lastly, whenever I felt desperately alone, I understood that I needed Him now more than ever before.

     Christ is not the captain of the ship.

He is the wind guiding you to Paradise. The only way you can guide the ship is to allow the wind to take you where He wills.

This is much easier said than done. When you are a dehydrated, alone, and lost sailor it is so hard to just go with the flow.

I am reminded of the quote, “Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.”

So friends.

Hold the helm firmly. 

Brave the sea. 

Listen to the wind. 

Keep the faith. 

     In the rustle of the sail, you will forget you are on the struggle ship but come to understand that you are on the journey that leads you home.

Don’t Be A Gollum

A few days ago I was having a conversation with one of my friends. He was opening up to me about a lot of stuff going on in his life. I respect nothing more than when someone is vulnerable with me about a pain or struggle in their life. While this was going on, I caught myself checking my email on my phone. I have been waiting to hear from medical schools the last few months. The habit of checking my email has been burnt into my mind. I realized what I was doing and slipped my phone in my back pocket. However, throughout the rest of my conversation, the phone in my pocket felt like an alarm that needed to be silenced. The only way to do that was to check it. CHECK IT. CHECK IT. CHECKKKKKKK IT!

 

I felt like Gollum in dire need of the ring.

 

This isn’t an “anti-technology” post. Just to be clear. There are so many great uses for technology. I would not be able to write this blog if it were not for technology.

Technology is not the problem. I am the problem.

Most of the time, when I check my phone it is to ESCAPE.

Escape from what?

Lots of things. When I am in a line I check my phone to escape talking to people. When I am bored I check my phone to escape the feeling of boredom. When I am alone, I check my phone to feel less lonely. Oh how much I use my silver rectangle as a crutch!

Now to make this about Jesus…..

Technology becomes a problem when we depend on it rather than on Christ.

Technology becomes a problem when we are so focused on the screen we don’t look into the eyes of our neighbor.

Technology becomes a problem when our reality becomes distorted.

This semester one of my professors made a great comparison to the Bible story of the Good Samaritan. He pointed out that we pass by hurting men and women on the road as we walk through campus.

How so?

Next time you walk around your college campus, high school hallway, or even the supermarket—what do you see? Well, for me I see everyone staring at the glowing rectangle in their hands.

My teacher posed the question….

“How many times have you passed by a hurting neighbor but you were so focused on your phone that you did not notice?”

There are certain moments in my life where I just want to cry. I wanted to cry because his statement held so much truth yet I know myself…and it is so.hard.to. stop.

Technology can create an addiction. In some ways it has for me. To say that it has not is lying.

Friends, it is time we start realizing the power that is behind technology. By understanding that it is a powerful tool that is reshaping society allows us to see both the good and the bad uses.

As I stated above, when one’s dependence is on anything earthly they will be unsatisfied. Today, I pray that instead of focusing on the three inch by three inch light we focus our eyes on the Light of the World. He is our dependence.

Don’t let the ring of technology turn you into a Gollum.

I promise you this…

The next time you are surrounded by the people you love: friends, family, or even strangers—put your phone away. Look them in the eyes. Listen with all your might.

And.

The Gollum in you will be SILENCED. 

 

A message to that person I kinda sorta know but don’t really know because we haven’t been introduced but like we both know each other and what not

Everyone knows these people. The people we see on campus all the time, at the store, in line at Starbucks ALL THE TIME. Yet, they are strangers. But, are they really? I always have trouble in situations when dealing with “strangers”.

The extroverted side of me (so 99% of it) wants to say something.

The extroverted side of me wants a new friend. 

The extroverted side of me wants to put an end to this mutual awkwardness. 

 

However, I usually don’t do anything about it. The 1 percent holds me back.

 

That 1 percent is scared that the individual is not as observant as me. 

That 1 percent is scared that maybe the person will think I am weird. 

That 1 percent is scared that I won’t know what to say.

Basically, my lack of action is all derived from fear.

I remember reading an interview with JK Rowling. She was asked about her favorite virtue. JK Rowling said that it was courage. If you read the Harry Potter series or watched the movies you know that courage is embedded throughout the entire work. At first I was really confused as to why JK Rowling picked this virtue. Lately, it started to make some sense.

After thinking about it, courage is truly one of the most beautiful virtues. Why? Because it is an agent for change.

Courage DOES.

It is an active virtue. It is a virtue that attacks fear head on and says…

“YOU DON’T CONTROL ME.” 

It is a funny thing to think about how we all start out as strangers. Even to our own parents…we come into the world as a stranger. Over time we begin to meet new people and build relationships. Our friends were once just another kid in our class. Our professors were once just heartless lecturers. Our romantic interests were just dreams.

I write this letter as an encouragement to anyone out there to talk to a stranger today. Do not let your fear prevent you from finding a best friend, girlfriend, boyfriend, mentor, etc.

By acting on the virtue of courage we are building relationships. By our interactions with others on our campus, community, and the world we are showing love to one another. Through introducing ourselves we are saying, “I notice your existence.” By talking with a stranger you are saying, “Let me hear your story.”

In the era of the smart phone it is so easy to look down, to look away, and to fake a call.

Today, I encourage you all to slip your phone in your jean pocket, take a breath to fill your lungs, turn towards the person you kinda sorta know, and say….

“Hi I’m___________.”

Now, the story begins. 

Love BEARS All Things

Getting back from a run, I walked down into my basement to grab a cold gatorade.  As I opened the fridge, I saw an art project attached to the fridge with a magnet.  It was of a bear holding a vibrant red heart that said,

“Love Bears All Things.”

I was surprisingly taken a back by this piece of elementary school artwork.  I continued to stare at this bear, which was held together by a glue stick from my little brother’s pre-K class.  However, now the art ignited a fire in my heart.  Pondering the words that rested at the center of the heart and the bear, I was reminded of all the events that have been going on at Baylor.

A raging sea of mixed emotions have been scattered all over social media.

People are angry.

People are hurt.

People are scared.

Knowing all this, I chose not to say anything.  I felt that by the grace of God Baylor would find her peace.  However, after seeing this small reminder on the fridge my heart filled with joy.  I recollected on all Baylor has done for me the last past three years.  I was reminded of how Baylor has taught me the treasure that is Love.

Baylor has shown me that Love DOES Bear All things.

Everything that happened to these young women is disgraceful.  I have a younger sister going into her freshman year next year.  I love her more than anything.  To even think about someone taking advantage or mistreating her tears my heart apart.  I cannot only imagine the pain these women are going through, but also the pain of their fathers, mothers, grandparents, siblings etc.  To all the women that went through such a traumatic experience at Baylor,  I pray that you find comfort.  Speaking for all of Baylor nation, we apologize not for certain things, but for EVERYTHING.

Due to what has taken place, the Baylor I know and love is being viewed as a place that does not demonstrate love.  Quite frankly, Baylor is seen as a failure.  I agree whole heartedly that mistakes were made and people are now hurt forever.  It is sickening.  However, now is the time to make amends and to be better.  Now is the time to show the world that Baylor University knows what it means to LOVE.

Living in Connecticut,  the people in my community only know the “social media Baylor.”  They do not know the treasure that awaits in Waco,TX.  They do not know that Baylor University taught a young freshman boy from Stamford, CT what it means to love.  When I say Baylor “taught” I mean ALL of Baylor.  The custodians, the professors, the students, the cafeteria workers, the administrators…everyone.

In order to show the world what I mean here are a few personal examples as to how Baylor University taught me LOVE.

Baylor taught me Love when…

I had missed my flight because my plane out of Waco was canceled.  All my new freshman friends had already left for summer.  The next morning I went outside with my bags.  I was cold.  It was raining.  It was 6:00am and I was waiting outside my dorm.  The bus was supposed to come at 6:15am.  It was now 7:00 am.  I still sat there.  The rain was beginning to soak my clothes, but if I went inside I might miss the bus.  It was now 8:00 am.  The bus never came.  A cafeteria worker took notice of me.  She came outside, gave me a water bottle, and a hot pastry.  She offered to drive me to Dallas.  I thanked her and still waited.  A few minutes later, a Baylor student pulled up in her car.  She looked at me and asked if I was okay.  I told her the story and she said she would drive me to Dallas.  I asked her where she was headed.  She was headed the opposite way.  She insisted but I politely said thank you.  The cold was not so cold anymore.

Baylor taught me Love when…

It was the first few weeks of freshman year.  I was stressed.  I had a science test the next morning.  I was a nervous pre-med student.  It was 1:00am.  I was tired and sick of the workload.  College was not fun.  Trying to grab my bike off the rack, I could not get it out.  It was stuck.  Trying harder and harder, eventually I gave up.  Outside the library was desolate.  Picking up my biology book, I was about to throw it on the ground.  I wanted to let all this anger out.  Out of nowhere, I heard a small voice behind me.  A girl asked, “Do you need any help?”  Just like that my bike was free and the stranger was gone.

Baylor taught me Love when…

I walk into Hospice each week.  I watch the sick and dying patients smile, laugh, and joke with all of the Baylor student volunteers.

Baylor taught me Love when…

I witness dozens of Baylor students excited to get up at 5:30am on Friday morning to serve the poor breakfast and to converse with them.

Baylor taught me Love when…

That professor invited my class to have dinner at his home.  That professor that takes the time to help me pursue my dream.  That professor that hands me his umbrella as it begins to rain.

In conclusion, in light of everything that has occurred, it is time for Baylor nation to bear all things through love.

Love the women that have been hurt.

Love every student that walks onto our campus.

Love your friends…and your enemies.

Most important of all, love He who gives us peace in the most heart aching moments.

Love is the answer Baylor nation.

1 Corinthians 13:7 

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